Reading, Writing, Planning: A Friday for Autumn thunderstorms

A cool front is moving in behind last night’s rains and pushing out the last of the hot, humid summer air.

Reading: I’ve got To Kill a Mockingbird next to my bed and I’m enjoying the hell out of it. Orc Stain is on my Comixology library along with the Battle of the Atom cross-over currently rocking the X-titles. I just finished Boxers and it was amazing by Gene Luen Yang, who also wrote American Born Chinese. Both are well worth picking up.

On my kindle, I’m chewing on The Distant Mirror in bite-sized pieces and just picked up the YA novel, a kind of Hindu version of Percy Jackson, The Savage Fortress.

I didn’t realize how much I was reading and how much I was enjoying it all until writing it all down here.

Planning: It is a busy weekend ahead but a very satisfying social dance card starting tonight.

Writing: I’m working with Witt on Bloody Versus-inspired battle rules for Burning Wheel (Clashing Storm of the Sword Kings) to show to Luke so I can run it at Burning Con and other tinkers and hacks in the notebook I keep with me on the train. We’ve done some playtesting in the Giant Spiders invade the Forgotten Realms game but we’re still refining it all.

And you?

Giant Spiders Settle in to the Sword Coast

From the BW forum post (but since they lost a bunch of threads a few months ago, I’m going to post the AP posts here too):

After the Siege of Waterdeep, we talked it over and decided that the Great Spiders Eat the Forgotten Realms game would be a campaign for just me and Witt. Rob had lost his character and Jason had gotten to the game very late; it felt like it was just me and Witt who were really bought in. So, the rest of the group gets togeter, Witt included, and plays AW, and me and Witt get together as we can to continue as a solo-campaign.

Tonight we just settled in to post-siege life. The spiders have settled down on the Sword Coast and apart from little pin-points of human infestation, there are no big threats this side of tne Aunuroch.

Lloth has joined the Matron’s Handmaidens, named Returning Holy Daughter, taking up some mountains in the High Forest with her retinue.

We played around with the Clashing Storm of the Sword-Kings bloody-versus battle rules. I need damage rules but I like the way it feels so far. More playtesting with that to come. We did a siege of Dragonspear Castle, filled with humanoid refugees…gnolls, goblins, some humans, a few trolls, all led by a Warlord keeping things together with a few giants. The Dragonspear was decimated.

Dragon-Heart Eater laid her eggs inside a dragon-egg, which her hatchlings will eat for sustenance once they hatch. She is going to have some funky, funky children.

The Matron has ordered that each Handmaiden send students to the other Handmaidens so they might teach their skills to others in the army/horde. 

Dragon-Heart Eater has leads on several dragons along the Sword Coast. Next game will likely be a hunt.

I can feel the NPC’s in the east, out near the Dale-lands trying to make some kind of fucking sense to a horde of giant spiders landing on Evermeet from an inter-planar portal, conquering it, then the Moonshaes and then taking down Waterdeep and every settlement of the North.

The Fall of Waterdeep

From this post on the BW Forum:

Part of the fun of playing spiders is naming things. Waterdeep becomes the Great Stone Web or Great Stone Nest. The Sword Coast becomes the Sharp Mineral Coast. Humans are meat. Hobbits are little meat. Lloth is the Matron’s bastard daughter.

The character names change based on what they have achieved. Wolf Hunter to Wizard Hunter to Conquering Wizard Hunter to Handmaiden Dragon’s Heart-eater, Castle-Breaker became Stone Web Breaker and Male’s Terror became Tunnel Maiden for her role in leading the efforts to destroy Waterdeep from its expansive sewer system.

Next time on Githyanki Diaspora, burning Lloth, Broodling -> Wall-Crawler -> Lurker -> Hunter-Seeker -> Handmaiden -> Renegade Handmaiden -> Queen of the Demonweb Pits.

Back at it with a Handmaiden, an arachnid bounty hunter and a drow prince in the Forgotten Realms

Thread at the BW forums:

I stuck to Versus tests, not touching the more complicated Fight!, DoW or R&C. Even though artha was spent pretty often, the fate artha piles up when you avoid the rim of the Wheel and stick to the hub.

I felt rusty as hell and even though the artha did flow, I felt like I could have prodded those beliefs in more creative ways. Even writing this AP thread felt rusty, as if I wrote down too much info.

All in all, it felt great to be back at the gaming table and it was nice to visit the Realms again, especially with characters who see it as a giant buffet table.

Tangled Webs and Spilled Beer

Death of a Handmaiden:

World-breaker has 7 legs, a big under-nester who is on the outs since she destroyed a world, rendering it useless for the Matron Mother. By attempting to weaken the world through political manipulation, she precipitated an arcane apocalypse, causing a lush gem to become a sand-swept husk. Her political machinations were unusually subtle for the Matron’s forces and was a revolutionary method for an army known for swarming over walls and surprising/eating its enemies.

