Posts Tagged ‘5e’

The Faith of the Raven Pt. 7

August 20, 2018

“Leave now or face the power and the might of the King of Crows!” A deep voice emanating from deeper in the woods said. After the sound of the voice, it felt like the whole forest was silent. In that silence, it was easy to hear Arne’s partially muttered response.

“More bullshit,” he said.

“What?” Carania asked. “What’s going on now?” If she was going to continue her greater quest, and she definitely was, she would have to study and learn. She needed to know these things herself. However, it did not hurt to have knowledgeable people along for the ride.

“It really is silly. The King of Crows is not one person,” Arne said. “It is a parade of necromancers each with aspirations of being the alpha necromancer. Most of them are crazy, all of them are dangerous.”

“There was a real King of Crows once,” Galath said. “He was a powerful necromancer who amassed an undead army in Alscines. He was in direct conflict with the Raven Queen and her followers. From what I know, he also had a Queen of crows with him. Sort of an undead bride. At least, those are the rumors. I read it in a book last year.” He shrugged.

Carania shuddered. “That is incredibly creepy,” she said. “The less I think about that, the better. So this guy is just a pretender to the throne?”

“I don’t know,” Arne said. “He definitely has power. We’ve seen that much already. I haven’t seen anything yet that has wowed me, though.”

“Right,” Carania said. “But we can’t let our guard down. Not until we take this guy out.”

“Agreed,” Galath said. “He is referencing the undead god and he is the fan club of one of the worst necromancers in history, those alone are red flags. Nothing has changed. We’re following your lead here, paladin.”

“We continue going straight for the heart of the matter,” Carania said. “If we kill him, the rest will be disorganized and, in theory, no new zombies can be created. That means those that die will stay dead.”

“I like it,” Galath said. “Elementary tactics but sometimes simple is best.”

“Now we just wait for that plan to go wrong so we can improvise,” Arne said.

“So negative,” Carania said. “Try and smile for once wizard.”

There was a cawing sound from the branches up above and all three looked up toward the sound. However, only Arne was already smiling as he had a full understanding of what that sound was. He nodded up at Grimalkin and they seemed to share some silent conversation.

“Grimalkin has spotted the main camp and can lead us there,” Arne said. “Are we ready for that?”

“We are as ready as we are going to get,” Carania said. “Do you still have prepared spells left?”

“I’m good to go,” Arne said. “I haven’t run out yet.”

“I also have some left to burn,” Galath said. “It appears that we’re good to go.”

“Lead the way, Grimalkin,” Carania said and Arne nodded up at the bird. Carania had only read about the connection between a wizard and their familiar and it was interesting to watch.

They worked their way through the woods as they did their best to follow the raven familiar as it fluttered along through the trees. It felt extremely right for Carania to be following a raven into battle. It felt a little like fate.

The three of them reached the edge of a big clearing and they were assaulted by the smell of freshly burned wood and other things. It looked like the King of Crows had burned a large circle into the middle of the forest, creating a clearing. They were lucky that the fire had not spread and endangered the surrounding areas. The burned clearing looked alien and lifeless. There were more men with crow feathers adorning their clothes and there were zombies both in cages and shuffling around some tents. Arne looked up at Grimalkin as if to ask ‘are you sure?’ and the bird nodded.

“Shall I cause a little chaos, boss?” Arne asked with a smile. Carania smiled and then nodded.

Arne conjured five candle-sized flames and tossed them one at a time into the clearing. The flames hit a couple of tents and also a couple of zombies and started some fires. One of the zombies panicked and ran burning into another tent. Chaos had been achieved.

Carania vaulted into the clearing with Galath and Arne trailing close behind. Her sword was once again a whirling blur as she carved into both living and undead enemies. At one point, she ran into one of the men who had shot and killed her. They barely had time to register her before being cut to ribbons. Carania fought with no anger or at least that anger was quickly fading away. This was a noble mission and that was enough to fuel her.

The battle was fiercer this time and a couple of zombies rushed Carania and managed to injure her. Galath moved fast to heal her while Arne protected them with a shield spell from his umbrella. After some more battle with a few more injuries, the clearing was quiet again. The three companions stood breathing hard as they looked around for their true target who had yet to reveal himself. Carania looked for Grimalkin for guidance but the familiar was hidden somewhere and was no help at present.

“You have crossed the line and I cannot let you go. I will be with you in a moment,” the booming voice said. “In the meantime, meet my friends. When they are done with you, I can add your bodies to my army.”  The thought of that happening was enough to turn the stomachs of all three of them.

The earth in front of the three adventurers broke open and two very large humanoids clawed their way into the open air. Carania could only guess that these had been deceased goliaths, a very rare race she had only read about. They were too short to be true giants but they were far taller than the tallest human or elf she had seen. There were definitely parts of them that were missing and she could see some ragged flesh and bones showing in places. They were caked with mud which made their wide, pupil-less eyes all the more menacing. They lumbered straight for Carania and her friends.

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The Faith of the Raven Pt. 6

July 28, 2018

They moved further into the forest, the three of them. The undergrowth felt dense, far too dense for a small forest like Hernon. Everywhere they went, thorns and thistles grabbed at them and branches scratched against them. It was subtly unnatural but they all knew that there was something unnatural going on in those woods. The dead should not rise and it was as if the necromancer’s dark purpose was corrupting the forest around them. Like many forests and landmarks in Eloria (and beyond frankly), the Hernon forest was named after elves. All over the continent, places were still named after them even if the elves had left the place centuries before. Names had a way of sticking and people had a way of sticking to them. Carania hated that this necromancer was giving Hernon a bad name. It hurt her elf blood even though she knew she did not own that land.

Still, they moved on and made their way through the best they knew how. Carania was always at the lead at her insistence and the others did not argue. She felt responsible as an expert close-up fighter and as the person who accepted this mission in the first place. She hacked at errant and aberrant vegetation with her long sword when she had to. She thought to herself that she might have to get a short sword for that purpose to save her blade’s edge on future hunts. She was surprised at herself at that moment how quickly he had adapted to her new role in life. She was equally surprised that her companions seemed to be just as determined. This was not their fight and yet they had taken it on. It was inspiring and it made Carania further believe that she had done the right thing.

