Where are we moving to? Everyone else seem to be moving to MEWE.

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Sawila spellweaving and how to make friends with island bird-people, today on Talislanta Incognita.

On Sawila Spellweaving
On Sawila Spellweaving

So, between games 5 and 6, Emmersea's player asked me a bunch of questions about the limitations and abilities of magic and enchantment.

Now, as I've said, I'm running a sort of modified Tal. I've got the action table, I've got the setting, but the rules specifics are a little different. I had given some thought to Enchantment - mainly that I didn't really want it to be a separate skill. After all, an enchanter would still need a ton of skill levels/ranks/points in what ever Mode they wanted to use, so it seems a bit odd to have to buy up two skills. Yes, that does mean that theoretically any powerful magic-user can enchant stuff, so why don't they? Well, there's the 7 item magical limit (game limitation) and there's the time/cost involved (magical items tend to be nice/fancy). But otherwise, why not? So, basically short version is that a spell can be made permanent by simply increasing its duration to that level (which is right on up there at like a -15 to the casting roll, plus requires a second roll against the character's appropriate mental stat at a -5). Doable by a PC, especially with Action Points (what I'm using as hero points), but not something you want to spend doing every game session.

So, Emmersea is missing her son (kidnapped by slavers). Actually ALL of the PCs except Aria, the Dhuna witch, have had a loved one taken by slavers. So that's shaping up to be an issue. Since Emmersea is a Cymrillian, of course her solution is to use magic to find her kid. And in this case, basically a high level casting of a Reveal spell to create a sort of dowsing rod/seeing stone that she can use to see if the kid is within range. Most of the time, it reveals nothing (I think the range is like 5 kilometers = about 3 miles).

So that leads us into Game 6.


Emmersea has her enchanted necklace, but still can't find her son. She harks to the idea that Aria with her witchcraft can likely scry out more information at a better range than her own elementalism will allow. So after a somewhat bloody little ritual, the group is able to figure out that Emmersea's son is being held on a labor farm in the Dark Coast, forced to work in cultivation fields that are being used to grow lotus (black, red, and green) and k'tallah. From some context clues around the farm, through the scrying, they figure out that it's in the Dark Coast, near the ruins of Aurantium.

While the Captain is still recovering from the attack (game 5), they divert slightly north towards the Dark Coast, avoiding other ships while they can. Within a week they find the labor farm (the Captain is healed by this time, too). Emmersea and Pip head to the camp while the rest of the crew (and the ship) wait about a 1.5 kilometers off.

The labor farm is huge. It's divided up into at least 5 smaller farms, each of these with about 90 slaves of varying ages working the fields. There are a half-dozen small huts for slave housing, and a large wood and stone tower (3 stories high) as a guard post. Guards consist of Thralls and Ahazu in about a 1:2 ratio. Pip counts out about 15 to 20 guards (so like 5-8 Thralls, 10-12 Ahazu). It's assumed that some guards are in the tower (resting, off duty, asleep, who knows). There's a presence atop the guard tower, guards walking the rows of plantings and the berms above the sunken patties for the lotuses.

Emmersea and Pip make some dubious, but appropriate choices here... Pip does not want to leave the cover of the jungle for any of those guards to spot him. It's not that the Arimite is a coward, just that he prioritizes his own skin. Emmersea, however, is determined to find her child and she knows he's here (even her magic charm is alerting her that he's within range). Emmersea wants to get closer, and figures that looking like one of the slaves might work. So, Pip agrees to sneak to one of the slave huts, snatch some of the tattered garb, and sneak back. That goes over well - Pip is great at all of the sneaky criminal stuff.

Emmersea sneaks onto the farm in slave garb but there are like 90 slaves spread out around a wide plot on this specific plot. Eventually, she finds out where the children are working (they work around the k'tallah) but before she can head there, a guard spots her and starts heading over to question her (she wasn't working and isn't as thin as the other slaves) which leads to her insinuating to the slave she's talking to that she's here with others and a rescue is about to happen. Which is, apparently, what some of the slaves have been waiting to hear - they think that they're all getting rescued and start their violent uprising against the guards. Emmersea tries to sneak into the sudden violent chaos to get to the children. Pip starts freaking out (over at the treeline).


