Saturday, September 22, 2007
As I told you before, my goal in life is to find adventure. That’s how I went from being a free-spirited roamer to getting involved in that whole mess. I fell in with an interesting group in Hommlet, one thing led to another, and before I knew it I was committed to leading them in our quest to preserve creation. At one point I almost left in search of something new, but then I realized that commitment was an adventure I’d never tried. I decided to go all the way with it. My growing fame in Verbobonc brought attention with it and soon a mate. We had a house built and when I wasn’t away on our quest I did my best to become a respected and upstanding citizen in town. I even joined a local church.
That really was a gratifying experience, but it didn’t quench my thirst for new experiences. Many of the area nations were aware of our defeat of Tharizdun and offered us lands and titles as a reward. I had no more desire to be rooted to a single plot of land, however, but instead wanted as a reward access to the wide world. I was able to parley the offer into something more suited to my lifestyle. I now have diplomatic credentials with Perrenland, Furyondy, the Shield Lands, Veluna, Verbobonc, the County of Urnst, the Duchy of Urnst, Nyrond, the Ulek nation states, Keoland, Ket, Gran March, Geoff, Sterich, and Yeomanry. I am guaranteed free travel and the hospitality of the ruler of any large town, small city, large city, or metropolis for up to a month. Once that agreement was in place, it didn’t take long for me to pack my bags and head off in search of excitement.
But Istus, the dear girl, is not the traveling sort. She likes her creature comforts and needs a library and laboratory for her studies. When push came to shove, she chose staying behind over wandering with me. I was all ready to sell the house for traveling funds, but I couldn’t just kick her out in the street after everything we had shared. Instead, I decided to retain ownership of the property and leave it in her care. We remain in contact and I now have a place to stay should I ever need, but it has really become her place in effect. She works out of the laboratory, earning her living by crafting items to sell to area shops as requested. She also takes on boarders from the Silver Consortium and the area bardic community to stave off loneliness. It’s an arrangement that works well for both of us.
Istus is not the only one with new companions. I seem to attract followers wherever I go, and I have collected an assortment of performers and adventurers in my travels and am now the leader of a small troupe. We have been using my diplomatic credentials for lodging, but also perform wherever we go for the sake of legitimacy. I am pleased to say we always leave an impression and are gaining quite a reputation. I have never been content to simply be in the spotlight, though, for I am a curious sort and a collector of lore. I’m sure you understand, Thom, because you are the same. That is why I feel I am a good fit for membership in your Bramblewood Academy. I would learn from the lore you have amassed in your travels and gladly share my own. If you’ll have me, I will be your number one wanderer, gatherer, and performer, and will spread word of the academy throughout the nations. I am yet young and anticipate many interesting adventures before I am through.
Friday, September 21, 2007
"Papa, tell us the story about how you beat the dragon again."
"Well," the dwarf said, leaning back in his chair, "it was not I alone that beat the dragon. Remember, I did have some help with that fight. And that was only a small part of the adventure."
As the story unwound, the dwarf though back on the days that had led him to this one.
He gazed upon his beautiful wife and grinned as the memories overtook him:
Aerin had brought them back to Verbobonc as soon as they were safely away from the carnage and destruction of the battle to keep Tharzidun locked in his prison.
The party had been through much, but as time wore on, each decided it was time to depart and go their separate ways.
After some rest in their home in Verbobonc and after bidding the city guard a fond farewell, he sought his companions to say his good-byes.
Kilminsk had disappeared the night they had returned, but Lummox had already given him his farewells as well as one of the hammerspheres.
Aerin was busy setting up "shop" in the city and had little time for the dwarf, but they parted with a handshake (that undulated strangely in Lummox's palm) and a little well-wishing. As the dwarf was walking away,Aerin called to him.
"I want that arm back, by the way." Lummox grinned.
"Over my dead body," he called back.
He was never sure, but he thought he heard Aerin mumble something like, "That can be arranged."
When he returned to the house, he found Degolar, wicked glint in his eyes as ever, standing in the doorway.
"You," Degolar said, grin in place, "look like a dwarf on a mission. I guess you'll be leaving us soon too?"
"I'm gonna miss you, you pervert," Lummox said with a wry grin. "We had some good times."
"Who knows," Degolar said mischievously, "we may again." They embraced and wished each other a farewell. That night, Lummox left a gift in the bard's room. It was a drum he had been making in secret out of the hide and bone of one of the mindflayers the bard had saved him from. Lummox would remember that day for the rest of his life. The bard, who he had always considered a bit of a deviant, had taken control of his mind to release the grip the mindflayer had taken. He could have kept control and could have had the dwarf as his slave, but instead, he freed him with no lingering effects. A new level of respect grew for the bard and their friendship had grown. Lummox just hoped the bard would like the gift and appreciate the sentiment behind it.
