Posts Tagged ‘Dungeons and Dragons’

Possession

September 23, 2019

“Don’t do it,” a little voice in Renna head said but Karen was not really listening. Her eyes looked unfocused as she finished tying the gnome to a table. She swayed a bit and her unnatural movements might have scared the gnome if the guy was awake. She finished securing his wrists and ankles and then she walked toward where the knife was.

“Please don’t do this,” the little voice said. “You don’t want to do this. This isn’t you!” Once again, Renna disregarded the voice and picked up the knife. Something made her mouth smile but it was not her. This was not like her at all. She was a healer, not a butcher. All of her oaths and faith seemed to be lost in a fog. She raised the knife and prepared to cut. It had to be precise.

“Do not do this!” the voice screamed. “You can stop. You can stop now.” Renna shook her head and started to lower the blade. The gnome, Calba Halfstone started to wake up. He saw the knife and started to try and scream and squirm. He could not get away and all he managed to do was slide the knife’s blade against his skin, marking it. It was not precise. Renna frowned. This would not do. She tried to refocus on making the correct mark. That internal voice was screaming wordlessly in fear and frustration. It was kind of annoying.

She drove her elbow into Halfstone’s face, trying to subdue him. The blow made a sickening noise but Halfstone did not stop moving. So frustrating. She briefly contemplated using the knife but that was not what the plan was. It was at this point that Renna heard and then felt music surrounding her. Such pleasant music. She felt herself begin to fade, dropping to her knees. The voice inside was elated, cheering wildly. As she unwillingly laid down on the floor, she heard the gnome yelling something about a necklace. Renna was wearing a necklace. Was there a connection there? Then she fell asleep.

She had no idea how much time passed but when she woke up Renna was tied to a chair. She squirmed, trying to get out but the ropes were too tight. She flashed back to Calba squirming against his restraints on the table and she was horrified. What had she done? Somebody removed her blindfold and Renna blinked as the harsh light stung her eyes. It was a little like a hangover. Standing in front of her was Nika Beltloud and Calba Halfstone. They were her friends but she felt guilt stabbing deep to the core of her being.

“Oh gods,” Renna said. “are you alright, Calba?”

Calba crossed his arms across his chest. He was bandaged cleanly. “I’ll survive,” he said. “It got pretty close there, though.”

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” Renna said. “I don’t know what happened. I remember being taken captive by the Drow. Then I kind of remember being stuck down in a well and then I could see myself trying to hurt you.”

“It was the necklace they put on you,” Calba said. “It charmed you, filled you with a dark presence.”

“We’d release you but we’re waiting to see if it has fully left your system,” Nika said. “We don’t want to have to put you down again.”

Renna nodded. “I’m alright with that,” she said. “Keep me tied up. I’d be fine with staying this way forever.” A tear slid down her cheek.

“It wasn’t you, Renna,” Nika said. “We know it wasn’t you. We’ll make sure you’re better and then we’ll solve this Drow problem.”

“I hope this teaches you not to go off on your own,” Calba said with a smile.

Renna almost laughed but it came out half sob, half happy noise. “I was doing it to keep you two safe. The Drow are dangerous,” she said.

“See how that worked out?” Calba asked.

“We’re a team, Ren,” Nika said. “You can’t ditch us and we can’t ditch you. We’re stronger together.” She stroked Renna’s hair and Renna was grateful for the comfort.

“Where do we go from here?” Renna asked. She felt hopeful for the first time since she had been captured.

“We go to war,” Calba said. “We burn them down.”

Distracted

August 24, 2019

The cat sat in the middle of the table, eyes half-closed. He seemed either oblivious or completely indifferent to his surroundings or both. His tail swished this way and that and he yawned mightily. The team of adventurers was sitting around the table, all watching the cat. They had found the cat in a local goblin den and had gone to great lengths to bring it back to town with them. If they had known the cat from earlier, they would have known that his name was Orlando but they had elected to call him Smudge because of his gray coloring. He did not answer to either name so it hardly mattered.

