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 House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion

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The House of Ainsley
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Location : The Dark Heart of Bardosylvania

PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Sun Dec 06, 2009 4:47 am

Sowwies. Sad

But hey, good news! I finished Corwin's Experience awards thus far. There will still be a Roleplay bonus at the end of the chapter, of course. Also, I apologize for miscalculating the Experience that Corwin got from sabotaging the herbalists' shops; it should have been 250, and I have no idea where I got 900 from or how I came up with that total. Mea culpa, mea culpa, my sincerest apologies for getting your hopes up. I really hate to do takebacks, but 900 would have been way too much for what he did. Sad

But here's what I have so far:

250 Experience for using Ruprecht's herbicide to sabotage the rival herbalist shops
600 for killing the two wolves
250 for using Gwenlyn's madness potion to poison Boughbog's town well
1000 for manipulating the Boughbog guards and the good adventurers into helping him bring Gwenlyn down, thus securing his freedom and positioning his mother for years of vengeful torment from Corwin
367 for defeating the eleven pirates from the Devil's Hangman
600 for killing Captain Sharper
100 for selling the formula for Ruprecht's herbicide to the Hextorites

Total Experience so far: 3167

Sounds fair? Did I miss anything? Smile

On a related note, I've gone back, reconsidered and increased Karnoz's award for picking the fisherman's pockets and using the stolen money for his own personal gain; Karnoz receives 75 more Experience for the act--100 Experience total. And I'll explain why in the next post.
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PostSubject: Fuzzy Experience Awards and Acts of Alignment   Sun Dec 06, 2009 1:06 pm

Now, D&D 3 has some pretty solid guidelines for how much Experience should be awarded for slaying monsters or encountering traps; you total the Challenge Ratings for all monsters or traps involved (more dangerous monsters and more lethal and/or unavoidable traps have higher CRs), cross-reference them with the adventurer party's average Level and divide the total by the number of adventurers; the result is each adventurer's Experience award.

Of course, the Dungeon Master is free to adjust the Challenge Ratings or Experience awards depending on circumstances. A poison gas trap would be dangerous for Karnoz or Sylvea but wouldn't pose any threat to Corwin or Ariean, so Corwin and Ariean would only receive half as much Experience as Karnoz and Sylvea would if the party encountered the trap. It's a small price to pay for being immune to poison, right?

(...and in order to encounter a trap, the party must either find it and go around it, disarm it or trigger it (accidentally or deliberately); conversely, in a few examples, if the trap is inside a treasure chest that the party never examines or opens, on a staircase that the party never uses, or even underneath a nearby floor tile that the party walks right past without stepping on the tile or finding the trap, then the trap is never encountered and no Experience is awarded for it.)

But what about Experience awarded for other actions?

D&D really doesn't have any established system or guidelines for such awards. DMs are encouraged to give Experience rewards for such actions, and one common source of Experience is in roleplaying and remaining true to one's character.

One way in which I reward players for roleplay is through Alignment compliance; players who adhere their characters to their Alignments--even when it is unwise to do so--will be rewarded for remaining true to their character. Granted, there are shades of Law and Chaos and Good and Evil, and not every action within a character's Alignment scape will be appropriate for that character's personality; I may cast a jaundiced eye on an "Evil Lite" petty thief and pickpocket who turns "Heavy Evil" serial killer for no reason, or vice-versa. But for general purposes I came up with some guidelines which I hope are serviceable:


Minor acts of Alignment (keeping an appointment with the baron, lying to successfully get out of guard duty, helping a stranger find his dog with no expectation of reward, stealing a box of coins from a loathsome miser for one's own gain): (20 x character's Level) Experience

Lesser acts of Alignment (taking and adhering to a vow of loyalty, lying to protect a thief from the authorities, giving a pauper enough coins to survive for a month, stealing everything that a kindly peasant has to live on): (50 x Level) Experience

Moderate acts of Alignment (telling the truth even though it will lead to imprisonment, shattering a priceless statue just to make a statement, giving a poor family every last gem and coin to one's name, torching a village's autumn harvest and condemning them to a long famine): (100 x Level) Experience

Greater acts of Alignment (fulfilling one's freely given oath even though it has cost almost everything that one has, successfully leading and orchestrating a yearlong campaign of sack-and-burn attacks, saving an entire barony from a fatal plague with no expectation of reward, murdering an entire family in cold blood): (150 x Level) Experience

Major acts of Alignment (maintaining one's fealty and honor even to the point of death, betraying an entire kingdom, sacrificing greatly of oneself so that thousands may live, completing a premeditated plan to trap all the townsfolk inside their town and burn it to the ground): (200 x Level) Experience


Of course, there may be Alignment awards in the extremes beyond either end of this spectrum, and I may need to factor additional circumstances into these guidelines; saving that dog would be a lot more crucial if the dog were a polymorphed merchant-prince who knows where to find the cure for that barony-threatening plague...and, hence, more rewarding to accomplish. It's all the difference between "Hey, thanks for bringing back my dog" and "Saints preserve us, you have spared us all from death! We shall preserve your name for all the ages!". Greater rewards and greater acclaim (whether one is a paladin who finds joy in seeing the delight of those whom he serves and defends, or a cruel highwayman who takes perverse pride in seeing the price on his head go up and up and up...) mean greater confirmation that one's path is the correct path and, hence, greater diligence in pursuing one's path.