At this point, I did something a little unorthodox. Instead of deciding how many rounds of combat would happen (neither Emmersea nor Pip are dedicated fighters), I took a handful of cards (actually they're portrait cards by some 3rd party meant for D&D games). One of them was Emmersea's son, one was an angry guard, and like 4 were random other slaves. Then, I had Emmersea's player draw them one at a time. If it was a slave, she had an encounter with them. While that encounter went on, Pip also got to do something. There were a total of 6 or 7 cards and we went through at least 3 or 4 before Emmersea's kid got drawn (the guard was never drawn).


Along the way, the guards atop the tower blew a signal horn and fired off three springals into the rebelling slaves below (they also had slaves atop the tower to load the springals). Pip scaled the outside of the tower, got to the top, and found two Thrall guards there with about 6 slaves. Pip managed to assassinate one of the Thralls - attacking it from behind and spending something like 4 of his 5 Action points. Then, squared off against the other guard Pip did his Arimite knife-fighting trick and flung an ungodly amount of throwing knives into the other Thrall. Which wasn't enough to kill him, but it was enough to convince that Thrall to back off and retreat into the tower below. Unfortunately, the slave revolt had drawn the attention of the other farms and a large windship-barge was on the way loaded with more guards (Pip could see this from the top of the tower). Emmersea had at this point gotten her son and 5 other kids to the edge of the jungle.


The game wrapped shortly thereafter with the windship picking up Emmersea and Pip along with Emmersea's kid, 5 other slave kids, and another four adult slaves.

Unfortunately, all of the slaves have been exposed to both Lotus and K'tallah and tomorow's game is going to heavily focus on the after-effects/withdrawal from the same.

After a bit of a hiatus (convention season), we're back!


It is the 37th of Talisandre - late in the month and now the Silver moon is but a waning sliver of a crescent while the shadowy bulk of Zar already darkens the horizon. The Obscura sails close to the surface of the sea for Captain Drakasha disliked the look of some of the avir flying over the swampy jungles of Jhangara towards sunsset.

The night time cries of strange creatures echo out from the shores to the north of the ship, while to starboard the waters of the Azure Ocean are driven on by a distant storm that the Obscura had been trying to shake for much of the afternoon. The majority of the crew now slumbers, and most of them below deck, though a few enterprising and brave souls lay beneath the open sky, tied loosely to the deck and resting beneath blankets. A single lantern, hooded to cast a pale blue light that is only a little brighter than that of the Silver moon, hangs from the mast.

Drakasha herself stands near the focsle, looking out over the path ahead. Another crewman stands at the wheel atop the aftcastle, but his attention seems focused almost solely on the pipe that he occasionally takes a long draw from.

The ship drifts into a huge bank of fog, obscuring the view of anything beyond the decks. The pilot starts to slow the ship. There are distant sounds of waves breaking, but nothing can be seen (the ship is flying low to the water's surface, about 6 meters above the wave crests).


So, that's the intro to tonight's game... afterwards, I asked each player what their character would be doing on such a night, given that they've been travelling for maybe three or four uneventful days...

* Ovet was sleeping on deck. Emmersea was sleeping in a cabin below decks.

* Aria was nearly naked, trying to catch some of the light of the moons. Pip was awake as well, but he was in the cabin areas, "inspecting" things (read: being a sneaky bastard and going through the captain's sea chest).

Basically, the game tonight was a long scripted combat of about 15 rounds. Scripted combat is basically a tool ported in from some of the Atlantis adventures; a series of different events happen on different rounds of combat (as per a script) unless the PCs end the combat early by meeting certain goals. However, I didn't tell them how long this combat would last. I did however have some of them 'start' combat before the others depending on what their PCs were doing at the time.

Also, I used my old Hellas action deck to give the Players some additional oomph. Not everything on the Action Deck cards translates, but since I'm using some heavily house ruled additions/changes, enough of it works.


Since Aria was the only one awake and on deck, she was the only one to see a series of shadows pass over the ship in the fog. (Pip would later see this through a crystal window at the back of the captain's quarters that looked out on a private aft deck, but Pip would see the 'mother-ship' so to speak.) (It will be 5 rounds before Pip notices, and also 5 rounds before Emmersea is awakened.)

Before Aria can raise a cry, she sees the pilot/wheelman fall. She starts to go to him and notices an 20 centimeter long leech-like thing attached to her arm. The pilot's fall gets his arm caught in the wheel which starts to turn the ship, taking it slightly off course.

The ship's sudden list wakes Ovet. Ovet discovers two of the leech things on herself, and when she tries to wake the man beside her, finds another four on him. Ovet and Aria spend a round divesting themselves of these strange leeches (Aria figures out that their actually feeding on her soul and not just her flesh) before leaping to the aid of the ship. While they pull of leeches, Drakasha gets hit with a bolt of lightning from somewhere perpendicular to the ship and goes down pretty hard - (failed a Physical + Endurance roll and fell unconscious for 3 rounds).

