Monday, March 23, 2020

Conquest of the Gorgon Coast: Session 1 - Isla Santa

What follows is a play report for my "Conquest of the Gorgon Coast" game, playing with dear friends: Peter, Finn, Cid, and Will. It makes use of the random tables for Spoils of the Gorgon Coast, as well as randomizers cut and expanded on for the zine supplement: The Ashen City. 

The Titular Region for my Campaign, Randomly Generated.

The Set-Up

In service to the Inheritor; Eschtopheles Gorgoni-Rex, the Heir of Chalices; several mercenary factions have entered in a pact with one another to ensure victory against the other war hosts now present on the Gorgon Coast.

The Knights Glantisant, those who pursue the Questing Beast, swore their swords and restless pursuit to the cause.  The White Tower Aspirants, those who seek the mantle of the divine through vile arcane rites, sought to place the Inheritor upon the Blackened Throne for their own wicked reasons.  The Lonely Few sent some of their own cursed lot to supplement others, survive them, and collect their payment; and the Knights Panther who wished to earn favor by slaying monsters of renown.

The Party

  • Galban Ferragamo, a veteran from the Knights Glantisant with a snaggletooth grin. Played by Will. 
  • Eridian the Heron, the cabalist of the White Tower Aspirants who is bound to apocalyptic ruin. Played by Peter. 
  • Zaira Dominitus, a displaced dastardess of the Lonely Few, cursed to live while others die. Played by Cid.
  • Pike of the Ashen City, an outcast who lost their fellows in the Ruins of the Old Empire. Played by Finn.

How did the session go?

Well, the party did some...unexpected things.

Former Penal Colony

They landed on Isla Santa at night, snuck through the grapefruit orchards and then split into two groups: Pike, Galban, and Ziara went one and Eridian the Heron, pain in the ass he is; went the other way. Galban & Co snuck into the city proper, whilst Eridian set up a bear trap and killed a hog. Galban & Co were able to win the affections of some townsfolk who  awoke in the middle of the night to hear a hog having death screams. Eridian was cold-cocked and taken off to a rock on the edge of the island to be whipped and tortured.

Galban & Co found out stuff about the island; namely it was run by a Sebastorii who works for the Hand of Virtue and who employs the Nacre Shield out of Hagios Golgo. They gained good reason to think the Degenerate Heir they were looking for was prisoner in the Sebastorii's villa.

In the morning, Eridian awoke, was subjected to a Chalice blooding, and not enjoying that at all; cast forth terrible flames from his open wounds which incinerated the Centurion tormenting him and sending the lesser Nacre Shield to flee, forming a mob and getting the Sebastorii in person. Galban and Pike investigated the "screams on the rock" which led them back to Eridian, whilst Ziara went to the villa with the guard as Galban's "herald."

As the mob formed in town, Galban & Pike rigged the rocks to look as though a terrible battle had taken place; freed Eridian, and then threw all his equipment into the ocean. Eridian dressed in the dead Centurion's armor and was then told he'd be thrown in the ocean too. Eridian jumped in the ocean, hurt himself, and started swimming towards the Villa. Meanwhile, Ziara noticed strange interbreeding of tea and poisons in the villa gardens and made a poor representative of herself to Sauvon Rochenne, the Sebator of Isla Santa. She managed to forestall him long enough that when he arrived to see Galban & Pike's plan, he believed it for the most part. Ziara doubled back to scope out the villa as Eridian climbed up the rocks, wounded and mangled but alive. They infiltrated the villa, posing as a wounded Centurion and a hired hand.

Galban and Sauvon barbed words for a bit, with Galban claiming as a member of the Knights Glantisant, he pursues all manner of terrible beasts and the one who "had cast fire out its backside" was known as The Heron (Eridian's nickname). Sauvon wasn't buying it fully, but Galban claimed that it might have made nests and laid eggs everywhere. It is very dangerous. Sauvon demanded proof and one day to clear out the infestation, to which Pike and Galban agreed.

Eridian and Ziara broke into the villa's basement, with Eridian mangling his hand with eldritch flame while trying to open a door--which ZIara just bashed the lock off of. When they reached another door, Ziara ran Eridian through with her sword; as he was near death, intolerable, and The Lucky Few have a reputation to uphold. She convinced secondary guard (including one who was torturing Eridian earlier) that the Heron was an infectious strain of monsters, and then she asked if he had cleansed himself today. The guards got into an uproar on cleanliness and began to abandon their post. Ziara snuck in further and stole wine.

Things got hectic, the mob dispersed, and Sauvon returned to the villa. After a time, Galban and Pike went as well to find their companions, only to witness most of the Nacre Shield believed the Heron to be a parasite strain. Playing off lowered morale, Galban and Pike offered their battlefield surgery skills; butchering every officer with well-rolled criticals and terrible violence. Once they had killed off the rival freeblades save for a single one, they ascended the villa's lone tower to take Sauvon as hostage and loot his place.

