Deadly Sins & Heavenly Virtues

I’ve wanted to incorporate the Seven Deadly Sins into a RPG (or should I say a RPG other than Pendragon) for a long time. Ghastly Affair strikes me as a perfect game to try out some of these ideas.

Determining Sins & Virtues

With the exception of the True Innocent, all characters are predisposed to sin. Each has one vice that is particularly troublesome. True Innocents, on the other hand, have a particular virtue the hold above the rest. The player may choose a sin/virtue or roll on the table below.

d8

Sin…

Virtue…

1

Lust

Chastity

2

Gluttony

Temperance

3

Greed

Charity

4

Sloth

Diligence

5

Wrath

Patience

6

Envy

Kindness

7

Pride

Humility

8

Player’s Choice

Player’s Choice

Gaming with Sins & Virtues

Sins and virtues are roleplaying aids. For example, a wrathful character may have a short temper, and be prone to violence or fits of rage. A prideful individual is always trying to “one up” his enemies and may challenge people too duels over slight offenses.

The Presenter should keep a list of the character’s deadly sin and use them in the game. Confront the character with situations where their sin will get them into trouble or complicate the adventure. Characters may attempt to resist their predilection. Roll 1d20 against the character’s Perversity score. If the die roll is lower than the character’s perversity they will succumb to temptation.

The presence of a True Innocent will help characters resist their sinful ways. If a True Innocent makes an impassioned speech (and succeeds in a roll against Charisma on 1d20), the player of the sinful character may roll 2d20 and choose the highest value for the Perversity roll. True Innocents automatically pass their Charisma test for the virtue they hold dearest.

Review: Travellers on a Red Road

TL/DR: A really cool little game!

I stumbled across Lukas Sjöström’s Travellers on a Red Road whilst lurking on RPG.net. Flintlocks and fantasy has been an interest of mine back from the days of the old Filbanto Stew website. This isn’t a Napoleonic game like Flintloque or the Powder Mage RPG however. It’s a really enthralling world based on the cultures of Siberia and the North American Inuit.

I purchased my copy from Lulu. It is a 6×9 inch paperback. A lot of people like to bitch about the quality of Lulu bindings, but I’ve always had decent luck and this book looks ok to me. The interior is laid out in a two-column format with some very nice illustrations. I’m particularly partial to the warrior on page 54.

The author has broken the game up into several chapters. I’m not going to go into detail on each of them, but rather discuss the book by various (arbitrary) sections.

The game begins with a short introduction. The author really nailed this. It is a great example of concise writing that packs an overview of the rules, the setting and a “what is roleplaying?” section into two pages.

The next section is character creation. Characters are defined by five attributes: Blood (strength/dexterity), Instinct (perception), Presence (charisma), Steel (combat skill) and Wisdom (smarts). This is my first minor quibble with the game. “Blood” and “Steel” are evocative names for attributes. The other three seem somewhat pedestrian by comparison. I honestly like games that stick with easy to understand attribute names. (Heck, I’m planning on selling all of my Eclipse Phase books to Noble Knight Games primarily because I can’t remember the definitions half of the attributes or skills.) Attributes and skills are rated by a die type and range from 1D4 to 1D12. Character generation is fairly detailed – it’s four chapters and 41 pages long. You determine Homeland, Background (previous profession), advantages and disadvantages during the process. The author has considerately created tables for many of the choices so you can do a fair amount of random generation to speed things along.

The rules come next. At first glance, I thought Travellers on a Red Road was going to be some kind of Savage Worlds clone, but the system is a little more nuanced. Skills and attributes are all rated by a die type. You roll your attribute and (not plus) your skill die against a target number of 4. If the score on both dice misses the target the character fails, if one of the dice succeeds the character gets a partial success, and if both dice beat the number a full success. It’s a clever little system. Combat, Spot Rules (fire, falling, poison, etc.), Travel, Magic and Campaigns (downtime) are all described in this section. I do want to do a special “shout out” for the magic section. There are some really interesting abilities and I really liked the rules for familiars in the game as well.

The Game Master section follows the rules. There are some very interesting monsters in the game. An overview of the world follows and then there is a chapter on referee advice. There is also a sample adventure. I’m really grateful the author included one. I’ve picked up so many games that are really cool, but always leave me stuck for “what the heck do you do in this world?”

A glossary, afterward and much appreciated index round out this game.

