Posts Tagged ‘Dungeons and Dragons’

The Harvest

July 30, 2022

The lonely hawk flew along the city walls, zig-zagging as it looked for a good perch. This part of the city was still mostly abandoned after the giant attack. Average citizens had no reason to frequent what were now ruins. Engineers and builders frequented the area but they did not have a large enough workforce to be everywhere. So it was that just like with other unused spaces, criminals moved in to use them. None of the criminals installed anything permanent but the area was perfect for uninterrupted secret meetings.

If the workers and criminals in the area bothered to look up, the hawk would have been fairly unremarkable. Some birds of prey did stray near the city and helped curb the rodent problem, especially in the damaged parts far from the hunting grounds of any feral cats. The part that was rather remarkable was that this hawk had a passenger. A tiny mouse clung to the bird’s neck feathers, managing to stay on even with the crosswinds up that high. The hawk made big swooping circles but finally came in for a landing in the remains of what must have been a wizard’s tower.

The mouse chittered and smoothed its fur before jumping off of the hawk. As it walked away, the mouse slowly transformed into the elven form of Becka. As she attained her normal form, she shivered and shook off the feeling of the magical transformation. She did not look pleased.

“That was weird,” she said. “That was really weird. I’m not sure if I hated it or liked it. My head is still spinning.”

The hawk shimmered and was instantly replaced by the form of the young druid Joshua. The young halfling was smug and gave a half-hearted shrug.

“That’s probably the effect of your intellect dropping to that of a mouse and then going back up,” Joshua said. “Though, in your case, it’s probably not that great of a difference.” He was perched a bit on top of a broken-down bit of wall. They were mostly enclosed in the top of the tower, giving them a bit of privacy.

“Watch your tongue, boy,” Becka said, her eyes narrowing with annoyance and the early rumblings of anger. “You know who and what I am.” She smoothed her cloak and tossed her auburn hair, an arrogant habit she had. She was a little more relaxed, sure that they would probably not be spotted anytime soon.

“Oh I know,” Joshua said with a smile. “The Harvest. The Coming Winter. The Butcher of Khull. I know all of your names and the reputation that comes with them.” 

“So you know that I could kill you in any number of ways,” Becka said. “I killed with a table leg. Ten soldiers with a table leg.” She gripped the hilt of her saber with a somewhat haughty expression.

Joshua nodded. “I’ve heard the stories,” he said. “I also know that you only kill criminals or enemy combatants. I am neither. You hired me to get you across the city.”

Becka’s eyes narrowed again. “Because you picked my pocket,” she said. “Which makes you a criminal. I also thought you would point me towards a shortcut through the sewers.”

“Sewers? Not ideal. You know what goes into the sewers, right?” Joshua asked with a smile. “Learning how to be a fish is kind of weird too. Fish are also somehow more stupid than mice.”

“We don’t have to be fish,” Becka said. “Do you ever just walk anywhere?”

“Ugh, not if I can help it,” Joshua said. “It takes forever. Look how quickly we flew.”

“Not exactly stealthy or safe,” Becka said.

“Look, we could sit around here discussing my methods or you could get on with the killing,” Joshua said.

“You’re not needed here,” Becka said, pulling out her bow to assemble it.”You can go.”

There was a long silence and then Joshua spoke. “Oh, what’s your exit strategy then?” Joshua asks.

Becka barely flinched. It was subtle but Joshua spotted it. “I’ll figure it out,” she said softly.

“Maybe I want to stick around,” Joshua said. “I’ve never seen an assassination before.”

“Suit yourself,” Becka said with a shrug. “If you get in my way, I will take you down.” She pulled out her quiver of arrows.

“Noted,” Joshua said and pulled out an apple to eat.

Butcherbirds

July 16, 2022

Mouse crept out from behind the crates they had been hiding behind. As the smallest member of the Butcherbirds, the halfling was the perfect lookout. Mouse always had their blanket draped around them. Very few people had actually seen anything but Mouse’s eyes and they had often been disregarded as a pile of rags by most people. This was by design. Mouse crept below the window and looked for signs of life. Nobody was about so Mouse pulled out a whistle and blew on it before flouncing against the wall and acting like detritus. There was a long beat of silence.