And, as always, circumstances matter. Theft is usually considered an Evil act. But what if you steal the war chest that a brutal and powerful tyrant is using to bankroll his army of bloodthirsty marauders? By bankrupting the tyrant you ruin his army and perhaps even turn his thugs against him, thus sparing numerous peaceful settlements from death and destruction. So hamstringing the tyrant by stealing all of his money might actually be considered a Good act, especially if you give the stolen money to the impoverished, wartorn peasants and other victims of the tyrant's raids afterwards. Robin Hood's entire legend was founded on such circumstance, so circumstance certainly makes all the difference.

"But what about situations where characters are forced to break Alignment by outside forces? And what about Alignment shifts? How many players will willingly pursue an Alignment shift if there are no rewards for doing so?"

If a character performs actions contrary to his or her Alignment, there should be a justifiable reason for it. Johnny Utah (Keanu Reaves' FBI agent in Point Break) participated in a bank robbery, but only because the bank robbers were holding a woman he cared about at knifepoint; he would never have helped the robbers rob the bank otherwise. Characters who find themselves in such situations will not receive Experience for the act itself but may receive compensatory awards for accomplishment and character development as well as possible Alignment rewards for the intentions behind that act. Back to that example, Lawful Good Johnny Utah wouldn't receive Alignment-based Experience for robbing the bank, but he would receive Alignment Experience for trying to save the woman's life (and would have received the award even if the robbers went back on their word and killed her anyway).

As for Alignment shifts, those are best reserved for serious, life-altering events...and they will be summarily rewarded as such. Nobody changes Alignments on a whim. Ebenezer Scrooge was Lawful Neutral-leaning-towards-Evil at best, and Lawful Welterweight-Evil at worst. He would never have changed to Good on his own; it took four ghosts illustrating the wholescale consequences of his miserliness as well as the fates which awaited him and others connected to him if he continued along his path. The revelations were moving enough to rekindle the dying spark of goodness within him, drive him from wickedness and selfishness and lead him back towards charity and benevolence.

This works in all directions, of course. Aribeth (the focal paladin from Neverwinter Nights) was Lawful, Good and utterly devoted to the concept of justice vested in her patron deity, Tir. But when her lover was captured, tried and unjustly put to death just because the angry mobs needed a scapegoat for the plague which had decimated their city, Aribeth was deeply torn that her god and her people would permit...no, embrace such a grave act of injustice. And so she was compelled to forsake her vows, drown herself in her thirst for vengeance and steer into Evil territory, becoming a blackguard and a terror against the same people she had once defended from injustice and villainy.

In the cases of Scrooge and Aribeth after their life-changing experiences, I would have awarded Alignment Experience as if each character was already of his or her Alignment-to-be...Good points for Scrooge and Evil points for Aribeth. Evil Scrooge gives a fat purse of coins to the charity solicitors? Scrooge gets some Good Experience and becomes less Evil and more Neutral. Scrooge gives Bob Cratchit a much-needed raise? Scrooge gets some more Good Experience and he's now Neutral-leaning-towards-Good. Scrooge delivers a massive turkey to the Cratchits and helps Tiny Tim get better? Okay, okay...he's well into Good territory by now, and he gets some more Good Experience to boot. And, as his conviction in his new Alignment congeals, he finds himself more and more grateful that those ghosts came and scared the hell out of him in the first place.

(Of course, if Scrooge and Aribeth instead had solid reasons for remaining true to their original Alignments--a persistent "greed is good" mentality in Scrooge or a vowed determination to persevere and mend the system from within despite Aribeth's loss--then this change would not be needed.)

And if, in the process of shifting Alignments, some other major event happens to guide the character either back to the original Alignment or towards a completely new Alignment, then the rewards will change--again--accordingly.

But what is Neutrality?


Tricky, that's what it is.

Now, a lot of computer roleplaying games based on the D&D franchise--Neverwinter Nights, Baldur's Gate, Icewind Dale and so on--have a sloppy way of handling those gray areas between Law and Chaos, or between Good and Evil. These games habitually force you into choices that lean hard one way or hard the other way, and in order to maintain Neutrality you must walk a schizophrenic, zig-zagging path by routinely swinging back and forth between the two extremes, selflessly saving somebody's son from peril one moment and selfishly robbing a saintly temple's coffers the next. Such games do not have Neutral points, and sometimes the moral and ethical choices--with no options for taking the middle ground--are unavoidable. Earn a few Lawful points there, counter them with a few Chaotic points somewhere else. You wouldn't want to compromise your Alignment, would you?