Of course, Carania was also surprised that she had such faith that she would survive to see future hunts. There was no room to believe otherwise she supposed. She had long heard that faith was a big part of serving a god. It seemed obvious to trust that Raven Queen had made the right choice. How else had a woman with very little actual combat experience slashed her way through a horde of zombies like they were nothing but smoke? Faith and courage and a little wind at her back from the Queen herself. Not to mention that fate had handed her two capable companions who she was very grateful for. She could feel the talons of the raven reaching out for the necromancer and it felt so good.

As they walked, Carania saw little bones and trinkets dangling from the trees with little lengths of twine. Carania viewed the little things warily, not knowing quite what to make of them. However, she knew that looking at them made her feel bad inside like looking at food left out for so long that things were growing in it. The three of them all caught each other looking at the trinkets and for a moment there was an amused smile between them. It was a moment of pure connection. It cut through the gloom for a moment and they all seemed to welcome it.

“The followers of the necromancer must have hung them,” Galath said. “I’ve seen similar things before.”

“What in the seventh hell are they?” Carania asked.

“Offerings in the worship of Nerull,” Galath said. “Makes your stomach turn, doesn’t it?”

“Nerull?” Carania asked. “I know I’m still a bit ignorant but everybody knows that my queen killed him.” She smiled at taking ownership of her new goddess.

“As the necromancers show us, much that dies can rise again,” Galath said. “It is true that it is known that the Raven Queen defeated the God of Death while she was simply the goddess of winter. After she took his place, he was raised back up behind the veil.”

“As an undead god?” Carania asked with a shudder. “What does that even mean? Who raised him?”

“Nobody knows,” Galath said. “Well, if anybody knows they are not making it public. I always suspected that whoever did it was somebody who could also not pass through the veil between us and the gods. It is someone I would rather not deal with. I wonder if these followers or the necromancer even know an iota of what happened. I wonder if they even care.”

“How does somebody even become a necromancer?” Carania asked. All of this was great information to have. She had been given no manual or guidebook to follow.

“I suppose it’s the same as becoming a gang member,” Galath said. “A combination of bad luck and dark intentions.”

“He whispers to them,” Arne said, speaking up for the first time in a while.

“What?” Galath asked.

“Care to explain that, Arne?” Carania asked, glancing over her shoulder at the wizard. His familiar was nowhere in sight, most likely flying somewhere overhead.

“The undead god Nerull whispers to those with magical potential,” Arne said. “Not everybody with magic hears the whispers but he does whisper and he offers people the power to get what they desire. Whatever the cost.”

“That’s quite a rumor,” Galath said. “Where did you hear it?”

“I didn’t hear a rumor,” Arne said calmly, evenly. “I heard the whispers myself. In my darkest moment, the whispers came to me too. He offered all kinds of things. I said no.”

“Of course you did,” Carania said. She thought Galath had been about to say something and she did not want to take any chances with what it may have been. “What did he promise?” she asked. She had not meant to. She knew somehow that it was not a question she should have asked but the words got away from her before she had a chance to stop them. Carania was an eternal student, always grabbing at new information to wield just as easily as she swung her sword. She wondered desperately what could have been Arne’s darkest moment.

Arne took a deep breath. “That is private,” he said. “But I understand your curiosity. The point is, the dark wisdom that comes from those whispers is nothing to laugh at.”

“That is definitely the truth,” Galath said.

“Who’s laughing?” Carania asked. “This ends tonight.”

Faith of the Raven Pt. 3

April 26, 2018

The woods had been infested with the undead and human thugs. Carania knew that with the Raven Queen’s boons she could probably save the day but there was time to be more efficient about it. So, it was time to do a little recruiting. Few things banded people together like dealing with the undead and Carania was counting on that. After examining her map, she decided to head back toward the town of Thorncatch that she had previously just passed through. She found the road again and made her way back to the town limits. Along the way, she discovered her horse Rhiannon wandering on the side of the road. She had thankfully fled when Carania had been shot and killed. Rhiannon was particularly happy when Carania approached.

The two of them stood outside of the gate of the one manor at Thorncatch which Carania assumed housed the Thorncatch family. Most villages and cities in Eloria were built around and named after the noble families that lived there. However, the gate was fastened shut and there was not a bit of movement in the place no matter how long Carania banged on the gate and yelled. Admitting defeat, she headed to the only tavern in town which bore the name of The Grasshopper. Carania pushed her way inside and pulled her hood down and shook her hair free. The first thing she was confronted with was the warmth and smoke from a fire. The second thing she noticed that there was a bird in the rafters and it was a raven.

Carania stared dumbfounded at the bird and it turned its head to stare back at her as it cawed. Strangely, she saw intelligence in the birds’ eyes. Of course, she knew that ravens were intelligent birds in their own right but there was something more in those shiny, obsidian eyes. She looked down at her hand which had the symbol of the raven on it and then back at the actual raven. It was too much to just be a coincidence, right?

“I could draw you a picture,” a voice said. “before she pecks out your eyes for looking at her funny.”

Carania tore her eyes away from the bird and looked toward the source of the voice. “You see it too?” She asked. She thought maybe the Raven Queen had sent the raven as a sign.

“Of course I see it too and she’s a her not an it,” the young man said. “Her name is Grim, short for Grimalkin.”

“Wait,” Carania said. “isn’t that just a generic term for a cat? That’s a bird.” She gestured at Grim as she said it as if it was not an obvious statement.

“Very smart. She is my familiar,” the young man said. “Which means she can change. We all change. She was a cat when I first summoned her but she changed along the way.” Carania sensed there was more meaning here than the words conveyed but she felt it was not the time to probe that particular subject.

“Sorry for assuming so much about tour familiar,” Carania said. “So you must be proficient in magic then? Oh! My name is Carania Garion. What’s your name?”

The young man took a drag off of the herb he had been smoking and smiled. “Sure, why not? My name is Arne and yes I am a wizard.”

“Arne what?” Carania asked.

