A Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Vignette….

…here is a brief vignette inspired by the image of the Dwimmerlaik overrunning a Door that appears in Rite Publishing’s free preview of the forthcoming Lord of Gossamer & Shadow Corebook. A character description complete with stats appears below the vignette to give you more background on Mordecai, the Raven General. I’ll be developing similar write up of Uwe, the narrator, shortly. Comments/feedback welcome as always. Thanks and hope you enjoy.

We were losing. Really, we were losing badly and I hate losing! Thankfully, I also conveniently like to be prepared for any contingency.
We needed a break — something, anything to stop the tide of the foul creatures that were enveloping our small force. The Door had been overrun. There was no hope of achieving the goal of Severing it now, we just had to try and close it for the time being. The horde that had swarmed through already was trouble enough. We were close to other Domains – just a few hundred yards by normal reckoning — both up and down the Grand Stair; this was a bad Door on which to have lost containment. I glanced over at Cal and gritted my teeth, because I knew he’d like hearing my next question even less than I liked asking it, “What about Mordecai?”

Cal’s response was, predictably, a very long string of profanity followed by the far less predictable, and much more reasonable given the circumstances, “Call him, damnable bastard.” Not sure if that last was directed at me or Mordecai himself. Contacting Mordecai in the midst of the current fray was going to be a rather more challenging matter than getting Cal’s consent. Between the Dwimmerlaik and their minions pressing us back nearly off the landing and down the next set of steps on the Stair to the challenge of drawing power to activate the Icon which would surely draw some extra attention from our enemies in my direction, I might just get killed doing it. Cal anticipated my need though and shifted himself to provide some cover as I fished in my trouser pocket for the Icon.

“Don’t think I am not curious as to WHY you have his Icon so handy. Your lack of faith is touching,” Cal called over his shoulder at me. I chose discretion over retort, as I pulled the Icon of Mordecai out to focus my attention on making contact. Cal and Mordecai were not what one would describe as allies. There was a lot I had yet to learn about the Gossamer Lords who styled themselves Wardens of the Grand Stair, but they were a touchy lot with a complex code of etiquette and dealings. Once upon a time, or so I was told, Mordecai and Cal had been, if not friends, at least not enemies. Nowadays however the hostility was pronounced. There had been some breach of social protocol somewhere along the line though everyone I had ever asked claimed not to know the details.

The Icon was shaped like a coin but an oversized one, about two inches in diameter, and unlike most coins, was not minted of metal but was rather cast from some indeterminate enameled material and painted with the likeness of a dark-haired, weathered-faced man with a modest well-groomed goatee, sharp green eyes and a fixed somber expression. He was older than me to be sure (how old no one knew exactly, that’s the way it is with some of the Wardens). He wore some sort of military uniform complete with an array of medals and badges which Cal claimed were for show though having seen this guy fight before, I was less than certain. The most striking part was the dark crimson beret with the silhouette of the white raven that he wore and which lent the sobriquet by which he was known up and down the Stair – General of the Raven Legion. I was at the moment seriously hoping the Legion was handy as — and I think I mentioned this previously — we were losing and we really needed a break.
Focusing on the Icon, I tried to tune out the melee around me, murmured a quick Hail Mary (old habits die hard even though I knew better, the Sisters of St. Stephen’s would be proud) and applied my will to the task at hand. It took a few long heavy heartbeats before the image of the man on the coin stirred, blinked and turned its gaze slightly to regard me (truth be told as many times as I have used Icons it is still a bit unnerving). The Gossamer Lord known as Mordecai, General of the Raven Legion, recognized me, he apparently just chose not to acknowledge me (okay Cal was right he *was* a damnable bastard sometimes ), “Yes?”

“Mordecai, we need help, can you assist us now?” So much for pleasantries, of course the last time I had seen the General we’d not been on the same side exactly so this was a bit of a roll of the dice. A calculated roll of the dice to be sure, I mean a “No” wouldn’t really put us worse off, this gamble only had upside. Besides, our past dealings shouldn’t matter after all, the Legion is for hire, not for a cause. I noticed that Mordecai was dressed in a formal tuxedo and it was night where he was, a pair of moons visible over his shoulder.