“Who do you suppose owns this cat?” Cait asked. The little halfling bard peered at the cat curiously, her eye level was just barely over the top of the table. She adjusted her glasses and ran a hand through her hair and idly plucked at her ukelele. “What do you guys think?”

Gobo the Goliath was on his hands and knees in order to more comfortably fit under the tavern’s ceiling. He leaned in close, putting one eye at table level opposite Cait. The closeness from the half-giant was enough to finally get the cat’s attention and unsettle him briefly. “I think it’s cute,” he said. “Can we sell it?”

“You always want to sell almost everything we touch,” Vel said. The gnome investigator was leaning back in his chair and sipping a whiskey, really savoring it. “Let’s slow down, the cat might be important. We’re not hurting for money right now.”

“More money means more money for ale,” Gobo said matter of factly. He returned to sitting on the floor, more comfortable with roughing it. He had a singular focus on mostly two things. The first was consuming food and alcohol, the second was violence. He was quite cheery as long as he had one or the other. He was a simple beast.

“Solid reasoning,” Vel said, a sarcastic edge to his voice. He leaned back and sipped his whiskey again, studying the cat. He was a criminal investigator, he had little interest in pets before but the current mystery was intriguing.

The elven druid, Melina, stood up suddenly with a gasp, she was decked out in glitter and the prettiest leaves she could find and also some antlers on her head. She had been the one who named the cat. She was also the only one of them who could have talked to the cat to ask its name. “What if Smudgey is a familiar?” She was so enthralled by the idea that there were stars in her eyes.

Karinne, the tiefling wizard, sighed. “Familiars are not actually animals,” she said. “They are actually otherworldly beings. Celestial, fey, or fiend.” It was very easy for her to slip into teacher mode even so far from the academy.

Melina gasped again. “Smudgey could be a fairy?” She was nearly vibrating with energy. She rarely stayed seated when she was conscious. She and Gobo were the intellectually challenged pair of the group, but they meant well.

“No,” Karinne said, pinching the bridge of her nose. “That is definitely a cat. Can’t you tell when something is an animal?” She loved and respected Melina but sometimes the girl could be trying. The two had been officially a couple for only a short time and Karinne was still adjusting to the contrast between their personalities. Karinne had been doom and gloom for so long that the sunshine could be blinding.

“Now now,” Vel said. “We can all plainly see that it is a cat. Is it also magical?” He lit his pipe carefully.

“I got nothing from the cat when I swept that chamber with a detect magic spell,” Karinne said with a shrug. “It is a normal cat. Fairly healthy-looking.”

“Yeah,” Melina agreed. “Smudgey does not feel magicky.” She reached for her cup of milk happily. She had never touched a drop of alcohol.

“Magic glows,” Gobo said matter-of-factly. “That cat does not glow.”

Karinne made an exasperated sound but Melina reached out to grab her hand. Karinne relaxed and decided it was not the time for school, especially with a student disinterested in learning. Perhaps Melina was wiser than she appeared.

“Thank you for your expertise, Gobo,” Cait said. “So it is a normal but cute cat. So I think we come back to whose cat is it?” She had her journal laid out in front of her on the table. She was always focused on the story and the song.

“Well,” Vel said. “The cat carries no identification, no collar. It makes it incredibly difficult to identify the cat.”

“Must the cat belong to somebody in this town?” Cait asked. “Could it be an errant cat?”

“Well,” Vel said. “This is the closest town to the goblin den. I can’t imagine goblins would focus on dragging a cat very far.”

“It could have been a feral cat,” Cait said.

“In those woods?” Vel asked. “There are way too many predators.”

“True,” Cait said. “It really is a mystery.”

The others had gone silent. Melina was chugging her milk happily, Gobo was distracted by a passing moth, and Karinne had zoned out. They were clearly not as invested in the mystery.