Dinah strutted into the alleyway and then reached up and cinched the band of cloth holding her matted hair up and out of her face. She looked up at the window and used her hands to measure things and do some calculations in her head. She checked the gear tucked into the silk tied around her waist. She sighed softly.

“This isn’t a fashion show, D,” Griffin said. “Can we just get on with it?” He crept out of hiding, looking up and down the alleyway with his one good eye. His constant paranoia could be annoying but it did keep them safe. He fidgeted with a dagger, flipping it every few moments. It was his most prized possession. He was the fighter, the scrapper, the leader.

“You’re such a dingus, Giffin,” Dinah said. “This should be at least a little fun, right? If it’s not fun, we should go straight to an orphanage.”

“You’re just a lot, you know?” Griffin said. “Stop being all girly.”

“I’m an artist,” Dinah said. “And things need to be perfect if this bird is going to fly.”

“Whatever,” Griffin said. “Come on, Five. The coast is clear. You didn’t fall asleep again?”

A large mound of trash started to move as Five crawled out of it. His green-gray skin was splattered with dirt and grime from all sorts of things that were best not thought of. He seemed unbothered by the mess decorating him. He grunted.

“Gods, you smell so bad!” Griffin said. “This plan did not hinge on you hiding in garbage. We could have put you in a crate, big guy.”

“I don’t know, I think he might smell better than usual,” Dinah said. “Ready to go Five?”

Five grunted and nodded. He was non-verbal and nobody knew why. They had guessed that it might have something to do with one of his tusks being broken but nobody wanted to press the half-orc on the issue to confirm. Five was the muscle of the team which meant that he was less sneaky than the rest of the Butcherbirds but just as welcome. He had earned their trust and a place in their weird little family. Five had moved under the window and cupped his hands together. Dinah nodded and ran at Five, jumping into his cupped hands so that Five could launch her up toward the window. 

Dinah’s slight half-elven frame made her lighter than most and she shot up and landed gracefully on the windowsill. She braced her legs and pulled out her crowbar and shoved it under the window. She stomped on the crowbar and she heard the window’s lock break. Just like they thought, the place was too old to have good security. She tucked her crowbar away and opened the window slowly. She attached an anchor and dropped a rope below. Griffin climbed up and shut the window. Five and Mouse would shuffle off somewhere in earshot in case they were needed.

“So what do we have here?” Griffin asked. “There had better be something worth it in here.”

“Plenty,” Dinah said. “I mean, there has to be. It’s old.”

A familiar bird landed on a chair nearby and stared at the two child thieves.

“Oh no,” Griffin said. “What are you doing here?”

“Be nice,” Dinah said. “He’s one of us.”

“He keeps going off on his own,” Griffin said. “He keeps screwing things up.”

At that, the bird promptly turned back into a young boy. The problem was that he was still perched on top of the chair and that chair tipped over and dumped the boy face first onto the floor. He instantly sprang back to his feet and tried not to show how much that hurt.

“I do not screw things up,” Kant said. “I might have made a few mistakes but I’m here to help.”

Griffin sighed. “Fine,” he said. “Less magic, more thievery. Don’t touch anything troublesome. We’re only stealing the good stuff.”

“Which means stuff we can eat, use, or sell,” Dinah said.

“Got it,” Kant said. He could not really control his magic too well. It was innate magic that came from his blood. He had been abandoned in the streets as a toddler so he did not remember where that blood had come from. His wild magic often misfired at inappropriate times but he meant well. When his magic worked, it worked well for the Butcherbirds.

The three thieves set about looking for the best things to take with them.

The Mirror Pt. 2

July 2, 2022

“A deal?” Kerzi asked. “What kind of deal are we making?” She kept her distance, standing on the opposite side of the wizard’s laboratory from her exact double. Well, not exact but very close. The differences became more apparent the longer Kerzi watched but an outside observer probably would not notice those differences. But Kerzi knew herself.

