Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Synopsis of "Damnation" - Episode 3, Season 2

Synopsis of Episode 3

March 24
The heroes flee Stratton following the firefight at the Eagle’s Nest Inn. They disperse into three groups: Farson and Thoron, the two apprentice Gunslingers, and Klovis, the enigmatic stranger who came upriver from Tharbad; Aiden, the stoker from the train the group escaped Moria Station aboard, Sterling and Braith, former owners of both the Overhang and the Eagle’s Nest Inns, and “Rusty,” the iron/brass-automaton, recently freed from the Stratton Keep; and Maeliana on the back of Roac the Great Eagle. Kaa lies dead in the Eagle’s Nest Inn, and Tari, while not forgotten, abandoned to her own devices. They arrange to meet in Damnation.

Maeliana and Roac track down the remaining bounty hunter and Roac kills him with one swipe of his talon.

Tari sees Kaa’s body among the dead brought to Chilperic’s to be prepared for burial. Chilperic advises her to leave Stratton as soon as she can.

Wistan leaves Stratton in the early morning in pursuit of the heroes, taking three of Herion’s best horses. By mid-afternoon, he has ridden the first nearly to death.

Tari leaves at nightfall to follow her friends. Along the road to Damnation, she finds Wistan’s abandoned horse and heals it. Invigorated by Tari’s Strengthening Song, the horse speeds along the road, following Wistan.

March 25
All parties en route to Damnation. At nightfall, Farson spots Wistan pursuing them.
Samwise Spooner, Damnation’s barber, and Salvino Gustavo Esquebar, a local gambler, engage in a game of cards with a local farmer and a stranger to town.

March 26
Braith, Sterling, Aiden, riding on Rusty, and staying off the road entirely, arrive in Damnation an hour after midnight. Aiden states he wants to explore the town, while Braith, Sterling and Rusty head for the King’s Rest Inn to see if they can contact someone in the Resistance.

Aiden wanders down to the train station to see about getting work, where a train is being readied to carry two Gunslinger platoons to the Ashen Shores, the former Grey Havens, now the Western Front of the Resistance. He overhears a conversation between Fairfax, leader of an insurgent Gunslinger platoon, and one of his aide de camp, revealing their intentions to assassinate Aranath, the current leader of the Gunslingers. Aiden uses magic to warn Aranath, who confronts Fairfax. Fairfax denies the accusation and asks where Aranath got such an idea – since Aranath acted upon Aiden’s Long Whisper, there is no way for him to substantiate his suspicion. The train prepares to leave for the Western Front. Aiden, unaware of the train’s final destination, sabotages the rails to prevent the journey, in the hopes it will thwart the assassination attempt.

Wistan reaches the apprentice Gunslingers and Klovis two hours before dawn. He casts spells of mind-destruction on both Farson and Thoron, resulting in the cart going out of control and crashing onto its side. Tari arrives in time to badly wound Wistan, who flees through magical means. She attends to the wounded Thoron and Farson, while Klovis sets to work repairing the cart.

The card game finishes after the stranger reveals himself to be Lincoln Barker, an enforcer for Neburcha, Master of the Trader’s Guild in Tharbad, to whom Sam Spooner is indebted. Spooner takes his leave of the card table, and heads back to his shop to ready himself to leave. Sterling observes that Lincoln is some sort of thug, while Braith has ascertained that Sam Spooner would be the man to talk to about contacting the Resistance. Salvino wins another hand from the farmer, who has surreptitiously pocketed some of Spooner’s money, and decides to return the money to his friend, and perhaps have another drink. Salvino heads for Spooner’s shop. Lincoln follows Salvino; Sterling and Braith follow Lincoln.

Maeliana and Roac arrive at Damnation, and after scouting the town from the air, land in the woods near the town. Maeliana is initially unsuccessful at getting past the gate warden, but finally succeeds through a combination of finer clothes and magical coercion. She begins looking for her friends.

Lincoln is joined by two henchmen, and they approach Spooner’s shop. Salvino is already inside, and Spooner apprises him of the situation. Salvino gives Spooner one of his pistols, which Spooner lays on his table before sitting down with his other revolver under the table, out of sight. Salvino hides in the back room. One of Lincoln’s men goes around the back of the house, but is apprehended by a very stealthy Braith, who peacefully dispatches the thug, taking his weapons. Lincoln enters the shop through the front and demands the money from Spooner.

The train embarks, and hitting Aiden’s sabotaged section of track, derails lightly. The Gunslingers leave the cars. Aiden, having ascertained that Fairfax was the man who was plotting the assassination, singles him out. Aranath confronts Fairfax yet again, this time employing magic. Fairfax is uncloaked as a traitor to the Resistance. The two Gunslinger platoons stand, pistols drawn, tension filling the air.

