marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
Over the weekend a young acquaintance mentioned his desire to play a (D&D3) minotaur paladin, and some resistance he had met to the idea. I took the time to explain that the resistance was probably not to the idea as such, but the extra work that would be required to align the DM's world such that any minotaur character and their companions would not be confronted by torch-and-pitchfork wielding mobs / local adventurers / bounty hunters / heroes of the realm in every dominion and at every outpost of civilisation.

By the time the conversation had finished however my worldbuilders brain had come up with an outline for how a larger race with a reliable number of relatively peaceable members would probably be incorporated into a fantasy society without ending up in charge. I present a minotaur version of that below as a plug-in suitable for dropping into a fantasy world, but first would like to take off on a couple of tangents.

chaaanges )

availability )

balance )

Place in civilisation )
marsden_online: (skull)
On Monday I cut my planned holidays short by a week and went back to work to deal with issues which had been unfinished last year and blown up over the Xmas/NY closure. This wasn't entirely unexpected so I was mentally prepared and even eager; so much so that I was at work uncommonly early on Monday and pushed through a 7-hour day in determination to complete what I was working on. (Which I didn't, but made satisfactory progress.) This may have been a mistake so I wasn't unduly concerned when I did not manage the same start on Tuesday, but by Wednesday I was lying in bed in the grip of a very familiar slough, one that held me even more as the week passed so that I didn't actually get out of bed these past two days until after 11am and to work until about 1pm. (Despite that quite a productive week. Quiet office.)

The stupid thing (well, one of many) is that on Wednesday I had been out of bed about 6am to put bread (left to rise overnight) in the oven and again about 7am to take it out. If I had just stayed out of bed I would have made it through the day just fine.

Excepting the really good start on Monday this is of course the pattern of my life which I have been trying to change for the past few years. And it really was absent over the break; or at least the feeling of weight that kept me in bed when I knew I ought to be elsewhere. Thinking back there were one or two times it resurged, when I was only partially enthused for some commitment or other.

I do not want to go through another year like this. As I sit here I don't actually know if I can face/deal with going through another year like this. It seems so unnecessary, and it should be such a simple thing for me simply to stay out of bed each morning.

Installing a standing desk has shaken up my routine and broken some of my bad computer habits, doubtless contributing to the amount of other things which have got done over the past couple of weeks; I am seriously considering reserving the bed for naps for a few months and at nights sleeping on the couch in the dining room to see if that does the trick.

In better news on Monday I gave a home to a box of old RPG books that a friend was disposing of before heading back overseas. Never mind that I haven't finished reading through the acquisitions from the last time I did that, a couple of years ago (longer)? There's some good stuff in there; collectibles and useful references.

books laid out for display
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Arthur)
A campaign I am playing in at present has among the options for starting gear a weakened Ring of Regeneration, healing one HP/hour (I am unclear if it also does the restoration of lost bodily parts). This has led me to think critically about the SRD standard ring of regeneration and I have come to the conclusion that it is overpriced for what it does. Let's take a look....
Ring of Regeneration

This white gold ring continually allows a living wearer to heal 1 point of damage per level every hour rather than every day. (This ability cannot be aided by the Heal skill.) Nonlethal damage heals at a rate of 1 point of damage per level every 5 minutes. If the wearer loses a limb, an organ, or any other body part while wearing this ring, the ring regenerates it as the spell [within a round - M]. In either case, only damage taken while wearing the ring is regenerated.

Strong conjuration; CL 15th; Forge Ring, regenerate; Price 90,000 gp

I don't even know how they get that price and caster level, by my calculation it should be
7 (spell level) * 13 (minimum caster level) * 2000 = 182,000gp
or even
7 * 15 (given caster level) * 2000 = 210,000
Is it halved because of the "only while wearing the ring" limitation? Or because as discussed below the replacing limbs/organs never really comes into play?

