Wednesday, May 28, 2008

What Gaming Should Be About

Preface: The following is part of a forum I came across accidentally back in January. The subject was about the problem of a particular gaming session directly related to the imbalance of power among classes at lower levels (Something I of course disagree with by the way). The part in quotations is what started the forum. The second part without quotations is the awesome reply.

I think it best reflects what makes tabletop gaming worthwhile and highlights exactly how the original poster seems to miss the point about roleplaying entirely. It also reminds me of our campaign that we played at the house on Sherwood. Everyone talks about all the incredible and crazy things that went on but not a one of us can remember what level we were when that campaign came to halt or what magic items everybody had.

Anyway, here it is:

"All the players around the table deserve to have equal amounts of fun. It's no fun to have the player of a low-level mage being bored at low levels 'cause he only has one stinkin' spell to cast. It's no fun to have your high-level fighter overshadowed by a mage that can deal hundreds of times more damage than he can in a single round."

I think these lines point at something significant, the conception that fun is based strictly on the numeric-rated battlepower of each character. If your group is really ROLE-playing, it hardly matters how powerful the characters are, because it's all acting. If your novice mage's one spell is shot, he and his player can still be doing things. He (they) can still participate in creating the scene, making everyone visualize it. The point of the game, in its heyday and at its best, was a kind of collective mental improvisational theater. When it's really ON, the scene you're describing doesn't even need to be particularly "exciting," in itself, it can still come alive with incredible vividness. I still recall a particular session of a game I ran in the spring of 1988, in which, after many trials and tribulations, a group of characters had finally achieved their objective in one town of my fantasy world. They gathered their gear, and saddled up to ride across the rolling plains to a new destination, of which some enticing rumor had been heard. At this point in this particular game session, the five of us (myself running the game and my four buddies playing) had been going pretty hard. We'd been immersed in this other world, these other lives, for several real-time hours, almost continuously. Maybe there was a little sleep-deprivation factor altering our perception. Or maybe it was more like the sense of suspension you have in a movie theater, when you're well into a long, compelling film, and the outside world is forgotten. Of course this was a world, and characters, we had all come to know well over the course of a dozen previous sessions. The players knew that in my world they didn't just say, "We ride to Westhold," rather, they described their provisioning, the distribution of their equipment among the steeds and the pack horse, the riding formation designed to protect the physically-weaker (but valued) wizard from mishap. I had planned some sort of "encounter" for the party along the way to their intended destination, and as a lead-in to it I was describing the wind blowing across the plains, the low grassy hill their horses were cresting, the sight of a dark stand of trees on a river bank below the hill. And at THAT moment--before the "encounter" had begun--one of my buddies stood up, grinning, gesturing, saying "Wow, this is so great. Wow, can't you see it?" He was momentarily overcome with the intensity of the vision, the scene, that we had all created together. The REALITY of it, built up through all the previous sessions, the hours this night, the detailed descriptions of setting and backstory by me, and "on-camera" protagonist motivation and action by them...IT had crested at the top of that little grassy hill, too. We all sort of knew what he meant, because we had been "seeing" it too. It was like a waking dream. I think we took a break at that point, and emerged into the sunlight outside the theater of our minds. Maybe we polished off the pizza, marveled at how freakin' great this game was, and called it a night. I don't know. But it didn't have a damn thing to do with what "level" anybody was.

END

Let me know what you think about this- DM.

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Behrogar's Sunset

They were coming, it wouldn’t be long now.


Behrogar paced in front of the massive iron door at the rear of his lair. The one he’d tried to open ever since childhood, the one that neither he, nor anyone else for that matter had ever successfully opened, the same one that he in recent weeks didn’t even see anymore. It didn’t even exist to him, although it was right there, only feet away.


The only thing that existed to Behrogar these last weeks was his rage. He couldn’t focus it, but it was there. Enhanced by the Stranger and stronger with every meeting with him but he knew it didn’t originate with the Stranger. No it came from somewhere else. Somewhere deep inside of his soul, somewhere no one dared to look. Somewhere most people didn’t even believe existed in men like Behrogar.


Oh, but it was there. It was inside of him and inside this room and everywhere in between… If he could only focus it. Ah, Gods be damned! It was hard to think these days. Now, with these damned intruders, coming nearer with each passing second it was impossible.


Focus Behrogar.


The girl. Yes, the girl, Anna, the one who spurned him for that outsider. The enemy himself. The son of the leader of the enemy, no less. Didn’t it always start with a woman? Yes, of course it did.
She loved him once, at least he thought she did. Behrogar, even in his befuddled state was certain that he had loved her, still did in fact. Wasn’t that what this was really about?


