A Dream of the Pale

The Keeper of Sorrows considered all of the natural components he had gathered and set them down in a deliberate spiral pattern. He took deep breaths to clear his mind. It was not easy at this time of year. As the power of the Foul rose with the approach of the Harrowing, he felt the pain of all of the Sorrowhaunts in his wood, even this far outside that forlorn place.

The Keeper let those thoughts drift away from him and concentrated on the task at hand. He ignored the cool night air, the sparking stars above him, and the flames flickering at his side. He let his voice reach into the Pale, so that all the Pale spirits could hear him. As he did so, he let the cards fall as they may; each image revealed building the power of his voice. An ancient scroll of calling faded and crumbled as he called upon its magic.

The trees and rocks and even the earth heard him. He could feel them awaken, even if only briefly, and sigh at his call. The wind answered him, rustling the remaining leaves in the trees above him. He called again and waited. The stars moved slowly across the night sky.

When the darkness of the night seemed deepest, his answer came. The flames faltered and went out. Voices, only whispers, could be heard from the darkness. He could see eyes watching him. Those eyes were not human.

“Greetings, child of the Gifted.” one voice whispered to him. “Why have you called out to the Elder Tree? What do you wish?”

The Keeper of Sorrows carefully considered his words. “I have been approached by Druids, Gifted and empowered, who seek the council and wisdom of the Elder Tree. I agreed to call to it, to attract its attention on their behalf. Mine is a path of sacrifice, like those before me, and I have that right.”

The eyes looked about, and whispers in the darkness contemplated and discussed his request.

“The Gifted children have their own teachers; those with Virtue and Hubris are too volatile; too quick to interpret answers and too impatient to understand the whispers of the leaves. You know this. It is why the ancient pacts separated the Gifted teachers from the whispers of the trees. So that the Gifted would not misinterpret the dreams of the Elder Tree, and so the Elder Tree would not reveal dreams to the Gifted that they would not be ready to understand.”

Figures in the dark nodded, and regarded each other.

Another voice continued where the first left off. “The ancient pact is clear. Do not bring the Hubris of the Gifted to the boughs and roots and leaves of the Elder Tree, where ever it might manifest. That is why only we can find its boughs. Because we cannot bear Hubris.”

“Unless the Gifted teach to us,” the third voice clarified.

The Keeper of Sorrows waited to be sure they wished  him to speak. He nodded sagely before continuing. “The ancient pacts were set to last until the ancient wounds of the world were healed, or until the world was threatened anew. The Sorrowhaunts have reason to believe that both are true. They believe it is time for the Pale to once again hear the whispers of the trees, even if that means seeing the dreams of the Elder Tree.”

This time there were no whispers. The figures did not regard each other, nor could any whispers be heard. They simply waited. Time passed.

“Your sacrifice gives you the right to call on the Elder Tree. We shall see if they are ready. We shall see if these Gifted children can set aside their Hubris and fully embrace the Pale.”

Another voice continued. “Even now, spirits more ancient that you and your line awaken. They feel the roots of the Elder Tree, they gaze up into its boughs, and they contemplate each leaf they see. It is vast, yet they hear them, hear them all. The Elder Tree calls them back to the waking world. Expect the first on the first night of the Harrowing. Tell the Gifted to set aside their Hubris and watch for these visitations starting that first night when the Foul shadows the world.”

A third voice concluded. “The spirits will reveal a path; perhaps it will lead away from Hubris, perhaps it will lead towards understanding. It will be the purpose of the Gifted Races that lead them. Each of the Gifted will in turn be as a root, a bough, a leaf.”

Long moments of silence passed before the Keeper of Sorrows bowed. “I will send my dreams forth so they know we have spoken.” When he looked up the spirits were gone.

The Harrowing 3019

The Harrowing
3019

(Part One)

When summer’s warmth is left behind
And winter’s threat is not so kind
The darkest time in all the year
Falls after harvest fields are clear
When Harrowing Nights arrive

These nights the Foul doth cloak the Earth
Each year return, a dark rebirth
And those that serve will drink and feast
What meal, not fit for man nor beast?
Best shunned by those alive

And though the living face this dread
The greater threat is to the dead
The Foul does claw each resting place
Each corpse thus touched the living face
Each grave this night a threat

The Foul brings with it bitter spite
Undead grow stronger Harrowed Night
Beware the dead, those touched by Foul
The ghasts and haunts these nights do prowl
The dead must pay their debt

With undead strong and ghouls about
Too strong, the Foul, to be locked out
No sanctuary this night remains
To bring folk rest nor ease their pains
No safe place will protect

In ancient times the House of Weald
Brought magicks strong in woods and field
To circles full of leering faces
That grew outside in darkest places
No soul would they neglect

Out of Game
(Part One)

The Harrowing Nights last from Friday until dawn on Sunday.

During the Harrowing Nights, the typical sanctuaries are ruined. Players cannot take long rests in their hearths, or in the tavern, or even in their holy places as normal. In most of the lands, people lock themselves away. Around Nocturne, however, mysterious circles of Jack O’ Lanterns are said appear. Players may take long rests at these circles, exposed to those that might attack them. Those resting at a circle take all the power of one of the Jack O’ Lanterns while they rest. That is to say, if someone is already using a Jack o’ Lantern to rest you cannot use it until they are done. The circles start out small, with few Jack o’ Lanterns. Players can bolster the power of these circles, however. If you bring you own Jack O’ Lantern and place it at one of the circles, and keep it lit at night, the circles grow in power. More players can rest at one time. In addition, it is rumored that circles bolstered with more Jack o’ Lanterns can contribute more power to those that might use them to aid travelers, and perhaps other boons can be drawn from circles that grow in number if the Jack o’ Lanterns are carved with care or skill.

The Harrowing
Year 3019

(Part Two)

At Harrowing Time the earth is churned
The undead claw to freedoms earned
Though corpses lurch and bones do rise
Worse still the ghosts with seeking eyes
That do not find remains

These spectral dead are stronger still
With anger comes the urge to kill
When Malediction feeds despair
These ghosts control each soul they tear
Each spirit it profanes

Out of Game
(Part Two)

Not only does the Foul make undead more powerful, but some powerful spectral undead tainted with Malediction become particularly insidious. Any of the Gifted that are inflicted with the Foul – “Inflict Harrowed Trait” – are drawn into the Gloaming, and a corrupt spirit takes their place in the waking world to destroy any living or Gifted beings it finds.