What else could we get for that money? )
A more realistic cost? )
How about a real Ring of Trollish Regeneration? )
Finally (for this post) another quirk which seems to me to be a good candidate for adding to an ongoing healing item (perhaps one which was a prototype or not quite made right) is a slight loss in Constitution (2 points, to make sure the bonus drops). Is the healing going to be worth the ongoing fragility? That might very well depend on the wearer's normal maximum hit points and level.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Kiera)
Ability damage whether through poisons, energy drains, feats or other effects is fairly common in D&D3 and it's close relatives. In fact as hit point totals grow I've found that the easiest way to make the players concerned about the ability of an enemy to damage them is to break out an ability-damaging critter, taking them back to worrying about a total which is likely in the teens to start with rather than the tens.

Monte Cooke's Arcana Unearthed (and revision for 3.5, Arcana Evolved) deliberately make healing harder to come by. For HP damage the lower level healing spells either cure less (fast and with no side effects) or cure more but at a cost to the caster.

After diligent searching I found the following options for ability damage:

#Iamblind #rightundermynose
The Restoration spell is a Complex, Positive Energy (specifically accessible by certain classes / feats), level 5 spell. It requires the target have a Truename to be effective. Diminished (cast using a 4th level spell slot) it removes all temporary damage to one ability score and dispels negative levels; cast normally it dispels negative levels, restores one drained level, removes all temporary ability damage and one point drained from a single ability score, and heightened (cast using a 6th level slot) it restores all lost levels and all points drained from a single ability score. At best you need to be a 9th level caster before you get access to this spell in any form, 11th to use it heightened.

For comparison the 3.x spell Lesser Restoration cures 1d4 points of ability damage and is 2nd level (3rd level caster), Restoration dispels negative levels, restores one drained level, cures all temporary damage, restores all points drained from a single ability score and is a 4th level spell (7th level caster)

Other options appear to be:
- The heightened version of Transfer Wounds (Total) (Simple, Positive Energy, using an 8th level spell slot) in addition to healing all hit point damage removes all temporary ability damage, applying half of that damage to the caster as per usual for the Transfer Wounds spells.
- Perfect Health (9th level, Simple, Positive Energy, requires Truename) removes all temporary ability damage but explicitly does not remove drain.
- Heightened Neutralise Poison (Complex, Positive energy, 5th level slot) heals damage inflicted by poisons within the past hour.
- Heightened Remove Disease (Complex, Positive energy, 4th level slot) heals any damage inflicted by diseases in the last week.
- Remove Malady (Complex, Positive energy, requires Truename, 5th level slot) can take away (among other things) a poison or disease affecting a character, but it is not clear if this will restore ability damage. Comparing it to the levels of the previous two I would say not; this spell instead has the flexibility of being effective against a wide variety of conditions.
- the Runethane (class) Rune of Rest doubles the rate of healing while during rest, presumably including ability damage.

The lack of lower level magic for addressing ability damage is clearly a deliberate design decision but it's a bit problematic when a series of horrendous FORT saves leaves your low-to-mid-levels group mostly incapacitated by a few spiders. By the rules it also makes ability healing items (eg potions) prohibitively expensive at lower levels. Google has not revealed unto me any existing house rules for this out there, so here are a couple of ways I see to address this while still keeping the availability of healing a bit more scare.

1. Easily within the rules Lesser Restoration can be brought in as an exotic spell. I would probably make it 3rd level, Positive Energy, restoring 1d4+1 points of damage to one ability score, diminished restoring 2 points but at a cost to the caster of 1 point (ala Transfer Wounds), heightened restoring all points of damage to one ability score.

2. The Lesser and Greater Transfer Wounds spells could be modified such that the heightened version additionally / instead restores some amount of ability damage at the usual cost of transferring half the damage to the caster (effectively having half the effect if cast on oneself). If I were taking this route I would probably make the amount 1d4+1 points to one ability score for LTW and all points to one ability score for GTW (heightened is a 5th level spell so Restoration may be available, but GTW is a Simple spell and doesn't require a Truename).

As a side note even with multiple applications of these spells there would always be one point left /somewhere/ which has to recover naturally #math.

3. The Lesser and Greater Battle Healing spells could be similarly modified. These are already a level higher than their Transfer counterparts which seems reasonable for the utility. Restoration is still preferable if it is available if only because it now uses a lower level slot (heightened GBW uses a 6th level slot to achieve what Restoration does using a 4th level slot).