No. It was the Stranger’s idea. He wants me to do it. Swears no real harm will come to her. It will be swift, painless and then she will be good as new. As though nothing ever happened. Besides even if there is pain, she’s a witch right? That’s what he said, “a witch deserves pain”. Do not let the fact that you lust for this witch cloud your judgment Behrogar, he said. Besides, he continued, she’ll never lie with you again, she lies with that McDunugh! You are no concern of hers. She was always going to end up with a man of higher standing anyway. You are beneath her in their eyes. You are doing this for the glory of your tribe boy, be strong. Be a warrior.


Be strong, yes that helps the focus. Be strong. Focus on that: Strength.


“Behrogar!” Anna screamed from the floor, lying in front of the invisible iron door upon what seemed like an endless flow of silken pillows of various pastel colors. She was bound at the hands and feet with rope. He couldn’t bring himself to gag her.


“Behrogar stop this! My father’s men will be here in minutes. They will kill you. They will kill the rest of your men.” She screamed. “Untie me, let me try and heal your wounded mind…”
“Shut up!” He yelled. “Keep your witchery, I can take care of myself.”
“But,”
“Enough, I’ll not hear anymore from you witch! You confuse me further with each breath. One more word and I’ll…” He looked away from her without finishing the sentence.


The approaching sound of the intruders was becoming ever louder. They were just around the corner now. Less than a hundred feet maybe.


Behrogar looked toward the three remaining men at his disposal, with one hand he waved toward them and they marched quickly toward the opposite end of the lair. Toward the narrow corridor that would lead them to the intruders (he thought there were four or five of them), that had killed so many of his men to this point. “Kill them! Do it quickly.” He yelled as they moved away from him. These last three were his strongest, most competent warriors but inside Behrogar knew they would fall like the rest. Piter had sent men before. Behrogar and his lot had turned them all away with ease but this time Piter had sent his best barbarian tribesmen, probably his own sons led by that whelp, Ryan. Behrogar thought that at least maybe he could kill Ryan before his own time would come, that would bring him sweet release before meeting death in the glory of battle.


This fantasy left him as, after less than a minute the clang of swords could no longer be heard and instead was replaced by the heavy footfalls of boot upon stone. He knew his men had fallen. The sound of the footsteps was deliberate, careful, stalking, waiting for the ambush they thought might be coming. The footsteps of his men would sound quick, triumphant. There would be no hesitation. The intruders had won. They were coming to finish the job. They were coming for Anna, and for Behrogar.


He drew his great sword, the weight of it felt good in his hands, he felt secure, he felt purpose. His head cleared for the first time in ages. He closed his eyes and waited.


The first one through the corridor was not as he expected. In fact, he did not believe this one to be a man at all. Perhaps half-man, but the other half was clearly beast. Orc perhaps, clearly though he was a barbarian. Make no mistake about that, Behrogar would be fighting one of his own in some strange way. The other two who followed close behind were obviously not human, and had no part of a human in either of them. No, Behrogar knew them to be elves. He’d never seen elves, but had heard Fengis tell enough stories about them to recognize them on sight. They were distinctly different from one another in appearance, one of them pale and sophisticated looking, the other deeply tanned and wild. The tanned one had a wolf at his side. The second one, the pale one, had a bow in his hand, he kneeled in the doorway and nocked an arrow. Behrogar awaited the rest of Piter’s men through the door, when no more came he laughed to himself. Two elves and half a man? The idea was ludicrous. He forgot about this quickly as the battle-rage began to swell inside of him.


The barbarian half-man attacked first, raising a great sword he wielded with ease. He brought it down upon the skilled Behrogar who deftly turned the blade away. Behrogar raised his own sword with both hands slashing violently, a wicked sneer crossed his lips, exposing gritted yellow teeth between his tousled black beard. His blade struck true, blood gushed from the shoulder wound that Behrogar’s sword had opened up. The half-man’s face lit up in surprise and agony, his already apparent battle-rage increasing in verocity. The mad, twisted expression of his enemy’s face solidified what Behrogar already suspected: This half-man was indeed half-orc. He’d killed enough orcs in the Pinefore, seen the same wild, animal-like expression on those he ran through as he now saw on the one before him. He was a barbarian, but an abomination. An insult to the gods themselves.


