Annie watched from the shadows, waited to see if he’d be back today. If so, then good news for her and the old man. People distracted were easy marks, and a bit more ration meant things would be a bit easier for a day.  The rich folk who came through the market always seemed to have a bit more to buy ration with, anyway. Not like they’d starve, unlike Annie and the old man.

She spotted him then: the preacher was tall and thin, mostly skin and bones.  Instead of picking up his ration in the market like everyone else, he used the time to preach to everyone else there.  He’d found a box to stand on, and put it near the center of the roundabout, where a tiny garden grew under the light of sun and stars.

“Fools!” He cried out.  “All of you, shuffling on in this false life after what she did to us.  She denied us our right to an afterlife, and you are just glad there’s a bit of bread or meat to eke out your day.”

Annie watched the preacher and the crowd around him. “Petricalifax didn’t save us! She doomed our ancestors and all their children to roam the empty void forever.  Death is no outlet for us, there is no Heaven waiting for us when we die. All that is barred from us, when we could have gone on when the Gods left us all.”

He was gathering a crowd now, and Annie slipped out.  A coin bag here, a bit of bread there. It all went in her shirt, hidden from view.  The preacher had worked into a froth now, and people were stopping and watching him.  And not watching their purse strings.

“You say she is on the side of Law and Good, that she’s and ancient gold dragon and remembers what is right and honorable.  I say she is alien to us, more so than any dark elf or orc, human or halfling. What is Law without Hammerforge to beat it into shape? Where is Good with Ardent to champion it passionately?

They are gone, and with them any idea of Law or Good or even Evil.  Perticalifax stole that from us when she locked our forebears in her spell.  And why? Why? I ask of you? To save us? Or to play with us?”

The crowd was full, and riled up. Annie shirt was full, too, and she slunk away.  The preacher would be back tomorrow, for another sermon, but she and the old man would eat well tonight.

Note: We’re still looking for a Few Good Adventurers.

Okay some people have said that it’s a bit confusing what I’m asking from players for the Shattered Earth game, and as I’m still looking for responses and players, let me clarify:

The idea is to mimic table top role-playing style over the internet, in real time.

So, the most important thing is the time commitment, which is 2-4 hours every other weekend, probably on Saturday or Sunday afternoon EST.  We can make it a little later, but I don’t see us starting after 4pm EST, as some of us have to get up early.  If we can get enough players, it’ll be possible to miss a session, or drop in occasionally as my plan is to wrap up short story lines each session, with a longer arch storyline that ties sessions together.

You’ll need a couple of tools, which are free and multi-platform:

First, RPTools. RPTools, particularly MapTool, is a java-based program that shows a map, and has some basic IRC-like chat in it.  It’ll handle those moments where we have combat, allowing us all to see the map and move ‘miniatures’ around on it.  I don’t know how much of this we’ll do — it depends on how the pacing goes, but it’s hard to do D&D without any combat. (If you were doing this, just play something other than D&D, I think.)

We’ll use Skype or some other group-based voice chat to talk, or at least the chat section of RPTools. I think voice is an important part of pen and paper gaming, and adds a lot to how things work. If voice makes you uncomfortable or doesn’t work with your setup, but you still want to play, let me know, and we can talk.

That’s pretty much it.  A willingness to play, a desire to set aside some time, and a couple of basic tools that are negotiable and I’ve gotten running, so I can help with, technically.

If you think you have any interest, comment here, or on any of the Shattered Earth posts — or contact me directly — and I’ll be in contact with you.

Two dwarfs, Harriet and Lottie, lay in the magicite field, the purple glow of the crystal trees surrounding them.  Mining tools were placed carefully nearby, out of the way and orderly. Their clothes lay in various piles, strewn around them, discarded in haste a half-hour ago.  Now they lay intertwined, looking up at the Minos floor above them.

“Them’s the dark elfs,” Lottie said pointing to a section above them where it was mostly dark.

“Darkvision,” Harriet responded.

“Yep,” Lottie said. “Had to go there once, forgot my torch.  Wound up breakin’ off a chunk o’ crystal to carry around.”

Harriet laughed.  “Serves ’em right for keeping it dark.”

“Turned out some rogue mage had attuned hisself to it,” Lottie said.  “He was mighty upset when his ritual failed when some lowborn dwarf accidentally saved the day.”

“What happened, then?” Harriet asked.

“Got me a medal, and an extra meal ration that week.  Oh, and them dark elfs is matriarchal, y’see.”  She chuckled lowly.

“And when was this?” Harriet pulled away.

“Months afore we met, dearheart, don’t worry. Y’r the beneficiary of that sweet vacation.”

Harriet looked up at the interior of Minos, the cities and houses bending up and around, pressed against the inner egg of the island.  As a dwarf it never bothered her that things were upside down and all that rock and metal and crystal was out there, pressing in around them.  She was more concerned with all the people those houses represented.  “You ever think they’re watchin’ us when we’re out in the fields like this?”

“Not really,” Lottie said. “But gives a bit of spice to the whole thing, don’t it?”

The two dwarfs rolled to face each other.  Harriet giggled and kissed her lover.  They had a bit more time before they had to return to the magicite mines, after all.

Note: We’re still looking for a Few Good Adventurers.

“It’s like this,” Jimmy said.  “You wear the gauntlets of orge power, or the belt of giant strength — never both, you hear?  You grab a crate, and you toss it up in the air so it falls through the hole.  That’s your job, okay?”