“Your failure on Athas still burns in the Matron’s heart, World-Breaker.”


The Many Failures of the O.B.C.:

I can’t tell you how many times this happened last night:

  1. Failed roll but there are some 6’s.
  2. They blow a Fate Artha
  3. Get a little closer.
  4. Comes down to one more die to roll.
  5. Nope, failed.

The Matron’s Handmaidens

“Just because a garden spider sits around all day and waits for prey doesn’t mean you have to. Once you take over your Great Spider character, he can literally do anything you want him to: Learn new skills and earn new traits. Don’t limit yourself.”

– Monster Burner

Rob, Witt and I got together at Dexcon on Sunday morning and played Burning Wheel, did it again at Dreamation. Truth is, we don’t get to see each other all that often and rather than hope we have enjoyed taking the time to sit down and game. And now its a thing, a tradition. The game is about an invading empire of giant spiders out of the Monster Burner. There are different kinds of the beasts, wolf spiders, orb weavers, undernesters and sea lords.

I snagged the mythology suggested by the undernester’s traits and skills: their matron and her 8 handmaidens and put them at the head of a ravenous inter-planar empire, casting its web over worlds and devouring every bit of meat it finds. Tossing together the different types of spiders this empire has brutal shock troops. It has sailors, hunters, spellcasters. Shit, it even has paratroopers, sailing through the skies on silk web parachutes.

In the game, the Matron’s Empire has landed in Evermeet, taken it over and dubbed it Everweb. Evermeet was a fun choice and it made sense to me as it is isolated and well stocked with tasty meat. Also, wrapping the elven capital in webs and eating its elven children was a solid way to kick this setting in the teeth.

Through the course of play, Witt’s vicious wolf spider has been dubbed a Handmaiden, one of the Matron’s chosen few, a general in the empire. She will be formerly inducted by her sisters in the next game and now I’m daydreaming about arachnid politics and thinking about who the other Handmaidens are.

Handmaiden God-eater: Yes, she ate a god in a monotheistic world, among the first the Matron ever devoured. They say any survivors from that world still consider her the Bringer of the Apocalypse and a goddess in her own right. She finds this quaint and flattering.

Handmaiden Devil-binder: In a world with strong ties to the Hells, she bound its patron devil in mystical webs, allowing the Matron’s armies to devour the infernal beach-head. They say that some day the Matron will launch her assault on the Hells from that world’s barren carcass.

Is Handmaiden Devil-binder too dependent on her bound pet? Is he only a spy sent by the Devils as a gambit in a longer game? Her reputation depends on this not being so.

Handmaiden World-Breaker: When the Matron turned her eight eyes on the delightful jewel known as Athas, it was this handmaiden who was sent to weaken it and she went too far. The apocalypse she brought about through subtlety and cunning rendered the world useless and cut it off from all planar contact. She is still reeling from the loss and trying to regain her place.

Handmaiden Matron’s Weaver: She is the most aged of the Handmaidens and there are whispers that she will attempt to hand her position to one of her daughters and be devoured in the process some day soon. It is through her magicks that the Matron can cut off a world’s contacts with other planes of existence. She hopes to one day be able to weave webs that capture prayers and holy sendings, leaving a world with only the Matron for their worship.

Handmaiden Orc-Tamer: They say she is one of the Matron’s daughters by birth and that she was fostered to Grumsh’s court in some nether plane made of endless caves and broken skies. Orc, goblins and trolls are her servants and she is quite mad by arachnid standards. If she weren’t an undernester with such a pedigree some whisper she would have been deposed and devoured by now.

Handmaiden Chronicle Weaver: This handmaiden is a long limbed orb weaver. She collects the histories of the matron’s conquests and weaves them into webs that help her subjects remember. Chronicle weaver keeps track of logistics, with eyes forwards towards the next world, eyes back on the grounds they have just left and the food in between. She is often frustrated because she isn’t as close to the queen-mother as the undernesters claim to be and is often not informed of important holy messages.

And that is about it. There is going to be a clique of ancient handmaidens around god-eater and matron’s weaver, a hard knot of older undernesters who keep strictly to the Way of Eight’s orthodoxy. And I want a clique of younger undernesters, up and comers who are around World-breaker’s age. I want the political power of the undernesters to be clear, with a few wolf spiders they use as front line generals and the orb weaver but no Sea Lords in the upper echelons.

But for now, that is it.  I want to leave some room to breath because:

  1. I think I have already named some handmaidens and I want to check my notes and be sure.
  2. I want to leave room to design handmaidens to tweak the players’ beliefs.

Thoughts on the Matron’s Empire or thoughts on the crazy shit you are creating for your own gaming? Please post below.