Posts Tagged ‘d&d’

Pantheon Addendum

November 23, 2019

The following are more minor deities of the realms.   These are mostly neutral parties that did not take sides in the conflict that broke the world.

Ogun, God of the Forge

Ogun was a lonely and solitary god, who did not speak to most of the other gods. The only exception was his rare talks with Ioun and her entourage as they engaged Ogun’s intellect. He used them to inspire new ideas. He was mostly preoccupied with his creations. He loved to create, spending every day at the forge to create for the sake of creating. However, when the other gods learned of him, they sought him out. They tasked him with creating magical weapons and tools for them. He decided to take neither side and created many magical items for the various deities and their followers. He also discovered the secret of making sentient weapons and items, a skill that has rarely been replicated. He used a lot of the same techniques to give birth to living constructs. Many of them guarded his forge against both sides and assisted their master at the forge. He is not a very skillful fighter and he lost his arms and face while guarding his forge in the final conflict. He was able to construct new arms, even better-suited for his tasks. He replaced his face with a mask of metal and stone. After the Final Conflict, he was locked deep under the world at its very center. He was content to build and destroy his own creations and never see the world again. Ogun’s worshippers are makers, happy to get their hands dirty in order to make things nobody has ever seen before.

Nami, The Iron Maiden

Nami was Ogun’s greatest creation, a perfect living construct that he meticulously created over years of careful creation. Left to her own devices (as all constructs were) she made the choice on her own to assist Ogun with his projects. She quickly proved herself to be the most capable of his assistants and in return, he infused her with greater god energy, a spark from his own being. She became the mother of all constructs, from that date onward having a hand in the creation of every construct created. She became a true love and companion of Ogun after spending a few years on her own, as suggested by Ogun to make sure that she was not merely subservient to his will. She eventually had a few of her own projects. She organized the defense in the final conflict and she was the one who personally crafted the replacement parts of her true love. She gladly went into exile with Ogun after the conflict so that they could both create together. Nami’s worshippers often crossover with Ogun’s. If the world’s remaining constructs could talk, they might reveal that they worship Nami.

Esho, the Goddess of Time

Nobody is quite sure how she does it but Esho maintains the flow of time and keeps it moving forward. An enigmatic figure, she was rarely ever seen by the other gods and never by mortals. Still, scraps of her story have filtered down through the years. She was most likely the first deity to form into being and was alone in the void before creation. She is self-sufficient, a total loner who never needed any companionship. She did not take part in the Final Conflict as she needed to be completely focused on her job. She also had no attachments to the others and did not want to take sides anyway. After the conflict, she disappeared and nobody could ever find her. She passed beyond the planes but still obviously maintains the flow of time. She has a few odd worshippers but she pays them no mind. She gets annoyed when magic users cast time-based spells like Slow or Haste.

Fear

A truly sadistic force of nature, Fear never took a proper name and never allied itself with any of the other gods. A true shapechanger, nobody knows what Fear’s base form is. Fear delighted in invoking its namesake in all mortal beings, keeping them all beneath its heel. It absorbed the world’s fears and grew very powerful. Before the Final Conflict, the good gods banished Fear to the Dream Realm where it bides its time creating nightmares. Any worshippers are absolutely insane.

Uzas, the Goddess of Trickery

The Goddess of Trickery is a more innocent version of the Cyric (Corruption) and a more stable version of Akanay (Chaos). She is also the twin sister of Laverna (Luck). She is the patron of those who rejects society’s rules and often society itself. She believes that the world is more interesting if you sew a little confusion and surprise to spice things up. Uzas enjoys playing pranks on people and drawing a reaction from the world around her and therefore prizes those individuals who feel the same. She also prizes individuality. During the Final Battle, she fled in fear along with her sister (although Laverna came back) and she regretted it. Nobody is quite sure where she went after the conflict but there are reports of pranks being played in the various heavens.

Lady of Pain

The mysterious Lady who presides over the equally mysterious City of Sigil. Nobody is quite sure what the Lady looks like as most look down or away when they sense her approach. She is surrounded by chains and strips of cloth that seem to have a mind of their own and swirl around her, hiding her from view. Also, people can kind of feel when she is around. Nobody is quite sure what she is or where she came from either. What little that is known about her or her wishes are communicated by six lieutenants that see to the day to day operation of Sigil. She is not a deity, or at least she does not wish to be worshipped as one. Anybody heard worshipping her is usually gruesomely murdered by the Lady herself. She is known to defend Sigil from any major threat. In fact, there is a rumor that the Lady easily defeated and vivisected a Tarrasque sent to dominate Sigil. It is best to just avoid the Lady when possible, get in and out of Sigil quickly, and make sure you follow her rules.

The Escape

August 17, 2019

Alvus Silverleaf and Berry Lampwick slowed to a stop in a clearing in the woods. Actually, they were forced to stop as Alvus had to catch his breath, not accustomed to running in the first place and definitely not up to it after being held in captivity for so long. If his captors had allowed him to sleep, he could have boosted his speed with magic but they had taken to purposefully keeping him awake and unrested in between tests. It had been two days since the last test and Alvus was exhausted so he could only look at Berry helplessly. She looked about worriedly.

Berry Lampwick was the best mercenary in the region for infiltrating hazardous buildings on missions. This particular jailbreak had been tricky but it was almost over. If they got a little farther away, there was no way they could track them fast enough. She was beginning to have doubts about Silverleaf’s constitution holding up long enough to get through the woods.

“Are you alright, Lord Silverleaf?” Berry asked, drawing her twin daggers just in case.

“Well,” Silverleaf said. “other than not sleeping for two days and being captive for two weeks, I’m fine. Not that I’m complaining, but who are you?”