My preference would probably be to use both 2 and 3 but for the stingier DM introducing an NPC who has spent the feat for or an Amulet of Spell Knowledge containing the first option might be more palatable.
marsden_online: (Evil GM)
Curses can be hard to handle in some RPGs. D&D3.x in particular the Bestow Curse spell has some nasty but purely mechanical effects

-6 to an ability score == -3 to related rolls and possibly loss of spell casting ability
-4 to pretty much every roll
do nothing 50% of the time

but by the time you encounter it with any frequency Remove Curse is probably available to you and the effects are serious enough that you wouldn't think twice about using it. And of course you are left to come up with interesting names / descriptions of the curses.

Something more subtle which occurred to me this morning is possibly more frustrating, yet small enough in apparent impact. Simply this: any dice rolled for the character are treated as if they had naturally rolled 1 less. Not a huge deal on any given roll perhaps, but
- no more natural 20s (auto hits, critical threats)
- 1 less HP per level gained while under the effect of the curse
- doubles the chance of auto-failing a saving throw (now on a "natural" 1 or 0)
- significantly reduced damage on multiple-damage-dice attacks.

OTOH marginally better chance of making those 10% chance stabilisation checks.
marsden_online: (Ghostfighter)
On Tuesday evening I had the opportunity to play in a one-shot of Numenera with a group of people I don't have the pleasure of gaming with very often. I've heard about the system on-and-off and I was suitably impressed with it in play; immediately encouraging of a descriptive style of play, very simple mechanic, setting deals neatly and explicitly with the natural player tendency to "now-ise" everything. Would pick up and run.

Busana the Intelligent Glaive who Explores Dark Places* and her two companions Roderick the Foolish Glaive who Stands Like A Bastion and Future Steve 17 the ? Nano who Exists Slightly Out of Phase were drawn into a "game" wherein an inimical race were plotting a public massacre of several locals.
* Recreation of the character I am currently playing on Wednesdays in an Arcana Unearthed campaign - system which was coincidentally also authored by Monte Cook.

Things I Have Not Done Before in a game included
- discretely emptying a "love poison" potion around the roots of a plantlike creature acting as a receptionist to gain her favour and expedited access to the Aon Priest we hoped had information which would help us.

- persuading an NPC that the reason his husband was lying on the floor goaning and bleeding out his ears was because he was going to imbibe too much "counterwise wine" at the event he had received an invitation to.

- having to dodge an "Instant Boat" being created in the air above the final combat (and special mention to Roderick who "stood like a bastion" and caught one end of said boat as it fell to give myself and Future Steve 17 a better chance of getting out of the way).

The final battle was a nail-biting and near-thing as our characters were underpowered for the scenario, and more than once it looked like we were doomed to lose. We only managed to interrupt and limit the massacre rather than prevent it completely, and Busana nearly perished but after the final opponent was subdued Future Steve 17 was able to make use of a convenient first aid kit to restore sufficient health that she was able to limp tail-and-ears-high out to the cheering crowds.

On the way home from the game I nearly ran over a bunny just around the corner from home - a pale tan mini-lop with dark brown ears which ran straight at the car. A grey smush-faced companion hopped out of a nearby drive while I was trying to earn the first's trust enough to catch it so I was able to go and bang on the door (just before midnight) until the owners came out to herd them back to their hutch.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Author's note: it has been some months since the campaign ended, but life. So I am presenting the remaining highlights in two posts.
From the city to the castle )

An Anthony in the basement )

Some easy successes )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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The Fleet )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Upon returning to Murdered Bow Markos made good his promise to the ki-rin and removed the last of the metal bindings. Sa paid a visit to the baker's widow discovering that business had not been good since the death of her husband; something he remedied by buying a round for everyone in a local drinking house and pronouncing the greatness of her wares. The word of such a great hero soon had people flocking to the bakery.

Zenon had been busy in the intervening time and presented the other members if the party with a number of useful one-shot items such as tokens of Obscuring Mist and powder of See the Invisible.