Players who are non-combat or have some other medical reason to have a special combat status are immune to this effect.

This corrupt spirit remaining loses all abilities, armor and traits of the player character. Boons are suppressed. It is only a spectral mockery of the Gifted character it has stolen from the living. It – and when we say it we really mean *you* if you are affected – has only three Vitality, has the Undead and Malediction traits, and will strike uncalled with whatever weapons it carries or it can find.

Usually your spirit will glow with corruption during this time. You will put on a necklace with a soft light to indicate you are a corrupted spirit. Some particularly cunning spirits and some powerful areas might suppress this light to confuse the Gifted Races. Fortunately, corrupted spirits do not speak or respond in an intelligible manner; their speech is limited to dark whispering of their terrible dreams.

This effect, if not permanent, lasts until the spirit is defeated. When defeated the spirit falls down and 10 seconds later the player character returns in its place with whatever Vitality and Armor they had when they were inflicted. If they fell down unstable then they are stable when they reappear.

As bad as that is, there are corrupted areas of the Foul that can be much worse. If you are permanently inflicted by the Harrowing – “Permanent Inflict Harrowed Trait” – the effect will not end when you fall. Instead the affect will last until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect. If you are taken down then after ten seconds you will rise as a spirit and slink off into some dark place, only to slowly reform and come forth again to slay the living. You will try to reform far from the living, and if you are forced to reform closer to those who are not corrupted your dark whispers or soft cries of anguish should be used to want that soon you will active once more.

This means that heroes that venture into areas most heavily polluted by the Foul could suddenly find their allies ripped away from them and find they are fighting for their lives, out-numbered, and facing death in the form of the corrupted visages of the very people that, minutes before, were sworn to protect them.

Undying, Demonbound, and Grotesque player characters are particularly susceptible to these effects, but this corruption of the Foul can strike anyone.

In game, during the Harrowing Nights a character can be corrupted against their will. A player, however, can make the out of game decision to die rather than be inflicted by this corruption. This is not an in-game decision, but an out of game decision if they will not have fun with this. Players who have issue with this effect should pay attention to characters who are gathering them for adventures as the “hook” will generally warn players if this effect will be wide spread or inflict some portion of those going into the night to face the terrors found therein.

To summarize:
“Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit once.

When you are dropped, you will be a spirit for 10 seconds and then you will become your character again in whatever state you left. If you were unstable you are instead stable.

“Permanent Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect, and each time you are destroyed you will, after ten seconds, reform and “recycle” in some dark place and attack again.

If you go to reform, try to be in some dark place away from the players. If you must form near active players, take 10 seconds and use whispering and soft cries of anguish to warn them you are reforming.

If the attack is delivered as a Gesture then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you before you become combat active, and turn into a combat active corrupted spirit only when you are near the one calling to you and you are no longer in the middle of the ranks of your one time friends who would otherwise beat you into submission before you took two steps.

As a corrupted spirit:
~ All armor, abilities, skills, and boons are suppressed. Your actual body is trapped deep in the Gloaming.
~ You have 3 Vitality points.
~ You have the traits Undead and Malediction.
~ You have the ability to fight with whatever weapons you can find.
~ There will sometimes be extra weapons in the area you might be directed to if you have none.

The Harrowing
Year 3019

(Part Three)

In these dark times when blood is spilled
The Foul’s dark hate is never filled
It gnaws at flesh and eats at life
And claims all souls who fall from strife
Those downed have fragile fates

If battle comes when darkness falls
Let healers heed the battle calls
Each wounded friend in dire need
For allies fall and always bleed
Too slow, the Reaper waits

Out of Game
(Part Three)

During the Harrowing, Malediction weakens all living and Gifted things. Players who fall from damage always fall unstable, even if they fall from uncalled damage. Whenever someone falls from damage or takes damage when they have no Vitality they are unstable from the damage. Characters can be Stabilized normally, but further damage will make them become unstable.

The only exception is unstable characters who are inflicted by the Foul and fight for a time as a corrupted spirit will, when they return as their character, be stable.

The Harrowing
Year 3019

(Part Four)

Amidst the ancient towers tall
Before the Shadow took them all
With bones disturbed and blood spilled free
Were found signs of necromancy
Black magic raised the dead

Macabre murders ‘neath the moon
With Foul’s dark night approaching soon
Investigators gather clues
From witnesses the guard reviews
Transcripts of what was said

The trail is laid to noble hall
Brought forth in chains the lord stands tall
Refusing to admit his guilt
Despite the clues and blood thus spilt
Sentenced to lose his head

Corruption soaked into his grave
Though laid to rest, would not behave
His cup of rage which never fills
The Harrowing is when he kills
His revenant brings dread

Winter Revel Teaser

The Knight Vigilant of the Knights of Winter stepped over the frozen ground, his footfalls making crunching sounds as he walked past broken armor pieces and a few discarded weapons. Signs of fighting and warfare littered the area. The Knight Vigilant called up one of the surviving knights.

“This is the battlefield?”

The knight nodded as she pulled her cloak against the wind. “Yes, milord. We were making our way north to investigate the glacier when this figure, armored in black scales, came down upon us with a contingent of Gorevok. His eyes, milord, his eyes mesmerized the knights and his very blood was poison.” The knight clenched her fist in anger. “I… returned from the Gate, as did most of the knights, but Sir Tremivar suffered his final passing.”

The Knight Vigilant, David Forlost, shielded his eyes from the sun sitting low in the sky and gazed northward. It was disconcerting that the horizon which he had gazed at for so many years had changed. It loomed closer now, the towering glacier edging further and further south.

A senior knight, a grizzled and experienced warrior named Sir Hauste, replied. “Our reports have confirmed that it was someone or thing called the Basilisk Knight. I do not know what manner of being this thing is, or why the Gorevok have come to serve it.”

Sir David frowned. “Have the Frostrime learned of this lost battle?”

Sir Hauste responded. “We do not know. It is possible that a scout witnessed the event. If so, this sign of weakness could rile them up. Embolden them.”