But Neutrality doesn't really work like that. Sure, a Neutral character may at times venture into the ranges on either side of his or her Neutrality, but for the most part it's about taking the middle ground and walking in the middle of the road. Neutrality does typically lean towards selfishness or self-interest, but not to the point of Chaos or Evil.

Suppose that you encounter a small chest, unattended and stuffed with gold coins. Good would be leaving the coin chest untouched. Evil would be stealing the coin chest. And Neutral would be opening the coin chest, taking enough coins to get you through the night and leaving the rest for the owner to live on; you benefit from your theft, but not to the point of doing any significant harm to anyone. Neutral in this case could also mean not stealing from the coin chest, but only because you are crippled by a fear of getting caught; your restraint is guided merely by self-interest, not by any virtuous personal standards.

Now suppose that you were an eyewitness to a crime, and now the guards are questioning you. Lawful would be willingly offering a truthful account of the event you witnessed, simply because honesty is part of your nature. Chaotic would be lying about the event either because you're a compulsive liar, because telling anything remotely resembling the truth would reveal that you were at the scene doing something you weren't supposed to be doing, or because you simply want to "stick it to the man" with a small act of defiance. Neutrality would be either offering a truthful account for the sake of expected gain (perhaps a reward for bringing someone to justice, perhaps the arrest and removal of a personal rival) or telling the truth but deceiving by omission.

These actions are rewardable, too...but, as I mentioned, Neutrality can be difficult to discern at times, and so much of Neutrality often lies in intentions. And presently we have three player-characters walking the line between Law and Chaos--between honesty and deceit, honor and honorlessness, loyalty and betrayal, preservation and destruction--and if at any time you believe that your character's actions have travelled the middle road between Law and Chaos without veering to either extreme, simply speak up and give voice to your concern. As always, I will judge and decide as fairly as I can.

So...thoughts on this wall of text? Smile
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Wed Dec 09, 2009 7:21 am

So as you may have guessed, I've managed to break away from all my commitments for a few days and double down on this campaign. I also just got done tinkering around with the world map again.

Spoiler:
 

(I really need to pretty up this map a bit more. One day....)

Seeing as rivers have always been at the roots of civilization, I thought it would be prudent to add a few more and expand the ones which we already had (such as the Hope Rock River near Palemare, and the three rivers which support Trock Reik and Kurvoss). Because of their roles in supporting fishing, transportation and trade, nations have often come to challenge their neighbors for dominion over lands abutting a river (similar to what we saw in the 18th Century wars and land disputes between Mexico and the USA, with Mexico and Texas finally settling on either side of the Rio Grande), with the end resolution being a 50/50 settlement in which the river comes to define a portion of the border between the two nations. So I made sure that some of the new rivers (and some extensions of the old rivers) ran along the borders between neighboring nations as well.

Fioriallia is an exception. Since Fioriallia is, in my mind's eye, something like what Rome could have been if it had survived to see the Middle Ages, I gave them a big, perfectly circular manmade lake (which used to be an ordinary amorphous spring-fed lake before the Fioriallians dug, filled, packed and masoned the hell out of it) which feeds miles and miles of manmade channels and aqueducts. Fioriallia originally had no natural rivers--just the spring-fed lake--so these manmade freshwater systems became necessary for the peninsula and all its settlements and farmlands to flourish.

Città Imperiale (the Imperial City) is actually one large ring of walls and buildings, towers, forums and palaces circling the Cuore dell'Impero lake. Numerous small boats can be hired to allow people to travel directly across the lake so that they don't have to go all the way around the lake to reach districts on the other side, and naturally there are tons of laws and ordinances regarding the ownership, rights, upkeep and taxes for these boats. The Faceless and Eternal Emperor and his Order also reside in Città Imperiale, as does the Grand Senatorial Forum in which senators from all the Imperial nations gather to debate, deliberate and manage the affairs of the Empire. Karkova and Hrothjurgan Major withdrew their senators on the eve of the Imperial Civil War, and Bardosylvania withdrew her senator (Lord Hewitt Ainsley's seneschal, Hamhelt Orasul) amid the Empire's withdrawal of support for Bardosylvania and her ruling House, in events which eventually precipitated in the Fall of the House of Ainsley.

(United Escaldenia is a cluster of fruitful islands which, in the past, united against Imperial aggression and remains an independent and non-Imperial nation to this day.)

