Posts Tagged ‘d&d’

Horror

July 10, 2017

Horror slid the blade out of the last vampire and whipped the blood from it. He slipped the hood back over his head and looked around at his comrades. They were all looking at him and he hated it. He felt his face get hot and he turned away. He felt a hand on his shoulder and he shook it off. The hand returned and he turned and found he was face to face with Mercy. The anger died in his eyes and he took a deep breath. Mercy was the only one around who could possibly understand what he was going through. She had been like a sister to him. For all he knew, they probably were brother and sister.

The two of them had been left as orphans on the doorstep of the village guardhouse. This would have probably led to a normal adoption, perhaps by a member of the local guard or a farmer or something. However, there was a problem. The two were tieflings and their demonic appearance had frightened the villagers. Horns and red-tinged skin were clear signs that somewhere along the line their relatives had consorted with Asmodeus. Horror had heard that a local cleric had even called for the two babies to be drowned in a bucket full of holy water. There had been widespread support for that plan. However, luckily a passing stranger had an alternative plan that saved the lives of Horror and Mercy.

The stranger had been an old knight, sworn to hunt the darker monsters of the world. He whisked the babies away to his stronghold where he spent his time while waiting for quests. He declared that they would be trained by his people to aid in the hunt of monsters. While many would think they qualified as monsters, they would do penance for their bloodline by hunting fellow monsters. Horror had embraced what they called him. He declared himself a horror to monsters and anybody who do evil to man. Mercy pitied the monsters and felt that their death was a mercy. Neither of them was allowed beyond the gates of the compound without a target.

“How soon do we saddle up to return?” Horror asked. Their ‘father’ would be waiting for a report.

“Soon, I think,” Mercy said. She was putting spent arrows back into her quiver to clean and re-fletch later. She was very conscientious that way. Seeing her taking such care compelled Horror to pull a cloth from his pocket and wipe off his sword. There was no need to bring vampire blood all the way home. “You don’t have to be so bitter about it.”

“I am tired of being caged up almost all of the time.” Horror said. “Every time we’re out here, I want to stay.”

“He keeps us for our own safety, Horror,” She said.

“Once upon a time it was for our safety,” Horror said. “I think we can handle ourselves now. We’re not children anymore. By blade and magic, I can defend myself.”

“We have a duty to remove threats from the world,” Mercy said. “We have a duty to end the shadows that hound the citizenry.”

“I can do that out there just as well as in a cage,” he said.

“There is no way they will let you just walk away,” she said. “Be content.”

“I feel like a falcon with a hood,” he said. “Every time I see the light, it is to kill whatever I’m told. We never even get to meet the people we are defending.”

“I don’t think they want to meet us,” she said. “We’re better off where we are.”

“You keep saying we,” he said.

“So do you,” she said. “We have been a ‘we’ since we were babies.”

“Since we are divided on the matter,” he said. “Perhaps it is about time we stopped being a ‘we’ so that we can become an I.”

“Two eyes are better than one,” she said with a smile.

“Don’t be cute,” he said and smiled despite the argument.

“I couldn’t if I tried,” she said.

“That is intolerance talking,” he said. “They can’t all be like that.”

“I would like to think that as well,” she said.

Jacques Ironclad walked into the courtyard at that moment, his great axe across his broad back. He looked like he had seen a thousand battles but maybe it had been more than that. He was a battle-hardened hunter who had been appointed the keeper of Horror and Mercy. He was the falconer to the two deadly falcons. Needless to say, he and Horror did not get along.

“Time to get back in the cart, you two,” he said. “We want to give the all clear to the villagers.”

“We were just cleaning up,” Horror said.

“No backtalk, please,” Jacques said. “Get in the cart.”

“No backtalk, huh?” Horror said. “We just vanquished a whole nest of vampires. The least they could do is thank us before they start to throw rocks.”

“Horror,” Mercy interjected. “Please don’t.”

Jacques did not argue.  Instead, he just swung a fist at Horror but this was merely sidestepped. Jacques used the momentum to quickly follow the right with a charging left. Horror caught that with a smile and raised his own fist to strike but Mercy caught his wrist. The momentary distraction allowed Jacques to rock him with another right to the jaw. When the world stopped shaking, Horror found himself on his hands and feet.

