Been some time since I ran a game and so this summer I started a new one with some old friends.
Here is the primer I set up for them….
Across the silver sea and beyond the mists of dreams lies a city. Near the peaks of nightmares and standing at the foot of the Walls of Choice stands the eternal city.
Home to a dark queen of great power and her feuding brood, Avalon is the shining city on the horizon, the eternal realm, the home of true magic. Here all begins and all ends, the city forever standing the test of time, legend, and myth.
Before Avalon lays a grand harbor surrounded by high cliffs of white stone. Beyond endless is the Silver Sea and its many ports of call in the mists of dreams. The city then rises above the waves, rolling up the sides of a lone mountain, the peak high above the city’s many towers and spires. Near the peak lies the castle of the Black Rose, a tall fortress of dark stone and black metal gates. Here the Queen, Moab, sits upon her Rose Throne, ruling all before her.
To the south lie the many fields and dells of the Misty Lands, where the farms and orchards of the simple folk feed the many inhabitants of Avalon. The vineyard produces wines, the olive trees offer oil of great flavor, and the fields are an endless supply of fruits and grains for bread and pies. The further from Avalon one walks the greater the mist gathers, until one becomes lost to the city and finds themselves in the Dreamlands.
To the west lies the great Arden Forest, primal and ancient. Great trees rise up to kiss the skies, and as one moves deeper into the woods the more savage and old the forest becomes. Monsters lurk here, things out of nightmares and lost to time and legends. Jabberwockies, dragons, and unicorns roam these woods, as do fairies and other lost folk.
To the north one finds the Hills of Darkness and then the Mountains of Nightmares, places of dark thoughts and dark needs. Monsters roam the slopes of these peaks, while griffins and rocs fly the skies seeking prey. Finally, one passes beyond the peaks and finds themselves on plains void of life; little grows here as one sees the great Wall of Chaos rise up upon the horizon, a seething barrier between what is and what is not. Here madness thrives; chaos and demons are spawned and fester, lusting for life.
Queen Moab and Her Family
Queen Moab is the eternal queen of the realms of Avalon, its royal monarch and sole authority. Moab is a ravishing beauty; well known for her flowing raven hair, slim figure, and noble manner. She is sung about in dreams and legends speak of her regal ways.
The queen has several children, from several husbands.
The first husband was noble Arthur, a great king out of the mists of dreams. It is said that the two met on the field of battle; Arthur was the only man that could defeat Moab and so she took him as her husband. The two were very happy and lived together for many years; the great castle that would be their home was founded at this time. Arthur died in battle a long time ago, defending the realm from an invasion of giants out of the great Arden Woods.
Moab mourned the death of Arthur for many years, her tears said to have formed the Sapphire of Power.
Her next husband was a brash, loud man, Zeus. A king in his own right he was the master of the storm, lightning, and thunder. Their marriage was deafening as they argued all the time and he was rumored to have licentious appetites. Moab finally caught him with a young maid in the Queen’s own bed, which turned her cold and hateful. Enraged, Moab took his head, had the maid’s legs sewn together and then dropped her into the ocean. The girl was a sorceress of some skill, however, and used her magic to transform into the Sea Hag. Now she sinks ships, devouring any women she finds and makes the men her slaves, myrmidons in her army of the watery dead.
The last was Math, a student of Tiamant. He found the eye of the queen and become her lover, though never her husband, for Moab would have no more men tied to her. Math left the city on a quest of unknown nature, never to be seen again. Some think he was slain by Tiamant, while others say he fled the queen’s wraith when she found out a secret about his past.
The mad witch, she is power incarnate. Some say she was and is the true power of the realm. What relationship exists between Tiamat and Moab is not clear—some think the crazy hag is Moab’s mother, some say a sister, while others say she is the cursed first daughter of the queen, born of Moab’s union with a demon out of the Chaos Wall.
Tiamant appears to be a young girl of about ten years old, with wild hair, and one red eye and one blue. She often talks in riddles and to herself.
What is clear is that she is a vastly powerful mage, a shaper of reality and a true adept to the power of the blue flame.
She has taught all of the royal children the basics of the blue flame and its powers, but few can call her a true teacher or mentor.
