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'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

The Sewer Tour Reviewer

Slouching Towards Reunion

The Ataniel Five-Year Reunion Newsletter
Issue Two - January 1997

(apologies to Joan Didion, but none to Bork, who stole the title just like I did!)

[Sorry to be a buttinsky here, Doug, but "slouching towards Bethlehem" actually comes from Yeats' 1920 poem "The Second Coming." Didion stole it same as Bork and you. (-: --L]

Where are you going to sleep while this nightmare plays itself out? Details inside about scheduling, housing, character updating, and much much more!

Better Late than Never

Okay, for the very few of you who I actually got around to sending a copy of STR #1, I heartily apologize for the long wait between issues. For the rest of you who are only now receiving your copy of the June 1996 issue (free with your current, January 1997 issue), please try not to laugh too hard when you read all the promises in #1. Anyhow, we here at Reunion Central have finally gotten around to making all the important arrangements for the Ataniel Five-Year Reunion, and we're doing our best to make the whole event a real doozy. Whatever, in fact, a doozy might be. Over the next four months, we'll be keeping in closer contact with all of you, trying to coordinate things, so if you have any questions, please feel free to get in touch by phone or email (phone is faster but less likely, email is slower, but I actually tend to respond to it). This time around, we'll update you on the hotel plans and prices. We've also got an update on how the game plot is coming together, a feature on the top ten villains of Ataniel, a worksheet for updating your character for the AFYR (pronounced "Ay-fer"), and some ideas about all the party favors I'm gonna be tossing your way. I promise this will all be worth the wait and the outlay. Anyway, without further ado, I'll shut up and allow you to actually read the issue. Go on. Read it. What are you still bothering here for?

Hotel Booked for Reunion

Booking space for the AFYR was, so Kay tells me, a logistical nightmare. Since someone who shall remain nameless had the bright idea of doing this over the Memorial Day Weekend so that we could squeeze four days of gaming out of it, we were faced with the dilemma of finding hotel space on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year. Fortunately, your intrepid Gamemaster's wife, working diligently while her husband slept in until noon, finally procured arrangements at the Doubletree Inn at BWI Airport, right off BWI Parkway. We've got two suites reserved, each with a living room, bedroom and bathroom. These suites will make up the Game Complex: one will be Reunion Central, where we'll game, the other will be the Reunion Lounge, where we'll relax and hang out. One of the bedrooms is earmarked for yours truly and wife, but both couches fold out into a bed, and so there's ample place to sleep in the Game Complex should you so choose. Sleeping bags might be a good idea for those who check in late. The fee for the four-day-plus reunion is $150. This covers the hotel suites, including squatting rights, as well as all the game materials and Reunion Yearbook. People are encouraged to bring additional money for food and other non-essentials, as eating is not covered. I need people to check in with me at Reunion Central Thursday night. Gaming will start on Friday morning and run through Monday (Memorial Day) evening, so you'll only need to beg off of work for one day. If there are any problems with these arrangements, please let me know immediately!

Reunion Campaign Plotted

I was driving home from work two days ago when it all finally clicked. The Villain. The Plot. The Twist. The Third Moon. The Other Villain. The Surprise. The Other Other Villain. All of it. It's a proper continuation of the grand epic of Ataniel, with a healthy mix of old plots and new intrigues. I've even got a hook for the Ten Year Reunion, but I'll let that play itself out later. The title for the four-day marathon campaign is "Unfinished Business." It starts with the return of one of the greatest foes you've ever faced, and just gets worse from there. I've had five years to get more and more evil, as Kay, Daniel and Janet will attest. Some things you may have thought were beyond even me... might not be. In fact, I can only promise one thing to allow you to sleep at night: Ariath's still dead.

How To Update Your Character For "Unfinished Business"

I'm enclosing with this STR a worksheet for each of you to send back that will start us on the process of updating your character towards AFYR readiness. As I stated in the last STR, there'll be a bit of advancement for each of you from our last recorded point, so I need your feedback about what the intervening years have contained. It's imperative that you send this back to me ASAP, because I've got a lot of work to do to meld my plots in with your character background. I've got a lot of hooks left to stick into your characters, so I need to see where they'll dig in the most! Throughout February and March I'll be catching up with each of you via telephone to hammer out the final character statistics and stuff. That way, by the time we get around to playing the game in May, there won't be any hang up trying to figure out if you've got Spots with you or not. I'll also be seeding you each with some possibly relevant 5-year information that your character might have picked up along the way. Some of it will be relevant; a lot of it won't. That's the way things go in Ataniel. Anyway, get that brain working, and send me your form soon!