I really like this game. It draws from cultures that I have never explored in a RPG setting. I think if I did run this, I’d dial the technology back a bit – get rid the flintlocks and some of the industry. I’m not sure why, it just matches my picture of how I’d run a game set in this world.

Travellers on a Red Road is available in PDF from DriveThruRPG or in hard copy from Lulu.

Review: Aquelarre

TL/DR: It’s great!

The English translation of Aquelarre was kickstarted by Stewart Wieck back in 2015. Aquelarre has a venerable history. It was published in Spain nearly thirty years ago. Tragically, Mr. Wieck passed away before it was fulfilled. Fortunately, Nocturnal Media and (I think) Chaosium stepped up to see this project completed. I do know they’ve had some trouble shipping to international backers.

Aquelarre is a mighty tome. It weighs about five pounds, over 560 pages long, glossy interior, beautiful illustrations and layout. The binding looks good, but with a book of this size you will want to treat it with care. The campaign did offer a “Brevarium” – a black and white rule book that was supposed to be half the size. I sure wish I had picked up a copy for the gaming table.

Before jumping into the review, I want to take a quick detour and talk about the language of the book. The author is loquacious. I’m pretty sure this book could have been half the size and lost none of the content with a tighter writing style. Here’s an example from the section on Poison:

As if there weren’t enough situations that can injure a character, one more must be added: poisoning. Whether administered with malicious intent, used by certain animals or creatures, or consumed totally by accident, characters may encounter the pernicious effects of poison on a multitude of occasions so that they might wish to raise their Taste percentage and different Knowledges, if they don’t wish to end their days with their face planted in the bowl of hot soup they were savoring.

The Introduction contains many of the standards you see in role-playing games: what is a role-playing game, dice conventions, glossary, history of the game itself and an example of play. After that, the book is broken into five sections each consisting of several chapters.

Liber I: Mechanica describes character creation, the game system, healing and combat. Characters can be generated randomly or with the “free choice” method. Throughout the chapter they provide examples of each. Characters are fairly detailed, you determine the kingdom you are form, religion, profession (which determines your starting skills), and so forth. There are “Boons and Banes”, essentially advantages and disadvantages. The game system is described next. Aquelarre’s game system is obviously derived from Chaosium’s Basic Role Playing system (BRP). If you are familiar with BRP, you will find Aquelarre and easy game to pick up. If you are not familiar with BRP, I am not sure if this is the best presentation to learn the system. It depends on how easily you can digest the author’s prose. Healing and damage are described in the next chapter. As the game is set in medieval Spain and there is not a lot of magical healing available this is a pretty important chapter. This is not a game where your hit points quickly regenerate after a fight. If your character is injured, you can expect to be laid up for a while. The final chapter in this section is devoted to combat. Again, those familiar with BRP should be right at home here. Combat looks deadly. Wear armor if you can.  From a mechanical standpoint, Aquelarre is one of the crunchiest BRP variants that I have seen. It’s got hit locations, major wounds, a different damage bonus system based on weapon type, a fairly lengthy selection of skills and character choices.

Liber II: Metaphysic describes the character’s world view, magic and theology. Your character’s world view plays a central role in this game. Do you believe in an orderly universe, ruled by God? If so, you are rational. Conversely, if you believe in magic, and the fae, you are irrational. There are game mechanics around this choice and they are on a sliding scale of 100 points. As you become more irrational, you lose points in rational. This remind me of traits from Pendragon such as Chaste/Lustful. Irrational characters are drawn to magic, and if you desire to play a magician that is the path you will take. Rational characters are drawn to God and may perform miracles of faith. It is very hard to maintain rationality in the game. Seeing demons will often cause you to become more irrational. It’s a really cool system. The next two chapters in this section describe magical spells and the powers of faith. The spells and rituals are very evocative.

Liber III: Cosmograpica is the “Monster Manual” of the game. There are over 100 pages of creatures to spring upon your characters. An entire chapter is devoted to devils and demons. Angels get their own chapter too. The last chapter in this section is devoted to the monsters of medieval Spain. While many of the creatures are familiar, they all have an Iberian spin and are sure to surprise and challenge your players. You could build a great scenario around each of these creatures and ideas kept popping into my head while I read this chapter.