The Other Kerzi shrugged and smiled, trying to act nonchalant. “Nothing major, at least not for now,” she said. “Just a deal that keeps you from trapping me here somehow. I want your word on that.” She was acting neutral but there was a slight tinge of fear behind her eyes when she had mentioned being trapped.

“What do I get out of this deal?” Kerzi asked. “I mean, this was my face first. Now I have to share it with you. I’m not accustomed to giving away anything for free.” Kerzi had not let go of her knives and she flexed her grip to make sure her wrists did not get too tense.

“I can sympathize with that,” The Other Kerzi said. She stayed far out of the range of Kerzi’s knives. She had no weapons that Kerzi could see but that meant nothing. Kerzi had faced many unarmed opponents that were quite formidable.

“Can you?” Kerzi asked. “You’ve only been alive for only a few moments, right? How can you sympathize? How can you talk? How can you think?” She was still mystified by what was happening. Magic was not her specialty and this whole thing was still ringing alarm bells.

“I can’t pretend to know how this works completely but I sense that I got some of my faculties from you and some from,” The Other Kerzi said, pausing for effect. “Somewhere else.”

“Somewhere else, huh?” Kerzi asked. “What are you?” 

“I’d love to know that myself,” The Other Kerzi said. “Perhaps you can help me explore that question.”

“You still haven’t told me what I get from helping you,” Kerzi said. “I’m no hero. I’m a mercenary at best.”

“And the solving of magical mysteries isn’t profitable?” The Other Kerzi asked with more than a little mockery in her voice. “For starters, I can help you find the artifact you were sent here for. I can help you carry plenty of other things away from this place. We can be a team.”

“Splitting my pay in half?” Kerzi asked. “That sounds like an excellent deal for me.”

The Other Kerzi sighed. “How about a seventy-thirty split?” she asked. “Hells, I don’t even need much. I’ll take what scrolls I can carry as payment for this job and a few scraps of food. If I help raise your income, we renegotiate my pay.”

“You are not good at bargaining,” Kerzi said, almost with pity.

“I’m desperate,” The Other Kerzi said. “I don’t want my life to end just as it begins.”

“If we’re going to make a deal, you should have a name,” Kerzi said. “I will not allow you to introduce yourself as Kerzi. That’s me. Bad enough you have my face.”

“But it’s such a pretty face,” The Other Kerzi said. “I have no name. As you said, I was born moments ago.”

“Well, if you’re a reflection of me then why not Izrek?” Kerzi asked.

“A little clumsy,” The Other Kerzi said. “Call me Izzy.”

“I guess that works,” Kerzi said. “I suppose you’ve managed to present an attractive deal. Attractive enough.”

Izzy walked to the center of the room and stuck her hand out. “Shake on it?” she asked. “No tricks. I’m your partner. You can introduce me as your twin sister if you’d like.”

Kerzi walked up cautiously. She thought long and hard about it. “I guess that’s as good a story as any,” she said. She reached out to shake Izzy’s hand. “Deal.”

Kerzi flinched, half-expecting to find herself tricked into the mirror but there was her twin, smiling at her. What had she gotten herself into?

Undead Reckoning Pt. 14

June 18, 2022

“Who are you?!” Talbot asked of the mystery woman. It came out louder than he had meant to but as he watched her, he imagined how she had been in the dream. Dying in bloody agony.

“You forget your manners, Sergeant Hawkwing,” Lord Blackrance said. “Perhaps you should sit down. You look a bit pale. We can get you some tea if you’d like.”

“Don’t try and change the subject, Blackrance,” Talbot said. “Who is she? Who are you, miss?” He kept seeing blood pouring from the gaping wound in her chest. He remembered holding her in his arms. He remembered her voice.

The woman looked both curious and amused but spoke calmly. “Please sit down, Mr. Hawkwing,” she said. “I will try my best to explain what may have happened.”

Talbot found a chair and sat down. His mind was racing as he imagined so many questions and possibilities.”

