Saturday, September 14, 2019

The Fearless Vampire Fucker


The flail known as the Vampire Fucker* was made by the dwarf Lit when the Kingdom Under the Mountain still flourished and neither Man nor Dragon had come to despoil it. Whether vampires were known to the dwarves of old, the power came to the flail only later, or Lit had the power to prophesy is unclear. No dwarven songs seem to feature it, though some human scholars of their language have pointed to "maces" and similar devices found in their legendry that may be references to the Vampire Fucker.

It is known that it still had this name when the dwarf king in exile gifted it to Liudprand the Unsparing, the first hochmeister of the Sword Brothers to oversee their time in the Dark Country. Whether the king, whose name is not recorded, gave it willingly or was a captive in Schonberg (no the central fortress in Nunhead, one of the Seven Cities) is the subject of much debate.  It is clear that Liudprand, and sometimes his lieutenants, used the flail to "banish" a number of Varkolaks that were serving as quasi-deities to Bogdani tribesmen** and supposedly even some members of his own order who had been afflicted. However, the timeline of the Sword Brothers fall is often unclear, and these incidents may have been post-hoc rationalizations for massacres and internal paranoia. Despite its vampire slaying powers, it is still effective against the innocent.

The last references to the Vampire Fucker occur only in sources by the Sword Brothers themselves and contain the most depraved incident in the history of the weapon, if such tales are true.  It seems that the Witch of Averois, was grievously injured when a knight attempted to use the flail in a perverse act of sexual torture. Thereafter she had the reigning hochmeister seal the flail in a "museum" containing multiple relics seized on crusade in the Desert Lands. The vault which contained it has never been opened since.

A peculiarity concerning the weapon is the number of sources maintaining it is a "whip." All physical descriptions known note a heavy head at the end of a long chain. This strange nomenclature may be a reference to the flails ability to extend when the lifeforce of its wielder is at its height.

Vampire Fucker
Weapon (flail), very rare
You gain a +1 bonus to attacks and damage rolls made with this weapon.

If your hit points are at maximum (or temporary hit points above your maximum) the weapon has 10' reach. If your hit point maximum is lowered by an effect (such as the vampire's bite) this function still operates as long as your hit points are at or temporarily above this new maximum.

When you hit a vampire (as defined by the DM) with an attack using this weapon, the vampire takes an extra 2d6 radiant damage.


*Its name is translated from the rough language of the dwarves, whose runes clearly articulate this meaning.

**Bogdani is the ethnonym of the pagans of the Dark Country.  They are normally divided into White and Black Bogdani, though the distinction's meaning is often unclear to Realmishmen.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

FLGS Nightwick Session 1

We had a near TPK in my FLGS Wilderlands game and decided to take a hiatus at least until the end of October. In the meantime I'm running Nightwick for them. Unlike the Nightwick Regulars (who are still in the month of Elders, 1395), this game's in game month lines up with our current month - i.e. September 1395. Hopefully the coming weeks will show how I plan to reconcile this disparity.

This is another guest post by longtime player in my games, Chris.  You may remember him as Burgell the Gnome and Aslog in the Wilderlands.

Characters Present
Ermel the Dagger - Karslish Human Ranger 1
Dame Ysentrude - Realmish Human Paladin 1
"Sir" Ginger van Evergreen - Frogling Cleric of St Santa Claus 1
Flint Lichtbringer - Dwarven Paladin dedicated to St Richard the Prior 1
Anastasia Romanov - Novgovite "Human" Warlock of the Archfey 1

10th September 1394
We're in Nightwick and trapped due to some military happenings. Dame Ysentrude gets taken to a chirch for some walled-in girl to tell her some vision of seals breaking. Some lady in the town complained that her grandmother got killed by a sword brother and wants us to put her to rest. Another lady mentions her father is a wizard and wants to meet anyone going into the abbey.

