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[Sotc: Eberron] Spirit of Sharn


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Yesterday, we gathered Jim, Jeff, Judd and myself to do some gaming. For months, we've been toying with the idea of Spirit of the Century/FATE system to run Eberron campaign. There is a great war in both, so the character creation is nicely similar.

We had also preliminarily discussed doing "cops in Sharn" as the framework. Jim, who owns Eberron and Sharn (I don't) came to the table suggesting the Red Cloak Battalion, a veteran merc outfit who fought in the great war, and a Unit is the shock, veteran fighter backbone of city of Sharn authority.

We all thought that was a good fit, as there was nice conflict between The Watch, the King's Citadel and the Blackend Book (other law enforcement arms of Sharn). As we are all lovers of HBO's Wire and its internal enforcement struggles... this seemed tailor made.

Judd plays Zeke, a Githyanki exile (re: on the run from...) who was an investigator in Githyanki society and serves now in the Red Cloak's investigative arm... a new role for the Red Cloaks moving from soldiers to police...

Zeke's aspects:
Githyanki Bigotry
Hunted by the Lich Queen
Lawful Evil
"The Dragon is in trouble again!" (Zeke used to have a Red Dragon partner)
Wand Pistol of the Iron Lich
Respected Red Cloak Investigator
Enjoys Heights
Dependable in Battle
Planar Saavy

Jim plays Tardy. A Sharn born human who is a bear of a man and the wielder of a runic greatsword. He has the rank of Lt.

Tardy's aspects:
Constant Soldier
Born in these Towers
Rather die by the sword, than live by the Forge (family are smiths)
Promoted in the Field
Rune-covered GreatSword
Compiles best armor from looted opponents, patchwork armor
belief: we are defined by our deeds.
(Jim was switching a couple around, so I don't have the entire list of 10)

Jeff plays Grendal, a warforged deserter. Grendal has been through the wringer in his origin stories/modules. He fled a battle early in his career and became the first warforged to develop "cowardice".
Contstantly vigilant
Fists of Stone
Mystical Test Subject
Chill Metal (as the d20 spell)
Stone Skin (as the d20 spell)


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We got the characters done in pretty short order and we decided to play. I was kinda beat from the weekend, but wanted to soldier on. It was a low key game, but fun for me... and I see some potential with this situation that I quite like.

I really do not know the setting, but relied on my years of experience of starting a game from just about nothing. And SotC does make things easier. As folks were spitting out Aspects for the PCs, I was taking notes during their Chargen.

I knew that I wanted to do something with a murder, the underworld coming to some friction over the murder... allowing Judd's Zeke to do some investigation.Also allowing Tardy’s Sharnborn background to come in, who has some stunts in that direction.

I knew that both Grendal and Tardy had strong opinions on slavery.... so I worked in a prostitute into the murder, although that was never really followed up on.

The adventure begins in a tavern. As it should. However, this is Cloak and Dagger, the Red Cloak's "cop bar". Zeke tries to hit on Sasha, the Drow proprietor, to hilarious results... he is very direct. Unfortunately, he never gets to walk her home, as the squad's revelry is interrupted by Zaya the runner and the message that Capt. Gordon has a murder to be investigated.

Seems that the Watch has been told off by the Underworld to not handle this one and it has fallen to the Red Cloaks to investigate. Blacky the Magnamous is dead in an alley. Blacky was well-liked by everyone in the Underworld, he was a fence, but in his way, honest, cheerful and sucessful.

As it starts to rain, the squad makes it was down to the alleys and warrens of the lower levels. Blacky is indeed dead, found by a couple of beggars, One Eye and Two Toes. Blacky does not have a mark on him. But he does have a trickle of a reddish liquid, the Crimson Charm... which is usually odorless... but this time there isn't.

Crimson Charm is a potent Charm Person potion.

Zeke has Stunts in Investigation and rolls out the ying yang with Grendal's assistance. Blacky was poisoned, he drank not only the Crimson Charm, but something else. Zeke takes a sample from Blacky's mouth (he has the Mysteries stunt and wants to do investigating at his "lab".).

