Thursday, July 7, 2011

Tim tries his hand at describing Panari

     What follows is the work of five credited authors (David Bauder, Josh Brown, Carl Hewelt, Christopher LaLiberty, and me; my contributions in red).  It was composed for a Panari IK mod for Living Arcanis that never saw the light of day.  I plan on giving some thoughts on PCI's Fast Play rules for their new Arcanis Role-Playing game in the next few days, but I wanted to give some background to the world and my feelings about it.  The reader will note that this was still very unfinished.  These selections are taken from the first ten pages of the work done on Deliver Not Unto Evil.  Well, from the one revised draft I could find.

Box Text Open

     Though it is but moments after dawn, the soft, warm rays of Illiir’s light have already begun to turn the shadowy and gray streets of Panari into sepia-tinged panoramas of subtle naturalistic beauty.  With the coming of a new day, it is easy to realize how truly alive this city can be.  Giant sequoia trees rustle in the slight breeze while the distinct aroma of lilac can be detected as the flowers slowly open.  The mournful calls of the horned owl have given way to the cheerful songs of finch and thrush.  Squirrels dash from a nearby patch of wild carrots as a litter of kits awkwardly bounds after them, unaware that they are not playing a game.  Even a few score of Panari’s citizens have made their way into the streets, with bakers, coopers, and cartwrights already well into their work day.  It will not be long before this gentle harmony of man and nature gives way to the sounds and smells of a major city.
      Few townsfolk out and about at this early hour are without purpose in their movements through the streets.  Those few who do not appear to be diligently heading toward some earnest endeavor give the distinct impression of having spent the night prior indulging their more selfish desires. It is unclear how the upstanding members of Panari view you, as you are standing outside of the Wolf’s Fang, a modest tavern, but you most assuredly came here with purpose.  As you are slightly early, it is closed.  You do see a number of other likewise determined people who also seem to be waiting for the tavern to open.
     The smell of apple tarts and pork sausage slowly creeps from under the door and through the shutters of the Wolf’s Fang.  It cannot be long before [insert proprietor’s name] unbars the door and your day can truly begin.  In the interim, you content yourself with the sights of the neighborhood. 
     Across the way, a merchant still opening his shop is approached by a small Myrantian scribe, and a discussion ensues.  You can clearly hear the merchant tell the Mryantian man something about “Paldarin paper.”
     Further down, approaching the Wolf’s Fang, a young lad is whistling a happy tune as he skips down the street, a courier’s pouch at his side.  He pauses to pet a sleeping dog, tied to a tree, before continuing on his way.

Non-Box Text
     The scribe is discussing getting a discounted rate on the cost of paper from the merchant (Listen check DC 10). Whichever PC had the highest check will hear “You clearly do not understand the value of this stock.  Perhaps I can interest you in some of our lesser quality vellum.”
     Should the PCs approach the Merchant and/or scribe, both will eye them cautiously.  Though there is nothing illicit in their dealings, both will be hesitant to make their affairs public.  In addition, there is a fantastic chance that the PCs will be wearing armor and carrying weapons, and when persons like that approach a simple pen and paper shop, bad things are likely to happen.
     If pressed, the scribe will inform them that he is looking for paper so that he may finish a work he began before the fall of Abessios (which is true).  He wants no trouble from the PCs, but he will not scamper away if threatened, as he does believe that the authorities will arrive to protect him from bodily harm.  The merchant, on the other hand, will sternly ask the PCs to wait no less than fifteen feet away until he has finished his business with the scribe.  Should the PCs threaten him, he will draw a bell from his belt pouch and ring for the Watch. [This will immediately trigger the assassin’s strike and ensuing combat.  In such an instance, the merchant will implicate the PCs in the courier’s death, which will certainly make it harder for the PCs over the course of their investigation.]
     The Boy is hesitant to discuss his delivery.  He will ignore people on the street unless stopped.  Even then, he wishes to complete his task, stating “It is against the Courier’s Code, and we never open the package” If he is pressed (Diplomacy or Intimidation 15 -- the DC increases to 20 if a bribery attempt is made -- he is very honest), he states that his package is bound for the Academy, and he mustn’t dally.
     The assassin will not attack while the courier is directly next to the PCs.  If the PCs do not allow the courier to his appointed task, he will threaten to call for the Watch.  If he is still detained, he will escape by use of author’s fiat and then be killed by the assassin as soon as he is in the predetermined position.  That will teach him to use author’s fiat to escape.

Development: Go right to encounter 1.

 Set-Up for First Combat
     Suddenly, a familiar sound sends a chill along your spine.  As quickly as you realize that an arrow has been fired, you note that it has found its target. The young courier falls, a preternaturally black shaft piercing him from his left scapula to his right hip.  Armed men charge from a nearby alley to the scene.  One of them, glancing at you, sinks his weapon deep into the young lad’s back. 

     It appears that breakfast will have to wait.

Beginning of Encounter Two
     As the last thug falls, an eerie silence falls on the street.  Apparently, the town guard either hasn’t heard the ruckus, or has yet to arrive.   It cannot be long, however, until the Watch does arrive. 

     The Watch will arrive in one minute if summoned by the merchant’s bell, or four minutes otherwise.  This is not intended to derail the story, but when people get murdered in the streets in one of the nicer sections of a major Imperial city, the Watch does show up to investigate.  So long as the merchant did not summon them, the PCs can easily claim self defense (a DC 15 Diplomacy check to be released on their own recognizance with a 50 gp bond per PC; this will be returned at the end of the module).  While murder is illegal in Panari, there are enough witnesses that can be found to vouch for the PCs’ actions. 
     If the merchant did summon the Watch, the PCs will be detained for one day while a more thorough investigation is conducted.  The PCs will be fined 100 gp each and escorted from the city with a warning not to return for at least three months (80 TU).  PCs who cannot pay this fine will be held in prison for one day per 10 gp unpaid.
     Feel free to roleplay the interaction with the Watch as little or as much as the players feel appropriate. 
The top of the line character sheet

     My job was to be an editor, but I took the liberty to replace text as I saw fit.  Probably not the best attitude to take, but at the same time there was simply too much work to do to simply make suggestions and notes and wait for revisions. I also wanted to put references to (at least) four deities in the opening paragraph, so I did. Anyway, this was Living Arcanis (or at least aspirational Living Arcanis) under the v3.5 rules.  The rules have changed.  I am not writing anything for it, but as I didn't get anything published or played -- that Faiths book never went anywhere -- that shouldn't change things for the players.
     But I cared about the game.  Spent lots of money on products, more on the costs of gaming.  Judged for at least eleven different conventions (MSR, DCV, Conflag, CodCon, Concentric, Ides of March, Fall into Gaming, Stuffed COWS, HeliadaCon, Origins, and GenCon) and attended even more (GenghisCon, Arcanis con Carne, PentaCon).  I used to be devout.
     I'll post my opinions on the Fast Play book soon.  Just trying to give the authors a chance to respond to my requests for comments.  Until then, I hope you enjoyed some box text without any context.

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