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[Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 6:36 pm
by RobJN
I've decided its time to dust some of these notes and ideas off and give them a bit of a run. While they don't get lonely (so many of them crammed together in the notebooks!), they do seem quite starved for some fresh air and sunshine. So with no further ado, I give you:

Thorn's Chronicle: Excerpts from the "Third Empire: Thyatis' Era upon Brun."

I begin this journal, as all of my order so do, with an introduction and a caution to the Reader.

I am named Marcu Markovic, third son of Petr, of the village of Stallanford. As I stood to gain no lands or security from the passing of my father, upon my Shearing I went to Radlebb, and there pledged myself to the druids, and came to be known as Thorn. I spent seven years in apprenticeship to the Circle, learning the songs and histories and lineages. I also learned the ways of marking words upon hide and parchment, that they may sing long after I have been silenced.

And now the caution: The accounts chronicled here were marked well after their occurrence, and have been reconstructed from skeins kept during the course of my journeymanship. Some details have been forgotten, and are not omitted by intent. Others have been added in hindsight. I do not profess to have the eyes of an Immortal, and so can only guess at the hearts and minds of others, but have relayed those accounts as best can be judged from what I know of those mentioned, and in hearing of their retellings over the years.

Waning half-moon of the Leaves’ Turning (on or about Sviftmont 22, 997AC)

When the weather began to turn cold, I took my leave of Nemiston, journeying south to share a fireside with some of the many shepherds of Armstead. The sheeps’ coats were quite thick, and knew I’d need to hurry if I wanted to make it through the Gap and back into the Duchy before the snows closed the passes.

The next morning, I crossed paths with a merchant and his guards taking the long way ‘round to avoid the Duke’s Road tax. It was a strange company: the merchant gray and bent at the reins of the wagon, obviously out of sorts with the rougher trails. The two guards were my age, give or take a year, one broad across the shoulders and dark haired, the other whiplike, with fair hair and beard. And riding in the back of the wagon, a young lady -- barely more than a girl, really -- dark of hair, clad in the white and silver of The Flame. They introduced themselves to me, and I to them: Old Seth, merchant and wagoneer; Varis, recently released from service in the Duke’s army; Gilliam, who would say naught but he was returning from travels in Ylaruam; Ana, initiate of the Silver Flame.

Not much was said thereafter, save Old Seth and Gilliam each cursing the early cold and speculation on whether or not we would make it through the Gap before the lowering clouds began to loose their snows. I kept my own speculations to myself, preferring, as Varis, to save my breath for the roughness of the trail.

We took a noontide meal of hardtack and salted venison, and were glad we hadn’t taken the time to light a fire -- no sooner had we returned to the trails then did the first of the snows begin falling. This dampened even the spirits of the wagoneer and Gilliam, and they hunched their shoulders against the steadily falling snow.

The sun had passed across the Gap, and shadows crept steadily up the far wall of the canyon when a sharp ring of steel-upon-steel drew echoed from around a sharp bend in the trail. As one we all stopped, blinking the haze of the road trance. There had been no sign of travelers on the trail ahead of us. A chaos of shouts and jabbering came from around a sharp bend in the trail, nonetheless.

To our surprise, Old Seth snapped the reins and let out a cry to rival that coming from around the bend. As the wagon lurched into motion behind the wild-eyed horses (the poor beasts hadn’t been spurred to such action in their lives!) the old man drew a long blade from beneath his seat at the front of the wagon, the blade twirling in his gnarled grip as though he were twenty years younger.

His shout was joined by a yelp from the girl in the back of the wagon, who clutched at the ropes binding the cargo with knuckles as white as her robe, her black hair streaming behind like some battle standard.

We three men gaped at each other for a pace, and then the two drew steel of their own, Varis a gleaming blade much like that of the old man’s, Gilliam unsheathing twin shortswords from across each hip. They took off at a run after Old Seth, and I had no choice but to hurry after....

More to come, hopefully on a regular basis.

As always, feedback is welcome and appreciated.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Fri Dec 26, 2008 11:27 pm
by Chimpman
Nice. I look forward to reading more. You make mention of the Silver Flame - is this something your group has co-opted from the Eberron Campaign Setting? In either case how do you tie it into the world of Mystara?

[PS it's not a criticism - I myself use many aspects of the ECS in Mystara. I think the two mesh well together in most cases, but I haven't brought any of the Eberron deities into Mystara as of yet. Just curious how your group is doing it.]

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 12:09 am
by RobJN
We've "borrowed" the Silver Flame from Eberron, indeed.

Not so much a "diety" as it is a philosophy, I had the Silver Flame brought to Mystara by the first wave of Alphatian colonists. Some say the Flame was always there, and the Alphatians simply recognized it for what it was. Whatever the case, the philosophy spread to other nations of the Known World, particularly in Glantri and Karameikos, where incidents of lycanthropy, demon worship and the like are more prevalent than elsewhere.

For more detail on the history of the Flame and the Known World alterations that went along with it, check my changes to Mystara, outlined on my website.

Eberron has some fantastic material very much in the same nature as the Known World of the Gazetteers, and I gleefully take every opportunity to weave it into my version of Mystara. :twisted:

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Sat Dec 27, 2008 1:38 am
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues....

The trail twisted and dropped steeply into a small bowl of a valley. The bottom of the valley, though, was barely visible for the seething mass of what I first took to be darkness or black fog of some sort.

The clashing of steel and sharp, barking cries revealed the darkness to be not fog, but... goblins. Nearly a hundred of them, if a one, swarming around a pony-drawn cart.

Old Seth’s charge was cleaving a path through the teeming mass of goblinkind to the bottom of the valley, Varis and Gilliam following in its wake, mostly bowling over dazed creatures. I charged after, knocking jabbering goblins aside with my staff. We had to hurry if the travelers in the cart were to have any chance against this horde.

The wagon ground to a halt alongside the cart, bowling a dozen or so goblins away, blocking them from attacking from that side at least. The pony, though frightened nearly witless, was also holding its own against the squat, gray-skinned attackers.

Drawing closer, we could see two short, broad-shouldered figures in the cart, one at the front, his brown cloak flapping about him as he hewed with a long-hafted axe. The other, braced in a wide stance across the back of the cart, fended off shrieking goblins with a broad-bladed hand axe in each hand. A third figure could be seen cowering between the two defenders, cloaked and hooded in the same brown material.

Gilliam gave me a shove towards the front of the cart. “Go play with the horses,” he shouted, and having no better plan, I took up position between the wagons’ team and the mountain pony.

The battle was a swirling chaos of one gray face after another, pointed teeth bared, a rusty sword or axe or pick in a knotty gray hand. I have never known goblins to mount an attack with such ferocity, though. Normally, after the first few fall, they break and scatter. But these kept coming, one after the next.... It was not right. It was not natural, and though it was them or me, still I felt badly for each that fell.

A sharp cry from one of the dwarves on the cart turned my attention that way for a brief second. It caught the attention of the goblins as well, as the tide of them flowed towards the lowered defenses of the dwarf at the front of the cart. He’d gone to one knee, a knife visible in his leg.