We go see the lady with the grandmother problems who expresses that she is very poor and cannot offer much. Lame. Then we go to see the wizard in his tower.  Halfdan says he's a terrible wizard and he looks like it. He wants us to find some plants. Okay. So we head, finally, to Nightwick Abbey.

After journeying through woods we burst through to the abbey covered in kudzo and also two bell towers and crumbling ruins without the crumble. There is a cemetery covered in that same kudzu, though not as much. The east tower's doors are smashed open so we enter in. There is also a 10 foot hole with a metal ladder, which the trap door of is cut like meat fillet and half of it is plopped into a corner. Flint unspools rope down into the opening out of mistrust for the ladder and Ginger just goes down the latter.

Flint kicks the door open to reveal a room with a large statue at the end of it. It's a sword brothers statue! Ginger busies herself listening at each door. There's fighting beyond one of the doors. Of course one of the paladins wants to go to that. Thank goodness she is distracted by poking at the statue. Not enough though, and Dame kicks the door open and it breaks like meat. Good. Dame and Flint charge into the room where the battle sounds are coming from. There are a bunch of undead dancing around in combat with themselves. Flint throws a javelin at them and makes them angry!

{FIGHT IT OUT}

We fought a bunch of skeletons and Ginger and Flint got hurt. We prevailed over them, eventually, and were rewarded with 2 gold crowns from two lead skeletons. We decided to leave, licking our wounds, back to Nightwick.

Monsters Defeated
10 Blind Dead and 2 Blind Bruders

Treasure Gained
2 Ducal Coronets (50gp each)

XP Per Player
150

Saturday, August 17, 2019

Tales from the Boar's Head: Thalos' Tomb

A Bad Way to Go

Session Date
13th Day of the month of the Crimson Dragon 4500CCC (August 13th)

Characters Present
Aslog, Skandik Priestess of Odin
Velor Silent-stream, Half Elf Druid
Dabetha Darkmantle, Dwarf Storm Sorceress and devotee of Manas
Udogar Thalthaac, First Man Bard
Thalos, Tiefling Blade Pact Warlock (Deceased)

Events
  • The party met with Thalos, a warlock from the Demon Princedoms far to the south, and convinced him to seek treasure within the tomb they had been exploring.
  • Dabetha also took the time to make sure she had notes on the other possible adventures around Haghill and the City State.
  • They left Haghill at dawn on the 13th and arrived at the tomb without incident.
  • After reviewing Velor's map, they decided to try to explore beyond the chamber where they had fought a group of guard skeletons and, on a later expedition, the shade of a typhonic beast.
  • Near this chamber they found what appeared to be an ancient library of sorts filled with scrolls. A skeletal priestly figure mechanically puttered around looking at scrolls seemingly without comprehending them. In the center of the room was a great brazier.
  • Thalos attempted to test the skeleton's reactions by dimming the fire within the brazier. This prompted no reaction. 
  • Before the party could move in behind him, Thalos attacked the creature with an eldritch blast.
  • The rest of the party filed in, attacking with spell and sword, and the skeleton had no time to react before it was destroyed.  With its last act it attempted to push some of the scrolls into the fire but was unable to.
  • Searching among they scrolls they found that many were blank, but that some still contained writing.  They were able to find an ancient King's List, a strange map, and a scroll of diminution.
  • Dabetha, feeling there might be a secret door nearby, attempted to search for one using her stone-cunning, but to no avail.
  • They then decided to see what was within the pit found in the room where Velor, Aslog, and the now gone Torin had faced a bronze cobra.  They, in fact, used the wreckage of this cobra as a weight for their rope as they lowered themselves down.
  • Or rather some did.  Udogar, frustrated with dithering over whether to go down the pit or a nearby flight of stairs, jumped down and was quickly joined by Talos.
  • Below they found a strange set of cells packed wall to wall with bones, as though a great many people were locked in them and left to rot over hundreds of years, and a torture chamber. 
  • The torture chamber was guarded by a hulking skeleton with a great, two handed scimitar. Once he drew this vile weapon a swarm of scarab beetles appeared from no discernible location and followed him.
  • Thalos attempted to fight the undead torturer while Velor and Aslog began to make their way down the rope.
  • Dabetha jumped past the two going down the rope and cast a shield spell in mid air, using her storm sorceress abilities to gently land on the ground once this was done.
  • Thalos took a mighty blow from the torturer, but what slew him was the scarabs. They swarmed over him - two swarms in one space! They then set about hollowing out his corpse.
  • The torturer then turned his attention to Udogar and Dabetha, but Velor was able to intervene and do a great deal of damage to him.  Aslog also helped with her mace, which had great efficacy against the being.
  • Udogar was knocked unconscious by the torturer's wicked blade, but Aslog was able to heal him.
  • Once the torturer was dead, they felt some sorrow for their newly met and newly departed friend, but Aslog did observe that they had not been shieldbrothers long.
  • Dabetha took the sword and began experimenting with it, finding that if any part of it touched the ground scarabs began to appear. She faintly heard the voice of Thalos's shade say "careful where you sleep."
  • They then climbed back up the rope, retrieved it, and went down some nearby stairs. The sound of running water, which pervades the strange tomb, was even louder in this section of the dungeon.
  • Beyond this they found another guard chamber of skeletons - 4 with swords and shields and 4 with bows. These proved to be more aggressive than the first set, with the archers firing as soon as they were within sight.
  • The fight saw Udogar use illusions to great effect, creating illusory cover for his allies as they moved up the hallway and dealt with the sword swinging skeletons.
  • Having spent many resources and lost a friend, the party decided to return to Haghill rather than continue exploring, at least for now.