Behrogar pulled his sword from the wound not expecting his barbarian brethren to succumb so easily and heard an arrow whizz by his ear, he knew it came from the kneeling elf and hoped his next strike would befall the half-man, suspecting he would not be so lucky to experience a second miss from the elf’s bow. Behrogar stole a look away from the half-orc and saw the second elf approach behind, attempting to flank. Feigning ignorance of the second elf’s presence, Behrogar waited, deftly dodged a desperate attack from the badly wounded barbarian and kicked at the half-orc, landing the blow just above the right kneecap knocking him backward a step. This gave Behrogar an open shot and he took this opportunity to attack, now able to reach the sneaking elf.


Behrogar swung hard horizontally after his kicking foot touched ground, knowing before striking that his sword would bite elven flesh, and it did. It slashed the bark armor the elf wore tearing the tanned flesh beneath, shearing a foot wide gash across his chest. The elf sprayed blood toward his attacker, a look of horror and disbelief came over his face as he stumbled away. Backing harmlessly toward the far wall near the opening they’d just come through. Behrogar relished this blow too long, watching the elf’s agony he’d forgotten momentarily about his initial attacker; the half-orc had recovered from the shot to the knee and had thrusted his sword. Behrogar hadn’t realized this until he felt cold steel penetrate his armor of cured bear-hide.


The half-orc had lunged at him, piercing the hide armor just below his left shoulder, the wound was deep and Behrogar knew it. He backed away a step, loosening the sword’s grip on his chest, then swung, with one mighty hand, upward with his own sword, completely dislodging it, but widening the gash in the process. Impressed by the show of both strength and will the half-orc hesitated and Behrogar used the momentum from his upward swing to grab the pommel with his free hand and bring the now falling sword down upon his enemy’s head.


The pommel-end of the sword struck the half-orc in the face, opening a gash over his left eyebrow, both combatants were surprised at how quickly the eye socket filled with blood. Stunned, the half-orc backed away again and Behrogar felt euphoric, hope filled his glazed eyes as he thought he might actually stand a chance, outnumbered as he was in these seemingly hopeless odds.


He heard a second arrow fly by and strike the wall to his right, shattering into splinters. Yes, he dared continue to think, there might be a chance here. The half-orc recovered and surged forward again, blood ran down one side of his face and the front of his torso. Behrogar thought for a moment about how valuable this half-orc could've been to him. What a brave and valiant, if not terribly bright to keep coming forward like this, warrior this half-man was indeed.



Behrogar sidestepped and undercut his massive sword to deflect away the attack of the half-orc. Sparks flew from the clanging steel and pain laced through Behrogar's arm from where the half-orc had wounded him. Overbalanced now as the half-orc was, Behrogar knew his recovery time would be slow. He used his position, with his sword low and on the inside of his enemies defense to thrust upward. The half-orc attempted to dodge but could not, Behrogar's sword penetrated underneath the lower half of his armor and tore through the flesh of his abdomen. The upward momentum of the sword coupled with the half-orc's forward motion carried the blade deep within his chest cavity beneath his rib cage. The half-orc could feel cold steel inside of him. Both men knew the blow to be fatal. Blood filled the half-orcs mouth and oozed out at the corner of his lips. His eyes, at first wide with surprise and pain, faded quickly, rolling into the back of his head as all life began to leave them. Behrogar pulled the sword away and the half-orc fell limply to the side, only a few feet from Anna, who had risen to her knees to plead with Behrogar.



"Behrogar, no!" she screamed as she watched the half-orc fall in front of her, just off the pile of ridiculously out of place pillows. His front side faced her just slightly, she could see the blood pooling beneath his face and midsection. Without thinking, she crawled to the half-orc's side, unnoticed by Behrogar who had turned his attention to the refocused elf who had regained his composure and began to return to the fight. Anna lay her hands upon the back of the half-orc upon reaching him, closed her eyes, and prayed to Alahnna that her would-be rescuer be restored, if it weren't already too late.



The wild elf raised a sword, not daring even a stolen glance at his fallen comrade. The slightest pang of grief touched his face, so slight in fact that Behrogar didn't even notice it. Behrogar raised his own sword in anticipation and both swords clanged harmlessly together. Behrogar winced as his wounded shoulder reminded him of his just-defeated adversary.



Seeing an opening as the wild elf was forced back a step by the weight of Behrogars sword the pale elf loosed another arrow. This one struck true, punching through the bear hide armor and thudding into the flesh of Behrogar's left breast, just beneath the wound the half-orc had opened up. Behind him, as he stumbled back a half-step, though no one noticed, Anna became engulfed momentarily in a halo of light. Peace and calm flowed through her body as the energy within her transferred from her soul to her arms, through her hands and into the fallen rescuer. The pale, yellow glow engulfed the whole of the half-orc at first, then a second later flowed to the wounded areas of his body. Although she could not see it, Anna could sense the wounds closing, could feel his heartbeat grow rapid. She knew he would rise. She knew he would live.



