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Tale of Winter's Bane
The villagers of Cymer Lloc settled in around the fire, ready for the tale.

Blair stepped forward, looked into the flames, started in a quiet voice. The villagers leaned in to listen. She began with the approach to the village of Ir de Crannog, the party debating whether they would find anyone living.

A story is so much better when you feel the anticipation, the uncertainty. The villagers traveled with the party across the frozen lake on the cold creaking wooden walkway. They scaled the wall, encountered the lizard folk, fought bravely and defeated them.
As the story and the night went on, the villagers pulled their cloaks tighter. Whether the fire was dying or the priestess was causing the room to become colder for dramatic effect they could not tell.
Their mouths fell open as they learned of the wooden barrier conjured by Valindra. They cheered at the tales of Solara and Ainorei taking down lizards. Chuckles rose from their throats to imagine Dill scrambling onto the thatched roof to scout the hiding creatures – then whoops to hear of him smiting them down as they emerged into the frozen village square.

No one wanted the night or the saga to end, swept up as they were in the raw and brutal tale.But the rhythm of the poem began to slow, and Blair lifted her gaze from the embers to look into the faces of the people of Cymer Lloc.

The last phrase stayed in their minds and has oft been repeated by the locals when telling visitors of the lizard invasion to the North:

Formed by tribes and villages far
O’er the frozen Llychau Mawr, to
Ir deCrannog warriors came, then
Vanquished evil. Winter’s Bane.
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Posted by the GM
The Wounded World
What Pokemon Taught Me About Worldbuilding
In appreciation of a huge part of my childhood and to coincide with Twitch's week-long stream of the Anime, I'm going to talk about the tips and tricks you can use from Pokemon.

I. Episodic Adventuring
Set yourself up for an easier time prepping by using an episodic structure. This will allow you to have generalized ideas of your world as a whole while only focusing on one location per session.
    [li]It stops you from having the "open world" vs. "linear story" discussion because there isn't one with an episodic story.[/li]
    [li]Each episode is linked, but how they are linked can be handwaved as traveling.[/li]
    [li]The direction of travel isn't as important because you are essentially resetting the party's footing with each session.[/li]
    [li]It creates a definite end and beginning to each session. Each session begins with the party coming to a place, or experiencing something new. Each episode ends with them moving on.[/li]

II. Build the map as you go
    [li]You have your starting town and your first adventure, plus you have your list of ideas that sound cool.[/li]
    [li]At the end of each session you can lay out some rumors for the party to choose from.[/li]
    [li]When they pick one, just place that as the next spot on your "map". No fuss, no hassle.[/li]
    [li]After 9 or 10 sessions you'll have a whole region mapped out.[/li]

III. Theme
In the World of Pokemon, there is a core theme. Capture pokemon, battle them to become stronger, become the "very best".
This is a goal and an attainable one.
    [li]What is the core theme of your world? Boiling your world down to an idea this basic can free you up to explore ideas that are not complete in your head.[/li]
    [li.]You don't need to know why the nations are at war if your theme boils down to: go to town, capture base, win the war.[/li]
    [li]Everything else can come from that and you can give your party this information as a pitch. If they're in, they're in. If not, try the next idea.[/li]

IV. Location Theme
Instead of focusing on the minutiae of worldbuilding, when it comes to new locations in Pokemon, each one is based around its own theme.
    [li]In Pokemon, each gym has its specialty, and from that specialty, the town grows. The rock town is rough and stoic. The ghost town is spooky and horrifying.[/li]
    [li]Use those random ideas you have to be the fuel to flesh out the locations of your world.[/li]
    [li]If we continue with the war example, you might have a list that includes: the horrors of war, the downward spiral, losing a friend, letters from home.[/li]
    [li]Each of those will be a location in your world: a fresh battlefield where shell shocked soldiers call for the party's help, a wasteland where the weirdness of war pull at the party's sanity, a makeshift grave site where the party faces their fallen comrades, a base with working water/comforts and a mailbox.[/li]