Halan, the Half-Elf Paladin of the group, walked in. He stopped short when he saw his friends still staring at the cat. He walked over. “Are you all still staring at the cat?” He asked.

Vel shrugged. “It is quite a mystery.”

Halan laughed. “You guys are really naive, aren’t you?” he said. “There is no mystery. Goblins often take cats along with them in raids to eat.” Everybody was visibly repulsed, even Gobo.

“Gross,” Cait said. “but that does not answer the question of who this cat belongs to.”

Halan shook his head. “Let the cat find its own way back,” he said. “There are zombies two towns over. We have to go.”

The adventurers moved to pack their things and clear out their rooms at the inn. They handed the cat to the barmaid who promised she would feed the cat and also promised that somebody would take the cat in. The adventurers had no more time to worry about it.

(Inspired by this post.  H/T to my friend Liz of CatAList Crafts)

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.

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.

The Border Tavern

March 16, 2019

Syd stepped into the world-famous Iron Border Tavern and was immediately grateful that he had his knives tucked far into his jacket. Of course, there was a weapons collector. With the reputation that The Border had it would probably be a blood bath inside. Of course, with the rumors Syd had heard, there was a good chance of regular bloodbaths anyway. Walking through the deserts of Koshain to the border of Khull in a jacket and a hat alone was bad enough but it was worth it to gain access to one of the most famous places in the criminal underground. Syd had expected the place to be a lot rougher but it was actually quite nice.

He made a face at the weapons collector at the door and passed over the daggers that hung at his hips. He had had them for a long time, they were perfectly balanced. The man who took them gave him no ticket to reclaim them. Syd tried to mentally file away the man’s face in his memory and then walked towards the bar. Nobody stopped him to frisk him, they just believed that he had given up all of his weapons. Syd felt deeply uneasy about this. He glanced around the room, wondering if everyone had done the same exact thing or worse.

Syd knew that he could not be without weapons. He had no magic to speak of so he counted on steel and fists to protect himself. When you were a bounty hunter, you always had to be ready to fight. Syd had survived a lot just by being prepared and he had survived even more just by being quicker than the target. Right there in the taproom, there were plenty of mean-looking customers. There was a mean-looking half-orc by the end of the bar and table full of actual drows in the back corner. They were playing cards as if the sun was not just outside. The list of things that Syd would not have given for a death ward was short at that moment.

He stepped up to the bar and politely knocked on it and smiled. He waited for the bartender to walk over. She was a halfling so she was walking along a platform attached to the bottom of the bar. She looked weathered and tough like she was made of tattoos, leather, and wiry black hair. Syd liked the look of her immediately so it was not hard to give her a smile. She did a double take.

“A human with all his teeth?” the bartender said. “Now I’ve seen everything. Watch your pockets and your mouth, love.”

“Of course,” Syd said. “I know the drill in establishments like this.”

“There ain’t no place like this one,” the bartender said. “The Border is one of a kind.”

“I’m starting to understand that,” Syd said. “Can I get a glass of your worst whiskey?” He punctuated the question by setting down two gold pieces. “And the news of the day.”

The bartender raised both eyebrows high in surprise but she definitely reached forward and palmed the coins quickly. “What sort of news are you wanting?”

“Just wondering if anybody especially interesting has come through recently. I have heard that this place has the most amazing clientele pass through.”

“Criminally interesting, I imagine,” the bartender said. It was not a question.

“I have a feeling that you and I will be good friends,” Syd said. “Yes, those are the sorts of people I want to meet and greet.” Syd took out a journal and spread it on the bar. “In fact, it might help if you’ve seen any of these individuals.”

The bartender briefly flipped through the sketches shaking her head and Syd could feel disappointment start to set in. Finally, she pointed at one of the portraits. “Funny,” she said. “Somebody was asking about this one earlier.”

