Saturday, March 21, 2020

Two Tales of Tellene

Now available for purchase at DriveThruFiction, Two Tales of Tellene, starring Odd Jill. Regular readers of this blog will know the second tale as Episode at the Old Mine, published here a few years ago.

Saturday, February 8, 2020

AD&D 2e NPCs

Ways of Flesh, Power of Mind

I am called Zeren. My ways are my own, and my future is unknown to all save Zerthimon. My, past, however, is open to those who are worthy to know. I see into your heart, and I will consider you worthy.

Long before I was born, a group of 'zerth broke free from the king of the Githzerai, establishing a keep in the city of Sigil. They had come to _know_ of other Arts, used by the illithids, that the arts of a zerth had little defense against. They _knew_ that this power came from within, and so established their monastery so that they might _know_ it further.

Time became their ally, as Zerthimon taught. Each small step provided a foundation for the next, until a large victory could be claimed: The first 'zerth to _know_ the Ways of the Mind was trained. His body, however, was weak, and he could not long endure. The balance of his mind and body was not maintained.

A new generation, however, was trained by him, and by the zerth who _knew_ the ways of war. At first, they were taught with steel, as was the way of 'zerth for many centuries. It was learned, though, that studies of the Way of the Mind left little time to master the Scripture of Steel. So, another generation passed while the 'zerth came to _know_ the Ways of Flesh; though the Way of Flesh was the tool of the illithids, it came easily to those who _knew_ themselves.

Generations have passed since then, and the Ways of Flesh, Mind, and Steel have since merged. I spent my youth learning of them, in our monastery in Sigil. Many studied with me, but only I survived the loss of Sigil... and our home. The ancient enemy of The People, the illithids, have raised their many-tentacled heads, and they stand with those that have destroyed our home, and disrupted the balance that must exist in all things, if anything is to exist.

I am the last of my kind, though the People persist. Where they stand, I know not. I know only that I must stand where the balance demands. My thoughts have gone to a world known as Toril, and my spirit tells me this is where the balance can be decided. Thus, that is where my flesh shall go. May Zerthimon's coming be soon.

Rifts NPCs

Various characters from Rifts games past

Daggen Steelskull, Dwarven Techno-Wizard
A Dwarf's Story

Look, I done some bad things in my life. I've faced up to those, ya know? Ya can't go through this life hating yerself fer ev'rythin' that you done... ya just gotta face up to yer past and try ta make up fer it, anyway ya can.

Growin' up dwarf ain't easy. Fer one thing, it takes too bloody long. I spent all my time buildin' shit, and then takin' it apart... or the oth'r way 'roun'. I got tak'n in early by this weird ol' fart on de edge o' da settlement, who taught me how to build shit better. No need for some o' the shit normies gotta go through ta get their shit to work, just mumble some words, think about it, and the damn thing works. I could get used ta this kinda shit, I thinks, so I see what 'e can teach me.

I worked for that bastard for ten years, the last two of which he hemmed and hawed about teachin' me stuff, till I realized he couldn't. I stole what I could, left a note that said so long, and took his daughter with me for entertainment along the way... and ta keep him from followin' too close, like. She didn't like me too much, but she got docile enough when I blew the tree in half, then threaten'd ta do the same ta her. We had ourselves a real good time, ya see... gods, I wish I could take it all back, but can't, not after what... but I'm ahead o' meself.

4th edition Ars Magica NPCs

A magus, two consortes, and grogs designed around two separate campaigns.

Andrei Kilianus

For the past three generations, the family Kilianus has produced magi for House Jerbiton. This constant reliance upon one family, and our involvement in their affairs, meant that our line has something of a bad reputation in Transylvania as meddlers, but no convictions have yet been made; just many, many accusations. It started with my great-great-uncle, Sergei, who was taken by Constantus scholae Jerbiton, and then turned around and deposed his own brother from the county seat, placing another nephew there. Sergei's filia was my aunt, Helena Kilianus, eldest sister of my father, Valdemar, and she labored hard to gain my father the hand of my mother. I am his eldest son, Andrei Kilianus, filius Helena Kilianus, filia Sergei Kilianus, filius Constantus scholae Jerbiton.

In my third year, my mother died bringing forth my younger sister, also a Helena. By the end of the fourth year, my father had married Dagny, a shrewish woman from the county Brasov. She soon had my brother, Radoslav Kilianus, and doted upon him, flesh of her flesh. For all that Helena and I were her husband's children, it seems that she hated us from Radoslav's birth, and raised her boy in her own image. I saw less of it; I was taken in my seventh year by my aunt to live in her apartments in Bucharest. It was not an arduous apprenticeship, as such things go. I was well cared for, certainly, and my aunt would spend her summers at our family home near Cluj Napoca. My father obviously favored me, especially, and it helped not that Dagny had become more shrewish as years went by, always speaking against myself and Helena; she regarded both of us as drains upon Radoslav's patrimony. Father would not hear of it, but I could tell that her harping was wearing on him, seeming frailer with each year that passed.

