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#1130 - 1138 - More

#1130 - Ligia sp. - Sea Slater

My wife is currently on a long overseas trip, and recently she visited Aoshima (青島), better known as one of Japan’s Cat Islands. On top of the somewhat excessive cat population, the island also had these - which is hardly surprising, since Japan has four species of Ligia and there’s many more on rocky coastlines worldwide.
Also known as Rock Lice, Wharf Roaches and Beach Roaches, these large isopods have gills, and can run into the water when escaping predators, but prefer not to since that leaves them vulnerable to marine predators. On the other hand, they dry out easily and therefore won’t stray far from water, or onto sandy beaches. A few species can manage a fully terrestrial existence, but only in areas with high humidity.
They have two long forked appendages at the tail end, but this one is holding hers together for some reason. Females also have a brood pouch for the young, like many other isopods.

#1131 - Graptopsaltria nigrofuscata - Aburazemi ( アブラゼミ )

Purrdence found this large (3 inches) cicada outside the Poison Gas Museum in Okunoshima, Hiroshima Prefecture. It was neither a kaiju, nor was it dead (cicadas that noisily prove themselves still alive are known as 蝉爆弾 - semi bakudan, or “cicada bombs”).
The Large Brown Cicada is found in Japan, Korea, and China, and other parts of East Asia. It’s a striking species - quite different to the ones we get here in Perth.
There’s 30-odd species of cicada in Japan, and their emergence and earsplitting song is such a feature of the summer there that they’re used to indicate the season on film, TV, and anime. They also star in poetry and literature - in Murasaki Shikibu’s The Tale of Genji, Genji attempts to surprise Utsusemi, “The Lady of the Cicada Shell” in her chambers, but finds only the robes she casts off to evade him. He writes a poem about it, comparing the empty robe to the exuvia of a cicada nymph.

Matsuo Basho wrote one too -

A cicada shell;
it sang itself
utterly away.

As did Yayuu -

Methinks that semi sits and sings
by his former body,
chanting the funeral service
over his own dead self.

#1132 - Westralunio carteri - Ambiguus Mussel

A large freshwater mussel, and the only one in the southwest of Australia - Westralunio is a portmanteau referring to West Australian Unionida, although it’s in the Hyriid family, rather than the Unionidae. Currently threatened by rising salinity in our inland waterways, thanks to agriculture. This one, interestingly enough, was in the artificial lakes at the Wellard Wetlands.
There’s a wide variety of freshwater mussels - the Unionida - around the world. Some, such as the zebra mussel, are highly invasive pests. Others are at very high risk of extinction, thanks to pollution, habitat loss, over-harvesting for freshwater pearls and pearl shell, and competition from the zebra mussel. Many have fascinating methods for getting their young upstream, including attracting predatory fish with elaborate lures, then spraying them in the face with parasitic baby mussels, or more mutual parasitism in which the adult mussel incubates the eggs of a bitterling, and the bitterling fish gets a load of the parasitic bivalves. Predictably, the latter is a continuing arms race, complicated by the fact that bitterlings are invasive in some areas and invasive mussels are moving in elsewhere.
Baldivis, Perth

#1133 - Fam. Milichiidae - Jackalflies

The thing that got me so excited over Rosie Benz’s photo at BowerBird wasn’t the rather plump assassin bug and the honeybee it had caught. It was the tiny dark flies crawling all over the body, feasting on the dissolving body of the bee.
Jackal-flies, also known as freeloader flies, are swift arrivals whenever a large spider or predatory bug has caught an insect, and feast on the leaking bodyfluids. Generally, the spider or bug doesn’t seem to mind - indeed, one behaviour described at Wikipedia states “Another activity observed in some species of Michiliidae shows them to be serving a function analogous to that of cleaner wrasse and cleaner shrimp; they literally scavenge around the chelicerae and anal openings of large spiders, such as species of Araneus and Nephila, that cooperatively spread their wet and sticky chelicerae thus allowing the flies to feed actively all over the bases, fangs and mouth.”
Milichiids breed in decaying vegetable matter, manure, and human ordure, which earns them another common name - filth flies.
Sunshine Coast, QLD

Spiders and other stuff under the cutCollapse )

Don't Game Tired

Gillert's Player: “…. what are you doing?”
Me: “Cosplaying a Portuguese Man-o-war”

#1121-1129 - More from FaceBook

#1121 - Craspedacusta sowerbii - Freshwater Jellyfish

Photo by Jess Thompson, who found them in a dam 300km west of Sydney. Another Facebook post, asking for ID, and like the others posted with permission.