“Stop!” Mercy cried out. “He’ll come along quietly.”

“He had better,” Jacques said and stood by. The two tieflings walked toward the cart and climbed inside. Horror’s eyes burned with anger as Jacques closed and locked the door. Somewhere, a bell rang to signal the villagers that they could come back out.

The cart rattled on, back toward the compound. When it arrived, Jacques yanked open the door, ready to bring the tieflings to their master for praise or discipline. Instead, he found only Mercy who gave a little shrug and pointed to a hole that had been burned into the floor of the cart. Horror was nowhere to be seen.

 

Hurricane Hak

March 18, 2017

Hak ran through the trees as quickly as he could. At age twelve, he was already over five feet tall and very athletic but that was not strange for a half-orc. He would have had an easy time running except for the tree roots underfoot and the arrows in Hak’s back. Now that his seemingly bottomless rage had run out, Hak could feel the blood dripping down his back even as he ran. He could not stop running or the slavers would catch him again. Two people had already died in the escape attempt, Hak had to make this count or he would join them or he would be back in chains. Both were pretty much the same option.

It had been a long year since Hak had seen the tribe that had raised him. Some of them were half-orcs and some of them were human but they lived together in relative harmony. They hunted together and fought off powerful enemies together. It was here that Hak had learned how to use the rage his blood gave him to his advantage. He missed the grip of the enormous sword he had earned in combat on his sixth birthday. The slavers took the tribe by surprise, using powerful sleep spells to steal away some of the younger members. Hak was shipped far away and put to work. He lived his life in chains now but that was over now if he could just keep running.

As he ran past a tree he reached up and pulled a large branch off of it and carried it with him. If they caught up to him, he would make them pay for every lash of the whip and every boot to his ribs. It almost made him hope they would catch up, even if it would probably mean his death. He was a rabid dog. If he was cornered, he would kill anybody who came into reach. The trees fell away and he was in suddenly in the open which filled his stomach with anticipation. It would not be long now. His heart fell at the sight in front of him. It was a cliff and beyond that was the sea. Hak had run the wrong way.

The men and women who had been following slowed to a jog, forming a semi-circle to make sure Hak could not get away. Hak raised the branch and swung it a few times, showing them that he meant business. He backed almost to the edge of the cliff and growled at the slavers. He tried to access that rage again but it had been depleted. He was just so tired but he would not give up no matter what. A dwarf with a battle ax charged and Hak swung as hard as he could. The branch broke a little on the dwarf’s head, sending the slaver stumbling away. Hak laughed wildly, his eyes wide open.

The tiefling woman to the dwarf’s right did not take such chances. She aimed a crossbow and fired it into Hak’s shoulder. There was a terrible moment when Hak fell to one knee and he felt they were going to take him alive. He tried to push himself back to his feet but he lost his balance. Time slowed down as he realized he was falling over the edge. He could see the disappointed faces of the slavers. He could see the dwarf already yelling at the woman for firing her crossbow. Then they were gone and Hak was alone, falling parallel to the rocky cliff face. At least the slavers had lost. Then came the water and sweet oblivion.

The light came again and Hak held his arms in front of his face. There was the sound of seagulls and the crashing of waves. He realized that the swaying he was feeling was real and not just from his recent blood loss. Though the sun hurt, Hak dared to open his eyes anyway. He was on a ship on what looked like the ocean. Standing over him was a woman with cloth strips tied over her eyes. She smiled in relief as he moved to sit up even though he let out a grunt as he did. She walked down the length of the ship, the ship’s crew took little notice as they went about their duties.

“So you’re finally awake, are ye?” A man with a long beard said. He walked with purpose and authority and Hak knew he must be in charge. He was a human but he was not an ordinary one.

“I am awake. How–?” Hak asked.

“How did you get here?” The man asked. “We fished you out of the ocean. You’re lucky we recruited a cleric a while ago.”

“Lucky,” Hak said. He looked up and could not see the cliff anywhere. “Very lucky. Thank you.”

“We didn’t save you for free. We could use a big lad like you,” The man said.

