Organizations: The Unnamed Organization

Summary Report from Proggog Dawkoo, Seventh Barrier wellyn Mentarch, member of the Dovvan Section of the Guild Mnemonic Division.  A report to leaders of the Guild Homes throughout the Tamarran Continent.

Given that this organization has no known name, it is not surprising that there is very little known about its origins and that its membership is a closely guarded secret.  It was originally formed in the Kingdom of the Warrior Wembarrem, which is located on the Maharrin Subcontinent, immediately south of the Tamarra Continent proper.   Estimates of the age of the organization vary greatly, but it is believed that it has been around for a number of centuries, at the very least.

Maharrin Subcontinent

The Maharrin Subcontinent

The Unnamed Organization (UO) had a reputation throughout the Subcontinent of being willing to do whatever was asked of it, as long as there was profit involved.  This is not to say that its members were necessarily nefarious; nor is it to say that their intentions were altruistic.  They just believed that anything worth doing was worth getting paid to do, and that anything worth paying someone a lot of money to do, was worth doing.  Even murder.

In the early 4,900s, members of this group made their way north to the Tamarran Continent.  Most accounts say that this journey took place between SP~4,924 and SP~4,930, but the accounts are sketchy, and the Wembarrems are notorious for their poor record-keeping.  They established their first foothold on the Tamarran Continent in the Zweyjen Coastal City-States of the south. Within a decade, they could be found throughout most of the Continent (or to be precise, they could not be found).

During their first few decades on Tamarra, the UO recruited many folks of many kinds. Among their new recruits were a few (very few) Guild members, and a not inconsiderable number of sorcerers.  Having members who understood the Six Energies added a new skill set to their already formidable capabilities for robbery, forgery, assassination, and any other well-paid and illicit activity. In the 4,970’s, shortly after the Third Nulentian Invasion, it is said that many wellyn joined the UO.  The wellyn generally refuse to discuss this turn of events, or even to acknowledge that it happened.  Some do not like the idea that fellow wellyn would join a secret organization; however, it is likely that many believed this to be a vast prank and were concerned that it would supercede their own pranks.

In the last several decades, this highly profitable organization is believed to have  broadened its base to boast a membership of somewhere around 1,000.  It is clear that the UO is the “go to” group for well-placed politicians and business leaders when they need something to be done quietly and professionally.

According to journalists in the larger cities of the Continent, the UO has trained their own colony of blink bats**, enabling members to keep in touch quickly and secretly.  These accounts also suggest that the UO holds a full membership meeting every year or two, at an unknown location on the Tamarran Continent.  The meeting even includes operatives from the Maharrin Subcontinent.  Currently, the most popular rumor* is that the Unnamed Organization is led by none other than Osslin Perranger, the human female who heads up the Charismatics Guild in Tarnath.

In summary, the Unnamed is an Organization of great strength, stealth, and wealth.  It would be wise to give them a wide berth and not ask too many questions.


* With thanks to HH, reporter for the Dovvan Daily News

** Blink bats look like ordinary gray bats, but have the ability to blink out of view and instantly reappear anywhere on the Tamarran Continent.

The Crown of Drawnwyn, Part 3: The Making of the Crown

The history of the Crown of Drawnwyn is older, and far more complicated, than most folk of the Continent realize.  I will attempt to provide a synopsis, and a very brief one at that, in the informal treatise below. — Robbuach Shova, ushen Scholar of the Third Degree, Fell Academy of the Flow of History, on the 53rd day of the month of Sula, SP~5,013

The history of the Great Crown, as it is often fondly referred to, is best understood in three parts.  

The first part of this history began many thousands of years ago, during the Second Era of the Fifth Age of the World, the era immediately prior to our own.  This was the time of the immortal races of creatures, the very first races to exist on our dear Ethem.

The Seven Great Stones, as they were called at that time, were created by the Elzheni, perhaps the most accomplished Race of that period. They were responsible for so many magnificent creations, not least of which was the building of the Great City of Angzhelling on this, our Tamarran Continent.  No one knows now where Angzhelling might be; however…ah, it is so difficult to be brief!  The Stones were created by the great Elzheni genius, Dey Affa.  One was created for each of the Six Energies, and another was created to allow the six Stones to act as One.  At this time each Stone was used for its own purpose.  There was no Crown.*

axterfallThe second part of this fascinating history deals with the creation of the Crown of Drawnwyn from the Seven Stones. In the year SP~3,721, the great ishiri artist Elem Nemma began creating the Crown of Drawnwyn for the Seven Stones.  The Stones became known as “Eyes,” because each Eye gave its owner the ability to see into the Energy Realm with which it was associated (the Eye of Dey had the ability to see into them all by seeing through each of the other six).  The following year, in the Nashem Mountains in the old part of Naldrin City, the completed Crown of the Seven Eyes was presented to Drawnwyn.  The rest, as they say (I’ve said it myself), is history!