“Earlier?” Syd asked. “How long ago? Who was it?”

“Fancy lass,” the bartender said. “She’s upstairs in the room with the unicorn on it.”

Syd stood in thought for a moment and then it dawned on him. He downed his whiskey with a grimace and set the glass down. “I’ll be right back,” he said and then he headed up the stairs before anybody could object.

Syd strode up the stairs with confidence and a soft step, hardly making a noise. He started down the hallway while looking at the doors. He saw a bear, a wolf, a rabbit, a leopard and then looked down the hallway for more. Syd could not see the end of the hallway. He had a sick, frightened feeling in his gut at that moment and he felt like his brain was failing to grasp what he was seeing. He looked to his left and there was the door with the unicorn on it. He decided he did not need to know what was going on right at the moment. It was best to keep his head down and move forward. He knocked on the door, waited a moment, and then kicked the door open hard. As he rolled into the room, he just barely dodged a crossbow bolt.

Lacey Thorncatch stood tall in a fancy purple dress, struggling to put a heeled shoe back on while reloading a crossbow. “Syd Scaland!” She yelled. “I would think you would have the sense to not kick open a lady’s door. I’m disappointed.”

“How do you have a crossbow?” Syd asked with some shock. “Where did you hide it?”

Lacey blushed slightly. “A lady never tells,” she said. “You let them take your weapons at the door? I thought you knew how to bribe.”

“I guess I didn’t realize that was an option,” Syd said and stood up and shut the door. “I can’t believe you’re after one of my marks.”

“I’m the best,” Lacey said. “I’m after everybody.”

There was the sound of at least half a dozen people running down the hallway. Lacey and Syd looked at each other and almost simultaneously said: “You tipped them off!”

“The heat is too hot here,” Syd said. “We have to get out of here.”

“You have no idea,” Lacey said. “You have no idea what this place is. I’ve worked a long time to build a cover here. You ruined it!”

“Let’s go out the window,” Syd said. “We can make a break for it from there.”

“You don’t understand,” Lacey said. “This place works differently. This place has entrances around the world. If we use that window, there’s no telling what it might do to us.”

Syd pointed at the door which was now having heavy objects slammed against it. “Do you want to find out what they might do to us?”

Lacey placed her palm against the door and whispered a few words. “That should hold it for a second,” she said and then made a frustrated sound. “Fine! Let’s go out the window!”

Lacey grabbed a few things and threw them in a bag and then they both crashed through the window together. Their world turned upside-down and inside-out and then they plunged into a cold pool of water. They clawed their way out of the pool through patches of mushrooms.

“Where are we?” Syd asked, looking around and not really seeing anything through the darkness.

“Welcome to the Underdark,” Lacey said.

The Heartsong Caper

March 2, 2019

Cara was the only one on the street who had not been affected by the spell. In fact, she had not even noticed the spell when it had been cast and only noticed something was wrong when she almost bumped into a fancy-looking lady. She looked around and everybody else was just standing there and staring into space. After a moment’s hesitation, she stopped in her tracks and tried to mimic all of the people on the street. She quickly surmised that the spell had been based in sound, which was why she had been spared. Cara had been deaf from birth and had not heard the spell and therefore had not been frozen in place.

As soon as she had put those thoughts together, a woman in a dark cloak came around the corner carrying a mandolin decorated with heart flourishes. She was also wearing an embroidered corset with a large, fancy heart on it. The woman was followed by a couple of shifty-looking individuals who were thieves for sure. Cara had seen their type around town before. She waited until they were all looking the other way and then she darted into an alleyway. The way was blocked by a carriage but she managed to hide behind a box. She cursed profusely inside her head.