Craspedacusta sowerbii was originally found in the Yangtze Basin, but now inhabits still and slow-flowing bodies of fresh water worldwide. They start as tiny polyps attached to submerged vegetation, rocks, or tree stumps, and asexually reproduce during spring and summer. Some of the offspring are sexually reproducing medusae. Fertilized eggs develop into ciliated larvae called planula, which settle to the bottom and develop into polyps. However, many populations outside the original range are either all male or all female, and reproduction is entirely asexual.

During the winter months the polyps contract and turn into resting bodies called podocysts. It’s suspected the podocysts are what get spread to new lakes, ponds, rivers and dams on the feet of waterbirds. Once conditions improve they develop into polyps again.

#1122 - Chelepteryx chalepteryx - White-stemmed Wattle Moth


Another Facebook post to the Australian amateur entomology group, seeking an ID. Jillian Fearnley spotted this enormous Anthelid moth in Faulconbridge, NSW. This is a male, flashing his boldly patterned hindwings because he didn’t like having his photo taken.

Despite the common name, the caterpillars are also found feeding on Gymea Lillies, and accept an even wider diet in captivity. The sister species Chelepteryx collesi is equally as enormous, but has a contrasting diet, earning it the moniker of Batwing or White-Stemmed Gum Moth. However, in both species the caterpillars are also covered in stiff reddish bristles that are extremely painful if they pierce your skin. The caterpillars protect their cocoons by leaving the bristles sticking out.
Found over much of Eastern Australia.

Spiders under cut Read more...Collapse )#1125 - Order Psocoptera - Bark Louse

Photo by Tony Eales, who found it in Brisbane and posted it to Facebook.

The psocids ( also known as bark lice and book lice ) are small to minute insects not often noticed, with large mobile head, threadlike antennae, and wings held tent-like over the body, in those species that actually have wings. Some of the minute wingless species are minor pests of stored grain, wallpaper glue, and book binding, hence the name booklice, but the rest eat fungi, algae, lichen and detritus on the trunks of trees, and hide under bark. One species was recently found to actually bores into wood.

Last decade morphological and genetic studies proved that the parasitic lice actually evolved from within the Psocoptera, so the Psocoptera and Phthiraptera are now in the superorder Psocodea. I don’t know which species, genus, or even family this one is - the psocids have a surprising large number of genera and families for a minor order of insect, and even larger species like the one in the photo are barely mentioned online. On the other hand, it is very similar to the ones I once found under bark in NSW, which is the only time I’ve ever actually seen a barklouse myself.

#1126 - Liposcelis sp. - Booklouse

The minute insect, resembling a pin-sized termite, is a booklouse. This particular one was found in a pantry, which is not surprising since Liposcelis is a pest of stored food, books, and museum items, but especially of stored grain. Severe infestations can resemble a carpet of moving dust.
Liposcelis bostrychophila is particularly common, and found worldwide, but despite being first described in 1931, a male wasn’t found until 2002. The females usually reproduce parthenogenically, which no doubt helps them build up to the aforementioned gigantic numbers.

#1127 - Tachyglossus aculeatus - Short-beaked Echidna

This turned up at the back door of my mother’s place in Uranquinty the other day. It is not a bootscraper. It does have a startling resemblance to the Heart Urchins I’ve posted about before.

It is, of course, one of Australia’s most famous animals, and one of five living monotremes, the others being the platypus and three species of long-beaked echidna in Papua New Guinea. A handful of extinct species have also been found in the fossil record, but despite the name Megalibgwilia was about the same size as existing species. On the other hand, Zaglossus hacketti was the size of a sheep. The lack of teeth makes any study of the evolution of echidnas quite difficult, and the oldest known fossils are as recent as the Miocene, 23 myo. There’s some evidence that the shared platypus-echidna ancestor was already fully water-foraging, and the echidnas moved back onto land.

Echidnas were first described by George Shaw in 1792, who named the species Myrmecophaga aculeata, thinking that it might be related to the giant anteater of South America. Not even close. Since then it’s been renamed four times - Ornithorhynchus hystrix, which put it in the same genus as the platypus (closer but no cigar), Echidna hystrix, Echidna aculeata (after the mythological Mother of Monsters, Echidna. The name stuck in the popular parlance) and finally, Tachyglossus aculeatus when they realised Echidna was already a genus of moray eel. Tachyglossus means “quick tongue” and aculeatus means “equipped with spines”.
Echidnas live all over Australia, going into torpor in winter, and avoiding daylight activity in hotter months. They eat ants and termites, beetles and smaller earthworms, and have extremely powerful limbs and well-levered skulls to dig with, tear apart logs and paving, and shift refrigerators. The long beak ends with a tiny mouth, and is well-equipped with sensors for detecting the electrical activity of prey, which are then snaffled with a very long flexible tongue, and swallowed along with a fair amount of dirt. This dirt is important, since echidna lack teeth and their stomachs lack any secretory glands and are nearly pH neutral - the prey are ground up by stomach contractions.