“Tea, Sergeant?” Lord Blackrance asked. “Perhaps something stronger considering your sudden fright?”

Talbot nodded. “Yes, Lord Blackrance, maybe we ought to go right on to coffee,” he said. “I suddenly feel very tired.”

Lord Blackrance gestured and Titus hurried off, presumably to fetch Talbot’s coffee. Blackrance sat back in his chair as if he was watching a stage play.

“Well, Mr. Hawkwing, do we know each other?” The woman asked, her eyes studying him. Talbot suddenly got the feeling that she studied people a lot with those eyes.

“I would answer with a no,” Talbot said. “I don’t even know your name but I have seen your face before. I have also heard your voice” 

“And where did you see my face and hear my voice?” The woman asked. She did not look entirely surprised. She was definitely a cool customer.

“I saw you in a dream,” Talbot said slowly, watching the woman’s face. “On the train ride here when I dozed off. When I saw you in the dream you -” 

The woman held up a hand and cut Talbot off before he could continue. “Please do not tell me what happened in the dream,” she said. “I’d rather not know. I already know too much. My name is Kare Coldlight and I am a seer. What you experienced was most likely an aftereffect of my abilities. When my abilities have touched on somebody, they can be entangled with my soul and I suppose that can come up in dreams. There is still a lot that I don’t know about my particular abilities. I apologize, Mr. Hawkwing.”

“It’s just Talbot,” Talbot said. “But thank you for not calling me Sergeant. I suppose that does explain things and I don’t need an apology, I guess. Why did you foresee me?”

“It’s not just you,” Kara said, glancing at Lord Blackrance. “It’s the others too. It’s everybody.”

There were footsteps on the stairs and Talbot saw that the dinner companions from the night before were coming downstairs. All of them were foreseen by Kara Coldlight, Talbot surmised. Things were starting to make a bit more sense but there were still a lot of questions.

“Yes, well, let me explain,” Blackrance said. “All of you, gather close. I want to thank you all for making the journey here. As you may have guessed, my name is Lord Callum Blackrance and I am the benefactor who has summoned you here. Some of you I have met before but others I know only through your reputations. You were all chosen through the gifts of Kara Coldlight, a seer in my employ.” He gestured toward Kara. “This is her.” Kara bowed her head as a greeting.

“When I have a wrong that needs righting, I call on Kara to seek out the best candidates with her second sight. She has chosen all of you.”

Trapped

March 5, 2022

The flames were rising and Gonae knew that any moment, the edges of her robes could catch fire. She did not have much left in the tank but she searched her mind for any spells that she might have left. She had not prepared control water or anything like that. Her floating disc spell would have carried her to safety but she had used it to cross the dungeon’s pit. If she had not been separated from the rest of the team, she would not have been caught in this flame trap alone or maybe at all.

Inspiration struck and Gonae desperately searched through her components pouch. She pulled out a white rock chip. Normally, she would have performed this spell with a piece of ice but ice rarely made it far into a dungeon without melting. She focused on the rock chip and could feel a gathering of cold and wet air around her. Suddenly, a burst of snowballs launched from thin air and slapped against the flames nearby. The flames dampened a bit but it was enough for Gonae to feel better about running through the flames. She sprinted through and nearly tripped. Her heart shot right into her stomach and did several flips before she recovered and reached the door.

She flopped onto the ground and frantically patted out the flames on her robes. She watched the spot she had been in get completely engulfed in flames. She had been moments from death and she felt her heart speed up before she closed her eyes and slowly willed it to calm down. There was no way she would survive if she was panicking. She slowly got to her feet, steadying herself with a hand on the wall. The heat was getting unbearable again. She tried the door and it was locked. Of course, it was locked. She was tapped out. She definitely had no spells left and nothing to power them.

She started to look through her pack again. She kept her pack fairly tidy compared to Chibby. The little thief was an absolute hoarder but sometimes there were some useful things in there. In sharp contrast, Gonae only brought what she thought she needed. Everything with a purpose and a purpose for everything. And yet, her fingers brushed on something that sparked a memory. Arthur had caught Chibby trying to use some fireworks on a particularly snooty merchant’s stall in the Grand Market. Gonae pulled the fireworks out. They were a smaller bundle than she remembered but maybe they would do.