Monday, August 12, 2019

Mechwarrior: The Legend of Curly's Lostech

This is another mech-based campaign idea. I've been on kind of a mech kick since rewatching Evangelion with my wife and have been thinking about various mech campaigns. This is one I came up with a while ago and have thought about adapting to Traveller or other systems (maybe even Lancer) at various points. If I ever ran this I'm not sure what rules I'd use since the current Battletech RPG looks kinda naff.

If you don't know anything about the Battletech setting I recommend watching the intro cinematic to the video game. "Some Indian" who writes Straits of Anian I think correctly identified it as doing an excellent job telling the history of the setting using only visuals.

An AWOL Kurita mech waits in ambush on the devastated planet of Alexandria

Alexandria was once a jewel of the Star League. A high population world nearly entirely covered with urban environments and manufacturing zones, it was home to several mech factories and produced many of the designs still seen in the Succession Wars. It's position along the central spine of the Inner Sphere also made it strategically important for maintaining hegemony over space.

Unfortunately, when the Star League disbanded it ended up wedged between houses Steiner and Kurita - both known for their bellicose militarism. During the first two Succession Wars  the planet was pounded with everything each house had at its disposal, including notably treaty-defying orbital bombardment. Between the wars the two sides would raid across their borders and often the target was Alexandria. Now most of the planet is rubble and few have any reason to visit the dying world.

The current inhabitants live a meager life in the ruins. They run in factions that are little more than heavily armed street gangs. The only way to eek out a living, it seems, is by squabbling over the ruins, the planet's atmosphere likely incapable of supporting crops. Somewhat recently, a group of pirates with a company of mechs and even more conventional fighting vehicles landed on the planet and has been attempting to use it as a pirate port.

You are members of the 2nd Legion of Vega, stationed a few jumps away from Alexandria. A sink for dishonorable warriors, washouts, burnouts, and even political prisoners, the Legion of Vega is noted for its unconventional tactics, poor morale, and miserable duty assignments. Despite being assigned to this forlorn hope, it looks like your luck is about to change. A member of your company has heard a rumor that one of the factories on Alexandria would need only minor repairs to become operational again, and may even have a huge store of Lostech!

