Thursday, August 31, 2006

The Ranger

Two cloaked merchants, closely followed by a warrior, a barbarian, and a ranger, walked swiftly northwards along the narrow dirt road. The ranger thought it odd that the merchants had no caravan or even a small, ox-driven cart to carry their trade goods, but when he inquired about this, the taller of the two men stated that their wares were small, yet none-the-less valuable, and they would be held concealed on their person at all times. That was the last the ranger heard on the subject.

The three strong men-at-arms that accompanied the merchants had been recently hired to escort the tradesmen north, and they were told nothing more, not even the final destination. This didn’t, for the most part, bother the men, as the pay had been significant enough to waylay most of their suspicions before nervous doubt could set in. The ranger seemed to be the only one of the three that suspected the merchants to be more than they claimed, but he kept his uncertainties to himself. He wanted the final compensation promised to him, nothing more.

On this particular evening, several weeks into the journey, the party decided to take their nights rest in a small cave. The cave looked safe enough; it was sturdy and would provide ample shelter, and while they could see only blackness as the chamber descended into the mountain, they saw no signs of any inhabitants that should threaten them in the night. The group readied for sleep, with the barbarian and warrior at the sides of the merchants, and the ranger a few yards off, closer to the cave’s opening. The barbarian volunteered for watch duty, but the short merchant waved him off, explaining that he and his partner had used these very same caverns many times, and that no watch was necessary. The barbarian, satisfied, shrugged his massive shoulders and laid down, but the ranger was not so easily convinced. Nevertheless, they all shut their eyes and drifted into slumber. The pace of the journey had been swift indeed.

The ranger was the first to awaken to what sounded like heavily thumping feet. He continued to lay motionless, and, with his hands resting on the twin blades clasped to his belt, he waited.

The barbarian and warrior jumped to their feet just in time to meet the three ogres that had come charging at them from the blackness at the rear of the cave. Fortunately, while the two fighters weren’t the brightest, they had been trained and seasoned well enough to greet the ogres charge without facing too much of a disadvantage, dodging the initial charge. Then too the ranger sprang to his feet, immediately noticing that the two merchants were nowhere to be seen. A small matter, for now, as there was a bigger problem at hand. The odds didn’t seem all that bad to the ambushed men, trained fighters against a few dimwitted ogres, and they each quickly engaged the nearest ogre.

Moonlight spilled into the cavern’s entrance, causing the ranger’s slightly curved blades to shine bright as he gracefully ducked under another brutal sweep of the ogres hard wooden club. With one quick motion, he brought both swords across the ogres receding arm, drawing blood but doing no serious damage. The ranger’s strikes were not ferocious and powerful, but rather fast and accurate. He knew he could not hope to easily take down this massive beast with his small weapons, but if he could stay in the fight long enough he would do enough harm to prevail.

The ogre raised his club and the ranger sidestepped around to the beasts back, all the while slashing at any visible opening. Trickles of blood spilled down the ogre’s body from a dozen small gashes, yet it still fought with full ferocity. The ogre turned, but the downswing flew wildly and missed the ranger, who then took the opportunity to thrust one sword deep into the savage’s ribs. Blood gushed out around the imbedded sword’s hilt, and the ogre roared and jerked away, leaving the ranger with just one weapon. The ranger saw his opportunity, and lunged forward to deliver the killing blow. The ogre met him with unexpected quickness, however, and with one motion it brought the club across the ranger’s shoulder, sending him sprawling. The ranger struggled to his feet, angered that he allowed himself to be so careless. Searing pain coursed through his left arm, but in the heat of the battle he hardly noticed.

The ogre grinned as he eyed his seemingly broken prey. He thought the fun was over; his shrewd strike had been more than the pitiful little humanoid could handle. He slowly raised the massive club above his head, gathering enough strength to completely squash the little vermin in front of him. He overestimated his own power, however, and the ranger was not nearly as finished he had assumed. Watching the ogre mockingly raise his club, the ranger suddenly burned with a hideous and intense rage. He had let his guard down, and he had paid the price. Never again would he allow that to happen. With the sure agility of his mother’s heritage he leapt at the ogre with blinding speed and drove his remaining sword deep into the monster’s belly, spilling bloody bile all over his weary hands. Clenching his teeth he choked the sword, his muscles pulsed with anger, and with the strength of his father he slit the beast nearly in half, spilling it’s putrid organs and covering himself in fleshy gore. The monster fell to the ground, unreservedly lifeless. The ranger ripped his blade from the contorted beast and, surveying the battleground, readied himself for the rest of the fight.