“Fall back!” The order came from Ana, who leapt from over the top of the wagon, landing in front of the dwarf as he scrabbled backwards along the cart’s bench. With a great sweep, she cleared nearly all the goblins from before that side of the cart, falling beneath or away from the gleaming silvered blade of the scythe the girl wielded. I must admit, I was just as surprised as the goblins were, at that sight!

“Thorn, look at their eyes!” she shouted, and for the first time I looked clearly at the faces of our foes. Gray, slightly wrinkled skin, scraggly black hair, a mishmash of armors and hides. A rust-red insignia of some sort emblazoned on a clearer patch of armor. Their eyes were the watery gray-green of most of their kind that dwelt in darkness... save that they were rimmed deep red along the lids. Eyes rim’d red, soon be dead, went the rhyme.

“Possessed?” It came out more of a question than a clear statement. I’d learned stories of men and beasts taken or given over to demonkind, but I’d never seen it, nor thought I ever would.

But the girl was not listening, instead had her eyes closed, the silver pendant about her neck clasped in both hands. Her lips were moving, and after a few moments, I could hear her voice rising, repeating a chant or prayer in what sounded like Old Alphatian. A light like moonlight was spilling from between her fingers. She finished the last verse, flinging her arms wide, and the light spiraled forth with a bright flash. But then it was falling, as though from an aurora, in a shining circle barely the diameter of the wagon and cart. The goblins caught along the edge of the circle shrieked and fell back, cowering away from the sliver-white curtain, clutching a burned arm, or hand or leg.

We were safe, for the time being. But for how long?

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 5:32 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues.....

We turned towards the injured dwarf, but he was already tying off a strip of his cloak about the wound in his leg. Ana made towards him, a hand outstretched, but he waved it away.

“Nae, girl. My thanks for keeping those gobbo’s from trimming my whiskers, but this is but a scratch. Save any o’ your magic for further down the road.” He turned, looking over the back of the cart, at the other dwarf, who was catching his breath. “Oi, Durin, kept ‘em off her this time, did you?”

The other dwarf, Durin, knelt, and patted down what looked like a bundled cloak. It moved a bit under his hands, and a lock of wavy, shining hair fell from beneath the hood, but made no sound.

“Not wounded, so it would seem, unlike you, Brother mine.” He turned and stood, dark eyes beneath bushy brows regarding each of us, as though he were measuring us upon a merchant’s scale.

“Suppose we’ll have to cut introductions short,” he said. “Kagyar only knows how long that pretty shield of yours will last, and --”

“I am Kuric,” said the dwarf at the front of the cart. He jerked a thumb towards the other dwarf. “That is my brother Durin, our friend in the back of the cart, well, we don’t rightly know her name so we call her Silva. Explanations will have to wait for later. P’rhaps in the next world, as your spell seems to be wearing a bit thin.” He hoisted himself up, using his long-hafted axe as a crutch.

“A pleasure meeting you both,” said Gilliam. “You fight very well. It will be an honor to die by your side.”

“A moment,” called Durin. “Show me your blades, men.”

“I think there is no time for that, brother mine,” Kuric barked.

“It could be our salvation, brother. Your blades, quickly!”

Varis and Gilliam glanced at each other, then shrugged, laying their swords in the cart before the kneeling dwarf.

“Remarkable work,” the dwarf breathed, as he picked up Varis’ sword. He glanced down the edge of the blade. “Aged, but very well kept. Your grandsire’s sword?”

“His father’s, actually,” Varis said, glancing nervously over his shoulder. The goblins had crept to within arm’s reach of the barrier. “I am the fourth in my line to wield it.”

“Very fine, very f--”

“Durin! Kagyar’s beard, there is no time for that! Stop gawping and just do it!”

“Right. So..” he took a leather-bound box from beneath some sacks in the cart, rummaged around in it, producing several pots, which he uncorked, wetting his fingers with whatever was inside them, and began wiping down the blades in a curious manner.

“I don’t mean to be rude, but...” Gilliam’s voice wavered. “We can polish our blades after we’re through with this rabble.”

“‘This rabble.’” Ana said, “is no mere goblin clan. They are possessed, not just some of them, but all of them, all by the same entity. It has granted them immunity from your earthly swords.”

“Impossible!” Gilliam breathed. “I cut through a dozen of them, at least. They fell, and bled.”

“And they are back amidst ‘the rabble,’” Ana said, pointing towards a group of them, huddling amidst the crowd. Their armor was slashed, bloodied, yet they stood despite the wounds.

“It is done,” Durin growled, wiping his hands on his breeches, stowing his pots back in the box, rewrapping it carefully.

“I see no difference,” Varis said, examining his blade.

“Oh, you will, my new friend,” said Kuric. His mustaches twitched with his smile.

“Do we stand and fight, or run?” asked Old Seth. “What is the plan?”

“Seven on a hundred or so? I’ve gambled on worse odds than that,” Gilliam said.

“Pray that luck is with you then,” I said. The barrier flickered once, twice. Then vanished.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Sun Dec 28, 2008 10:36 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues.....

They came at us as a screaming wall, closing from all directions. Again and again, I lashed out with my staff, battering them back, with no time to rest before more had taken their place. To one side, Ana spun, and when she did not, the gleaming silver scythe in her hands did, the edge blazing every time it rent a demon-possessed goblin. Those so touched fell away scorched, and did not rise again.

I saw a flash of light from the corner of my eye, and heard Varis curse.

“Halav’s balls! What manner of sorcery is this?”

His blade glowed a fiery reddish-orange, sworls and eddies of white light blazing upon the length of the blade, patterns swept thereupon by the dwarf’s fingers.

“A binding of fire and spirit to the blade,” shouted Durin, his own axes shining with the same light. “It will not last overlong, so make the best use of it while you can!”

Gilliam simply gave a whoop as he turned aside two attackers’ blades, his own flashing and sizzling as they cut deep.

“We cannot stand like this,” Old Seth cried, kicking a goblin away as he clobbered another over the head with the hilt of his sword. “There are too many!”

“Change of tactics,” Varis called. “A wedge. Ana at the front. Reap us a path through. Durin, you and I on the right flank. Your brother and Old Seth upon the wagon, Gilliam on the left flank. Thorn, back of the wagon, clear off any trying to follow. Move your bundle of a friend and anything you need to the wagon, we leave the cart.”

Bags flew into the back of the wagon, and Kuric gave a clumsy jump to the higher wagon seat, helping the bundled-up girl over. A flash of brown cloak, pale skin and a white gown were all we saw of her as we fought and dodged and ducked our way around the wagon to the positions Varis had called for us. His blade flashed, cutting the pony loose from the cart. It bolted, the goblins ignorning it.

Old Seth gave a shout, and the reigns a snap and I had just enough time to leap into the rear ledge of the wagon as it jolted into motion, slowly at first, but then picking up to a decent pace. The clashing of blades and howls of the goblins grew more sporadic as we outpaced them. The wagon lurched as Gilliam, then Varis and the dwarf Durin leapt onto the running panels. We overtook Ana’s jogging pace, and I extended a hand as we passed, hoisting her up onto the rear of the wagon.