“It is possible I could assist but it’s a rather bad time just at the moment,” he replied evenly his gaze flicked to the side beyond what I could see through the Icon, “What exactly do you need?”

“Time is rather a pressing problem here, we are about to be overrun,” I replied quickly as I instinctively ducked as an arrow passed through where my head had just been.

“Who is we?” Mordecai asked showing a modicum of interest in our situation (or maybe it was the arrow that almost took me out that interested him) which was a break of sorts.

“Me and Cal,” I replied, “We could really use the Legion, and I will meet your usual terms,” I added quickly, I was in no position for protracted, or any, bargaining.

“Calais? The price just went up you know,” Mordecai advised me tersely with a surprised expression and tone, “For you Uwe, and only because it’s you, I will help … but with his involvement, I expect that in addition to my usual price, you tender me a Debt to be called at my discretion.”
I had to pause. A Debt amongst Gossamer Lords was no small matter – it carried its own rules and considerations and was not undertaken lightly. But I really had no choice or time, so I simply nodded, “Done.”

“I will arrive there momentarily, focus on holding position and don’t give any more way.” The contact between us was abruptly broken and I was left hoping he’ d arrive in time.

Mordecai, the Raven General

Here is a character write up for a new Warden of the Grand Stair for Lords of Gossamer and Shadow:

MORDECAI, GENERAL OF THE RAVEN LEGION

“’Mordecai? Well my mother told me if I didn’t have anything nice to say…but then again Vala seems to respect him so he cannot be ALL bad.’

‘He’s old, with a leathery, hard-used look about him but he is always fastidiously dressed – whether in his uniform or otherwise. The uniform he wore was something of a throwback to the Great War – not the Dwimmerlaik one, the one on Earth in the early part of the last century – except for the beret. The beret is dark crimson with the silhouette of a stark white raven. Mordecai filled the uniform out with a solid frame and he was a tad on the shorter side. The General’s salt-and-pepper hair was neatly swept back and slightly long but braided in the back hanging just past his shoulder. Piercing dark grayish blue eyes, oddly contrasting with his olive skinned complexion, seemed to always being weighing you and finding you wanting.

He wore a pair of weapons, one was an odd sidearm, an oversized derringer with three barrels – a single barrel atop a side-by-side double barrel. It almost looked comical to me – until I saw him blow holes the size of grapefruit through one of the Nephilim with it once. The other was a short rapier style blade that had an unadorned hilt but a blade with fine runic tracery that had a sheen of scarlet to it when the light caught it just so.

The last time I saw the good General he’d been mounted on a grey destrier named Skye (like his master, he’s a mean cuss, he nearly bit clean through my left shoulder once) and giving me a wry smile as he prepared to take the Legion, his personal army of several hundred souls from across the Gossamer Worlds, into the Weald in an attempt to evict the occupation of the dark forces who had conquered Yvestte’s home world. I recall his parting words to me, “Stay out of my way.” I think he meant it as long-term advice, the pompous ass. He’ll never be an ally but I wouldn’t want him as an enemy either.”
― Cal’s Journal

Mordecai is an odd character, even among the Gossamer Lords, he’s a mercenary solider pure and simple – or so it would appear. As leader of the Raven Legion mercenary company Mordecai has built a reputation amongst the Gossamer Lords and other denizens of the Grand Stair as an efficient warrior with tactical skill and always a surprise or two up his sleeve for whatever conflict arises. He has been known to refuse no commission so long as the price – his price – is met. The price varies but Mordecai is always willing to set one for anyone who asks. He’s even been known to take on commissions that involve diplomacy and other less martial engagements – no job is too big or small. The price is rarely simply monetary or material in nature though his customers are very tight-lipped about the price. Ask another Gossamer Lord and they answer even more evasively than normally.

Mordecai has the calm steady unruffled demeanor of a consummate soldier. He is always impeccable in his dress and appearance – nothing is not as it should be. Perhaps there is a touch of vanity in that fastidiousness? He expects only the best of himself and everyone else around him.