Aria runs up the stairs of the wheelhouse to grab the wheel (and finds a strange looking severed hand clutching the pilot's neck) while Ovet runs below decks towards the ship's small galley, shouting at anyone she finds as she goes. All of the crew seem to be in the grip of some nightmares and are slow to awaken (if at all). The ones above decks all have the strange leeches on them; the ones below decks begin to stir.

Ovet reaches the galley and starts banging pots and a gong to rouse the crew. Aria attempts to get the ship back on course (and stopped). When she thinks the ship is slowing, she reaches down to try to get the hand from the pilot's neck and flings it overboard.

Ovet's noisemaking coincides with round 5 and Pip and Emmersea noticing that something is amiss. Pip grabs a bunch of stuff from the captain's chest (to give as gifts to his friends) while Emmersea lurches out into the hallway of the aftcastle to find a crewman unconscious on the floor, a severed hand clutched around his neck and blood pooling on his chest.


On deck, a huge bat manta lands over the body of the Captain and blasts the deck/ship with its aura of fear (characters resist against AL+10 - in this case 16. Aria manages this barely. When Ovet finally hits the deck, she's immune to fear. Pip clears it handily, but Emmersea fails with a 13. So, she's got a -3 to all her rolls for a bit.

By this point, about 6 or 7 rounds have gone by. Aria has noticed that some heavily cloaked figures disembarked from the bat manta and are loading up unconscious crew onto the bat manta's back. The sense of urgency grows - it's clear what the opponent's goal is: steal as many crew as possible.

So, they start to charge in. Ovet gets lucky and takes down one of the cloaked forms with a first round critical. Emmersea tries to overcome her fear (after boosting herself with some geomantic armor) - she blasts two bat mantas (and accidentally the Captain as well) with a huge aeromantic attack spell before she uses an Action card to slam the beast off the side of the ship. Aria follows with her own Action card to use her silver-tongue to order one of the attackers off the ship (it leaps onto the back of another bat manta circling the ship to escape).


They manage to clear the deck of attackers, but can still hear things in the distance. Pip is certain that he saw something huge following the ship, but they can't make out anything in the fog. Emmersea uses some aeromantic wind gusts (a reveal spell) to attempt to clear as much of the fog around the ship as possible (30 meter diameter orb centered on the main mast ain't too shabby). While Emmersea concentrates on keeping the spell up, the others peer into the murk. Pip and Aria spot some bat mantas circling off to one side of the ship. Ovet, however, manages to also spot what appears to be a low slung vessel in the water as well as some huge kra lunging upwards near the ship (as if attacking the bat mantas) as well as a huge airborne vessel with a silhouette she doesn't recognize hovering above it all.

The crew decide to flee rather than investigate.


Additional notes:

The Action cards worked well for the most part. One of them had the possibility of drawing down a Fate Point and since I'm not using those, that didn't exactly work out.

The Players (3 of 4 whom are new to Tal) didn't recognize the foes as being Brood (along with Brood gear and a huge Broodwyrm in the distance) but were suitably creeped out by the n'aru and vorak tools (worms and severed hands) as well as the Brood's 'clothing' once they got close to it.

I'm nailing down some of the changes that we've been playing with - getting things worked out and hammered into a balance that fits the feel of Tal.

The process has begun! I've ordered the first two books in my acquisition plan, the Handbook & Campaign Guide, and the Sorcerer's Guide. Next time it will be the Naturalist's Guide and Chronicles. Looking forward to seeing these hardbacks, and hopefully more to come in the POD availability!

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It seems the stars are right for an article about Phantasian Astromancy. Enjoy it while the alignments of the celestial bodies are just right!

On Phantasian Astromancy
On Phantasian Astromancy

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It’s been a long while since I bought a brand new Talislanta book. I never had the 2nd ed, actually, so jumped at getting a POD copy via DTRPG the other day.

Werewood Pirates, game 4

Oh! the last game actually ended with the crew leaving the tower and sailing away. But in the process of getting Emmersea and Aria off the tower, the ship's captain (Drakasha) and some crew members leapt over to help out...

Only Drakasha didn't help. She pulled out the strange statue from game 1 and slammed it into the strange summoning bowl at the top of the tower, then leapt back aboard the ship behind the retreating crew.