“Simply Arne,” he said with a hard look that said ‘drop the subject’. “What’s your deal, Carania Garion?”

“I’m a paladin of the Raven Queen and I came here to ask the Thorncatch family for help in hunting the necromancer in the woods near here,” Carania said.

There was a silence during which Grim cawed and Arne took another drag from his herb and then he blew the smoke out slowly. “That was pretty direct,” he said. “I like that. It’s refreshingly honest. Unfortunately, Thorncatch Manor is all closed down. Lord and Lady Thorncatch left one day to travel and never came back. Tough luck there.”

“I suppose I could attempt the hunt on my own,” Carania said. “but I was told to get help where I could get it.”

“Told? Is there coin in it then?” Arne asked. “I could be convinced to help for the promise of a challenge and sufficient pay.”

“Well,” Carania said as she thought hard about that. “it is sort of a holy mission but I bet that the necromancer will have some gold that you’re free to have a share of.”

“A holy mission?” Arne asked. “I’m not so sure about all of that. Don’t get me wrong. I am experienced but I am not a holy person and I have never been on a holy mission before.”

A dwarf sitting at a table alone spoke up. “You’ve never been on a holy mission? Truly? It’s a little bit like sailing with the wind at your back. Somebody out there wants you to succeed. My name’s Galath Windham and I’m a cleric of Pelor. I’m definitely available to help you on your quest.”

“Just like that?” Arne asked. “I guess my share just shrank, huh?” He stubbed out the burning herb he had been smoking on the surface of the bar. It was not the most polite thing to do but Carania did not see any member of the staff about to yell at the wizard and Carania was not about to ruin a chance by scolding him herself.

Carania turned back to face Arne. “So you’ve let go of your reservations then? You’ll join me as well?” She smiled at the young man who paused and made a face like he had been tricked.

“Like I said,” Arne said. “I enjoy a good challenge and it’s been a long time since one came along. You came here looking for help and you’re going to get it.”

“Thank you,” Carania said. “I seem to have lucked out in Thorncatch afterall.”

“I take it from your statement that you have taken me up on my offer of help as well?” Galath asked. “Will an elf take help from a dwarf?”

“Hmm,” Carania said. “I suppose I have little choice.” Galath looked a bit disappointed at that but then Carania smiled. “Aside from that, I have no bigotry in my heart. All who oppose undeath are welcome.”

“That’s definitely in my job description,” Galath said. “I’ll fight by your side.”

“And I’ll fight a little behind the both of you where I hopefully won’t get hurt,” Arne said.

“That’s fair enough,” Carania said. “Sleep well because we ride out at dawn.”

Reunion at the New Moon Academy of Wizardry

April 20, 2018

Hollin Bellringer had arrived at the school reunion for the New Moon School of Wizardry a few minutes earlier. He was still tingling a bit hours after stepping out of the teleportation circle. He usually did not use teleportation as a mode of transportation but the invitation to the reunion had included a free round trip to Braddish which was only a long walk or a short ride to the school. He remembered making that trip with his friends late in his school days to eat lunch and try to sneak ale from the more flexible tavern workers. This time, the trip had been a bit shorter since he had hitched a ride with a carriage heading toward the school which had already been weighed down with others headed for the reunion. He had been hesitant about going at all but now that he had arrived, nostalgia had taken over and he found himself smiling.

They decided to hold the reunion outside in the Herald Memorial Courtyard. It was a full moon, of course, but those in attendance were also asked at the door to contribute some sort of light-producing spell for atmosphere. It was a little awkward when a non-magical guest showed up and had to inform the greeters but it was a nice idea all the same. The school could easily light the courtyard as there were magic lanterns already in place for safety and nighttime events. However, when Tritsi Highweather had volunteered to organize the event, the idea had caught on quickly when she suggested it. It was a way to show how much they had all grown from when a simple spell like Light was difficult to conjure. Hollin could see that Tritsi was quite pleased with herself over near the door, chatting away.

There was a tap on his shoulder and Hollin turned around to see Roxen Shadowend standing there in the dim yet festive light. Her floor-length dress showed off her deep blue skin and her hair was braided to highlight her prominent horns. Roxen was a tiefling, a race of humans who mixed their bloodline with dark, infernal or abyssal powers. Some saw tieflings strictly as servants of devils and demons but Hollin had been raised to give everybody a chance. It often paid to have an open mind.

“Roxy,” he said. “It’s been a really long time. How are you holding up?” She held out a long-stemmed glass which looked to be full of Blackwine and Hollin took it.

She smiled brightly, wickedly sharp teeth showing. “Things are great, Holls. I fell in with a monster hunting group a while ago and I have been having a blast.”

“Really?” he asked. “I can’t imagine getting used to all of that traveling. It also sounds like a dangerous line of work.”

“Of course it is,” she said. “but that’s part of the thrill. When you’re facing down a room of skeletons with only a few sellswords in between I just get goosebumps. It’s amazing.”

Hollin eyed her skeptically. “So you sleep in a tent?”

Roxy huffed and practically pouted, knowing where he was going with that question. “When I have to. There are inns all over the place too.”

“Sorry, Rox, I just know what family you come from,” he said, obviously teasing her a bit. “You had high standards back in school. You had a whole bed shipped in if I remember correctly.”

Roxen shrugged. “My parents allowed it so who was I to turn it down? Regardless, I’m made of stronger stuff these days.” She posed, making her right bicep bulge a little. It was not that impressive in general but for a wizard, it was pretty good. “What are you up to, judgy boy?”

Hollin was about to answer when he happened to catch sight of a dwarf making his way through the crowd. His red beard was out of control as usual but his hair was almost as well-braided as Roxen’s. “Thon!” he called out and the dwarf made his way over. “Thon Ironbeard, it’s been ages.”

Thon took a long swig from his pint of ale. “Too long,” he agreed. “I need to stand next to you so I look more handsome.”

Roxen rolled her eyes. “He looks fine,” she said.

“More than fine, I hope,” Hollin said.

“Hollin was just about to tell me what he’s been up to lately,” Roxen said. Both she and Thon looked expectantly. “Go on.”