A member of the more senior set of the Gossamer Lords the story of his origins is shrouded in mystery but he’s treated with respect by his peers – with the exception of Drake (see below) and is held in high regard by Vala despite the fact his pursuits and objectives being seemingly completely antithetical to hers. There have been rumors of a romantic interlude between the two but no one seems to know and certainly no one voices the rumor openly.

Attributes
PSYCHE – 31 Points
STRENGTH – 16 Points
ENDURANCE – 22 Points
WARFARE – 101 Points

Powers
Eidolon Attunement [50 Points]
Master of the Grand Stair [35 Points]
Invocation [20 Points]

Artifacts and Creatures
Trefoil, Mordecai’s Sidearm [11 Points] – A three barreled pepperbox derringer that Mordecai wears on his belt without a holster. The gun has a smoothed walnut handle and the barrels that are slightly wider than a standard derringer bore.
Deadly Damage [4 Points]
Invulnerable to Conventional Weapons [4 Points]
Mold Gossamer Matter [1 Point]
True Name is Warded [2 Points]

Mordecai’s Armor [6 Points] – Under the uniform filling it out is a flak jacket (Mordecai is actually quite lithe above the waist but appears more stocky) that adapts to different forms based on location.
Resistant to Firearms [2 Points]
Danger Sensitivity [2 Points]
Alternate Named & Numbered Forms [2 Points]

The Raven Legion [51 Points] – The Legion is the stuff of legend up and down the Grand Stair and in the dozens of Gossamer Worlds where it has seen action. An eclectic mix of sentient creatures from across the breadth of known worlds, Mordecai has recruited, trained and molded them into a fearsome fighting force of a thousand mercenary warriors available for a price to anyone willing to pay. The Legion has been employed by Vala to settle disputes, protect the balance of power and combat threats – the exact price she’s paid to Mordecai is unknown.
Double Vitality [2 Points]
Peak Stamina [1 Point]
Combat Mastery [4 Points]
Deadly Damage [4 Points]
Psychic Neutral [2 Points]
Follow Path [2 Points]
Rapid Healing [2 Points]
Horde [x3 Points]

Domain
Mordecai’s Aperre [5 Points] – Aperre is, in sharp contrast to its master, a peaceful place. Perhaps the threat of significant home turf advantage has kept it safe all this time. Mordecai will extend invitations to guests from time to time but the place is sparsely populated, agrarian and described as wondrously beautiful and Mordecai seems to dabble with changes like an artist working with a landscape.
Personal Domain [1 Point]
Restricted Access [2 Points]
Control of Contents [1 Point]

Stuff
Zero

Mordecai as an Ally
As an Ally, Mordecai would be a very unreliable figure in a player character’s life, if he chose to be, Mordecai can be a big help but he rarely chooses to unless there is payment involved. For a player willing to pay the price, Mordecai’s aid can be invaluable. He seems to always have a solution to a problem or situation at hand no matter the circumstances. He’s the closest thing the Grand Stair has to a fixer. Mordecai is scrupulous in honoring his contracts. An “Ally” player who breaks a contract with Mordecai would quickly find himself on the “Enemy” ledger of the Legion.

As a father, Mordecai would be an absentee parent but one with high expectations of his off-spring. There would be instilled a strict sense of adherence to a code of ethics, discipline and preparedness. Mordecai would not be above testing his own children even by placing them in harm’s way and then, if confronted, claiming it was for their own betterment.

Mordecai as an Enemy
Mordecai doesn’t make friends easily to be sure but he also counts few enemies – his lack of agenda and openly mercenary nature mean few view him as a true threat. Making Mordecai an enemy by breaking a contract or crossing him in some other fashion – is likely to be a career limiting move for a Gossamer Lord or other denizen of the Grand Stair. Mordecai keeps a careful ledger of accounts and always collects.

A lone exception to his lack of enemies would be Drake. Drake is openly hostile to the General and his Legion even when they have been employed by Vala for the good of the Gossamer Lords. The normally clam and in control Mordecai bristles in response to the dismissive and hostile attitude of Drake. Some observers have suggested the two men are rivals for position, if not primacy, amongst the Gossamer Lords and are played against one another skillfully by Vala to keep them both in check and available for her use as needed.