Echidna brains are almost devoid of folds - despite that, their learning ability is comparable to rats and cats.

Echidnas are quite good swimmers - that and their ability to dig deep and fast and not care much about low oxygen levels allows them to escape most bushfires. They also have the shortest spine of any mammal, barely longer than the thorax, which helps them curl up into a ball of spines if they’re threatened and the ground is too hard to burrow into. Of course, being covered with spines also leads to other problems, which the male echidna solves by having an enormous penis. That doesn’t explain why the penis has four heads on the end, though.

Like the platypus, the short-beaked echidna has a system of multiple sex chromosomes, in which males have four Y chromosomes and five X chromosomes, and females five of each. After the egg hatches, baby echidnas - ‘puggles’ - live with the mother until they are about 180 to 205 days old, and she’s had enough of their growing spines. Then they get turfed out of the burrow to fend for themselves.

#1128 - Alectoria superba - Superb Katydid

Another from Tony Eales, who found it out near Roma in Queensland. A truly magnificent beast.

Also known as the Crested Katydid, this species is the only member of its genus and has no close relative. It’s been found across much of inland Australia but never frequently, and since the diet appears to consist of flowers, that’s probably because rain is so infrequent Out Back. Little is known of their biology and life cycle but the females have a very short ovipositor, and probably stick their eggs to the side of plant stems. The purpose of the crest is unknown - both males and females have one.

#1129 - Callipappus sp. - Bird-of-Paradise Fly

Colin spotted these in a nearby reserve one day, and sent them to me for ID. I promptly hit the roof with excitement and jealousy, since not only did I know what they are, they’re the same species.

The insect at top is a male Callipappus, also known as a Silver Phoenix or Violet Phoenix, depending on the species and the colour of their iridescent wings. The huge leathery beast in the second is the female. They’re actually scale insects, and the female is hundreds of times larger than most. The genus is found only in Australia and New Zealand, and it’s not clear how many species there are, largely because you only ever seen them for a few days each year. Callipappus spend most of their lives underground, emerging only to breed, which has been described as a peacock making love to a hippo. The males then promptly die, and the female clings to bark somewhere, pulls her abdomen up into her body to form a pouch, fills the pouch with thousands of eggs, covers herself in a waxy powder, and dies. A month or so later the eggs hatch into brightly coloured crawlers, who dig down into the ground again, lose their legs, and grow and grow and grow until the next breeding season.

Pathfinder : Magnimar, CSI Continued

Ys: We're in the middle of the 'Save The Accused For Some Reason' Caper

GM: I'm disappointed in you all - you were left unsupervised in a rich person's apartment, and not even the smallest item got pilfered.
Harshal: If we steal it now they'll make the connection. We can always sneak back later - consider this as casing the joint.
Tannis: Come back later disguised as removalists, and tell them Emarre's family hired us to remove everything.
Harshal: At the very least leave all the 'valuables' with the major-domo.... And sell all his furniture.

Sala No-name has fae Magic, so Emarre being killed by some giant clawed snake thing doesn't get her off the hook. Ys does an alchemical analysis on the snake scale we found, to see whether it's a remnant of a Polymorph spell, or from an actual snake-like creature. It's the former.

GM: If I was truly evil, I'd have a Yuan-ti shapeshifter.

Harshal: We still need to talk to that houseboy.
Tannis: But he wasn't even here - he was having his end away with a streetwalker.
Harshal: So Sergeant Colon tells us.
Tannis: ... True.
Zin: Maybe the houseboy turned into the snake thing, before his date. He should know better - turning into a snake never helps.
GM: Oh, I don't know - some people pay extra for that.
Harshal: Hemipenes.

Harshal: Perhaps Zin can hide in the chimney, to see if anybody tries to break in tonight.
Zin: Which is fine, right up until somebody starts a fire.

GM: At least if you case the joint, you've still got that phony Warrant of Investigation. 'We wanted to see if the criminal would return to the scene of the crime'
Harshal: 'They do that, don't they?'