V. Enemies
The World Theme creates the enemies. In Pokemon, it's other trainers.
In this War World (which I'm starting to grow fond of) it's the opposing army.
    [li]You don't need to know everything about them, just that they are on the opposite side of your Party.[/li]
    [li]They fight against the party because of the Theme.[/li]
    [li]They oppose the party to fulfill the theme.[/li]

VI. Recurring Enemies
Recurring enemies creates fondness, understanding, and something other.
    [li]Just like a player can learn about their character by experiencing various situations and reacting to them, so can we learn about the enemy by experiencing them every session.[/li]
    [li]And not a group of faceless nobodies. But people with faces and names.[/li]
    [li]In Pokemon, it's Jesse and James.[/li]
    [li]In this War World, it might be the seductress who is a double agent, or an opposing sniper who radios in to taunt the party.[/li]
    [li]It's through repeated exposure that relationships and life are brewed.[/li]

VII. Random Encounters
In Pokemon, between each of gym battles, the gang has an encounter. Usually out in the woods, or on the road.
These are just random encounters, and random encounters done right. Each one is impactful and lends itself to the overall theme.
    [li]Each one involves the gaining of a pokemon, the battling of some strange trainer, the accomplishment of some bonding exercise, or the thwarting of the enemy trying to steal your power.[/li]
    [li]In the War World, the random encounters could be POWs, a ruined village with survivors, mortar attacks, ambushes, a strange adventure where you have to dress fancy and mingle at some benefit.[/li]
    [li]Create a list of 10 ideas and use that as your springboard for random encounters.[/li]

VIII. Re-imagining the old
Pokemon is just a homebrew DnD world where the spells are living and wizards capture them to battle and grow stronger.
    [li]You can create a fresh spin for your world just be fluffing something old (spells) as something new (pokemon).[/li]
    [li]What if all monsters were just people, the name in the monster manual was their nickname?[/li]
    [li]What if all the races were actually animals (humans are dogs, elves are cats)?[/li]
    [li]What if dragons are just ideas that you can be infected with?[/li]
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Posted by the GM
Attack Against the Southern Camp, 23 Dracarr 3008 (11-28-2018)
After leaving the Northern Camp to confront the ousted werewolves still worshiping the Darkness in the southern camp, the party finds the camp desolate. A few dead bodies left ravaged, laying around giving sign that a foul attack by werewolves has destroyed Madame Vilsa's people. A faint call for help can be heard coming from her hut. Investigating, the party finds Madame Vilsa clinging to life, but the seer is barely scathed and a small heal from Korgan Kobain brings her back. She explains that werewolves did in fact attack the camp and preparations are made to burn the bodies and any valuables are taken by the old woman, loaded into her cart. She plans to head to Brasov to stay with her niece Lisa. She gives the adventurers another reading, even more cryptic than the last before the group heads out. Madame Vilsa describes that her medallion protects her from dark powers, like Korgan's medallion which is not a simple consolation prize but a powerful artifact which symbolizes a hereditary protection from creatures of dark design. This information is contrary to Barnabus' description of the medallion. No signs of Randy's body is found in the camp, and it is believed that he may have been part of the attack. Barefoot humanoid tracks lead back into the woods towards the camp to the north.

On the way to Brasov, the two day journey requires the group to rest on the road for the night. Signs of spider infestation within the woods coats the forest in white webbing as far as their eyes can see. But, they escape any attack through careful watch, and keeping a campfire stoked throughout the night. Upon reaching Brasov the next day, an investigation of the church shows signs of near completion but the facade is coated in the mischievous defamation from pranksters over Hallow Falls' Night of Mischief. Korgan cleans up the church and the party decides what to do next. It is agreed that approaching the Count would be a bad idea right now, due to failing to destroy the werewolf camp. Madame Vilsa heads to her niece's shop bidding the adventurers a farewell.