As he headed out to the stables to feed his pet griffin, Fluffy, he heard some rumblings from the hay loft. He moved closer to hear a little better and heard a silvery peel of laughter and the deep rumble of chuckling answer it. He picked up a pitch fork and pounded on the boards overhead.
"Hey, you two," he called up to Leelu and Torias, "get some damn clothes on and get down here." There was a long silence and then the pair broke into hysterical laughter. Lummox grinned wryly and headed off to tend to the griffin.
The first to appear was Torias, shirtless and sweaty. The deep scars that covered his skin was a sad reminder of the way they had found him in that damned place of evil and of what was done to him there. He stepped up next to Lummox and grabbed a grooming brush. They brushed away the dust and hay from the creature as she purred her delight. After some time,Leelu joined them in the barn. They finished grooming and feeding Fluffy and stepped into the yard. Lummox turned to Torias and smiled sadly.
"Lad," Lummox said, "you are a fine warrior. I wish you well in the future and hope for the best for you." He reached to the urgrosh on his back and presented it to the young man. "This is for you. It isn't much, but I want you to have it. It has served me well, as I hope it does you. Take care of yourself, or I will be forced to beat the tar out of you." They shook hands and then embraced for a short time.
He turned to Leelu, and for the briefest moment, his eyes glinted with tears. He blinked and they were gone.
"You, my dearest, I will miss the most. You have come a long way, not just in distance but from the scared, angry child you were. You have become a very brave and very noble lady, and I am proud to call you my friend. As much as I would like to stay and remain your companion on your journeys, I believe you have found a much more appropriate guide." He nodded and grinned at Torias . "I wanted to give you something special but could thing of nothing that could let you know how much you have meant to me. Nothing seemed right, and then it hit me. Can I borrow one of your knives?"
"What makes you think I am carrying one?"
"I have known you far too long for that." She must have seen something in his eyes, because she sighed and pulled a slim dagger from behind her (to Torias ' great surprise) and handed it to the dwarf. Lummox took the knife and looked at it for a moment then did the last thing anyone would have expected. He cut the hair of his beard above the symbol of Moradin until the bottom half of his beard was dangling from his fingers, the symbol of Moradin swinging back and forth. He handed the knife and the lock and symbol to Leelu, looking a little silly with such short whiskers.
"This is yours child. Remember me fondly."
Leelu knelt to hug him, but he stopped her and gently put his hands on the sides of her face and drew her near his. He kissed her lightly on the forehead and then pulled her into a warm hug that lasted quite a while. When they released one another, he patted her shoulder. "You keep the brat, over here..." motioning to Torias, "you keep him out of trouble."
He turned and walked into the house and then out the front door again into the streets of Verbobonc.
When he reached the temple of Pelor and asked to speak to Saint Hadrian, they looked at him as if he were something they had stepped in.
"You are out of luck, little 'friend,'" the closest priest said, "he was here only briefly and has left us for greater things." The two Pelorians turned there backs on the dwarf and continued their conversation. Lummox left and made a mental note to see if he could train his griffin to relieve himself in flight. He was not worried about seeing Hadrian today. He was sure their paths would cross again one of these days.
He decided that he would make one last stop before leaving. He headed to the gnomish district and sought out Mia, the dragon slayer. He found her resting on a door stoop and smoking a pipe.
"I didn't know you smoked."
"When the mood strikes me, you grumpy old dwarf." From anyone else, this would have been an insult, but from Mia, it was a great compliment.
"I brought you something." He grinned and produced a wand crafted of willow and presented it to Mia. "Now you don't have to cast dancing lights for a while. This will do it for you. Well, for 100 times at least."
"Cute," she said, with her tilted smile.
They exchanged their goodbyes and shook hands and as he walked away, a shower of lights pranced and twinkled around Lummox.
On his way out of the city, he looked over his shoulder and wondered how soon he would be back to the city that had encapsulated a large chunk of his life and how soon he would see the people who filled his heart. He turned forward again and urged Fluffy into flight and lifted away from the city and off into the wilderness on his search for the lost Saltheart clan.
to be continued...
Monday, September 17, 2007
Geren heard the rider before he saw him, and didn’t bother to unsheathe his sword or get up from where he sat by the campfire. Neither did any member of his party. They were an experienced group of scouts and warriors, and knew they had little to fear from a single rider, even in this dangerous territory. In a moment, the lone horseman came into view and reined his horse to a stop at the edge of the firelight.
“Greetings friend,” said Geren, standing at last and walking towards the figure.
The man atop the horse pushed back the cowl of his black traveling cloak, and Geren caught just a glimpse of silver at the stranger’s throat as he did so.
“And greetings to you ranger. Is there space at your fireside for a weary traveler?”
“We’d be remiss to turn any away in this country, friend. Please, join us,” said Geren, gesturing towards the fire.