The queen and Tiamant do not get along; the queen has on more than one occasion publicly wished the mad child-witch dead or gone. Still, the mad girl remains, causing trouble and talking in her riddles.
The Blue Flame
Deep within the mountain next to the city, reached by a hidden door in the castle, lies a maze of passages and tunnels. Traps, dead ends, and death wait those that enter. At the center of the maze exists a cavern high and dark. In the middle of the cavern is a well and rising from the gaping hole is a haunting blue flame, eternally burning and powerful.
At the center of the blue flame lies a black rose. How the rose got there and its purpose only the royals of the realm know and they do not tell their secrets.
It is known that the flame is their power and it is from the flame that they can walk the lands of dreams, reach places no one else can enter, a power no others can hope to understand, let alone wield.
Pushing through the Flames
Each member of the royal family is trained by Tiamant to survive the ordeal of the blue flames, to steel their mind and body for the coming trial. Only members of the royal family have ever survived this ordeal and now none dare try save the royals.
The trial begins after the royal enters the chamber of the flame and walks to the edge of the well. There they reach out and try to push their hand into the flames and touch the rose within. At first there is little resistance and no pain, but as the royal pressed harder into the flames a stiff resistance can be felt and a slight itch runs along their arm. Soon the itch turns to a cold burning and the pressure felt grows more difficult to push through. At this point the royal has pushed their hand into the flames and the blue of the flames grow brighter and more intense.
As the royal positions their arm deeper into the fire of blue, they feel a burning deep into their arm and a crushing of the bones. They are sure the flames are eating at their flesh and their hand and arm is wracked with agony. It takes a supreme effort of will to resist the pain and a mighty strength to push deeper into the fire. Now the forearm is deep into the flames and the light fills the cavern with blue energy.
The pain becomes all-consuming—the royal is sure their arm is burned away and the crushing has snapped their ribs and turned their bones to powder. Their arm is fully into the flames at this point and all the royal knows is the pain and the need to touch the flower. Finally, with the last bit of willpower and strength the royal has, they prick their finger on one of the rose’s thorns and a single drop of blood flows. The royal is now attuned to the flame; the pain all gone and their mind expanded to fill the whole of creation. They are one with reality and can from this point move themselves to any place they can think of—no barrier will stop them, no magic is powerful enough to hold them at bay.
Those that are not of the royal family that have tried this trial burned, their flesh stripped of their body and consumed by the blue flames.
Excalibur and the Four Gems of Power
In the realm there are four great items of power. The first is Excalibur, the sword of Arthur, the first king of the realm. The blade is of a black metal, deep and shining with a blue light. It can cut any material and is deadly in battle. Only the royals have ever wielded the blade and it is the true token of power for the kingdom.
Next comes the four Gems of Power, stones that hold magical might and deep eldritch power. The lesser stone is a Sapphire, set in a ring of black metal not unlike that of the blade of Excalibur. The stone stores power and if worn by one of the royal family its power can be released.
Next comes the Emerald set as a necklace, once more of black metal. The stone’s powers are a close secret, held by the royals and used only by those men and women with the blood of Moab flowing in the veins.
Next comes the Ruby, set as a broach in black metal. It is said the Ruby can tap into the flow of time itself.
Last is the Diamond, an unadorned bright stone the size of an egg. The stone has been lost for many ages and its location unknown.
After all the children of Moab were born, Tiamat struck a series of magical black metal coins, giving each child a full set.
One side of the coin has a rose with a dragon in flight above, while the other side holds the visage of one of the queen’s children. Two other coins were included with each set, one with an image of the castle gate and the other of the Queen’s Square in the city of Avalon.
When held by a member of the royal family, these coins can be used to activate several magical abilities. The most common use is as a means of communication between the different members of the royal family. When spun the coin will allow a mental contact and conversation between two or more members of the family. The user of the coin spins the correct coin and, with some concentration, makes a connection with the person of the coin’s image. The two can communicate as if they were speaking, although no one can hear them talk as the communication is a form of telepathy.