Lex looked at him.  “Seriously?”  He looked down the hole in the center of Coyn, a hundred feet out to the other side — he could see nothing but stars at the bottom.  It made him a bit queasy to look.

“Yep, John’ll grab it on the other side, and toss it over to the portal to wherever the food is goin’ today.” Jimmy pulled on the ogre gauntlets.  “Let me show you.”

He grabbed one of the huge crates, and lifted it over his head. He grunted a bit, and tossed the crate about six feet in the air and over the whole, and it whooshed on down.  “Look,” Jimmy grunted. “It’s already slowing down.”

Lex looked, “Sure, so that’s the gravity line?”

“Yep.   You ever fall you’ll bounce up and down around that thing for about an hour before you stop. And run into the lunch you lost about seventy times in the process.  That’s assuming the other guy doesn’t think you’re freight, and you’re in the middle of Minos surrounded by hungry dwarfs and dark elfs.”

“So don’t do that,” Lex said, seriously.  “Why not wear both the gauntlets and belt?”

“Well, last recruit did that,” Jimmy said. “Tossed it so hard that when it landed on Baobab, the darn crate bounced open, and the contents flew all over the place, and into their precious water. Only, see,  it wasn’t food, it was — shall we say, fertilizer for their giant tree.  Remember how it tasted funny a few weeks ago?”

Lex nodded, and blanched.

“Yeah, Jimmy said.  “Purified water, sure, but still tasted like shit.”

Note: We’re still looking for a Few Good Adventurers.

Here’s the thing:

I need more pen and paper tabletop gaming in my life, even if we need to replace the pen and paper with  screens and keyboards, and tabletop with Skype.  I have a few people who have expressed interest, but I’d like to formalize it and extend it to semi-strangers on the internets.

I’ve decided to form a group around a campaign idea, and a time, so that anyone who would like to play can know ahead of time what they’re agreeing to.  Because we are adults, and we have time constraints and stuff happens.  But it’s good to have a plan.  If we get enough people, the campaign design will handle people dropping in and out, as you’ll all be part of a sort of squad tasked with doing things to save the Haven Alliance.

I’ve been GMing for nearly 30 years now, and I know D&D, particularly 3.5 pretty well.  That and it’s the model at least one of my players wants: kill things, get treasure, do some roleplaying.  Okay, so I prefer things to be in the reverse order, but I don’t believe their mutually exclusive.  And having done this for 30 years, I’m always looking for something new.

So Shattered Earth is a bit different.  The planet’s been destroyed, the final war, or Armageddon has happened, and it’s over.  Maybe you’ve been left behind, and maybe the gods didn’t make it either.  Maybe we’ll find out as we play.

Still, the gods are gone, and magic is a bit broken, and alignments are gone.  Things are going to be a bit murky here.  Orcs aren’t evil because their evil, in fact they may not be bad people at all.  The converse is also true.  There’s no morality to judge by, just survival of the intelligent races.  That’s one thing most people can agree on — if not all of them.

The world has been split into small islands, each with their own odd gravity, adapted from the SpellJammer rules (if you’re familiar with them– if not, it will become clear).  The Haven Alliance makes up four of these islands, close enough to work together, and far enough away from everything else that they’ve not met it.  Yet.

That will surely change.

So there’s exploration, and spaceships (of a sort), lost magic and knowledge to find — along with treasure.  There’s people competing for resources back home, and there are your own (and your guild’s) ambitions to further.  I think it’s a fertile ground for gaming.  There’s more on the Shattered Earth wiki, which is still taking shape.

We’re going to play on alternate weekends — exactly when will be up to the group that speaks up, but while Saturday afternoons (in EST) are the best for me, there’s some flexibility.  We’re going to use Skype — I’m JoeTortuga on Skype (as well as Twitter and Facebook).  We’ll use the free RPTools set for maps and battles when we get to those.

I’ll set up a Google group to discuss this in detail, but let me know if you’re interested and have the time to play.  I hope you can.

Update 10/29: A bit clearer info about how things will run.

The astrologist peered through the telescope.  Extending the tower had helped a bit, but the air around the Scepter had just expanded, still he’d gotten some readings in the interim, and his findings seemed grim.  He muttered a small spell, the glyph on his forehead gleaming white with the magic of Divination, and his magicite crystal — which he kept in his laboratory — hummed with a low sound as he drew magic through it.

Divinations hadn’t worked since the cataclysm, and the astrologist was certain that it was due to the increased number of heavenly bodies — the island-bits of the shattered earth were certainly changing the relationship with the heavens.  Whether they should be included in his astrology or not was a hotly debated topic, and one he’d set aside after he’d seen the fast-moving island.

He felt his eyes shift as the sight-improving divination he’d cast settled into place.  That combined with the telescope let him see the island in more detail.  He turned the telescope and focused it on the bit of sky that would contain the island, if his calculations were correct.  He peered through the lens, and there it was — the round, pocked ball of metal, right where his worst calculations said it would be.

He couldn’t be sure, but they would need to do something.  It would pass close to the Haven Alliance islands, that was certain.  It might strike one, and they were all needed for survival.

He touched the glyph on his forehead, cancelling the spell, an began walking down the tower stairs.  The council would need to be told, and the Adventure’s League engaged.  Perhaps even Petricalifax would be roused out of her slumber for this.  “She didn’t save us all to have it destroyed now,” the horologist reasoned.  “Surely the council will listen to me this time.”

The Shattered Earth Wiki