Luckily for you discipline in the 2nd Legion is so lax that making off with a drop ship and hitching a ride on a jumpship to Alexandria seems to have been met with a very muted response. If you get the factory working, maybe they'll forgive you for going AWOL because of the wealth you'll bring to House Kurita.  If not, you can always be the petty tyrant of your own planet.

Unfortunately there seems to be a problem.  Someone is occupying the factory... and its the pirates...

Saturday, August 10, 2019

Tales from the Cutthroat Inn: The Mystery of the Manipulated Mules...

...May Forever Remain a Mystery!
The "Beast Master"

Session Date
9th Day of the Month of the Crimson Dragon 4500CCC (August 9th)

Characters Present
Annapurna, Altanian Ranger
Red Hawk, Altanian Fighter
Grafari, Skandik Rogue
Ion Skamos, Tiefling Cleric of Set

Events
  • Red Hawk and Annapurna debated whether they wanted to do more tag team pit fighting or go it alone, deciding at last to continue as a tag team duo. They defeated a skandik of immense size (and possible giant ancestry), two Alryans who fight in legionnaire style, and a pair of Karakhans whose sword and shield/bow and shortswords mirrored the twain.
  • Ion Skamos able performed religious duties at the Temple of Thoth the Terrible, gaining two favors.
  • Grafari elected to spend his downtime preemptively scouting out the horse market where their mule was normally kept and where they purchased him. One night, during Grafari's stake out, a tremendous storm of bats appeared in the area in which he was hiding, drawing the attention of the guards who then thought he was the cause of the disturbances.
  • He had done this because the hook that the party sought to pursue next was a thing they had cobbled together out of two pieces of information. 
  • The first was that their mule had both a speed-based enchantment on it AND seemed to have a spell that caused it to be dominated by some unknown agent - though its actual behavior never seemed to show evidence of this.
  • The second was that the Overlord was allegedly hiring exorcists to rid him of ghosts that were haunting his stables. The veracity of this rumor was never proved, but they believed the haunting to be caused by the same agent who hexed their mule.
  • They decided to go inspect their mule for vampire bite marks, since the bats had shown up, but on their way down the Old South road they were ambushed by an Antillian assassin.
  • The assassin offered no reason for his attack but seemed to focus only on the Altanian members of the party, each of which he downed with a poison blade.  However, the magic of Set was able to save them and also did a great deal of damage to the Assassin, who looked for a way out despite his quarry still living.
  • He attempted to scale up a nearby wall, but Grafari jumped up and slammed the back of his head into the very wall he was trying to scale. 
  • On his person they found only money; no orders or any sense of who he might work for.
  • They then went and rested for a day so that Red Hawk could recover from his nearly mortal wounds.
  • The next day they made it to Guardsman's Road before they were blocked by City State constables who seemed to be investigating something in the street.  They were ordered to return home or take a detour.
  • Instead they persisted in some time trying to make out what they were investigating, but only saw that the constables were interested in a strange, damp section of road. The Rainbow Warriors gave up trying to figure out this mystery and returned on their way to the stables where they had their mule.
  • There they encountered City State guards, one of whom recognized Grafari from the incident with the bats. The guard accused Grafari of being "involved with the ghosts" which prompted Annapurna to reply "he doesn't know anything about ghosts." Grafari, not willing to play along, responded "I know a lot about ghosts."
  • Annapurna tried to use this purported knowledge to get hired as the exorcists, but a failed persuasion roll showed that the guard knew of the reputation of the Rainbow Warriors, who were known city wide for their lack of efficacy with things of the Other World.
  • The party, exasperated, requested to see their mule, which was difficult to examine due to the guards crowding them. Luckily, Bumpkin Winterbur - the man who runs the horse market - arrived and made the guards return to their posts.
  • Investigation of the mule turned up nothing, but detect magic showed that nearly every animal in the stable - even the rats - had some kind of enchantment placed on them.
  • They then went to question the smith who occupied the same building as the stables - whom Bumpkin called "Madman."
  • And he was mad! The party asked him many questions but Red Hawk soon got the feeling he had little to add and was unlikely to be behind any of the goings on despite his strange demeanor.
  • Annapurna then investigated the floor of the stables for unusual prints, finding the soft steps of a pointed shoe belonging "either to a woman or a fancy lad."
  • The party asked if they could use Madman's house to monitor the stables and both he and Bumpkin agreed, though admittedly only after the rather forceful assertions of Ion Skamos.
  • That night a new set of guards stayed in the stables while the Rainbow Warriors watched through a peephole cute into Madman's wall.
  • After the midnight bell, the party and the guards heard the sounds of large cats, which Red Hawk was able to identify as tigers, outside in the horse market.
  • The Guards jumped to their feet and ran out to see what was making the noise.
  • Grafari then sneaked into the stables, hoping to be able to see what the guards had found, but was interrupted by what were clearly the footfalls of an invisible person.
  • Grafari grabbed the person, who became visible when he tried to dominate Grafari and make his escape. It appeared the man was a Gishmeshi in his early-mid 30s with a sort of wizardly bearing. 
  • Grafari called out for help "he's trying to put the whammy on me!" And the rest of the party came running.
  • They were able to subdue the enchanter due to his restrained state, but interrogating him seemed to do no good.  After some brief defiance he seemed to mentally "check out" and not respond in any way to their actions.
  • Outside the party heard that the guards were losing a fight to two very non-illusory tigers. Red Hawk complained that they should aid them against the tigers even as he fastened the door shut.
  • There was some discussion of what should be done, but during this discussion Grafari managed to stomp the Enchanter's face into the muddy street and drown him before the rest of the party realized what was happening.
  • This caused the city to erupt into total bedlam! The animals in the stables began to freak out, as though suddenly aware of their circumstances after years spent in a coma. 
  • The tigers seemed to react similarly, though whether or not they spared any of the guards is unknown.
  • Annapurna wanted to figure out some way to let the tigers out of the city by opening the gates, but the rest of the party felt the best thing to do would be to beat feet back to the Cutthroat Inn before anyone found out they were responsible.
  • On their way they heard what sounded like the other stables in the city being in a similar state. They also heard the distinctive cry of an enormous gorilla, but were unable to see such a beast. The sky overhead was filled with bats.
  • Annapurna noted that they had in some way stopped a hideous conspiracy but also opined that they would likely never know what the conspiracy's goal was.

