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So, off to the Wongan Hills next weekend, with the WA Naturalist's Club. I wonder if anybody I know would like to come along? Desiree and Belinda are overseas, unfortunately

Hero Shrew: We killed some zombies! And nobody got bitten so we'll be fine.

Flux wants to take the zombie's train back to base for study - Hero Shrew is dead against this.

Hero Shrew: We both know what will happen! You'll take one down to the basement for autopsy and before you know it there'll be hundreds of zombies trying to get into the compound.

Hero Shrew: Every time I go to the base I'm going to be carrying a baseball bat with a nail in it. Just in case Flux got bitten during the autopsy.
GM: Flux, you need to make him a device with two lights on it. But only the green like is hooked up. 'If it turns red I'm a zombie. It's a zombie detector'.
Hero Shrew: gee, thanks!
GM: 'Hey, it just turned red'
Flux: 'Wait, what?'

Flux: *shambles around the base groaning*
Hero Shrew: AAAHHHHH.
Flux: I'm not a zombie, it's just coffee withdrawal.

Flux and Hardlight try and figure out where Hardlight's powers actually originate, given some of the strange reading Flux had been getting on his detection spells earlier.

Flux: I need you to stand over there. Naked.
Hero Shrew: I didn't know your swung that way.

Flux does make an intuitive leap.

GM: Your most heartfelt expletive is 'Tesla's Magnificent Moustache'.
Flux: Oh god...
Hero Shrew OoC: Ah - broadcast power.

Somebody has set up a power source that broadcasts energy to the crystals that empower Hardlight and the Iron Claw, and goodness knows what else.

Hero Shrew: I'm going to go buy myself some nice clothes, and a bunch of flowers, and try and impress Sally down at the Collie Club. Actual fresh flowers this time, and not one of those bunches I find taped to traffic poles.
GM: You DO know those are shrines to the dead, right?
Hero Shrew: Well I know that NOW.

Sally, a Golden Setter morph with biomanipulation powers that works as a bouncer at the club, is polite, but overly sensitive to the scent of the flowers. She IS a scent hound after all.

Hero Shrew: Sigh. Maybe I'll get plastic flowers next time.

Sally is a foot-and-a-half taller than Hero Shrew.

GM: At least you have an excuse to look at her tits.
Hero Shrew: Yes, I have to look up past them to see her face... But I do have fantasies about what I'd like to do down here. *happy sigh*

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Star Wars: Taxi Driver

After shooting up a pirate base, capturing most of the pirates alive if not necessarily intact, and making a not of where the base and the ships are so we can come back and loot or utilise as we like, the Deniable Plausibility is on the way back to Fomos. The ship now has even more people on board, as well as a large amount of loot that the Rodians chose for their part in the attack. It's standing room only.

Forvuk the Dresellian Brute: And I'm learning to swing a vibro-axe.

Fendri the Bothan Pilot: I'm actually getting worried about the life support - everybody who isn't on duty has to be asleep.
Forvuk: By 'sleep' do you mean-
Fakybe the Adorable Little Bat-faced Con-artist: Not 'the long sleep'
Fendri: Or carbonite.
Fakybe: We don't have any carbonite anyway.

Fakybe: Don't worry, I'll keep everybody's morale up - I'll organise a sing-along.

Fakybe: If you're so desperate to get some target practise, join the Rebellion and go shoot up some Tie Fighters.
Forvuk: Target practise is less fun when the targets can shoot back.
Fakybe: Quite - I could insert a comment about the Massacre at Dralkh here.
Forvuk: *deathglare*

GM: When you get back to Fomos there's something alarming in orbit.
Fendri: There's always something in orbit, that's not alarming. Unless it's an Imperial Star Destroyer.
GM: *sings the Imperial March*
Fendri: Goddammit.

We act nonchalant, detach the looted starfighter and all that Glitterstim in high orbit, and land normally. The Rodians can arrange to have the starfighter, the pilot thereof, and the drugs, landed later. That distances ourselves from any connection to the raid (and the pilot in question is actually pretty relieved to have been captured - that starfighter was a deathrap). The surface is now swarming with bored Imperial troops, apparently on shore leave, although there's also a suspicious number of probe droids buzzing around.