With each coin spun, another member of the family can join the conversation. A connection, when generated, feels like a small itch in the contacted person’s brain, but the connection does not have to be answered and can be ignored.
With effort, one can even use the coins to create a gateway between the two royals; once the connection is created one member can reach out and draw to them the other member of the family, bringing them from any distance, and even through the mists of dreams.
Those in the know think that the coins are linked to the blue flame in some way and there might be additional uses and power the coins offer.
1st and 2nd children
Gain extra personal and warfare points.
The children of Arthur are by birth skilled warriors and generals, taught by their father to be great soldiers. These children are much older than the youngest brood and were adults already when Math’s kids were born.
3rd, 4th, and 5th children
Each gains more body points.
Like their father, these children are rough, loud, and strong. Older then Math’s brood, these weere all teenagers when Math’s kids were born.
6th and 7th child.
Gain extra sorcery points.
Quiet and thoughtful, the children of this mage are skilled in the arts of sorcery and magic. These are the Queen’s youngest children and barely out of their teens.
The Royals and Age
While everyone in Avalon seems to live long lives compared to people in the dreamlands and among the people of Avalon, the royals are especially eternal, some say even immortal.
The royals, once they reach adulthood, seem to slow down their aging, taking decades or even longer to show any signs of advancing age.
The older children have seen several generations of people in Avalon come and go, while the middle children are just now experiencing this effect as some of the people they grew up with have now started to die of old age.
This, of course, has colored the way the royals see other people. The older children of Arthur have seen several generations within the city come and go, so to these firstborn children of Moab the common folk are transitory—only institutions and family lines remain true. The middle children are just now understanding their immortality. The younger children have yet to experience this effect as they have just now reaching adulthood and their peers are still the same age in appearance.
Note: You, the player, will have to figure out how this has colored your character’s views and personality, based upon your position in the birth order and background. Maybe your character fell in love early in adulthood only to watch as that loved one grew old and died. Did this turn them cold and distant to the common folk? Maybe it made them more open and loving to those that they feel will only be around a short time.
Positions within the Realm
There are several positions in the realm that the royal children hold.
The Queen’s Right Hand
The queen often needs someone to officiate at her court, to set agendas, maintain appointments, and to act as diplomat and advisor. The Right Hand was often more of a ceremonial position until queen fell ill. Now the position carries much political clout as the royal who holds the title can set more than just the agenda for the day, but direct the debate at hand, disallowing those they do not respect to see the queen in an official audience.
The Queen’s Left Hand
When the queen needs a killing, she calls upon her Left Hand. This is her enforcer. This royal must be a bodyguard at court and her dark messenger. The queen’s executioner is a feared member of the court and the queen’s dark will.
Steward of the Castle
The Steward is in charge of the castle proper, its guards, and servants. The charge of the castle’s Steward is to keep it well maintained, safe, and secure. They are in charge of the Queen’s guard and the castle’s well-trained soldiers.
Steward of the City
The city’s Steward sees to the safety, order, and maintenance of the city of Avalon. They are in charge of the Small and High Councils, and hold the power of veto over all acts of taxes, levy, and laws that these two bodies generate. The Steward is also in charge of the City Watch and guard the city’s long, high walls.
Steward of the Woods
Keeper of the great Arden woods, this Steward is charged with keeping the woods safe from monsters, to seek out foes of the realm within the woods, and to train and equip the woods’ many rangers.
Steward of the Sea
This Steward is in charge of the Royal Navy, its sailors, and fighting men. The steward must keep the sea-lanes open and free of pirates and seek out monsters of the deep and slay them.
The Queen’s Favorite
For whatever reason, you have always been the queen’s favorite child. She has doted on you more than the others and gifted you with expensive gifts. This, of course, has not gone over well with the other children.
For whatever reason the mad witch took you in as a student, which mostly meant that you fetched her odd bits of this and that, or sat and listened to her ramble on about the oddest things. Still, she taught you more about the flame and magic than the other children of the queen.
Tiamat create a special set of coins for her and Moab, which contains the standard set of coins all the royals hold, but includes other coins as well. What these other coins depict is anyone’s guess. You do know that Moab kept her coins in a hidden drawer within her desk, which sits in her study. Tiamat’s coins may well lie in her tower, but finding anything in the great chaotic mess would be a task unto itself.