Steadying himself, Behrogar could tell that the wild elf knew he was outmatched, but he moved forward again anyway. Having the pale one firing arrows from the open doorway at him gave the wild elf a distinct advantage though, and Behrogar knew he had to make quick work of the wild one if he were to survive this. Curiously Behrogar glanced at the wound he had opened earlier on the wild elf, saw it to be completely closed, only a pink, foot long scar remained.



More witchery, Behrogar thought to himself. No wonder they're here. They're witches like her! It didn't explain the half-orc barbarian though, perhaps he was their slave? No matter, the two met each other again with steel, Behrogar's wounds evening the odds though he did his best to ignore the sting of the elf's arrow, their swords clashed several times, neither gaining an advantage for several seconds. The elf, growing more confident, attempted to slide to his left, giving his arrow-slinging ally an open shot at the wounded barbarian, however lessening the chance of his own successful retreat if he were to sustain another life-threatening blow.

Another arrow from the pale elf thudded into the barbarians thigh. Behrogar chanced a look at the wound and the tanned elf struck. He lunged forward with his longsword, Behrogar attempted to beat it away but was too slow, the blood loss he had experienced to this point taking its toll. The longsword punched through his armor just left of his sternum, the wound wasn't deep but all hope at that time left Behrogar as he knew he no longer had the strength to defeat these intruders. No, he thought to himself they would take their witch back this day.

In desperation Behrogar slashed at the elf as he pulled the sword from Behrogar's midsection. The blade did not strike flesh but the force of the blow knocked the elf backwards, crashing to the granite floor. Behrogar raised his sword to finish the elf, but heard him speak a word in what must have been the language of the elves. As he lay on his back the elf raised a finger, pointed it toward Behrogar and repeated the word. Behrogar saw with horror the wolf, who until this point had remained near the doorway, seemingly protecting the pale elf, burst forward scaling the short distance of twenty or so feet in a blue-gray blur. The wolf jumped at Behrogar, teeth bared and gnashing at his throat, Behrogar dropped his sword and raised both hands to catch the wolf which he did successfully. He kept the wolf away from his face and tossed the heavy beast aside into the near wall, however the momentum of the wolf's onrush took the now unarmed barbarian to the floor. As he fell, he did not see, as his enemies did, the half-orc rise behind him.

Anna scampered backward as Behrogar nearly fell into the space she occupied. In wonder of her own power she looked in awe as the half-orc, whom she seemingly brought back from certain death rose deliberately, his own sword in hand. Behrogar recovered quickly, came to one knee and reached for his sword only a few feet in front of him. He took it in one hand and stood. Watching the tanned elf rise himself several feet in front of him, he put his other hand to his sword, expecting to meet the tanned elf again in mortal combat he was surprised when the elf did not move forward. In fact he noticed that the elf was no longer looking at him, instead, he seemed to look through him. He glanced at the pale elf near the door, he too had ceased his attack, his bow hung limply, held below the knee in his left hand, no arrow in his right. Behrogar noticed that he too seemed to no longer focus on him, instead seemed to look, in mild wonder, behind him.

Behrogar saw the blade before he felt the pain of it as its tip punched through his sternum. For a split second, before he lost all feeling below his chest he felt the severing of his spine. Pain at first, followed by tingling numbness, followed by nothing at all. Realizing too late, now upon his last moments that the half-orc had risen behind him thrusting his sword into his back and out the front of his chest. The tip of the blade, (at the end of the half-orc's attack nearly a foot of it exposed and visible by the barbarian) disappeared as quickly as it had come into view as it was pulled away. Behrogar half-spun as the blade was pulled free, helpless as he was now paralyzed from the chest down, faced the half-orc for barely a moment before he fell forward, crashing down violently upon the pile of pillows that did not belong. He looked helplessly into the eyes of Anna and felt fortunate that the pillows were there to break his fall. Peacefully, Behrogar slipped the grasp of mortality as his life fell away from him, he saw Anna's eyes well with tears and this made him happy. Though his last days with her had brought her much terror she still felt remorse at his passing. Behrogar loved her, as much now as the day he first saw her. He imagined he would love her long after he passed on to Valhalla. Behrogar hoped his pyre would burn bright enough for all who knew and feared him to see. He hoped Anna would be there when he burned, hoped she would weep there as well.

He smiled and closed his eyes a final time.