Forvuk: What are the Imperials armed with?
GM: Same thing US Navy are when they're on leave.
Fakybe: Money!

Maybe we can get some cash acting as a taxi service, transporting troops back up to the destroyer.

Fakybe: It means they'll be less likely to blow us out of the sky later, if they think we're up to something. 'Hey, I remember those guys! They got me home after I got paralytically drunk at the cantina - and they didn't even roll me for my cash!'

We post a card offering off-planet transport at the trading post - even if we don't taxi stormtroopers around, there are certain to be people that want off Fomos in a hurry.

GM: The Star Destroyer 'Eviscerator' is obsolete, and only bought out of mothballs after the destruction of the Death Star. This a cadet training voyage for new recruits.
Forvuk: So... How many actual Imperials on board?
Fendri: *We are not skipjacking an Imperial Star Destroyer.*
All the Imperials in the cantina: *staring at us*
Fakybe: Don't mind him - he's drunk and an idiot.

We make arrangements to get the pirate's ship running again, whilst at the same time keeping the position of the base secret - although for some reason the Star Destroyer is blasting away at a remote part of Fomos 'for target practise'. Fendri handles the negotiations, and the negotiations with the person who answered our ad. It's a Mon Calamari, who is wearing an environment suit to cope with the dryness.

Fendri: What the hell is a Mon Calamari doing here?
Fakybe: He's an admiral, who was on holiday.

Actually, he's an entrepreneur - eventually we decide that bringing in holds-full of cheap booze from another system, to sell to the Imperials. The smuggler we clashed with earlier makes a reappearance too - by sending us a free pizza topped with the hand of that spy that we caught.

Fendri: He seems annoyed with us. Can't think why.

The entrepreneur also reports that the pirates and smugglers have be making enquiries, to find out what happened to their leader, and who they need to brutally kill in revenge.

Fakybe: Maybe we should leave an anonymous tip with the Imperials that the smuggler is a rebel spy.
Forvuk: Do you want me to be more overtly evil so you can offer people a more enjoyable alternative?
Fendri: I don't think you're evil. I just think you're unnecessarily violent.

The Stars Are Right!

*goes outside, looks up, not two bright stars in Scorpio that shouldn't be there* *downloads SkyView App, which calculates my position, which way I'm pointing the phone, and displays and up-to-date starmap including the ISS and Hubble Telescope*

What an age we live in.

It was a conjunction of Mars and Saturn, incidentally. Over on the horizon is a very close triple conjunction of Venus, Mercury, and Jupiter.
Kibitzing before the game this week - cannibalism on the set of the African Queen. Also, Red Dwarf.

GM: There was a reason the entire cast of characters was male, and heterosexual.
Me: Hence that conversation in one episode about the Flintstones 'Well, I'd go with Betty - by I'd be thinking of Wilma.'
Gillert's Player: Ah Betty, the town bike.

What long-term objectives do the PCs have?

Zin: I want a safe place for the kobolds. Filled with impassable traps. Where I can charge money to train parties of adventurers.
Harshal: That's not training adventurers, that's farming adventurers.
Gillert: 'Here, sign this waiver'. 'Why is it so long?'
Harshal: I'll write up the waiver for you. Basically you want a giant mulching machine, with a sieve underneath to catch the coins that fall out?

Gillert: Knowledge for the sake of knowledge, and doing good.
GM: You are SO in the wrong campaign.

Harshal: I want to be indispensable to anybody that wants to seem legitimate in Magnimar.
GM: Tricky - you'll always have competition.

Ys: I want to be deadly enough to kill anybody I want.
All: ...
Zin: Simple.
Harshal: And straightforward.

Harshal: We need to come up with a heist that can't be immediately traced back to us - by the guards finding a pile of stolen goods in our spare room, for example.

Ys: I just want to be in a position where I have the power of life or death over people. I don't mind if I'm working under somebody for that.
Harshal: You just want the job satisfaction.

Zin: Are we going to be the Mission Impossible team?
GM: Dun dun, DUNDUN, dun dun DUNDUN
Harshal: It would help me become indispensable. We already have our disguise expert *points at the Kobold disguised as a Halfling disguised as a gnome*.
Tannis: We need legal authority to go around beating up people - I mean, be adventurers.