Tardy interrogates the beggars (rolling spectacularly). Blacky has come into possesion of quite a bit of Crimson Charm potions. Which he was making a killing on. Seems they were becoming quite popular as a Sharn version of a rufie and making for date rape. Something that is not pleasant at all. And Blacky had a girl, one Embella, who was a lady of the night.... One Eye also smelled woman's perfume shortly before they heard Blacky flailing around the alley nearby.

Then Dukas shows up. Dukas is a Baromar enforcer (one of hte great crime organizations in Sharn). The cocky halfling jumps down into the crime scene, pissing off Tardy to no end. The two snarl at each other. But eventually, Dukas really wants to know who offed Blacky. He points a finger at Chondo, an enforcer for the Daask organization, who hated Blacky. Dukas even offers to help with financing the investigation. Zeke is interested, because he wants to buy flowers for Sasha, as he is learning these quaint courting rituals. Dukas gives him a name of a florist that will give Zeke the flowers 'as a favor'.

After a funny bit of waking up the poor florist, Zeke and Grendal investigate the liquid at the lab, while Tardy pokes around to confirm stories of Embella and Chondo. Tardy tracks down through various contacts, that Chondo really did have a beef with Blacky.. something about Blacky favoring his halfling cousins in the Boromar outfit. And Embella is around, they were lovers. Also, Blacky had another deal go south, badly. Seems Blacky came into a possession of a certain Silver Sword (the githyanki sword that Zeke had to pawn far from Sharn in order to live with some funds). Some mage was trying to buy it and it "disappeared" from both the mage and Blacky. The mage blamed Blacky.

Meanwhile, Zeke and Grendal make some shocking discoveries. There is a signature, sigil, in the potion. It is made with red flecked metal bits that carry the charm... and the sigil is identical to an apprentice who mystically enslaved Grendal to kill the apprentice's master (in Grendal's backstory). Agopolus was that apprentice. The sigil could be Agopolus's, the master's, other students of that master, but it is an odd coincidence.

The trio wants to go to the Blackend Book with their discovery. The Blackend Book is the mystical arm of the Sharn authorities, led by Lady Warden Maira ir Talan (1/2 elf, powerful family connection). Capt Gordon is on good terms with Talan, but the trio is already worried that the Book is involved.

Their worst fears are confirmed. Lady Warden Maira says all the right things, but her demeanor is that of arrogantly lying to the Red Cloaks. She even connects the mystic enslavement runes on Grendal to this "unfortunate situation". The trio is convinced that Agopolus is now a Blackend Book member...as the Book does keep their roster secret except for its leader.

...and that is where we left it. Jim had to get home. And it was a good stopping point. The questioning of Embella will happen next ep.


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Some notes, mechanics stuff.

One thing I stumbled into that I quite like, is that SotC doesn't have very delineated guidelines on how many Fate pts that the GM has to play with, or his NPCs have.

We batted it around, but then I lucked into the concept. Just use the levels of d20 characters. If someone was 4th level, then they get 4 Fate pts to play with.

Sharn's NPCs tend to be around 1-4th level anyway. Making their Fate expenditure fairly limited.

We never had combat, either social or physical, so the Fate pts were not being spent a lot.... mostly going to the players for cool ideas and good roleplaying.

But that will change.

Also, I dithered about the legality of charm potions/spells at the table. It came up and my answer was vague. After the game, I read some of the Sharn book, and the canon has a really nice take on it. Charm, Hold Person are legal. However, their USE is considered to be FRAUD! And Fraud is covered in the law enforcement section. I quite like that practically unenforceable, yet really frowned upon dichotomy.

I need to also take a look at some of the SotC plug-ins for fantasy games. How we are going to handle weapons and armor is still a bit vague in my mind. We could keep it loosy-goosy as it is in the Pulp vernacular of SotC... or we could get it a bit more specific, small weapons do +1 dmg, med weapons do +2 dmg, armor reduces dmg etc.

But overall, I'm really glad we are doing SotC to run the Eberron setting. I would despair trying to run the detail oriented d20 system. I like the dice mechanics and Aspects of SotC that allows for tons of interpertation and player driven shared narration.

I look forward to the next installment of the noirish Spirit of Sharn.