Braith enters Spooner’s shop through the back, but is nearly shot by Salvino before identifying himself as a friendly. Spooner shoots Lincoln in the leg from under the table. Lincoln’s thug shoots Spooner, the bullet breaking ribs, but glancing off the bone. Lincoln’s shot strikes Spooner in the leg, opening up his femoral artery. Sterling shoots the thug from outside, shattering his kneecap. Braith and Salvino enter from the rear of the shop and cut Lincoln down, Salvino shooting the enforcer through the eye.

Chance, another new face in Damnation, observes the standoff from his vantage point near the wall, and performs a movement of hands and fingers. Simultaneously, one of the Gunslingers fires a shot. The Varaja Standoff becomes a firefight. Aiden takes cover. The fight moves into the town.

Maeliana flees the fight, hiding behind Rusty, who has come to investigate the train’s derailing. While she stands in the shadow of the automaton, Rusty’s automatic weapon-system engages. Rusty’s right hand retracts into his forearm, to be replaced by a set of revolving cylinders, which spray bullets at the oncoming combatants, who are summarily mowed down in a gory mess.

Spooner begins performing surgery on himself to remove the bullet and sew himself up. Braith assists by tying a tourniquet. Sterling fires at the Gunslingers, uncertain of what is happening.

Chance causes a number of the Gunslingers’ clothes to burst into flame, then spotting Aranath, magically numbs the Gunslinger leader’s right hand. Arantath’s pistol falls from that hand, but he recovers and quickly draws his sword…a broken sword.

Braith, having moved to the roof of the shop, sees Narsil drawn in Aranath’s hand and has a sudden epiphany about his own delusions of being the lost King…he sees Fairfax draw his pistol to shoot Aranath and fires his own shot, shattering Fairfax’s hand. Fairfax retreats. Braith yells “protect the King!” to Sterling—Rusty hears, and moves to protect Aranath. The gunfight is at a draw. The insurgent Gunslingers begin to withdraw on horseback. As they exit the city, Tari and Klovis enter – Klovis and Fairfax stare at each other in recognition, although Klovis cannot remember why.

Salvino gives his “lucky deck” of cards to Spooner before disguising himself as a Gunslinger and duping his way into their confidence. Salvino is assigned to a squad of Gunslingers accompanying Aranath’s wife and daughter to Norbury, the ruins of Fornost Erain, for safety. The heroes agree to accompany the remaining Gunslingers to the Ashen Shores, provided the train can be repaired. Meanwhile, Maeliana goes to Cobman Greenwood, the tanner, and commissions a saddle and a harness for Roac.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Correspondence from Stratton, Rhudaur

To Lord Ethacali, Governor of the Territory of Rhudaur, servant to His Most Awesome Majesty, the Witch King of Angmar, Greetings.
Your most humble servant Herion desires to apprise your most excellent Lordship of the events of the past few days. Two days ago, I received your directive to expect and assist a Royal Agent in the transportation of a valuable artifact. I did indeed meet Wistan yesterday, but in regrettable circumstance. The artifact Wistan was transporting is a Metal Golem which raged out of control until the company of imperial soldiers I promptly summoned stabilized the situation. A number of locals were prepared to grievously assault Wistan, requiring me to bring him into protective custody. At that time, he informed me of his mission and of the importance of the Metal Golem which I had wisely sequestered in the guard tower. Wistan, an amazingly personable gentleman, especially for an agent of such seniority, informed me that an essential component of the Metal Golem had been stolen, and that the controller of the same, disguised as an imperial badge, was also missing. Fortunately, a valuable contact I had cultivated, the new proprietor of the Wharf Rat tavern (now called The Eagle's Nest), was able to identify the thief, who was at that time resident in the tavern. I immediately dispatched the best company of Imperial Soldiers to retrieve these items. I recommended that Wistan accompany the troop, but he demurred, not wanting to draw greater attention to this matter. I assigned this outpost's best officer to lead this operation, and cast a word of command on him to assure> his utter devotion to the task. Most unexpectedly, the> company returned decimated and with the task unfulfilled. The officer was among those killed, and those returning spoke of foul magic at work. Leaving Wistan to guard the Metal Golem, I proceeded personally to the tavern, accompanied by half of the remaining detachment, with the balance assigned to security for Wistan and the Golem. I indeed verified that the residue of a great deal of magic from many users was present, and of a nature and precision unprecedented in the recent history of this region. I identified the bodies of all the missing troops save one, a young private whom I suspect of treachery since even accounting for magic, the troop should not have been so summarily defeated. As I was returning to the tower, I was accosted by a distraught Wistan, who advised me that several perpetrators, number hard to determine as they were almost invisible--clearly more magic--had reactivated the Metal Gollum and vanished. Wistan has chosen to pursue this band of robbers and murderers on his own, a truly brave but rather foolhardy action given that I had offered both a large force and my magic prowess which would have been most helpful in advancing this operation to success. He has left with three of the finest mounts from this outpost. I shall be sending a document with more complete descriptions of the perpetrators of this outrage as soon as I can find a forensic artist to draw portraits of the same. I await further instructions on this matter.
Your most loyal servant, Herion.

