Monday, August 31, 2015

Starting up again

This weekend we will finally be starting up the gaming group again after a summer hiatus.  We'll be digging into a Dragon Age game run by my wife, and I'm pretty excited about it.

I haven't actually played DA since my first Gary Con two years ago.  I recall the system being fun, with a enough crunch to make it interesting.  I'm having to re-learn exactly how things work, but I don't think it will be much of a problem.  My wife is from the World of Darkness school of running a game, so I'm sure there will be less focus on the mechanics, and more on the characters.

I played around with about five different character concepts before I finally decided to just pull the trigger and pick one.  In an effort to get away from my norm, I went with a more Dexterity-based warrior (two short swords).  Still trying to figure out what kind of personality to give him.  I'll probably just let the game dictate that.  I have no doubts that his character will be fully realized in my head by the end of the first or second session.

On a related topic, we had bought the first boxed set back when she initially decided she wanted to run a game.  The Player's guidebook got passed around to our friends so they could familiarize themselves with the system, and make their characters.  Well, while it was at one friend's house, his cat threw up on the book.  He felt bad, and intended to replace it with a new boxed set.  But, they don't have that anymore, so he ended up just buying my wife the core rulebook, which contains everything in all three boxed sets, plus some extras!

He really didn't need to do that, as there is hardly any evidence of the cat's crime on the guidebook.  But we appreciated the gesture immensely (maybe he's just trying to cull favor with the GM).  I had the chance to flip through it, and all I can say is that this is a very nicely done book.  Everything you would ever need to know to play the game, and a lot more.  All in a high-quality book, with great production values.

Tangentially, my blog-mate Nicholas Bergquist over at Realms of Chirak, has been going through the Fantasy Age rules in his last few posts.  For those unaware, Fantasy Age is Dragon Age with the licensed stuff taken out, and the rules refined and genericised.  Sounds like a good competition for D&D.

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Talonius, Part 3

            I would like to think today that my concern was altruistic.  But, I fear that I merely saw my only hope of continuing my own journey bleeding out in the dusky dirt of that lonesome stretch of road, and reacted out of self-preservation alone.  Whether it was some kind of divine providence, smiling fate, or dumb luck, the wound the man had sustained turned out to be superficial.  True, without my help, he would have bled to death for sure.  But, in him I saw an opportunity.  And so, with as tender a hand as I could muster, I tended his wound, and escorted him to a nearby town.
            My first encounter with a human settlement was as one might expect for a Drow.  There were a mixture of reactions ranging from morbidly curious to downright terrified.  And I am sure it was the fact that I was helping an injured man that kept me from being struck down on sight.  We were escorted to the local temple, and the man’s wound was soon healed.  And I also soon found myself confronted by the first “friend” I would ever know, Hendrick the Scholar.
            During my initial training at the Drow wizard’s college, I had been forced to learn the Common tongue of surface dwellers, as raiders often brought back items inscribed in that language, and it was my lot to transcribe them.  This proved to be the one gift I had received at the hands of my former life, for it allowed Hendrick and I to converse openly.  Over the course of several months, we found mutual ground, and had many discussions. 
            From him I learned a great many things about the surface and its history.  Its people, its nations, and most importantly, its centers of learning and knowledge.  But, when I confided in him that the source of my knowledge was not arcane, or even divine in nature, he seemed crestfallen just a bit.  He knew of what I sought, and tried to dissuade me from its pursuit at first.  In the end, I won him over grudgingly, and he informed me of how best to follow the course I had chosen.  He even gifted me with a writ of passage, affixed with his personal seal, which he assured me would allow safe passage in the larger cities, and entrance into the libraries of most human nations.
            For the rest, he assured me, I was on my own.  We soon parted ways, he bound for another great college in the north, and I on roads unknown.  As a token of his appreciation, he gifted me also with a bit of coin, and accoutrements that would afford me some protection in the coming journeys.  Seemingly for the first time in my life, the next day seemed brighter than the previous, and I greeted that dawn with a hope I was sure did not exist in the world of my birth.


So, there you have it.  The thrilling beginning to a character who may or may not ever see actual play.  Do any of you all do this?  I have often written little narratives for characters.  I find it helps me "get into character" so to speak.  Sometimes they're first-person, sometimes not.  And I've done it for different genres as well.

Anyways, I'll probably work on something similar for my new Dragon Age character.  I'm ditching the female elf pirate idea in favor of a brooding human warrior.  But, what is he brooding for?  You know, aside from the generally depressed world he lives in...