Sir David thought on it. “We still do not know why the Frostrime failed to appear at the feast. That was before this battle occurred. We have heard nothing but silence from them. And now this. Could they be working with this enemy?”

“Perhaps,” replied Hauste, “but it is unlike them to allow others to fight their battles. I would think, if they had declared war, that we would know it.”

“And our missives from the Snowcrown have not been answered.” David spoke out loud, more to himself than to his knights. “With the frequency of the Gorevok attacks and the increased elemental activity, if the Frostrime come forth as a battle host we could lose the Spire. Where could we call for help, Hauste?”

“Hmmm. Well, milord, certainly not Morgrave. The dead of winter is the worse time for them, outside the Harrowing of course. The dead don’t eat and don’t need warmth.”

David nodded.

“Blacktallow has its own problems. We had thought that once the new Queen secured her throne and consolidated her power that she would be a strong ally. But the Winter King knows she isn’t quite right after all of that, and the hauntings have all of those nobles on edge.

And do we really want to call on Khoros from a position of weakness?”

“This Basilisk Knight, have any others fought against him?” asked David.

“Yes, milord, tales have spread that this Nocturne… outpost has driven him off their battlefield in open warfare. There are folk from this land that fight there.”

David gazed at the looming glacier, and at the signs of battle around him.

“Send a request for aid and council to that place for any who will provide it. We will host them and feed any who come to help. If they have defeated this Basilisk Knight before then perhaps it will be reluctant to continue its attacks if they are in the northern fort. It might also serve us well to send diplomats to the Frostrime and the Snowcrown who are not our Knights, lest we antagonize our truce and agreements with them.”

As Sir Hauste set his mind to the tasks required of him, Sir David took one last look at the glacier and called his contingent back south before the night brought the storms and the dangers therein.

The Harrowing

This text has begun to appear around the area of Nocturne. Some have heard it from spirits while doing seances. Some have dreamt of strange entities whispering the words to them. Others have seen ghostly text appear on documents they are writing late at night, only to have it fade away with the dawn. Some have even waken from a restless sleep, finding the text written on parchment in their own hand.

The Harrowing of the Foul

When summer’s warmth is left behind

And winter’s threat is not so kind

The darkest time in all the year

Falls after harvest fields are clear

When the Harrowing times arrive

The time the Foul does cloak the Earth

Each year, these nights, its dark rebirth

And those that serve will drink and feast

What meal, not fit for man nor beast?

Best shunned by those alive

And though the living face this dread

The greater threat is to the dead

The Foul does claw each resting place

To stave off torment that they face

Each grave this night a threat

The Foul brings with it bitter spite

Undead grow stronger Thirteenth Night

Beware the dead, those touched by Foul

The ghasts and haunt these nights do prowl

The dead must pay their debt

With undead strong and ghouls about

Too strong, the Foul, to be locked out

No sanctuary this night remains

To bring folk rest nor ease their pains

No safe place will protect

In ancient times the House of Weald

Brought magicks strong in woods and field

To circles full of leering faces

That grew outside in darkest places

No soul would they neglect

In these dark times when blood is spilled

The Foul’s dark hate is never filled

It gnaws at flesh and eats at life

And claims all souls who fall from strife

Those downed have fragile fates

If battle comes when darkness falls

Let healers heed the battle calls

Each wounded friend in dire need

For allies fall and always bleed

Too slow, the Reaper waits

At Harrowing Time the earth is churned

The undead claw to freedoms earned

Though corpses lurch and bones do rise

Worse still the ghosts with seeking eyes

That do not find remains

These spectral dead are stronger still

With anger comes the urge to kill

When Malediction feeds despair

These ghosts possess each soul they tear

Each spirit it profanes

With living spirit ripped away

The haunting ghost comes forth to stay

Where once stood ally stout and true

The hungry ghost will seek its due

Until the Harrowing wanes

Out of Game

The Harrowing Nights last from Friday until dawn on Sunday.

  • During the Harrowing Nights, the typical sanctuaries are ruined. Players cannot take long rests in their hearths, or in the tavern, or even in their holy places as normal. In most of the lands, people lock themselves away. Around Nocturne, however, mysterious circles of Jack O’ Lanterns are said appear. Players may take long rests at these circles, exposed to those that might attack them. Those resting at a circle take all the power of one of the Jack O’ Lanterns while they rest. That is to say, if someone is already using a Jack o’ Lantern to rest you cannot use it until they are done. The circles start out small, with few Jack o’ Lanterns. Players can bolster the power of these circles, however. If you bring you own Jack O’ Lantern and place it at one of the circles, and keep it lit at night, the circles grow in power. More players can rest at one time. In addition, it is rumored that circles bolstered with more Jack o’ Lanterns can contribute more power to those that might use them to aid travelers, and perhaps other boons can be drawn from circles that grow in number if the Jack o’ Lanterns are carved with care or skill.
  • During the Harrowing, Malediction weakens all living and Gifted things. Players who fall from damage always fall unstable, even if they fall from uncalled damage. Whenever someone falls from damage or takes damage when they have no Vitality they are unstable from the damage. Characters can be Stabilized normally, but further damage will make them become unstable.
  • During the Harrowing, undead are more powerful and can be more resistant to some effects, particularly Death effect.
  • Vampyr Undying gain an additional Void during the Harrowing. Unfortunately, feeding is almost impossible during the Harrowing without exposing oneself to Malediction. In game, Vampyr Undying can feel the Foul in the air around them during this time and avoid feeding during the Harrowing of the Foul.
  • During the Harrowing, any of the Gifted that are inflicted by the Foul with a Haunting – “Inflict Harrowed Trait” – are drawn into the Gloaming, and a corrupt spirit takes their place in the waking world to destroy any Gifted beings it finds.
    As a corrupt spirit, you lose all abilities, armor and traits of your player character. Boons are suppressed. You become a spectral mockery of your Gifted character. You have only three Vitality, have the Undead, Malediction, and Harrowed traits, and will strike uncalled with whatever weapons you carry.Corrupted spirits do not speak or respond in a intelligible manner; their speech is limited to dark whispering of their terrible dreams, or soft cries of anguish. It should be obvious to any player who tries to communicate with you that something, by your whispers, is very wrong.