She watched the ruffians start to cut the money pouches off of the bespelled crowd’s belts. Cara’s blood boiled. The brazen gall of anybody doing such a thing in broad daylight pissed her off. She had long considered herself a guardian of the city even if the city law would probably argue that fact. Though, on a certain level, Cara had to admit that she admired the theatricality of the plan if not the ethics. If only she could contact the law, they would be sorry. There was too many for Cara to handle on her own. She gripped her totem hard, almost enough to draw blood. She pointed it slowly at the thugs and suddenly she could hear what they were saying.

“Hey Angelica,” a rat-faced thief said. “I think I saw something move in that alley over there.”

“Nonsense,” the woman who was apparently Angelica said, “Nobody can resist the sound of Angelica Heartsong!”

“Sure but I still saw something,” the thug said. “What should I do?”

“Fine,” Angelica said with a pout. “If it’s on two legs drag it out here. If it’s on four legs just go ahead and kill it.”

“Right,” the thug said and headed in Cara’s direction.

Cara tensed up. Her first thought had been to turn into a cat but they had orders to kill on sight and Cara did not want to risk it. Instead, she whispered softly to herself and turned invisible, a trick that Laren had taught her when she was little. She gathered her nerves and slipped past the thug as carefully as she could. She walked back out into the midst of everyone and tried to slow her breathing. There were some tense moments as the thug in the alley searched around by poking their spear into every corner they could find.

Cara looked over at Angelica Heartsong and watched her pluck a single string on her mandolin. That string glowed pink for a moment and Cara felt that single note reverberate through her body. Cara had a sinking feeling based on the animals she had observed since she was a toddler. Her stomach tightened as she saw Angelica smile for a moment.

“Somebody is here!” Angelica yelled. “They are invisible. Make them bleed. Make them stop moving.”

The thugs started to grope around blindly, forcing Cara to keep moving around to dodge their grasping fingers and their randomly swinging weapons. It was only a matter of time before somebody got lucky and found her. She could run but she hesitated to try it with Angelica’s apparent blindsight spell and without knowing how fleet-footed the thugs were. Besides, she wanted to protect these people and Angelica was revealing herself to be pretty ruthless. Of course, the numbers did not favor her if she stayed. She ended up standing next to Angelica Heartsong who was red in the face as she screamed at her goons.

This was the point where a sword stretched out and dragged across the strings of Angelica Heartsong’s mandolin. Cara thought that Angelica looked like she might explode at any moment as she whirled to face the newcomer who dared harm her instrument. The man who stood there had long, luxurious hair brown hair and his shirt and armor hung open to expose his chest. Before Angelica could manage to form more than a guttural growl, the newcomer yelled out.

“What ho!” He yelled. “What’s all this then? Villainy!?”

“Who in the Nine Hells are you?” Angelica screamed.

“Garen Firrano, if you please,” the newcomer said after a hearty laugh. “You can share that name in prison or in the afterlife. Your choice.”

Cara reached out and yanked the mandolin from Angelica’s hands and clocked her with it. With the attach, Cara lost her invisibility but she sent a stunned Angelica sprawling to the pavement. Garen had a surprised look on his face for a moment but it was quickly replaced with an easy, charming smile and a piercing gaze that made Cara pause for just a moment. She tossed the shattered mandolin aside.

“She’s still got vocal cords,” she told Garen. “I think she has music magic.”

“A bard, eh?” Garen said. “Shall we deal with these other criminals then?”

“Sure,” Cara said and turned off her hearing spell just in case. “Try to keep up.”

At that point, Cara turned into a bear. She turned and started to charge through the dumbfounded thugs. Garen started swinging and thrusting his sword with style. With the element of surprise, they had the thugs on the ropes. The city law officers arrived at about the same time as the crowd started to unfreeze. They saw a confused crowd, a handsome swordsman, a bloodied bear, and a bunch of unconscious or dead thugs. Angelica Heartsong had apparently slipped away in the fracas. Cara quickly transformed back to her normal filthy druid form and tried to look as unthreatening as possible.

“What happened?” A law woman asked.

