Thursday, July 16, 2015

Tales of a Failing Empire- Interlude Part 5


The first thing Nefydd did upon arriving at The Place was vomit. Teleportation (Grijhold's word for this strange way of travel) had always unsettled him; or was it The Place? Fortunately, Nefydd's heaving only generated a small amount of bile and saliva which he wiped on his right sleeve.



Nefydd was never able to remain standing after 'phasing in' (another one of Grijhold's words). The Place was always the same, startling 'clean' white corridors and rooms. There were no edges to the design of this region (but was it?), all ceilings and floors curved downwards or upwards where they adjoined the walls. Illumination was provided by armspans of glowing tubes in transluscent panels on the ceilings. It was never dark in The Place. Outside of The Place was one big unknown. Was this a castle relic of the Ancient Tymes? Even Grijhold didn't know. He would occasionally mention 'demi-plane' during the few times he and Nefydd actually broached the topic of the nature of The Place.



Grijhold gave it the name. One of his arguments for the name was that the creators of the area were long gone and nowhere in the abode (if it were such) were any clues to their language. Grijhold's master had named the area Jadaharien Lldrean (some elvish variant that roughly meant Bleak Fortress). After Grijhold 'acquiring' the magic trinkets from his master he came up with The Place on his second visit.“Am I going to be some pretentious bastard like all the other magick-wielding ego maniacs in history by giving this place an equally pretentious name?” Grijhold would say, usually when he was drunk by the fire pit, (and it took a lot to get him drunk) then answering himself with a suprisingly unlsurred “Fuck no!”



So the nomenclature stuck. The Place was often used as a last resort when things got bad in a variety of situations. Already it saved their lives three times. For the tenth time, Nefydd wondered if the trinkets would ever 'misfire.' Grijhold told Nefydd some tales of teleports going awry when used as a spell. A few outcomes were a ghastly mess. The Place was a temporary refuge at best, for Nefydd was extremely comfortable being here. The place smelled strange, as if the land beneath was burned in a some type of acid. Even moving here was queer, you couldn't actually touch the floor as if you were walking along a well kept forest path or one of Anfekor's Imperial Roads. It was more like a slight hop and a jump to properly traverse any of the accesible areas in The Place. After the jump you would float slightly for less than half an armspan before you landed, to hop again, and again, until you reached your destination.



The Place had hallways and rooms that were sealed by heavy white doors, Nefydd guessed that the door materials were the same consistency as those in the halls. How many more rooms lay beyond the doors was another huge unknown. As if the sealed entries weren't enough, there was Sentry, a giant construct that was several armpsans tall, reaching beyond a horse's head. It's head was all metal with fiery orange eyes, visible only when it chose to open its faceplate. Sentry rarely spoke, but it told Grijhold it's name one day when the dwarf arrived alone. Grijhold never tried to probe or reconnoiter any of the sealed areas, and being frustrated that he was denied access to the other rooms in The Place, he would inevitably talk to the construct. The conversations were almost always one sided until one day, the construct turned its head and stated simply, “I am Sentry. Please refrain from calling me Robert.”



Since then one of Grijhold's rituals after arriving at The Place is to greet Sentry as warmly as he could manage. Sentry rarely speaks back. However, one day the construct said, “Grijhold dwarf, you are quite unusual in your lack of greed and avarice once arriving in QA3. Almost all others which have come that exhibit your skillset I have had to incinerate.” Since that exchange, Grijhold is very respectful around the construct, which is unusual, since the dwarf respects almost no one.

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Tales of a Failing Empire- Interlude (Part 4)


The tors around Tamith split on the southward sheep trail out of the village. The rocks weathered down to clusters less than 3 armspans in height. The granite slabs and domes occasionally revealing the weathered remains of Sulkiri and Orcish runes. Some of the stones were split in two, scars of 'earthcarving' magicks from the Orc shamans and the Rockhewer Lords of the old tribes of man. The grey stone dark and cold, giving way to the bright green grasses that were the province's namesake.



Despite their efforts, Nefydd and Grijolhd could not gain a significant lead on the woman. Her stamina was considerable, and she maintained an armspan of distance from the pair. Her shapely boots moving in steady rhythm with their respective marching down the trail. The two companions no longer whispering to one another, their faces grimly set on the trail ahead of them.