Hollin nodded and smiled and sipped from his glass the pitch black but sweet liquid. “Well, it’s nothing as exciting as monster hunting. I just set up an enchanting workshop in Overbrook.”

“That’s kind of boring but not really surprising,” Roxen said. “You were always the fastest enchanter in our years there.”

“You were too good,” Thon said. “You must be raking it in. Overbrook has plenty of nobles and adventurers and the Guard pass through there all the time.”

Hollin smiled. “I do alright. It can get busy but most days are pretty laid back, the cost of enchanting is pretty limiting for the average person.” The truth was that Hollin had fallen in with the Broken Skull gang. They paid him quite well to enchant for them while he was still free to sell his services to whoever else came in the door. He was also their magic expert in that region and he consulted on a lot of their magical issues and problems. Of course, he would never tell even his oldest friends that.

A woman passed by and the hem of her dress brushed against Hollin’s leg which drew his attention. He watched her walk by, her auburn hair flowing loose and her green eyes sparkling. He knew exactly who she was and that is what surprised him.

“Is that Cassandra Oakspring?” Hollin asked.

“Looks like you don’t need glasses yet,” Thon said and took a big swig of his ale. “That’s her alright.”

Roxen looked around wildly until she spotted her. “Oh man, wow,” she said.

“Yeah,” Hollin said. “I wasn’t sure if she was going to come or not. She killed a dragon. I would have thought she would have better things to do.”

“Yeah but she lives here now,” Roxen said. “She’s definitely the coolest girl in school now.”

Hollin looked away from Cassandra and at Roxen with a smile. “Got a little crush?”

Roxen blushed. “No.”

“I’m thinking maybe she does,” Thon said with a grin. The two guys laughed and Roxen turned slightly away in mock anger.

It was great being back. Hollin found himself smiling brightly, far from his normally complicated life back in Overbrook. Part of him wanted to avoid Cassandra like the plague but another part of him wanted the thrill of talking to an officer of the law while working for one of the biggest thieve’s guilds in the country. This reunion was about to get interesting.

Is it Thursday Yet? : Critical Role

April 10, 2018

You might be confused. When I post something titled “Is it Thursday, Yet?” on a Tuesday, you might check your smartphone and answer “No” and you might follow up with “What happens on Thursday?”. Well, I will tell you which was the whole point of this post so I was going to explain anyway. On Thursday nights a program known as Critical Role airs online. It airs on something called Twitch which is a video streaming platform built for live shows. It is produced by a company called Geek and Sundry which was founded by the wonderful Felicia Day. Critical Role is a Dungeons and Dragons show where sessions of a campaign are played live on camera.

The stars of the show are a bunch of professional voice actors who discovered a love of the game. The history of the show is that Liam O’Brien had discussed Dungeons and Dragons with his colleague Matt Mercer with Matt trying to get Liam to play. Eventually, Liam and Sam Riegel decided to take Matt up on the offer for Liam’s birthday. They gathered a group of friends and work acquaintances and did a one-shot adventure. They were all quickly hooked. The group slowly grew to a whopping nine people playing their game in Matt Mercer’s house. After over a year of playing together, they were offered a deal by Geek and Sundry to make their home campaign into a show.

That is the strength of the show, at least for me. The show began as something all of them did for fun and as an excuse to spend time with friends and work colleagues. The whole cast chose to do the show because it was an excuse to get together weekly instead of monthly and they could call it work. The show started small on Twitch and nobody involved knew if the show would attract much interest. The show may have started small but the word started to get out quickly and it was soon gathering subscribers and fans like crazy. The show made a point to interact with fans without letting them guide the show or the characters. This created a strong, mostly positive community that were united in their love for the show and the people involved.

The Cast is as follows:

Matt Mercer – Matt is the Dungeon Master and is therefore in charge of the world that surrounds the player characters. He writes the world of the game in response to the decisions that the character’s decisions. He also voices the hundreds of non-player characters that the players meet and each one is beautifully voiced by Matt in countless different voices that he invents for each character. He is a tough but fair DM and he seems to love bringing his friends through new adventures every week.

Liam O’Brien – In the first campaign, Liam plays Vax’ildan, a half-elf rogue who is reckless and broody but he also enjoys playing pranks on his friends. Vax is the twin of Vex much to the constant confusion of everyone. In the second campaign, Liam plays Caleb, a human Wizard who is fearful and grubby. At some point, Liam loved the game so much that he started to DM for his kids.

Laura Bailey – In the first campaign, Laura plays Vex’ahlia, a half-elf ranger who seeks to hide her lowborn, poor upbringing by acting like royalty. Vex is the twin of Vax, which (again) is confusing. In the second campaign, Laura plays a tiefling cleric (and thief) named Jester who says whatever she is thinking and is constantly stirring the pot. Laura is superstitious about her dice and is constantly switching them out when they start to roll poorly.

Sam Riegel – In the first campaign, Sam plays Scanlan, a gnome bard who handles every situation with bravado, style, and poop jokes. Whenever Scanlan sang in-game, Sam would sing parody versions of popular songs with lyrics to match in-game events. In the second campaign, Sam plays Nott, a female goblin rogue who wears a porcelain doll’s face as a mask. Sam is constantly trolling the fans on camera and adds a ton of easter eggs to the experience.

Travis Willingham – In the first campaign, Travis plays Grog, a goliath barbarian who is bloodthirsty and dumb but he has a good heart deep down. Travis played his character’s stupidity to the hilt. In the second campaign, he plays a half-orc warlock named Fjord who wields sword magic and his razor wit. Travis is hilarious and is constantly hitting up subtle and blatant puns.

Marisha Ray – In the first campaign, Marisha plays Keyleth, a half-elf druid who is basically a clumsy homeschooled girl with a good heart. Keyleth ended up being the conscience of the group. In the second campaign, she plays Beau, a human monk who has a very laid back personality but she stands up for what’s right. Marisha is probably the most excitable cast member.

Taliesin Jaffe – In the first campaign, Taliesin plays Percy, a human gunslinger who invented the world’s first gun and struggles with his morality. Taliesin was very creative and he was constantly trying to introduce new elements into the game. In the second campaign, he plays Mollymauk, a tiefling bloodhunter who used to work for a traveling circus. In both campaigns, Taliesin plays custom-made character classes that were created by Matt.