“Berry Lampwick, sneak thief for hire,” Berry said. “Your sister hired me to come and get you.”

“Well, I’m not going to complain about somebody coming to pick my locks,” Silverleaf said. “Wait, you called me Lord Silverleaf?”

Berry took a deep breath. “I hate to be the one to tell you this but your father was killed when you were kidnapped,” she said.

“So he’s dead, huh?” Silverleaf asked. “I thought it would be a long time before I would take over. He didn’t deserve to go out that way.” He looked away so that Berry could not see his face. She could see his shoulders slump, though.

“I’m so sorry,” Berry said. “Your sister is waiting for you. We need to get you to safety.”

Silverleaf took a deep breath and looked back in the direction they came, clenching his fists. “You’re right but those people will burn,” he said. “As soon as I regroup with my sister, we’ll rain down fire on that place.” He was suddenly so much more tired than he had been a moment earlier.

“That place is obviously owned by the Heartsongs,” Berry asked. “Why did the Heartsong family kidnap you, anyway?”

Silverleaf paused from glaring back in the direction of the manor. “This is one of Lord Heartsong’s secret manors,” he said. “They have apparently been kidnapping sorcerers and keeping them in hidden locations. They are running tests to see what makes a sorcerer.”

“Involuntarily no less,” Berry said. “What a bunch of assholes. Do you think they have learned anything?”

“I was as uncooperative as I could be,” Silverleaf said. “but I have no idea what they have learned. If they figure out how to reliably make sorcerers, that will definitely not be a good thing. We have to stop them.”

“I might consider giving you a discount for helping out with that mission,” Berry said. “I’ll help you stop these kidnappings.”

A voice echoed from the edge of the clearing. “You’ll stop no one! You’ve crossed the Heartsongs,” the voice said. “Nobody does that twice. Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Lord Heartsong.” Berry felt her body seizing up and she could not move a muscle. At the same time, a tall tiefling appeared standing dramatically on a stone.

“I will do more than cross you, Heartsong,” Silverleaf said. “I will see you and your gang of hoods hang for this.”

“Unfortunately, I am about to kill your halfling friend there and take you back to my manor,” Lord Heartsong said. “You’ll have to wait a long time to get your revenge.” He laughed loud and long.

Silverleaf grinned. “You dumb bastard,” he said. “You made a fatal mistake.”

Lord Heartsong walked toward Berry, a knife drawn to slit her throat. “I don’t make mistakes, Silverleaf,” he said. “You’re the one who is mistaken.”

“Fool,” Silverleaf said. “My sister sent this woman and my sister is a Silverleaf. A Silverleaf does not spare a single copper when something is important.”

A crossbow bolt sailed out of the woods and sank into Lord Heartsong’s arm. Berry Lampwick was suddenly free and she leaped up and sank a dagger into Lord Heartsong’s eye. Heartsong vanished in a puff of acrid-smelling smoke and soldiers emblazoned with the Heartsong symbol rushed into the clearing. Berry moved to protect Silverleaf while the other mercenaries rushed to their aid and started combatting the Heartsong forces. The battle was brief. Lord Heartsong should have brought more underlings.

“Come and help Lord Silverleaf to his feet,” Berry said after the battle was over. “We need to leave this place before that lunatic comes back with more people.”

Two mercenaries moved to lift up Silverleaf and help him as they moved through the forest. Berry led the way, making sure her charge was kept safe. Silverleaf actually fell asleep before they got back to the carriage on the road. Berry saw that he was safely tucked into a makeshift bed before climbing aboard herself for the ride back to Silverleaf Manor. The Lady Silverleaf would pay her handsomely but honestly, she was just happy to see the man safe. She had heard stories of how honorable the Silverleaf family was and was happy to help. If that meant staying on for a war against the Heartsong family, so be it.

Character Classes Pt. 3

July 22, 2019

Clerics

The holy messengers of the gods, clerics are agents of the church and the gods. Most clerics live to carry out the mission of the departed gods in the world they left behind. They channel the power of divinity to use magic. Because there are so many gods, there is a whole rainbow of clerics. Each cleric usually takes on the aspects and mission of their god. Thus they are categorized into different domains based on what the cleric’s life mission or specialty is. Those include Life, Light, Knowledge, Nature, Tempest, Trickery, and War. Many gods overlap domains so devotees can have different focuses on the tasks before them. Clerics also take on many different missions. Some become priests and clergypeople in cities and towns, others travel to spread the good word, and others seek out evil in various forms to destroy it. Different clerics also act differently. Some are evangelists, seeking to convert those around them to the will of the gods. Others are satisfied with simply providing a good example of what a good life can provide to people. Of course, there is such a thing as neutral or evil clerics who base their actions on the worship of the fallen gods. However, they tend to work in secret while good clerics work to make the world a better place in the public eye.

 

Paladins

Paladins are often the more force-based arm of the church. Like clerics, paladins are also in the service of gods but they are more often the stick than the carrot. The paladin is the picture of the knight in gleaming armor but they are many other things. They can look like many other character classes as well. There are few paladins who linger in stationary service, many heed the call to adventure. They have made an oath to their particular god to fight for truth and righteousness. Paladins are a shining example to other followers of the faith and while their personal strength is important, they also inspire strength from those around them. Most paladins are selfless, devoted to fulfilling their oath instead of their own worldly gain. Paladins attend schooling in both divinity and combat to learn the skills needed for the tough road ahead. Like clerics, Paladins also bring people closer to the gods and the church. However, they do it less through proselytizing than through being an example. They are literal symbols of their gods that walk the world with the church’s symbols on their gear.

