Storm & Shield

 

Storm&Shield LogoThe focus of the Warlock’s Journal contests at Tales of a GM is on the organisation Storm & Shield.

 

So what is Storm & Shield?

 

Scholars say that this group spans the dimensions, with a hand in every world. Elite, well-funded and highly organised, agents of Storm & Shield can be found almost anywhere, in any environment.

 

 

Prime & Nemesis

My first contest was run in November 2013. This determined the original Storm & Shield group, and the identity of their main enemy. The Prime winner was Arkmuth’s Enemies, by Ballofrabbit. The chosen nemesis was Oblivion Colours, by Matthew Pauze, which introduced Hanna Crip.

Arkmuth’s Enemies

When Arkmuth the Lich King’s plans in Daleport were spoiled, he scried to see what clues he could find. All he saw was devastation with a chalk message on the floor saying, “Defeated by storm & shield.”

That message was penned by Hammelech, a wizard with fighter training, and referred to his use of lightning bolts and shield. But Arkmuth assumed it was a multi-world conspiracy against him and searched far and wide for it. Eventually, people took on the name to identify themselves as Arkmuth’s enemies, turning themselves into what he believed already existed.

Oblivion Colours

Hanna Crip a powerful chronomancer was rejected from becoming a true member of Storm and Shield, due to her lack of morality. She began travelling the multiverse, claiming to be a member. However, this was a cover to seek out those that wished only oblivion to existence, and recruit them. Now Hanna and her allies are setting plans to bring about the end of all reality. All under the guise as Storm and Shield members.

 

Bricks & Mortar

The second contest, run in April 2014, established the locations for the two competing factions from Prime & Nemesis. The home of Arkmuth’s Enemies is The Planar City, by Vicente Cartas. The hideout for Hanna Crip is The Crystalline Husk, by Marques Jordan.

The Planar City

Arkmuth’s Enemies have had several bases during their long history, but over time they have been tracked and destroyed, or they have been rendered too small to be useful for the organization as their power has grown.

 

Their latest and final base, the Planar City is designed to overcome these two flaws. It’s an immense metropolis, with enough housing and other buildings to feel the needs of the whole organization. The problem is that a whole city is hard to hide and defend, but the Planar City is very special. Every building resides in a different dimension or plane, so to move between the different areas of the city a person needs to know which one is the correct dimension where they are placed.

 

This knowledge is strictly compartmentalized between the different ranks of the order on a need-to-know basis, and only the inner circle of leaders know the whole layout and location of the city. So far, this ultimate base has managed to thwart all attack attempts against it.

The Crystalline Husk

Hanna carved her fortress from the husk of a fallen foe. This behemoth crystalline creature did not share Ms. Crip’s vision of a multiverse brought to its knees, though it now serves the cause. Placed within a fissure in a decaying timestream, this fortress exists outside of traditional time and space. Within it lie hundreds of rooms dedicated to as many causes; Alchemical Gear & Devices, Chronomic Navigation & Cartography, Manless Clockwork Forges, Magi-Metallurgy R&D, Training Grounds with deadly obstacle courses, an Inter-dimensional Prison & Zoo, and even a vast Library housing the knowledge of dead worlds and civilizations, exist here.

 

Despite the organization’s one true goal, it realizes the only way to achieve something so large in scope is to do so bit by bit, worthless verse after verse. Missions and organizing clandestine operations are at the core of its infrastructure. Sewing lies, disrupting the activities of the S&S, fabricating events for the eyes of other groups or entities that may potentially oppose the S&S, and breeding chaos wherever possible, are all well rewarded perks of the job. In essence, all aspects of the fortress exist to realize this singular focus and goal.

 

The Inner Council

Contest number three was run October 2014. The contest focused on Storm & Shield Prime’s ruling Inner Council. Entrants created members of that illustrious body, while voting determined who was elected the new leader. The result was a victory for Tessa Starwind, created by Vicki Potter.

 

Tessa Starwind

Tessa Starwind has been the primary Co-ordinator of Communications for several years. It is her responsibility to continue to find ways to keep in touch with all the organization’s widely separated groups. Before she was selected to the Council, she had already travelled to visit the Storm & Shield units in as many dimensions as she could reach, to learn about their distinctions and needs in person. After being named to the Council she was able to use its resources to visit the organization in many more places. (In addition to believing such in-person visits are very important, Tessa does love to travel.) She respects the history of Storm & Shield, but believes the organization needs to keep looking and moving forward to meet its goals.

 

Having also done recruitment, Tessa Starwind purposely stays aware of feelings about the organization across many dimensions. She is severely concerned that Hanna Crip will tarnish the good name of Storm & Shield. Ms. Starwind believes dealing with Crip should be a top priority, especially now that Crip apparently moved directly against the Council’s leader.

 

Ms. Starwind is on the short side of average and is fairly slender, with a round face and green eyes. She keeps her long black hair smooth and confined when in Council, but lets it free when she is in the field. Inside the Council’s offices she dresses in close-fitting, businesslike outfits. Elsewhere in the Planar City, though, Tessa dresses in nondescript plain-coloured outfits (usually blue) that fit in well in most of the dimensions occupied by Storm & Shield’s sprawling base. After joining the Council she made it a point to learn her way around all the parts of the Planar City and now has personal contacts throughout its offices and areas.

 

 

Cosmic Crisis

My fourth contest was run in April 2015. This considered the issues faced by the newly-elected Tessa Starwind. Voting decided that the latest plot by archenemy Hanna Crip was False Goddess, by Emil Vahlgren.

 

False Goddess

“Presented in humble admiration for the consideration of our beloved Dame Crip of The Crystaline Husk, She-Who-Lords-Over-Shadows-Unknown and Seer of the Black Sea of Infinity.