    This effect lasts until you are defeated or cured – “Cure Harrowed Trait.” If defeated you fall down and 10 seconds later your player character returns with whatever Vitality and Armor you had when you were inflicted. If you fell down unstable then you are stable when you reappear; this is an exception to always falling unstable rule of the Harrowing.

    As bad as that is, there are corrupted areas of the Foul that can be much worse. If you are permanently inflicted by the Foul – “Permanent Inflict Harrowed Trait” – the effect will not end when you fall. Instead the effect will last until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect. If you are taken down then after ten seconds you will rise as a spirit and slink off into some dark place, only to slowly reform and come forth again to slay the living. You will try to reform just out of sight from the living; if you are forced by the area to reform within sight of those who are not corrupted your dark whispers or soft cries of anguish should be used to warn others that soon you will active once more.

    If the attack is delivered as a Gesture or By My Voice attack then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you, and then become combat active – when you are no longer in the middle of the ranks of your one time friends who would otherwise beat you into submission before you took two steps.

    Undying, Demonbound, and Grotesque player characters are particularly susceptible to these effects, but this corruption of the Foul can strike anyone.

    Other Details:
    ~
    Sometimes your spirit will glow with corruption during this time. You will put on a necklace with a soft light to indicate you are a corrupted spirit. This glow does not always occur.

    ~ It would be helpful to us if players who don’t normally carry weapons might hold an extra one at night. If you find your self inflicted without a weapon we will often have extras nearby.

    ~ Players who are non-combat or have some other medical reason to have a special combat status should contact plot if they should be immune to this effect.

    ~ In heavily corrupted areas, players who are drawn into the Gloaming and become corrupted spirits rely on living allies in the area to retain their lifeforce. If all of their Gifted allies are killed then they too might be killed.

    ~ We intend this to be fun and we expect players to be fair and fun to other players in all types of game situations. That said, players who would rather take a death or have some other detrimental effect rather than participate in this manner can drop me a line before the event.

    To summarize: “Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit once.

    When you are dropped, you will be a spirit for 10 seconds and then you will become your character again in whatever state you left. If you were unstable you are instead stable.

    “Permanent Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect, and each time you are destroyed you will, after ten seconds, reform and “recycle” in some dark place and attack again.

    If you go to reform, try to be in some dark place away from the players. If you must form near active players, take 10 seconds and use whispering and soft cries of anguish to warn them you are reforming.

    If the attack is delivered as a Gesture or a My My Voice then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you, and then turn into a combat active corrupted spirit.

    As a corrupted spirit:

    ~ All armor, abilities, skills, and boons are suppressed. Your actual body is trapped deep in the Gloaming.

    ~ You have 3 Vitality points.

    ~ You have the traits Harrowed, Undead, and Malediction.

    ~ You have the ability to fight with whatever weapons you can find.

    ~ There will sometimes be extra weapons in the area you might be directed to if you have none.

Teaser – February 2018

“Brace yourself against the winter. Not against the cold, but against the things that don’t fear the cold.”

-Morgravian veteran’s warning

“There is winter, and then there is Morgrave’s winter. It’s not as cold as Winterspire. It’s not as wild as Khoros. But it is bitter, and spiteful, and hungry. This is the chill of the grave, and it wants us to know it’s looking for us.”

-Letter from a mercenary guarding supplies into Morgrave

There was a crackle of fire and the commotion of a martial camp, but the four occupants of the large command tent were silent. They stood over a wooden table, on which a map showed small painted stones lined up from east to west. Wickford. Rake. Faircroft. Serelle. Dozens of smaller houses. Each of them was represented on the map, holding some town or fort.

Nearly all of them were abutted by small bone white tokens to their north.

Princess Ferah Faircroft’s eyes scanned the entire length of the front. Her hand would move to a piece that seemed less engaged, but then she would count the potential weight of bone that might press there if it was removed, and withdraw her hand. To the side of the map was a bag full of more bone white markers; the rangers had done well given the circumstances, but too much of what was being marshalled to the North was unknown.

While the stones flowed in a rough line from east to west, a tiny stone of silver and purple stood alone miles north from any other living forces. It was surrounded by bone, and sat on a field of what appeared to be nothing. Ferah lifted the piece once more to look, and scowled.

She spoke at last, “how big of a grave is it?”

A young woman in the purple and silver of House Wickford, her clothing worn and battered by fighting, responded, “we don’t know, your highness. It’s old enough that whoever kept track is long gone, but enough that it’s worth it.”

“Worth it?” a man in a Blacktallow coat replied. “You’re going to lose the position anyway. From the sounds of it you’re already nearly out of supplies. This is just going to cost lives.”

“Lord Blacknight is right about the odds of that position; it can’t be held,” said the second man in the room, this one with long black hair.

A defensive tone to her voice, the Wickford messenger replied, “Vicount Larkos has a plan, we don’t need to hold forever. Just a few days. A few days and we stop them from bolstering themselves with a new army.”

Ferah looked over the pieces on the map, and went over the numbers they’d been given. Then she looked at the bag of unused bone pieces and imagined adding another half dozen to the field. “You don’t have a few days, and right now we have nothing to buy you that time. Andrew? You said you had something in mind if we needed an emergency push?”

The Morgravian man nodded. “Yes. The expedition to Nocturne… they’ve proven competent and have helped us before. Small numbers wouldn’t strain the supplies further than manageable, but the impact would be significant.”

Blacknight nodded in agreement, “It’s not a bad direction to look for aid. Or you can order him to retreat.”

The Princess locked eyes with the messenger, “Larkos says he can keep this grave site from falling to the enemy?”

“Told me so himself.”

“Then he can. Blacknight, send a messenger to Nocturne calling for aid, with means to open a gate to Larkos’ position. I will be waiting for them there.”

“Yes your highness,” the Blacktallow lord began to head out before spinning around. “Wait, waiting for them there?”

Ferah nodded, throwing a cloak over her armor and moving for the doorway of the tent. “Yes. Someone has to buy them time to get there.” She gave a hand signal to a guard at the entryway and he trotted off to gather more. “Don’t take your time; it’s cold out.”

The Harrowing of the Foul

This text has begun to appear around the area of Nocturne. Some have heard it from spirits while doing seances. Some have dreamt of strange entities whispering the words to them. Others have seen ghostly text appear on documents they are writing late at night, only to have it fade away with the dawn. Some have even waken from a restless sleep, finding the text written on parchment in their own hand.