 

Monks

Masters of martial arts, Monks have learned how to battle through feats of skill and athleticism. They do this by learning how to tap into inner reserves of energy called Ki. Ki is inner energy that comes through their minds and bodies from the very fabric of the universe. Monks are able to obtain this ability through monastic tradition and rigorous training of mind and body. The training of monks is mostly secretive and many legends have been created that most schools do not actively try to dispel. More than any other character class, monks are amazing at hand to hand fighting. Their rigorous training and strength of will make the vaunted nine points literal magical weapons. Monks are also proficient with exceptional and exotic weapons that others have rarely seen before. Monks journey on the road to adventure to achieve physical and spiritual growth. While monks are often raised apart from society in order to hone their great abilities, they also realize that the purpose of these skills is not for themselves. What is the forging and honing of a blade without using it for some purpose? Monks are not trained to desire violence (although some do) but obviously recognize its use in self-defense and for the good of the people.

 

Rangers

Rangers are trained to be hunters, experts at tracking and incapacitating or killing their prey. It is not uncommon for small villagers to have a few rangers around to keep the food supply up. Others work in law enforcement, sent to track down dangerous criminals on the run, lost in the wilderness. Others are leaders in monster hunts or in hunting down dangerous animals. Like some druids and barbarians, rangers are not as used to be among the people of the world as they are trained to roam the lonely wilderness. Rangers are trained to hunt both alone and with a pack of other rangers. Rangers also have an affinity for animals as they can also be trained to form an affinity. Rangers are also traditionally really good with bow and arrow and other projectile weapons. Rangers also do a lot of studying of their surroundings and the monsters they might face. They have what are called favored terrain and favored enemy. Favored terrain is often the land that the ranger was trained in and they know a lot about it that will help with the hunt. A favored enemy is the one type of creature the ranger has observed or studied the most and therefore they know a lot about how to hunt it and hurt it.

Character Classes Pt. 2

July 15, 2019

Fighters

The term ‘fighter’ encompasses a lot of types of people. Fighters are soldiers, guards, sellswords, farmers and much much more. Fighters are anybody who picks up a weapon and becomes skilled at using it. Fighters come from literally all walks of life and all social and economic backgrounds. There are academies that teach fighting styles all over the world that cater to the wealthy but also to those who wish to enter military or law enforcement fields. There are also plenty of fighters who learned through messy life experience. There are highly skilled and educated fighters but even they can be defeated by a fighter with heart and soul. Fighters basically break down into three categories which are champions, battle masters, and spell swords. Champions are those who rely on physical power and precision over skill. Battle masters are those who focus more on skill and strategy to help control the battlefield. Fighters are also not precluded from using magic as some have learned to imbue or accompany their weapons with magic similar to Warlocks and Wizards. Any weapon is very deadly in the hands of a fighter with or without magic.

Barbarians

Barbarian is kind of a loaded term that covers more than just the stereotypical barbarian. Those barbarians are people of the wild places who are often nomadic. Specifically, barbarians are those who have learned to harness the primal rage that every being has inside. They are able to tap into that well of rage to increase their strength, speed, and durability. There are generally two schools of this discipline. There are those who draw fully from the mind and soul of the barbarian, the so-called berzerkers. These barbarians’ skills are more physical-based. There are also those who draw from animal spirits called ‘totems’ that come from nature. The use of totems allows barbarians to channel aspects of animals to enhance their own skills. Barbarians are among the toughest of the character classes as they often live a rougher life which hardens them against the rigors they might face in battle. In other words, they know how to take a hit. In addition, ‘rage’ is not necessarily gibbering and raving anger although it can be. There is such a thing as cold rage and some barbarians experience intense joy when they unleash their rage.

Bards

Bards are usually performers of some type. They spend their life traveling the world and spreading their particular type of entertainment. Bards are people who are gifted with the magic of turning emotion and imagination into power. They are masters of swaying people to their cause in order to smooth the way forward. Of course, not all of what bards do is actually magic. Even without the use of actual magic, they can also help through sheer force of charisma. Bards are often the more charismatic members of a party of adventurers but that does not mean they are always the voice of the party. Bards come from many different backgrounds. They are actors, musicians, poets, writers, politicians, carnival performers, and so on. There are different classifications of bards (though bards can be hard to pin down) and these classifications are called colleges. The two most prominent ones are lore and valor. Bards of Lore are gatherers of information and more likely to take on wizardly aspects. Bards of Valor seek to encourage and inspire people with their tales and actions and their magic is more tied to actual physical violence.

Druids

Druids are those people who are attuned with nature. This is a deeply spiritual connection that often goes beyond any connection with the gods. This, of course, does not mean that druids are not religious but their power comes directly from nature itself. Druidic magic is passed down from generation to generation in an informal setting, often but not always through familial bonds. Druids have mastered nature-based spells that others find challenging. Their connection with nature usually means that they live in the wilderness, cut off from society but not always. There are such things as village druids who live on the outskirts of cities and villages and are sometimes consulted for healing, dealing with abominations, and other nature-based problems. Though rare, there are also urban druids who sometimes inhabit the sewers and green spaces in cities. Druids have a particular skill to change into wild animals that they have seen for various purposes, a power greater than a simple polymorph spell. Druids operate in societies known as “circles”. These circles allow people who live lives in the lonely wilderness a sense of community even if they live alone. Of course, druids can also easily talk to animals so they are never truly alone.