Hidden Passage to the Chamber of Flames
All of the royals know of one way into the chamber that holds the blue flame, as all have been taken there by Tiamat when they were first sent to the trial of the flames. There is another route through the maze, though more dangerous, as it crosses several chasms and pit falls, but it is faster, as well. The exit is by a hidden door behind an outcropping of stone to the rear of the chamber.
The cliff to the rear of the castle is high and cannot be climbed, so sheer are the stones. There is a hidden set of stairs, cut from the stone itself, which rises from a hidden cove under the castle’s cliffs, traversing up to hidden gate at the castle’s lower garden. The stairs are dangerous to climb, narrow and wet.
Shadows of the Flame
Out in the mists of dreams there lay shadows, minor reflections of the blue flame. Sorcerers out in the mists use these reflections to cast spells and gain power. None are as powerful as the royal of Avalon, though. A royal of Avalon can use these reflections in the same way as the true flame, but to a lesser power level and ability.
Avalon Once More
Tiamat once told you in a moment of what seemed like clarity, that this was not the first reflection of Avalon, but one of many that she has created, each different, but always holding the queen and her children, although the brood often switches position, gender, and even may be skipped over from time to time.
“It will all come to an end once more when she dies again,” the mad witch moaned and then gave you a baleful eye as she realized what she had said. She let you live for some reason, but it is the closest you have ever come to death. It was entirely too clear she did not want you to repeat this information to anyone else.
Moab had a brother once, but he was slain by her in a struggle for dominance. This was long before she came to the lands that would eventually become Avalon. You only know this because Tiamat once slipped that Moab’s older brother “was a better sorcerer than his sister, the queen.” The mad witch glared at you after as she realized what she had said, and it was clear she did not want you to repeat this information to anyone else.
Lord Math, Moab’s third mate still lives, trapped, you think, somewhere in the mists of dreams. What he was up to and who or what trapped him is not known, but you did once, while traveling in the dreamlands, come upon a clue that he is held in a place called the Tower of the Four Powers.
Arthur was Murdered
King Arthur, first lord of the realm, died defending the realm. This is canon; everyone knows this. What is not known is that he was actually poisoned, and died on the field of battle, weak from the drug. Who did the deed you do not know, but a witch you met once in the mists of dreams said she was the one to concoct the drug. “A foul drink that would make the lord of Avalon weak for a time, just enough to be sure he would die in battle.” You could not find the witch thereafter, no matter how hard you have searched.
Both the Queen and Tiamat can change their shape, both skilled shifters. Tiamant of the two is the most skilled, but the queen was also able to take any form and shape she wishes. The two often use this power to spy on foes and to weave misinformation.
Excalibur, three of the four gems of power, and all of the magical coins use a black metal. Most know not where this metal is mined, but you do. Seems that Tiamat, by some eldritch means, is able to reach into the Wall of Chaos and pull forth the metal. She seems to use the power of the flame to protect herself from the madness of the wall and its many dangers, but the reward is a metal of great magical power and potential.
The game will use a very limited and simple system for conflict resolution and game play. Players will assign points totals to a set attribute or skills, ranging from 0 to 6. When a conflict arises in the game, the players will compare like attributes or skills and the player with the higher value will generally win the conflict. To this total can also be added the players’ actions, the set-up of the situation, and other factors, so just because someone is better than you at a set task does not mean you cannot out-think them and set events in motion that will allow you to beat them anyways, regardless of their mastery of the given skill or attribute.
Within the game there are three attributes, each set between 0 and 6.
Covers all physical actions and abilities. This reflects your overall health, resistance to pain, strength, and quickness.
Common folk out in the mists of dreams will have a body of 0, while the common Avalon citizen will have a body of 1. All royals start at a body of 2.
How thoughtful, wise, cunning and intelligent you are. This also reflects your resistance to magical and mental attacks, the ability to think outside the box, and how creative you are. As with body, most dreamlanders have a mind of 0, Avalon citizens a score of 1, and royals start at 2.