In the year before my Gauntlet, Valdemar Kilianus passed away. To me, he deeded the High Meadows, a half-hide of land on a plateau at the edge of the county, for my own and free of duties or taxes. Radoslav, now sixteen and a man of his own, immediately sent my "spinster" sister (only three years his senior!) to a convent. With mater Helena's help, I was able to secure her a comfortable position there, and maintain my patrimony, but it only confirmed the hatred Radoslav and Dagny carry for me.

Friday, February 7, 2020

5th Edition Ars Magica NPCs

Some characters I created for a few different on-line Ars Magica games.

Zorya of House Bjornaer
Zorya was raised high in the Novgorood Tribunal, somewhere near the spring of Dnjepr. She does not remember her early life at all; her life seems to begin in her apprenticeship to another Eula von Bjornaer, a reclusive hermit who had retreated to the deep forests for his solitude. Zorya was his daughter, in spirit if not in body, and the only person whose presence he tolerated for more than a fortnight.

Despite Eula's reclusiveness, Zorya received a thorough hermetic education, though one far more dependant upon vis and direct instruction than most. This meant that her apprenticeship was fairly long, though she is somewhat vague on precisely how long. Eula was visited often by the locals for his wisdom, and their tribute to him allowed him to gather materials for what could not be taught by rote memorization. Zorya recognized the value of wisdom, both practically and in terms of reputation, and studied hard, hoping to gain it for herself.

Blood of Ancient Lore

This an adventure/campaign idea/campaign subtext that I came up with while reading the Rulebook for Birthright. It might have already been done, or be contradicted by official material. Anyway, I'm just basing this off an idle thought, and not much more.

All the blooded of any education know of Ghoigwnnwd, the sidhe smith who created tighmaevril, and they know of it's wondrous and ghastly powers. What few realize, however, is that Ghoigwnnwd had been touched by the Blood of Vorynn. He had only the barest mark of Vorynn on him, but it was enough to infuse him, and his descendants, with a tainted bloodline.

A talented and dedicated smith, Ghoigwnnwd had little time for children early in life... his drive was almost human in its intensity and singleness of focus. However, time can mellow even elven passions, and he eventually sired my father, who in turn had his head turned by a young human woman. I know all this. I know everything that my father and grandfather did, up until the time of the birth of their son, for I am the blood of Vorynn.

And I know how to create and work tighmaevril.-The Journal of Rovy Half-elven

Obviously, a lot about that previous set-up can be changed. However, I think the implications are obvious. A few ideas, though, for those who might want them:

Adventure: A group of characters learns of the grandson of Ghoigwnnwd, and of his abilities. Unfortunately, so has another regent... one who stands against them. How do they keep Rovy out of the hands of their opponents? And how do they convince him to work for them?

Campaign sub-text: A particularly interesting, though difficult to manage, option is for Rovy to be a PC (likely a non-regent PC). His past and abilities are things he must keep secret, or risk losing his freedom (or his life) to any of the factions or regents who might cover the secret of tighmaevril.

Campaign Idea: An entire campaign could easily center around a regent (or group of regents) attempting to not only gain control over Rovy, but gather the necessary materials to create tighmaevril... without alerting their enemies that they're doing so. After all, if a specific type of ore that is largely useless otherwise is needed for tighmaevril, what are other regents going to think when one of their number works to corner the market on it? And the first use of tighmaevril weapons unknown to the sages is going to cause a stir... especially if a lot are used.

House Diedne

Again, written for Ars Magica, 4th edition, based on similar write-ups in 3e's Houses of Hermes. It uses some rules for Mystic Companions and Natural Magicians found in the 4e resource, Hedge Magic.

House Diedne
Motto: Beata Terra beata omnia eam servant (Blessed be Earth and all who serve her)
Symbol: An oak stump with a slender tree beginning to grow from it. This symbol was adopted after the Schism War. Before the war, the symbol was two staves (or, in rare cases, spears) parallel to each other, running vertically over a wreath of leaves.

Diedne: DEED-nay

"Then, we will join your `Order of Hermes', entering into the protection of you and yours. We will teach you all you are ready to know, and learn your style of magic, but we will always remain ourselves, separate, yet within the whole."
-Diedne's covenant with Bonisagus upon forming House Diedne.

"I welcome you to the Order of Hermes, amica, and pledge the protection of myself, my filii, and the Order to the House Diedne."
-Bonisagus, welcoming Diedne to the Order

Diedne magi serve two Orders: the Order of Hermes and the Order of the Wise, the order of Druids into which they are initiated after finishing their nineteen year apprenticeships and completing their apprentice's gauntlet. Never more than nominally Hermetic, that trait has become more pronounced in recent years, in the years following the Schism War.