Character Classes Pt. 1

July 8, 2019

I thought I would work on developing some thoughts I have had on the player character classes to be used in my Dungeons and Dragons setting. Some of my thoughts are based on expanding the concepts of each class. Some or all of these thoughts have probably been thought of before but I want to expand my own thinking beyond the stereotypes of the genre. The short stories I have written so far also strive to explore each of these roles and I will continue to do so as I keep expanding this world. Anyway, here is part one of three.

Wizards

The most common magic user in the whole of the world. Wizarding comes from study, practice, experimentation, and knowledge passed down through the years. Wizards stand on the shoulders of giants. Well, not literally, but they work off the foundation that their forebearers and teachers built for them. Wizards are a dime a dozen as anybody with a good enough head on their shoulders can learn spells. And so many people know a few spells but are not anything to write home about. These local wizards are more often known as ‘hedge wizards’ and they use what spells they know to help their local villages. True Wizards are something else entirely. They can often be found as adventurers or hired by nobles and royalty. Wizard training is usually done in a formal setting in schools where admission is based on aptitude, wealth, and/or lineage. The third kind of wizard is somewhat rare and that is the witch. Witches are generally rural wizards who have less formalized training mostly based on knowledge passed from person to person. Wizards also make up the entirety of utility magic users like enchanters. Enchanters usually do not become adventurers and tend to stay put to provide for the needs of the people for coin.

Warlocks

Warlocks are less common as magic users but there are still plenty around. Warlocks gain their magic from non-human patrons from beyond the world of man. They are therefore conduits of magical power and knowledge that comes from making deals with these beings. People make deals with all sorts of beings from the planes beyond the material. The first of these are the faeries who dwell in the Feywild in the chaotic maelstrom of wild magic. The second of these are the devils who dwell in the Nine Hells and impart their infernal knowledge. The third group is the celestials though not the angels or the deities themselves but the enigmatic beings that moved into the Upper Planes along with them. The fourth group is the most mysterious as some Warlocks call on beings from beyond, most of them nameless and shapeless and of unknown origin but could be more proof that there was something before the Gods. It can be hard to fully trust a Warlock as their deal with their patron sometimes drives their decisions. Haunted by dreams and voices from beyond, warlocks often have difficult choices to make that concern the clashes between free will and their supposed calling.

Sorcerers

The rarest of the magic users, Sorcerers are fewer and farther between than any other magic user in the world. Sorcerers are people who are born with the power of magic flowing through them which they can use to approximate the spells of other magic users. Except their magic does not operate the same way that it works for others. Their magic is less predictable and comes from inborn wells of power and intuition and practice. If anybody knows how sorcerers are made, they have not revealed it to anybody. Theories abound but nobody knows how they are made for sure or how to test those theories. Some think they are created when a child is born near a place of magical fallout. Others think that they have something to do with the blood of dragons, faeries, celestials or demigods. Others think the power comes from something much older than Gods and much more mysterious. Sorcerers remain a mystery but they are much revered and sought out for their unique magical abilities.

Rogues

Rogues are often the sneaky individuals who roam the world sticking to the shadows and the hidden places. The most commonly known rogue is the thief. Men and women with quick fingers who fleece the rich and they are the balancing force that opposes the law. These burglars and cutpurses are sometimes good to have along with adventuring parties as their nimble fingers and criminal experience allows them to disable traps. There is also the assassin, a killer who strikes from the shadows for coin. Assassins are not necessarily criminals as many governments employ killers for their own purposes. There are also the rogues who dabble in magic called arcane tricksters. These rogues use magic and practical methods much like their purely practical counterparts. Of course, many officers of the law and bounty hunters can also use the techniques of a rogue. Detectives and soldiers often study their prey enough that they learn to act as they do and use the shadows to their advantage. Rogues tend to be secretive folk and tend to blend into society. Many of the best of them are employed by big gangs or thieves guilds.

An Ode Remembered

April 17, 2019

“Read that last bit back to me, Halas,” Darden said, sipping the last of his glass of blackwine.

Halas finished writing and then took a deep breath. “Of course, sir,” he said. “You said ‘ And so the song of the sea was now safely in the hands of the library in <>.”

“Great,” Darden said. “Another of my stories written down for posterity. You can go home now. Take the rest of the roast with you.”

“Yes, sir,” Halas said, setting his book aside on the desk and wiping the nib of his pen clean and setting it aside too. He stood up. “Have a good night.”

“You too, Halas,” Darden said. “And stop calling me ‘sir’.” He smiled as Halas shrugged and shuffled out of the room, headed to the kitchen to pick up the remains of the roast to take home with him. Darden slumped in his chair, relaxing as he stared into the fire in his fireplace.

Dictating stories of his adventures with Halas always stirred up all sorts of memories for Darden. Some of those memories were very good and some of them were very bad and everywhere in between. In his youth, he had been inspired to leave home instead of following in the family business. He had become a wandering bard, touring the country and performing for money and he had seen a lot. At some point, he had unlocked the magic that music contained thanks to the teachings of an elder bard far to the north. He had become an adventurer then, helping a group of like-minded individuals fight evil and rescue the common man. He had had a long and successful career and he had made his fortune. In fact, he had given away more than he had earned and he still found himself rich.

He remembered how delighted he had been when he discovered that his voice could hurt and heal, weaken and strengthen. He had traveled with a wizard gnome, a drow thief, a human sorceress, a half-orc bruiser, and a tiefling swordswoman. He had made friends with these people which had made up for his lonely childhood. All along the journey, he had found many of the pieces he had felt missing early on. He grew into a stronger person, a hero. He had found love and lost it. Now in his declining years, he was trying to get it all down on paper with Halas’ help. He did not want his stories to disappear from the world when he disappeared from the world. He hated these morose moments in front of the fire. Perhaps it was time to go to bed. There was a knock at the door.