The Harrowing of the Foul

When summer’s warmth is left behind

And winter’s threat is not so kind

The darkest time in all the year

Falls after harvest fields are clear

When the Harrowing times arrive

 

The time the Foul does cloak the Earth

Each year, these nights, its dark rebirth

And those that serve will drink and feast

What meal, not fit for man nor beast?

Best shunned by those alive

 

And though the living face this dread

The greater threat is to the dead

The Foul does claw each resting place

To stave off torment that they face

Each grave this night a threat

 

The Foul brings with it bitter spite

Undead grow stronger Thirteenth Night

Beware the dead, those touched by Foul

The ghasts and haunt these nights do prowl

The dead must pay their debt

 

With undead strong and ghouls about

Too strong, the Foul, to be locked out

No sanctuary this night remains

To bring folk rest nor ease their pains

No safe place will protect

 

In ancient times the House of Weald

Brought magicks strong in woods and field

To circles full of leering faces

That grew outside in darkest places

No soul would they neglect

 

In these dark times when blood is spilled

The Foul’s dark hate is never filled

It gnaws at flesh and eats at life

And claims all souls who fall from strife

Those downed have fragile fates

 

If battle comes when darkness falls

Let healers heed the battle calls

Each wounded friend in dire need

For allies fall and always bleed

Too slow, the Reaper waits

 

At Harrowing Time the earth is churned

The undead claw to freedoms earned

Though corpses lurch and bones do rise

Worse still the ghosts with seeking eyes

That do not find remains

 

These spectral dead are stronger still

With anger comes the urge to kill

When Malediction feeds despair

These ghosts possess each soul they tear

Each spirit it profanes

 

With living spirit ripped away

The haunting ghost comes forth to stay

Where once stood ally stout and true

The hungry ghost will seek its due

Until the Harrowing wanes

 

 

Out of Game

The Harrowing Nights last from Friday until dawn on Sunday.

  • During the Harrowing Nights, the typical sanctuaries are ruined. Players cannot take long rests in their hearths, or in the tavern, or even in their holy places as normal. In most of the lands, people lock themselves away. Around Nocturne, however, mysterious circles of Jack O’ Lanterns are said appear. Players may take long rests at these circles, exposed to those that might attack them. Those resting at a circle take all the power of one of the Jack O’ Lanterns while they rest. That is to say, if someone is already using a Jack o’ Lantern to rest you cannot use it until they are done. The circles start out small, with few Jack o’ Lanterns. Players can bolster the power of these circles, however. If you bring you own Jack O’ Lantern and place it at one of the circles, and keep it lit at night, the circles grow in power. More players can rest at one time. In addition, it is rumored that circles bolstered with more Jack o’ Lanterns can contribute more power to those that might use them to aid travelers, and perhaps other boons can be drawn from circles that grow in number if the Jack o’ Lanterns are carved with care or skill.

 

  • During the Harrowing, Malediction weakens all living and Gifted things. Players who fall from damage always fall unstable, even if they fall from uncalled damage. Whenever someone falls from damage or takes damage when they have no Vitality they are unstable from the damage. Characters can be Stabilized normally, but further damage will make them become unstable.

 

  • During the Harrowing, undead are more powerful and can be more resistant to some effects, particularly Death effect.

 

  • Vampyr Undying gain an additional Void during the Harrowing. Unfortunately, feeding is almost impossible during the Harrowing without exposing oneself to Malediction. In game, Vampyr Undying can feel the Foul in the air around them during this time and avoid feeding during the Harrowing of the Foul.

 

  • During the Harrowing, any of the Gifted that are inflicted by the Foul with a Haunting – “Inflict Harrowed Trait” – are drawn into the Gloaming, and a corrupt spirit takes their place in the waking world to destroy any Gifted beings it finds.
    As a corrupt spirit, you lose all abilities, armor and traits of your player character. Boons are suppressed. You become a spectral mockery of your Gifted character. You have only three Vitality, have the Undead, Malediction, and Harrowed traits, and will strike uncalled with whatever weapons you carry.Corrupted spirits do not speak or respond in a intelligible manner; their speech is limited to dark whispering of their terrible dreams, or soft cries of anguish. It should be obvious to any player who tries to communicate with you that something, by your whispers, is very wrong.

    This effect lasts until you are defeated or cured – “Cure Harrowed Trait.” If defeated you fall down and 10 seconds later your player character returns with whatever Vitality and Armor you had when you were inflicted. If you fell down unstable then you are stable when you reappear; this is an exception to always falling unstable rule of the Harrowing.

    As bad as that is, there are corrupted areas of the Foul that can be much worse. If you are permanently inflicted by the Foul – “Permanent Inflict Harrowed Trait” – the effect will not end when you fall. Instead the effect will last until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect. If you are taken down then after ten seconds you will rise as a spirit and slink off into some dark place, only to slowly reform and come forth again to slay the living. You will try to reform just out of sight from the living; if you are forced by the area to reform within sight of those who are not corrupted your dark whispers or soft cries of anguish should be used to warn others that soon you will active once more.

    If the attack is delivered as a Gesture or By My Voice attack then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you, and then become combat active – when you are no longer in the middle of the ranks of your one time friends who would otherwise beat you into submission before you took two steps.

    Undying, Demonbound, and Grotesque player characters are particularly susceptible to these effects, but this corruption of the Foul can strike anyone.

    Other Details:
    ~
    Sometimes your spirit will glow with corruption during this time. You will put on a necklace with a soft light to indicate you are a corrupted spirit. This glow does not always occur.

    ~ It would be helpful to us if players who don’t normally carry weapons might hold an extra one at night. If you find your self inflicted without a weapon we will often have extras nearby.

    ~ Players who are non-combat or have some other medical reason to have a special combat status should contact plot if they should be immune to this effect.

    ~ In heavily corrupted areas, players who are drawn into the Gloaming and become corrupted spirits rely on living allies in the area to retain their lifeforce. If all of their Gifted allies are killed then they too might be killed.

    ~ We intend this to be fun and we expect players to be fair and fun to other players in all types of game situations. That said, players who would rather take a death or have some other detrimental effect rather than participate in this manner can drop me a line before the event.