Monsters Defeated
An Antillian Assassin, The "Beast Master" Enchanter

Treasure Gained
280gp 180sp, Scroll of Magic Missile

XP Per Player
787



Wednesday, August 7, 2019

Tales from the Boar's Head: High Times in Haghill

First Session Date
July 30th (30th day of Vineyard's Bounty - 1st day of Crimson Dragon 4500 CCC)

Characters Present
Aslog, Skandik Priestess of Odin (Cleric 2)
Velor Silent-stream, Northern Elf Hermit (Druid 3)
Dabitha Darkmantle, Dwarf Storm Sorceress (Sorceress 1)
Udagar, First-man Courtier (Bard 1)
Pakhom, Altanian Warrior (Fighter 1)
Morcant the Magician, Avalonian Scholar (Wizard 1)

Events

  • Velor visited the strange priest known to locals as Boomer, who worships a spider god. He was able to determine from the austere nature of the temple - a black cube with an open bronze dome, that it was not dedicated to Nephtlys but little else.
  • Boomer appeared as a man with a great belly and round, hairless head but long, spindly limbs. His lily-white skin glistened with sweat. He charged Velor an exorbitant price to remove the strange disease given to him by the ghostly set-animal encountered in the tomb.
  • Torin, the first-man barbarian who had been accompanying Aslog and Velor on their previous adventures, was called back to the City State for some kind of mercenary duty. Distraught by this, Huberic scoured the area until he found Udagar, a bagpipe playing member of that strange and ancient race, to serve as entertainment at his now near constant feasts.
  • Udagar had been charged by some ancient member of the Reptillons to follow Dabitha but arranged for her to follow him in order to make some money in Haghill.
  • Morcant and Pakhom had arrived because of rumors of a tomb containing ancient Orichalcan treasures.
  • Aslog and Velor explained to these four the nearby tomb, and also why their other hooks (killing adherents of the Toad living in Mermist Marsh and dealing with flying snakes in the Dearthwood) should be avoided.
  • After a day of feasting they headed into the howling hills, and found the tomb in the late afternoon.
  • Entering the tomb there was some retreading of areas to explain the situation to the newcomers, but eventually they decided to take a path shrouded in darkness.
  • ...That led to skeletons! Some armed with swords and some with bows. Battle was soon joined.
  • Aslog's ability to turn undead proved decisive, as did Udagar's fiery breath which he belches through bagpipes.  Less decisive was Morcant's use of Fog Cloud, which temporarily made the undead very difficult to hit.
  • Despite being victorious, the party felt it had used a large number of its resources and it would be best to return and rest, and perhaps feast a bit, in Haghill. 
This session was a bit short because we had four new people, two of whom came in after we had just gotten past introducing the situation and so they had to be caught up.


Second Session Date
August 6th (6 - 12th Day of Crimson Dragon 4500 CCC)

Characters Present
Aslog
Velor Silent-stream
Dabitha Darkmantle
Udagar
Alkmemna, Tiefling Noble (Warlock 1)

Events

  • Dabitha spent the week between sessions gathering herbs, giving her one use of a medicine kit.
  • After informing Alkmemna, who Aslog had met before, of the tomb and its treasures the party ventured into the Howling Hills.
  • Near the tomb, they spied an Altanian barbarian acting as a sort of lookout  near a rock on a nearby ridge. Alkmemna, who saw him first, waved, which prompted him to blow into a horn he carried.
  • Udagar began to blow on his bagpipes as a kind of dominance display - a "counter-doot" to use his verbiage.
  • The barbarian seemed to take this to mean that he was summoning even more men, which caused him to run off the ridge waving his arms, presumably for his comrades to stop.
  • While the party could not understand Altanian, Aslog was able to find a higher vantage point and see that there were a group of Altanians yelling confusedly at each other about whether or not they should attack. Eventually it seems the more sheepish members  of the troop won the day and the barbarians slunk off into the distance.