Ashley Johnson – In the first campaign, Ashley plays Pike, a gnome cleric who was basically team mom. In the second campaign, Ashley plays Yasha, an aasimar barbarian who is tough but fair as she used to be a bouncer for the circus. During the first campaign, Ashley was cast in the TV show Blindspot. Since it films in New York, she often has to miss out on being on the show if she cannot Skype in.

Orion Acaba – In the first campaign, Orion plays Tiberius, a dragonborn sorcerer whose lack of social graces are balanced out by his immense magical power and creativity. Orion was constantly pushing the boundaries of the rules in a bid to be as effective as possible. He left the show about thirty episodes in.

The show has never gotten old to me as Matt and the cast are constantly balancing the progression of the main plot and also each character’s personal goals. The voice actors who play these characters imbue their characters with such personality that it feels like they are real at times. As the first campaign progressed, I got to watch people who were work friends become real friends. The adventures they go on are thrilling, funny, and sad. When my mom asked what it is like to play Dungeons and Dragons with my friends, I showed her an episode of Critical Role and said: “just take away the cameras”. I recommend the show but I acknowledge that each episode is long. The episodes average about four hours each and the first campaign was over 447 hours from 115 episodes. The new campaign is only over a dozen episodes and is an easier entry point.

When It All Ended Pt. 11

March 31, 2018

Garth Whispernight walked into his room and then he shut the door firmly and locked it and threw the deadbolt. He looked around the room, leaning back against the door. The mansion had responded to Percy’s desires to be a home to the Raiders by growing and evolving based on all of their subconscious desires. Garth’s room was pretty straightforward and was not as decorated as some of the other rooms. The main feature was some facsimiles of some of the objects that Garth had stolen over his career. It was none of the jewels or coin but was instead a few singular and unique trinkets from particularly memorable heists. In the middle of it all, there was something that he wished he had stolen and he would have if he had had the time.

It was a painting from his native Kofrain. The painting was on a ceramic surface and it was simple geometric shapes and colors. It was not really supposed to be anything. It was also most likely not worth anything as its style did not speak of any great skill in creating it. Still, it was important to Garth. The real one hung in the School for Thieves in the slums of Karaisar. Garth had stopped and looked at that painting every day since he was a little kid. For some reason, it had calmed him when the going got tough. It reminded him of simpler days before he had pissed off both the authorities and the guild by stealing from Lord Abdellah. That had been against the unspoken truce of the city. Garth had been the only one brave enough (or foolish enough) to pull it off.

He had been finally forced to flee but he had gotten his revenge and he gladly left even though it still made him sad to think of those he had left behind. He had carved a swath of destruction through the lands between Kofrain and Eloria. Garth liked to claim that he had joined Morgan’s Raiders because they caught him red-handed but the truth was that he had been ready for a change. What had started as a new challenge had eventually become a true calling. He liked playing hero with his new friends. He owed a lot to them. They had literally saved his life over and over but more than that, they had made his life worth living. They had also made him a better man which is exactly what real friends are supposed to do. Now, it was his turn to repay them.

He had been very careful not to say her name. He had been told that true names had a lot of power in the fairy world, especially with the ones residing in the feywild. This is also why he had never used his own true name while in the feywild. Of course, he had never used it anywhere else but that was a different story altogether. Now, it was time to break a rule.

“Lady Cliodhna, I would have words with you!” He called out into the air. He was not exactly sure what he expected to happen but the sudden appearance of the archfey on his bed was definitely not it. He blinked and backed up, nearly up against the opposite wall. This drew a laugh from the impossibly lovely woman.

“Surprised, Thief?” She asked. Outside of the wild beauty of the feywild, she looked even more beautiful. “I had not thought that you could be surprised.”

“I think I kind of expected that we would talk at a distance,” Garth said.

“Like your wizardess does?” Clio asked with a bright shining smile. “The two of us on either side of the great divide? What would be the fun of that?”

“How did you get here then?” Garth asked.

“How did I pass two planar barriers do you mean?” Clio asked. “I told you that all you had to do was call. I gave you great power through the use of my name and you finally gave in.”

“I did,” Garth said. “I feared you for a long time.”

“You still fear me,” Clio said with a toothy grin. “I can smell it on you.”

Those words and that one look made Garth’s heart pound all the faster. “Is that what you want? Me afraid? Is that like seasoning for the meat?”

Clio laughed again, this time a good long laugh. “Do you really think I want to eat you?”

“Don’t you?” Garth asked. “You always have a hungry look in your eyes when you look at me.”

“Eating a halfling is such an uncouth and mundane thing to do with one’s mouth,” Clio said. “There are much more enjoyable things to do with one’s mouth and other parts.” Her smile at that was so wicked that Garth found himself smiling back, a shiver going up and down his spine.

“I have never met a woman who matched my appetites,” Garth said gently. He was not sure if he fully believed the fey but he was definitely curious. The thrill of the game was a siren call, probably literally in this case. The possible reward was definitely worth the risk to him.

“And the thought that I may be your match thrills you,” Clio said. “Are you then afraid that I may exceed your appetites?”

“Not exactly,” Garth said. “I’m definitely excited.”

“I can tell,” Clio said with a musical little chuckle. Garth could hardly believe he was entertaining the thought that he was entertaining. In his wildest dreams, he could never have predicted this. Well, looking back, he should have seen this possibility during their first meeting.

Garth suddenly shook his head, shaking off that feeling for the moment. “This isn’t why I called you. I wanted to talk business.”

“Business?” Clio asked. “What business could possibly be more important than what is about to happen here and now?”

“Outside of this plane, there is a dragon in the Royal House of Eloria,” Garth said. “We intend to face it tomorrow and we intend to kill it. Frankly, we could use your help.”

“My help?” Clio asked. Her curiosity had clearly been piqued.

“There are lizard people in the city,” Garth said. “I would love it if you could help take care of them.”

“Is that all?” Clio asked. “A paltry thing. It has been far too long since I have felt blood trickling across my skin anyway. Name your deal.”