Liber IV: Medievalia describes the game world. Aquelarre is set in reconquista Spain in the fourteenth to fifteenth centuries. The actual time of the game is left vague, but timelines of major events are provided to help game masters give a sense of the campaign. This section was fantastic. It is a period I know very little about and I am impressed with the detail presented by the author. There are descriptions of all the kingdoms of the period, the various social classes, what it was like for Jews and Muslims during the time, life in general. The author wants your game to live and breath the medieval and provides you with all the tools you need to immerse yourself in this period. The section ends with a chapter on game mastering Aquellare. It’s great stuff!

Liber V: Tales contains three adventures. The first is a solo adventure, the other two are more traditional adventures. I don’t want to describe the adventures too much for fear of spoilers, but they look like fun and will at least help game masters come up with ideas on what to do with this game.

The final section is this book is a series of appendices containing information on equipment and goods, the monetary and measurement systems, names, locations, a battle system, maps and character sheet.

I highly recommend this game. Even if you do not run it, this is a beautiful book chock full of terrifying monsters and history. At the time of this review, Aquelarre does not appear to be for sale. There is a translation of the introduction available at DriveThruRPG. Keep an eye on the Kickstarter I guess.

Review: Elizabethan Adventures

TL/DR: Great resource, kludgy system

Elizabethan Adventures is a roleplaying game set in 16th century England. This is a great and somewhat underserved period for gaming. Adventure abounds: court intrigue, the Spanish threat, friction on the Scottish border, exploration of the New World and piracy are all possible campaign types. The game is written by Matthew Walhead and it is truly  a labor of love. There are two volumes to the game: the Player’s Book containing the basic game rules and character generation and the Gamemaster’s Book which describes the world, ships, travel and so forth. The game system appears to derive from the Basic Roleplaying System (BRP) that Chaosium developed for Runequest and Call of Cthulhu.

I have the hard cover volumes from DriveThruRPG. The covers are simple and elegant. The interiors are full color. Illustrations are mainly pictures (I’m pretty sure they are culled from movie stills), period engravings and some really nice line drawings of weapons and ships. These are print on demand books, so you’ll need to take care on the binding. I’m really glad the author chose to spilt the books into two volumes for this reason. Overall, the quality looks good.

The Player’s Book begins with a short introduction and then jumps into Character Creation. This is very much a “traditional roleplaying game”, but it does have a bit of a twist. All players must come up with a concept of a “Hidden Character”. What this really boils down to, is that every player in the game has some sort of secret – unknown to the other players – that may put them at odds with their fellow adventurers from time to time. It’s a cool idea and will engender a healthy level of paranoia amongst your players. Next, players choose gender, social class (called Social Estate) and roll or use a point-allocation system to determine attributes. There are ten attributes in the game: Agility, Appearance, Charisma, Confidence, Constitution, Instinct, Intelligence, Memory, Quickness and Strength. The sheer number of attributes was my immediate clue that the author was a “splitter” rather than a “lumper” when it came to game design. Secondary attributes such as Fate Points (a luck mechanism), Hit Points and Damage Bonus come next. After that the player can choose from a short list of Special Traits – basically advantages. Finally, the player chooses one or more Professions for his character to determine the skills he begins play with. The section wraps up with determining other character traits (age, name, etc.) and a discussion on how the experience system works.

The next chapter is Professions. There are 45 pages devoted to the professions available to characters; serious overkill. I guess somebody, somewhere may wish to write up a dairymaid or a cheesemonger… I’ll be honest. I skimmed over most of this section, only spending time reading the more adventurous or interesting careers. There are some really cool pieces of information in this section. For example, I knew that barbers and surgeons were closely related in the middle ages. I didn’t know that many barbers ran bath houses and effectively doubled as pimps.

The next chapter is devoted to skills. It begins with a discussion of the game system. Elizabethan Adventures uses 1D20 for the primary die to resolve tasks. The player attempts to roll below their skill level (there are the usual modifiers and such) to see if they succeed at a task. There are rules for critical success and failure. The game system will feel very familiar to anyone who’s played BRP; it basically replaces the percentile roll with 1D20. Next we’re onto an exhaustive list of skills. Combat skills, in particular, have a crazy number of combinations. You don’t choose weapon skills (like Rapier), but rather a fighting style. All fine and good, until you see the list: Broadsword & Broadsword, Broadsword & Cloak, Broadsword & Dagger, Broadsword & Shield. Now repeat, replacing Rapier for Broadsword in the previous sentence… There are a large number of skills for crafting, social and other areas. I’ve gotten to the point in my gaming life where detailed lists of skills just turn me off. I like like skills that have a broad application, rather than specializations.