The young man dismounted, exchanging nods with each of the silent men around the campfire, and took a seat. The grizzled scouts sized him up in an instant, he was no threat to them, and they settled into an easy silence as Geren fetched a flagon of mead for the newcomer. The young man thanked Geren for it and drank deeply from the cup. For a moment he warmed his hands by the fire before speaking.
“Your fire is quite refreshing, gentlemen. It is a cold night, with barely a sliver of moon for company.”
Geren looked the young man up and down before responding. “The moon is precious little company in this land, lad. ‘Tis a dangerous road you’ve chosen to ride alone. I’d say you’re either a brave man or a fool to be in these parts without other men at your side.”
The young man laughed. “Fair enough, fair enough. But rarely do we choose our own road. Duty has brought me to this desolate land, and I have not the time to worry about the danger of it.”
“Very well,” responded Geren, “your business is none of mine. But guests are a rare occurrence around this campfire, and you seem like a good sort. You’re welcome to travel with us if you like, at least as far as the Velunan frontier. Trust me, young friend, you’ll be safer for it. This really is no place to be traveling alone.”
The stranger looked thoughtful for a moment, and then nodded. “Thank you ranger, that is much appreciated, much appreciated. But now, gentlemen, I think it is best that you prepare yourselves, because you’re about to have a few more guests, and I hazard you won’t find them as pleasant company as myself.”
The scouts exchanged quick glances and moved their hands towards their sword hilts and bows.
“What do you mean?” asked Geren.
“It’s why I’m here, I’ve been tracking them… and I sense that they are near. Yes, very near. Look to the treeline!”
The scouts looked up the small slope on the north side of their campfire towards the edge of the forest. For a moment they saw nothing, but then they caught glimpses of movement here and there. An instant later a horrific sight met their eyes: lurching from the cover of the trees were the most hideous of abominations, clad in rags with only bits and pieces of rotting flesh clinging to their skeletal frames. In an instant the scouts were on their feet and loosing arrows at the advancing score of the undead. Still, the black clad stranger sat, unperturbed, staring into the fire.
Geren clasped a hand to the stranger’s shoulder urgently “Don’t just sit there, man, get up and fight!”
The young man smiled up at Geren and said “Oh, I intend to friend… it’s just I wanted to savor the moment.”
He rose, and pushed apart his cloak for the first time. Underneath, he wore a mithril breastplate, emblazoned with a symbol that Geren had not seen before: A full moon, inlaid with the shape of a lantern containing a tiny sun. On his left hip swung a small silver lantern which glowed with an ethereal blue light. On his right hip, he wore a heavy mace that sparked slightly as he rose. His garments were all black, with silver trim.
The young man turned away from the fire and walked briskly towards the advancing undead. Around him, the party of scouts continued to loose arrows into their ranks, but to little avail. He stopped, a large grin spreading across his face, raised his right hand and spoke a short incantation. A bluish white mist began to gather around his outstretched hand, glowing from within. The mist began to swirl rapidly and then coalesced into an orb in front of the young man’s raised palm. The orb became denser and appeared almost solid, in each fraction of a second growing brighter and brighter, until it exploded in a brilliant cone of the purest and brightest white light that Geren had ever seen. The skeletal forms advancing across the field disintegrated, screaming as the light reached them, and as soon as it had begun, it was over. The scouts lowered their bows and stared in astonishment as where seconds before twenty undead warriors had stood, now only clouds of dust hung in the air and fragments of bone littered the grass.
The young cleric looked around at the party and shrugged “It’s never quite as fun as you anticipate,” he said. “Still, one does one’s duty.” And without another word, he turned and walked back to the fire.
Sunday, September 16, 2007
The strange adventure had at last come to an end, and the somewhat bewildered Dervish found himself sitting on a nice stone in Verbobonc, pondering recent events. He had, undoubtedly, played an integral role in the destruction of the Temple and the further imprisonment of the thing the rest called Tharizdun, and he had quickly parted ways with his companions. He considered them, briefly, as he had never really had human contact of that nature before. They called themselves a "group," and they were engaged in a "quest," and this entailed severe risks of extreme personal danger. The Dervish chuckled light-heartily at this, and thought, "So, this is what lunatics are like."
The woman, Leelu, had been the first to catch his attention, as she had one more hole than the others. Unfortunately for the Dervish, she only wanted them filled by the man Torias, and they didn't even let him join in or watch. Weirdos.
The Dervish had never been fond of the overtly short creatures, yet he felt differently about the Dwarve Lummox. The Dwarve had a beautiful, magical ring, filled with wonderment and excitement. It was surely one of the most tragic days in the history of the realm when this ring disappeared, never to be seen again. The world was safe from Tharizdun, but was the cost too much? The Dervish was never one to feel pity, but on that day he nearly shed tears for the poor Dwarve.