Hak tensed, remembering how the slavers had put him to work. “You could, huh?”

“Yes. For pay, of course,” the man said with a smile. “You would follow my orders but no more chains and no more whips. What do you think?”

“I have a choice?” Hak asked. He could not hide his surprise.

“Every person in the world has a choice, lad. What are you going to do with yours?”

Hak looked the man in the eye for a long moment. “I will follow you. See what the ocean has to offer,” Hak said at last.

“Good,” the man said. “You look like you could use a drink. Then we’ll see about putting you to work. I’m Captain Trystan but most people call me The Shark. What do we call you?”

“I am Hak.”

The man grinned and patted Hak on the shoulder. “Hak the Hurricane. I like it.”

Luck is for Losers (I Still Hate my Dice)

March 13, 2017

Luck is for Losers

Because you don’t want to be lucky, you want to be good at what you do.

Phillip Brooks (better known as CM Punk) has a tattoo that says “Luck is for Losers”. That phrase has resonated me ever since I saw the tattoo. As I have stated in the past, I am a skeptic. As a skeptic, I am picky about what I believe in. I believe in science even if it does not need me to believe in it. I believe in gravity, genetics and free will. I believe in a lot of forces of the universe but I do not believe in luck. I do not believe in a magical force that pushes outcomes one way or another based on the whims of the universe. Who or what would control such a force? Believing in luck feels weird and wrong.


But seriously, don’t buy too many lottery tickets.

I do believe in chance and probability. When I was in high school, I took a probability and statistics class. I learned all sorts of practical things. I learned that if you buy a lottery ticket, it is best to pick numbers that are not a day of the year. You do not raise your odds of winning but you lower your odds of sharing the prize if you happen to win as a lot of people play birthdays, anniversaries or other significant dates. I learned that specific numbers (like 666) can pop up at any given time and they do not mean anything. I learned about the chances of owning a mentally ill dog, a concept that had never occurred to me. The mathematics made sense to me.


I missed and everybody watched it happen.

Of course, I started playing tabletop roleplaying games a while ago and my beliefs were challenged. Lately, this has really started to bother me. On Saturday, our group once again met to deal with dungeons and/or dragons. Our adventuring party (including my character Bron) set out to deal with some bandits that were plaguing a small town. While we made mistakes, we would have done fine if we had not consistently rolled low when it counted. When you are rolling dice, the house always wins eventually but in a tabletop game, 7 people should be able to cover for low rolls. This was barely the case.


Oh Wil Wheaton, bless these dice!

Of course, we have all had bad streaks of rolling dice. One of the things I like about the group is that we are all huge nerds and geeks. The group is mostly made up of people of science. Vets, patent researchers, and IT professionals. As a former theater guy, writer and legal professional I guess I am comparatively a ‘poet’ in the group. They are all also very creative people but we all love science in our own way. And yet, we do a lot of superstitious things. We talk about ‘blessing’ dice with good luck or ‘cursing’ dice with bad luck. We switch dice after a horrible streak of dice and we retire dice ‘responsible’ for particularly bad numbers.


I thought about smashing my dice but I just watched this a few times instead. Therapeutic.

It does not make any sense and I find myself fighting against it. I also find myself fighting the feeling that I am responsible for my bad rolls. I have to believe that if I could roll well by skill and knowledge of the physical realities then I would. For example, if I knew how to move my hand and when to release and how hard to throw the die, I would practice all of those things. The reason that it bothers me is that this is my character. I wrote him to be such a strong fighter and he cannot seem to actually hit anything. All of that backstory is not matching up to the realities when it comes to game time. It is frustrating. I just have to hang on to the belief that eventually, my rolls will average out.

Brofka the Wise

April 11, 2013

If Sabin wanted to be exhausted and covered in mud, he could have stayed back home in Sodor.  Sometimes herding pigs sounded like a pleasant alternative to dealing with Brofka the Wise.  Brofka the Bully was a better nickname but Sabin dared not say it out loud.  Of course, he had said it out loud earlier that morning when Brofka had woken him up before sunrise.  Sabin was sporting a bruise on his left cheek as a result.