The trail cut east and then north for a half a league. The pair stopped by what appeared to be a split menhir. The dwarf waved his left hand in a vertical motion, across his torso. A small section of earth at the base of the menhir eroded away, revealing a hole an armspan wide. Nefydd crouched down, pulling two backpacks and a pair of shoulder packs out of the hole.



“How far to the bulette spoor?” Lyn asked.



Grijolhd waved the sunrod in his right hand, “Another half a league thereabouts. North, northeast.”



“We'll camp here for the night,” Nefydd proclaimed. “You expecting to tackle the critter this evening?”



“I'll just follow your lead for the time being, gentlemen.” Lyn placed her hands on either side of her belt, covering the hilts of her weapons. “I'll take first watch.”



“I've got an extra blanket,” Nefydd eyed Lyn warily.



“Thank you, won't be needing it. I'm a light sleeper.”



“Fine with me.” Nefydd saw her eyes looking into his and knew she caught his lie. He brought two packs over to the dwarf and walked a few armspans across to begin rummaging through his own gear.



“I travelled with Berend Keirkegaard for a time. He says you were a good soldier.”



Nefydd looked up at her.“There's no such thing as a good soldier,” he replied, “Only living ones. How is the Ser... When was the last time you saw him?”



“Six months past, in the mountains of Bosor. He died in the expedition.”



Nefydd was quiet for a moment, turning his gaze from the woman. His hands froze for a few heartbeats pulling a camp stove from his pack. “Didn't know where he contracted in.”



“Your company was the only one who left the Senators' forces-”

“We were disillusioned with where the campaign was heading.” Nefydd placed the stove on the ground, rubbing his hands on his knees.



“And shortly thereafter, their armies were routed in a crushing defeat-”



“At the eastern Jurasin, is there a point to this inquiry?” Nefydd stood up, teeth clenched and walked to the menhir.



“Lass, this isn't exactly where you want to go.” Grijolhd chimed in. Quicker than the woman could follow, the dwarf signed to Nefydd, 'We need to have a conference, now.'



The dwarf tossed a small metallic dodecahedron to Nefydd. The ranger clasped the item, no bigger than the tip of his thumb, to the colllar of his shirt. “Shit,” he whispered.



Lyn was smiling, unmoving hands still on her belt. The dwarf and the man vanished. Her eyes wide, the woman channeled a questing for enchantments, and found nothing. There was no evidence of any magic.



“Oh they'll be back,” she murmured, looking at their gear.



“And you will harm not a hair on their heads,” a voice growled behind her.



“Most impressive orc, but your stench gives you away.” Lyn didn't bother turning around.



“And your signature matron, you light up the night like ten thousand fireflies.”



The woman frowned, questing her senses, there, she found it, a tiny spark.



“An earth father, here? Oh how delightful.”



“It is good you remember matron. Your kind often forget the ancient ways of others.”



“Hmph. And you fail to appreciate that it was we, who aided your enlightenment millenia ago.”



“Not all of you.” The orc said, his voice deep, rich, as if flowing through the air, rock and soil.



“A node, of course. Very well, earth father, you have my attention.” Lyn turned around. The orc was old for his kind, his appearance told otherwise, but Lyn could see his aura, and she gasped. The orc positively glowed, giving off a shimmer of the land as it looked thousands of years ago, when the orcs creeped above their ancient stoneholds in the night. On the eve of their rebellion.



Physically, he was still impressive, his muscles retaining their shape, not quite wiry as most orcs became as they aged, but solid curves, veins vibrant, the blood flowing in strong currents. His hair was still black for the most part, but Lyn's vision saw the faint traces of grey in a few strands. The sides of his head were shaved, but the hair on his head was long and tied in a ponytail. His goatee was black. Where the hair was shaved were several tattoos, whorls, circles inscribed with the old runes of deep earth magicks. His tunic and breeches were made of bulette hide, stained a deep brown. His left hand gripped a staff made of Tysthewood; trees that grew no longer in the human held lands of Anfekor and the other nations of the East.