At least the assassin is unlikely to teleport back in - if they used a mere Alter Self spell, they probably aren't very high-level. Zin does indeed spot somebody sneaking up and trying the windows, and trying and failing to climb the drainpipes.

Harshal: So, wait until he's halfway up, sneak up and yell OI!!!

The GM points out that loudly grabbing the guy while the city guard are still on duty around the front doesn't help us much - even with our warrant they'll nab him for their own investigation. The rest of us take up our positions, and Tannis sneaks up to tap the target on the shoulder. But the figure sniffs the air, turns, and reveals a cloth mask and scaley skin.

Tannis: Good evening, friend.
Scaley: *bolts*
Ys: It goes against the grain, but we're trying to take them alive. *jumps him as he runs past the end of an alley*

The would-be burglar rolls to his feet, and fights back.

Tannis: Dammit, I want to talk!
Ys: I want to kill him.
Harshal: Well, kill him, then hire a Necromancer.

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Star Wars Ep. 4 1/2 : The F-Troop

Going through the deceased diplomacy droid's memory chips, back on our ship the Plausible Deniability, to find out who killed him and kidnapped that astromech - it was a large Weequay thug.

That, in and of itself, isn't very useful information - but if the astromech WAS kidnapped by those local space pirates, then using our admittedly less-than-stellar connection to the local 'smugglers', in order to get a job interview with the pirates, still seems our best plan. What else would we do to make some money?

Fendri: What can we smuggle anyway?
Forvuk: T-shirts.
Fakybe: 'My Parents Took Me To The Kessel Run And All I Got Were These Lousy Radiation Burns'

GM: The Wookiee will get shot first - everybody shoots the Wookiee first. Then, if they haven't killed him, the Wookiee goes berserk and hacks everybody in half with an axe.
Forvuk: So when we meet these smugglers we want to make sure we get within hand-to-hand range before the arguments start.
Fakybe: Well, we could always let them get there first, and send an anonymous call to the Imperials telling them about a bunch of terrorists who were celebrating the destruction of the Peace Moon.

GM: Everybody is under a Point of Strain this session because Fendri got a message from his family
Fakybe: 'Pick up some milk on your way home'

Actually they want to know why Fendri hasn't been making his contributions to the Bothan Intelligence network.

GM: Plans for the Death Star would be good.

Fakybe: I could sneak aboard their ship and plant a great big bomb in their hyperdrive.
Fendri: Do you have a great big bomb?
Fakybe: No.
Forvuk: We could plant a bomb in his brain and send him off to meet his boss.
Medical Droid: You are horrible, horrible people.
Fendri: We can plant a bug on the spy and listen in on everything he says.
Medical Droid: Do you have such a device?
Fendri: No. Everybody thinks I'm a spy - even my family thinks I'm a spy. I'm just a courier!
Forvuk: How about we just TELL him we've fitted a cortex bomb?

Instead Fakybe improvises a bug, plants it on the spy, and we get him to contact the smugglers to negotiate the meeting with the space pirates.

Smuggler: What can you offer me?
Fendri: Skills.
Fakybe: Also our own ship and no criminal record... In this jurisdiction, anyway.
Smuggler: Alright, let our agent go and I'll think about it.
Spy: What do I get out of this? You shot me.
Fakybe: Free medical treatment - also we owe you a drink.
Spy: *grumble*

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Return to Edge City - Mall Zombies

First two hours of session spent discussing nuclear weapons, nuclear accidents, and engineering failsafes.

Hardlight: And moving from nuclear weapons to biological weapons?

Because the Fast Zombie virus is apparently in the most exclusive hi-end mall in this part of California.

Hardlight: Are we going to have to nuke somebody?
GM: Hopefully not.
Hero Shrew: Unless it looks like the zombie virus is going to get loose and infect half of the state. Maybe we should tell somebody about this?
Fireflash: Who'd believe us?
Hero Shrew: Well, I know it would be embarrassing if it turns out we're wrong, but -
Flux: So, the probably-wanted-super-criminal calls the police saying he has a spell that says there's a zombie plague loose in the Mall. How well do you think that will go?

GM: Where did this virus thing come from? I never mentioned zombie virus.
Hero Shrew: I've seen movies.

Fireflash: I seem to be more pulchritudinous than I was before I got my powers.
GM: Well, you have to store the energy somewhere.