    To summarize: “Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit once.

    When you are dropped, you will be a spirit for 10 seconds and then you will become your character again in whatever state you left. If you were unstable you are instead stable.

    “Permanent Inflict Harrowed trait” means you become a corrupted spirit until you receive a “Cure Harrowed trait” effect, and each time you are destroyed you will, after ten seconds, reform and “recycle” in some dark place and attack again.

    If you go to reform, try to be in some dark place away from the players. If you must form near active players, take 10 seconds and use whispering and soft cries of anguish to warn them you are reforming.

    If the attack is delivered as a Gesture or a My My Voice then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you, and then turn into a combat active corrupted spirit.

    As a corrupted spirit:

    ~ All armor, abilities, skills, and boons are suppressed. Your actual body is trapped deep in the Gloaming.

    ~ You have 3 Vitality points.

    ~ You have the traits Harrowed, Undead, and Malediction.

    ~ You have the ability to fight with whatever weapons you can find.

    ~ There will sometimes be extra weapons in the area you might be directed to if you have none.

Posted in Nocturne by the Knight of Diamonds

Greetings,

The lands that were formally and historically the site of Nocturne are considered unsettled and registered as such. Our group, the Illuminarium, has acquired from all the bordering kingdoms a license to settle the land for the purpose of historical investigation and for archeological and magical recovery of artifacts related to not only that ancient city, but other ruins we might encounter. We have acquired the right for 11 years, although the settlement has existed for almost a year already, and we have options to extend that period through renegotiation at that time.

As part of the license, the Illuminarium has accepted the responsibility of “abating lawless behaviour” which is intended to not only curtail the war-like attacks of the Hobgoblin houses, but to also preclude banditry that might hamper trade between the kingdoms. This responsibility would include any who have answered the call to maintain the peace and join us in the task of investigating the past.

I must confess that the agreement is greatly in our best interest, both because the initial state of the land held dangers from Hobgoblin war parties, local creatures, and rumors of wandering undead, and also because the kingdoms did not, for the most part, believe that the city of ancient Nocturne even existed, much less that the ruins would be uncovered. We have entered into this agreement several times previously, but this is the first time our investigations bore, as they say, historical significance.

Now that the hobgoblins have, for the time being, scattered and the land has begun to yield both magical knowledge and treasures, some of the kingdoms would no doubt be eager to find reason to not honor the license and move into the area. This unsettled land has grown dramatically in importance now that we have proof that ancient Nocturne existed and that it was built on this site.

We are appreciative that heroes such as yourselves have answered our call and have embarked upon this investigation with us. We wish to support you in your efforts as you have supported us in ours. If settlers in the area, however, attempt to establish a sovereign state, or bring forth a vote of no confidence in the Illuminarium’s ability to keep the peace, that is your right but in doing so you would be negating both the contract we have with a number of kingdoms and the area’s status as an unsettled border. This would allow kingdoms to legally withdraw both their legal obligation to maintain our license and to break the peace by sending military forces directly into the unsettled borderlands.

While we would be glad to support any who feel they have been wronged as part of our agreement to keep the peace of the area, we also want to respect as much as possible the laws of the lands of those who have come forth to act as our allies and champions.

Before the settlers and champions of Nocturne strive to create a sovereign state, however, we urge you to set aside that task and any official proclamation of state; at the very least until you have a chance to speak with our representatives.

The Knight of Diamonds,
Scholar of the Illuminarium

Scarlet Scouts and Karma

Greetings,

We wanted to introduce the concept of Karma and talk about Scarlet Scout shifts!

Karma
Karma is an additional attribute whose sole purpose is to reward players who take extra time to add to the game. It is awarded for entirely out of game reasons; players who act as NPCs, or create in game areas that add to atmosphere, or do other things to add to the game community and immersion can be awarded Karma.

~ You may spend a point of Karma in place of a point of Air, Earth, Fire, or Water
~ You can have up to 3 Karma points. Extra points earned are lost so spend them!
~ You must precede any skill where you use Karma with “With Karma” so we know.

Scarlet Scouts
We are looking for players willing to take some time out of their weekend to leave game and help us run encounters by playing an NPC for a time. We set up shifts and players who sign up will help us keep up the pace and excitement of the game.

Players interested in a shift should send me an email – and should not reply to the list.

To facilitate this process we both arrange for sign ups so players can plan their contributions, and we sometimes come into game as a group called the Scarlet Scouts. This NPC group is well known to act as protectors of the farmers and commonfolk of the land. Players that go off to help the Scarlet Scouts should know, out of game, that we are enlisting players to spend some time as NPCs. It is also well known that most Scarlet Scout missions – even though they are considered important – are uneventful.

Shifts
We are looking for players to “take a shift” to NPC in the following slots:

Saturday, 11 am to 2 pm
You aren’t really a morning person, and would rather come and help us entertain players rather than get into full costume right off the bat. You can also take this time to help out Josh who runs morning modules if you prefer.

Saturday, 4 to 6 pm
Dinner is coming up, and players with lighter costuming requirements can take some time to help us run modules.

Saturday, 7 to 9 pm
Players have just finished dinner, and are willing to take an early evening shift to help modules run.

Saturday, 9 to 11 pm
This is a good time for players who like to fight a lot to come and help us rock the PCs.

Saturday, late night fight
This involves playing through the night until you see people gathering for what is likely to be a big fight, and then going to bolster the Scarlet Scouts so you can help us in the battle or battles to come.

Sunday, any time
Hate getting into costume on Sundays? Come to monster camp instead and help us run modules and fight the PCs!

If you are willing to take some time to help us out you will have our gratitude (and you will also get a piece of treasure and a point of Karma.)

Thanks,
RJC

The Winter Revel

Those who sleep in Nocturne brace themselves against the whipping northern winds. The days are dangerously short, and the nights perilously long. For those who adhere to simple lives, the winter is a time to gather around a fire, and fortify against the deadly cold. For those who live somewhat more complexly, however, it is a time during which forgotten truths make themselves known.

Perhaps this old truism- light flickering on the darkest night of winter- explains the strange road that has appeared outside of Nocturne. Purplish candles, impervious to the biting gusts, form a trail that is miles upon miles long.