“Halas?” Darden called out. “Why did you knock? You know you’re always welcome.”

A familiar elven face opened the door. “I am not Halas,” the man said. “So I thought I should knock.”

Darden’s heart nearly stopped. “Kalavas!?” He shouted. “Is it really you?”

“It is, old friend,” Kalavas said. “I hope it is not too late for a visit. I was passing through and I heard you had a house in this town.”

“Friend?” Darden asked. “Of course, you’re welcome but I would have thought you were done with me.”

“Done with you?” Kalavas asked, his laughter was genuine. “You were the one who led to my awakening.”

“I mean, you’re not wrong,” Darden said. “I did lead the way for the wizard that broke the spell on you but…”

“Yes?” Kalavas asked, his eyes curious and amused. “Are you torturing yourself?”

“I could have led somebody to you long before I did,” Darden said. “Somebody could have released the spell years earlier. I visited you and sang to you instead of helping you.”

“Is that all?” Kalavas asked. “I should have visited decades ago. You were a child, you can hardly be blamed for your romantic notions.”

“Romantic notions?” Darden asked. “What do you mean?”

“I still remember the songs you sang to me when I was petrified,” Kalavas said. “I remember many of the words you told me.”

“You could hear all of that?” Darden asked.

“Sort of,” Kalavas said. “It was much like I was in a dream.”

“So you knew I had a crush on you,” Darden said. It was not phrased as a question but he still eyed Kalavas closely.

“I did not want to mention it when I woke up,” Kalavas said. “I thought it might be too awkward and I have no preference for men.”

“I guess I should thank you,” Darden said. “You look exactly the same as back then.”

“We elves age slowly,” Kalavas said. “I wish you could live as long as I will.”

“Me too,” Darden said. “But it is nice to have a proper ending.”

“You had a good life,” Kalavas said. “I have heard some stories.”

Darden smiled. “I did have a good life. Soon you will be able to read all about it.”

Kalavas smiled. “I’m glad. You did a lot of good in the world. I hope your stories can inspire others to do just as good.”

“I hope they do better,” Darden said. “We should always be better than we were before.”

“That is a noble sentiment,” Kalavas said. “I suppose that is something the younger races are better at. Improving.”

“Why don’t you stay the night?” Darden asked. “Have a glass of wine with me.” He turned to grab the bottle but when he turned back, Kalavas was nowhere in sight.

Had he imagined the whole thing? Had he simply had too much blackwine and it turned his own memories against him? Perhaps. Or perhaps Kalavas did not want to linger. Darden had a feeling he would never get the answer to his questions. Still, the experience left him feeling lighter. It also might make for a good page or two for his books. He would think on it when he was clear-headed in the morning.

(Written on 4/13/19)

The Scene of the Battle

March 23, 2019

The battle had happened some nights ago when soldiers from two armies met at the crossroads and the result had not been pretty. Bystanders with their trade wagons had been sent scattering to the four winds. One of the wagons had broken a wheel and their owners had been forced to abandon it. Constable Lucia Ironpaw spotted it in an instant. Apples were scattered on the road beneath it.   Some of the baskets had been taken away from the cart by hand by fleeing traders. There was blood all over the ground but the bodies had already been removed. Frankly, Lucia felt more sympathy for the traders than the soldiers who had only brought the violence. This was no righteous war for peace and liberty, this was a trade war. They had only fought for money and power. It disgusted Lucia to hear of such greed.

It was Lucia who had been assigned to assess the site of the violence for any more clues as to which factions had been involved. There was a low fog but the area was clearly a mess even in low visibility. Lucia had heard that nobody had died in the violence but Lucia doubted that statement when she looked the site over. There was so much blood everywhere. There were even a few puddles of it here and there. Lucia gestured and her celestial cat familiar appeared out of thin air and approached one of the puddles. He sniffed at the puddle and Lucia could smell the rotten iron smell of the blood of battle. She turned up her nose and divorced her senses from the cat’s for a moment. She used her eyes for a moment, trying not to retch from the intense smell.

Directly in the middle of the crossroads, the ground was scorched black in a wide radius. Lucia knew the effects of the fireball spell well. Somebody had detonated a fireball in what would have been the middle of the crowd. This would have been devastating but it also would have taken a lot of the will to fight from both sides. It made Lucia wonder which side had done it. Perhaps a wandering wizard or sorcerer had detonated the fireball in hopes of stopping the fighting. There were no witness reports that mentioned who had cast the spell. Lucia nudged at a bit of blackened grass with her foot. She had long proposed research into time travel magic for law enforcement use but the suggestion had always been shot down. It was the only true way to solve mysteries like this. She shook her head and moved on.

From behind her she heard her cat, Caleb, let out a long plaintive meow which means he had found something. The cat sat patiently, staring with its one eye. The other eye was not damaged, the cat had chosen to appear like that. Somehow, the lack of an eye did not impede its sight in any way. Lucia allowed her senses to be swept into the cat once again which was always both familiar and disorienting to suddenly be so low to the ground. She instantly sensed what the cat had. It was an intense smell of brimstone that meant that this had been no ordinary battle. While she did not want to jump to conclusions, Lucia knew from school that brimstone often meant the presence of some sort of demonic being. With her perspective so low to the ground, Lucia could see something scratched into the dirt. She left the cat’s perspective and shook her head to adjust again. She crouched next to the drawing in the dirt. It had been disturbed by stomping feet and burning fire but they might have been runes at one point.