She carefully used a bit of sap glue to attach the fireworks to the lock on the door. She backed up as far as she dared without getting too close to the fire. She cast a firebolt at the fireworks and they exploded in a shower of sparks. She heard the pieces of the lock jingle and jangle as they hit the floor. She carefully went up to the door and pushed it open. The hinges squeaked ominously as the door opened to reveal a long dark hallway. Either her team or the exit had to be down the hallway. There was nowhere to go but forward.

Cult Pantheon

May 11, 2020

What follows are the borderline and rarely worshipped mystery cults of the world of my Dungeons and Dragons campaign. These are often but not always the crazy people of the world and it shows.

The Nameless

It is rumored that this god or goddess was punished early on in the history of creation. This deity decided to expose the mortal races to knowledge forbidden by the other gods. While the good deities had the best wishes for the mortals of the world, they had wanted to keep them in the dark on certain things. That way they could more easily protect them even from themselves. Sometime later they realized their error much later, the damage had already been done to The Nameless. They nearly destroyed them and what survived had lost its name and form. The Nameless escaped into the Dreamplane, connected to the minds of the whole world. Not much more lore than that survives in the world but it is known that The Nameless survives as a sort of god of inspiration. The followers of the Nameless are few and far between but most are inventors and forward thinkers. Many, but not all, also contain some level of insanity.

Zeoron, The Limitless One

Many theorize that Zeoron was waiting for the gods when their eyes first opened to reality. One of the rumored “Old Ones”, Zeoron did not take kindly to the upstart newcomers who wished to form the world. He fought them all but either lost or realized his fight was futile. Instead of dying, he exploded and his essence spread across all of the planes much like the spores of an exploding mushroom. His followers contend that Zeoron’s essence is everywhere and is truly limitless. Many of his followers believe that Zeoron wishes this reality forged by the gods is illigitimate and must be destroyed. That is why they think that Zeoron’s essence may be the origin of all monsters in the known planes of the multiverse. Followers of Zeoron seek to destroy the foundations of society and any forces that might defend the multiverse from destruction.

Church of The Light

Worshippers of the Church of Light reject all deities in favor of the truth of the light. The light never intercedes on behalf of its followers but instead allows them to rely on the power within which makes them stronger and more self-assured. They view dependence on the gods as a drug, one that is dangerous to mess with since the power and favor handed down from the gods can be taken away on a whim. Followers of the Church of Light seek to teach others to abandon the gods and move on. All that is needed is the Light. The Church is small but extremely loyal to each other. Some outside of the Church have wild theories about what the Light really is. It could be a devil, a spirit, an Old One, or any number of things whispering in the ears of mortals to cause doubt of the gods. Some of their followers prefer the Church because they are tired of the eternal conflict between the good and evil forces.

Ganza, The Advocate

The self-styled spirit of Justice, the shadowy Advocate urges her followers to fight for both accusers and the accused. Therefore it is also a sort of deity of even-handed Law. Followers created the first so-called Lawyers and corresponding Judges. Worshippers pray to remain objective and unemotional whether they are on the attack or on defense. They are passionate only about making sure that their wards are given fair treatment by the governments of the world. Ganza is represented by the symbol of the scales. Her followers are expected to dress well while following their mission.

Dendar, King of Nightmares

Dendar was born as the God of Fear but he proved to be a loose cannon and he ended up being opposed by good and evil gods alike. He sought the destruction of everything that everybody had built. Therefore, the evil gods did not stand in the way of the good gods when they captured Dendar. They imprisoned him for eternity in a box floating through Outer Planar space. At some point after the Ascension, the box was cracked and Dendar escaped into the Dreamplane. Mortals and Immortals alike still feel the pure fear of Dendar’s power in their sleep. If he can, Dendar will be released from the Dreamplane and will not stop until he utterly destroys the multiverse.

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.


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