“Deal?” Garth asked. “I ask you to fight on our side against the dragon and its forces tomorrow and until the battle is over. I also request that you leave me in fighting shape tonight.”

“Easily done, I have great healing powers,” Clio said with a smile. “In return, I will dine with Elorian royalty, you will give me a tour, and then you and your friend will let me explore this realm on my own.”

Garth thought about it for a moment. “Do you intend to hurt the people of this land during this vacation?”

“That is not my intention,” she said.

Garth knew that the fey were compelled to speak the truth but they could come close enough to a lie to be deceptive and manipulative. “Alright, we have a deal.”

Cliodha patted the bed beside her. “Then come and let us seal it.”

When It All Ended Pt. 9

March 17, 2018

William Havelock and Garth Whispernight were sitting at the bar downstairs. During his exile from his homeland, William had learned to really enjoy a good tavern. There was usually fellowship, decent ale, and there was the possibility of a good brawl breaking out. William had earned his title when he was knighted. He did not come from nobility but he had instead made a name for himself in the tourneys all over Shera. He had fought threats to the land alongside prissy rich boys and girls and gained fame through hard work and bravery. However, it was not until he had officially become a full-time adventurer that he had downtime to discover the simple joys of drinking with friends. Of course, there was a time when it looked like William and Garth would never be friends.

Garth had come a long way himself, even farther than Shera. He had fled Kofrain himself when the desert had figuratively gotten too hot. When he had joined the party he would have been the first to admit that he was a scoundrel. He was proud of it. He called himself the world’s greatest thief but he had always done it for fun and not riches. William and Cass had been the ones to finally catch him and Morgan was the one who convinced him to join the group. What started as reluctant do-gooding turned into an exciting thrill ride which in turn led to him being as addicted to saving the day as the others were. The war of words between him and William had grown from animosity to petty fun and finally to real friendship. Garth had turned over a new leaf and while he still did not follow the laws of the land, he definitely used those powers for good.

“You are very quiet over there, Whisper,” William said, setting his mug down. “You also look a little green. You’re not scared are you?”

“Scared?” Garth asked with an incredulous look that had indeed been a look of dread a moment before. “Unlike you, I will never even be seen by the dragon. It won’t know what hit it when I get the killing blow.”

William laughed. “You? I’m sure you meant to say that it will be me who scores the killing blow and I will do it as I look that dragon in the eye. It will know who ended its life.”

“Will you two ever stop arguing?” Galath asked as he walked up and climbed up onto a stool. The older dwarf man had taken off his customary mail and cloak and he looked a lot more casual as a result. The party was used to him being so formal.

“I’m afraid not,” William said. “You and Morgan just might be stuck watching over us forever, old man.” He and Garth smiled at each other, they would be done sniping at each other for a while.

“True,” Galath said. “It’s not as if we’ve been able to unload either of you along the line.”

“We’re hard to get rid of,” Garth said proudly. “But who would want to get rid of a crack thief like me?”

“All of the nobles of Eloria for starters,” Galath said. “Usually I find your bravado a bit tiresome but we need your legendary confidence tomorrow, Whispernight.”

“I keep racking my brain for any more allies we could call on but I am separated from the Knights of Shera and most of the friends I personally made during our adventures are on the front lines,” William said. He reflexively looked over at the sword he carried with its hawk head pommel. He felt a brief guilt that he was not with his fellows in Shera or in the thick of battle with the brave Guard of Eloria. Then he remembered that if he had been, he would not be here to face the dragon and that was strangely comforting.

“Yes,” Galath agreed. “I too have been searching my heart for allies but to no avail.”

“What about Carania, Galath?” Garth asked.

Galath flinched at that. It was not a negative thing but just proof of how much that name affected him. “She would be very effective here but last I heard from her, she was dealing with a problem in the Underdark. Even if she was not down there, she would be on the front lines dealing with the undead that are rumored to be fighting in the war.”

“That’s a shame,” William said. “She really would be helpful even if this kind of strays from her mission from the goddess of death.”

“We all go above and beyond what we are asked to do, Mr. Havelock,” Galath said. “Also, I’ll remind you that she is no grim reaper but is as much a defender of life as she is a defender of death.”

“True,” William said. “I’m sorry for implying anything wrong with the lady. She has done right by us a couple of times now and I just wish she could be here now.”

“So do I,” Galath said. “But I’m sure that we will see her again.”

“I bet you will,” Garth said with an elbow to the dwarf’s ribs. “If you know what I mean.”

Galath coughed and shook his head. “I’m sure I have no idea what you mean.” The dwarf took a long sip of his tea, so much that the cup refilled as soon as he set it down. It was a bit of an irregularity for a dwarf to not be a drinker but Galath always wanted a clear head and sometimes drinking just reminded him of the friends he had lost when he had been petrified. He looked around and realized that all three of them were men separated from their original homes. While they were not the same, that thread had tied them together in the midst of a party of adventurers. “You know, maybe you two can go home after this.”

“Maybe I don’t want to go home,” Garth said. “Maybe there’s no real home to go back to.”

“Surely your home did not crumble to dust like mine did,” Galath said. “It is probably still there.”

“Not the structure, Galath,” Garth said. “Maybe I like it here better and maybe this is sort of my family now.”

“Has the thief grown a heart?” William asked with a smirk.

“No!” Garth yelled and then there was an intense silence. “I always had one, I guess.”

“Of course you did,” Galath said. “and I know how you feel. I will never forget the bond we have forged together.”

“Neither will I,” William said. “It is as strong as the vows I took as a knight. Maybe stronger.”

The three men drank to that.

When it All Ended Pt. 3

January 6, 2018

“A dragon?!” William Havelock nearly shouted when the group had reconvened. “We’re seriously considering fighting a dragon?”

“Such concern from the man who charged headlong into a cave with three hags in it the day before yesterday,” Morgan said.

“Hags are different and you know it,” William said.

“I think my contract specifically excludes messing with dragons,” Garth said. “Sorry guys, my hands are tied.”

“We never actually got around to drawing up a contract, Garth,” Morgan said.

