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Friday, July 26, 2013

Dhenir and Truce Forged

600 years before mentoring Trezl , 400 years before named Honored Protector of Nemus, and over 200 years before his son left for the sea, Dhenir Rusvahta earned the right to wield Truce.

Dhenir was a captain in the elven guard when the first human war (Dhenir would see three) swept the dwarves and elves into conflict.  Millennia had passed since the last time elven military had left the forest on offensive.  Alliances with human nations forced the honorable elves to intercede in the conflict.

During this time the dwarf and elf races maintained peaceful relations and trade.  Though elves and dwarves rarely formed friendships, Dhenir grew to admire and trust a peculiar, nature loving dwarf.  Pasiv "Mossbeard" Stonehorn appreciated the open air and vibrant plant life that grew above ground.  He often found excuse to voyage to the elven forest as an emissary of his clan, and Dhenir escorted him throughout the forest with joy.

Alliances with differing warring human factions found the elves and dwarves on opposite sides of the conflict.  Though for two years, both nations refused to battle each other directly.  Diplomatic relations continued between the two races, attempting to find a peaceful resolution to the conflict.

When the elves learned of a dwarven ambush responsible for the deaths of a squad of elf centurions, Dhenir's commanders ordered him to arrest Pasiv, the lone dwarf in Nemus Forest at the time.  Torn between duty and friendship, Dhenir confronted his friend.  Assured by Pasiv the dwarves would never break the unsteady peace between the two nations, Dhenir helped Pasiv escape the elven guard and the two went in search of answers.

On the run from both their homelands, Dhenir and Pasiv sought the true cause of the ambush.  A lich of great power controlled the southern kingdom of Rackna.  He planned to turn the other races against one another in an attempt to turn the tide of the war and set up a new empire, ruled by his undead forces. 

After uncovering the lich's plot, Dhenir and Pasiv presented evidence to the elven and dwarven kings.  Convinced of the treachery, the elves and dwarves rallied the remaining human nations against Rackna and the lich's stronghold, ending the first great human war with the lich's destruction.

As a reward for Dhenir's service to truth and lasting peace, the dwarven king personally forged a sword for the decorated elf and named it Truce as a symbol of the new alliance between dwarf and elf.  The elven archmage, the head of elven wizards, enchanted the blade to be ever sharp and to cut through stone.

For his service, the elven guard promoted Dhenir to command the elven rangers and warriors who patrolled the forest, keeping all unwanted visitors from ever finding the elf cities within.  His command lasted hundreds of years before his people named him Honored Protector of all the forest.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Something New

I want to try something new with the blog for a bit.  Last year, I participated in the Kickstarter for Reaper Miniatures ( new Bones line of miniature figures for our D&D games.  The figures are unpainted plastic.  Last year at PAX I learned how to paint a miniature at the Reaper booth at the convention.

I found I really enjoy painting these miniatures.  Make me put paint on a canvas and I will sit staring at blank paper/canvas intimidated.  But I can really focus on painting these figures.

While talking with my lovely wife last night, we discussed my recent writer's block and my fear of writing Trezl's story.  I realize I must continue practicing writing if I am to feel comfortable finishing Trezl's story.

She suggested I write short stories about the characters each figure I paint represents.  I immediately had an idea for the back story of a halfling I was in the middle of painting for my daughter. 

For the next little while, as I paint figures, I will post pictures along with short stories about the character as they come to me.    I expect most of these characters will exist in the world of Ryndaria at some time in Ryndaria's history. 

The stories will be written quickly with only minor editing.  I want to hone my craft.

Here is the first:


Charis, Halfling Sleuth

Charis grew up in a small burrow of halflings, south of the human kingdom of Greystone.  The third of four children, Charis lived in comfort and peace.  Her daddy, Iakona, worked as a deputy of the town constables. 

While still a young girl, circumstances forced Charis' family to leave their halfling home.  While on duty, Charis' father responded to a disturbance at a local pub.  Iakona never explained to his children what happened that night, but four halflings died, and the family left their home and their people one night shortly after.  They packed what they could carry on their backs and a single mule.  That night, Charis noticed a long, thin chest her father hid among the supplies on the mule's back.

Charis' family survived working as servants in the land of humans to the north.  Her father and mother found various jobs throughout the years.  They cooked, cleaned and served wherever they could.  Hard work met the family's needs, though they never felt as they belonged in the human towns.

Years later, when Charis entered her teen years, rumors of war swirled.  Various human kingdoms warred amongst one another, and the other races of the world were forced into the conflict.  During the great war, cataclysmic destruction rent the halfling homeland.