Realization

It was not really a strange feeling that he had, it was more that it was strange that he felt it. It manifested itself as a large lump in his throat that he continually choked back, fighting to hold his uncaring expression. The heat was searing his face and wisps of steam rose up off his cloak and boots where snow once clung. Ademar stood there with his companion Cor'Nal and a few locals at the edge of a hamlet known as Snoam-Schlabach.

They stood there in silence each honoring a fallen warrior in their own way. Cor'Nal chanted quietly to Kutenai, prayers to help his comrade rejoin the earth from which he had come. Some of the townsfolk offered prayers also, most of which went out to Tempest, bidding him to welcome the brave warrior Vrock into his hall to be honored for all time. Ademar had no prayer to offer, his gods were those of the Tel'Quessir, "The People", the elves. It would offend his deities if he offered prayer for an orc, even a half blood such as Vrock.

So he stood there in silence as the snow melted around him and Vrock's funeral pyre burned bright against the growing gloom of the evening. He continued to struggle with not what he felt, but why he felt as if he had lost a friend. He had never shown any love for Vrock son of Grock. He had rarely even spoken to him yet, he seemed to have made some connection to the brute. The half orc had served Cor'Nal and himself as if they were his masters never questioning anything they might tell him and always brushing off their barbed comments. He had even laid his life in front of them several times in their short history. Was it guilt? No, they had treated him better than most would have, he was their companion not their slave. What then? He was met with no answers, just the crackling of the burning pyre and the low moaning of the cold wind through the pines.

Though he tried for a very long time to rationalize why he should not feel loss for a dim-witted half orc who thought he would single handedly kill a great white bear, the fact remained that the lump was still in his throat. Slim elven shoulders heaved with his sigh of resignation. So it was also that he had lost another whom had grown close to his heart. Though he would deny it publicly, he already longed to hear just one more ridiculous, ill-timed comment from the brute. Deep beneath the cowl of his cloak Ademars' green eyes grew damp.

A voice broke his contemplation. "Come my friend," Cor'Nal said, "let us get back to the warmth of Magdas’ tavern."
Ademar realized just then that the pyre had burned down to smoldering coals and he and Cor'Nal were the only ones left standing in the cold winter night. He shivered as the wind kicked up around them and bobbed his head in agreement as they turned back to the town. There would be many flagons lifted in toasts this night, toasts to his lost friend, Vrock son of Grock, Killer of giant snakes, Bane of frobolds, Terror of white bear, and Rescuer of a princess.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Just a few things...

I polled earlier this week about whether or not you guys, of course meaning the three men in our gaming group other than myself, had a problem with outsiders reading our blog. The reason I asked is because our site is currently set up so that any schmoe who comes across it can read to their hearts content. If that doesn't bother anybody, good. Aside from my irrational fear of other A-holes stealing my ideas, I have no problem with it being public but I will go with what the majority has to say. I only know of a couple people interested outside of our group. One of them is my wife, whom you all know, and the other is my lovely and talented supervisor: She who finds me many miniatures. She likes to hear stories about our gaming sessions and reading this blog will be yet another way that she can live vicariously through your adventures in Snoam-Schlabach and beyond. I will encourage her to leave posts telling us how awesome we are when we leave materials on the site if you have no problem with "regular folk" reading our humble blog.

Let me know what you think.

Oh and message to Cor'Nal and Patch. Leave a message at the bottom of a post or something will ya? Just want to make sure you're hip to the blog.

Thanks,

DM

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

A Short History of Ademar Nightwalker

Ademar began his life as any young elf, with care-free days in the deep and secluded wood of his ancestors. While not engaging in merriment, he would study reading, writing, and art tutored by his parents Yhelestia and Celebrimbor Helyanwë. As he grew older, his studies shifted into the skills needed to survive outside the protection of the forest. He learned of the arcane and divine arts as well as sword play and archery, the latter of which he took enthusiastically to. Although his family was of no small means, he became fascinated by objects of gold and gemstone, hunting tirelessly in old tomes for clues to lost riches. Increasingly obsessed by the lure of things which were not his began to wear on those around him, creating tension and unrest within his family.

Sensing that their son was becoming an unwanted distraction to the community, his father Celebrimbor, arranged for him to become an apprentice to a jeweler, hoping that such proximity to gems and precious metals would satisfy his son's appetite. Deedra Garnet, an industrious, human woman in the twilight of her life, ran a prosperous boutique in a larger city far beyond the shadows of Ademar’s home forest. She was a trusted friend of the Helyanwë family and gladly took in their son. For many years Deedra taught the young Ademar not only the trade of cutting precious stones and working fine metals, but also of the wider world beyond the elven forests. For a while this new learning experience satisfied the young elf's hunger for treasures but it would not last.