Combat is the focus of the next chapter. I found the Combat Matrix a little tricky to read at first. It is similar to Legend from Mongoose – an implementation of BRP that I never cared for. All weapons have damage for slash, thrust or bashing attacks. There didn’t seem to be an advantage to using any mode over the other, so I am not sure why a player would ever choose a lesser damage attack. Parrying is also a little complex. Each weapon has a decimal multiplier that you apply to the character’s skill to determine his chance to parry. It’s similar to GURPS, but varies by weapon. I like the idea, but I am not a big fan of how it is implemented. Overall, I think combat would be slow.

The final chapter in the Player’s Book is on Injury & Health. The game has hit locations and a major wound system. Combat looks like it would be pretty deadly and in a world where there is no magical healing your character can expect to be laid up for some time after a skirmish – if he doesn’t die from infection that is… Other sources of damage such as falling and poison are detailed in this chapter. It is rounded out with how to recover damage from the quackery that passes for medicine in the sixteenth century.

The Player’s Book ends with a series of tables for character creation, weights and measures, weapon statistics and so forth. It’s handy to have all this in one place so the GM doesn’t need to flip around chapters to find it.

The Gamemaster’s Book begins with a chapter on – wait for it – Gamemastering. The author assumes that you are not purchasing this game as your first foray into roleplay, so it is relatively brief. It has information on how to motivate your party and keep them “on task” with good group goals during the session. One of the things that I liked was how the author encouraged the GM to consider the edges of the world as an area where more fantastical things could happen. For example, the kingdom of Prester John may lie somewhere beyond Tartary and King Solon’s Mines are surely hidden somewhere in deepest Africa.

The next chapter focuses on the Game World. The author discusses the various Social Estates and religions of the time. Next, he launches into Witchcraft. The GM is free to allow more otherworldly aspects in their game. Witchcraft and religion can be more than just mummery for those who believe. A note for the faint of heart, Witchcraft is considered the worship of Satan in this game – no nature-worship here. An overview of the world comes next. I really enjoyed this section and honestly learned a lot of history while perusing it. Transportation and travel speed, money and prices and a small bestiary round out the chapter.

Ships & Sailing is the next chapter. This is the time of the Sea Dogs. Hawkins, Raleigh, Drake and many others were commissioned as privateers and preyed on Spanish shipping mercilessly. There are rules for building and outfitting a ship, navigation and combat.

London is the focus of the next chapter. There are period maps of the entire city along with a gazetteer of many of the most famous and interesting locations. Anyone who wishes to run a game in London in this time period would be well-served to pick up this book. Quite frankly, I felt it was the best part of the whole game. The author could easily cut this out of the GM book and sell it as a systemless setting guide. And maybe he’s done it… There is a PDF of the London Map available for sale; I am not sure if it contains the gazetteer.

The final chapter is an introductory adventure. The characters spend a night at a coaching inn and where all sorts of skulldrudgery takes place. I got a strong “Rough Night at the Three Feathers” vibe from this adventure.

I’ve long noodled over running a game set in this time period. I’ve read a fair amount of history and historical fiction set in this time period. The author really knows his stuff! I’d highly recommend this game as a resource. I’m less sold on the system itself. This is really a matter of my own tastes. It is built on BRP so I know it is going to work. It’s just a lot crunchier than I like now-a-days. If I were to start a game in this period, I’d start with FGU’s Flashing Blades and tweak appropriately.

Elizabethan Adventures is available at DriveThruRPG.

Review: Shotguns and Sorcery

TL/DR: It’s good, but don’t buy yet…

Shotguns and Sorcery the Roleplaying Game is based on the fantasy-noir novels from Matt Forbeck. Mr. Forbeck is credited as the lead writer on the game, while Robert Schwalb (of Shadow of the Demon Lord fame) has written the rules. The game was kickstarted in November 2014 with a delivery date of December 2015. I got my copy a few months ago and finally read through it. Was it worth the wait? Nope. Is it any good? Yes.

If you are not aware of Forbeck’s stories, the Shotguns and Sorcery universe is a bash of the fantasy and detective-noir genres. The author has created a world where only one city still exists. The rest of the continent is overrun by hordes of zombies. The action takes place in a crowded metropolis. Various fantasy races all occupy this city and there is a pretty strict class system with Elves at the top, Goblins at the bottom and humans somewhere in the middle.