It seems to invite those of Nocturne to walk its length. Those rangers that know of such roads say that, if one were to follow it, it would eventually intersect with the Kerzenlicht, Kyrzenwold’s road of alchemical candles, just outside the town of Katzen. Were a traveler to begin their journey soon, they would be able to walk from Nocturne to Katzen; they would arrive in the bustling town just before the celebration of the Longest Night. The Temple of the Ever-Burning Font, the foremost church of the Woven Faith in Kyrzenwold, always has room for visitors and pilgrims.

“Why might someone follow such a road?” one might ask.
If it is an invitation, some might answer, it might be rude to ignore it.
If it is an invitation, others might venture, it is certainly a strange one.
In strangeness, still another might say, waits adventure.

For those curious about such an invitation, the Illuminarium, quite luckily, has archived material on both the Temple and the uniquely Kyrzenwold celebration.

***

In the town of Katzen, there is one of the few temples of the Woven Faith within Kyrzenwold. The temple provides religious service for the people who live in the town and surrounding areas. Given the nature of Kyrzenwold and religion, however, it is largely populated by visitors and pilgrims passing through. This is not surprising, as the temple itself is structured like a great inn of sprawling depth and ornate architecture. Because The Font is one of Kyrzenwold’s few temples, it has significant influence in matters of faith, and has one of the largest percentages of priests within a congregation in the world.

The Ever-Burning Font is a place of Creation and the arts. Tapestries, paintings, and stained glass of great beauty hang within the temple, attracting even those not of the faith to come and behold their artistry. Prayers and services focus on the Light of Creation, and how such light can protect those journeying in the sinister Kyrzenwold. Deep within the corridors and annexes of the temple, it is rumored, there is a lantern that gave the place its name. This lantern has an ever-burning font that was lit centuries ago; it is said to burn to this day, with no need for the oil to ever be refilled.

One of the striking features of the Font, is that it is a place of inter-faithful philosophy. All faiths and practitioners are welcome, and all are encouraged to participate in debates and discussions to develop a better Aerune. Even those who do not follow a particular religion visit the temple to meet with some of the sharpest and most brilliant religious thinkers in the world. Conversations, lit by the ever-burning candles of the temple, last long into the late hours of night.

The comforting sanctuary that the Font provides is unsurprising, given that it is tended by Aksel Reisinger. Despite his considerable prestige, Aksel would much prefer that those of the Woven Faith see him as little more than a common man, committed to the temple within Kyrzenwold. As both a Spidersilk Elf and a Tatterfolk more-or-less settled in Kyrzenwold, Aksel feels strongly that all who seek haven in his temple’s walls should be granted unquestioned hospitality: it is not uncommon, within the Temple of the Ever-Burning Font, to find Pale, Shamanic, and Celestial Court followers, most of whom are there for theological discussion, fine drink, and the world famous pastries of Katzen bakers. (Indeed, Aksel’s niece, Liza Reisinger- responsible for tending the Inn’s front desk and feeding the area’s numerous stray cats- is a prominent Pale follower.) Aksel, in all of his work, hopes to encourage conversations of the beauty and creativity of the world, and believes that welcoming all manner of conversation facilitates the truest paths of the Woven Faith.

***

The Longest Night

The Longest Night is a secular observance within Kyrzenwold. It is a time when Kyrzenwolders prepare for, perhaps obviously, the darkest, coldest, and longest night of the year. In Katzen, this event is celebrated at the Temple of the Ever-Burning Font. While the faithful are welcome to quietly meditate on their own worship, it is not celebrated as a religious devotion, but instead as a coming-together of community. Festivities begin at dark on The First Night with a ceremonial lighting, lead by visiting Vogels, of candles around the perimeter of the Temple. During this time, it is not uncommon for the creatures and beasts that stalk the woods to attempt to interrupt the Ceremony- the presence of skilled Vogels, therefore, is not merely for pomp and circumstance. After the lighting of the candles, the First Night is spent in storytelling and performances: skalds, bards, and Lyrikers tell folkloric stories, meant to scare and entertain, from their homelands.

On the First Day, bread is broken with strangers, and pleasantries are exchanged. Throughout the First Day, Kyrzenwolders maintain lights and brace themselves for the Second Night- also known as the Eve of Nightmares. During the Eve, the ancient Nightmare Fae of the Winter Table- Gryla, Papa Schlacter, Mama Perchta, Belsvinter, and the Slecthekat- make themselves known. On the darkest night of the year, it is said, the Fae come to, once more, teach the people how to be scared of the winter dark. It is a time to fear, and a time in which lost knowledge makes itself, once more, known.

The Winter Revel will take place on February 17-19, 2017. The in-game location will be at the Temple of the Ever-Burning Font (Katzen, Kyrzenwold), on The First Night.

(Teaser by Zoe)

The Harrowing of the Foul

This text has begun to appear around the area of Nocturne. Some have heard it from spirits while doing seances. Some have dreamt of strange entities whispering the words to them. Others have seen ghostly text appear on documents they are writing late at night, only to have it fade away with the dawn. Some have even waken from a restless sleep, finding the text written on parchment in their own hand.

The Harrowing of the Foul

When summer’s warmth is left behind

And winter’s threat is not so kind

The darkest time in all the year

Falls after harvest fields are clear

When the Harrowing times arrive

 

The time the Foul does cloak the Earth

Each year, these nights, its dark rebirth

And those that serve will drink and feast

What meal, not fit for man nor beast?