Majestic as the orc was from the eye's view, his aura was absolutely stunning, Lyn was nervous, something she had not felt, in a long, long time.



“You know of my companions then?” Lyn cooed.



“Indeed, they are known to many brethren bordering the Cursed Lands.”



“Have you come to help us with our little quest?”



“I have come to make sure that no harm befalls them as they seek a resolution to their challenge. I will be watching you matron.”



Lyn brought her left hand up, chewing on her index finger suggestively. “Delightful, very well earth father, I will behave.”



“See that you do.” The orc changed, his arms folding towards his ribs, body crouched to the earth almost in a strange bow of reverence, wings came forth, then the piercing eyes, and finally the powerful claws of a plains owl. The wards around the orc as he transformed were blinding, and Lyn had to actually look down at the grass for a few moments. There were sounds of air being displaced by wings at least an armspan in length. Lyn looked up to find herself alone once again within the disheveled campsite. The dwarf's sunrod the only illumination, highlighting the orcish runes in white upon the menhir's base.



“I suppose I should cook up something for the boys when they come back.” Lyn sighed and went to work.



Far above the campsite, a great plains owl circled within the dwindling thermals, waiting.


Monday, September 9, 2013

Tales of A Failing Empire- Interlude (Part 3)


Nefydd let out a barely audible sigh, looking at the dwarf.

“Your... Illustriousness,” Grijhold said, hands tightening on his walking stick.

“No, dwarf, you have the title wro-” hissed the priest.

“I was referring to your female companion,” Grijhold interrupted. “I believe we haven't been properly introduced.”

The woman smiled, revealing perfectly straight, polished teeth. “Grijhold Torseeker, well met. And you must be Nefydd Foulkes.” Again she smiled, giving a curt nod, her ponytail moving in rhythm.

Cornelius coughed. “I have some rather important news from the village council.”

The priest pulled out a scroll case from within his robes, tossing it to the dwarf. “Your contract with Tamith shall end in two days time. You will be paid accordingly, any shortcomings or shirking of your duties are a violation of our contract and will, of course, be deducted from your payroll. That is your copy of the termination notice.”

Grijhold removed the scroll from the case, unraveling it and glancing at the scribework within. “Impressive handwriting skills, did you forge this document yourself, Sunshitter, or did you have a lackey do it for you?”

“Oh the article is genuine, I assure you, I was able to procure 3 out of the 5 signatures needed to make the termintation binding. I expect you to leave this town in two days. But before you go, there is the matter of an old barrow you two dug up?”

“Barrow!? We dug-” Grijolhd's walking stick snapped.

Nefydd laid a firm hand on the dwarf's left shoulder. “Grij, leave it be, we can be damn sure Aled didn't sign it.”

“Can we?” the dwarf growled.

“As I was saying before I was interrupted by your unprofessional behavior, there is the matter of a barrow. This is Alalyn. She will accompany you to the barrow and assist you both as she sees fit under official capacity as an adjutant marshal.”

Grijolhd, grinding his teeth, said quietly, “ Anything else?”

“Ah yes, I would like the scroll case, it is property of the Church.”

“But of course,” Grijhold spat in the case, closed the lid and tossed it back to the priest. “Apologies Gleaming Goose, but I needed to clear my throat.”

“Good riddance to you both. You do your Guild great dishonor.” Cornelius nodded to Alalyn, striding back to the village proper.
“Lead on gentlemen,” Alalyn grinned.

“As you wish, milady,” Nefydd managed to say with a slight bow.

“Ah Mr. Foulkes, no need to be so formal. Lyn will be fine if you please.”

“Very well.”

Grijolhd walked briskly in the direction.

“Is your dwarven compatriot always so dour?”

“Only when he's lost his job.”

“Adventuring is such a difficult profession these days.”

“Aye milady.”

“Mr. Foulkes-”

“Begging your pardon Lyn. I don't know you but it appears you can more than carry you weight in matters such as this. So let's skip the flattery and the flirtations, if any were forthcoming in the first place. I prefer milady as you clearly prefer to refer to me as a gentleman, which, last time I checked I'm anything but.”

Alalyn smiled, “Ah Nefydd, you and I will get along spectacularly, I'm sure.”