The warrior’s mangled body fell limp to the cavern floor, and the bloody barbarian slowly faced off against the two remaining ogres. They came at him gradually, as if intimidated by the barbarian’s unyielding strength. The ranger began to creep towards the barbarian’s side, but just as he did so the true reason for the ogre’s strange delay burst forth. No fewer than five more ogres rushed to aide their comrades in battle, their faces distorted with cruel and repulsive sneers. The ranger was not about to charge in and die for some strange merchants and a barbarian he hardly knew. Instead, he quietly snuck out of the cave and fled into the comfort and familiarity of the surrounding wilderness.

The ranger heard the uproarious shouts of the ogres along with the muffled shrieks of the dying barbarian, but he felt no sympathy for the foolishly brave man. Tuning out the now distant commotion, the ranger examined his wounds. Thankfully, his shoulder wasn’t broken, only badly bruised. It would heal.

Utterly exhausted and yet still covered in the grotesque filth of the dead ogre, the ranger slumped to the ground near a large, dying tree. He closed his eyes, and there, battered but still very much alive, the ranger slept.

It Burns! It Buurrrnnnnnssss!

It hasn't explicitly been asked, but the searing question on everyone's mind: Who is Kilminsk?

Monday, August 28, 2006

The Festival of the Blood Moon

Tomorrow is the 11th of Coldeven, a day known in shadowy circles throughout the Flanaess as the Festival of the Blood Moon. The day is sacred to worshipers of Nerull and a handful of other lawful-evil cults (including Incabulous, Pyremius, Syrul, Vecna, and dread Tharizdun). It is said that the conduits for communicating with these deities are at their most powerful.

This grim festival technically begins at sundown on the 10th and ends on the evening of the 12th. It commemorates the blood-red moon which appeared all over the Flanaess on this day in 294 CY. (Some sages postulated common volcanism as the source, but proponents dwindled quickly after several sages disappeared under mysterious circumstances.) Elaborate ceremonies are held in fell and shadowy places, many of which are grisly and unpleasant in the extreme, involving ritualistic human sacrifice. This festival is now honoured in Iuz' lands as well since the Wars, in mocking celebration of the surprise attacks which decimated the Heirarchs of Molag in 583 CY.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

system shock

I've been thinking of instituting a new houserule. Right now, when PCs die, they lose a level, which is the official rule. But, sometimes a character's death can lead to long delays in the middle of a game. And sometimes, its by accident. I don't go into combat planning that certain people die. Well, most of the time. So, I give you the System Shock check.

System Shock (Ex): When you take lethal damage, reaching -10HP, you do not die automatically. Upon reaching -10hp, you roll a Fortitude save, vs. DC 20. If you make the save, damage that would have brought you to -10 or less instead brings you to -9. If you fail the save, you die from lethal damage.

So, what do you guys think about this?

Saturday, August 26, 2006

Monday, August 21, 2006

Of Wannabes and Initiates

A quick note from the editor for our faithful readers. As the four O.G. (Original Goblins) have expanded into other blogs (and parenthood), this forum has floundered a bit for lack of an identity and purpose. While a bit of informal intent was there, a behind-the-scenes decision has finally been made. This blog is now our official Dungeons & Dragons blog. And perhaps the place for stuff too silly to put elsewhere. No hard and fast rules, really, just a general guiding principal. Anyway, expect more D&D related posts and less of everything else.

The biggest change to go with this decision is that we are inviting the rest of our party to join us as contributors. Dungeon Master Scott is the one who actually suggested the idea and has been the first new Goblin. I see now that new guy (Hadrian’s replacement since he has moved away for law school) Gobula has also just accepted the invitation. We’ll have to see about Torias and Aerin, neither of whom has much of a blogging history (that I know of), but I would think the temptation to join the Goblin fraternity would be too strong too resist.

And let me extend this official welcome to you, newbs. Feel free to leave an introductory post of some sort if you feel so moved.

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Not Completely Dead... with the DM's Permission of course.

The warriors rode first, guiding their horses carefully along the icy mountain trail, huddled up tightly against the cold winter wind. Behind them came the wizards and the priests, also bundled in warm winter clothing, their imperial finery buried beneath layer upon layer of thick furs and padded garments. Two, obviously more important than the rest, rode in luxurious sedan-chairs carried by hulking half-orc porters. More servants followed on foot, burdened heavily with the party’s cargo. And finally bringing up the rear, another contingent of warriors, periodically stopping to listen carefully and watch the road behind.

