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The last time I mentioned our weekly games, I mentioned that one of the systems we’d take out for a spin was Palladium Fantasy.  We had a pretty solid time last night, so much so that everyone told me they liked the adventure and their new characters.  A lot.

When we made the characters in preparation for this session, I followed the rules and let them take the Elven language because the rules said that for the Palladium world, that was basically the common language.  However, in the intervening time, as I prepared* the scenario, I switched worlds, and it turned out that Elven was not the common language.  But that was a minor issue, and could easily be explained away.

*By prepared, I mean to say that I decided what the broad strokes of the story were going to be.  I didn’t write anything down, and winged it through the rest.

The world I went with (instead of Palladium) was a homebrew a friend of mine and I wrote way back in the early days of DnD 3rd edition.  I decided to use this world because I know this world, and I haven’t yet finished reading all of the Palladium fantasy books.

First, the characters: (Remember I have a two player group, though I am open to finding more players should the opportunity arise.  If you are in/near Herrin, Illinois, let me know!)

Osric Arduin, Gnomish Bard.  Now, remember, this is Palladium fantasy, so the bard in this tale does not inspire others, or have any psuedo-magical abilities.  He’s just a wanderer looking for new tales and songs.  (and something of an oddball, since in Arrylon, most gnomes like to invent things.  Their inventions are generally harmless to anyone but the gnomes themselves, or anyone within 10′ of them when they explode.

Borodin the Learned, Elven Diabolist.  This is our rune mage.  In Palladium fantasy, the diabolist is an expert at creating runes and wards, which when touched by another person, causes all sorts of nasty effects.  In Arrylon, the elves are treated pretty much universally with disdain and suspicion.  You see, they’ve tried to conquer the world several times in the past.  No one likes them, because they tend to think that everyone is below their notice.

So, I brought these two seekers of knowledge to the Twilight Isle.  In Arrylon, there is one center of knowledge.  It is the Bard’s College, also called the Twilight Campus.  All books and scrolls eventually end up here.  The college has an annual festival to determine which new prospective bards should be considered for admission to the college, and so the entire island becomes the biggest party in the known world.  Our two characters come here for an opportunity to peruse the library, and our group is ready for the adventure to begin.

Upon arrival at the library, they are greeted by a halfling, who tells them how the library works.  You get in with a donation, preferably a new book or scroll.  They are shown around the lower levels, and in particular to the history section.  They spend the rest of the evening there, even past the time that the place closed for the night.  As they studied, a blood-curdling scream echoed down the halls.

They rushed down to the main hall to find the librarians clustered around a dead body.  No blood, no obvious wounds.  Later, as they investigated things, they found two strange runes on the man’s chest.  Runes, our diabolist recognized.  Not only that, but the art of rune-magic is so rare, that our diabolist looked to be the only one who could have created them.  For most of the day’s adventuring, it looked like he was going to swing for it.

My son was playing the Diabolist.  He was having fun, but was also irritated that all the evidence was pointing at him.  He even asked why it couldn’t have been some NPC that could have done it.  I told him it was drama.  It would not have involved him in the plot so deeply otherwise.  He didn’t like that answer much.

The head librarian, Philemon, closed the library and locked everyone in.  Among the lock-ins were a fat merchant, a wiry juggler, and a large barbarian.  (We took to calling him the Mad Russian, due to his size, presence, and the accent I adopted when speaking in character).  As the constables tried to piece together the evidence, the merchant starts to cough up blood, and he dies.  there are runes on his chest.  The diabolist knows it takes time to inscribe the runes, that they could not just appear, and that an unwilling target would make it very difficult.  But still, he is the only one who could do it, and that must mean he got to the victims much earlier, perhaps while they slept.

The rest of the people no longer want to share a room with the diabolist, so to keep the peace, the constables separate them into two groups.  Once they are alone, the mad russian tells the PC’s that he knows neither of them did it.  He’s from another land far to the east, and he’s been pursuing a killer that causes symbols to appear on his victims.  There is no way to know when he’ll strike, or how.  He hadn’t said anything because he knew that as a foreigner, no one would believe him.

The bad guy in this case, even the Russian didn’t know his name, had gotten hold of an artifact, one of the seven pieces of “Azorel’s Key.”  When collected together, the pieces of the key would form a device that could open the doors to Cairn Aedel, the home of the gods.    The key also helped you track down the locations of the other pieces.    The Russian doesn’t know which of the NPC’s has the key fragment, but he knows that they will continue to use it until they uncover the second piece, which is apparently somewhere on the campus.

The next morning, the constables took everyone aside one by one and began the questioning.  While Borodin was being questioned, the Juggler was turned to stone, also with runes on his chest.

To make a long story (and post) shorter, they suspected it was Philemon.  then the evidence suggested it was the halfling at the gate, especially since none of the halflings in the employ of the college worked the gate.  The halfling used magic to appear human because he was tired of all of the ‘short’ jokes.  In the end, it turned out to be Elder Tribune, the man in charge not only of this library, but many others across the lands.  The bosses boss.  He was a changeling.  Everyone thought the changelings were all dead, wiped out in the last inquisition.

This game was far more serious in tone than any of the others I’ve run, and I was pulling everything out of thin air as it went along.  Everyone had a lot of fun, and they all want to re-visit the characters.  Looks like I’ll be using Palladium Fantasy to explore Arrylon more from now on.  I just don’t know how to top this episode.

Part of the fun was that we played outside, in the breeze, and under a big shade tree.  We grilled out (being memorial day), and it was a very enjoyable time for all of us, even the GM.  Next week, Hero system, back in the gasoline punk world, where my gunslinger has to decide what to do now to stop the bad guys from basically nuking the entire planet.

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Man, it’s nasty out here.  We’ve had so much rain (I’m in Southern Illinois, BTW) that almost every creek and river in the area is at or above record flood stages.  Find Herrin on the map.  Now draw a little circle around it.  Not a very big one, just sort of clip the edges of town.

Got it?

Pretty much everyone outside that circle is dealing with the worst flood in decades.  The Big Muddy River is wider than it’s ever been.  A levee broke in Olive Branch.  They cut a levee near Cairo to drain the floodwaters into the bootheel of Missouri.  Driving from Herrin to my family’s houses in Murphysboro is a 50/50 shot depending on how recently it rained.  Heck, even the North side of Herrin is going under, with large chunks of highway 148 being closed.

Every time it rains for more than an hour, or if it rains heavily, the drainage ditches on the back of our property fill up and drown our yard.  Sometimes the roads right around my house go under water.  And I mean West Harrison, which borders one side of my yard, and South 22nd, which borders another.

And this is on top of a series of deadly tornadoes that ripped through the region last week.  More than 200 dead, and the survivors still have to deal with flood waters.

According to the weather channel, every couple of days there is a chance for more rain.  Right now, the predictions are slim, but that can change, and it probably will.  In the meantime, we are going to enjoy every sunny day we can, and pray for those who are struggling to stay afloat.

You want to help?  Find a charity and donate.  Red Cross is active in the area.  If you live in the area, and don’t know what to do, help sandbag.  It’s going to be a long wait for the water to go down.  Every little bit helps.

This is definitely a time for prayer and generosity.

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