So, this session started with seeing some strange hideous red-skinned devilish figure appear at the top of the tower while the Obscura high-tailed it away. None of the PCs got a roll high enough to figure out that it was a Tarteran, but they did figure out that whatever it Drakasha "summoned" wasn't natural and was likely bad.

Emmersea tried to confront Drakasha about it, only to be told off.
"When you're the captain, you can ask the personal questions."

Emmersea goes off to brood about it.

The ship sails south-southeast, making their way around Aamanian settlements after crossing over the Sea of Sorrows. It's a relatively quiet journey (more healing from arrow wounds). Until the Obscura puts in at Caprica on Thaecia for some shore leave.

The PCs head into 'town' to sell some stuff and see if they can track down rumors (personal quests). Pip comes up with a 'scheme' to make some 'legitimate money' by having folks pay to arm-wrestle Ovet and then working the crowd to take bets while Aria uses witchcraft to boost Ovet's chance of winning (increased strength mainly). This goes ok, and while Aria and Ovet charm and beat the crowd, Pip starts roaming around and stealing things that aren't nailed down (mainly coin purses, but also some minor trinkets).

Emmersea joins them in time for them to see Drakasha come down from the second floor of the tavern (that they thought was relatively empty), cloaked as if she was attempting to hide her identity. Not long after, some huge (tall) cloaked and robed figure comes down the stairs with a silver-chain leash, the end of which is some strange hideously filthy thing. (Again, some not so hot lore checks give the PCs the info that its some sort of demon, but they don't know what kind nor what the tall figure is - note: one player knows but her character doesn't so she kept mum).

Emmersea and Pip decide that they simply must. Know. More. Separately, they start to approach this cloaked figure. Ovet and Aria back off, keeping watch, but wanting to stay out of things.

Emmersea attempts to fake a fall so that she can grab a hold of the figure and pull back it's hood. Pip is going to attempt to pick it's pocket.

(Note: Neither gets a great roll for their respective schemes. Neither scheme was particularly well planned in any case, but alas...)

Emmersea breaks out of the crowd near the figure, 'stumbles', only to find the hideous beast from the chain clinging to her leg, exuding a foul stench, and looking up at her. With a mouth full of drool and halitosis and broken teeth, it says "what do you think you're doing?"

Pip, his hand on the being's purse, stops as it hears the thing speak. He looks up and finds a pair of black eyes peering down at him.

Emmersea begins to freak out. Arms waving. Body half-frozen in revulsion and disgust. Lots of "ew, ew, ew, getitoffgetitoffgetitoff" going on.

The tall figure stares at Pip, drops the chain, snaps its fingers. Another strange thing appears in its gloved hand, perhaps 6 inches tall, and whispers something to Pip. Then the cloaked figure closes its hand over the apparition, snaps its fingers again (the chain comes back to its hand) and it starts to walk, dragging the creature from Emmersea's legs.

Emmersea immediately begins to strip off her leggings and boots in the middle of the tavern in utter disgust. Pip, stands there, still agog at what was whispered to him. When Aria goes to see what's up, Pip only says, "I've got to go speak to the captain."

So, off to Drakasha they go.

On board, Pip manages to convince Drakasha that the Obscura should head east - towards Tarun - next. Pip dresses it all up in terms of bounty and booty - things they can steal, slaves they can liberate, ports they can sell things in. The other PCs still don't quite know what's going on, but they hop on Pip's train and go right along, agreeing to heading east. In short order, they convince Drakasha to head east after shore leave is done instead of heading back to Werewood.

Right, this is actually going to cover a couple of games. Our regularly scheduled game night had an illness, so we canceled one week, then last week and this we did a game night essentially 'back to back' to make up for it. However, we're going to probably be missing a session or two as the next 3-4 weekends are tied up.


We picked up with the characters in the wizard's tower from last game; mostly just recuperating and recovering from the battle with the plant grue last game.

Note: Recuperation times are kinda wacky. HP are an abstraction, yes, but still wacky.

The pirates windship comes sailing in low over Lake Venda, full speed, being pursued by a slow bulky ship painted white, white sails with a big eye painted in red in the center. Aamanian witchhunters. And the group's pirate ship is leading them right towards them.
Ovet (the Thrall) starts signalling the ship with a hand mirror, trying to coordinate a fast pick-up while simultaneously giving them advice about the Aamanians behind them. Aria (the Dhuna) and Emmersea (the Cymrilian) were just waiting for the Aamanians to get within spell range, while Pip (the Arimite) was fretting about getting all of his spoils aboard the ship.