  • During her watch, Aslog noted that there was a great tower in the distance and a circle of standing stones on a much closer hill.
  • Entering the tomb they made their way back to where they fought the skeletons, but unfortunately the room was now home to a ghostly set animal much like the one they had faced previously! Battle ensued and both Aslog and Velor were stricken with the strange, lotus shoot malady the beasts carry.
  • While wanting to go on, the disease made it too difficult for Aslog or Velor to participate in combat so they decided to return to Haghill.
  • They arrived in the dark of the night, though the light was good because both Howla and Vanis were in the gibbous phases. They found Boomer sitting in his temple, disrobed, though once he realized his presents he covered his glistening white bulk with disturbing alacrity.
  • Dabitha and Aslog, who had not entered before, realized that this was a temple to Yezud, not the spider god of the City State.
  • Dabitha had used prestidigitation to make it appear as though Velor was nesting a group of spiders on his body, in hopes they could shave off some of the exorbitant rate. Boomer agreed to do this for Velor, but noted that Aslog's obvious devotion to Odin would mean she was lucky to get any treatment from him whatsoever.
  • Boomer also revealed that the plants which sprouted from them were Amber Lotus, a plant held sacred to Set.
  • They then asked Boomer to join them for a feast at Huberic's mead-hall, and he reluctantly agreed. 
  • Huberic through an even bigger do once he saw they had managed to bring Boomer out of the temple, killing cows with his whips and trading stories. Huberic informed the party that along the Pagan Coast they had encountered the strange sand dunes that were home to giant moles - "big as a dragon."
  • Ochcall Cat-eye, Huberick's skandik lieutenant, discussed a time when he found a strange tree bearing golden fruit in the Adderwood, claiming when he reached for an apple the tree bit him and nearly killed him.
  • Boomer then shared his knowledge of the existence of a strange weapon known as the Infinity Blade that seems to "stretch infinitely" into other planes. He stated that this would be found in the Admantine Crypts of the Dark Star, reported to be somewhere in the Howling Hills.
  • They asked Boomer if the tower they saw was the location of these crypts, but he stated that locals called it the Howling Tower, and that it is where the hills get there name - "well that and all the wolves."
  • They then drank and partied all night, with Udaga getting a bit of a hangover (and a level of exhaustion) but they decided to try to return to the crypt the next day.
  • Unfortunately, on their way Alkmeman spotted a group of 6 riders in the livery of the city state - a priest and 5 guards.
  • The party decided to approach them and ask their heading and business, but the guards moved to block them from interacting with the priest.
  • Udaga saw that the priest was a young man in a kind of old age makeup who had also used some sort of makeup to make his whole body look jaundiced.  This detail helped Alkmemna and Aslog know that he was a priest of Hamarkhis, but only made Udaga scoff at the strange actions of youth.
  • Scoffing, it turns out, offended the priest, who swatted at him causing a blind red light to flash in the air. When the party regained its vision, Udaga was on the ground dying.
  • Rather than flee, as Alkmena and Dabitha advised, Velor and Aslog waded in with spell and sword.
  • Aslog's use of inflict wounds nearly killed the priest, whom a guard had called Jahungir, and a thunderwave from Velor finished him (and most of the guards) off.
  • The rest of the battle was quite short but soon all the guards were dead and their horses fleeing.
  • Feeling this a bad omen, the group returned to Haghill to rest for another week.