This post was written by George Hardy, in character as the NPC Herion.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Season 1.5 Timeline

August 6: The balloon car is abandoned and the Eagles take the Eaglet into their care, with the understanding that, since she bonded with the Eaglet as mother, Maeliana must go with the Eagles to live upon the Eyrie, until the Eaglet can fly. Jae decides to accompany her. The remaining company commissions a rancher in the shadow of the Misty Mountains to carry their goods to Stratton, the human settlement nearest to the site the balloon-car set down. Stratton stands upon the site the reknowned Last Inn once stood, in the shadow of the Trollshaws.
August 7-October 20: The companions attempt to settle into Stratton life. Aidan finds work at the blacksmith’s; Kaa becomes deputy under Luzog, the orc sheriff of Stratton; Braith and Sterling start a new inn, the Eagle’s Nest, by taking over an abandoned one, the Wharf Rat; Thoron becomes cook at the Eagle’s Nest; Tari becomes a reclusive shut-in, working as the assistant to Chilperic, a venerable healer, and most trusted herbalist in Stratton; Farson begins running a supply wagon to procure goods for Braith and Sterling, while also trying to make contact with the Gunslingers west of Damnation (the town formerly known as Bree).
October 21: The Eaglet flies for the first time
October 22: Maeliana and Jae come to Stratton, and re-open the local Theater, performing there weekly for the entertainment of the townsfolk. They both hide their Elvish features behind costumes, and rarely go out in public.
October 23-March 15: The heroes become used to a “normal life” during winter in Stratton. Given the reality that people outside Moria station seem unperturbed living under the Second Darkness (now known commonly as the Minyadae, which means nothing to most people, as Sindarin is fast becoming a dying language), the adventurers are lulled out of their desire to be an active part of the resistance. Maeliana secretly meets with her Eagle in the woods outside Stratton, training it to fly with her on its back. Aidan begins courting Seanna, one of the barmaids at the Eagle’s Nest. The Eagle’s Nest becomes one of the most popular places for good food in Stratton. Braith decides to run for mayor against Guntram Goldenhands, the current mayor of Stratton. Life finds a quiet rhythm as Spring approaches.

Monday, March 30, 2009

Detailed Analysis of trailer for Season 2 of Steam Lords

In some alternate universe, Steam Lords isn't a pen and paper Steampunk version of Tolkien's Middle-Earth. It's a Space channel series as sweet and awesome as Battlestar Galactica. In that universe, the trailer for Season 2 was finally released. Load up this YouTube video which plays "Super Strength" by Two Steps From Hell, the people who did the music for the kickass third Star Trek trailer, to hear the music which accompanies this possible-worlds-trailer. Read along to see what happens.

0:01 - montage of slow motion shots of the Rangers of the North (a combination of Wild West outlaws and Aragorn as played by Viggo - a mix of swords and six-guns) riding on horseback, throwing sticky bombs to the sides of moving trains, trains derailing). These shots are played against  Saruman's shadowed face in profile. V.O. (Voice-over) by Saruman: "Too long have the Rangers of the North resisted us. Too long have they thwarted the completion of the Iron Dragon's path into the West. If we cannot stop them by land, we will crush them from the air." (Saruman's face fades out)

0:13 Tracking shot following a young boy as he runs through the streets of a ruined city (think Osgiliath in Jackson's Return of the King). It is likely Fornost, once the capital city of Arnor, a kingdom which fell under the onslaught of the Second Darkness. The boy is dressed in Victorian clothing with slight differences (think Oliver Twist). He is looking furtively over his shoulder at the sky.

0:16 Overhead tracking shot of the boy looking up. An immense shadow is falling over the ruined street behind him, catching up with him.

0:19 Very low tracking shot, looking up from the ground at the boy as he continues running. Overhead is a rigid airship, overshadowing the ruined spires of the once-great city.