And now we come to the third and final part of this history: the education of Drawnwyn.  As powerful as the Crown of the Seven Eyes was, it was nothing to anyone without the skill and strength to control it.  At the very least, anyone who aspired to use the Crown must have overcome Barriers in each of the Six Energies.

It is not entirely clear how long Drawnwyn spent establishing a connection with the Seven Eyes.  Some say it was only a matter of days, but these stories are surely apocryphal, believed only by those who consider Drawnwyn to be akin to a god.  It is likely that she spent several months learning to align with and wield the power of the Crown.  Most accounts indicate that after the presentation of  the Crown, she went immediately to the deeper reaches of Old Naldrin City.  The training was arduous and exhausting, requiring Drawnwyn to call upon every skill she possessed in order to maintain her inner essence while aligning with the Eyes.

At the end of this training Drawnwyn emerged with what would from then on be called the Crown of Drawnwyn.  She was ready for the great battle with the Emperor Samron.

It is known that the Crown and the Seven Eyes still exist.  The Eyes have been separated from the Crown and scattered, but they still remain somewhere on the Tamarran Continent.  We will talk more about this, and the recent rumors as to the whereabouts of the Crown and the Eyes, in subsequent blogs.


 

*For the full history of the Stones and their Elzheni masters, you must get a copy of my book, “The Elzheni in Their Greatness: A Story of the Second Era of the Fifth Age of the World and a Short Account of what Came before us, and Continues to Guide Us.”  In this fine tome you will come to understand how these seven powerful Stones were used, and misused, by a small group of Elzheni; where the Stones ended up after they attained their freedom; and how, eventually, they were key to the end of the Elzheni race and the final days of the Second Era itself.

How to Moderate a Role-Playing Game, Part 8: Fight with Words, not Fists

By Jordan Campbell, Director of Game Development, Flying NightBear Games

Follow this series of blog posts on moderating a role-playing game, with specifics about Beyonder. Your own fantastic adventures lie ahead!

Countering Powers and Social Conflict

As every writer knows, one of the key elements of any story is conflict.  There must be a conflict for the characters to resolve — otherwise there is no reason to pay attention to the action.  In the context of RPGs, this conflict is often a rumble.  People get hurt, sometimes they die, monsters are often slain or sometimes just transformed into a newt with a party hat that is then stepped on to finish the job.  

FNB_Kerchet2_1024x1024However, not every story is about bludgeoning your enemies to death.  The sophisticated gamer (and let’s face it, Beyonder players are quite sophisticated) oft grows tired of the monotony of the hack and slash style, and will search for alternatives to violence as a means of resolving conflict.  But boredom is not the only reason to avoid a fight.  It might be a tactical decision when attempting to thwart a foe whose military prowess far exceeds that of you and your companions.  Or maybe you don’t know what you’re up against: you walk into a room and see a stranger.  Do you stab it to death before saying hello?  That’s just poor manners.  Or can you take it further?  The only thing better than defeating an enemy is to make them an ally.  Fists only make fiercer foes, but a conversation has the potential to create close companions.  

Beyonder players, in particular, are encouraged to explore these potential options, and not just to add variety to your encounters. The world of Beyonder allows for deeper stories:  stories that are more than two-dimensional, that mean something, that reflect what we hope to see in our world.  Our rulebook Beyonder: Science of the Six devotes Chapter 8: Additional Forms of Combat to non-physical combat related conflicts.  It focuses on two main parts: Countering Powers, and Social Conflict.

julka_final_to_send-less_than_5MB_1024x1024Social Combat

Social Combat is a great option for games of political intrigue —  but also for getting out of a fight you can’t win.  Beyonder has a system that keeps track of how well you influence someone in order to change their opinion.  If you do this well, you can win every battle without lifting a finger.  It doesn’t hurt to have a Mentarch or a Charismatic on your side either.

Countering Powers

Using Countering Powers is a great way to resolve conflicts without combat.  In fact, it is the official method used by the Guilds for formal disagreements.  It allows opponents to tire each other out without actually hurting anyone.  

Countering is as dynamic and exciting as regular combat.  It is a back-and-forth battle between two combatants, but rather than being a barbaric and bloody clash, it is more like an elegant dance where wit and strategy can win you the day.  It can also be employed in conjunction with standard combat to disable and distract an enemy Channel.  Your opponent will either be forced to postpone their action to shake off the assault, or suffer the consequences as you rapidly drain their Fatigue.  Throw into the mix that the Ethereal Energies have a particular affinity with countering which gives them access to Barrier abilities, as well as Powers that give them an extra edge, and Countering becomes an even more enticing option*.