The AFYR Campaign Schedule

A lot of you have asked me exactly what this weekend is going to consist of, how long it's going to be, when you have to be where, can we go out to Sabatino's, things like that... Well, we've got a Hell of a lot of gaming to do (is that a hint?) and not much time to do it. Here's what I envision:

Thursday, May 22, 1997
Check in at Reunion Central
Reunion Party in the Lounge.
Late night Sip-N-Bite run (hardcore people only)
Friday, May 23, 1997
Morning briefing at 10:00 am.
Lunch in the Reunion Lounge.
Afternoon gaming. The campaign begins.
Dinner break in the Lounge.
Night gaming until midnightish.
Saturday, May 24, 1997
Gaming resumes at 10:00 am.
Lunch during gaming.
Mid-game Dinner Break in Baltimore.
Night gaming until midnightish.
Sunday, May 25, 1997
Gaming resumes at 10:00 am.
Lunch during gaming.
Dinner break in Reunion Lounge.
Night gaming until midnightish.
Monday, May 26, 1997
Gaming resumes at 10:00 am.
Lunch during gaming.
Game ends at 5:00.
Debriefing session.
Late dinner for hangers-on.

As you can see, it's obviously game- intensive. That's sort of the point. I'm trying to squeeze the essence of a "fourth year" of gaming into a four day period. Timewise, it comes out to about seven sessions. There's gonna be plenty of time to hang out, but like I've always told Ed, "I can't wait for your stupid football game!"

Ataniel's 10 Most Wanted (And 2 to Watch Out For)

I figured that it would be pretty easy to list bios for the Top Ten Villains of the Ataniel Campaign. I mean, there were only three years, and not a lot of those guys really had "major villain" status, right? Wrong. I'm actually kinda amazed that y'all stood up so well against the sheer number of master villains that were thrown at you. I've tried to winnow it down to ten, but I'm sure I've left someone's most hated nemesis out of it. To make up for it, I'm gonna try to sneak as many others as I can into the text pieces. Forgive me if I miss any. I've also added two slots for antagonists who didn't really fit the part of "villain" but who flossed your butt anyway.

10. Lord Eric of Cynystra
Admittedly, Lord Eric's greatest villainous trait was the ability to viciously marry the most annoying choice of brides. Not only did he curse his first (?) wife, Khyrisse in the hopes of transforming her into a goddess he could control, but he then went on to marry Janther's ex, Shannon to get a leg up on Bryttanwch. His patronage of the Wild Pack and Derek the Deranged, his (successful!) war with Diaria, and his current expansion of his empire's bounds bring him in at the bottom of the countdown, just nosing out Kala (not Kayla).
9. Malcar
Scott's throwaway mention of an evil father and Ed's throwaway mention of defeating a flying castle at Neporris somehow melded into Malcar, the evil parasitic alien wizard who dropped his starship on innocent towns. He was defeated, and his ship claimed for the Sway, but came back controlling Arcraver's body just in time to destroy the ship, taking a heck of a lot of NPCs with it. The evil archcloaker is still at large.
8. the Brotherhood of Gila
Another throwaway at first, the Brotherhood of Gila is the league of reptilian assasins and conquerors ruled by the Iron Tyrants. They might have taken their first defeat at the hands of Signet and the Significants to heart, but someone actually gave them a map to the capital keep of Nylevia, so they were able to take the place of not one, but two Dukes of Lianth, one of whom was Maxwell Silverhammer. By far, the Brotherhood is the villain which has had the most help in their evil by player characters. Take a bow, Shilree, Tila.
7. Duke St. Augustine
The Soulless Man, Duke St. Augustine was once the crimelord of all of Rimbor City. He sold his soul to Monus in return for great power, which lasted him for a hundred years. When the city was finally freed by the Significants, and Javert took control, he was still able to reach out from beyond the grave and trick Tila into sending all of the party to Hell. He was also the employer of poor Patty Spivot, murdered by Palmer Khan, but I can't really blame the Duke for that whole plot imbroglio, alas.
6. Brionwy
The patron goddess of betrayal, her plan to infest Lianth with demon/human hybrids (as carried out by a bevy of beautiful villainesses like Kala, Omeria and Ariath, who unfortunately didn't make the cut) took the Significants, the Septum Potentis, and Paninaro to defeat it. Of course, the real goal of that gambit was to infest the Sunfighter with a demon curse that would destroy the world. That one took two more years to defeat. Who knows what other plots within plans she might still have...
5. Talakan
Originally intended to be the worst villain of AY3, Talakan was a Diarian psi who wanted to bring together the shards of Psyiri and take her place as the god of psionics. He did this by manipulating the Sway and by breeding genetic warriors like Belle with the help of George's friend Frank. He was killed, only to find a second lease of life inside a Diarian psicomputer. Oops... I don't think I was supposed to tell y'all that...
4. Ti'Ar'Na
One of the five Deathless, the Ti'Ar'Na was a evil possessing spirit that took over Duke Faraker and eventually killed him. The Ti'Ar'Na was a member of the Web, a group controlled by Tres, who was trying to take over the Dalencian Empire. The Ti'Ar'Na was finally imprisoned in a soul gem and sent to the center of the earth.
3. Trillarillia Cararia
Not only did she kill Christian (bet y'all forgot that one, huh?) but she also betrayed her own teammates in Bloodscar, eventually hunting them all down and killing them. To top that off, she reincarnated the evil warlord Bloodscar, whose new empire in Sturtevant was only defeated by the leadership of Javert and the sacrifice of Syndriannia, whose body Trill now inhabits. And then there were those annoying curses, which did great stuff like kill Janther, cause Tila's mask to take over her guild, screw up Jarth and George's minds, etc... Trill is the current reigning leader of the Bitches from Hell.
2. Wyvern
Believe it or not, Wyvern was supposed to be a throwaway character. Then he used his evil powers of psychology against your gamemaster, who was forced to make him a renegade Space Dragon with plans to take over Trade. He killed Will Ender, took his place, and finally sucked Trade into the Void. He was finally defeated by Knighthawke, who betrayed him while the rest of you fought your own beloved dead. He also turned out to be not Luthien's father. Because of Wyvern, Magnate is still missing. And that brings us to the number one villain of the Ataniel Campaign (no, not the Black King, Ed), it's...
1. Spiffy Garbonzo
By far the most persistant of the villains, Spiffy Garbonzo will destroy you. You are his enemies. And he just keeps coming, and coming, and coming. Currently, he appears to be cured of his madness, and the Spiffy clones created by Mad Doctor Swank are all gone. Or are they?