The treasure ships were investigated for an item of power suitable for a new member of the party and Val chose to replace one of her bladed gauntlets with the one name Mageslayer - a bleak, black iron piece with a taste for the blood of spellcasters. Markos replaced some of the blades on her other gauntlet with ones of meteoric iron; the better to face Anthony's never-ending creations.

Back to the caverns )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Honourable deal )

Honourable? duel )

Hostage situation )

Party and aftermath )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Author's note: something like 5-6 sessions behind on logs again
old fashioned dungeon crawl part 2 )
The many-headed Anthony )
marsden_online: Lochlan Springheel avatar (Springheel)

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/ 4

B'fore any treas'r the keep we wus head'n f'r turn'd out t'be full o' 'obgoblins. T'boss stuck a Silence on'e dwarf's 'elm t'stop the clank'n and we snuck in past t'guards at dawn.

Gett'n d'nstairs past the barra'ks were a bit tricky'r. Takir disguised 'isself as an 'obbo 'n pretend'd I were 'is prison'r as a d'stract'n fr'm one door while t'others popped up an 'llus'ry wall 'tween t'other door 'n t'stairs.

Bottom 'o stairs surpris'd a pair of 'obbos, bit tougher th'n 'ey looked but we took 'em. Found some rooms then a s'cr't door straight to the 'obbos boss, wizard call'd Scarr'd.

/ 5

W th' advant'ge o' the silence 'n Takir bluffin' guards out o' the fight made short work o' the wizard. 'Ad some nice stuff on 'im, got some magic bracers. T' tiefing found a very nice dagg'r which she's become suspic' protective of.

Note t'boss likes to get big [Enlarge person] when 'e scrums w' that chain o' 'is.

/ 6

Found a way deeper down w'out any more 'obbos. Incubus wuz feel'n a bit poorly so we left 'im to watch the stairs & amuse 'imself w' and hobbo's 'oo migth follow.

Searchin' the basement di'nt turn up anythin' but some rats and an entry to some caves. Caves 'ad a drow 'untin' party but a peaceful partin' o the ways were negotiat'd.

Caves also 'ad an 'ydra [6] 'oo coul'nt follow us back into the tunnel so we lef' it alone. Back t'other way were some bears *big* bears t'boss decid'd we coul' take, mebbe get'a fur rug. Turn'd out they w'r chained up, coulda backed off 'n jus' blasted 'em, di'nt seem like a far fight so I blasted the pillars jus' a lit'l w' acid.

T'boss had made a misjudgem'nt. Even b'fore break'n loose the bears 'ad th' dwarf as chow (one fer one). didn't manage t'get t'wand o' Cure Light work'n prop'ly 'uff t'get 'im alive 'n t'boss back on is feet b'fore bear got me, last thin' I saw were Killarah 'ightail'n 't outta th're chased by a bear.

/ 7

Seems Killarah manag'd t' outrun th' bear 'n fetch Takir, 'n 'e manag'd to keep th' bears attent'n [flying out of their reach] while she pour'd healin' potions 'nta t'boss 'n me. Poor dwarf were already 'alf eaten. Will miss th' tin can.

R'treat'd back into th' basem'nt 'n rest'd up f'r a day or double.

/ 8

Goin' back prepared made short work of th' two left bears, I led one ona chase around th' loop so only one at a time. Just led it back wh'n this insecty devil thing [ooc: Thri-Keen Psychic warrior] pops out o' nowhere 'n rips into th' bear - real famish'd 'ppar'ntly. Been 'eld prison'r on t'other ide of t' 'llus'ry wall th' bears w'r guard'n. Name's Kik Kik Kik or sump'n.

Poked around back there a b't, found anoth'r demon pris'n like th' one und'r t'inn but empty, th'n a big 'all, interest'n library, alchemy lab (don' know much 'bout alchemy but t'boss got all excited ov'r some sorta "aboleth spit") then big copper do 'n lo! five godsforsak'n mind flayers in th' middle of summon'n something. Don' know what exactly, but I could see they weren't tak'n any chances w' the bind'n circle.