Social Conflict

I want to tell you a secret: when I started playing Beyonder, my goal was to win.  I wanted my character to be the most powerful warrior with the best gear and the most money.  As I grew as a person and a gamer, it became clear to me that I had the wrong idea.  At one point our moderator, Robin, created a situation in which we had more money than we could spend. We had become so powerful that most battles were either trivially easy or epically challenging, and neither was satisfying.  Social Conflict adds to the possibilities, making game play more interesting and more nuanced.

Single Argument, your character attempts to convince someone to believe a single idea or complete a single task:  “I didn’t eat your donut when you weren’t looking,” or “stop fighting and put down your weapons.”  A Complex Argument takes a while to talk through.  Maybe you need to slowly work your way through your target’s defenses (over a few months you convince the stubborn king to sign the treaty), or you have to convince them of several smaller points to achieve the larger goal (you list all of the reasons your party should take the dangerous, but faster, passage on the boat, rather than the slow but safer mountain pass).  In Opposed Arguments, you say one thing while someone else is saying the opposite.  Let’s see who does it better!**   

poster_races_v3_grande editedAnd so, my friends, we come to the end.  But as we all know, ends are only the beginning of something new.  I hope this series was helpful for readers new to moderating, as well as seasoned moderators new to Beyonder.  Moderating is not easy, but it can be so much fun.  Please let us know what you think or if you have other tips and tricks to share.  I’ve only just chipped away at the tip of this iceberg.  

Now go forth and tell some epic stories!


*For more details, check out page 140 of Beyonder: Science of the Six.

**The details of the system are on page 141 of Beyonder: Science of the Six.  Take the time to look at this chapter.

The Crown of Drawnwyn, Part 2: The Making of the Crown

Our first blog entry about the Crown of Drawnwyn gave a brief overview of the Crown and the seven “Eyes” that comprise it.  This second installment describes the making of the Crown; future blogs will relate its history.

In the year SP~3,683 it became clear to a cabal of powerful Guild members that the despot Samron was planning to extend his empire over the entire continent of Tamarra.  The original members of the cabal, a half dozen highly experienced Cataloguers within the Acquisitions & Archival Department of the GERC (Guild Energetic Research Coalition), soon realized that if they were to stop Samron, they would need the help of other GERC members.  However, they knew that the larger their group, the greater the chance that they would be discovered (and “dispatched”).  In the end, they reached out to two members of the GERC’s Energetic Experimental Group (EEG) and three members of the Materials Development Division (MDD).

Flamen

Flamen

At first this small group of subversives was at a loss as to how they might combat a foe as mighty as Samron had become.  However, one of the members of the MDD, an ishiri evoker by the name of Odaddun, recalled accounts of the Izhen, also known as the Eyes of the Elzheni.  These were seven stones that, as legend had it, were created by the Elzheni during the prior Era of the World, and were said to wield great control over the Six Energies — the fundamental building blocks of the world itself.  Even if they did exist, the whereabouts of the Izhen were unknown. The search for the Izhen is a story of its own, and would need many more words to recount than we have here.  Suffice it to say that with the help of the Sorcerers, the Guilds’ long-time foes, after many years and great cost, the Izhen were recovered.  

It was decided that the Izhen would be most powerful if they could be controlled by a single individual.  The person with the greatest natural abilities for this job was Samron’s granddaughter, Drawnwyn, who had demonstrated from birth a tremendous affinity with each of the Six Energies.  She also had a resistance to the effects that the Energies could have on an individual, which could corrupt their physical (and Energetic) form.  

The next step was to give Drawnwyn the Izhen in a form that would allow her to use them most effectively.  It was decided that a crown would be the best way to provide her access to the seven Eyes.  The hope was that Drawnwyn would defeat her grandfather and become the ruler to replace him, wearing the crown of power that had defeated the despot.  This is when the cabal recruited Elem Nemma for the task of making the Crown.  

Elem Nemma realized early on that the Crown was far from ornamental: it had to withstand great mundane as well as Energetic assaults.  For this reason she chose to make the base from a rare material called “ruttar,” which is formed when an intensely vibrant flamen* descends from the sky and touches the earth and stone of the world.  Ruttar’s rich grey sheen makes the circlet of the crown seem visible, yet almost without discernible form.  Running through the grey base of this material are faint streaks of other, darker colors — hues of black, deep blues, and even thin threads of gold, red, and orange.  Six bands rise up from the base to form a center piece several inches above.  Nemma set an Eye on each of these six bands, immediately above the base, with each Eye placed on the opposite side from the Eye of its opposing Energy.  For example, the Eye of Koldep, aligned with Mental Energy,  is on the opposite side of the crown from the Eye of Amdrath, aligned with Emotion Energy.  Finally, at the top of the crown, Nemma placed the seventh Eye, the Eye of Dey, which has the ability to link the Energies of each Eye so that they all act as one.