Between the distance and the swirling snow, falling heavier as the light of day faded, the goblins fell away.

We made camp off the trail, beneath an overhang of one of the jagged hills, which Old Seth deemed the most defensible of stopping points. Caves dotted the length of the Gap, but those nearest were too high up for hope of reaching with the wagon and horses.

As eager as we all were to hear the dwarf brothers’ tale, it was agreed that it would have to wait until morning. We huddled close to the small fire, weapons close at hand, taking watch in pairs. But the goblins did not return in the dark.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Mon Dec 29, 2008 11:34 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

Waning half-moon of the Leaves’ Turning (on or about Sviftmont 23, 997AC)

I watched the the darkness slowly give way to the half light of dawn, having drawn last watch. Gilliam, also, had drawn that duty, and I watched him rise and stretch, pour a trickle from his waterskin upon the ground, kneeling briefly to touch his forehead to the spot before sipping from the skin.

“You did not strike me as the type to follow the Way of Eternal Truth,” I said to him.

He shrugged, handing me his waterskin. “More of a superstitious habit,” he said, “than a belief. Still, it can’t hurt to do honor to the Immortals, in case they really are out there, watching over us.”

I poured out a trickle, then took a sip. “Peace shine upon us as the sun,” I said, handing the skin back.

“I could do with a bit more of that,” he said, pulling his cloak about him as a gust of wind made its way through the trees.

A shriek rose from the far side of the camp, and Gilliam and I both started, scrambling for weapons and sprinting across the campsite.

It was the girl, thrashing in her sleep, rolling this way and that, jolting everyone from their own sleep with shouts of alarm.

“What in blazes --” shouted Old Seth, struggling to untangle himself from his bedroll.

The two dwarves rushed to her side, Kuric laying his hands upon her shoulders, shushing and cooing to her like a mother would her babe. Durin busied himself with a clay teapot, hanging it over the fire, and coaxing the flames back to life.

Varis slid his sword back in its scabbard. He was not peering at the girl, but about the perimeter of the camp.

“Quiet her down!” he hissed, “before she draws those goblins back upon us with that howling!”

Ana laid her hand upon the girl’s forehead. “It is not hot, she does not seem ill.”

“No physical sickness,” said Durin. “But she has powerful dreams. Wakes more nights than not like this.”

“Lovely,” muttered Varis.

Her voice died down, no longer crying out but whimpering, her thrashing diminishing to a fitful toss or turn. Kuric sang a low, rumbling melody, a lullaby that I was not familiar with. I listened intently. The girl’s dream passed, the tension leaving her, her face smoothing. Kuric cradled her head upon his lap, holding one of her small hands in his.

"Devil of a way to start the morning,” grumbled Old Seth, scratching at his beard. Then he stomped off towards the horses.

Durin made a feast of our meager supply of trail rations. To the salted venison, he added sausages and cheese, and a strange root that he chopped and cooked that tasted of spiced with pepper and onion, though we had neither.

The girl awoke, and we all got our first good look at her. Her touseled hair was blonde and wavy. Or maybe it was silvery. Depending on how the light struck it, it appeared one or the other. The firelight made it dance between the two, and I could have watched it for hours.

Her complexion was smooth, very light rather than pale, if that can be said to make sense. Her ears came to a fine point at the tip, less so like an elf or even a halfling, but definitely not rounded. Her eyes were round, but tilted up at the outer edges, not almond-shaped as an elf, nor like those of Men, but something between. Unlike men and elves, they were not blue or green or brown, but were grayer than gray, almost like burnished silver.

She regarded us with wide-eyed curiosity as she sat with her knees drawn up before her, the cloak arranged about her thin shoulders. She held a steaming cup of Durin’s tea, sipping occasionally, and did not eat from the trencher set before her.

We’d all tried greeting her, but she simply blinked quizzically at each of us, frowning and shaking her head to indicate that she did not understand. Ana tried Old Alphatian to no avail, and similar successes were met with my Old Traladaran and Gilliam’s scraps of Alaysian. We even tried scratching letters in the dirt but these she also frowned upon and rubbed out with her feet in frustration.

“We tried to put hose and boots on her,” Durin said, when Old Seth wondered about her bare feet. “You’re more than welcome to try yourself, if you don’t mind a foot in the eye.”

“Can’t get her to wear anything but a simple white gown,” said Kuric. “She won’t have anything with any color in it against her skin. Stripped it right off and ran about the room in a panic,” he added with a chortle, then blushed.

As we spoke, I watched the girl. She watched us intently, her eyes going to whomever was speaking. Occasionally, her brow would furrow, and she would draw a breath as though to speak, but then she would shrug and take a sip of tea and go back to watching.

“Why are her lower arms bound?” asked Gilliam, spying the wrappings beneath her sleeve.

Durin and Kuric stared at each other for a long moment.

The girl, though, saw Gilliam’s gesture, and had followed his glance. She held out her arm to Kuric, who frowned. She pulled up her sleeve, and pointed to the complex knot -- it was obvious she would not be able to untie it with one hand.

Kuric patted her arm and shook his head. The girl glanced from the dwarf to the man, shrugging at Gilliam. She then tucked her sleeve back down and drew the cloak all the way about her, so just her head was uncovered.

“Bad things happened the last time her arms were uncovered,” Kuric said. “Very bad things.”

“What sort of thing could be so --” Old Seth began.

“We lost our family. Our home.”

The old man scooted away from the girl, giving her a dark look.

“It was not her doing,” said Kuric. “She is not to blame. She is alone, and scared. But we will not risk it happening again until we can find a scholar or sage that can tell us who -- or what -- she is.”

The girl smiled at Old Seth, then gave a bored-sounding sigh and rested her chin on her knees, staring at her toes, peeking out from beneath the cloak.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:39 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

The sky kept its gray mantle, but though low and forbidding, the clouds did not drop any snow over the course of the day. The previous night’s snowfall had been steady, but light, so we were able to make good time through the remainder of the Gap. We made it to Highdell while there was still a bit of light left in the day.

To call Highdell a town would be a disservice to towns all across the Known World. A gathering of farmsteads, Sir Reynard’s stone keep and manor house, and the mining compound make up the bulk of this wide spot along the trail into more civilized lands of the Grand Duke.

The miners’ mess hall had become the closest thing to a tavern, or inn, or waystation. We were greeted warmly once Old Seth produced a baron’s writ of expense.

“Well now, weren’t expecting any more company to come through here, what with the snows starting so early and all,” said the cook as he set steaming bowls of goulash before us. He paused, apparently waiting for one of us to ask about these other travelers. When nobody did, he wrung his hands on a rag he wore tucked into the front of his spotted apron.

“So, here on the Baron’s business? How goes it?”

“Thats the Baron’s business,” said Old Seth, picking up his spoon. “Wine all ‘round. Hot water in a kettle. Then a nice long space of quiet, if you please, and you can double your petition to the baron for recompense.”

The man nearly cracked his head on the table with his bow.