Ademar began wandering the streets, exploring and experiencing the city around him. It was not long before he was befriended by Kendrick Cwik, a silver-tongued rogue who had been watching Deedra's apprentice for quite some time, waiting for the right oppertunity. Over several months, it became customary for Kendrick to meet Ademar in the evenings for a few drinks at the tavern followed by various stories of Kendrick's wild adventures past. Before too long, the naive Ademar was running beside Kendrick in the night, along the rooftops and down dark alleys. The young elf was ensnared by the freedom of the night and the rush of adventure. Kendrick always assured Ademar that the goods they procured were stolen by thieves, and they were on missions to retrieve them for return to the rightful owners.

One fateful night the target became Deedra Garnet's shop. The brash Kendrick believed Ademar to be fully in his sway, brought them right inside the back door of the boutique. When Ademar refused to continue Kendrick attempted to complete his theft despite the elf’s interference. A struggle quickly broke out between the two which roused Deedra. She rushed into the fray in an attempt to halt the assault on her charge, but it was not to be. Kendrick Cwik, disengaged from Ademar and bull rushed the old woman knocking her and her oil filled lantern to the floor, and ran fast for the door. Ademar rushed in pursuit but soon lost the rogue in the winding city streets. Upon his return to Deedra's shop he found the building ablaze. He rushed inside, but could not make it to the fallen woman. Engulfed by the flames himself, he staggered back into the street and fell into a nearby trough to extinguish himself. He tried several times to reach the old woman but was repeatedly beaten back by the flames. When others arrived to put water on the blaze, Ademar retreated into the dark streets, afraid that he would be blamed for the tragedy.

Anger, shame and fear drove the young elf away from the city with a blood oath on his lips. Kendrick Cwik became a marked man that night. Bearing burn scars on his arms and face, Ademar ran through the night, hiding and resting during the day only to continue running at night. For several weeks he continued like this, relying on his rogue skills (the same skills that had brought this disaster upon him) to continue his journey. Venturing near civilization only out of necessity, he continued on a path north and east, away from the city, and far away from his people. With the weight of Deedra's death heavy on his shoulders he could not return to his family. Not wanting to tarnish the Helyanwë name, he began using Nightwalker as his surname with any who would ask.

One morning in an unknown forest Ademar was roused by a druid, who turned out to be Cor’Nal, a distant acquaintance from his homeland. Unwilling to give truthful information as to his trek, Ademar fabricated a story about wanting to "see the world" to explain being so far from home. Seemingly satisfied with that tale, Cor’Nal offered to travel with him.

The pair continued on traveling north when they stumbled upon a confused half-orc, lost in the forest. After much debate, they approached the beast, attempting to discern his motivation. Although dim-witted, the half-orc Vrock, was extremely gifted physically and offered no resistance to the elven pair in their questioning. Vrock only wanted out of the woods and the elves saw an opportunity to add a measure of protection to their small party. Now a trio, the group pressed out of the deep forests and onto well traveled roads moving more easily on their journey north.

Now, with traveling companions at his side occupying his thoughts, Ademars' drive for riches and comfort have slowly returned. Although usually distracted by day to day travel and events, he refuses to let his inner rage toward Kendrick Cwik burn out. Ademar fully intends to return to the city and have his revenge. Blood oaths are not made lightly.


-Written by Erich Schudlich

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Physical Description: Very thin and standing only 5' tall, Ademar is not an imposing physical individual. He dresses in rugged, well traveled clothes which are often dusty and mud splattered from long days on the road. A long black cloak covers his dark leather armor and conceals his long sword and daggers. He is often seen with a bow slung over his shoulder, his most used weapon. Deep beneath his cowl hides a face scarred by fire which rarely sees the sunlight. Piercing green eyes peer out from the shadows of his cowl, watching everything around him. Although never seen, Ademars' copper hair is long but kept tied and out of the way. Few people approach the secretive elf and fewer still would trust him. His scarred face and hands often cause those who see it to turn away in disgust. Because of this, he tends to keep to himself and attempts to blend into the background.

Companions: Vrock, son of Grock, Killer of giant snakes, Bane of frobolds, Terror of white bear, Rescuer of princess. (Now deceased), the elven druid Cor’Nal Utharo and newly acquainted Patch, Dwarven Barbarian fighter-rogue

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

The Final Chapter on the Book of Snoam-Schlabach?