(And no one dares to colonize the forboding Dragon Continent to the Southeast, as ships which venture too near the continent have a way of never returning. All that is known about the Dragon Continent is that, maybe a few times throughout the Empire's history, the inhabitants have made their way across the ocean to deal with the Imperial folk, either diplomatically (ie. a gold dragon who variously assumed human or elf form to put the locals at ease in order to courteously ask them not to sail around I'gaugo-Borulakrl-Bog'ch, or the Isle of Timidity) or aggressively (ie. three green dragons who scourged the Amethyst Coast for months before two were killed and the third was driven back across the ocean). A blacksteel sloop crewed by erinyes and kytons--with a gelugon as her captain--once crossed from the Dragon Continent to Karkova in search of an ancient tome of dark magic, but whether the devils or other Outsiders have actually claimed land on the Dragon Continent is a matter for speculation. The dragons themselves may have gone so far as establishing their own nations and cultures on the Dragon Continent, but no one in the Empire is sure about that, either. Whatever the case, don't visit the Dragon Continent until your Level is somewhere in the double-digit range, just to be on the safe side....)

Of course, if I'm putting way too much thought into this campaign, feel free to slap me. I just dig a little long-term intrigue, that's all. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Wed Dec 09, 2009 11:50 pm

after your long post in the devil of tides i was really tempted to put just a single line post up Smile but i decided i'd rather make a more memorable return for corwin than that. a response will be up in a few days
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Thu Dec 10, 2009 5:57 am

S.E.A.M.U.S wrote:
after your long post in the devil of tides i was really tempted to put just a single line post up Smile but i decided i'd rather make a more memorable return for corwin than that. a response will be up in a few days
...and it will probably involve Corwin checking the marketplace, which is quite large, which will lead to another long post in The Devils of Tides.... Razz

Talk about your vicious cycles, huh? Cool
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Thu Dec 10, 2009 9:18 am

Hero Machine is fun! Very Happy





















...eh. It's not a perfect doodley engine, but it's passable.

Anyway, I'd better stop before I mock up every last NPC in the campaign. Besides, I have to go to work now. Cheers. Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Fri Dec 11, 2009 4:09 pm

*looks up at wall of text and then looks at clock....*

.... *falls asleep*

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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Fri Dec 11, 2009 8:42 pm

Hey. Wake up. Go play on Hero Machine or something.... Razz
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Sun Dec 13, 2009 12:48 pm

*finally reads wall of text*

Gotta admit, as soon as I finished reading the last line, I'd forgotten what the first paragraphs were about. I'm sure I absorbed it though, so its good you put it up. Also, the map looks fine to me.

And now I'm working on Sylvea's Hero Machine adaptation.

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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Mon Dec 14, 2009 5:46 am

You mean about Alignments and Experience and Neutral Alignments and such? Yeah, I figured it was worth a read. B)

Also, I just got home from our last play performance, and I am bushed, spent, nackered, played out and just plain too tired to keep my head up. I had to grow a layer of itchy stubble for this role, so after I shave it all off (and get some much-needed respite from the itching), I'm going right to bed. I'll try to wake up in about 8 or 10 hours, though, and then I'll be back here. If any of you are online at that hour, I'd be glad to go back and forth with you and your prologues.

For now, I go "Zzzzzz". I'm a pretty mellow person, and it's amazing how playing an angry, abusive husband in a play taxes you, especially after you do all the twitchy shoulders and clenched fists and angry drumming of fingers and all the other mannerisms that go with such a role. But, you know, rising to the challenge and all that.

So...see you in eight or so. Smile
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Tue Dec 15, 2009 5:48 am

lol, missed ya

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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Fri Dec 18, 2009 9:25 am

Yeah, those plans pretty much got shot to bits. And with one of our workers away on sick leave for knee surgery (which might not have been necessary if she'd bothered to take care of herself now and then...), I've been racking up plenty of work hours this week, and wintertime yard work, weatherproofing and other home improvements have pretty much eaten the rest of my time. Here's hoping she sticks to her plan and comes back to work around the end of next week; I'm sure that Chevron won't keep paying for her leave of absence forever, and it's starting to take a toll on the rest of us.

At least I still have my three-day weekend off, starting tomorrow. I'm hoping to do some more work on the Ainsley family tree then; perhaps I'll even get to finish it off.

In the meantime, here's a funny Star Wars dance-off! Very Happy

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2wfiEi_ywj8

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Xe1ETU-qOM

You know, I always figured that Aurra Sing would have some pretty sweet moves.... Smile
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Mon Dec 21, 2009 11:00 am

I should be around for that...hopefully.

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"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Tue Dec 22, 2009 5:27 am

Okay, I'm here, but my computer's lagging like a brick. Let me reboot....
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Tue Dec 22, 2009 6:28 am

Bah...looks like tonight's Gametable deal is bust. I need to give more advance notice, perhaps.

Okay, time to have a look at New Gold for Old Bones again. Apologies for the delay, but you should see how Christmasey Yuley our lakehouse looks now. The leaves are gone, too! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Fri Dec 25, 2009 4:05 am

Back at you Seamus, and to all of us that are still around, Merry Christmas!