Monday, August 5, 2019

The Magnificent Mech Pilots

This is one of those posts where I do a kind of campaign pitch in order to cement my ideas in case I want to run it or just to get it off my chest. What I describe below is based on the official Lancer setting but I have decided to switch out blink gates for something more like heighliners or Battletech jumpships for wrap-my-brain-around-it reasons. All distances within a system are done at high but not quite relativistic speeds.


There is a dark power growing at the edge of known space.

It began with the Far Field teams - brief reports that surveyed planets already showed evidence of human habitation mining, and even manufacturing, then whole teams went missing. Nothing was done, despite the anomalous reports. Far Field teams go missing all the time. It's one of the hazards of the job.

Then the attacks started. Union officials and even the victims said they were carried out by pirates. They still do. For pirates, though, they are exceedingly well equipped. They do act like pirates though - taking ships, armor, and sometimes even slaves. In one instance at least it seems they forced an entire colony to evacuate and seized to expand their manufacturing base, sealing off communications with the Union shortly afterward. The captives who have escaped have escaped claim that it is the work of someone the raiders refer to as the "Baron." This has led the few in the core who care what's going on to point their finger at the Karrakin Baronies, but anyone can call themselves something.

Though if they were involved that would explain why nothing is being done. Despite these bold attacks on colonies that are ostensibly part of the Union, few resources have been sent to the frontier. The Council has stated that it is the job of existing auxiliaries to patrol these areas for pirates, a clear underestimation of the threat posed. A few on Cradle and a great deal more in the colonies believe that the Council's refusal to act is partly based on the control the Baronies have over their manufacturing base. Perhaps they are behind it, or perhaps they are trying to keep the Union out of what they consider an internal struggle.

But now the situation has changed. Through the industry of the colonists, the bureaucratic maneuverings of a sympathetic Council member, or the good hearts of the pilots themselves, a troop of the most elite mechanized cavalry in the Union - Lancers - has arrived at Matterhorn Station, near the bulk of these attacks. Despite being few in number and without much in the way of official support, these pilots have the potential put the pirates on the defensive.  Maybe they could even discover who the mysterious "Baron" is and put an end to his sinister ambitions.