A cliffhanger ending to our most recent session leaves us three weeks to contemplate the fate of Anna McDunugh. It also gives PC's with cell phones the ability to discuss the "Perfect Strategy" that they could attempt in game before we next sit down to play. Its all good, I encourage it. Please, see if you can satisfy your greed (assisting Fengis through The Laandsraad for gold) and your lust for glory (rescuing the chieftains' daughter yet again) doing both. Hell, why not send the wolf to open the sealed door at the Olde Snoam Mine?

I digress before I even really begin: Last session wasn't bad, a little slow, but a lot happened (just not many battles (one?)). I personally was expecting more after the breakneck pace and action of the session before. When the hag was cornered and her wood golem thoroughly trashed by the axe of Patch! Oh well, I blame the sealed door "carrot" I left in the Olde Snoam Mine, probably should have waited until you were more appropriate level to leave something like that lying around. Truthfully, it was originally a device I wanted to use to keep Ademar interested in staying near Snoam-Schlabach, as guild-joining and pick-pocketing opportunities weren't going to be coming from there.

To say the obvious, a little too much time was spent trying to get into a room you weren't supposed to access just yet. But leave it to intelligent PC's to ruin a DM's best laid plans and finding a way in there anyway. Keep keeping me on my toes guys. Its how I stay sharp.

Speaking of staying sharp... How about old Willis McDunugh showing up to drag away our new friend "Hobo" Ray? I'm glad I decided to put Ray in there. Gave me a perfect chance to give you the news in town. I actually didn't believe it would make a difference, but I got lucky.

Recap time: As stated earlier you traveled to the Olde Snoam Mine, inspected the already-been-looted areas to discover "Hobo" Ray in the hidey-hole. He was tired, drunk and stinky but that didn't deter you from grilling him about the "Iron Door". He didn't know much, but thought it might've been a tomb of MacBrady ancestors. Could've been rumor, he says. He conned seven silver out of you for the info though. Then you went to the "Iron Door", spent several hours trying to find a way in. Cor'Nal used a spell to turn the granite on the left side of the door to soft clay. You used a maul and the sharpened end of a staff to create a peep-hole. You peeped an ornate, narrow corridor covered in spider webs. Cor'Nal cast a Flaming Sphere that annhiliated the webs but that was all you would see until Cor'Nal turned himself into a snake and slithered into said peep hole to see... not much else. Then you heard Willis attempting to bum-nap "Hobo" Ray and away to town you went.

So, you returned to Snoam-Schlabach to find that all the Portscale wine had turned to vinegar, most of all the livestock died, except your own leading more townsfolk to suspect you, and people scared out of their minds that a witch (or witches) were to blame. Except for Piter and Company. They believe it to be a conspiracy concocted by someone in Schudlichton. Possible, but unlikely. Either way, all these things point toward an inevitable showdown between the two municipalities. You guys don't seem to care who wins as long as you aren't around when it goes down. Hmm. So heroes you're not.

Anyway, before being whisked away to Gods-Know-Where Anna, in a very cryptic encounter, returned the now-embalmed foot of Vrock to Cor'Nal in the stables adjacent to Homebound. It was bootless, and in a jar of some type of fluid you believe is some barbarian method of keeping stuff from rotting. It ain't really working and the foot could use a Gentle Repose spell for sure. Anna thought she'd bring it to you in case one day you needed Vrocks help and, you know, somehow came across a spell or item that might, um, you know... bring him back to life.

After that, Cor'Nal, (who come to think of it has been very busy this session) entered Homebound and Fengis approached you about escort through The Laandsraad. He stated that he has grown uneasy with the current events in the town and wishes to leave. Immediately. He asks for your help and you tentatively agree. After that all hell breaks loose.

Noise from the outside is investigated and reveals nearly a dozen riders fleeing Piter's estate on the far-north side of town. You ride there to find his guards slain, Anna missing and Piter mortally wounded at the gut. Cor'Nal (busy again) heals the warrior and keeps him from certain death. Piter informs you that six masked men on horseback killed the guards on site, stabbed him repeatedly and took Anna by trail, North. Willis and Anna's husband Briggs followed them in earnest. He begged you to do the same. Things look grim.

We ended the session with a question of morality. Duty versus greed. Do you flee the town when they need help most in order to earn a few coin from Fengis? Or do you join the chase and attempt to save Anna from Schudlichton ignorance? You seem to have time to do both, but do you, really?

We'll know in three weeks.

Mission Statement

I know I discussed this in part during our session Saturday but here's a recap.