Honest, thought we wuz gon'rs. Th' shark's'd eat our brains f'sure. Made ready t' blast th' book one 'ad, seem'd importn't, but tiefling threw t' aboleth spit inta th' circle 'n all the magic 'n the summonin' jus' blew up. When m'head stopped ringin' the 'llith'ds were toast.

They 'ad some nice stuff tho', 'n we found 'n 'ole 'oard in a secr't room. Load'n up 'n getting out o' there b'fore any o' th'r cobb'rs arrive.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Sanctuary and conspiracy )

A plan and an ambush )

Homecoming )

At this point we bid a sad farewell to Aiu's player whose real-world adventures are taking her from us. Aiu will continue on as personal speechwriter and counsel to the Prince but the rest of the party are taking their leave of him to once again challenge the multi-headed monster which are the Anthonys and the resources they might lend to the usurper Quinten.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Dramatic Escape )

Author's note: still a session and a bit behind.
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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A very short entry, for reasons which will become apparent.

Betrayal )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Author's note: I think I am four revelation-and-drama filled sessions behind as I start writing this.

Gideon is worried )

A trail gone cold )

From the Shield of War )
marsden_online: Lochlan Springheel avatar (Springheel)

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Well, things gett'n a bit 'ot in this ol' city o' Tellarat 'n me bein down to me last gol' piece I've taen to th' a'ventur'n life, respond'n to 'n ad by a profess'nal dung'n delver fellow wit line on'n ol' keep full o' treas'r out'n th' mountains. No cash up fr'nt but'l shake 'em Academy sharks off me tail.

Japes alon' fer th' ride are bein

René duPlessis, bit o'n odd chap but e's th' one sett'n up this 'ere expedition so e's th' boss. [Human Factotum]
Player's description "Indiana Jones with a spiked chain instead of a whip."

Rothratur, dwarven 'oly knight 'n some sort o' quest and prob'ly th' most norm'l of us chumps by com'n stand'ns. Seems like a good bloke to 'ave at y' back mean'n e'd stay put 'n protect it unlike th' next two. [Dwarf Crusader]

Takir, genr'lly goes ar'nd as a good look'n human bloke but 'e dropped th' act for a bit 'n I seen 'im for what 'e really is, young incubus. Gods know (or mebee they don't) wot one o' them is doin' lark'n about on this plane. Most never shuts 'is damned (heh) mouth, always 'as to be stick'n 'is nose into evryt'n 'n tell'n people what to do ('n "persua'n" th'm when 'ey don't). [Incubus using "monster class" levels]

Killarah, 'nother off-planer tho' she jus' tryn t'hide th' horns 'n tail unner her wearables. S'posd t' be the sneak 'n search bod so I 'ope she's a bit more obs'rvnt th'n prov'n so far. Seen 'er about a bit b'fore, hooked up w' one o th' underside guilds. [Tiefling Rogue/Psychic Warrior]

So we 'ead out o' town and worst luck the first village we stop 'n gets wraith-bomb'd o'ernight. Most o' the villagers made it to th' inn which turns out 'as an old relig's ward roun' it, din't find this out 'til a coupl' of the others 'ad gone outside 'n tried to smack the wraiths round a bit. [Dumb japes. Y' don'ever get close to a wraith.] Bloody incubus was so upset t'be fac'n someth'n 'e coul'n charm or 'mpress 'e just stole a bow off some poor villager inside 'n sat on the roof shoot'n pointlessly. Meself just blasted 'em safely from th' window, lucky none came in from t'other direction tho' (not know'n bout th' wards at th' time).

Wraiths threw 'emselves at th' wards until dawn, when 'ey slunk off to 'ide out 'o th' sun for th' day. Rider was sent flat-tack to the city t'get some clerical 'elp, y'don' want wraiths wander'n this close t' a damn city. We 'ung around 'cos broken rest, too soon t'get spells back 'n might be a chance t' get paid fer blast'n wraiths t'night.