 

“My council has been requested in the matter of usurping of the hated Starwind from The Known and I am tremendously honoured to be thought so worthy.

 

“The Known consists of many worlds that exist in unison within the shattered multiverse and all are key to the balance Storm and Shield so desperately desire. It is my suggestion that we focus on one of these worlds in full, for should one crumble, all will follow into the hole of existence left in its wake.

 

“I speak more specifically of the world of Adamantia, where magic is strong enough to support a good portion of your power to be unleashed. I say that we usurp not only the world, but the hearts of its peoples. Enter yourself, Vibrant Lady, as a new deity of this world of troubles where king slays king for the sake of land. WE, of your court, will spread misinformation among the warring Lordships so your glory might be unrivalled by whatever insignificant pantheon might stand before you. You shall be named Queen of Gods, and there shall be no question of your love. But this love will be fleeting. To every king a different lie will be whispered so as to further fuel the wars, pretend to favour each one and they shall all perish for your glory.

 

“We shall also spread further discord by the way of tales that discredit the hated Starwind as the Queen of Shadow and by doing so limit the influence of her Storming Shields to a minimum.

 

“Your Deification, Great Dame, shall be my pleasure to orchestrate.”

-Grand Councillor Eductus of Crystaline Husk

 

Galactic Gadgets

Contest number five was run in October 2015. This explored the types of gadgets used by the elite agents of Storm & Shield. Our fifth round of voting established the iconic gadget as the Axiom Sensor, created by Dominick Riesland, aka Rabbitball.

 

Axiom Sensor

The easiest way to spot an agent of Storm and Shield or another similar agency is to notice him or her using a power from another world. This has led to exposing agents before they were able to complete their mission, costing valuable time and resources.

 

The Axiom Sensor is a small device usually set into a gem and placed on top of a walking stick to avoid suspicion. It is imbued with magical, psionic, and religious enchantments.

 

It only takes an hour for it to attune to any given world. Once that is complete, the agent knows the relative usage of magical, psionic, and spiritual energy within the world. From this, it is possible to guess the probable tools of that type available in that world, providing an estimate of what the agent is likely to face and minimizing the chances of using an obviously alien power.

 

The name comes from the fact that most people consider the relative usage of these energies to be an inherent part of the reality of the world. They are like mathematical axioms which are assumed to be true (and verified by outside observation) and from them, judgements are made about what is possible and impossible within the world. Since most powers follow a progression from simpler to more complex, knowing the relative usage is often a reliable indicator of which powers are likely to be in use.

 

It is necessary to keep the Axiom Sensor with every agent, because Axiom levels can change over time. Religious persecution may lower the reliance on miracles, while a magic renaissance may increase the number and potency of spells available to friends and foes.

 

 

Agents of Order

Contest number six was run in March 2016. This presented a selection of the elite agents of Storm & Shield. Our sixth round of voting established Agent Beetle as chosen operative to thwart Crip’s plot on Admantia. Beetle was introduced to us by Simon Nading.

 

Beetle

Ha! “Elite,” you say? Hardly. Beetle is just Starwind’s lapdog. He hasn’t been in a fight since he was in nappies. Knows he’d lose.

 

No, this coward prefers trading lies for information. Spreads rumors by claiming it’s secrets, trading it for some tidbit of facts that actually matter. He’s handy for figuring out where a buncha cultists are tucked away, but someone else’ll have to clean ’em up. Starwind coddles him, too.

 

Ever Greenport, at least. He was one a few sent in for recon. Only one to make it back. A couple others found out where the enemies had holed up, left messages in dead drops. Only Beetle says it’s a trap. Couldn’t prove it, didn’t even mention it ’til after we got the drops.

 

Now Tessa, it was one of her first commands, and mosta us thought she was too young. So when she gambles and sides with Beetle, a group decided to prove her wrong. Eight good fighters, and not one made it out. Course, she doesn’t see that the full force coulda taken care of things, had a few prisoners to interrogate, no. She sees it as Beetle was right.

 

We spent months trying to find another lead before getting another chance like that, thanks to that scrawny weasel. No, Beetle ain’t what I’d call elite, but that’s just my opinion.

 

 

Versatile Vehicles

Contest number seven was run in November 2016. This presented a selection of the cool, gadget-filled vehicles used by agents of Storm & Shield. The seventh round of voting established the iconic vehicle as the Volga Class Transports, by Ben Stone.

 

Volga Class Transports

When the agents of Storm and Shield need to travel on worlds where they are in danger of encountering enemies (being most of the worlds they find themselves on) they need to travel inconspicuously and with great speed.  The vehicles they employ are classified Volga Class transports and they rely on their capabilities of ‘transforming’ into numerous appearances while also utilizing any mode of travel necessary for the job at hand.

 

Unlike more fanciful tales of spies told through the worlds, agents of the Storm and Shield do not travel in vehicles with the appearance of high class and great expense.  Instead, the Volga class transports move on land, in air and water, through the vacuum of space and even through other dimensions with stealth and speed, but they do so with the look of old and outdated vehicles.  A rusty car, a dirt encrusted tug boat or an old beaten up interplanetary transport ship could all be deceptive in their appearance and actually hold spies of the most secretive nature in the universe.

 

Concentrating on both magical and scientific masking technology, Volga Class transports are conspicuously light on both armour and armaments. Instead these vessels provide the agents of Storm and Shield with the means to get from Point A to Point B as quietly and quickly as possible. The rest is up to them

 

 

Further Reading

 

Most of the finished Contest pdfs can be found on my DriveThruRPG page [affiliate link].

 

Thank you for your interest in Storm & Shield.

 

All the best

Phil