After he’d left the wine and Durin had brewed Silva’s tea, we ate in silence for a time. The girl picked a bit at the vegetables, went after the dumplings with glee, but did not touch the meat. Sitting at her other side, I traded her my dumplings for a few bits of meat, as I hadn’t seen her eat more than a few bites of trailbread over the course of the day’s journey.

Kuric pushed back his empty bowl, and drew out a long-stemmed clay pipe, which he prepared and lit. After a few puffs, he cleared his throat, and began.

I pause here to note that though I worked knots as fast as I could while listening, I did not catch Kuric’s tale word-for-word, and thus can impart the spirit of the tale, rather than its full flesh. Alas, neither Kuric nor Durin’s spirits responded to the tolling of Chardastes’ bell, so I have but this one account to go by.

The brothers, Kuric the elder and Durin the younger, would not say from which town they hailed. It did not matter they said, because it and everyone in it was gone. As with every dwarven family, each had a role in the family business, theirs being seller and crafter of fine goods, respectively. Durin had been apprenticed to a magewright, and had some of the knack for aligning the qualities in metalworks. Another few decades and he would have the lighter metals mastered, and could then move up to irons and steel.

Kuric had the duty of fetching the best prices for the family’s best works, and it was that pursuit that had cost him half a day of bargaining. Rather than take the congested tunnel roads back to the village, he instead took a disused surface road. It had been blocked by rockslide for some years, and so nobody used it. Kuric laughed, telling us he had sold statuettes and ornaments made from those very stones to dwarves too lazy to move those rocks themselves for a quicker route.

The evening was cold and clear -- Matera crested the tips of the Makkres, and shone down brightly into a small spring-fed pool, turning its surface to molten silver. Just as suddenly, a mist arose, as thick as it usually did on late spring and summer mornings. Yet it was barely autumn, the conditions all wrong for ground fogs.

The fog had taken alight from the moonlight above, and from the surface of the pool. There arose a thrumming, rhytmic as if from a beating heart, rising and falling as if a breath, that could be felt in the rocks, through the frame of the cart, in the very fog itself. Violet lights streaked within the fog, from the direction of the moonlit pool, and the air took a scorched, acrid smell of freshly struck lightning, though there were no clouds above.

The brilliance of the fog flared, and a howling of wind arose, the fog spinning as though caught in a vortex, tearing itself to shreds along a circular corridor, as if becoming a great pipework made of the swirling fog. And from within the tunnel of cloud, running as though from a great distance, was the girl.

The howling changed, then. Or rather, it became not just the howling of the vortex, but also the howling of beasts -- bone-chilling howls as those of mountain cats and diving birds of prey.

The girl ran, looking back over her shoulder at something, then tripped. Yet when she fell, it wasn’t to the floor of the tunnel of fog and light, but into the surface of the pool. As the moon’s reflection shattered into ripples, the howling faded, the tunnel swirling smaller and smaller in an instant, until it disappeared completely, taking the wind and keening with it. The fog lingered for several minutes, but was gone by the time Kuric had reached the edge of the pool.

“It wasn’t that deep, but it was cold like a slap in the face,” Kuric said. “We nearly both drowned, trying to get her out of there.

“So we bundled up and made for the village, her yammering at me in her nonsense-speak the whole way. Don’t suppose the chattering of every tooth in her head made things any more understandable, but still.”

“It was quite the scene, Brother mine a-galloping into the estate shouting for a bath.” Durin chuckled. “We thought he’d fallen off the cart and hit his head on the way home at first. But he and that girl were positively blue.” He hugged himself, shivering and making a “brrr!” sound in his throat, and the girl -- who gathered they were telling the tale of her arrival -- mimicked Durin, holding her arms and nodding.

Eiao risi!” she said. “Brr!”

We all stared.

Eiao risi,” she said again, her voice faltering a bit as she looked from one of us to another, but finding no real comprehension staring back at her.

Risi? Brr!”

“Cold,” I said. “Thats got to be it. Let me try...”

I pointed to her steaming mug. “Risi?

She scowled, then sighed, shaking her head. “Nieah. Etah firni.

I’d heard those words before, or words like them.

And apparently I wasn’t the only one. A shadow crossed the table, and we stared up at a tall, thin-faced man. His black eyes flashed, and something about his slow, easy smile amidst the carefully trimmed brown beard seemed... predatory.

“Pardon me,” he said with a slight bow at the waist. “I could not help but overhear your fantastic tale. You see, I am a bard, and --”

“Whatever you’re trying to sell, we don’t want,” snapped Old Seth.

Ana was staring intently at the tall man, her hands clasped tightly before her on the tabletop.

“Selling? Goodness, no I wanted to --”

“We’re not interested,” said Gilliam, making a bit of a show of cleaning his fingernails with the blade of a long knife he’d made appear as if by magic.

The man’s eyes went from Gilliam’s knife, to Silva, back to the knife, and then took in the measure of the dwarves and Varis as well, who’d adjusted the swordbelt at his waist, making it readily apparent that the hilt was well within reach.

“Apologies,” he said with another slight bow. “Please, allow me to at least pay for one last round of drinks before I go.” Two gold coins spun across his knuckles from out of nowhere, and he sent them spinning to the table with a flourish.

Silva clapped, and the man nodded towards her with another smile before turning and returning to his table at the far side of the hall.

Three guesses who the tall stranger with the oily smile is.... the players hadn't guessed upon this first appearance.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 2:47 pm
by Havard
This is getting interesting! :)

How about interweaving some of the journal entries with factual entries ala the Voyage of the Princess Ark? For instance, this last entry could have some non-fluff details on Highdell?


Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:16 pm
by RobJN
I was hoping you'd chime in eventually, Havard. :D
Havard wrote:This is getting interesting! :)

How about interweaving some of the journal entries with factual entries ala the Voyage of the Princess Ark? For instance, this last entry could have some non-fluff details on Highdell?

Quite do-able, Hav. Wasn't sure if anyone would be interested in that sort of material, so I was trying to stick to -- as they say in the Princess Bride -- "the good parts." But if ya'll want crunch, I'll give you some crunch.

Eventually, once I find the right graphics, maps and pictures, I'll be putting those up on the website. May have to resort to some photoshopping to get Silva just right. Or maybe I could get one of the lads here who's good with Poser to whip something up.....(hint, hint) ;)

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:55 pm
by Chimpman
Love the story so far Rob, and I'll agree with Havard - some crunch would be fun as well. But definitely keep the story coming.

Hmmm... and as for the stranger... you're in Karameikos, man with a beard, predatory, dark eyes... can really only be one person. ;) Everyone's favorite mage perhaps?

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 5:47 pm
by Dave L
Crunch or no crunch - I'm enjoying this! :)

A bard - yeah, right. Where's your lute, mysterious stranger? :mrgreen:

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:28 pm
by RobJN
This is one bard a bit more interested in loot than lutes.... :roll:
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

Waning half-moon of the Leaves’ Turning (on or about Sviftmont 24, 997AC)

We were awakened again by the girls’s scream -- or rather, by the way her scream suddenly became muffled.

It was difficult to see in the long mess hall -- most of the candles had been snuffed, and the fire slept the orange-red sleep of embers. Shadows were everywhere, and amongst those, deeper shadows still surrounded us. What little light there was glinted off drawn blades.