How adept you are in interactions with others, how charming you can be, or how deceitful you may be. This reflects your ability to lie, tell when someone else is lying to you, bluffing, bargaining, and the general appeal you have to others. As with all the other attributes, 0 is the standard for dreamlander, 1 for Avalon citizens, and 2 for the royals.
There can be any number of skills that a character can have, as it is up to the player to determine what their character can or cannot do. Like attributes, the rank of the skill is from 0 to 6.
Rank and their Effects:
Rank 0: No skill in the area at all, no ability to perform the skill.
Rank 1: Proficient, basic ability, and familiarity with the skill in question.
Rank 2: Expert in the use of the skill.
Rank 3: Master of the skill; you have an understanding of the skill in question and a full mastery of its basic and expert uses. You even have some understanding of its secret and hidden uses.
Rank 4: Lord, you are a true master of the skill and expert in all its useful and secret ways. Few can say they are better than you.
Rank 5: Paragon, you know the secrets of the skills and are one of the few in the whole of reality that can perform the skill with such easy and deft use.
Rank 6: Godlike use. There is nothing you do not know about the use of the skill. Few if any can say they are as good as you and none can say they are better.
Within a set skill you can have specialties, added mastery of a set use or aspect of the skill. To each of these you may add points to the specialty and when said specialty is in use you may add the extra points in that specialty to the skills base score.
Example: You have personal combat at level 2, but have specialized in parry at level 1. When in a fight, you may parry an incoming attack, forgoing an attack of your own, but when you do so you have an effective skill of 3, not level 2.
No skill can be raised beyond 6, even with specialty points or items bonus.
Possible skills usable. This is not a full list just the most common skills in the game
Personal Combat: Your ability in melee fights, whether it be with a weapon or with your fists.
Warfare: Your ability to lead troops, tactics, and manage a battlefield.
Sorcerer: Basic skills in magic and casting spells.
Conjuring: The summoning of creatures and objects out of the mists of dreams.
Enchanting: The creation of items of power.
Shape Change: The ability to change your shape, form, and appearance.
Lore: Skilled in the understanding of history, academics fields, and cosmology.
Adept of the Flame: Basics skill in the use of the powers of the blue flame, coin use, and dream-walking.
Athletics: Ability in sports, physical activities, and skills.
Stealth: Ability to move about without notice, set traps, sneak, and lie.
First Aid: Medical training, surgery, healing of all types.
And so on….
Items and Creations:
You may spend points creating items of power, allies, or organizations. For each character point you spend you may create four points worth of items or allies. You may never apply more than four points to any one item or person.
An ally created in this way will have the points generated applied to attributes and skills. Thus, if you use two points to make an ally, you could create them with a body of 1 and personal combat of 1. An item created this way might have damage set at 2, or it might add to your personal combat by 2, etc.
You do not have to spend the character points converted on the same object or person, but may spread them around. Example: You could spend one character point to generate 4 ally points, spending 2 points on one person, one point on an organization, and one point on an item.
1 Point: Small group, 5 or so in number
2 Points: Medium group, 50 or so in number
3 Points: Large group, 100 to 250 or more
4 Points: Huge group, up to 500 strong
Points may be spent on members of a group as well, giving each a set skill or attribute at a set level.
Example: You create a group of bodyguards, so set the group number to 1, and then give each member within that group a personal combat of 2 and a body of 1. This group costs four points total.
Remember a group, item, or ally can never have more than four points spent on it in total.
Items that add to damage show the base damage the item will deliver. This is compared to the target item’s or person’s body. If the damage is equal to the body of the target, wounds or damage are generated. If the damage done is higher than the body of the target, there may be severe damages or wounds generated, or the character may be even killed outright or an item destroyed in a single blow.
Most items out of the mists of dreams do 0 damage, while an Avalon weapon would do 1 point.
Note that when creating an item that does extra damage; add the new amount to what the item can do naturally. Example: A sword out of Avalon does 1 point of damage normally, so when you buy one point of damage it will now do 2 points of damage.
Note that some items and materials may do or even stop higher amounts of damage. Items made from the black metal are set at a base of 4 damage while items made using the power of the blue flame are set at a base of 3.