Shotguns and Sorcery is a 270+ page hardback, with a nice matte-finished cover. The interior is full color, non-glossy paper. The illustrations are nice; kind of a comic book style. The artist, Jeremy Mohler (who is also the creator of the kickstarter), farmed out some of the coloring of his work to other artists. It shows. Many images are a lot “flatter” than others. The book itself looks ok. I don’t think the binding will put up with much abuse at the game table. It feels like the kind of product I’d get from a print on demand company.

The books is divided into seven “parts”, each composed of one or more chapters, and an appendix. I’m going to sum up some of the “parts” quickly. Part 1: Getting Started, is the introduction most role playing games start with. Part 3: Playing the Game, is pretty much a cut-and-paste of the Cypher System rules. Part 7: The Game Master, offers advice on how to run the game; again similar to what many RPGs do. The appendix has a character sheet and the backer list from the Kickstarter. I’ll go into a little more detail on the other parts since they are really where the “new stuff” is located.

Part 2: Character Creation is composed of five chapters and the layout and contents should be familiar to anyone who has played a Cypher System game. Characters in Shotguns and Sorcery follow the “I am a (descriptor), (type) who (focus)” model, but also adds “race” to the mix. Race does add some new cruft to the system. It determines the character’s starting stat pools and sometimes gives them a mechanical benefit akin to a descriptor. The races outlined are dwarf, elf, halfling, human and orc. I do wish the author could have added gnomes, goblins and a few other races that inhabit Dragon City instead of punting it to the GM. Type is the next chapter. Players may choose from Freelance (thief/fighter/mage), Veteran (warrior) and Wizard (magic user). I got a strong Jack, Glaive, Nano feel from the types, but overall I think they work with the game. I do wish they’d done a full-blown thief-type instead of rolling it into the Freelance. Chapters six and seven describe the Descriptor and Focus. They look like they were pulled or reskinned from the Cypher System (version one) rulebook. Finally, chapter eight describes equipment. This chapter looked like a standard list of medieval adventuring gear with firearms tacked on. Now, I haven’t read all of the stories in this universe, but from the couple I did read I got a pretty strong 1930’s vibe for technology. Yeah, magic replaces a lot of it – glow globes instead of electric lights and flying carpets instead of cars, but still…

Part 4: Setting outlines the Dragon City, the many organizations and peoples in it. It also expands upon the world in general. As it turns out, there are far away kingdoms that have not been overrun by a horde of zombies!

Part 5: Creatures and Characters, is chock full of monsters. This is a pretty comprehensive “monster manual” for any fantasy game using the Cypher System. It’s something we really haven’t gotten in any published product to date and I think it’d be very useful to any GM who wanted to run D&D under these rules.

Part 6: Magic Items, has a good 10 pages of interesting magical items. Cyphers exist in Shotguns and Sorcery: they are one-use magic items like potions or scrolls. I really liked how some of the magical items were implemented in the game. You can actually get gear that doesn’t have an exhaustion rate to worry about. Again, this is all useful information for any GM who wants to run a more standard fantasy campaign using Cypher System.

If you’ve read through the Zaibatsu game posts, you’ll see a couple jabs at the Kickstarter campaign. I think Mohler went into this with the best of intentions, but fumbled the execution. I was sure I’d never see the book. By the time I got my copy, the excitement had worn off. I doubt I’ll ever run this, but I can mine it for ideas.

I really want to recommend this game, but won’t. Reason: The non-US backers are still waiting for their hard copies. Don’t give this guy your money until he squares up with the folks who helped fund this game.

Review: Lemurian Chronicles

TL/DR: Buy it now, before the machinations of the Red Druids sink fair Lemuria beneath the waves!

I am a big fan of Barbarians of Lemuria. I backed the kickstarter for the Mythic edition and have run nearly every published adventure for my gaming group. BoL is a great game to break out when another GM needs a break and you don’t feel like playing a board game. I only wish it had more adventures… Well, I guess my prayers to Morgazzon have finally been answered by the good folks at Ludospherik!

The book begins with some interesting background information on the world of Lemuria. Five pages are devoted to the discussion of the calendar of Sartarla, the holidays and a few adventure seeds. It’s little tidbits of information like this that can really make a game come to life.