“We stopped these thugs and this woman from stealing from these people,” Cara said. “She said her name was Angelica Heartsong.”

“Another group of vile villains taken to task by Garen Firrano!” Garen said with a grin.

“Uh huh,” the officer said. “I’m going to need everybody to come down to our barracks.”

Fae and Away

February 23, 2019

Tabitha elbowed Keyli in the ribs, hard causing the much smaller girl to yelp in surprise and pain. Keyli wondered why her new friend would attack her in the middle of a busy street market but she looked down and realized that she was starting to let her glamour fade. Her luminescent white skin was starting to show through the illusion. The two of them had rubbed her skin with dirt and dumped mud in her hair to try to hide her true faery nature. She ended up kind of looking like a bog witch. However, the disguise could only do much to hide a being such as a faery. She focused on reapplying her illusion and she once again looked wholly unappealing and average. She breathed in deeply and kept following Tabitha through the crowd.

“Are you doing alright?” Tabitha asked, drawing close. She reached out to adjust the hood of Keyli’s cloak, making sure the faery stayed covered.

“I am alright,” Keyli said but was unable to put much feeling into it. “At least there is some intriguing nature around here.”

“It’s called a market,” Tabitha said. “Farmers come here to sell their wares.”

“Sell? Like with money?” Keyli asked. “So mortal.”

“We can’t all trade in favors and deals,” Tabitha said. “Would it help your mood if I bought you something?”

Keyli looked around at the stalls and eyed a row of pigs hanging by their feet from hooks and her eyes slid into inhuman shapes. “Flesh,” she whispered.

“Oh geez,” Tabitha said. “Put those away. We should get a room and let you rest up.”

“Fine,” Keyli said.

Tabitha pulled out her money pouch and the two of them started to shop.

Nearly an hour later, the two of them were sitting in a room in an inn. Keyli had a side of bacon in one hand and a turnip in the other hand. Neither was cooked. She was taking bites out of one and then the other in turn. She had already consumed more than Tabitha thought would fit into her slight frame. She was still filthy but she looked a lot more relaxed and happy. Tabitha was trying not to watch her eat since the faery’s mouth moved unnaturally. It was both terrifying and mesmerizing. She peeked through the curtains for a few moments and then checked her weapons. It was a calming ritual from the old days. It had been a long trip already but it felt even longer than it had actually been.

“I am finished eating,” Keyli announced. “Thank you so much for the ‘produce’. May I bathe now?”

“I told you,” Tabitha said. “We need to keep a low profile. Besides, you’re a faery. Don’t you like being so close to nature? How much closer can you get than being covered in dirt?”

“That’s racist,” Keyli said. “The fae are not attuned to all of the elements. All fae draw strength from life the same as mortals. However, a water fae like me draws strength from water as well. I am not an earth fae. I don’t draw strength from dirt.”

“Alright alright. Sorry if I offended you, your majesty,” Tabitha said. “I guess we mortals just don’t understand the fae like we think we do.”

“That’s a true statement,” Keyli said. “The ignorance of mortals is legendary among my people. It makes you easy to trick. And yet you and your friends decided to steal a faery anyway.”

“I didn’t steal anyone,” Tabitha said. “You came willingly against your father’s wishes. We’re risking a lot just bringing you from the Faewild.”

“I had never been to the mortal realm before,” Keyli said. “It seemed like a fun chance to take.”

“Remember the deal,” Tabitha said. “You promised you could unflood my home town.”

“Indeed. The challenge sounded simple but intriguing,” Keyli said, her lips curling into a wicked smile. “Almost as intriguing as when you kissed me.”

Tabitha could feel her face go beet red. “You kissed me!” Tabitha spat out. “I have a husband. You knew that when you kissed me. I’m still angry about that by the way.”

“And yet I believe you enjoyed it and here we are alone,” Keyli said. “As if you planned it.”