Hero Shrew: So what kind of clothes am I going to have in my Garfield disguise? I don't think my usual wife beater and torn jeans are going to cut it, here.
Hardlight: ... Look like Garfield and dressed like Top Cat?
Hero Shrew: So, purple hat and vest, and no pants?

GM: It's a mall - a high-end mall.
Fireflash: Oh my gosh, I want to go shopping.
Hardlight: You can come back after you get your Christmas bonus.
Flux: We get a Christmas bonus?
Hero Shrew: News to me... Nice to think we'll live until Christmas.

The Laguna Complex is full of luxury car dealerships, face-change clinics, bespoke electronics and a few places that actually advertise as Moreau-friendly.

Hero Shrew: We are going to do so much damage here.
Flux: We? You.

GM: I was watching Repo Man the other day.
Flux's player: ?
Hero Shrew's player: Famously weird movie that ends with a highly radioactive flying car.
GM: There was a bus in one scene, and the destination was Edge City. *eyes go wide*

(Actually, Repo Man was also an Edge City Production)

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#1115 - #1120 - Some Stuff From Facebook

#1115 - Nymphid Lacewing Larva

Photo by Brian Everingham, who found it in Sydney under an Cottonwood leaf while gardening, and put it up on Facebook hoping for an ID. I was happy to oblige. :) Nymphid lacewings are also known as Split-toed Lacewings, and include the Blue-eyed Lacewing Nymphes myrmeleonides, a large yellow lacewing with larva that live in the ground and resemble the traditional antlion (hence the myrmeleonides name). Other Nymphid larvae like the one above - probably a Myiodactylus - lurk on plants, long curved jaws ready to snap on anything that wanders within reach. The fringed edges help break up its outline, making it harder for predators and prey to spot. Anything unfortunate enough to be caught by the hooked jaws will be drained of its body fluids by other mouthparts, and then discarded. Other families of lacewings might use the shriveled corpse as part of a disguise. Once the larvae is ready to pupate, it will spin a loose cocoon of silk and debris, and when ready to emerge again chew their way out, and molt into an adult.

#1116 - Pingasa chlora - Flower-eating Moth

AKA White Looper. Photo by Andrea Lim, in Cairns, QLD, and another Facebook post at Amateur Entomology Australia. Also the first moth I IDed without even seeing the dorsal surface, which is grey with fine dark scalloped lines (it helped that Australian Lepidoptera also includes galleries of the undersides of moths) Found in Sundaland, the Philippines, Sulawesi and from the Moluccas to Queensland. Larvae are pests on Rambutan and Lychee crops in Australia. Other food plants include Ribbonwood (Euroschinus falcata),Rose Myrtle (Rhodomyrtus tomentosa, MYRTACEAE ), Silver Ash (Flindersia schottiana, RUTACEAE), and Poison Peach (Trema tomentosa, ULMACEAE).

#1117 - Careades plana

Another post by Andrea Lim, again in Cairns - a caterpillar that appears to have choked to death on a watermelon. Very Hungry Caterpillar you ain’t. Actually, it’s a Nolid caterpillar, and this species isn’t the only one with a gigantically inflated first abdominal segment. It’s been found feeding on Golden Penda and Blake Paperbark in Queensland, and is being investigated as a possible biological control of Paperbarks in Florida. The adult moth isn’t much to write home about, being an undistinguished brown with a few darker blotches.

Spider under cutCollapse )
#1104 - Columba livia - Rock Dove

Commonly known The Pigeon. One of the most successful bird species worldwide, if you count dominating city fauna worldwide as success. And why wouldn’t you? I post this one here, of a pair nesting on the cliffs at Penguin Island, precisely because this habit of nesting on rocky cliffs and ledges is precisely what enabled them to move into human cities, which are full of windowsills and eaves and other suitable habitat for a rock dove.

Domesticated pigeons have been kept as food, and as pets, and as homing and carrier pigeons. A number of pigeons received military medals for their efforts in the World Wars.

#1105 - Onychoprion anaethetus - Bridled Tern

One of the most fascinating things about the visit to Penguin Island wasn’t the penguins themselves (which I scrupulously avoided disturbing, since it was their moulting season and they get easily stressed - pity the other members of the public weren’t as thoughtful *growl*) was the massive population of Bridled Terns. Penguin Island isn’t that far from the shore - in fact, you can wade out to it, if you’re an idiot, but I’ve never seen one of these birds from the mainland beaches. And the island had thousands, nesting and flocking and feeding in the bay. Courtship behaviour involves the male offering his prospective mate a fish :)

The species is mostly tropical, and when not breeding spend their entire lives at sea, perching on floating seaweed or flotsam when available, and feeding on small fish, crustaceans, and marine insects. They can adapt to human presence on their breeding islands, but cats and black rats are a disaster (rats were a major problem on Penguin Island over the last few years) and the eggs and chicks are collected for food in the Caribbean.