In the caverns within the Nashem Mountains just north of Naldrin City, on the month and day of Tasz 44, SP~3,722 the cabal presented the Crown to Drawnwyn.  The results are well known in the history of Tamarra: the Eyes of Drawnwyn, as they were then called, were the decisive factor in the final defeat of the Emperor Samron in SP~3,725.  Even today, the day of Tasz 44 is celebrated across the Tamarran Continent as the day of the defeat of Samron, and of tyranny.

 


*See “Imbelnhi’s Bestiary” for more information on this fascinating creature.

How to Moderate a Role-Playing Game, Part 7: Combat

By Jordan Campbell, Director of Game Development, Flying NightBear Games

Follow this series of blog posts on moderating a role-playing game, with specifics about Beyonder. Your own fantastic adventures lie ahead!

To Fight… Or Not to Fight: Physical Combat

All good stories center around a conflict.  Many times in fantasy worlds this conflict is an epic battle of life and death, with blades slashing at flesh and supernatural abilities in their many forms saturating the scene.  Beyonder can be full of these —  in fact, the majority of the rules revolve around this type of conflict situation and how to manage them.  We call this Physical Combat. (Note: not every conflict is resolved through physical combat, as you will see in our next blog entry.)

combatsceneIn Beyonder, when there is a combat situation it is your job as Moderator to keep track, in an organized fashion, of everything that is going on.  If you don’t, then a simple battle that takes place in a matter of seconds in the game world can take an hour in our world.  Below are some tips to keep things moving along.

Reaction Time: At the beginning of combat everyone (both the PCs and the creatures you control) will roll to see who has the fastest Reaction Time (a special use of the Perception Talent).  To save yourself some hassle, if you have a big group that you are controlling you may want to roll once for the lot of them.  Generally speaking this order stays constant throughout the scene, so you should write it down and cycle through it.  If you are using the Tracking Wheel (and we suggest you do), then you can arrange the pieces from the center outward in order.

Order of Combat: Each moment of combat will follow the same order.  You and your players will get into a rhythm over time.  Each player and NPC will complete the step before moving on.  In other words, everyone who needs to will Resolve, then everyone who needs to will Declare, and so on.

    • Resolve : It seems odd that this would come first, but other than in the first round, where there is nothing to resolve, it must happen before anything else can.  If there are actions that resolve at this moment, then resolve them, making rolls and calculating outcomes as necessary.  They do this in order, going from BEST reaction time to WORST.
    • Declare : If someone has just resolved an action OR has not yet declared an action OR they would like to stop what they are doing and declare a new action, then they do so.  They should move their marker on the Tracking Wheel to show where their action will resolve.  They do this in order, going from WORST reaction time to BEST (the opposite of resolving actions).
    • Move forward 1 moment in time
    • Rinse and Repeat

Callout_CrawnPlan Ahead: Players should be paying attention to when their actions are going to resolve, they should know what they are going to need to roll when it does resolve, and they should have some idea of what they are going to do next.  This will speed things up.  If you trust your players enough, you can even have them make their rolls ahead of time.

Know Where You Are: Encourage your players to know where they are and where they want to be.  It is not unusual in a combat situation to wait in the back, or somewhere out of the fray.  Especially if you are in a support role, you want to make sure that you are out of harm’s way while you come to the aid of your colleagues.  Also, there are times when you want to run — it might be toward an enemy or away, or perhaps in pursuit of someone, or something, else.  So, think about where you are now and where you want to be a few moments down the road.

Time Limit: One way to keep things moving in a combat situation is to set an amount of time that players have to make their choices.  A countdown can definitely help to focus the mind.

Tracking Wheel: Use the Beyonder Tracking Wheel to help you and your players keep track of where things are wrt who goes next.  Don’t hesitate to pull out a sheet of paper and quickly sketch out the “lay of the land,” placing each PC and NPC on the board so they can actually see where everyone is.

Separating the group: If you’re an experienced Moderator, it can be good fun to occasionally separate some of your players from others.  You can physically separate the two groups — “you all go in the kitchen, and the rest of you stay here.”  Each (smaller) group is then fighting their fight, but also wondering if the other group is okay or just what’s going on with them.  Don’t leave either group alone for too long, but having some time to themselves can be helpful for each group to discuss strategy and decide on future actions.

Not every story is about physical combat!  The Beyonder system gives you many other options, which we will discuss in our next “How to Moderate” entry.