Magickal runes do not just get drawn for no reason though Lucia supposed they could have been normal runes left as some sort of message left for communication over time. Still, one of them looked like half of a very powerful magickal rune she had seen in many books. She had a hunch that it might have been a trigger for a trap. There had to be more to this. Lucia did not really believe in coincidences. She pulled out a few pieces of paper and carefully sketched what she could make out of the symbols. She then dug a way under them to see if there had been some hidden evil. She came up empty and started to look around to see what else could have hidden whatever the runes had triggered. That is when Lucia spotted the lone tree on one corner of the crossroads. Travelers would often sit beneath that tree to get out of the sun, one last break before reaching the town market. Now Lucia spotted what looked like putrid corruption around a branch high up in the tree. The bark had turned blackish-green with white veins. Was it some sort of side effect of a spell?

Lucia sent her senses back into Caleb the Celestial Cat and the cat slowly began to climb the tree, far easier than Lucia could have climbed. The smell of brimstone was almost unbearable as the cat approached the blighted spot on the tree. The cat’s paws tentatively tested the blighted bark but it seemed stable enough to climb on and it did no damage. Just above the branch, there was a hollow in the tree trunk, somewhere a bird or a squirrel might have made their home at one point. Now, no living thing would make a home there. It was absolutely putrid, the air thick with brimstone. The cat poked its head into the hollow and both it and Lucia saw a small bundle. It looked like a material component bag but it also looked like it had detonated. Lucia was forced to conclude that her hunch was probably correct. Somebody had laid a demonic trap and it was hard to tell what that was now that the evidence was mostly destroyed. Either side could have laid this trap or perhaps a third party. For what purpose? Lucia could only report the results of her investigation to her superiors and see what the information led to. She moved under the tree and caught her cat as he jumped from the tree and headed back to her horse to return to town.

When It All Ended Pt. 16

March 9, 2019

Morgan’s Raiders gathered once again in Percival’s Magical Mansion, a place that had been their home on the road for years. They had been brought before the Royal Court of Eloria as the chaos was winding down in the streets outside of the palace. They had all been in rough shape but high off their victory and honored to have an audience with the King and Queen. After that audience, they retreated into their magical mansion where they each took time to bathe and tend to their wounds. When they met again in the common room, they could all feel finality in the air. It was a momentous occasion. They had slain the dragon, saved the princess, and perhaps saved the kingdom. They had been through so much together.

“So what next, Raiders?” Morgan asked as she sat on the bar.

“Well,” Percival said. “There’s the King’s offer on the table. Posts in the six districts of Eloria. We’d be set for life.”

“Are we really willing to retire and take a government job?” Garth asked. He looked dubious as if he was gauging the others’ interest before answering.

“Forsake all of the glory for a relatively quiet life?” William asked.

“I think I’ve had enough, personally,” Cassandra said. “I’ve learned a lot with you all and I would like to pass that on to the students of the future.”

There was a pregnant pause after that admission. Everybody thought about that for a bit.

“I’m glad you said that,” William said. “I also want to teach. I think I could show the young a thing or two about how to swing a weapon.”

“I’m tired,” Galath said. “I’ve been doing this a long time. I think I’m ready for retirement.”

“What do you think boss?” Cassandra asked. She was suddenly worried that she had disappointed a woman who she had respected for a long time.

“I think we just lost half of our party,” Morgan said. “It would be hard to continue on after that.”

“I’m sorry,” Cassandra said but Morgan held her hand up.

“I’m kidding, Cass,” she said. “I think we’ve had our time. I want to go home and spend some time getting to know my mother better.”

“And I would like to return to the library,” Percival said. “I’ve been away for so long now and I’m sure the place is falling apart without me. Besides, you all have given me so many stories to write.”

“I guess I want to return too,” Cassandra said. “Back to New Moon Academy but as a teacher instead of a student.” She thought she might invite Princess Cora along just in case the princess was inclined to say yes.

“You’d be a great teacher, Cassandra,” Galath said. “I prefer the quiet life so I suppose I would choose the plains of Hasse. I have fond memories of traveling across those plains. Also, I believe that William wants to be near the mountains of Stull.”

“You are correct, Galath,” William said. “I have heard good things about the Battle Arts Academy. Besides, it’s closer to my native land.”

“And you, Garth?” Morgan asked. “You are being characteristically quiet. Do you have qualms about working for the law of the land?”

“Well,” Garth said. “I may be a thief but I only became one out of necessity. Over time your good influence has allowed me to change my ways. Maybe I can continue to use my criminal expertise for some good. I would like to get that pardon he offered in writing, though.”

“I’m sure that can be arranged,” Morgan said. “I’m a little nervous about installing you among the Guard near the sea but I suppose you’ve earned Eloria’s trust.”

“I suppose that closes this chapter in our lives then,” Percival said. “Do we have any loose ends here?”

“We unleashed a faery and a djinn on the capital of Eloria,” Morgan said. “Did anyone see what happened to them?”

“Monela and Clio? I saw them fly off together,” Cassandra said. “I mean I promised Monela she could go when the battle was done but I wish she had stopped to say goodbye.”

“Same goes for Clio, I guess,” Garth said. “I had a feeling she would bolt.”

“I worry about the damage the two of them could do together,” Morgan said.

“Should we go after them?” Percival asked. “You know we would follow you on one more adventure.”

“And yet we just retired as adventurers,” Morgan said. “So I guess we’ll have to wait and see if they cause trouble. The king can command us to take action at that point.”

“Agreed,” William said.

“I think it will be fine,” Galath said with a shrug. “What can they really do?”

“Maybe Monela will do something better with her second chance,” Cassandra said. “And Clio was never really evil, right?”

“She always looks out for number one,” Garth said. “She isn’t so stupid to bring the world down around herself.”