“Well, that was an oversight on my part,” Garth said. “I won’t make that mistake the next time somebody needs my help.”

Morgan found herself smiling somewhat fiercely. She did not particularly want to go after a dragon either. However, the oath she had uttered when she became an adventurer was similar enough to the one she had made as a ranger. In Morgan Moonglow’s mind, that oath was unbreakable and if she could make a difference then she would. “Well, if you gentlemen are too afraid then there is no shame in camping right here. We should be back to collect you later.”

“Afraid?” William asked. “I wouldn’t use that word exactly. With you all at my back, I could charge into any battle. Garth, you can camp here alone.”

“A talent on my level should not be idle,” Garth said. “You know how my fingers start to itch when I’m bored.” In fact, that had led to complications with various members of the Guard early in their association as a team.

“Your skills are so legendary, Garth,” Morgan said with just a little sarcasm. “We need your sneaking skills and those deadly daggers of yours.”

“Well, the Shadow Teeth are not just any daggers,” Garth said. “That much is true. I guess I’ll have to come along but you definitely owe me for this.”

“Put it on my tab,” Morgan said. “How about the rest of you? This group has always been strictly voluntary. None of you have ever backed down from a fight yet but you can now.”

Cassandra spoke up, almost a squeak of a voice at first. “Well, I backed down that one time early on.” The moment when she had turned her back on them when the fate of the world was in the hands of the Scar Brotherhood would always be a painful memory for Cassandra. The fact that the magic she cherished so much had been her undoing had made the situation all the worse. She had seriously considered going back to the academy after that adventure.

“That’s hardly fair,” Galath said. “You were under an enchantment and at the end of that adventure you redeemed yourself twice over.” In fact, she had. Cassandra had broken the enchantment on her mind at the last possible moment and had provided just the distraction the team needed to save the world that first time.

“And you have been a constant companion ever since,” William said.

“Well, I’m not backing down this time,” Cassandra said. “A spellcaster is needed when taking on a dragon and besides I have studied them excessively. I’m in.”

“I have also read a lot about Dragons,” Percy said. “And none of you are as adept at counterspelling as I am. You would be dead in an instant without me. Besides, I would walk through fire for you, Morgan.”

Morgan found herself blushing, a slight crack in her usual tough demeanor. “And you have. I’m sure you remember the bit with the elementals.” Percival Stardane had seemed like an arrogant know-it-all when they had all met but that moment when he had literally walked through fire to offer a healing word to Morgan had convinced her that there was something more to the librarian.

“I remember everything,” Percy said. He and Morgan kissed. It was still new for them to show affection in front of the others but with a dragon looming on the horizon, neither of them really cared. They could be embarrassed afterward. Morgan found herself blinking and smiling as she finally pulled back and the world came rushing back in.

She cleared her throat. “What about you, Galath? You’re the last of us.” She managed to ask, turning toward the dwarf. He had been the last one to join the group but it had still been a long road together.

“Ms. Moonglow,” Galath began. He was always so formal. “If it were not for all of you then I would have been lost to time. I would have existed only as my own stone memorial, abandoned by the world in the forest. You restored me to life and gifted me with a whole new world and a whole new purpose. Namely, keeping you all alive. I know that all of you save Mr. Whispernight will say that there is no debt. There is a duty, though, because you are the closest thing I have to family now and I will always be there when things get rough.”

“I couldn’t have said it better myself,” Percy said. “Well, I probably could have but you get the idea. We’re all in then.”

“Then we’ll be off to save the King’s house and all the people of the city,” Morgan said. “We’ll be facing a green dragon. We do not know how old this thing is. It could be an adolescent, it could be ancient, or it could be anywhere in between.”

“If it’s ancient, there are many things that it is capable of,” Cassandra said. “Percival and I can write up a list together.”

“Between the two of us, we can probably tell you everything there is to know about it,” Percival said.

“What I’m wondering,” William said. “is why the dragon would attack the capital now. Is it just opportunity or is it part of a bigger plan?”

Morgan had not thought of that yet. “What are you saying, William?” She felt free to use his real name while they were all alone. Addressing him by his real name was a show of respect. “Do you think that this is somehow connected to the war?”

“That was my thought,” William said with a grave nod.

“That’s a scary thought,” Percy said. “There aren’t a lot of ways for the army of Shera to both summon and control a dragon. I have never heard of a dragon working with demons. They are usually selfish, arrogant creatures that have to be in charge and I would bet you that Vistra is much the same.”

“Well, whatever the answer to that mystery is,” Morgan said. “We might discover the answer.”

“If we survive,” Garth said.

“I have faith in us,” Morgan said.

 

When It All Ended Pt. 2

December 30, 2017

Morgan Moonglow put a hand on Hamm’s shoulder as he fell to his knees and breathed hard, he seemed to be coming down from some sort of panic. She shouted. “Galath!” When the dwarf ran over she spoke again. “Check him out, please.”

“I’d be happy to,” Galath said. “He looks physically alright but mentally… well, we’ll see won’t we?” He pressed his hand to Hamm’s other shoulder and it glowed for a moment and the color returned a bit to Hamm’s cheeks.

“Can you tell us what’s wrong?” Morgan asked. Hamm looked at her helplessly for a moment and then at the five others clustered around. Morgan gave them a look that clearly said to back off.

“I am happy to scout ahead a bit,” William said. He was a big knight in thick, steel armor and Hamm tilted away when he spoke. He ruffled Garth Whispernight’s hair, obviously part of a good-natured rivalry between the halfling and the human. “I’ll take Garth with me. Won’t I, Garth?”

“I guess I could stretch my legs,” Garth said. The way he talked, it sounded like he did not really care much.

Henry whistled for Hengroen and climbed aboard the horse. He rode slowly to allow Garth to keep up. The halfling eyed the horse with some nervousness. That left Galath, Percival Stardane, and Cassandra Oakspring nearby. Galath went back to tend the fire and the cooking he had been doing. Cassandra sat daintily on a log and opened a book. Morgan could see Percy’s eyes give that book an envious look but he stuck by Morgan’s side with a half-smile. She smiled back and turned to the dwarf in front of her who seemed to be coming back to reality.