I'm writing this blog for several reasons: Mostly as a means for us as PC's and DM to review our earlier session. My campaigns are character driven and therefore contain many characters, each with their own backgrounds, professions, personalities and story lines within the game. It can get very confusing and is a heavy burden for any PC to keep straight, especially with long hiatus' between sessions. We only play twice a month and when things come up at the last minute, as they have before in our game, it could be once a month or less. Remembering what the one girl npc said to the other npc girl about Ademar inside the one cave at that mountain range can be very difficult if we go six weeks between sessions. I have a subtle style when it comes to revealing heavy plot elements and what may have seen like an innocuous comment by an npc to you as PC's may have been the big clue given out to investigating heroes from me as the DM. Again, with several weeks between sessions things like that can be easily overlooked or forgotten.

My aim is to clear that up with this "blog". I abhor hand-holding so don't look for that here. So I will still be doing my best to avoid rubbing your nose in the obvious. But I will review what happened, when I can as soon as I can.

Another reason I'm writing this is as a creative outlet. My busy life and home environment no longer enables me to write regularly so D&D is it. And now writing about D&D. So, when I'm not working on our campaign, working on the review of our campaign or just, um, working, I'm going to write in this blog. For you.

Speaking of that: If you don't like this idea, or don't think you'll ever log on to read; Please, tell me now! If you aren't comfortable expressing yourself in front of the group, pull me aside, write me an email or punch me in the balls and tell me that I should spend more time working on my lame-ass campaign and less time writing about my lame-ass campaign... ANYTHING! I don't want to waste your time and I especially don't want to waste mine. I'm not writing this for me, at least not exclusively. So if you're not interested I need to know. I'll know who's reading and when, so, if I find you guys aren't checking the site once in a while I'll shut it down. I'd rather you let me know face to face though. Thanks in advance for your input.

On the subject of input, I want yours. Let me know what you think. Tell me when I screw up. Tell me when I get the facts wrong. Tell if you think I'm being too stingy or too much like Monty Haul. Tell me I'm a sucky DM. Tell me I'm the best DM in the state. Tell me anything, just give me some feedback. I want to know what you guys are thinking so I can try to be a better DM.

Also, if you are interested in contributing that would be freakin' sweet! If you are interested in putting together an npc profile, a short story (I'm looking at you Erich) or just background information on your PC that would be more than enough. If you think you may want to contribute let me know. I can set it up so that multiple users can blog on this site.

Lastly, although there are more, the final listed reason is fun. I'm doing this for fun and to test whether or not I can keep up with a weekly blog. If I can then maybe I can write a daily blog as well. Assuming I enjoy doing this of course.

So indulge me and check it out. If you like it and let me know you like it, I'll keep doing it. If you think its a waste of time let me know and I'll stop. Whatever... Either way I'll catch you guys in three weeks.

One more thing: Go for the (Fengis') money!

Told you I was subtle.

Friday, May 16, 2008

In the Beginning...

There was snow. A lot of it. For reasons not fully revealed, even now, the three (heroes?) companions trekked north. Further and further into desolate frozen wastelands of snow so deep foot no longer seemed to touch ground, only pressing into harder snow beneath. Three unlikely companions: Two elves, one a druid (Cor'Nal Utharo), the other a rogue (Ademar) and their half-orc servant/whipping boy Vrock, Son of Grock finally saw what they'd been hoping to see for days: A warm place.

Over a hill in the midst of a mild, late-evening snowstorm it came into view, a small hamlet maybe 80-90 buildings in all. Mostly modest homes, only about three-quarters of which seemed to be permanent structures. But at the southern-most edge, along where the closest thing to a road could be discerned, lay a building larger than most but smaller than a few. Plumes of fragrant gray smoke, visible against the moonlight, billowed out from the chimney. Its roof of tarred pine branch and log walls of the same type wood. The only kind that could grow this far north. Instinctively, in their years of traveling they knew the building could only mean one thing.

"A bed." Cor'Nal said to himself.
"Food." Vrock said to himself.
"Heat." Ademar said to himself.

Of course all three things really meant one thing: An inn. Even now, uphill, upwind and still a mile away the smells and sounds were unmistakable. Rowdy banter, spiced potatoes and roasted lamb all filled their senses causing their exhausted pace to quicken. Though one more time they wished they'd found some way to acquire horses, flying carpets, goats or any other form of permanent transportation.

They arrived in minutes though it seemed like hours. Freezing, starving and exhausted they each passed but not a one of them read the sign at front that read:

"Welcome to Homebound"
Magda Dervish, Proprietor