“No, no do not reach for your weapons,” purred one of the shadows -- the tallest among them. The bard stood in the center of the semicircle of men arrayed around us, one arm wrapped about Silva’s waist. His other hand was clapped over her mouth, covering all of her face but for wide eyes the color of the moon. At first I thought they shone in the darkness, but saw they were tears, not magic, in those strange eyes.

She made to kick at his shins, but the man hoisted her off the ground a few handspans, and her thrashings settled.

“Give her back!” shouted Durin. He made to rise, and one of the bard’s men prodded him in the shoulder. The dwarf glared, but did not reach for the axes by his side.

“I do not think you are in any position to demand anything of me,” said the bard. “I would have happily paid you for her earlier, but none of you seemed interested in hearing my offer. So now I have to wonder... Just how much is this little pretty worth to you? Hmm? I am not an unreasonable man, perhaps we can come to some arrangement.”

“How about your head arranged on a pike?” asked Varis.

“I was thinking a little more along the lines of money,” the bard said. “I don’t need decorating tips.”

“We are but poor travelers upon the road,” I said. “I doubt our coins would even add up to a royal between all of us.”

“Poor travelers my eye,” spat the bard. “You’ve got a fat wagon full of trade goods and two decent draft horses to pull it.”

“Those are blankets and supplies for the baron,” Old Seth protested. “There’s need for them, with all the goblins raiding.”

“Well, there are others of us who could use a good warm blanket,” snarled the bard. The men surrounding us nodded, making affirming noises of one sort or another.

“So,” the tall man continued, “that takes care of your share, old man.” He walked a few paces, stopping by Ana. “I don’t even need to ask about you,” he said. “That trinket alone has enough silver in it to feed me and my men for a good month or two.” One of the men stepped forward, yanking the arrowhead-shaped amulet from about about her neck. The bard merely laughed at the outraged expression on the young woman’s face.

But his laugh turned to a shout of pain. Silva had worked one of her arms free, and dragged her fingernails hard across the back of the man’s hand covering her mouth. He wrenched his hand away, nearly snapping her neck as his hand came back down across her cheek.

The two dwarves cried out, and it took two more blades apiece leveled at their necks to keep them from rushing to the girl’s aid. Varis and GIlliam heaved the dwarves back.

“You can’t help her if you’re both dead,” hissed Varis.

“Not to worry," whispered Gilliam. "I’ve got a plan.”

Old Seth, Varis, and Ana all groaned.

Thorn's Chronicle crunch: Highdell

Posted: Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:25 pm
by RobJN
"To call Highdell a town would be a disservice to towns all across the Known World. A gathering of farmsteads, Sir Reynald’s stone keep and manor house, and the mining compound make up the bulk of this wide spot along the trail into more civilized lands of the Grand Duke."
-- the Druid Thorn, from his accounts, ca. 997 AC

Situated in the wrinkle of foothills separating the Cruth Mountains from the Black Peaks, Highdell stubbornly persists, balanced between the wild mountains of northern Karameikos and the equally wild borderlands of Darokin.

Highdell persists mainly because of the silver mine -- discovered shortly after Grand Duke Stefan assumed stewardship of the lands of Traladara, the veins have come and gone over the years, one running out only to have another, richer vein discovered months or years later. What began as a tumble of mining shacks grew into a large tumble of mining shacks and a fortified keep, the Grand Duke stationing a small garrison to keep goblins at bay and ensure none of the silver should go "missing."

Soon thereafter, the flatter portions of land were given over to what farming could be done -- a surprising amount, it turned out. Enough to feed the garrison and miners, with some surplus to trade to the south with Threshold.

The population of Highdell waxes and wanes with the fortunes of the silver mines, but at the time of Thorn's visit, was home to roughly sixty miners' families, half a dozen garrisoned troops, and the estate's current Lord, Sergei Reynald, his wife and their two sons (with another on the way, rumor has it), and their servants.

Highdell does not offer much by way of goods or services to adventurers passing through, though food and shelter can be found in the miner's mess hall for a handful of cronas. The garrison's smithy can see to repairs of arms and armor, or reshoeing of mounts and pack animals, but armor and weapons are not for sale.

Adventure opportunities:
Where there is silver, there will be bandits, and the length of the Gap is riddled with caves and camps of these groups. Some are human, others goblinnish, and a few orc and hobgoblins have been spotted amongst the various gangs. PCs might be likely to find themselves hired on to bolster the guard on a shipment, or may find their own expedition under attack by bandits looking to relieve them of hard won treasures from a dungeon or two.

It is not unheard of for the miners to break through into deeper caves while working, and perhaps they stumble across a monster's den, or a nest of one type of vermin or another. Lord Reynald may employ the PCs to root out the disruption so the mines can get back to normal operations.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Wed Dec 31, 2008 11:47 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues....

“You, then,” the bard said, glaring at Gilliam. “You don’t look to have much of value, save for those boots. And maybe the swords. Thyatian make, aren’t they? Don’t look like much of a gladiator.”

Gilliam worked a thick ring off his right hand, sent it skidding across the floor to the man’s feet. “Thats about all I’ve got,” he said. “Gambled away everything else.”

One of the men picked it up, hefting it in his hand. “Heavy thing.” He bit it. “Thats gold, that is,” he said.

The bard sneered. “Probably washed in gold. Now go wash it off. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to put things in your mouth if you don’t know where they’ve been?” He turned back to Gilliam. “Thats it? One gaudy ring?”

“Like I said, gambled everything else away,” Gilliam said, shrugging. “Look, why are you roughing me up and taking me for everything I’ve got, when the girl can very well pay her own ransom?”

The two dwarves sputtered, but the bard didn’t even bat an eye.

“She doesn’t even have shoes, let alone jewelry!” he barked.

“Of course she does,” said Gilliam with a sly smile all his own. “Shes got jeweled bracelets halfway up her arms, all wrapped up under there.”

“Gilliam!” gasped Duric. “You--”

“No!” said Kuric. “You mustn’t!”

Again, swords leapt to the dwarf’s throat as he lunged towards the bard, who’d begun tugging at the wrappings of the girl’s right arm. When it became obvious that a few tugs wouldn't be enough to unravel the knots, the bard set the girl down, and motioned one of his men to hold her.

“Now, then, lets see what it is you’ve got all wrapped up under here, shall we?” When Silva saw that the bard was reaching for the bindings, she held her arm out. “Thats a good girl,” the bard said, smiling at the girl, who smiled back. His long fingers fumbled at the knot, and the smile slowly bled away into a scowl. He worked and worried at the cloth strip for several more minutes, and then with a snarl, slid his grip to the girl’s hand while he drew his dagger with the other, thrusting the blade towards her upturned wrist.