“Then I guess we have to go back to court in the morning and tell them our decision,” Morgan said. “Take your time and drink and eat. We have plenty of time. I’m going back upstairs to rest.”

They all said their goodnights to Morgan and she took her leave and went back up the stairs and into the bedroom. After so much time she was grateful to feel the burden of leadership slide off of her. She looked forward to her new life of relative ease. A few moments later, Percival stepped into their room and she turned to smile at him.

“You didn’t have to come up here too,” Morgan said. “You could have stayed down there with them.”

“It was important that I come up here,” Percival said. “Or should I say I came up here for something important.”

“What?” Morgan asked and laughed. “Speak plainly, librarian.”

Percival sank to his knees and held up a golden ring. “Morgan Moonglow, will you marry me?”

Morgan was taken aback for a moment but she grinned and reached for the ring. “Yes!” Her hand slipped through the ring which was somehow insubstantial.

“Sorry,” Percival said. “That was an illusion. I don’t have the real ring yet but we can get it.”

Morgan laughed again. “You know I don’t need anything too gaudy. We’ll pick it out together.”

“Yes,” Percival said. “Together.”

And then they kissed.

Banished

January 19, 2019

Katelyn stumbled and tripped and it was only then that she realized that she was on top of a hill. She started to tumble down the hill, as an alien landscape flew by in a blur. A string of curses flew out of her mouth as she tucked and rolled, trying to protect her body from the fall. She felt her body hit several hard objects but thankfully they were only glancing blows and each hit drove the breath from her body, leaving her gasping for air as she rolled to a stop. She ended up on her back looking up at the sky. Well, it would have been the sky if it were not for all of the trees. She had no idea where she was but she had never seen trees before. Well, she had seen them in books and at the gallery but had never seen any in person. She decided to rest for a moment as there did not seem to be any danger close at hand.

“Is dead?” A deep voice asked. Katelyn tried to move her head to follow the sound but winced at a literal pain in her neck.

“She moved,” A female voice said. “I would think that means that she’s alive.”

“No eat?” The deep, gravelly voice asked. To Katelyn, whoever it was sounded disappointed.

“I keep telling you,” the woman said. “people don’t really taste very good. Are you really that hungry?”

“Always,” the gravelly voice said.

“Fair enough,” the woman said.

Katelyn sighed. “Can you show yourselves?” She called out. “You can actually talk to me and not just about me.” Katelyn was used to being the center of attention but this was not the same.

Two heads popped into her field of view and if she felt up to moving, she might have tried to scramble away. What she saw was a half-orc with a broken-looking face and a red-skinned demon. Her mind tried to make sense of things but for a moment her eyes just went wide. Then she realized that the demon was actually a tiefling, one who had demon energies in the blood. The woman was neither good nor evil inherently. Still, strangers were not to be trusted.

“Are you alright?” the woman asked. “It sounded like you took quite a fall.”

“You think?” Katelyn said with her best withering glare. “I feel about as bad as I look.”

“Pretty,” the Half-Orc said.

“Kris is right,” the woman said with a roguish smile. “you are quite beautiful.”

Katelyn blushed. “You’re not so bad yourself,” she said. “Are you a good tiefling or a bad tiefling?”

The woman grinned. “Only time will tell,” she said. “For now, we mean you no harm. What’s your name, stranger?”

“I’m not sure I should give it,” Katelyn said. “Why should I trust you?”

“That’s fair,” the woman said. “Let me put it this way: Can you move? If the two of us walk away right now, will you survive?”

“I guess that’s also fair,” Katelyn said. “I guess I’m just a little touchy, I just got betrayed by my one of my partners and I’m a bit suspicious at the moment.”

“I’ll tell you what, I’ll go first,” the woman said. “This is Kris and my name is Random Starfire.”

“That’s quite an odd name,” Katelyn said.

“It fits,” Random said. “I like to keep them guessing.”

Katelyn looked up at Kris. “And what’s your family name?”

“Just Kris,” Kris growled with a blank look in her eyes.

“I don’t mean to be rude,” Katelyn said. “but are you a boy half-orc or a girl half-orc?” She gave her best smile which Kris did not respond to.

“Kris is just Kris,” Kris said and looked away. “No flirt.”

“Sorry,” Katelyn said with a little laugh. “It’s a natural defense mechanism. My name is Katelyn Brandywater.”

Random was going to say something but she was cut off by Kris. “Don’t drown,” Kris said. Before Katelyn or Random could respond, Kris grabbed a bottle of viscous red liquid and overturned it into Katelyn’s mouth. She swallowed hard over and over, trying not to drown just like Kris had said. The liquid tasted somewhat spicy and bitter at the same time but not altogether unpleasant. When Kris pulled the bottle away, Katelyn found herself licking her lips as an afterthought.

“What?” Katelyn managed to ask.

“A healing potion,” Random said. “Sorry about Kris’ bedside manner but just relax and let it do its work.”

Katelyn closed her eyes and felt her bruises, cuts, and broken bones start to heal. She felt warm all over and she let out a contented sigh. She did not feel back to perfect condition but she felt a lot better and she slowly sat up and started to make sure all of her parts were still attached. Everything was still in place so she pushed herself to her feet and brushed herself off the best she could.

“My thanks,” Katelyn said. “Now I can properly introduce myself. My name is Katelyn Brandywater of Sigil. Actress, sword fighter, and all around performer extraordinaire!” Katelyn bowed with a flourish and rose back with a smile and just a touch of dizziness.

“Sigil?” Kris grunted, giving Random a questioning look.

“Search me,” Random said. “I’ve never heard of it myself.”