Bonus "Villains" Whose Intentions Were Good:

a. Tres
The Mithril Dagger heroes who survived the Shadow Wars and the years intervening were Knighthawke, Milamber, Odn and Jork. The three cleanest of them went on to form a power cartel slightly more Republican than Jesse Helms. They manipulated the Web and the Sewer Tour to retrieve the blue stones that would allow them access to the City on the Edge of Forever. Fortunately, Shilree betrayed just about everyone and gave the city to Magnate. Unfortunately, after Magnate and Wyvern were lost in the Void, Knighthawke ended up with control of Trade anyway. Funny how those things end up...
b. Iolleil Oyello
Jarth's pantheon's answer to Ross Perot, the priestess of Vox mistook George for the Avatar of Morvon, and attempted to readjust the balance between Law and Chaos. Of course, since the balance was just fine, she unwittingly caused all sorts of screwups, culminating in the Cynystran victory in their war with Diaria. Silly, silly girl...

The Ataniel Yearbook

I'm putting together a progressively bigger Yearbook for the AFYR. So far, I'm including a who's who, a variety of fun handouts from throughout the campaign, a new short story, the bits from the AY2 novel, and a couple of other goodies. Still, I want to make sure I'm making a keepsake that we can all enjoy. Please send me your ideas for what I should include. I've also got a little homework for each of you:

  1. I need you to send me your favorite quotes from throughout the campaign.
  2. I'd like each of you to write a one paragraph bio-blurb for each of the characters you ran.
  3. I'd also appreciate a brief reminiscence. Something about the campaign as a whole and your perspective on it all. Something nice and Russell Baker-y. Or Nicholson Baker-y, if you could do it. Just something I can include with...
  4. A black-and-white picture of you. If you're totally opposed, then a black-and-white line sketch or something. I am calling this a yearbook, remember?

That's it! All I need! Remember when you bitch and complain about doing this that I'm compiling the verdammt thing and writing the game to boot. So nyeah.

Endnotes

Well, things are really kicking into gear on all of this. It's imperative that if you have any problems to call me immediately so that I can talk you out of them. Remember, this is more important than your job, your family, your football game... and I promise it's going to be more fun than sex with your favorite Star Wars actor.

Looking forward to seeing y'all in May!

Doug

Douglass Barré / blackflak@aol.com

'Does the moon look bigger to you tonight?'

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