Madame Vilsa's Second Reading

Past- Innocent
Present- Charlatan
Future- Darklord

Past- Dictator
Present- Evoker
Future- Druid

Past- Abjurer
Present- Swashbuckler
Future- Warrior

Past- Rogue
Present- Darklord
Future- Healer

Past- Necromancer
Present- Mist
Future- Myrmidon

The Goal- Bishop
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Posted in Flameweaver
Whoever is watching us? Whoever just decided to take her face and warp it to their own ends? To make me watch as she burned away to nothing a SECOND time?

That was your last mistake.

I'm going to find you. I'm going to take everything you have. I'm going to take everyone you have. There is nowhere in the heavens, the hells, or any other plane that will save you from me.

Pray, if you are the sort. Run, if you are able. But while you do so? Keep this one little thing in mind.

You won't escape the inevitable.
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A Brief Respite
And so it is. Winter's Bane has saved a second village from the tide of evil and woe that has descended upon the settlements of Northern Wealas. First, it was I’r De Crannog, rescued from the predations of lizardfolk driven in from the cold to attack the hamlet. And nows this. But this is so much worse.

Running her eyes among the snow-swept and abandoned huts of Caer Mared Valindra takes it all in, the great mound of partially burned bodies, the shallow grave barely scraped out from the snow, the corpses of children still clutching the poppets given to them as gifts by the so-called “Ragged Lady” who visited this hamlet just days before The news of the “Ragged Lady” traveling up the Severn Valley bringing pestilence and death to the settlements strung out along its length has filled her with dread and urgency. This last detail sickens her the most, the fact that the Ragged Lady has used children as the vehicle to spread whatever eldritch plague she has conjured. Valindra's anger smolders in her chest like coals.

What sort of plague is this that kills the living so swiftly yet causes its victims to rise from the grave? The elf shudders at the thought of it. Like most living folk, Valindra has an inherent loathing and fear of the undead, but as a servant of the Great Oak she feels an especial abhorrence for them. The violation of nature’s laws that they embody, the twisted mockery of life that is neither life nor death, stands as an affront to everything she has sworn to revere and protect. Until now, she has had scant experience with these twisted things, but she fears this will soon change. So be it. She is only too happy to return more of these grave-risen wretches to the dim hell that spawned them.

The situation appearing to be in hand, Valindra begins to relax. She unstrings her yew bow and carefully stores the flaxen bowstring in her pouch to keep it dry. Squatting on her haunches, she unstoppers a leathern bottle of water and quenches her thirst. Though not terribly hungry, the elf nibbles a bit of brown bread baked in the simple hearths of Caer Adara; she will need her strength for the parlous journey ahead. They all will.

Delicately brushing away the crumbs from her fingertips, she smiles, finding the bread surprisingly good. Over the last two years, she has developed a growing acceptance of human food, but this has deliciously surprised her. The baker in Caer Adara has skill, she thinks, a small pleasure that briefly distracts her from her brooding. This small goodness reminds her that light can always be found in even the deepest darkness. She is grateful to the unknown hand that baked this bread and reminded her of this.

Under her breath, she softly whispers a simple elfin prayer for him and for them all:

Or 'waith bain nura Anor
A panlû elin cuinar
Ú-pedithon 'i-aur gwann'
Egor nai îl 'namarië'.

[Above all shadows rides the Sun
And stars always dwell.
I will not say 'The day is done'
Or to the stars 'farewell'.] *

The winter gloaming has begun to deepen, and the wind gusts suddenly from the ice-locked Bay of Shields to the south. Valindra draws her mantle of wolf pelts more closely about her shoulders. They have a long, hard march ahead of them, and will need to push on without rest through the frozen hill country to the north. They must reach I’r Gogledd Crannog, some four or five leagues northward, before the Ragged Lady has a chance to work anymore of her foetid necromancy there.

It will be cold; they will be tired; bugbears very well may still roam the hills; but the anger she feels burning within will sustain her through what may come. Valindra rises and turns to join the rest of the party. Let the hunt begin.

* (JRR Tolkien)
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