The bard, Degolar, while rarely visible enough to be easily judged, seemed a bit sexually repressed. Maybe, with a little work, he could come out of his shell. This can also be said of the man Hadrian, whose pious nature implied a singular interest in the male species, which the Dervish could never understand. Also, the Bard had a cat. Nice.
As for the final member of the party, Aerin, there was not much to be said. A more decent, stand-up citizen the Dervish had never met. He thought that surely, that one, would go on to accomplish great things.
The Dervish was shaken from his thoughts by a slight tingle. The fight was finished, yet he had not escaped unchanged. You see, in the scuffle, he had been "cursed." Any pain he dealt would return and travel through his own body. As the Dervish sat, a small squirrel skittered by; his arm shot out and his sickle pierced the small creature. A large grin grew across his face and, he thought, he liked it.
Hedrack and the cult of Tharizdun, the elemental Lord Imix, Lord Haxx, had all been defeated at the party's hands. A soft, glowing nimbus of light appeared, shimmering purest white. After a moment, the nimbus grew to a large oval and a female solar stepped out. She beckoned the party forward into the light, and they followed.
The party found themselves inside a grand white marble hall, a few figures standing as if waiting. Nerull and Beory stood near each other, in conversation with Boccob. Pelor and Rao were talking to a familiar figure, and Incabulous stood alone.
The deities turned to face the party as they entered. Hadrian, now with his own shimmering aura, stood with them. The gods applauded as the party walked toward them, coated in carbon, garments ripped and travel worn. Rao spoke, commending the party for their service, and asking that they return to Verbobonc to meet with Archbishop Hadrigus and the wizard Juelihm. The pair had temporarily taken charge of the city after the former Viscount, Langard, disappeared.
Congratulations, all. The campaign is mostly complete. Take a few days, or longer, and write up a few words about what your characters will do after their adventures together conclude. I'll be happy to make available whatever information you need or want to see. Some of you asked to see what the original campaign looked like before my modifications. I'll be happy to send you the files so you can take a look. A little will look familiar. Names, locations, overall plot. Thanks for letting me DM for the last 4 years. I had a great time.
Thursday, September 13, 2007
We've picked up three additional players and lost one since we started. Mia Dragonslayer has left us, possibly forever. Kilminsk, Aerin Starkewood, and Torias have joined the ranks.
A few old emails I just unearthed: (*The names have been changed for anonymity's sake).
Sent: Sat 11/8/2003 11:03 AM
Subject: RE: d&d
Personally, I was thinking of a half-elf assassin, but I'm flexible.
Sent: Sat 11/8/2003 2:19 PM
Subject: RE: d&d
So I can't be the 23rd level three-headed giant sorcerer king?
Then I suppose I might want to be a half-elf bard, but I can be flexible if the party needs.
Sent: Sat 11/8/2003 2:39 PM
Subject: RE: d&d
Lummox* says he'd like to be a dwarven fighter of some sort, so we're looking fairly balanced so far.
Thursday, September 06, 2007
A few days later, Canon Hazen, a portly, normally jovial, priest in the service of Rao, was having troubled dreams. He slept fitfully, waking twice in the night. The first time, he attributed his restlessness to indigestion, and stumbled sleepily toward the privies. The second time, his vision was so clear and unmistakable he shot up in his bed, his mind roiling with the image of a silvery metal rod studded with gemstones, and what he had to do.
Hours passed. Hazen had recovered the Crook from its resting place in his cathedral’s reliquary and readied himself for travel. He set out with a group of companions, journeying overland from Veluna to the only known outpost of the Cult of Tharizdun. A secret temple near the town of Hommlet. Adventurers, knights, and church soldiers had been here only days before, ridding the town and the region of Tharizdun’s influence. “At least temporarily,” thought Hazen. The group delved deep into the underground temple and the Crook grew white-hot in his hand as Hazen brought it near Tharizdun’s altar.
A swirling ball of black-purple mist coalesced atop the altar, crackling and arcing with purple energy. Hazen, frightened, took a step backward. His unfortunate companion, another cleric, was standing a few steps closer than Hazen now, and was engulfed by the purple-black orb. Hazen, horrified, brandished the Crook unthinkingly at the swirling ball of energy, which seemed to hesitate. Inspiration struck Hazen, and he spoke a powerful malediction, invoking the names of the six deities who created the Crook. The misty ball seemed to condense, then a white corona surrounded it, intensifying in brightness until it completely surrounded the purple-black orb. Six seals popped into existence, each with a deity’s symbol upon it. The seals slowly began circling the now-white orb, gaining speed as they completed each orbit of the sphere, which now seemed to shrink slowly.
Hazen sank back, exhausted. He still held the Crook aloft, and the sphere with its whirling seals dimmed and faded from view, slowly growing more transparent.