She gave a shriek, and flinched violently, trying to jerk her hand away. But the bard’s grip held, and he wrenched her arm back towards the knife. The blade mad contact with the cloth, and Silva screamed again. There came a blinding flash of white light, and everybody -- bandits and traveling companions alike-- cried out in surprise, covering our eyes against the painful glare.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 7:42 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

For several long moments, the ghost of white light danced in my vision, with me no matter how I blinked to clear it. The hall was no longer draped in shadows and darkness… far from it, now the room was awash in a ruddy, reddish-orange light, as if from a great bonfire. I glanced around, fearful that the room should have caught fire, yet there was no smoke, no more heat than was coming off the banked coals in the hall’s great hearth.

The light blazed from a point on the Silva’s right arm, held before her protectively now, the tatters of the binding laying in a charred mass at her feet. She was surrounded by a hazy nimbus of yellow-orange light, a halo of silently crackling, heatless flames.

The bard was cradling his hand against his side, and there was the scent of burnt cloth, and perhaps even flesh in the air.

“Well, now,” breathed Kuric beside me. “This is different.”

“Not exactly what I’d planned, but good enough!” said Gilliam, and I heard the ring of unsheathing steel, and he leapt to his feet, blades flashing.

He needn’t bothered to leap to the attack, though. The majority of the bandits were crowding through the door in a panic amidst shouts of “Sorcery!” and “Witchcraft!” The bard shouted and kicked at them to get them out of his way. The knot of men tumbled out the door into the cold night.

“You’d think they never saw magic before,” scoffed Gilliam, slamming the door and barring it.

“I have never seen a magic such as this,” Ana said, walking around the girl, keeping a safe distance from the shroud of flames that still danced around her.

The girl, cocooned within the light, stared at her arm in amazement — it seemed she was just as surprised at the turn of events as we all were.

Her lower arm was adorned with a network of brightly glowing metal, an impossibly intricate pattern of weaves and sworls and braids, radiating from a brightly glowing reddish crystal set along the top of her wrist.

“No man or elf or dwarf could craft metal with that detail,” said Durin. “Not even the most gifted of magewrights can get a metal spun so thin in such ways.
When my master saw this, he wept.” Durin’s eyes were not dry, either, I saw, though I do not know if he wept for the beauty of the girl’s adornment, or the memory of his now-departed master.

“How long does this… effect… last?” Ana asked. “Silva? Are you all right?”

The girl looked up, and Ana repeated her question. The intent of her question got through, if the entire meaning didn’t, and the girl nodded, extending her arm, showing us that it was unhurt.

Ana reached out.

“Ana, I don’t—”

“Fool girl what are you—”

Her hand clasped the girl’s, and the wreath of hazy fire winked out almost at once. The gem went dark, save for a few golden glints within it, and Silva collapsed against Ana with a sob.

The two dwarves patted the girl’s hand — the left, above which the bindings were still in place.

Varis had dragged a bench across the doorway leading back to the kitchen, and sat upon it, sword drawn across his knees.

“We’ll watch in pairs the rest of the night. The rest of you, get what sleep you can. We’ll be leaving at first light.”

Thorn's Chronicle crunch: On Magic

Posted: Thu Jan 01, 2009 10:35 pm
by RobJN
The magic most readers are familiar with, the scripting of formulae and working of that formulae into spells to manifest magical effects, is what is known upon the Mystara of Thorn's Chronicle as "Old Magic."

The source of that manifestation of magic was tainted by the corrupt touch of demonic influence in a last desperate attempt of those demons to retain their hold on the world. The Old Ways still work, but at a terrible price, and always results in the madness and eventual death of the user. There are workarounds, such as the elves' use of soulgems, and pacts between unscrupulous wizards and witches and very powers that have corrupted the magic. But such methods are temporary measures, merely putting off the ill-effects. The chickens, eventually, as they say, always come home to roost.

What is commonly known as "magic" in the present-day Mystara is actually several different phenomena which --to the untrained eye (which includes most of the peasantry -- and indeed, much of the nobility as well) appears as "all the same thing."

Most magic is of the Alphatian way, which taps directly from the Spheres of Influence, which borders closely with and sometimes overlaps with elemental forces: Air, Earth, Fire, Water. Entropy, too, can be drawn upon -- but as with demonically-tainted "Old Magic," weaving the forces of chaos and decay leaves lasting effects for the weaver.

Weavers have no need of books or scrolls as they do not rely upon written formulae. The use of other trappings, such as staves or wands is also not something seen very often, as their powers manifest outside of the use or need of such vessels.

What seems to be a balancing force of Entropy has appeared in the manifestation of what the Alphatians term the Silver Flame: the embodiment of purity, of unblemished spirit. Some speculate that it is the very stuff of souls yet to be made. Whatever the case, it is a wild force, and one must have a strong will to use the powers it grants. There are whispers that the Silver Flame is not so pure as most would think, that it actually serves as some kind of prison for the souls of demons and other wicked beasts... Whether it is or not has been a topic of much debate amongst the orders' cardinals.

The other source of magic comes from clerics, and is fueled both by their strength of purpose and the favor of their Immortal patrons. Some would term such manifestations as "miracles" or "blessings."

Magic manifesting as it does with Silva's bracers is something unheard of in the present day -- it involves no weaving, no invocation, simply springing into being from one or the other of the stones. As demons have been known to possess such mundane items such as swords, armor, or adornments, it is no wonder that some would view Silva as a witch, in traffic with any number of demonic entities.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 4:12 am
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

I don’t think any of us did more than doze for a few hours. Silva alone slept, a deep and heavy sleep from which we had trouble rousing her.

Kuric and Durin looked from from one to another of us. “You won’t be fleeing, then, like those others?”

We each answered in the negative.

“What of you, girl?” Durin asked Ana. “We’ve heard stories of your witch hunts. Can we be assured you won’t go crying to your elders as soon as we reach a town with a temple in it?”

Ana sighed. “Those… unfortunate events are in the past,” she sighed. “I do not sense an otherworldly presence here, as I did from those goblins, and until I understand more of her, I will not blindly assume that just because she can use magic I have never seen that she is evil. As you said, she is frightened, alone among strangers. I doubt very much she even understands what it is she does.”

“You’ve been awfully quiet, Druid,” said Old Seth. “What do you know that you aren’t telling us?”

“Look, if you know something, spit it out,” Gilliam said.

“I would know where it is I am going to land before leaping off a cliff,” I said. “Right now, I still see only clouds. Better to wait for them to clear, and know if it is water, or sharp rocks below, no?”

Since we were already awake, we left before dawn, just as the cooks were arriving to begin preparations for morning meals.

It was slow going, as snow began falling soon after we were underway— just enough to make the track a sodden mess and dampen the spirits. As if they could get much lower. Old Seth and Gilliam had argued a good long while over whether or not to follow the Grand Duke’s barge trail along the Silverrun or to take the overland trail south, through the last of the Gap’s thickly forested hills and then into the farmsteads north of Threshold.

“If the snow gets any worse, the mountain trails will be treacherous, Duke’s upkeep or not. Demons take me if I’m going to get snowed into Elton’s Spring ever again!” Old Seth snapped the reins.


“No amount of ale is worth putting up with those pixies!”

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Sat Jan 03, 2009 7:13 pm
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

While the trees kept the worst of the snowfall from hampering us, the condition of the trail became abysmal when we broke through the last of the woods and started into the flatter, open farmlands. The snows were getting worse, and we could not count on coming across a farmstead before dark.