Nefydd gave her a quick nod, rubbing his right forearm, walking headlong to catch up to Grijhold.

“That's an interesting torc on you right arm Mr. Foulkes,” Alalyn called after him.

“She's worse than I thought,” the dwarf mumbled. “Definitely magicks attuned.”

“She's charming in a way,” Nefydd whispered back.

“With looks like that, it ain't too hard lad.”

“Maybe she can charm the bulette.”

“That is what I'm afraid of.”

Alalyn called behind them, “A bulette did you say?”

Both Nefydd and Grijolhd stopped. Nefydd turned, containing his surprise. “Aye milady, near the barrow.”

“We shall all earn our keep then won't we?” The woman smiled. “Come, come, I should like to see this barrow.”

“I imagine you would,” Grijolhd mumbled again.

“I heard that.”


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Update- The New and Improved Art

Thanks Keith for sending me a jpeg image of the art! I've been able to put the it on the blog and it looks fantastic! Thank you!
More to come in the following weeks folks.

Monday, August 5, 2013

A Tremendous Thank You!

I would just like to thank Keith Decesare for his hard work and contribution to the blog! Keith drew the picture you see above!  Unfortunately, (myself not being very suave with computers) I had to do a bit of tinkering with Blogger to get the art up and running for the site. Keith is an amazing artist, one of my top favorites and I really appreciate the work he has done. This really doesn't do the piece any justice, as I had to scan the art in order to have it posted on the site. For some reason, Blogger wouldn't accept the Adobe pdf that Keith sent me. For this Keith, I apologize profusely.  Keith's website can be seen here:  Linkage

Thank you Keith for the art and for your time!

Friday, August 2, 2013

Four months is too long

Four months away from the blog and that means..... I've been gone too long!

I've lost any readership I may have developed over the brief month that I kept the steam going and this distresses me, but the fault is entirely my own. Entirely! The blame is all on me. For any who are reading this still, I apologize and I will endeavor to do better. I appreciate the time that anyone is able to take to sit down and read the blog.

On to some good news, the main piece of  artwork that I have planned for the blog is in its final stages of development and should be completed within a week or so, I hope (fingers crossed). Once that is complete and I have posted I will reveal the artist and link his website on the blog. I can only give one hint, his name rhymes with heath!

This month is a big month as I believe I will be getting two fantastic RPG books!

The first book is Monte Cook's Numenara, which of course, I'm super excited about it as it reminds me of the very first Gamma World boxed set from TSR in flavor and themes. Obviously though, it's far different, filled with a unique touch that only Monte Cook can bring to any game. I'm highly interested in the mechanics as Mr. Cook has tailored them to enhance the storytelling nature of the game.  Sometimes in RPGs, the rules can bog you down to the point where the story suffers. In my experiences with gaming, when a session gets overwhelmed by rules, it exhausts everybody, and the GM loses the juice needed to keep the story going. According to what Mr. Cook has said in the blog, Numenara is taking a different approach, making the rules lighter to accommodate the story, hence, hopefully, making the GM's job a little easier.  Here is the link: Numenara website

The second book is Nick Logue's campaign for (3.5 initially) the Dungeons and Dragons game, Razor Coast.  Razor Coast is a swashbuckling, age of sail campaign that deals with nefarious demon squid cults, pirates, native cultures under siege by enterprising, opportunistic, greedy colonials, islands of undead cannibal pygmies, sharks, and lots more! The book was set out to published years ago, but a string of unfortunate circumstances have stymied its completion and publication, until now! It's been designed for the Pathfinder and Swords & Wizardry RPG systems (sorry 3.5 D&D!) and is being published by Frog God Games. There is an excellent video blog which goes into some of the details of Razor Coast's inception, demise and resurrection. You can see this on the vlog, The Demiplane of Gaming, look under the month of April 2013 in the show guide, click, click to watch, and enjoy! Linkie

As for my cheesy fiction that I post on the blog regarding my homebrew setting for Pathfinder... Sigh....