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Talonius, part 2

            We had lay in ambush for nearly an entire day with no sign of any potential victims.  I had all but given up and was about to order my minions to move back to our encampment, when I espied a lone rider on the road.  I nearly went forward with my plans of retreat, but something staid my hand as I watched him approach.
            It was no doubt his stoop-shouldered frame that initially caught my attention.  However, the contents of his saddle packs were what cemented my interest.  For there, poking out from the lips of the bags were scroll cases of all manner of shape and size.  My heart leapt just a little, and I was even more elated to see that there were also books and tomes strapped to the man’s tack.  And in my excitement I nearly forgot my present company.  A savage grunt of anticipation to my right brought the reality of the situation back to me, almost a moment too late.
            As the five orcs in my company leapt to the attack, my instinct was one borne of desperation, and perhaps a bit of ironic cruelty.  From my outthrust hand purple eldritch fire lanced, engulfing one of the orcs.  The rest were startled, and turned to regard me with utter confusion, tinged with a bit of angry betrayal.  In that instant, I knew my course, and without further concern I let forth all of the powers I had managed to muster through the course of my studies.
            In the end, it was nearly the end of my journey.  Although three of them were down from my magical onslaught, and one had retreated to the nearby tree line, I found myself exhausted of magical energy, and faced with a singed but quite alive and angry orc.  He had forgotten the man on the horse, and had now turned his vengeful eye upon me.  As he stalked forward, I knew a moment of fear.  But, the conditioning I had been subjected to as a Drow youth took over and without even meaning to, I drew the short sword I habitually wore, and met his attack.  To my surprise, the hours of drilling in melee combat were apparently much more effective than I had ever believed.  For I expertly parried his clumsy attack, and drove my blade to the hilt through the center of his chest.
            Before I could even feel jubilant at my victory, a cry shook me, and I saw the old man topple from his startled horse, a black-fletched arrow jutting from his chest.  In that instance, I looked to the tree line and made eye-contact with the remaining orc.  I read fear in his eyes, and he disappeared into the woods with a thrashing of foliage.  I let him go, for in that moment my concern was for the rider.

To be concluded...

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

From the journal of Talonius

When a friend proposed to run a 5E game recently, I immediately started thinking of what character to play.  I decided early on that I wanted to play a caster of some kind, having just come off a 6-year campaign where I was the resident Barbarian/Fighter.  I eventually landed on the idea of a Drow Warlock.  Unfortunately, the campaign never got started.  But, I still have a 2.5 page 1st person narrative describing my character's background.  So, I thought I might share it here.  It will be in three parts.  This is part 1..


My name is Talonius, and I am a Drow.  You will note that I do not provide a house name, and in that fact lays the story of why I am here.
            Though I have made a conscious effort to remove the details of my past such as names and faces from my memory, the facts of such remain.  I was born a lesser son of a lesser house.  In Drow society, that is tantamount to a death sentence.  Like those who came before me, I was relegated to serving the matrons of my city in what way I could, assuming that my inevitable death might serve the Spider Queen in some minor way.  Unfortunately, I showed little proclivity for arcane talent, and even less for the martial.  Thus I was doomed to live the life of an eternal apprentice, never tasting the power that some of my race find so easy.  Or, so it seemed.
            I still recall the moment I found the tome that would set me on a journey unlike any in my position might dream.  It was in the dust-laden vault of the library, in a section that held those scrolls and books not of Drow origin, and thus had to be read by actual candle-light.  I don’t recall what had taken me there, nor is such a trivial detail important now.  All I know is that, when I opened the musty volume, something touched me from beyond that I would spend the rest of my life seeking.
            I secreted the book away, and spent many lonely hours poring over its contents in the solitude of my meager room.  In the end I discovered much.  But most important of all of my enlightenments was the fact that my life within Drow society would hinder my journey, and I would need to escape the soul-enslaving world I lived in.  I had heard tales of those who had left our world behind: the followers of Elliastree, the warrior, and other individuals who sought more than what the Spider Queen and her foul minions could offer.
            And so it was that when next a raiding party made its way to the surface, I was there, with them in body, though not in spirit.  To this day, I am convinced that not one of them even took note of my presence, nor of my absence once we reached the moonlight.  I would be highly shocked indeed were I to ever learn that any from my former home still sought me out.  Well, perhaps that one priestess who showed great pleasure when bestowing me with lashes for manufactured reasons.  But even she most likely would simply note my absence with mild annoyance, and move on to another victim without further concern.
            Those first few months on the surface were difficult to say the least.  Coping with the passage of time and the changing of the seasons as surface-dwellers do taxed me to my limit.  Foraging for food was difficult at best, and I soon found that my only recourse was to rely on my heritage to bully a small group of orcs into providing me with shelter and sustenance.  All the while I chafed at the thought that I was no closer to finding the knowledge I sought about the Old One.  I had practically memorized the tome I had stolen.  And even though it opened avenues to powers and abilities that aided me in my efforts, it only hinted at greater knowledge while taking me no closer to it.
            I mention the orcs here, because it is in part my association with them that eventually lead to my salvation.  As orcs are wont to do, raiding and pillaging were always on their minds.  Yet, the group was but a small one, and outcasts themselves, for the most part (which may have been a redeeming quality to me in hindsight).  The extent of our “pillaging” amounted to mostly stolen livestock from small, frontier villages, and the occasional robbery (and subsequent murder) of a wayward traveler.  It was an occasion of the latter that afforded me my first spark of hope.

To be continued...