#1106 - Gallirallus philippensis - Buff-banded Rail

I’ve only ever seen one of these on the mainland, since they’re apparently pretty shy (at least around Perth) although in the case in question it was crossing the road into a large bare building estate. Either way, the ones on Penguin Island weren’t shy at all, and spend most of the time I was there chasing moths across the picnic area. There’ll eat a wide range of other stuff as well, including plants, carrion and refuse.

Buff-banded Rails (or as I dubbed them Brown Stripey Flap-arses) are found from the Phillipines (where they got their scientific name and are known as Tiklings) through most of Australasia and the SW Pacific (and are called moho-pereru in New Zealand). There are quite a few subspecies.

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Ian's playing a bard in D&D. This is as exactly as terrifying a prospect as you are imagine, since he's improvising songs on demand, and it's his character's sworn intention to avoid any combat because he's too busy seducing every female humanoid on the continent. So far this has including criticising the 400 year old elf PC for his failure to breed, and 'helping' by standing in the street outside and singing useful lovemaking tips up to the room where the elf is trying to get information out of a barmaid.

Pathfinder : CSI:Magnimar

On the various things that can affect Fame and Prestige, such as fleeing minor encounters, murdering the innocent, and associating with people of ill-repute.

Harshal: In other words, whatever you do, do it in private.
Ys: Or get a good lawyer, and kill all the witnesses.
Tannis: Just as well we have our own lawyer.
Harshal:*smiles smugly*

Ys doesn't recognise the family that wrote that magical workbook.

Harshal: 'I don't associate with Elven wizards, they're too snooty. And I'm an elf'

As it happens there is no real need to track down the book's owners - since it used to be in the hands of Gillert's teacher, Marcellano Emarre. So Gillert can easily hold on to it, with suitable self-justification.

Harshal: 'I deserve it more than that douchebag'
Gillert: As long as it's a duplicate I have no qualms about keeping it.
Ys and Harshal: Why would you have qua-
Harshal: Ah, of course - Good Alignment.

Zin: I'm staying with Ys.
Ys: You might want to reconsider - I live above a fishmonger.
GM: And the only free space in the apartment has manacles. And bloodstains.
Zin: Okaaaay - I'm moving in with the kobolds.

One interesting NPC in Magnimar - one Sala No-name, a Shoanti sorceress living in self-imposed exile in one of the Alabaster District's public parks. This is a point of contention with the city's Shoanti, despite how useful she's made herself to the nobility as a information broker.

Gillert: She's not squatting, she's just hanging about for a while.
Harshal: She's having a very long picnic.

Harshal: You'll have to bring those kobolds up to speed on how Magnimar actually works. After all, they haven't seen much of it - except from underneath.

Sala No-name also associates with Iria, the vivisectionist. Associates so closely that one euphemism for her relationship is 'shadow'. Zin does make a slightly disquieting discovery - a well-oiled scorpion-tail whip among Iria's possessions.

Zin: ... I'll give her the benefit of the doubt - maybe she saves it for her 'meetings' with Sala.

In fact the two are so close that Iria is upset when Sala is 'helping the Guard with their enquiries' - apparently some wizard in the Alabaster District was found dead. In at least five different places. Although the authorities only assume he's dead because they haven't found all the bits yet. If we help out there won't be any money in the job - all of Iria's spare money goes into looking after those kobolds.

Zin: I was thinking we could get the team together help them out?
Ys: Well, we could. Are you going to give me a reason why we should?
Harshal: Take the long view - it's one more step towards getting those kobolds as loyal minions.
GM: Why is Harshal even there?
Ys: Because I'm experimenting with my alchemical set-up, and if somebody is going is going to poisoned the lawyer is the most expendable?

Actually, getting Iria onside will help Ys with her own alchemical research.

Tannis: Evening, Ys. How are you?
Ys: I'm fine, but Zin has a problem.
Harshal OoC: Yes, he's a Kobold.

Tannis: At least we keep Iria looking after those kobolds - I have plans for them.

Gillert: I'm a little unenthusiastic about going near anything that kills wizards, but OK. Lead the way, little person.
Zin: We need your reasonable magical prowess.
Gillert: I can still drop-kick you into the river, you know.

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