Best shunned by those alive

 

And though the living face this dread

The greater threat is to the dead

The Foul does claw each resting place

To stave off torment that they face

Each grave this night a threat

 

The Foul brings with it bitter spite

Undead grow stronger Thirteenth Night

Beware the dead, those touched by Foul

The ghasts and haunt these nights do prowl

The dead must pay their debt

 

With undead strong and ghouls about

Too strong, the Foul, to be locked out

No sanctuary this night remains

To bring folk rest nor ease their pains

No safe place will protect

 

In ancient times the House of Weald

Brought magicks strong in woods and field

To circles full of leering faces

That grew outside in darkest places

No soul would they neglect

 

In these dark times when blood is spilled

The Foul’s dark hate is never filled

It gnaws at flesh and eats at life

And claims all souls who fall from strife

Those downed have fragile fates

 

If battle comes when darkness falls

Let healers heed the battle calls

Each wounded friend in dire need

For allies fall and always bleed

Too slow, the Reaper waits

 

At Harrowing Time the earth is churned

The undead claw to freedoms earned

Though corpses lurch and bones do rise

Worse still the ghosts with seeking eyes

That do not find remains

 

These spectral dead are stronger still

With anger comes the urge to kill

When Malediction feeds despair

These ghosts possess each soul they tear

Each spirit it profanes

 

With living spirit ripped away

The haunting ghost comes forth to stay

Where once stood ally stout and true

The hungry ghost will seek its due

Until the Harrowing wanes

 

 

Out of Game

The Harrowing Nights last from Friday until dawn on Sunday.

  • During the Harrowing Nights, the typical sanctuaries are ruined. Players cannot take long rests in their hearths, or in the tavern, or even in their holy places as normal. In most of the lands, people lock themselves away. Around Nocturne, however, mysterious circles of Jack O’ Lanterns are said appear. Players may take long rests at these circles, exposed to those that might attack them. Those resting at a circle take all the power of one of the Jack O’ Lanterns while they rest. That is to say, if someone is already using a Jack o’ Lantern to rest you cannot use it until they are done. The circles start out small, with few Jack o’ Lanterns. Players can bolster the power of these circles, however. If you bring you own Jack O’ Lantern and place it at one of the circles, and keep it lit at night, the circles grow in power. More players can rest at one time. In addition, it is rumored that circles bolstered with more Jack o’ Lanterns can contribute more power to those that might use them to aid travelers, and perhaps other boons can be drawn from circles that grow in number if the Jack o’ Lanterns are carved with care or skill.

 

  • During the Harrowing, Malediction weakens all living and Gifted things. Players who fall from damage always fall unstable, even if they fall from uncalled damage. Whenever someone falls from damage or takes damage when they have no Vitality they are unstable from the damage. Characters can be Stabilized normally, but further damage will make them become unstable.

 

  • During the Harrowing, undead are more powerful and can be more resistant to some effects, particularly Death effect.

 

  • Vampyr Undying gain an additional Void during the Harrowing. Unfortunately, feeding is almost impossible during the Harrowing without exposing oneself to Malediction. In game, Vampyr Undying can feel the Foul in the air around them during this time and avoid feeding during the Harrowing of the Foul.

 

  • During the Harrowing, any of the Gifted that are inflicted by the Foul with a Haunting – “Inflict Haunting Trait” – are drawn into the Gloaming, and a corrupt spirit takes their place in the waking world to destroy any Gifted beings it finds.
    As a corrupt spirit, you lose all abilities, armor and traits of your player character. Boons are suppressed. You become a spectral mockery of your Gifted character. You have only three Vitality, have the Undead, Malediction, and Haunting traits, and will strike uncalled with whatever weapons you carry.

    Corrupted spirits do not speak or respond in a intelligible manner; their speech is limited to dark whispering of their terrible dreams, or soft cries of anguish. It should be obvious to any player who tries to communicate with you that something, by your whispers, is very wrong.

    This effect lasts until you are defeated or cured – “Cure Haunting Trait.” If defeated you fall down and 10 seconds later your player character returns with whatever Vitality and Armor you had when you were inflicted. If you fell down unstable then you are stable when you reappear; this is an exception to always falling unstable rule of the Harrowing.

    As bad as that is, there are corrupted areas of the Foul that can be much worse. If you are permanently inflicted by the Foul – “Permanent Inflict Haunting Trait” – the effect will not end when you fall. Instead the effect will last until you receive a “Cure Haunting trait” effect. If you are taken down then after ten seconds you will rise as a spirit and slink off into some dark place, only to slowly reform and come forth again to slay the living. You will try to reform just out of sight from the living; if you are forced by the area to reform within sight of those who are not corrupted your dark whispers or soft cries of anguish should be used to warn others that soon you will active once more.

    If the attack is delivered as a Gesture or By My Voice attack then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you, and then become combat active – when you are no longer in the middle of the ranks of your one time friends who would otherwise beat you into submission before you took two steps.

    Undying, Demonbound, and Grotesque player characters are particularly susceptible to these effects, but this corruption of the Foul can strike anyone.

    Other Details:
    ~
    Sometimes your spirit will glow with corruption during this time. You will put on a necklace with a soft light to indicate you are a corrupted spirit. This glow does not always occur.

    ~ It would be helpful to us if players who don’t normally carry weapons might hold an extra one at night. If you find your self inflicted without a weapon we will often have extras nearby.

    ~ Players who are non-combat or have some other medical reason to have a special combat status should contact plot if they should be immune to this effect.

    ~ In heavily corrupted areas, players who are drawn into the Gloaming and become corrupted spirits rely on living allies in the area to retain their lifeforce. If all of their Gifted allies are killed then they too might be killed.

    ~ We intend this to be fun and we expect players to be fair and fun to other players in all types of game situations. That said, players who would rather take a death or have some other detrimental effect rather than participate in this manner can drop me a line before the event.

    To summarize:“Inflict Haunting trait” means you become a corrupted spirit once.

    When you are dropped, you will be a spirit for 10 seconds and then you will become your character again in whatever state you left. If you were unstable you are instead stable.

    “Permanent Inflict Haunting trait” means you become a corrupted spirit until you receive a “Cure Haunting trait” effect, and each time you are destroyed you will, after ten seconds, reform and “recycle” in some dark place and attack again.

    If you go to reform, try to be in some dark place away from the players. If you must form near active players, take 10 seconds and use whispering and soft cries of anguish to warn them you are reforming.

    If the attack is delivered as a Gesture or a My My Voice then you will turn to a non-combat spirit first, walk out to the horrible thing inflicting you, and then turn into a combat active corrupted spirit.

    As a corrupted spirit:

    ~ All armor, abilities, skills, and boons are suppressed. Your actual body is trapped deep in the Gloaming.

    ~ You have 3 Vitality points.

    ~ You have the traits Haunting, Undead, and Malediction.

    ~ You have the ability to fight with whatever weapons you can find.

    ~ There will sometimes be extra weapons in the area you might be directed to if you have none.