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"Who am I? I'm your StoryTeller."
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Fri Dec 25, 2009 6:34 am

I'm on my way back to bed, but--as I just posted in the Common Room--a great Yuletide season to all y'all! Smile

I wish I could photograph this tree and this house; I spent enough time working on it....
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Sun Dec 27, 2009 4:14 pm

Egads, i've been so busy that I haven't even been able to come on here to do anything substantial. sorry for missing Gametable guys. Looks like this and next week is out for me too. I just don't get sundays or mondays off. Perhaps it would be best if you guys did a morning shift and we can work something out for my evening. Cos I usually finish work and am home by 6pm at the latest. I'm open any day if we can do that.

Anyway,

I GOT THE JOB! Don't know if I posted that somewhere here or not. But it's permanent full time and i get to go to TAFE next year and do the study part of my apprenticeship. YAY!

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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Mon Dec 28, 2009 3:18 am

Wraith wrote:
Egads, i've been so busy that I haven't even been able to come on here to do anything substantial. sorry for missing Gametable guys. Looks like this and next week is out for me too. I just don't get sundays or mondays off. Perhaps it would be best if you guys did a morning shift and we can work something out for my evening. Cos I usually finish work and am home by 6pm at the latest. I'm open any day if we can do that.
I agree; we probably could adjust things where, for example, it's Sunday morning in the USA and Sunday evening in Australia; that might work out better for Gametable days. Wouldn't you say, guys?

Wraith wrote:
Anyway,

I GOT THE JOB! Don't know if I posted that somewhere here or not. But it's permanent full time and i get to go to TAFE next year and do the study part of my apprenticeship. YAY!
Excellent! All that training and education paid off, eh? How's the pay? Very Happy

Also, what's TAFE? A chef college, perhaps? :?

Also also, I'm back after a frantic holiday season. I hope that everyone here had a groovy Santa Claus Day. And after a thought-provoking PM from GD, I've decided to throw together a thread with a rather large timeline depicting the history of the House of Ainsley campaign.

I'm wondering whether or not I should go all the way back to the beginning of the Empire, including the crowning of the Faceless and Eternal Emperor, the construction of the great alabaster White Imperial Palace and the later establishment of the White Order of the Emperor. If the campaign carries on for a long time and the House of Ainsley's vengeance against the Empire is realized, things could really come to a head there. We could imagine some eventuality like Sylvea bringing a vengeful army of Hrothjurgan's and Karkova's dead to Fioriallia's shores to slay and assimilate the Emperor's own armsmen, while Corwin's Third Black Fleet of pirates and ghost ships maintains their blockade and strikes at Fioriallia from the sea, all of which serve as fatal distractions while Karnoz and his small cadre of assassins--living and undead alike--continue to kill off members of the White Order, working their way up the ladder to eventually slit the Emperor's throat, remove all his heirs from the board and bring the entire Empire to the same darkness and ruin into which the Emperor had so callously cast Karkova, Hrothjurgan and Bardosylvania....

Hypothetically speaking, of course. Lord Darrovan still has his vendetta against the goddess Wee Jas too...and if his Wee-Jas-championing father is still around, things could get hairy. As if the thought of challenging a deity wasn't hairy enough. There's something to settle as soon as you three get into the Epic levels, right? Shocked

But Bardosylvania's history is definitely getting laid out top to bottom, and as much as I'd like to make a big long graphic of it, I'd better make it all text, just in case something gets changed along the way. After all, the timeline won't just come out and say everything; there's still plenty at work behind the scenes. But only the more insightful characters will be able to ferret that stuff out, so be sure that the party has some decent skills for that (a la Search, Diplomacy, Gather Information, Knowledge: Religion, Knowledge: Arcana, Knowledge: Architecture and Engineering, Knowledge: Nobility and Royalty, and so on...).

And by no means are the player-character tidbits set in stone; that's just stuff that I conjured up to fill some gaps. If you would rather have something on the timeline changed or removed, just say so. They're your characters, after all. Wink

And with that I return to my work. Ta ta! Cool
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Mon Dec 28, 2009 4:36 am

Ooh, I don't know why I didn't think of this crucial little question before.

GD, does Karnoz leave any sort of calling card at the scene of each of his assassinations?

This would certainly have effects on Karnoz's place in the campaign. Whether the assassin's calling card is a white rose left at the scene of each murder, or a chess piece, or three black crow feathers tied together with a blue ribbon, or a cherry red crossbow bolt embedded in the victim's heart, or the removal of the victim's left eye, or some cryptic puzzle painted on the walls in the victim's blood, or whatever...some assassins prefer to leave calling cards in order to associate the assassin's projected identity with his or her work and thus garner notoriety more swiftly.

Calling cards are, as you might expect, a two-edged sword.