“That’s ridiculous,” Tabitha said. “We planned it this way because I’m the best at navigating and hiding in plain sight. The others are running interference so that we can get the job done before your family comes to take you back.”

“So brave to face down my family,” Keyli said. “I don’t think they’ll murder your friends or your husband.”

“They had better not,” Tabitha said. “They’ll pay if they do.”

“I’m sure they would,” Keyli said. “All of those weapons look deadly. Have you ever killed a faery before?”

“I haven’t,” Tabitha admitted with a shrug. “but I have killed many people and things before.”

“A bloody past?” Keyli asked. “Tell me.”

Tabitha hesitated but then shrugged. “I was an assassin in a former life,” Tabitha said. “The Red Hand of Behrel. I killed a lot of threats to the Kingdom to protect everyone.”

“Why did you stop?” Keyli asked. “Too much blood?”

“No,” Tabitha said. “I never did stop killing but I met my husband Dero and I asked for my release. I decided to wander the world with him to seek adventure and protect people without borders. We met friends along the way.”

“And this current adventure?” Keyli asked.

“I heard that my hometown had been devastated and I vowed to fix it if I could,” Tabitha said.

“So you sought me out,” Keyli said.

“Actually no,” Tabitha said. “My friends and I ended up in the Faewild by accident and then we stumbled on your court. That’s when the idea came to me.”

“I don’t know how I feel about being an accident,” Keyli said with a pout.

“If you save my town,” Tabitha said. “We’ll do our best to win you some freedom from your family.”

“That does make me feel better,” Keyli said. “It’s a deal.”

When It All Ended Pt. 15

February 2, 2019

Morgan’s Raiders had circled the roof of the palace. The dragon Kanaaq suddenly appeared in the very center of the roof in human form thanks to the courage of the Princess. The dragon looked pissed, her eyes glowing a fierce green. So, it was with great courage that William Havelock walked toward the dragon, his sword and shield in his hands. The dragon gave him an arrogant smirk, hands on hips. It looked like she would have laughed had she not been so angry at being interrupted and torn from her makeshift lair. That laugh died somewhere in her throat and for a moment, wisps of green blew out of her nostrils and her skin shimmered as scales for a moment before returning to a perfect human form.

“Dragon!” William yelled. “I’m giving you one chance to fly away now before we kill you dead right here, right now.”

“Puny warrior,” Kanaaq said. “Run before I make a snack of you. Take your friends with you. I grant you your lives. Just this one chance.”

“Puny? I am William Havelock, the first Lion of Eloria!” William shouted, pointing his sword at the dragon. “We are Morgan’s Raiders and we will end you! Look around, the city is rising up against your followers. It’s all over.”

As if on cue, <C> the djinn flew by at top speed, fighting the Wyvern riders in the air. The djinn was making sport of it and that brought out Kanaaq’s rage yet again. “Come and try!” The dragon yelled and started to change shape.

To his credit, William did not flinch as the dragon began to tower ovewr him. The dragon breathed green gas into the air and started to tilt that spray down toward William. That was when Morgan herself let fly an arrow that hit the dragon in the throat. Then the battle began in earnest. Morgan’s Raiders were a practiced and experienced team. Morgan kept moving around the roof, sniping at the dragon and ocassionally shouting strategy. William stayed in the dragon’s face, trying to keep its attention and taking swipes with his sword. Cassandra tossed every spell at the dragon that she could remember, her hands and fingers a blur of constant motion and her lips constantly moving. Garth darted in and out and stabbed the dragon whenever its back was turned. Percival shouted constantly, his words healing his friends and hurting the dragon. Galath moved as fast as his short legs could carry him, trying to keep everybody healed and on their feet.