The only reason I write fiction on the blog is that there are plenty of other gaming blogs out there that cover crunch. I am horrible with crunch. Rules bore me, but to be fair, there are a few gaming blogs that cover and discuss rules in an interesting and engaging manner far better than I could ever do. As for myself, I would rather design a world and its myriads of creatures and peoples as inspired by an RPG system rather than write about the system itself.

I realize the blog's fiction, for those who have the stomach and psychological wherewithal to read it, is currently scattered. There are two threads that have to be closed, the first being the piece of Nefydd and Grijolhd, the second is the tale of Arrigo Covi. I'm constantly brainstorming for ideas on these threads but have yet to type them. I don't hold my fiction in high regard, not even close, this is an creative outlet. I do this for personal satisfaction over anything else.  For any readers who are remotely interested in these pieces, I apologize for the lack of posts. I apologize profusely. I will take a stab at the fiction in the weeks to come.

I'm sorry for the lack of posts in these past few months. I will do what I can to remedy that. Until then, to all those going to Gen Con this year have a blast and good gaming to you all! To everybody else, I hope you've had an enjoyable summer and good gaming and reading!  Take in the rays of this last month of summer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Tales of a Failing Empire- Part 3 (Interlude)

The temple to Aeremas (although any worshipper of The Wanderer will tell you, they're called Foot Stools in their vernacular or Travel Lodge to the unbelievers) was a modest building made of white oak, with rock elm logs for joists. This was one of two places of worship built within Tamith. Many of the religiously inclined farmers and shepherds surrounding Tamith built their own small altars to Shaanavishea in their fields and pastures, but there was yet to be any organized effort to build a temple proper to the Goddess of the Wood and Herdsmen.

The current priest (again, to those who serve Aeremas, he/she is called Footman or Traveller, depending on rank) of The Wanderer was an elderly man named Aled Tew. Aled was part of the village council, but more importantly, a sympathetic ear to Nefydd and Grijolhd. Neither of them could guess Aled's age, and both felt it inappropriate to ask.

Aled sat in a chair in the main hall, a board atop his knees, earnestly at work carving a figurine out of a branch of black walnut. A small pile of wood chips coated his breeches and was starting to pile on the oak flooring. He didn't even glance upwards as the doors opened, his special carving knives delicately scraping and etching the wood, forearms never touching the board.

The main hall of the temple was only 20 paces long and ten wide. Near the entrance were 6 benches, each set aside to form a narrow aisle up to the podium, where Aled currently sat, carving in earnest. Behind him was a large, colorful curtain that spanned the entire eastern edge of the hall depicting Aeremas arguing with the archaic sphinx Atalzyx to gain entry into the plane of Fovikklen.

Nefydd and Grijolhd approached the closet bench to Aled on the left side of the aisle and quietly sat down, maintaining a respectful silence. Time passed, Aled carved. Nefydd cleared his throat. “Greetings Traveller, peace be on your path, and fleetness to your feet.”

Aled looked up. “Nefydd, let's dispense with the sanctimonious crap for once shall we? What trouble have you two gotten yourselves into?”

“Traveller, um sir. First, I'm deeply hurt that you think we have ambitions towards mischief... And well, second, there's a bulette hunting around the western pasture lands.”

“A what?” Aled got up, placing the board on the podium.

“A bulette.”

Aled grabbed a rag from his vest, wiping his hands. “Shitballs.”

“Well sir, actually, when the bulette defecates, it's feces-”

“I don't need a lesson on the critter's excretory system Nefydd. Both of you follow me. I think we all need a drink.”

Aled drew the curtain back to the right, revealing oak panneling and a door. This led to his living quarters. The room contained a bed to the north with a desk and a bookshelf parallel to the bed along the wall. The fireplace dominated the wall to the east along with various kettles, cauldrons and a metal tripod. To the south was a wooden tub, a cabinet, a table and 3 chairs. Just beyond the tub was a secret door, which Aled graciously allowed Nefydd and Grijolhd access to during times where their presence was to be discreet (which was almost all the time). Aled opened the cabinet, took out a jug and three mugs and began pouring.

“Hard cider my marshals. Good for the soul in oh so many ways. Seat yourselves.”

Nefydd and Grijhold sat down. Aled slid them each a mug.