On one hand, the underworld types who would willfully hire an assassin to do their dirty work probably won't trust such nasty jobs to any old urchin with a knife...and more prestigious or better protected targets naturally call for more capable assassins, assassins who ideally won't fail and won't get caught. These assassins, of course, will probably demand higher fees corresponding to their notoriety; once you've assassinated the Duke of Konegheim--and left your white rose as your calling card--you no longer have to settle for pennies, and you probably won't settle for pennies unless you have an incredibly charitable reason for doing so. And once you have two or more cutthroat crimelords sending out messengers and bidding for the White Rose Killer's services so that they can do away with their rivals, well, the highest bidder wins. And the not-quite-highest bidders start drawing up their Last Wills and Testaments, just in case.

On the other hand, the authorities love calling cards. Similar to the fate of the Wet Bandits in Home Alone, getting caught with your calling card in your bloodstained hands immediately links you to every other crime you've committed (assuming that you were diligent about leaving your calling card at each scene, that is). If the City Watch catches you picking some yokel's pocket, takes you aside, searches you and finds a satchel full of white roses, they're going to lock down on you and start screaming for reinforcements. Things can only get ugly after that.

Back to the first hand, calling cards invite another scourge-within-a-blessing-within-a-scourge for a hard-working assassin: copycats. The greater the card-leaving assassin's notoriety, the more likely he'll be imitated by more and more copycat killers. The reasons behind copycat killers vary; some of these copycats feel wholly mediocre and believe that, by imitating their "hero", they can lay claim to a measure of his notoriety. Others just want to kill people and hope that, by imitating an established assassin or serial killer, their own crimes will be linked to the more infamous killer and not traced back to the copycat.

The good news is that this deception usually works in reverse; if a notorious killer has two copycats, that means about a 33% chance that the authorities are chasing the real McCoy, provided all else is equal...either that or the authorities have to split their available forces between two or more supposed White Rose Killer sightings, leaving fewer hounds to sniff their way down the original killer's trail. And if the White Rose Killer is hiding out in Kursten--keeping his head down while watchmen, heroes and mobs of vigilantes are roaming around Kursten looking for him--when suddenly a copycat kills three people in Alfstein and leaves a white rose for each of them, suddenly the constables and angry mobs are going to head for Alfstein, taking the heat off the real White Rose Killer's back for a while.

On the other hand, copycats can also ding the original's reputation. If a copycat tries to assassinate a merchant-prince and drops a white rose while the guards are hammering on him all the way to the city gates, the bungled deed will quite likely reflect on the original White Rose Killer; people are going to start chuckling about the killer rather than gasping at the mention of his nom de plume, and the greasy smuggler who wants to do away with a prying guard captain might suddenly be rather reluctant to hire the White Rose Killer for the job.

Furthermore, there's that whole "Wet Bandits" issue again, and copycats can make it worse. End up in front of a judge and a jury, and you may be convicted for not only the murders which you did commit but also for murders which you didn't commit, thanks to your copycats. And if one of them did something even more monstrous than you yourself would ever stoop to doing, well, that's when the jury starts recommending some truly horrible punishments to the judge, rather than letting you off easy with a simple hanging.

But, back to the first hand, a dead copycat killer is wonderful for taking the heat off the original killer's head. Nobody's going to go hunting down the White Rose Killer if they believe him to be dead...and if the angry mobs aren't quite up to the task of catching the copycat and putting him to the sword, the White Rose Killer can always track down the copycat and do the job himself. And, as a bonus, it might be a while before anyone does come after the assassin again, once he demonstrates a penchant for returning from the dead, and bounties for the assassin's capture or death will diminish; the merchant-prince who just gave away half of his fortune for the (faux) White Rose Killer's death won't be so ready to raise another price on the White Rose Killer's head should the real White Rose Killer resurface after his supposed demise.

On the other hand again, copycats have a way of stepping on the original's toes. Whether you're a professional assassin or a deranged serial killer, you probably have personal standards and an identifying pattern of behavior, perhaps even some sort of code of honor. And if one of your copycats starts trampling roughshod over your standards and your reputation, you're probably going to be rightly annoyed with the copycat. It gets worse if the copycat takes liberties with the original's modus operandi; if Karnoz kills all of his marks with daggers because daggers are graceful and efficient and maybe even a little artistic, and Karnoz considers heavy crossbows a clumsy and grotesque way of killing people, and suddenly a copycat claiming to be "the great Raven Murder" starts running around and shooting people dead with a heavy crossbow, Karnoz is probably going to have to take time out from his busy schedule to hunt that budgie down and put him in his place...which may or may not be a shallow grave, depending on how peeved Karnoz is. Right? >.>

And if you've read enough issues of Johnny the Homicidal Maniac, you may be familiar with an episode in which some guy calling himself "Darkness" comes to Johnny's house professing to be a huge fan of Johnny and hoping that Johnny will deign to teach him how to be a better killer. To this end, Darkness natters on and on about how he worships Johnny and started torturing and killing people like Johnny does, all of which deeply annoys Johnny...right up to the part where Darkness admits to raping one of his female victims before killing her, which is something that Johnny would never ever do, as it rams directly afoul of his personal code of honor. Johnny butchers Darkness quite vengefully and horribly after that, naturally.