“Now then,” Morgan said. “Can you tell us what you’re running from? I promise that we can protect you.”

“And we will also believe you,” Percy said. “We have already seen some crazy shit.” He smiled warmly at the man and Hamm couldn’t help but smile back.

“Well, I only saw it for a moment but I swore it saw me and it killed Moira and who knows how many others,” Hamm said. He realized he was still holding the satchel of firewood over his shoulder and he put it down.

“Yes, but what was it?” Morgan asked. The question was kind but firm. She had softened some working alongside her team but that ranger training was ingrained and kept her on task.

“A dragon!” Hamm blurted out. “A green dragon.”

“A dragon!?” Percival said loudly. There was something between fear and excitement in his eyes. Cassandra’s eyes went wide over on the log and her back went absolutely straight. “There hasn’t been a dragon sighting in Eloria for the past two years or so. A green dragon is even rarer. Hmm.” Cassandra was staring into space, seemingly doing the related calculations already.

“It had to be a dragon,” Hamm said. “It couldn’t be anything else.”

“As I said, we believe you, friend,” Percival said. “Besides that, there is no mistaking a dragon for anything else. The green ones are especially vibrant and easily recognized at a distance even by the yokelest of yokels.” Morgan reached over and physically covered his mouth before he could say any more.

“Where is the dragon?” Morgan asked with urgency. She had just let two of her people scout ahead and she was now doubting that decision just a little bit. She knew that William and Garth could take care of themselves but a dragon was a dragon.

“It’s in the capital,” Hamm managed. He was very tired even with Galath’s healing and it almost physically hurt to think back to what he saw.

“The capital?” Morgan asked, her eyes going wide a bit. “That’s about five miles from here.”

“Is it?” Hamm asked, blinking at that realization. He felt a bit safer with that knowledge but also completely out of place.

“And you were there earlier today?” Morgan asked. “That’s quite some run, um, sorry what was your name?”

“Hamm Stoutfire, at your service,” He said. “I owned a shop in the merchant’s district. Well, I guess I still own it if it was not destroyed.”

“I hope it’s still intact,” Morgan said. “Cassandra, please summon the boys back here. We need to gear up and ride on. We might be the only adventurers in the area capable of taking care of this.” Cassandra pressed a finger to her ear. It was an unnecessary gesture that usually signified that she was using a sending spell.

“You’re going to fight it!?” Hamm shouted, his eyes tinged with panic again.

“We’re going to try,” Morgan said.

“Really, it’s lucky we were in the area,” Percy said, pushing Morgan’s hand from his mouth. “We were dealing with a bit of business with some hags and a prophecy and funny enough we ended up fighting a newly minted vampire lord that some other country had dumped here. So we were just riding away from all of that when we met you. See? Lucky.”

“I could do with less of that kind of luck,” Galath said. “You’re never lucky to meet a dragon.”

Morgan covered Percy’s mouth again and gave him a pointed look. “Mr. Stoutfire does not need to know all of our business,” she said. She turned her gaze back toward Hamm. “You have been very kind to give us this information. We will be riding on to the capital. Do you have somewhere safe to go in the meantime?”

“I think I still have a cousin in Stoneswallow near here,” Hamm said. “Besides, it might be better to be underground right now.”

“Probably a good call,” Galath said. “And yet.”

Morgan shot him a look and he smiled and shrugged. He was already carrying over a bit of sausage and bread which he handed to Hamm along with what seemed to be a full waterskin. Hamm bit into the food without a second glance but did manage to mumble something thankful with his mouthful. With an uneasy glance back the way he came, he hurried down the road on wobbly legs. He had no more desire to be with people who were comfortable fighting dragons than he was to be actually near the dragon.

“Farewell, new friend!” Percy shouted after him, once again extricating himself from Morgan’s grip. “Safe travels!”

Death of a Halfling

March 4, 2017

Bron had placed the small body onto the wagon and stared at it for a moment. The stillness of the gnome was strange. His life had been full of death and chaos since he could remember. Sometimes it seemed as if blood had stained his skin more often than water had washed it clean. He had seen people fall beside him in combat before. However, this was back in his days with the orc clan that had birthed him. He had not cared much for those who had gone out of their way to make him feel unwelcome. Since his exile, he had worked alone until the dwarf had hired him in Neverwinter. Traveling with these others now was a new experience. After a few battles, he had a grudging respect for their abilities.

Of course, he had not respected the gnome. Even now he could not remember his name. He had called him “halfling” because it had annoyed the gnome originally. The little man had seemed harmless enough. In a world where Bron sorted things into whether they were a challenge or not a challenge, the gnome had been classified as “no challenge”. Bron did not have much experience with magic besides a single warlock in the clan who was lazy and the Witch. The gnome had been largely ineffective in the use of his magic previously.

That changed in the most recent glorious battle. In the midst of battle, the gnome warlock had stayed in a very heated battle. Bron had faced off against a strange barbarian goblin. However, the gnome had cheated him of his victory by magically turning the goblin into a pile of glitter. It had been shocking. Just hours earlier Bron had cut a goblin in half lengthwise and that had filled Bron with joy. In comparison, the transmutation of the goblin into glitter was deeply wrong. After a brief pause, the battle had begun again and Bron had been brought low by a bugbear. It was Bron’s first bugbear. He awoke again in time to see the gnome get savagely murdered by the bugbear.

The human who had promised them gold had waved his arms over the body but Bron knew it was over. The gnome had ceased being a person and was now a thing. A thing that Bron had carried out of the cave and placed on the wagon. The gnome was dead but he had left his mark on the party. Bron and most of the others had been covered in glitter in the battle. Bron had tried to wash it off in the stream but it would not be removed yet. It was like being haunted by the gnome’s ghost.

Of course, Bron’s thoughts did not dwell on all of this for long. In reality, all of that had passed through his head for only the briefest of moments. He felt a little sympathy for the gnome but that was tempered by the joy of finally finding the challenge he had been seeking. This would make him stronger. Anyway, he had only known the gnome for a few days. It was a shame that he was dead but he would shed no tears for the warlock.

 


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