Objectives
Even more than most of his fellow Wardens of the Stair, Mordecai’s agenda is a mystery. He seems not to covet rulership across the Gossamer Worlds over even within a smaller sphere of Domains. Nor does he seek enlightenment to any noticeable degree. He is truly mercenary but the price he collects is often knowledge and information that he uses to ensure his position as an integral player in the court of the Gossamer Lords. Many of his fellows have paid his prices and his ledger seems to have far more credits than debits.

Image Inspirations:
http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/TheDangerCave/news/?a=18860
http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/military%20uniforms?before=45
http://en.rian.ru/photolents/20060816/52687883.html
http://www.whiteravenaudio.com/home.php

The Body in the Library: An Amber Cross-Over

The Body in the Library:

An Amber Cross-Over to Lords of Gossamer and Shadow

“The Body in the Library” is an introductory adventure for Amber DRPG groups to use as an entrée into the setting and modified Diceless RPG system of Lords of Gossamer & Shadow

 

The Body in the Library

AN INTRODUCTORY ADVENTURE FOR AMBER PLAYER CHARACTERS

This adventure serves as a quick-and-dirty method of throwing player characters from Amber headlong into the world of Lords of Gossamer & Shadow, introducing them to the grand conflicts and major aspects of the setting.  It debuts at AmberconNW, 2013.

 

Adventure Overview

The characters find themselves in Castle Amber or something draws them to Amber – a resounding “alarm” transmitted through Trump that draws them to the Library in Amber.  They arrive at the library to find the door locked from within and once inside the body of a strange yet vaguely familiar figure is sprawled dead(or nearly dead) of odd wounds, clutching some Trump and a key in his hands.  The victim’s “attackers” are dark amorphous shapes buzzing and hovering about above the body.  The creatures can be dispatched and will flee through a strange rift into darkness if overmatched.  If the characters arrive soon enough the victim may yet be alive enough to identify himself as a much changed Prince Brand and he will impart a dire yet cryptic warning that the Door must be sealed and Shatterlight must be warned or Amber and the Grand Stair will be destroyed.   The clues can lead the players to different avenues – most importantly, the Corridor of Mirrors where they may find the Door to match the Key held by the victim.

 

The shadow creatures return as the players investigate to pursue and attack whichever player character might hold the Key.  This time they are accompanied by two humanoid figures, Dwimmerlaik, who wield power and seem intent on destroying the player characters and demanding return of the Key and the location of the Door.  The players have to fend off this strange threat, follow the clues, find the Door, discover the Grand Stair and where Brand has been since falling in the Abyss, find out who the Dwimmerlaik are, what and where is Shatterlight, save Amber….oh and who locked the door to the library?

 

Steps of this Adventure

This adventure  follows the five-step adventure outline described in the Lords of Gossamer & Shadow Core Book, CHAPTER ELEVEN: CREATING ADVENTURES in that it provides an Introduction (the arrival of the player characters and the initial mystery – the titular Body in the Library), an immediate Conflict (an attack by mysterious creatures out of darkness), a Climax (discovery of the Door to the Grand Stair and all that entails), and can then lead to further Complications (there are multiple strange parties demanding the Key and the information the PC’s possess regarding the Door and its location and the fact that new dark and powerful enemies have now entered Amber) and a longer-off

Resolution (sealing the Door in the Corridor of Mirrors which offers easy access from the Shadow of the Dwimmerlaik to Shatterlight and the Grand Stair as well as Amber itself).

 

This adventure also contains seeds and hooks for on-going adventures in the Grand Stair by introducing the PCs to key figures in the Grand Stair, the great conflict between the Dwimmerlaik and the Wardens of the Stair and even a mysterious group known as the Nine who’s agenda and allegiance are unknown. In the alternative, this adventure can be used in an Amber campaign with the Grand Stair as a set of shadow worlds offering a multitude of new possibilities for an Amber campaign, new connections to the mystery of the Abyss and more.  Finally this adventure provides some modifiable components for adaptability to campaigns with variations – Brand’s already dead in your campaign?  No problem, the body is a different elder Amberite with a mysterious past etc.