0:22 Wide shot revealing many people running, the boy in the background but still center of the shot

0:24 Medium shot as the boy climbs a flight of stairs

0:27 - Wide shot of people running in foreground - we see the boy running along the parapet in the background

0:29 - Overhead view of Bay doors opening and bombs dropping down towards the city

0:32 - Closeup of the bombs falling, reflected in someone's eye

0:35 - montage of people running, the bombs exploding, buildings collapsing, people falling and dying, Rangers standing and firing at the airships

0:45 - More explosions, very close to the young boy, the parapet collapses

0:50 - A shot from below, framing the boy and debris falling as a silhouette against the sky

0:55 - a hand grabs the boy's, and we hear Sterling in voice over: "Got you!"

0:57 - circling helicopter shot of the Eagle's Eyrie high in the Misty Mountains, with the Great Eagles in flight around it. Once catches a glimpse of people on the rock platform beneath the nests, emerging from some underground shelter. V.O. of Thoron: "We've been hiding and waiting for the right moment to strike."

1:00 - A wide shot of a bright, naturally lit chamber wherein a Mallorn Tree is growing. A woman is facing the tree, her back to the camera, arms held out to either side. The blue skin on the hands and her white hair make this a fair bet it's a shot of Kari.

1:04 - A tracking shot of Jaa playing the stringed instrument built by Gimli and Jaa's father. He is seated outside with the sun setting in the distance. He smiles, looking content.

1:07 - on the fanfare, we see Maeliana, her arm held out - her normal eagle alights on her arm

1:10 - on the second fanfare, the new, but fully grown Great Eagle touches down beside Maeliana, and looks down at her and her little eagle as if for approval. She laughs.

1:13 - wide, fast tracking shot of Braith, Thoron, and Farson riding very fast while pursued by Gun-Wraiths: Ringwraiths with firepower - it appears Farson has the boy on his horse as well. V.O. of Farson: "Who is the boy?"

1:15 - another shot of the boy from the opening shots - the camera tracks towards him very rapidly, and he has a look of fear on his face. V.O. unidentified character: "His name is Earnur - he is the last king of Gondor."

1:17 Next begins a very rapid succession of 16 very brief clips which one has to pause to see details concerning. As best as we were able to make out, here's what they are:
- On the first cymbal crash, there is an explosion with a silhouetted figure shielding himself with a cape in the foreground - he appears to be wearing a gas mask and a wide-brimmed hat - Gandalf back from the dead, or something else?
- A low shot circling the entire group of heroes, who are standing in some sort of great wooden hall, surrounded by what appear to be the Rangers
- A fight between Braith, Farson? and Thoron with a man in a Nazi officer's uniform, who appears to be deflecting bullets with his arms (some sort of body armor) while dueling them with a great sword and a ball and chain. It appears they are on TOP of one of the rigid airships, as there is what appears to be an aerial battle in the background.
- A flying shot behind the great eagle with full flying harness - clearly the heroes are flying on the back of this thing - they appear to be in a city, and are pursuing what appears to be a dragon
- Jaa strapped to the bottom of the eagle's harness, firing a long-rifle - another character on the other side of the harness, but can't see who it is
- The cloaked figure with the gasmask and wide brimmed hat drops down into a crowded ballroom where lords and ladies are dancing, and act in shock when they see him
- A large group of people bow, revealing Kari, standing with her hands held out in blessing
- Geo's new character (couldn't remember name) standing behind two hanger bay doors, which are slowly opening to reveal him. He begins to grin.
- A figure in what looks like a Nazi officer's uniform, except that he wears a mask reminiscent of the Witch King's (Lord of the Nazgul) from LOTR steps onto the bridge of what is likely one of the rigid airships
- Unknown character with goggles on running across rooftops with the moon in the background
- Closeup shot of Maeliana with aviator's goggles on, hair flying in the wind, which zooms out just as she banks the Great Eagle into a barrel roll
- Kaa in the midst of the ballroom, pulling out his sword to duel with a man in noble clothing - there's a beautiful woman looking on in the background
- Kari wheels towards the camera, fangs? (holy shit!) bared and eyes blazing red
- Another shot of the great eagle flying, between the buildings of a city, with explosions happening behind them
- Sterling with arms out at her sides, drops from an airship platform and goes into a controlled dive
- A shot of the inside of the rigid airship hanger - some are clearly still being built, and a hand comes into the shot, covered in fire.

1:39 - The entire shot is a fiery sky (at sunset?) with clouds - a massive airship fleet can be seen moving through the sky - these are not rigid airships now, but lethal sky-juggernauts (see image above).

1:42 - same shot, but the great eagle flies up into camera view, its back to the audience. Maeliana can be seen clearly on top, and the gunners are also visible through the flapping wings on the underside of the harness, right before it dives towards the airships.

1:44: STEAM LORDS - SEASON TWO - Coming May 2009.