 

The rain was still drizzling down on Sabin and the surrounding yard but that was fine since it had been pouring earlier.  Thankfully, it was midsummer so the rain wasn’t cold especially since Sabin was soaked to the bone.  By this point, Sabin was taking any wins he could get.

 

With all this water around, of course Brofka had Sabin working on his fire magic.  He was supposed to be lighting fires but the most he could get was puffs of steam.  It was really hard to concentrate with all of the rain and it was well past time for lunch.  Brofka had made it clear that he could not come inside and eat until he lit a fire.  Sometimes he hated that old man.

 

He turned from glaring at Brofka’s house to focus on the little lean to he had built so the wood was at least not getting directly rained on.  He pointed the palm of his right hand towards the wood and brought up his will, focused it and attempted to will the logs to light on fire.  All he received was a slightly encouraging billow of steam.  It was bigger than the little puffs he was getting earlier.  He sighed and sat on a damp stump and wondered if this would ever work.  He had done it before but often it was not on purpose.

 

The back door to the house opened suddenly and Sabin jumped to his feet and pointed his palm at the wood.  He could hear Brofka groan in frustration behind him.

 

“Have you not set the wood on fire yet?  It’s been two hours!” He bellowed from the doorway.

 

“I’m trying!” Sabin responded roughly without looking at his mentor. “Sir.” He added as an afterthought.

“Trying isn’t going to cut it; actually succeeding is the only way you’re getting a midday meal. Well, at this rate it will be a mid-afternoon meal.”

 

Sabin only tried to ignore the old man and focus his will on the logs again.  Brofka put the hood of his cloak up and walked towards Sabin.  He was carrying a very familiar short stick.  Sabin tried to ignore this as well and desperately tried to focus on setting the logs ablaze.  Of course, Brofka was so close that he was really hard to ignore.

 

Brofka laughed and pointed at the lean to and the logs. “It seems you’re a better carpenter than you are a sorcerer.  Believe me, that is not saying much.  Can you even get anything more than steam?”

 

Sabin turned to glare at Brofka. “Sir, I lit it earlier.”  He said simply. He was trying not to lose his temper.

 

“Yeah?  What happened?  Why didn’t you come get me?”

 

“I was about to but the rain put it out.” Sabin admitted.

 

“It doesn’t count then.  Focus and get it done. I’m waiting.” Brofka folded his arms across his chest and stared.

 

Sabin pointed his palm again and began to focus his will.  Of course, this is when Brofka drove the short stick into Sabin’s side. Both men could hear the soft crack of a rib breaking.  Sabin nearly sank to one knee but barely stayed standing. The pain was intense, and for a moment all Sabin could see was stars.

 

“Focus!  In battle, you’d never get this moment to recover!  Light the fire!”

 

Sabin grunted and focused again on the wood. “Shut up, old man.”

 

“Light the fire!  Get your worthless peasant ass in gear!”

 

Sabin turned to face Brofka, his eyes ablaze in a vicious glare. “Shut up!” And with those words a jet of flame erupted from Sabin’s palm and lit the logs and the little lean to on fire.  The fire felt nice, as damp as Sabin was.  There was a long silence as Brofka stared at Sabin and Sabin glared at Brofka.

 

It was Brofka who broke the silence after several tense moments.  “It’s about time.” He picked up a bucket the rain had filled with water and used it to put out the fire. He took a deep breath. “So, do you understand?”

 

Sabin thought about that question. “I think I’m starting to… but I don’t think the lesson is ‘get pissed to cast spells’, right?”

 

“No, Boy.  The use of magic does not come from emotion. It comes from will and it comes from belief.  You can focus all day on those damned logs and it won’t mean a thing unless you believe you can create fire.  You have to believe that you can do it, picture it in your head.  If you hold that belief in front of you, nobody will be able to stop you. I’ll make sure that I train you to be better than I was, yeah?”

 

“Yes sir, I guess no gambling away my money then.” Sabin said with a smirk.

 

“You are an ass.” Brofka’s slight smile didn’t match his words.

 

“So… can I go inside now?”

 

“Sure.” He turned to lead the way inside. “By the way, Boy… good job.”

 

Sabin smiled and stepped into the dry interior of the little cottage.


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