Note: This was intended to be a quick game. The Aamanian vessel had two medium ballistae up front (one to each side) and a small ballista at the rear. They had a complement of archers (10 archers) led by a commander (some ranks in skills for tactics and command) and a priest (who already had some defensive magics up). The pilot of the Aamanian craft was skilled (+10), but the ship itself was slower and less maneuverable (-5 to rolls). I nabbed the rules for fighting different sizes from Hellas; the PCs would have an easier time hitting the Aamanian ship itself, but do less damage; conversely the ship would have a hard time hitting them with its main guns, but do a heckuvalot more damage if they did hit. The plan was to give the PCs some hard choices - how to get onto their vessel without subjecting it to too much enemy fire, how to get any loot aboard with them (while most of it was small, there were also some rugs, tapestries, and other large sundries (salvaged food)), and how to take out/neutralize the Aamanian ship and still get away. The Pirates own vessel only has one small ballista at its prow, whatever firepower the PCs themselves bring to bear, and five additional sailors who can act as archers. The ship's pilot is skilled (+10) and the ship is nimble and fast (+3 to maneuvers).

GM intent aside (as it always is), Ovet got the pirate's vessel (The Obscura) to whip around the tower, tossing an anchor to the tower itself to help slow and coil the ship close. When that happened, the PCs wound up between the Obscura and the Aamanians - that's when the first volley of arrows from the Aamanians flew across.

Aria used one of the arrows (that had just struck her) as a focus for a witchcraft spell to target the Aamanian archers. Basically, she'd wind up using this trick repeatedly to take out archers almost one by one. Emmersea started blasting with Elementalism, mixing things up between fireballs aimed at the sails or ship itself, and lightning bolts aimed at the crew members. Pip pretty much just hit the deck and tried to avoid arrows, screaming at everyone around him to stop the fighting.
But Ovet... Ovet leapt over to the Obscura, easily I might add with her high physical and endurance scores. Once there, she started commanding the crew who could be archers AND she hopped up and started loading the Obscura's ballista.

Note: Do **not* let a combat optimized Thrall use a ballista.*

Over the next few rounds, the Obscura would drift away from the tower (the anchor chain snapped) while Aria and Emmersea would continue to pelt the Aamanians with spells, while themselves getting poked by arrows (or occasionally dodging them or seeking cover on the open tower top). Aria focused a lot on taking down individual Aamanian crew/archers, while Emmersea kept up a rotating series of attacks on nearly everything in sight.
Ovet used the ballista to:

1. Shoot out the main mast of the Aamanian ship. This was detrimental to their forward momentum. (Emmersea then started burning sails that had come down.)

2. Shoot out the Aamanian rudder/stabilizing sails. This was detrimental to their ability to maneuver. (Emmersea then blasted the side of the ship with a gust of wind, breaking some boards, but also attempting to tip the ship.)

3. Then after Emmersea, Pip, and Aria had all taken some injuries, Ovet realized that the Obscura was too far from the tower to recover them. So she figures out an approach that would keep the Obscura out of the arcs of the Aamanian ship-weapons (though the archers were still an issue) while allowing the Obscura to reach/dock at the tower.

4. The Aamanians did not like all of this. The Aamanian priest aboard comes to the railings and casts something. The PCs are not sure what. Pip starts screaming at Ovet to, and I quote, "do something about that priest."
Ovet shoots the priest with the ballista.
Ovet makes the roll, even with penalties for hitting a small target (remember the rules I mentioned before).
The shot is enough to break through the defensive aura the priest had up as well as drop a lot of his HP in one go. See previous note about Thralls and ballistae.

Pip decides that recovering the Aamanian priest's staff is a viable option, boards the Obscura, and attempts to convince folks to get him over to the other ship so that he can 'claim his prize.' Pip is denied.

With the Aamanian ship partly disabled, the PCs and pirate crew decide to depart, quickly, before the priest can get back up. Pip is distraught that he didn't get any treasure from the Aamanians. "We're pirates, dammit! We should loot and pillage!"

Session notes: the game went pretty quick, mainly because it was largely just one big combat. Pip, as the party's primary 'thief' didn't really have much to do - he's not really built for giving orders nor distance-based combat. That's something that I'm going to have to watch out for and address in some way.

I've got a question for all of the die hard Tal fans. How does one create potions, elixers, and so on using the alchemy skill? I can't find any diagrams or any rules on how to make these. How would a character make a healing elixer? What if they wanted to make something like a breathe fire potion? I can't find anything.
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