Darkness: "But...I'm just like you!"
*big, sledgehammery SPLAT!*
Johnny: "I don't like myself much."

So yeah, sometimes copycats are a pain in the buttocks. What's even worse is when a copycat, no longer content to be a mere copycat, aspires to become the original...and there's only one way to accomplish that. Of course, if some copycat aspires to become the new Raven Murder, takes a stab at killing and replacing Karnoz and ends up with a dagger buried up to the hilt in each lung, Karnoz is free to leave the would-be master assassin's corpse in a conspicuous place--with Raven Murder's calling card, of course--both to add another nugget of infamy to his name and to warn any other copycats about the sheer and certain mortality of trying to topple and replace the one and only Raven Murder.

And, as a bonus, sometimes that calling card and all its due notoriety can even get you off the gallows. Any run-of-the-mill serial killer can expect a harsh and most likely fatal sentence if the local constables and vigilantes bring him before their magistrate, but what if the killer isn't some ragamuffin with an anger management problem but, rather, is the legendary White Rose Killer? If the province's regent is in any way corrupt or less than pearly-white Lawful Good, then there is that chance that the local government may let the White Rose Killer off the hook, with a few specified conditions...like, say, if he agrees to bring them the head of the leader of the local Thieves Guild, assassinate the Crown Prince of Omikoros and then never set foot in Konegheim again. The White Rose Killer may get saddled with banishment, a telltale brand on his forehead and/or a suicide mission or three, and there's no guarantee that other people won't be hunting for him after that (especially if the Crown Prince of Omikoros suddenly keels over dead with a white rose planted in a fresh, fatal slash wound through his left carotid). But at least he's not watching his last sunrise from the end of a rope. I'm sure that counts for something.

So...what'll it be, GD? Calling cards or no calling cards? Smile
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The House of Ainsley
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Mon Dec 28, 2009 7:58 am

(Ack, a page break! Don't forget to go back and check the previous two posts, folks....)

Also, since Ariean's existence has pretty much let the cat out of the bag, I went back and threw in this campaign's Racial Classes. Enjoy! Smile

Some varieties of undead--such as ghosts, Ainsley skeletons and Ainsley zombies--are treated as being living members of their original races as far as evolving in Classes, though they also receive a number of strengths and abilities to compensate for the frailties of undeath. Undead also gain Hit Points as members of the standard Classes and Prestige Classes normally would; only the undead who devote themselves to experiencing, examining and mastering their unholy state may pursue an undead Racial Class and attain the coveted d12 Hit Die, though doing so comes at great cost to their Feats, Skill Points and other perks which come with standard Classes and Prestige Classes.
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Tue Dec 29, 2009 10:07 pm

you missed something on your timeline there Smile

also I have some questions for you about evolving undead, namely how does it happen? would it involve taking some levels in that undead class? (wight was not available at creation for corwin, but i am intrigued at the idea of a soul devourer.


also i know i probably threw you or a bit of a loop with my bass ackwards business plan, sorry bout that Smile
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Fri Jan 01, 2010 9:49 am

S.E.A.M.U.S wrote:
you missed something on your timeline there Smile
I just hadn't gotten to you (or Karnoz, or Sylvea) yet, that's all. I haven't forgotten anything. Wink

S.E.A.M.U.S wrote:
also I have some questions for you about evolving undead, namely how does it happen? would it involve taking some levels in that undead class? (wight was not available at creation for corwin, but i am intrigued at the idea of a soul devourer.
I had actually mentioned the possibility of wights as player-characters (along with vampires, ghouls and the Ainsley variants of sentient zombies and skeletons), but I think I might have understated wights a bit; I've had the rules for player-character wights ever since the campaign begin (or, rather, ever since I picked up Libris Mortis, which was well before that). And wights did at least get another mention when I talked about undead diets and those fancy little Hunger gauges that I doodled up.... Cool

I don't think that I'd given any mention to the rules for player-character mohrgs, ghosts and liches, however. I myself was sort of iffy about these undead races at the time, but they are perfectly acceptable now.

Ghosts, of course, are severely hindered by their inability to collect, wield or wear physical objects, but they do get the usual ghost abilities (ethereal and incorporeal states, Frightful Moan, Malevolence (more powerful ghosts can possess and control living hosts), telekinesis and so on) and otherwise evolve as player-characters and Classes do; several of the Libris Mortis Feats are specifically designed for ghostly characters, and a number of the Ainsley-blooded NPCs return from the House's demise as ghosts as well (most notably those whose bodies were never found--or whose bodies were desecrated or destroyed--or who died under conditions of great torment).