The team worked in concert, moving like nobody could unless they had worked together for a long time. As time went by, both the dragon and Morgan’s Raiders were injured. The battle raged on around the castle roof but neither the dragon or the adventurers had time to pay it any mind. Both sides had put their pieces on the board, they would have to trust that. The bloodied dragon started to lash out more desperately and the Raiders were heartened by what they correctly perceived as fear. The adventurers tried to hold on, ready to fight to the finish. In the end, the bloodied dragon was no longer seeing green, it was seeing pure red. She lunged at the frailest of Morgan’s Raiders, Cassandra but William stepped in between. Cassandra cast a spell reflexively and William grew to twice his size and grabbed hold of the dragon, keeping her from reaching Cassandra. Morgan shot an arrow below the dragon and vines stretched up and between the vines and William, the dragon was wrestled to the ground. Garth jumped from the tallest tower, bringing his dagger down hard into the back of the dragon’s head. The thing fought briefly but slumped to the stone, eyes rolling back into its head.

The Raiders stood there breathing hard, hardly believing their own victory. Then they turned to look out over the battle still raging around them. One by one they started shaking their heads. They had nothing left. They had just fought a dragon. They could barely stand much less join the battle around them. Then, a miracle occurred. The King’s forces muscled their way through the northern gates. Cassandra started to jump up and down and cheer and the rest of Morgan’s Raiders were all smiles as they watched the soldiers return to clean house. William walked over to the dragon and slowly dragged his sword across its throat, its poisonous blood gushing over the stone roof. Morgan gave him a look and William shrugged.

“Just to make sure,” William said. “How many times have we thought we killed something and it came back to try to kill us?”

“He makes a good point,” Percival said. “Though they’ll need more than a mop to clean up that mess.”

“I can only imagine what it looks like downstairs,” Garth said. He had been grinning as he admired his handiwork atop the dragon. The rest of Morgan’s Raiders felt that they would always be reminded by Garth that he had gotten the killing blow.

“Oh no!” We have to check on the Princess!” Cassandra shouted. “She might have been injured getting the dragon up here.”

“Let’s go down there then,” Galath said. “We need to help whoever we can.”

They searched and found some stairs and made their way down into the castle. The place was eerily quiet after the chaos of outside. The atmosphere felt strange. All over there were strange plants growing through the cracks in the stone of the castle. Garth watched one closely and William pulled him away just before it belched a little cloud of spores. They moved on, keeping their hands to themselves. Finally, they found what had to be the throne room and William and Galath worked together to muscle the door open. As soon as there was a gap big enough between the double doors, Cassandra made for it even though Morgan tried to shout for caution. Cassandra rushed into the room and thankfully there were no traps, no troops. The arrogant dragon had put everything outside of the castle. Instead, there was a shaken young woman sitting in the throne who got to her feet and readied a sword. When she saw Cassandra, Princess Cora broke down in tears and dropped the sword. She and Cassandra embraced as Morgan and Garth hurried into the room, followed by the rest. The Princess was sobbing but smiling with pure relief.

“It’s going to be alright, Princess,” Cassandra said. “We’re here.”

Galath moved to tend to the Princess’ wounds as Morgan’s Raiders established a perimeter and Cassandra comforted the exhausted princess.

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.


Adventures of a MathBrat

Random Things I Find Energy To Blog About

Boccob's Blessed Blog

A gaming blog with an emphasis on D&D 5e

Wolfenoot

No Hate Only Snootboops

As Told By Carly

The Ramblings of a Geek Girl

kalpanaawrites

poetry, fiction, essays

Beyond the Flow

A Survivor's Philosophy of Life

Silvia Writes

Life is a story. Might as well write it.

An Artist’s Path

Art, Poetry, Spirituality & Whimsy

The Bloggess

Bizarre thoughts from author Jenny Lawson - Like Mother Teresa, only better.

Silence Killed The Dinosaurs

Comics, Stories, Dinosaurs, Cats

Damyanti Biswas

For lovers of reading, writing, travel, humanity

The Empire of Carane

Where fiction comes to life

DMing With Charisma

Stories, Reviews and Opinions!

%d bloggers like this: