Monday, December 28, 2015

A Flight from Imminent Doom! - A Moment in AEthrem!

Welcome again, good reader, to another astonishing installment of Fridays in AEthem! Our series has temporarily been delayed to Monday this week, with the business of the year-end holidays at hand, but fear not! This week, we bring you something special: the opening bit of fiction from the upcoming Venture! RPG core book - "A Flight from Imminent Doom!"

From next week onward, the blog's focus will shift from setting details to specifics about the final production of the Venture! RPG book leading up to its release in the new year. Even now, final layout work is being completed on the project, so stay tuned - things will be moving quickly from here on out! Thank you to everyone who has followed the blog in the past, or who is just discovering it for the first time. We hope you all have an exciting 2016 full of THRILLING TALES!

Now, we hope you enjoy "A Flight from Imminent Doom!"

Nell Carten ran out from under the jungle canopy, her companions’ boots scraping on rocks as lush foliage gave way to black stone. She could see the cliff edge just ahead, where the ground dropped away thirty meters to the river below. Shouldering her Model 3 rifle, she scanned the empty skies in a barely-controlled panic.

A stone-tipped arrow flew past her face as Nell turned to her employees, “where are they, Tren? You said your ‘friend’ would be bringing the airship around before now!” His constant smirk faltered just slightly as he came to a halt and spat back, “listen, she’ll be here, chief. She wouldn’t want anything to happen to my pretty face, after all.” Nell’s irritation didn’t slow him down at all, “besides, the plan would have worked out fine if m’lord could actually go without being seen when swiping one measly idol.”

Bronnan hefted the strange, grotesque statue as he glowered at his accuser, “those creatures were abnormally acute. Furthermore, the official address for my title is…” The venture company’s final member cut the former Thassylian lord short, Lid Beglif’s curly hair bobbing about as she shouted back at the others, “I think we have bigger issues to worry about right now!” The others turned to see the first of their pursuers emerge from the cover of the jungle behind them.

The members of the local ss’ra tribe were short, with scales in a vibrant blue-green shade covering their bodies. In unison, the first rank of the reptilian creatures switched from bows to simple spears, as those behind kept their arrows trained on Nell and her staff. She sighted down her rifle, a prize from her days in the Legion, and noted the disconcerting way that the translucent tendrils on the heads of the ss’ra wriggled independently of one another, like a nest of worms all reaching out for something. Nell knew they were pinned, with the cliff to their backs, and was already counting more than twenty opponents.

Just as she was preparing to order Lid to go for help, Nell noticed the droning sound of props over the sibilant, hissing speech of the ss’ra. “Ha! Told ‘ya,” Tren proclaimed triumphantly as a rope ladder dropped down beside him. Nell took a few shots at the ss’ra that still had their bows ready, shouting back “save it for when we’re clear of this mess!” Bronnan fired a few rounds from his twin Y-45s, helping her keep the attackers pinned as the Beglif twins started up the ladder.

In a few hair-raising seconds, they were all on their way up the ladder, as the airship above passed beyond the cliff edge, empty air yawning below Nell in the bottom position. A rain of arrows whizzed past them still, eliciting an offhanded, “you know, if one of those pierces any of the gas cells,” from Lid. “We know, Liddy!” her sibling grunted, helping Bronnan and Nell up on the gangway surrounding the rigid airship’s gondola, “besides, we’ve got your surprise as a backup if that happens – if you’ve got it working today.” The shorter twin just glared back at her brother in reply.

Ignoring his sister, Tren turned to their rescuer – Alorrea, some kind of independent courier with her own ship that Tren had become acquainted with back in town. “Why thank you kindly, Al. I’ll have to get the next round when we make it back to Haran Olesh.” The owner of the vessel returned Tren a sad, guilty look that made the hairs on the back of Nell’s neck stand on end. She replied to him with a gentle resignation, “I’d love to, but I’m afraid a better offer has already come my way.”

The hatch beside Tren suddenly burst open, disgorging a huge figure that barely seemed to pass through. With one swing of his meaty fist, the black-uniformed man knocked the unsuspecting Tren back, toppling him over the edge of the gangway. With a blood-curdling, “TREN!” Lid had jumped over the edge as well, following her brother down. Nell brought her rifle around on the goon, scowling as his Ferridi military uniform and Khradi armband finally registered in her mind – she despised the goons that claimed Khradi membership.

With a forearm, the Khradi soldier knocked aside the barrel of Nell’s Model 3, making the first two shots go wide. As he was distracted, Bronnan dropped the idol with a dull clang and charged into their opponent, bare handed. One quick punch from the much smaller thandi stunned the black uniformed foe with unnatural force, and a second strike knocked him unconscious, rattling the gangway as he fell to it.

Nell kept a wary gaze on her remaining employee. He’d done this before, and she knew that things could get “funny” when he called on the powers of his pact. Alorrea looked terrified at first, but that eased with the sound of jackboots ringing out on the gangway. In a moment, both hatches had disgorged a half-dozen black uniformed figures, all levelling Ferridi infantry rifles on Nell and Bronnan.

The ex-legionnaire only needed a half second to weigh their odds before throwing her rifle aside and motioning for Bronnan to do likewise with his pistols. Nell spared a glance over the side, noticing the flame of Lid’s little toy flaring even through the mist of the canyon below. The rocket pack normally only carried Lid herself. Hopefully, her gizmo was enough to carry both of the twins to safety.

A small, smug officer stepped through the crowd. Nell noted the kernal’s insignia on his uniform, and how the Ferridi military coat fit him about as well as a little boy trying on his father’s suit. With a maniacal gleam in his eye, the kernal bent over, scooping up the idol from where it had been abandoned. Looking to Nell, he spoke with a thick accent, “Good afternoon, Carten. I appreciate your company going out of the way to acquire the Implement of Transcendant Protection for us. All glory to the First.” The kernal beamed like someone who had just made a particularly clever play in a game of cards as he men shouted out the rote, “all glory to the First!”

Nell Carten grunted, and made a small silent prayer to the Crafter. She just hoped His wayward priest and her idiot brother made it back to solid ground safely, and that the two of them could manage a rescue on their own. From the look in his eyes, she could tell Bronnan was thinking the same.


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Cults of the Forgotten Gods OR: SKULKING Fanatics in Our Very MIDST!

Adventurers and explorers of the unknown BEWARE! Even your home city is not safe! Hidden among us, everywhere, are secret worshipers of foul, ancient gods - meeting in secret, profane ceremonies filled with dark agendas and violent sacrifices! This week on Fridays in AEthrem, we observe the cults of the forgotten gods!

From their earliest, almost forgotten histories, human civilizations have always venerated a variety of deities - ranging from strange, animistic powers to beings with all the passions and desires of a mortal human. These practices changed during the long human enslavement to the ghond, but persisted, even under these circumstances. Once regaining their freedom, these faiths exploded along with the new, expanding human cultures.

This all changed when the Peloric Church became the dominant religion through most of the human world. The followers of Pelorus hold that all other deities are foul beings, working against the divine machinery at the heart of creation. As a result, other faiths and temples were crushed and scattered as the Church seized hold of the population of each new kingdom or territory. Those remaining faithful to these forgotten gods were driven underground, forced to practice their beliefs in secret at the risk of often-violent punishment from the Church and their own communities.

While many beliefs have faded into obscurity and eventually died out in the centuries since the initial expansion of the Church, a handful have survived into the modern day. Unfortunately, in most cases, only gods strange or dark in comparison to Pelorus have retained any followers - too twisted or stubborn to convert. The following are just a few of the most well-known examples.

The Enlightened of Pjmaal are a mystery cult, following a god of the ancient Ferridi highlands. Pjmaal is said to offer his followers knowledge at a terrible cost, and is depicted as a lurking shadow with a thousand eyes, each taken from a mortal in exchange for wisdom. The mad and apocalyptic are equally tempted into the ranks of the Enlightened. Most sanitariums have at least a single resident that claims a belief in bearer of light and madness, and the scrawling literature recovered from the site following gatherings of Enlightened frequently mentions an end to all things - and Pjmaal helping the Enlightened to bring it about.

Mareib had scattered worshipers through Pelifor in antiquity. A goddess of cunning and resolve, she supposedly birthed the first serpent into the world, and ancient mythology paints her as a clever but violently ruthless figure. Before the rise of the Peloric Church, many ancient kings and queens were chosen by Mareib's oracles - her calculating nature being a prized trait in rulers during this darker age. Modern worshipers still venerate her as a granter of authority and aide to the ambitious - small cults of Mareib have sprung up throughout Condrace during its recent turmoil, their ranks filled by aristocrats willing to even offer blood sacrifices if need be in order to gain the throne.

In modern times, it is believed that the spirits of the departed will either join Pelorus or be cast out of creation entirely, but this was not always the case. Rhion was one of many death gods, and remains one of the most well-known. His divine duty was to gather the spirits of the dead at his island home, lest they remain behind to haunt and torture the living. Small cabals of the Quieted, his followers, still operate throughout the world - meeting clandestinely in late-night meetings at cemeteries and in catacombs. They remain closed and secretive, and rumors persist that the Quieted have dark aims, making them suspect for any of a range of desecrations and offenses at burial sites across the globe.

Venture companies have often been drawn into the secretive world of cults. Guards at a remote archeological dig can run afoul of a cabal still employing a ruin in some strange ritual. Companies put on the case of a missing person may find them held captive, awaiting a celestial alignment necessary for a bloody rite. Even seemingly innocuous opponent could turn out to be a member of some mad, hidden sect. The secretive nature of these cults are their greatest threat; any normal-seeming person could be a member, waiting to strike.


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.

Friday, December 11, 2015

The Gavierna OR: MOBSTERS in control of our STREETS!

Loyal listeners, welcome, once again, to Fridays in AEthrem! This week, we delve deep into the lurking shadows of our cities, exploring the terror of organized crime gripping our darkened alleys, secluded basements, and nighttime street! That's right, dear listener, we take a look at Valerica's infamous crime syndicate - the Gavierna!

Born within the earliest mining camps in Mirenfell, the Gavierna was established by destitute workers to help their fellows bear the hardships of the mines - smuggling goods for sale outside of the exorbitantly-priced company stores and providing a variety of illicit entertainment. Even the organization's name shows its origin - Gavierna meaning "miner's society" in Exelosian, with immigrants from that nation making up the bulk of its original membership.

By the time Mirenfell had developed into a well-populated colony and the average miner no longer suffered so harshly under the thumb of their bosses, the Gavierna were already well-established in the criminal underworld locally. Most of their early enterprises have become cornerstones of their empire - everyone is familiar with the Gavierna's underground casinos, bordellos, boxing rings, and drug dens. The most infamous business of these criminals, however, remains offering illegal thandi services.

Everyone is all too aware that the organization acts as a clearing house for immoral pact work, able to put you in touch with a thandi willing to skirt the law to mesmer a business partner, rough up a mark, or read the mind of that special person you've got your eye on. The Gavierna take a cut from every contract, and carefully tend their stable of thandi - hiding them from the Bureau and "acquiring" targets for the sacrifices demanded by their ryns at a high cost.

Over the years, the Gavierna have expanded rapidly, incorporating a handful of existing gangs in each new territory into the lower levels of their organization and crushing all opposition. When Valerica started major trade with the outside world, the Gavierna expanded into new markets through port cities across the globe, tying itself into the local underworld everywhere it has grown. While this has allowed them to grow easily and at a breakneck pace, it has also kept the syndicate's organization shaky, at best. 

The Gavierna is organized like a tiered pyramid on paper, but functions as a chaotic mass of shifting alliances in practice. Promotion is still most often accomplished with a hit on a superior, and the Patro (the head of the entire syndicate) maintains power only by playing all sides against the middle. Frequently, these struggles erupt into open mob war.

In Valerica, politicians make a big production of cracking down on the Gavierna whenever open violence in the streets starts headlining local papers. Unfortunately, things aren't quite so simple - the mobsters are have become experts at integrating themselves into society at every level. These social puppeteers use their ill-gotten gains to keep many, politicians, judges, and even police patrols in their pockets. It is said that the Patro's vote in Mirenfell is the only one that matters. The Gavierna also know just what to do to rile up the labor force, and more than one captain of industry keeps close financial ties to the mobsters to prevent any sudden and "unexpected" work stoppage.

For venture companies, the Gavierna can offer a channel for any manner of illegal goods, information, and even muscle, when needed. They can also be a potent threat if you get on their bad side. Given the syndicate's organization, they can even be both at the same time - wise outsiders should best try to not get caught in the crossfire when the mobsers' Apry guns come out.


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Grey Legion OR: OUTCAST Soldiers of a Land in CHAOS!

For those who just walked in... the nation of Condrace is at the brink of civil war! Just seventeen years ago, King Antonius XIV and nearly all of his close relatives perished in the influenza epidemic of 998! The only survivor? An illegitimate son by a palace servant! Although crowned King Medran II, the aristocrats of the once great trade nation refuse to accept his rule - instead fighting among themselves over who has a greater claim to the throne!

As tensions surge toward open civil war, the powerful enlist local garrisons of the national legions under their direct control, weakening the young king's hold over Condrace ever further. The primary military instrument still under the crown's direct control is the storied Grey Legion, which has always answered to the monarchy directly. With a history stretching back five and half centuries, the Grey Legion was established during the height of Condracean power to offer citizenship in exchange for a five year tour of military service. These foreigners, with no internal loyalties within their adoptive nation, have now become the most loyal soldiers to the nation as a whole.

While native legionnaires have always discounted the Grey Legion as a gathering of rabble, these outsiders typically experience the most frequent and harshest military service among the Condracean legions. For centuries, commanders have put these foreigners into the thick of battle as shock troops, used them as screening forces, and sent them on the riskiest patrols. When Ferridon swept up into Condrace's southern colonies, the Grey Legionnaires resisted them with little to no outside support in some of the bloodiest and most drawn-out engagements of the Reclamation.

The Grey Legion is now one of the few things maintaining some semblance of stability within Condrace. Its members now serve in place of native legionnaires and police forces lured into the service of nearby aristocrats. Thankfullly, their ranks have swollen, with many members signing up for additional tours of duty - reluctant to settle down in a place that may become a war zone any day. These veterans are among the most experienced soldiers in the world, but are still greatly outnumbered by the inferior forces the local rebels can bring to the field.

New members of the legion are not quite up to the same caliber as these veterans, unfortunately. While Condrace was once a shining land of wealth and prosperity, in its current state, only the truly desperate are still willing to risk life and limb in exchange for Condracean citizenship. The typical recruit is a refugee fleeing Ferridi-occupied lands to the south, an outcast or homeless drifter in their nation of origin, or (in the worst cases) a fugitive fleeing justice. Many desert within a year, but those few willing to stay and adapt come out of their service changed for the better.

Those who have completed their five year tour with the Grey Legion will have gained a great deal of combat experience. Those survivors choosing not to remain with the legion or settle down within Condrace can easily find work using these talents elsewhere. Many join mercenary groups or become security personnel with venture companies. Although the terms of their service require turning over their assigned rifle, a standing tradition within the Grey Legion is to allow a subordinate that served with distinction to keep the weapon at the end of their five years. Carrying the distinctive Viseri Model 3 announces one's battlefield experience to anyone familiar with the legion.


Venture! Thrilling Adventures in the World of AEthrem and its associated characters are the property of Weird Science Games, LLC, Copyright 2015.

West End Games, OpenD6, and The D6 system are trademarks and properties of Purgatory Publishing Inc.