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Good stuff, Storn. I also find that using a guideline of "NPCs gain one fate point for each scene they show up in" is a pretty good one, but the D&D level one is a nice move. If they don't spend it, it rolls forward to the next one they show up in.

Dr. Halflight

Awaiting June 6th
Sounds like a great set up. I agree that Eberron is a great setting, but 3.X is just to heavy for my tastes these days. I hope the game keeps moving along.

Keep us posted!

On the weapon/armor front, this is my current favorite option & its by Mr. Balsera.


Or call me Judd
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I really had a good time playing Zeek and will post the character's stunts and skill choices later, if for not other reason so that we have them online to print out later if need be.

We also had two campaign Aspects:

Resurrection is available but at a price.


The Red Cloaks (referencing the magical protective quality of the red cloaks themselves and the organization)

Did we decide to go with the rougher damage system that Jim had mentioned? I can't recall the details but it sounded nifty and might grit up SotC a bit in a good way.

Zeek's a cool character. I'm totally scratching my Githyanki itch.

Jim DelRosso

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I had a great time, and I'm looking forward to playing this again. It was a blast at how well Tardy's high Contacting skill and I Know A Guy worked out for investigating the murder.

On the weapon/armor front, this is my current favorite option & its by Mr. Balsera.
Well, that's just plain sexy. Lot of mechanical fiddling potential, there.


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Resurrection is available but at a price.
Uh. On the Resurrection bit. Sharn is pretty specific in its canon about resurrection. Now, I have no problem going against the canon, but in this case, my vote is with the canon.

There is NO Resurrection in Sharn available. There are 4 very powerful and not-very-inclined individuals who can Raise Dead. That is it. Now what the differences between Raise Dead and REsurrection are in d20, I have not a clue. I haven't used either since D&D 1st ed.

So, I can be outvoted on this by you guys... but I have never liked Resurrection. I think it cheapens adventure and death and risk. I would be very happy to take it off the campaign Aspect list. And SotC is not a very lethal system (like L5R or something).


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On Weapons and Armor. I, too, have been thinking of the Balsera method over a flat +1-+3.

One of the minor consequences I could think of is HtH relative range, so Dagger guy gets inside of Battle Axe guy's range, therefore, BattleAxe loses a die off of his attack/defense. As well as having that free Tag of Aspect next round. Makes Intent stated during combat a little more juicy.

Small or light weapons: +1d
Med weapons 1h: +2d
2h Weapons: +3d

Armor to keep it easy, reduces Stress
Light: -1
Med: -2
Heavy or Fine: -3

I don't care for modifiers from armor towards stats and skills. Those trained to handle armor tend to do pretty well in it. But I would say that obtaining Heavy or Fine armor is an Ob 6 Resource check. And would take quite some time to fit. Its rare and expensive.

I would also say, and this won't affect the PCs directly, any weapon over small is probably frowned upon by the society of Sharn. I mean, officially in the canon, dueling is frowned upon... so what would you expect. Those with authority of course supercede this and being a Red Cloak means being a heavily armed merc as a matter of course and expectation.

Another thing in the canon that is kind of neat. ID papers are really, really important. And Red Cloaks have the authority to ask pretty much any civilian for their papers.

Jim DelRosso

Magnificent Bastard
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I like the relative distancing idea, but I'd prefer if we just used the existing maneuver system to handle it: make a Weapons or Athletics check to apply the "On the inside" Aspect, then take the free tag the next round for the +2 bonus, or tag it for effect to say, "You don't get that battle-axe's weapon bonus."

(If one were really crunch-minded, you could go to town with this: "Greatsword: +3d on attack, no bonus to defense, loses attack bonus if someone places the 'On The Inside' Aspect on the wielder. Dagger: +1d attack, +1d defense, if you place the 'On The Inside' Aspect on your opponent, your attack bonus jumps to +3d." Totally pulling those numbers outta my ass, of course. :))

As far as armor goes, I'm worried about how powerful it will be (and I'm saying that as someone who's character is decked out in heavy harness). Dropping 3 from each stress... that's major. I'm curious to see how it'll play out.
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