The road crested a small rise and there before them lay an immense ravine spanned by an ancient bridge of dwarvish construction, an enormous gaping hole scarring its center. The warrior at the head of the column called a halt and sent word back the line. Within a few moments the two sedan chairs arrived at the front of the column and their passengers disembarked. The priest was a short and slender man, dark, with devious eyes. “Praise be to Wee Jas, it is exactly as we have seen.”

“Yes,” replied the mage, a tall, fat man, with a stern and imposing visage, “this is certainly the place.”

The priest shouted abruptly at the porters “Spread out, he will be here somewhere! Quickly!”
The servants unburdened themselves of their packs and the sedan chairs and fanned out over the snow covered ground along the ravine’s edge. In just a few moments a shout caught the priest’s attention, and he and the mage rushed to its source. A band of servants was already gathering, digging furiously at the frozen ground, tossing aside a small pile of rocks. Soon their prey was revealed: the corpse of warrior, clad in a mithril breastplate and the tattered remants of a familiar tabard.

“Well,” snickered the mage “it seems we have found our traitor.”

“Indeed,” replied the priest “and he will soon learn a most painful lesson. Not even death will save you from the Sultan’s justice.”

Excerpts from the Journal of Galvoran

. . . wandered aimlessly through the woods for far too long with no real idea where we needed to go and only a vague idea of our goal. It’s not what I envisioned “adventuring” to be. I expected much more action and sense of purpose, not those endless hours of boredom. No maps to guide us or scrolls to consult; we didn’t even stop to research Philidor on our way out of town. Not at all what I am used to with my studies and learning. There I have always had the resources to puzzle out even the most complex problems, have known that if I persevered there would always be an answer. In this case it was as though everyone was blind with no apparent method to follow. I felt completely out of my element.

And for once I began to see the limitations of my chosen specialization. Fire is a beautiful, amazing force and I couldn’t see myself pursuing any other mastery, but I was left in this situation without the option of using my magic to divine anything helpful. I feel like a fool for taking so long to even realize that the spheres we latched onto for lack of a better plan were divination tools themselves. Finally I did, though, and that gave us a bit of direction.

Although I obviously have much knowledge yet to gain, I have to wonder how this odd assortment of ruffians managed to accomplish anything in the past without someone learned like myself to guide them. When the spheres led us to the clearing, it was I who had the insight to check the pillar for inscriptions, I who was able to decipher the inscription we found, I who riddled out a meaning from it, and I who had the ability to use the magic that would be the trigger . . .


. . . Ye gods! It is one thing to read about the size and power of a roc, another to actually confront it. And to have it head directly to me, seize me out of all the others, and carry me helplessly away! I am ashamed to admit this, but I realized later that I wet myself. Thank Boccob my wits did not entirely abandon me, for I was able to use my pyrotechny to make the creature regret it’s chosen prey. It flung me into the ravine, thinking to be rid of me. Again my foresight paid off, for the most recent spell I have added to my collection is one that enables me to fly for a period and I had already cast it upon myself. I found a safe place to catch my breath for a second, then reentered the fray to help my companions confront the beast.

That is when I had my second shock of the encounter. It seems with great size, strength, and fortitude comes the ability to shrug off some magics. If only I had been aware of this previously. But, alas, I wasn’t. I flung spell after spell against it, only to see them fizzle with no effect. I had even prepared a scroll that would have taken away its ability to fly. I wasted it needlessly and will now have to spend hours recreating it once I am back in a more civilized setting.

Eventually I was reduced to a more supportive role, empowering members of the party instead of attacking directly. Even so, the beast returned to attack me once again. Luckily it again tried to drop me to my doom and I was able to reach the party healer. That’s a magic I would dearly love to learn! Others were not as fortunate as myself, however. We ultimately succeeded in pestering the foul creature to death, but not before it shredded the life from the dark-skinned westerner and cast his limp body at our feet. While quite unnecessary at that point, it was a poignant reminder that this is not a game we are playing at, that I have finally left the library and laboratory behind . . .

Thursday, August 17, 2006

How many planets are there, again?

Apparently, soon to be twelve, with (likely) hundreds more to follow in the next few years. Read about it and why Pluto being a planet could be a bad thing.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

The End of an Era...

I think Gobula will appreciate this more than most:

Amazingly, this is just one example of an entire genre that has developed. Some of these videos are more serious than others. This one hits exactly the right tone I think.

Friday, August 04, 2006

As Homer Would Say

It's funny, it's funny because it's true.

God bless you David Letterman.