/ 2

Th' incubus or th' scout managed t'find an 'idden temple unner th' inn 'n first thing t' dwarf 'n me knew 'bout it was t' incubus telepath'n¹ up that th' boss 'ad mang'd t' walk innoo a gelly cube down b'low. Scoot'd down 'n blast'd t'ooze off've 'im ('n scooped up a bunch o' coin it 'ad picked up somewhere) 'n he went back upstairs 'n took a bath while we scouted out th' rest of th' level 'n loot'd some good qual'ty weapons fr'm an old armory.

Th' was a big stair down t' a lower level wh'r t' is/was a demon fr'm th' old wars bound 'n asleep to all 'pearences², 'n old holy alt'r to the goddes s of protectin' travellers wh'r I 'eft what 'ad bin m'last gol' piece fer luck, a few dead a'ventur's and a bleeding (so t'speak) vampire, 'oo tried (failed more th' pity) ta make a meal 'o the incubus but din't bother chas'n us.

¹ not keen on th' blighter bein able t' get innoo me head whenever 'e wants - enough sharks already b'n mess'n around 'n there.
² [until the incubus' repeated clairvoyancing back to that room to make sure it was still there and asleep woke it up, not that he told the rest of the party why he was even more hell-bent on getting out of there than we already were]

/ 3

Got back up t'stair to find the cavalry had arriv'd from t'city, liter'ly, force o' mounted relig's bods o' all sorts but all carry'n magic 'n led by a tall glow'n winged bod. Mebbee this place attracts 'em or th's a gate t'Sigil around or som'n. 'e weren't to pleased t'see t'other two w' us, looked at 'em 'ard but din't start w' th' smit'n. Dwarf had t' tell 'im all 'bout t' vampire 'n such down below but then 'ey sent a group down there 'n f'nd nuttin. So mebee we w' see'n things or mebee 'ey w'not see'n things or mebee th' sharks down b'low jus' moved out t'wait for th' dust t' settle.

T'wraiths (w' more) turned up agin o'ernight 'n we left 'em to th' holy folk. 'ey dealt w' some but waited for dawn t' follow th' rest back to th' nest, 'n we hightailed it off t'ward th' mountains because it din't seem 'ey were goin' t'pay for 'elp w' anyth'n but bless'ns.

Day'r so later 'n we were pass'n throo 'n old forest when th'r's this goblin standing 'n th' road bold as brass demand'n a 50 gol' piece toll. Now if any o' us 'ad that sort o' coin we wouldn't be on this lark inna first place 'n buggered if anyone were giv'n up a valuable piece o' equipment. Where th's one goblin th's usually a bunch more so we wer'n keen t' just walk over 'im. 'e said the coin were so 'e could buy bread fer 'is many kids, so we off'd to liberate any coin 'e might know of 'ereabouts which might be guarded by someth'n nasty 'n pay 'im out o th' proceeds (or, since 'e point'd us at'n ogre, the corpse fer eat'n).

Short story, t'scout mang'd t'sneak up on t'sleep'n ogre 'n ta'e 't out 'n one stab³. found a bag o' sliver 'n a magic ring ' n a necklace o' fireballs some'ow intact, lucky ogre nev'r roll'd ov'r onnoo it. Dragged th' body back to th' goblin 'oo were a bit surpris'd 'n he 'n th' scout nearly came t'blows, 'cept 'e called on 'is mates 'n 'bout 30 of the blight's popped up. Th't I might get t'do some blast'n after all, but it all calm'd down 'n toll accounted fer we moved on.
³ [DM had forgotten about the FORT save part of the coup de grace rules and after the rogue did 26ish damage on the strike the DC was 36, difficult even for an ogre barbarian. To his credit he gave us the kill rather than fudging the encounter.]
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Author's note: Three intense sessions in this log. Finally back up to date!

Ol' Stoney )

The many faces (and other parts) of Robin )

The big score )
marsden_online: RPG log icon for this character (Markos)

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Journal link: Sa-Dagget's version of events from joining the party until the end of the previous entry.

Author's note: I wasn't present at the table / Markos was not involved for much of the next two vignettes.
Sa punches a bear )

Getting Eric back on his feet )

An ocean excursion )

Brother Anthony )

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