Fearing for his people, and their culture, Charis' father gathered his oldest sons and set out to help recover what people, history and treasure could be found from a land destroyed and uninhabitable. 

The men of the family left Charis, her mother, and youngest sibling to wait on their return.  They never did.

Three years later, impoverished and preparing to enter womanhood, Charis built the courage to sneak away and open her father's slender chest, against her mother's wishes.  Charis held her breath in awe as she lifted a sword of unbelievable craftsmanship.  The sword shined, its silver rose blade nearly radiating light on its own.

Charis' thoughts raced.  Where did her father get this amazing blade?  Who made it?  Her mother only knew that Charis' grandfather passed the sword down to her father as his father had done before that.  Tears once again flowed freely as Charis realized the history of the blade was lost along with her father.

Over the days ahead, determination replaced grief in the young halfling woman.  Charis knew purpose.  She would continue the quest of her father and brothers.  She would recover whatever was left of her halfling home and history.  She would learn her family's history and destiny.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

The Power of Simplicity

The King conscripted us, promised us wealth and power, and sent us out to save the Kingdom.  Three ancient dragons desired to eat all the gold in the Kingdom, and the Kingdom needed heroes to stop the threat.  Victory promised our ascension to royal status as The King's adopted sons and daughter.

My son created a simple enough story, without the nuance and intrigue I might be tempted to add into my own stories and role playing campaigns.  Yet even at nearly nine years old, the boy understands what makes a good story.  The people are in danger and they need the reluctant heroes to step forward and save the day. 

Our group had a lot of fun over our three sessions.  My son got to stretch his creativity in creating the evil dragons, who rabidly saught out and destroyed all wealth in The Kingdom. 

Each dragon was unique (one with two heads, one with no wings, and one more typical but purple beast), though none were exactly original.  They were each based on toy dragons I have in my office.  He used what was at hand to craft a fun "hack and slash" adventure.

To create fun, interesting battles in D&D, my son needed my help.  It gave me the opportunity to experiment with various "boss battle" mechanics that I want to bring into my own campaigns.  I learned a lot, without the risk of throwing untested ideas into my own campaign.  Plus, I found my eight year old is more than capable of thinking on his feet and adjusting to his own style of play.

As I sit here and reflect on the last three weeks of D&D, I realize that sometimes complexity in a story, for the sake of complexity, takes away from the fun of the adventure.  It is OK to be simple as long as the motivation is there and the story is worth telling. 

I get the sense that even in the midst of a more complex story, with its many characters and subplots, the main part of the story should be simple and easy to recognize.  After all, that is what will be remembered when the story is finished.

Monday, July 8, 2013

Helping the Young One

For the past six months or so, my eight year old son has joined us in playing D&D on Friday nights.  I admit, I worried he would not handle it well and that I would have to gently tell him he was no longer allowed to play.

While he is eight, he surprised me in his ability to hang with the adults!  We must remember some times there is an eight year old in the room, and we play around his early bed time (9pm on Fridays, earlier during baseball season!), but I enjoy him at the table with us.  He looks forward to it each week, and his six year old brother also wants to join in.  I must say, this warms my heart. 

It surprised me when, a few weeks ago, he voluntered to be the Dungeon Master!  In the past, he never wanted to lead (even in little games with his brother and sister).  He felt the DM played the role of "the bad guy" and there was no way he could be bad.

His first try at creating a story and leading a D&D group through was this last Friday.  The holiday allowed him two weeks to put it together, and I helped him create the battle encounters (so they would be balanced).  Of course, a one week game will not do, so he created an adventure that should take about three sessions to complete.

This particular adventure probably won't win any awards (our party is to slay three dragons for the king... the dragons keep stealing and eating the king's gold), but the boy impressed me with his ability to put together a story.  I expected to help him plot out his story, but his confidence and excitement made that unnecessary. 

He also impressed me with his ability to think on his feet.  It would be an understatement to say our group is not a very cooperative set of players.  We like to joke around and push the limits of whoever is DM that week.  His adventure and play style is just absurd enough to fit right in.  He never acted discouraged or frustrated, and he had a lot of fun.  He kept four adults, from mid 20s to early 50s, entertained as well!  We defeated our first dragon, and even cleared out a goblin camp on the way to the second.

Most of all, I enjoyed the creative bonding experience I had with my son.  I peaked inside the mind of my eight year old, and I enjoyed working with him.  I also saw enough of myself in him that I cannot help but beam with pride.

A little off topic this time, but I had to share!