Old Seth ‘harrumphed’ when Gilliam pointed this out to him, and after chewing at his thumbnail for a bit, the old man announced that we would cut east, keeping the spur of the Black Peaks visible, and make for a place he knew we could find decent shelter before the day faded.

“Wait a moment,” Varis said, the first he’d spoken since we set out. “East along the spur? That is towards Lake Windrush.”

Old Seth nodded. “It is.”

“There is no shelter along the lake shore,” Varis said slowly. “Unless you mean us to —”

“You can’t!” gasped Gilliam.

“I could, and I do.”

Durin huffed his way up to us, breath steaming from his beard. “If it will get us out of this wind and snow, so be it. Lead on.”

“Thats just it. Mistamere is a ruin,” Varis said. “A crumbling curtain wall, a shell of a keep.”

“There is still plenty of shelter to be had there,” Old Seth argued. “The upper floors are in ruins, but the ground floor still stands. Its enough to keep the snow off our backs. Plenty of foliage in the gardens to use to make a fire. It’ll be nice and cozy.”

“We’ll be plenty cozy with all the monsters and ghosts to keep us company,” Gilliam muttered.

“Why do you think I keep you and Varis along?” asked Old Seth.

“Now, look, old man,” said Gilliam. “I am no coward, but I pick my fights. And you can’t kill a ghost with steel.”

“Mistamere is not haunted,” snapped the wagon driver. “I’ve camped there many a night and never once seen any ghosts.”

“When was the last time?” asked Gilliam.

“Why… I had to’ve been around your age….”

“Nobody goes there any more,” Gilliam said. “It may not have been haunted in your day, but it certainly is now.”

“Well, we’ll just see about that when we get there, then,” Old Seth said.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 7:00 pm
by Chimpman
Yay! Mistamere! I can't wait to see what happens there. Just out of curiosity, is this a story (made up entirely by you) or an actual campaign that you've played in? If the latter, which of the characters are actual PCs?

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Mon Jan 05, 2009 11:39 pm
by RobJN
Chimpman wrote:Yay! Mistamere! I can't wait to see what happens there. Just out of curiosity, is this a story (made up entirely by you) or an actual campaign that you've played in? If the latter, which of the characters are actual PCs?
Alas, I don't have a group right now, but am basing the "PCs" off players/their characters from a past campaign. The adventure is actually more of a collection of notes that will some day get beaten into into an actual stats-and-text-boxes adventure.

The jumble-of-notes for this first adventure span about four 1-subject notebooks (not the entirety of the notebook, just three or four pages here, a few more there, interspersed with several OTHER adventure ideas and notes....). I've got two or three Word files of various incarnations of the adventure -- another version, for instance, has the route starting in Selenica and going through Reedle, down the Duke's Road and then into B11: King's Festival.

The trip to Mistamere wasn't actually scripted in my original notes, but just sort of... happened as I was counting hexes and calculating travel times. It was too good an opportunity to pass up! I have some ideas brewing for what happens there.... :twisted:

The NPCs were supposed to be the dwarf brothers, and Silva, with the option of one or the other of the dwarves made "playable" if an extra body should show up, or if a PC should perish. I needed a somewhat reliable narrator, and thus was born Thorn, who would also make an excellent PC. I do actually have the characters statted out (most of the B-series adventures have a block of pre-gens, so I made my own, too!) and use them to fine-tune encounters/challenges/combats.

I can post "Character Sheets" of the cast, if you'd like to see their crunch. (I have three different versions of the PCs: BECMI/RC, 3rd Edition, and their conversion over to the Alternity system)

Also, if you have suggestions for what might happen next, or want another installment of "Crunch," please toss it out here!

Its a busy week at work (holiday "black out" time is over, and back to the "old grind.") so the next installment probably won't be finished until Friday or Saturday.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Tue Jan 06, 2009 8:56 am
by Dave L
I'd like to see the character sheets, BECMI/RC for preference, if that doesn't eat into "storyline time". :)

Thorn's Chronicle crunch: The PCs

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 1:54 am
by RobJN
Varis (F2) AC 5(chainmail) HD 2+2(18 hp)
Str 15 +1
Int 11 --
Wis 10 --
Dex 9 --
Con 14 +1
Cha 12 --
General Skills: Military Tactics, Riding (horse), Bravery
Second son of a Thyatian woodcutter and Traladaran artisan, Varis left after his Shearing to join the Grand Duke's army. Earning his spurs rather quickly, he participated in several skirmishes along the northern mountains, rooting out goblin and orc warbands. Having served four years, he opted out of the Grand Duke's service, and decided that he wanted to see the world. His travels took him to Selenica, where a misunderstanding about a chicken, a Ylari courtesan and several bottles of olive oil landed him in a bit of trouble. Shortly thereafter, he crossed paths with Gilliam, who apparently had some misunderstandings of his own. The two joined forces and hightailed it out of town with the first merchant they could track down.

Varis stands 5'9" and weighs roughly 12 stone. He keeps his brown hair cut short, and keeps clean-shaven in the Thyatian style, a habit he picked up from his service with the Grand Duke. His eyes are hazel.

Gilliam (F2) AC 7(leather) HD 2(14 hp)
Str 14 +1
Int 12 --
Wis 10 --
Dex 16 +2
Con 12 --
Cha 11 --
General Skills: Gambling, Cheating, Hunting, Riding (horse)
Gilliam hails from a village in the northern mountains of Thyatis. His parents killed in an orcish raid, Gilliam was among the handful of people to escape. Having nowhere else to go, he fell in with a group of bandits who made quite the living raiding desert caravans in Ylaruam. But the bandit leader's penchant for needless cruelty did not sit well with Gilliam, and he made away with a sizeable pouch of gold and silver in the dark of night. He found work in Selenica, and thought he'd settled down to an honest living. Unfortunately, the bandits finally caught up with him, and Gilliam was forced to flee. In his flight, he ran into (literally) the ex soldier Varis. A scuffle with some ruffians later, the two found a hasty retreat from the city available by signing on as guards to a lone merchant.

Gilliam is 5'6" with dark blonde hair and a scruffy beard. His eyes are a deep gray-green.

Old Seth (F3) AC 6 (scale) HD 3(22 hp)
Str 15 +1
Int 10--
Wis 12 --
Dex 9 --
Con 11 --
Cha 11--
General Skills: Navigation, Fire-building, Survival(Forest), Bargaining,
Seth had the devil's luck to draw the lot from the lottery Baron Halaran held to decide who would journey north for emergency supplies. So he packed up a few belongings, took his armor out of storage, and did his duty for the baron. While the journey to Selenica was fairly uneventful -- having taken the Duke's Road -- Seth decided to try his luck on an alternate route back to Threshold.

A bit past his prime, Seth is no feeble old man -- he routinely spars with the townguardsmen during training exercises, teaching them the difference between fighting a fellow man and what its like to go up against a goblin or orc. Seth was in the Grand Duke's army in his youth, and has traveled all the major roads of the duchy. He is equally at home in a tent or lean-to in the woods as he is an Inn, though with his advancing years, he tends to prefer feather beds.