The next sixteen pages are devoted to the Khanate, that stretch of plains lying to the east of Valgard. Rules are provided for players that wish to create heroes from this region. The cities, wonders and creatures that inhabit the lands are sketched out as well. The chapter ends with more adventure seeds.

Finally, we get five fully detailed adventures (about 100 pages of material) that will test the mettle of the stoutest hero. The adventures take the characters all over Lemurian, and even beyond!

I think “Bored to Death” may be the hardest one to run. It requires the GM to be “on it” in order to keep the action moving along, but not let the characters figure out who is responsible too soon. I really think a timeline of events would help me run this adventure more effectively.

“The Three Chests” is going to make a great “one-shot” adventure. The players portray Kalukan slave-warriors of the Witch Queen. It’s an interesting adventure with a cool twist. Pre-generated characters are provided for the players, and I would probably stick with them for the adventure. I do have a Kalukan player in my current game and this might be an interesting adventure to have him go on though…

I purchased the standard, hard cover book. The binding looks pretty sturdy. The interior artwork is great. I didn’t notice a lot of typos. This is a solid translation from French by someone who clearly knows the game system. Kudos to Jeffrey Probst to his work on this book!

If you haven’t figured it out by now, I highly recommend this book. Lemurian Chronicles is available from DriveThruRPG.com

Deepest, Darkest Eden

TL/DR: It’s really good!

I, Filbanto, shall type with my left hand…

I love the Hyperborean cycle tales. Set in the dim reaches of the past, in a land that faces destruction by an advancing sheet of glacial ice – I guess it ticks all the boxes of what interested me in college (I dual majored in Archaelogy and Geology).

Deepest Darkest Eden is a collection of short stories and poems set in the proto-continent envisioned by Clark Ashton Smith. As with most anthologies there are some tales that really struck a chord with me and others that (pardon the pun) left me cold.

My favorite tale was “Daughter of the Elk Goddess” by John R. Fultz. This was a great adventure that really channelled the ‘sword and sorcery’ tales of the old pulps. Atanequ could certainly hold his own against Kull or Elak if push came to shove. I shan’t spoil the ending of the tale, but anyone who appreciates Smith’s work will certainly chuckle at it.

“To Walk Night…Alone…” by Joseph S. Pulver Jr. was, quite frankly, a slog to get through. Being the second story in the anthology, I started to despair that I’d bought a real stinker. I think I know what the author was trying to accomplish with this style of writing, but it just didn’t work for me.

Overall, I’d recommend the anthology for lovers of Smith’s works. Deepest Darkest Eden is available at Amazon.com.

Zothique via Ran Cartwright

TL/DR: They’re ok.

Every now and again I think about how cool it’d be to run a game set in Zothique. I’ll dig out my Clark Ashton Smith books and read through the stories looking for inspiration. When the bug hit me this time, I figured “surely somebody has written up a story since the Toad God took old C.A. Smith to his bosom”. I stumbled across a novel and two collections of short stories written by Ran Cartwright: The DarkeningSorceries Gnydron, and Sorceries Zothique. Technically, the first two, being set in Gnydron, predate Zothique, but what’s 850,000 years when we’re peering a billion years into our future.

I didn’t go into these books with high expectations. Smith had a way with words that few authors can capture. Cartwright has some interesting stories in these collections, but none of them capture the black humor you get in a C.A. Smith story. In fact – and I guess I should insert a spoiler alert here – most of the stories just end in a bloody mess. I almost felt like the author couldn’t figure out a way to end the tale, so he just killed off all his characters to wrap things up.

Out of the three books, I think The Darkening was the best. The collections of short stories can be mined for adventure ideas for games like Barbarians of Lemuria or Conan, but beware of a TPK.

As for gaming in Zothique, G.R. Hager has written up guidelines for D20. I’d likely use Barbarians of Lemuria.

Numenera 2.1: Line of Descent

Uncle,

It’s me Maga, again. I’m tellin’ Jenny what to write on this letter to you. He says the paper’s too wet and it’s prob’ly gonna come apart when he scratches on it, but it’s all I got. The paper was in my pack, brung here from Keford. And the pack was on my back when we went down under the ocean to the bottom where the water ran out and there was land again.

The last I told you, we was in a dark cave where some bugs lived. Well, the bugs stopped comin’ and we rested and I smoked a fag. Then we left the cave and the town where all the people got stolen. Then we left to go back to Keford to see the Aeon Priestess lady and the pirate king. What? Oh, Jenny says he’s Ayderman the Masturstrate.