“It’s the City of Doors out there on the planar sea, so to speak,” Katelyn said. “The important part is that it was my home where I performed with my troupe. That is, until I was tricked by a woman I thought was my friend. She nearly killed me.”

“Didn’t,” Kris said with a shrug.

“Yes,” Katelyn said. “I suppose that’s the right way to look at it.”

“Kris and I are survivors too,” Random said. “It’s really the best kind of person to be.”

“Really? Katelyn asked. “What’s your story?”

Pekko Atlas Pt. 2

January 14, 2019

pekko

Triele
Humans 46% Half-Elves 24% Elves 10% Dwarves 12%
Half-Orcs 5% Halflings 8% Tieflings 6% Gnomes 3%

Triele is divided into four large regions with a central, land-locked seat of power and wealth. To the north are cold wildlands with mountains and cliffs on the northern and western coast. The northerners do not fit into civilization very well but they are loyal to the Kings of Triele. To the south are the majority of the farmlands, which feed the country and trade with Ukresh. To the west are the lands where there are predominantly merchants and crafters. To the east is a region of magic users and a center for raising a military and thus many schools exist there. The central capital city is where most of the wealthy reside. The King of Triele lives there and rules with absolute power. Curiously, the citizens of Triele have little use for money among each other and only deal with currency with foreign powers. They have developed an internal trading system that fulfills most of the needs of everybody. Therefore, the jewels and gold go to the capital.

Ukresh
Humans 35% Half-Elves 21% Elves 15% Halflings 12%
Tieflings 11% Dwarves 9% Gnomes 7% Half-Orcs 5%

Is ruled with absolute certainty by King Murat who lives in the castle-fortress in the Ukreshi capital. The royal family rarely leaves the capital and prefers to let their agents carry out their will throughout the land. These local lords have great leeway outside of the commands of the royal family and some use this to subjugate the people of Ukresh. Upsetting the king (or the lords for that matter) is completely unwise, as they have absolute power to punish the citizenry and often use it. This is also known as a land that birthed the traditional idea of witches. Covens of witches inhabit the wilderness against the government’s wishes. As a result of their rural upbringing, a witch’s looks range from rustic to absolutely filthy. Many villages rely on these witches and will ally with them in secret to protect them from the government in exchange for healing and magical favors. Also, the King has ordered tight security for the borders of the land which often makes things more difficult for trade caravans coming from Triele.

Astala
Elves 25% Half-Elves 21% Humans 19% Halflings 12%
Tieflings 11% Dwarves 9% Gnomes 3% Half-Orcs >1%

Astala is ruled from the Star Island far to the north and no army has ever made it that far north. In fact, most foreigners have never traveled that far north as it is cold there and most of the trading is done on the southern borders. In the southern parts, merchants are everywhere and most of them learn sign language in multiple languages as a means to communicate secretly with each other. In the far north are the hearty tribes who protect the capital and have often shipped out to fight Astala’s wars. In many places, there are hearty farmers who have to work hard to grow food in the northern land. There are also great hunters and magic users all over. Then there is the poison plains to the east, which are impassable and forbidden. There are some who live there, twisted creatures that are known as Drow but little contact is made with them.

Kuma-Jo
Elves 27% Half-Elves 23% Humans 21% Halflings 10%
Tieflings 7% Dragonborn 6% Gnomes 4% Dwarves 2%

Kuma-Jo has been ruled over by an Emperor (or Empress) since the days after the sundering of the continents. Many royal families have come and gone but the sanctity of the royal house of the empire has always been preserved. So has the code of honor that has been passed down from the honored ancestors of modern Kuma-Jo. The signature armor and weapons have not changed over the ages and their style has only been honed and refined as the years went by. The code of honor is very important to the warriors of Kuma-Jo (and the civilians too) much like the knights of Shera. Much of the culture of the island is dictated by ceremony and adherence to it (at least for outward appearances) is very important. Still, those who buck tradition are not necessarily outcasts but they do not quite fit into the culture as well. Local lords rule over divisions of the island and each is required to swear fealty to the empire and each new ruler.

Kusura
Elves 20% Half-Elves 20% Humans 15% Halflings 15%
Tieflings 13% Half-Orcs 12% Gnomes 4% Dwarves 1%

Kusura is fairly well known as the land of ninja assassins and there are many schools there where natives and some foreigners are taught the art of stealth and the silent kill. The schools each have a guild family as their patron which fund the school and decide the curriculum. These guild families rule the island nation by a council with a ruling figurehead. This ceremonial figurehead is decided by an annual test of skills that involve a champion put forward by each guild family. These guild families are also pretty strictly divided by race, each using their racial traits to aid their specialties. The guild families rarely cooperate with each other, preferring to keep private and cooperation is something that should cause alarm. Each family takes contracts and hires out their ninjas for riches or political favors. As one would expect, the island is eerily quiet and outsiders often find themselves intimidated by the deathly stillness practiced by every single denizen of Kusura.

The Crumbs
(The racial and cultural makeup is too varied and mysterious to be measured by any reliable census)

The Crumbs are a series of uncharted islands that stretch between the East and West Continents. They are called as such because people claim that the two continents were once one continent and they were broken in half like breaking a loaf of bread. Of course, all of the inhabited islands have names but nobody has bothered to chart them. There are so many islands that it is hard to navigate all of the channels and most people don’t bother and simply go around through the waters to the south. It is rumored that the pirate factions have maps or special magical artifacts that help to navigate the Crumbs in order to hide from the various naval forces of both continents. There are also indigenous people on certain islands but they tend to be pretty isolated from the rest of the world due to the difficulties of getting in and out of the Crumbs.


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