Eventually, the three remaining party-members went into the dungeon, liberated Augustinius Gorgoni-Rex; a long-imprisoned Degenerate Heir and scholar of teas and poisons. They sacked the villa, stole many portraits and a few notable treasures of noble fancy; before heading off to their boat to sail to Fallen Taurochtalia; to deliver the heir to a contact, receive new orders, and enjoy their profits.

Augustinius is thankful to the party and owes them a kindness, though he's been marked of the Basilisk Strain and cast down from station. The Inheritor of the Sallow Sea hates the Nacre Shield and might do kindly with the party in the future for humiliating them. The Inheritor of the Hand of Virtue will act against the party and their master for having sacked Isla Santa.


Everyone save for Eridian, who died, was able to gain about 12XP; and we're doing level-ups on the 10s for sake of longevity. It was an overwhelming success for the party, though the actions will have long consequences. Eridian's superiors serve the White Wizard after all. Eridian's player is making a new character, archetype not yet known; but she is an Engineer specialist for the Cabal of the Shattered Eye mercenary group.

Next Session

The party makes their way to Fallen Taurochtalia, to sell their plundered wares, seek out their employers, engage with contacts, and potentially plunder the periphery of the Ashen City or one of the fallen empire's notable sites of horror. Knowing the party, they'll likely just get involved in petty thuggery, shanghai shenanigans, and gambling. 

As we game in arduous times, it is a reprieve and a comfort to have fun as I have had this night. 

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Spoils of the Gorgon Coast: The Degenerate Heir

As the kickstarter for the Zinequest Quartet winds down, I find myself in awe of the amount of folks who seem interested in my project; especially given the fierce talent of the other writers working on the project. Spoils of the Gorgon Coast, is a setting toolbox for generating a horrible Mediterranean region ruled by terrible inbred eugenicist monsterblooded noble houses led by the Inheritors, who seek to steal back the throne of their now fallen empire. They deal a lot with the squick horror of abuse, privilege, high-society, and are meant to clearly operate as the sort of people who will condemn thousands to pain and misery from behind a desk. They absolutely suck and make for good villains, as you're ostensibly only in the region to work for one or to profit off the war they're putting on.

The Cover for Spoils of the Gorgon Coast.

Notably, in several sections of their faction generator write-ups (which includes their palatial estates, henchmen, and hostages), note is made to Degenerate Heirs and Denied Heirs. The latter being an Inheritor who, for lack of a nicer way to phrase it--will not be having children to carry on the bloodline and thus is not allowed to have the throne. They're not the most tragic. But a Degenerate Heir has this sort of sadness to them; they were perfectly monstrous enough to take the throne but then someone else was born "better" and now they're seen as a genetic dead end; worthless save for keeping up appearances.

Such beings come from extreme wealth but now with an existential loss of purpose, either glut themselves on every drug and concubine they can have in life until ennui takes the wheel and sends them to their deaths; or they can get angry and pursue their own destinies.

This is an attempt at a Racial Archetype for Best Left Buried, which is in truth a bit less powerful than an Elf or Dwarf in the setting. Its abilities are flavorful, but essentially more harm than good. I'd have gone with a different grouping that appears in the setting, but I intend to run the Gorgon Coast and I know what sort of things my players like to play as---generally speaking, they want to play as sharp-toothed monster people because such is the way of the world. Its a hard line to play with, making monsterblooded and mutated nobles who aren't blatantly beastmen, so what follows is a taste of what you'll receive in the book proper.

If you haven't already checked out the Zinequest Quartet, do so: you'll be supporting me, and a lot of other great writers. It is already guaranteed funded, so you've got nothing to lose. And while this item here is not in the book itself---I am hopeful that, should the book do well, I might be able to create supplementary material for it.

So please let me know what you think.

Art by Spaghetti Bastard; whose horrific displays were a big influence.
The Degenerate Heir:
The Inheritors of the Gorgon Coast have spent countless generations meddling with the blood of monsters, seeking to reach a horrific apotheosis so as to bring to fruition the desires of the First Imperator: that mankind shall never again know fear. Such reckless pursuits lead to abominable rites; inbreeding, cannibalism, and cullings more often than not. But each generation is a march towards progress, and in truth, even the most broken of offspring is still closer to that goal than their progenitors. 

You are one of these Degenerate Heirs. Not an Inheritor, for your parentage or your siblings have spawned something more malformed and more fitting to seek the blood-stained throne of Ancient Taurochtalia. Your authority has been supplanted, your destined thwarted, your inheritance denied; you are nothing now but a warped branch end of the family tree. 

Degenerated and denied, you still have access (for the moment) to your family resources and knowledge of the war to come. The throne may never be yours, but you may again know the love of your family---provided you are able to butcher their rivals and plunder their palatial halls of antiquity.

Note: The traits of playing a Degenerate Heir are double-edged and situational, enough that the flavor does not outweigh the penalties. As such, much like a regular character archetype a Degenerate Heir may take an additional advancement at character creation. As such they are noted in the Suggested Advancements listed below.