So then, we was on the road riding them big ole critters some more for a long time and we saw some of them mad-faced glaives we seen before, heading back into Navarene. One of them told us their old leader, Dilron, and the other bad ones stayed over in Ghan to go fuck with the woodmen some more. Then we was getting’ near Keford and Pyx, the little owl that Ildrak wears on his shoulder, went up real high and said he saw some men hidin’ up a ways behind a big rock. One of them men ain’t no man, just that mutie bastard called Octy. I said, “It’s gotta go, ‘fore he fouls the gene pool.” That’s what Mama always said anyways, “Maga we’re just lucky you’re one of a kind, so, see… it’s your duty to not let the gene pool get any worse.” Not sure what she meant, ‘cept to kill them muties.

So, then, Ildrak sneaks way, way around the back of them men hiding over there, sneaky bastard, and then he uses this crazy cypher to stick his hand way, way across the empty field and then he dropped a bomb right in their laps and it blows up real good. Them men and Dilron and and Octy are all blowed up and then me and you, what? It’s Jemmy? Whatever, Jenny. And me and Jenny and Dudley start riding them critters real fast at the rocks, and them men is scared and running away, so we start fighting them, and I shoot down Octy pretty quick ‘cuz he was a mutie pussy. But Dudley’s having a bad time with Dilron, and Dudley is bleedin’ real bad and fighting a couple them other men too. Ildrak is shooting some beam gun from the behind the rocks, ‘cept I don’t think he knew how to work it proper and then he broke it. So me and Jenny help Dudley out and we finally knock Dilron’s men down and Jenny shoots Dilron with that dart gun he sewed on his arm and Dilron ain’t dead, but can’t move, but then I whacked him dead ‘cuz he was a mutie-lover.. Them glaives ain’t got nothing valuable ‘cept Dilron has some nice armor, but then we leave it’ cuz if you’re gonna wear it, people will think you are a mutie-lover.

So at Keford, the Aeon lady gives us stuff so we can go to the bottom of the ocean and find them metal men that has been stealin’ everyone. It’s a mask for breathing and some pills that keep us from being crushed like a bug by all that water on top of us. We go out on a boat with some of Ayderman’s men and then we lower the anchor chain. Then like two hours later it lands and we go down in the water with our masks and stuff. Everyone else wears some suit to keep them warm. Me, I like cold water so I go bare chested like Pa showed me. “Keep divin, son,” he’d say, “ dive a little deeper next time, son, and try goin’  real deep in one of them caves where them harrier-sharks live, pretty sure there’s treasure.”

We finally touch the bottom of the ocean and it is dark down there. We followed Jenny’s flesh compass and some other thing Dudley was carryin’ that told us where the metal men was, and they was pointin’ different ways, so we din’t follow any of them and then found a shimmery place in the water where it was real warm in there and I could breathe real good, better than I ever did up on the land. So we followed along until we come to a door in a blue-metal building. We went in and found another inside room still full of water with a big window of another room with air in it. We went up a ladder into that room and then took off our masks and such, and my smokes was still dry so I had a fag. Then Ildrak made a bunch a noise opening a door and a metal man came after us all. I don’t know why back home in Hyrem, we kill’t like two of them metal men apiece, but this one was real tough and I kept slippin on the wet floor, and ‘fore I know it Ildrak is frozen by the metal man’s dart, and then ‘fore I know it I am frozen by another dart. And Jenny and Dudley gotta kill that robot themselves. And they do and then they wait a long time I still can’t do nothin’ ‘cept move my eye a little. Then they got bored and they open another door and I hear a big long fight and it sounds mostly like Jenny beating on a metal man with a boat-hook. Then it’s real quiet. Then they come drag us frozen ones into a big room and now I can sit up and I look over and there’s Julletine, my cousin’s brother’s wife, lookin’ all pale and sickly. She told us she’s the last from Hyrem and everyone else been pumped full of stuff from tubes by the metal men and shoved through into some kinda doorway, ‘cept not like a normal doorway.

Uncle, we’re kinda fucked again, and I wish you was here with us. We’re all beat up and Ildrak can move his big toe only. And now somehow we gotta figure out about that weird doorway and get ourselves and Julletine outta the bottom of the ocean. And maybe along the way, find my other uncle’s sister and my uncle’s sister’s daughter, too.