“All right gentlemen.” Aled raised his mug. “My Our Restless Father bless your endeavors in this village at the ass end of nowhere. But as we all know, even nowhere leads somewhere. Although, somewhere can take us nowhere, in essence, a vicious bloody circle. May our paths always be straight and may our paces always move us forward.”

“Here here,” Nefydd and Grijolhd chimed in. All three companions took a large swig of the cider.

Aled looked at both of them, placing his mug on the table. “Did you tell the Sheriff?”

Both man and dwarf gave the elder priest a grimace, rolling their eyes.

“Well, I'm certainly overjoyed that you two do not hold me with such contempt. So, who knows then?”

Grijhold took another swallow of his cider. “As of right now sir, you, me and Nef here.”

“There's more sir,” Nefydd added, “ We think something is actually, well, scaring the bulette.”

Grijhold took a deep breath. “Some ground near the Oded's pasture lands collapsed. Eight paces by four paces. It descended forty. Nef noticed the claw marks near the side of the northeastern edge along the bottom. We found a lamb down there, completely untouched, and very dead.”

“And,” Nefydd added again, “ There's a tomb or ruins of some kind on the eastern edge at the bottom. We encouraged elder Obed and his son to stay as far from the hole as possible.”

Aled pushed his mug away and ran his hands through his greying hairs. “You need to get back there as soon as you can and make sure nobody goes near that hole. The shepherds are sensible folk, but it's their children I'm worried about.”

Nefydd nodded in agreement. “Traveller Tew, if I may, I'd like to borrow one of your pigeons, send a message to the Ranger House at Anthin.”

“Nefydd, I'm not a helpless old fart, I can do that myself. I need to ask, are you sure you don't want to involve the Sheriff?”

“Well,” Grijolhd let out a deep belch, sighing, “Nobody's died yet.”

Aled gave the dwarf a deadpan look. “I thank you both for trusting me and bringing this matter to my attention. You two need to go back to that hole, and be careful. I need to do a little reading and I'll have to come up with some excuse to join you without attracting undue attention. May your wits be as fleet as your feet.”

Nefydd and Grijolhd gave curt bows to Aled. The old man gave a dismissive wave, “You know how to show yourselves out. Gather your gear and be off.”

The two marshals quietly slipped out the secret door behind the temple. They looked around. The temple was situated on the very eastern edge of the village proper. It was dusk. Nefydd pulled out a sunrod from his shoulder sack. He nodded to the west, whispering, “We need to move quietly until we get past the mill and the Vuoti's house, then I can use this.”

“Aye lad, let's hope the Sheriff and his boys are still drinking at the inn.”

Walking quietly, maintaining a nonchalant pace, the two slowly made to the western edge of the village, staying off the main road. There were only two more houses before the two story home of Vuoti's and the mill came into view.

“Good thing we stashed our gear out of town,” Grijhold whispered, “ Though inconvenient, I'd rather not have to deal with those slackers at the inn.”

“Let's hope nobody found the stash,” Nefydd replied. “Our luck has been a bit lopsided lately.”

“Well, I thought Sheriff Dudok made it abundantly clear that you two were to remain on extended patrol in the pasture lands,” said a voice from their left.

Suddenly everything turned bright. Coming from between the houses, staff alight with magical brilliance, walked a man, his head shaved except for a ring of black hair just above the ears. His goatee was waxed. He was garbed in the priestly robes; white and gold, with sunbursts throughout. Cornelius Aggett, priest of Polaris, a man both Nefydd and Grijolhd despised almost as much as the Sheriff (with the mayor coming in a close third). Behind Cornelius was a woman neither had seen before, dressed in fighting leathers and knee high boots of chocolate brown, her black hair tied in a ponytail. With the magefire from the staff, the woman's eyes shined like golden monarchs.

Grijolhd almost spat, but restrained himself. “You were saying something about luck Nef.”

Glossary-

Fovikklen- one of the planes of existence outside of the Prime Material Plane; some call it The Hidden Plane, legends have it that the only way to access the plane itself is to defeat an Archaic sphinx in a game of mental challenges followed by a duel with magics (most times of the nonlethal sort).

Monarch- one of the currencies of Anfekor, a gold coin