Imperial Arrogance: Even a Degenerate Heir knows they are better than any lesser being that foul fortune has forced them to suffer among. Degenerate Heirs are Against the Odds when engaged in positive social interaction with NPCs not of royal or monstrous blood.

Wealth of the City-States: Though scorned by their Inheritor siblings and parents for a few misplaced mutations and blemishes, a Degenerate Heir is still expected to keep up appearances. Degenerate Heirs only gain Experience from Treasure when it is worth at least 2 points of Experience. Anything less if nothing to celebrate. For fancy starting goods, roll on the tables below.

Blooded of the Chalice: Though of ill-fortune in their breeding, the Degenerate Heir is still of malign and baleful blood. They do not fear monsters, they consume them. Degenerate Heirs have the Upper Hand on all Grip Checks made against monstrous entities. Degenerate Heirs recover Vigour at half the rate of other characters, though if they are consuming the blood of monsters from a chalice, they recover at twice the rate.

An Inheritance Denied: Degenerate Heirs are a genetic backwash of what was intended to be perfection. No amount of worship to the Cult of Chalices or victories against their rivals will win them the favor that they seek. This injustice weighs heavily upon the minds and hearts of the Degenerate Heir, causing them to begin with an Affliction determined below.

Suggested Advancements:  Take Tough as Nails if your Degenerate Heir is a lumbering brute. Take Spirits of the Beyond if they are studied of the Collegiums of the Coast and interested in its history a bit too much. Take Concoctionist if they are deeply invested in their family goals or a vaunted member of the Cult of Chalices. 

Typical Afflictions of the Degenerate Heir:
  1. Debilitating Dread
  2. Bitter Grudge
  3. Despair of Worthlessness
  4. Man-Eater
  5. Solace in the Battle
  6. Hedonistic Longing

New Affliction
Hedonistic Longing (Character Flaw) The comforts of the upper echelons of society cease to provide comfort to a Degenerate Heir after years of consumption. The brothels, drug dens, torture houses, and artist plazas lose their lustre. Time away waging war, looting tombs, and plundering crypts may for a time suffice, but a wistfulness and a longing to overindulge will always find its way back to the heir. Denied their inheritance, they must attempt to satiate themselves on any other indulgence; often leading to a life of spiraling shame and further addiction.

Degenerate Heir’s Horrible Form, Frame:
  1. A squat and broad body, akin to a toad; warted and leathery.
  2. A tall and muscled frame, lithe and limber, capable of such cruelty.
  3. A long and bony frame, lumbering and slick with sweat.
  4. A body riddled with semi-hardened plates of bone and a fused, thick neck.
  5. A flowing form, like water from a spigot, like a moving serpent. Always slinking about.
  6. A crumpled frame, hunchbacked, with hands scraping just above the ground.
Degenerate Heir’s Horrible Form, Face:
  1. The sharp, edged features of a belly-crawling beast. A long jaw of ripping fangs.
  2. The black eyes of an apex predator, soulless and hateful. Skin smooth as a stone.
  3. A face of folding flesh, bent upward and arranged for strange acoustics. A mouth for drinking blood.
  4. A great proboscis and the bold panicked eyes of prey. A small mouth of narrow needles.
  5. The bone-chewing jaws of a scavenger, seemingly lipless. Wild, yellow eyes ripe with jaundice.
  6. A broad flat face with the eyes of a goat, teeth for ripping, and a malicious cackle that pulls back the lips too far.
Wealth of the City-State, Inherited Weapons:
  1. Asp-embellished rapier or bastard sword with arboreal patterns upon the blade.
  2. Headman’s axe with a Gilded Edge or a flagellant’s whip of Monster Flesh.
  3. Azure-inlaid Bec-de-Corbin or a hooked sword with Harpy-embellishments on the guard.
  4. A velvet-hilted cavalry sabre or a long misericorde that emulates a manticore’s spine.
  5. An ivory wood-stocked huntsman’s rifle or a pair of gold and bone pistols.
  6. A rosewood heavy crossbow embellished with house patterns on the stock or an ancient ox-horn longbow painted in blackware style with hydra-slaying deeds.
Wealth of the City-State, Inherited Armor:
  1. Padded black gambeson with gold thread embellishments 
  2. Ancient eel-patterned Gladiator’s helmet with bone raptor’s feather plume.
  3. Fur-trimmed parade armor with gilded-scale cloak 
  4. Pavise shield painted to depict the Degenerate Heir mocking their foes.
  5. Sliced hedge knight’s leather armor with serpent patterns threaded throughout 
  6. Silvered sallet helmet embellished with a spiked crown.

Conquest of the Gorgon Coast: Session 1 - Isla Santa

What follows is a play report for my "Conquest of the Gorgon Coast" game, playing with dear friends: Peter, Finn, Cid, and Will. I...