Seth stoops a bit, but stands 5'8" and is still quite solid despite his 40+ years. Though balding, he keeps his iron gray hair and beard cut short in the Thyatian military style.

Ana (C2) AC 6 (scale) HD 2 (10 hp)
Str 10 --
Int 12 --
Wis 16 +2
Dex 14 +1
Con 9 --
Cha 15 +1
General Skills: Alternate Magics, Healing, Knowledge(History of the Silver Flame), Ceremony(Silver Flame)
Ana was orphaned very young, and was taken in by a local priest of the Silver Flame. He educated her, teaching her letters and numbers. He wasn't the kindest of men, and though he was very strict, he did not mistreat her. When he discovered she had the ability to nurture and wield the flame, he immediately sent her to the Citadel so she could undergo further testing and training. She spent the remainder of her youth cloistered there, undergoing ever intensive study of the history, ways, and means of the Silver Flame.

On the eve of her 16th birthday, the Keeper of the Flame herself came to Ana's bedchamber, handed her a white-and-silver tabard, and told her that she was to journey to the west. She left the next morning on the first available ship.

Ana has the slight build, pale complexion, raven-black hair and ice-blue eyes of "old blood" classic Alphatian race, which causes much murmuring amongst her elders when it is revealed that she was found penniless, dirty and barefoot on the streets of Sundsvall. She has been away from the Citadel nearly six months, traveling the past week with Old Seth, having been picked seemingly at random by his caravan guards when the master of the trade guilds insisted that they were not allowed to leave Selenica without a healer in their company.

Thorn (D2) AC 7(leather) HD 2 (9 hp)
Str 9 --
Int 15 +1
Wis 15 +1
Dex 12 --
Con 10 --
Cha 15 +1
General Skills: Survival(Forest), Science(Astronomy), Knowledge(Druidic Lore), Singing, Storytelling
Thorn stands about 5'7" and wears his chestnut brown hair in a wavy mass, tied back with a thin strip of leather. While he keeps a beard, as most of his order does, he keeps his neatly trimmed rather than let it grow wild. His eyes are dark brown, shot through with gold flecks.
(Thorn is advancing as a cleric, but chooses his spells from the druid's spell list, and follows most of the restrictions of the optional druid class. I've modified druids to be of the more knowledge-y/historical type, and as such gain a few "extra" knowledge General Skills as part of their training.)

Re: Thorn's Chronicle crunch: The PCs

Posted: Wed Jan 07, 2009 8:30 am
by Dave L
RobJN wrote:His travels took him to Selenica, where a misunderstanding about a chicken, a Ylari courtesan and several bottles of olive oil landed him in a bit of trouble.
Now that would be a story worth hearing around the camp fire one night! :)

Thanks for the stats - good believable back story too.

Re: [Campaign Journal/Story Hour]: Thorn's Chronicle

Posted: Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:55 am
by RobJN
Thorn's Chronicle continues...

The light was fading rapidly as we rounded the last twist leading up to the shelf upon which Gygar had built his fortress those hundreds of years ago. The cold grew to something thick and heavy in the air, driven across the lake by ever more powerful gusts of wind. The snow was as a series of ever-shifting veils before us, and we were nearly upon the castle before we could actually see it. One moment, there was nothing but snow and ice, the next, the walls loomed out a few arms’ lengths away.

We needed little of the urging from the old man to hurry across the courtyard. As he’d said, the keep’s ground floor was largely intact. The high windows were empty of glass or paper or shutters, but the stout doors still hung on rusted hinges.

“Hm. Ironwood,” Kuric said as he and Varis set their shoulders against one of the great doors. “These doors will probably outlast the stone used to build this place.”

The squeal of the rusted hinges was lost as the wind keened through the broken sections of the curtain walls. We hustled inside, leaving Old Seth to see about sheltering the horses. Gilliam carried the girl, who was again asleep, having awakened briefly for a noontide meal before curling up in a sheltered part of the wagon for the remainder of the journey.

Snow had settled into short piles after blowing through the windows. Debris from nesting animals or birds come and gone was visible in the gloom, but other than that, the entrance hall was largely bare. Three archways yawned into darkness, one each to the right and left, and a wider one ahead of us.

“Stay here,” Varis said. “I will sweep through the rooms, make sure we don’t have any company. Don’t go anywhere until we get back.”

“I will go with you, lad,” said Durin, drawing one of the axes from his belt. Varis nodded, and they strode quickly through the left-hand archway.

They were not gone long before we heard shouts echoing, and shortly thereafter Varis and Durin returned, with Old Seth in tow.

“How was I to know it would be this bad? I haven’t seen this place in as many years as you’ve been alive!”

“Not a wall unbreached in this miserable tomb,” Varis said. “We may as well camp down on the lake shore, as defensible as this position is!”

“The roof is in one piece, and the interior walls are sound,” said Durin. “At least it will keep the snow off our backs.”

“I feel like a mouse, huddled in the midst of that Darokin cheese with all the holes in it,” Varis muttered. “Too many ways in.”

“I don't mean to interrupt,” I said, pointing towards the shivering bundle Gilliam held. “Could we perhaps continue this discussion after we’ve made camp and started a fire?”

It was decided that we would weather the night in the keep’s great hall. Its three doors were of the same ironwood as the great double doors leading into the keep. Indeed, a great long table hewn of the stuff ran quite the length of the hall.

“I pity the backs of the men made to shape this great thing,” Gilliam muttered, running a hand through the age of dust collected across the surface.

“I pity the backs of the men made to move it here,” said Kuric, rapping the tabletop — which stood up to his chin — with the long haft of his axe. The solid ‘thunk’ sounded as if it could have come from stone.

“Probably the only reason it hasn’t been plundered,” Old Seth said with a laugh. “Couldn’t gather together enough men to lift it and make off with it.”

“Or it wouldn’t be worth the price once you split it among all the help,” said Gilliam with a grin.

“It was nice of them to leave us some chairs,” said Varis, hefting one and bringing it down hard against the far side of the table. The chair flew to pieces. Barely a tremor shook the length of the great table.

Old Seth soon had a small fire going in the great hearth, and he and Durin began arguing over how best to make use of the meager foodstuffs we had left.

Silva awakened from her spot close to the fire as the dwarf and old man were in the midst of deciding the fate of the rabbits Gilliam had managed to catch on the end of a few arrows. Varis owed him a handful of cronas for that feat.

“What is it girl?” asked Old Seth with a hint of exasperation in his voice. “Enough with the tugging at my sleeve. Speak up if you have a suggestion for supper.”

She stared at him as he gestured again to the rabbits, which he’d been preparing for the cookpot. She shook her head, then began dancing from foot to foot.

“Yes, m’dear, the floor is very cold. If you would wear hose and boots like a civilized young lady, you wouldn’t—”

Ana strode over, taking the girl’s hand. I distinctly heard her murmur “Men!” from between clenched teeth as she stalked past me, snatching one of the torches we'd set from its sconce, and leading the girl out one of the side doors.