Tannis points out that we need premises.

Harshal: As the case of Sala No-name exemplified, we need a postal address.
Ys: I am not volunteering my place.
Harshal: The non-sex dungeon might be a problem.

GM: You could always clear out the sewer goblin nests, but that would leave a power vacuum.
Harshal: So we install kobolds. And then Zin can become the Underlord.

Ys: We could always capture some goblins alive..
GM: Who are you?
Ys: I'm not finished. Then we dump them over the wall into whatever district we want to buy property in. That would lower property values.
GM: I'm not sure that's what people had in mind when they invented the term 'social engineering'.

GM: I'm just glad none of you suggested dressing up some kobolds as goblins and assassinate an arch-duke.

Tannis: Plagues aren't difficult to synthesise...
GM: I'm glad we're not playing poker.

Because people are starting to get sick in Magnimar - ships are already diverting to Riddleport rather than risk whatever mystery disease is at work.

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Star Wars : The F-Bomb

The Deniable Plausibility takes off to launch a surprise attack on a pirate base, with the F-troop, a couple of droids, a Wookiee, a Duros named Fnord, a Rodian researcher, and three Rodian would-be smugglers who we're calling Huey, Dewey, and Louie, since we can't speak any common languages. Yes, this is far more people than our freighter is rated for. Imagine the queue for the head.

Forvuk: Can we test our guns first, and shoot up a few asteroids on the way?
Fakybe: Why shoot up an asteroid? There's some Imperial Tie fighters going that way, they're easy targets.
GM: And expendable, too - nobody will notice if they go missing.

Our plan - hyperjump into the asteroid field, drift towards the space-worm-riddled planetoid they're using as a base, and dive out of the sun, ECM roaring, and shoot seven colours of shit out of any berthed fighters, drones, etc they have parked nearby.

Forvuk: I'm assuming the Wookiee is on the ventral gun, since a Wookiee on top is an ugly prospect.

Fendri: I still have to pick up some milk. On Fomos.
Forvuk: Do they even have cows on Fomos?
Forvuk: Fakybe, did you pick up any fridges when you scanned the asteroid? Maybe we can steal their milk.
Fakybe: I wasn't actually looking.
Forvuk: Fat lot of good you are.

Soon enough their fighter and combat drone are completely incapacitated, and we move in to board their main ship as they frantically try to get the engines going.

Fendri: I don't have a Code Against Killing, but they ARE worth more to us alive.
Forvuk: So a Code Against Damaged Merchandise?

Fendri OoC: Assume a cinematic system until we score a critical. THEN we talk physics.

Fakybe, the F-troops resident engineer and liar, doesn't actually have much to do for the bulk of he battle, other that hose down the engines when they start to overheat, and broadcast the following of the pirate's main comm channel.

Fakybe: Die Fledermaus to Big Red One, Die Fledermaus to Big Red One - some resistance encountered, send in the marines.

The Aqualish pirate captain refuses to surrender, even when he's the last pirate standing.

Fakybe: He probably wants to go out fighting.
GM: Once you become a pirate, violent death is pretty much guaranteed. If you take him alive the Empire will make him mine glitterstim for the rest of his life, and I don't want to think what the Hutt would do with him.
Fendri: The Hutt has interesting taste - he'll have the Aqualish dance for him.
GM: *throws up in his mouth a little*

Fendri: Well, there's a reason they call us the F-troop.
GM: Yes - the eff-wits. Or "Or F--- it's them"

The pirate captain eventually takes cover, and offers a deal - we let him go and we get all the glitterstim. Or he remotes detonates the glitterstim and goes out with a bang. We argue about this - the Rodians in particular like the drug offer.

Forvuk: I don't suppose you anything about the massacre on Drelk?
Pirate Captain: What kind of outfit are you running here? Are you all-
Fakybe: OK, just kill him.

The Rodians manage to intervene - they get the pirate, the glitterstim, and their relative back, and fuck off to do what they like with it. We get the pirate's base, the rest of the pirates, and the pirate's various ships after their fighter pilot sheepishly limps back to base and surrenders.

#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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