Mohrgs are another possibility, though not every character concept is fit to be a mohrg, as they are spawned from the most horrible, inhumane and unrepentant villains. One of Corwin's uncles had a nasty habit of turning captives loose with nothing more than their own skins, then giving them a headstart of a half-hour or so before hunting them like one would hunt foxes or deer. His hunts were not very nice, of course, and he honestly didn't care whether his victims died quickly or not. "Ah, that was a nice shot, if I do say so myself. I didn't quite hit the heart, but it still brought you down, eh? Here, let me stick this hook through your ankles and drag you back to the manor so I can practice my taxidermy skills...oh, quick kicking, damn you! Now, where's my horse...?" So he was a cruel enough bastard to come back as a mohrg. He might not be awake yet, but he'll probably cause a scene when he does.

Liches remain an anomaly, as they are created through a special darkly magical process involving phylacteries in which the liches place their own souls, willfully damning themselves for a shot at immortality. Thus, lichdom lies beyond the purview of the Ainsley curse; the only way for lich PCs to exist in this campaign is if a living character in this campaign pursues lichdom. But something tells me that neither Karnoz nor Sylvea would be down with that (though both the Cleric class and the Assassin class would certainly have the opportunity...). Razz

Hmm...but I suppose it's not too late to reroll Corwin's fate, if you would rather have a wight instead of an Ainsley skeleton. We'd just have to come up with a way to keep his flesh relatively intact for 50 years, and the ocean floor is not a good place for that. We can jam some ideas back and forth, if you like. :?

S.E.A.M.U.S wrote:
also i know i probably threw you or a bit of a loop with my bass ackwards business plan, sorry bout that Smile
I think I still have some place in my Inbox. PM me and we can think something up. Smile

Also, WELCOME TO 2010, EVERYBODY! Pam came back to work yesterday, and I'm looking forward to having a lot more time this weekend. LOOK LIVELY! Very Happy
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Fri Jan 01, 2010 10:08 am

i think it was not originally available because wight had an eight level racial level adjustment, whereas vampires didn't. It's nothing i need to do a reroll on or anything like that really, i can live with corwin as a skelly, as it seemed to make more sense for him at the time, i was talking about evolving as undead just how (aside from being killed by a wight) does one become a wight anyways? Hmm, i'll have to think about it if you have interest about wightdom, i was planning on heading that sort of way anyways withthe profane lifeleech
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PostSubject: Re: House of Ainsley: Out-of-Character Discussion   Sat Jan 02, 2010 9:43 am

That was under the pre-Libram Mortis rules, IIRC; Libram Mortis does have a Level progression chart for wight characters, making the level adjustment completely unnecessary. The undead characters with undead-Race-as-a-Class classes just have a more gradual advancement and power gain, that's all; your newborn vampire spawn has to earn his Dominating Gaze if he wants to play with the big dogs. Wink

Unfortunately, it's impossible to change one's undead race (well, without the benefit of powerful magic such as the all-powerful Wish spell, perhaps). But though wights are spawned from people who are soul-drained to death by other wights, there is the occasional villainous person who dies in torment and becomes a wight naturally. And, of course, there's the Ainsley curse which, thanks to some behind-the-scenes deity work, brings each of Bardos Ainsley's dead descendants back as an undead race most befitting that person's life and/or death (with some exceptions, such as the aforementioned lich).

Of course, the Ainsley curse doesn't prevent those of Ainsley blood from rising in undeath through other means; the curse simply assimilates them once it takes root a year after the House perishes (with the exception of a few Ainsleys who got the heck out of Dodge and never came back, but they may have simply stalled the hourglass for a short while...).

So it is possible that, for example, when Lord Wardner, the servants and a number of concerned burgomasters and townsfolk bound Borogon's corpse from head to toe in chains before interring him in his sarcophagus, they did so for a very good reason. You never know. But if you hear something pounding against a stone sarcophagus lid in the Chamber of Helms just past midnight, you probably shouldn't investigate too closely.... Shocked

But Libris Mortis does a pretty good job of balancing undead characters. Skeletons and zombies are pretty much like their original races (human, elf and so on), but with some modifications; they don't have any great strengths, but they don't have any geat weaknesses either. And considering that skeletons do have a number of useful perks (including the halved damage from Piercing and Slashing attacks, as well as the complete immunity to Cold damage...) and less-than-lethal weaknesses (ie. the skeleton having no senses of touch, smell and taste), Corwin wouldn't exactly be badly off if he remained a skeleton. How many other types of undead can laugh at withering barrages of arrows (silver, magic or otherwise)? Sauron could have taken Helm's Deep if he had just ditched the orcs and sent a horde of skeletons instead, eh?
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