Welcome to the Table – Episode 4 – Roleplaying a New Character

Welcome to the table!

So, you’re getting ready to start your campaign – you’ve come up with a character concept that you really like, and are looking forward to trying out at the table. But for any player, one of the most difficult parts of starting a new campaign is getting comfortable with roleplaying your new character. The real key to being confident in roleplaying your character is just being yourself and having fun – I know it sounds clichéd, just let me explain.

Writing a robust backstory for your new character is the best way to start figuring out how to roleplay them. It doesn’t have to be the next Lord of the Rings; it can just be a series of bullet points if you don’t particularly enjoy writing. But pick a starting point that feels fun, and think about your character’s parents and family situation, (however you want to interpret that, it’s a fantasy realm and can be as non-traditional as you and your dungeon master are comfortable with).

When you’re happy with this starting point, think about what formative experiences they may have had – perhaps they were crewing a ship that pulled an ancient magical sword from the depths in their nets, and in a dark dream filled with eldritch horrors the spirit inhabiting it forged a lifelong pact with you? Or maybe their ex-wife left them and they’re on a desperate quest to become the most legendary hero the realm has ever known so they can win an expensive, drawn-out custody battle? These formative experiences will also give your dungeon master extra material to work with when developing the storyline for your game, so don’t be afraid to leave gaps that can be filled in over the course of the campaign.

Do keep in mind that your table will have a tone: epic high fantasy, grim-dark horror, or just laughing at your mates’ ridiculous antics. Matching this tone is important; everyone at the table is going to suffer from the emotional whiplash if your dungeon master has to switch from Hjalmir the Dwarven Prince’s epic battle to reclaim the legendary warhammer of kings, to your “epic” quest to keep your house after a messy divorce. Again, as clichéd as it sounds, the most important thing is to have fun telling a collaborative story with your friends. 

For context, in the first game I ever ran, I had a mighty dragonborn monk, wise to the secrets of the universe from years spent in exile from her brood, fighting and drinking alongside Paddleman, the 2’6” barbarian chieftain of a gnomish clan of outlanders obsessed with crushing skulls and white-water rafting. There are a lot of mixed messages in here, as navigating the niceties of your social miasma is a complex and individualistic challenge, but the general takeaway here is to make sure you get to write the kind of character that feels fun to you, while at the same time doing your best not to get in the way of your fellow players trying to do the same thing.

Once you have established a backstory that you’re comfortable with, start thinking about how that would influence them as a person. For example, if they grew up oppressed by a ruling class, perhaps they seek to help others who are kept down by elitists, or enjoy stealing from the rich just to knock them down a peg. I personally have tried taking Meyers-Briggs tests in character to think about what their priorities and values are, but if you’re more partial to star signs, or Chinese new year zodiacs, for example, you could use those to determine how your character’s backstory may have influenced their personality. Do take into consideration that the traits you have developed through your backstory will likely evolve over the course of the campaign (i.e. character development). Therefore, giving yourself room to grow can often be more fun in the long term, as opposed to trying to build a perfect character from the get-go.

After you have developed an origin story for your character, and thought about how that might affect roleplaying them once the game starts, it can be helpful to consider what their flaws might be. This will depend on the kind of game you’re participating in to a considerable degree: if you play in a war-game-style campaign then building the most combat-optimized character possible might be your end goal, but if you’ve reached this point in this article then roleplaying is presumably of some significance to you. And if you want to enjoy roleplaying, giving your character flaws will add more to that than anything else

Before you start thinking about how to handicap your new character, you may wish to consider the fact that the entire point of playing TTRPGs is to have fun, and as such the game is entirely reliant on everyone involved having a good time. If something comes up that you as a player aren’t comfortable with, then it helps to have a character who isn’t happy with it either. With respect to that, you should also try to avoid playing your character in such a way that it takes away from the fun of other players, or the DM. This links back into the importance of considering the tone of your game, and doing your best to match it in a way that still seems fun for you as a player.

Don’t get me wrong, regardless of your character choices, you always have the choice to opt out of a scene or let your DM know if you’re feeling uncomfortable, and it is always better to resolve real-life issues out-of-game. With that said, it will make things much easier (especially if you’re a newer player) if your and your character’s ideals line up. Before the start of the game is the best time for you to think about what might get in the way of you having fun; both as a player, and for this new character you’ve been developing.

TL;DR – The most important thing about roleplay in any TTRPG is to have fun playing in-situ as your character, without taking away from the enjoyment of others at the table. Certainly, maintaining some consistency is important, but ultimately no one else can tell you how to play your character. Just be supportive, and employ a “yes-and” mentality (get enthused about your fellow players trying something ridiculously stupid, and adapt to rapidly changing situations without complaining about what has already been determined by the dice). And most importantly, remember that your character will echo their creator; so if you find something funny then your character probably will too. It’s a chance to tell entertaining stories with friends, not an audition to the latest high fantasy movie, so just have fun with it!

I look forward to seeing you at our table,

Noktyri <3

Vor-Talyn, The Lost City

Notes from Professor Lynaths talk to the College of Ranor.

Nestled deep in the mountain ranges of the continent of Tyn-Veron sits the site of the lost city of Vor-Talyn. I journeyed there a little over a decade ago ago in the company of The Dowager Countess, The Archmage Chastormax, Morgaine of Lagriele, and the late Gremvol the Bear.

It was an arduous journey, as we passed through ruined and blasted lands towards the Criel Pinnacles, made even more arduous by the constant debates between the Dowager and the Archmage over what had torn this part of Tyn-Veron apart. Both seemed incredibly well informed of the magical devastation that befall this area, as if it was firsthand knowledge.  While I know that pesky Chastormax has been around for what seems like forever, I must admit to being terrified at the thought of asking The Dowager her age….

How did I get involved in this journey in the first place you ask? Well, when Morgaine arrives in your study and explains in that low voice that one’s presence is required, it’s best not to argue, especially when she is spinning a dagger on one fingertip…

Anyhow… so after trekking through the burnt lands and having several quite ‘hair raising’ encounters with its denizens, we arrived at the foothills of the Criel Ranges. It was here we met some quite cantankerous dwarves. Yes, they really did live up to the stereotype, and they all seemed to be quite put out that The Dowager and The Archmage were here (Of course, while cantankerous, they were obviously not idiots as they did not try to pick any actual quarrels with those two). After spending the night in their village, we headed off into the ranges.

This part of the journey made the burnt lands seem safe by comparison, and Morgaine and I have the magical powers of Gremvol, Chastormax and The Dowager to thank for our lives. Truly this is a deadly land. Eventually we reached an area in the mountains where a broken road stretched on from. We followed this broken road for several days until one evening, just as the sun was setting, we came across the site of Vor-Talyn. The broken features of this city stretched before us. Truly this was once a massive city and if the tales of old were anything to go by, home to well over a million souls before it’s fall.

Casting powerful magics to protect and anchor us, the Archmage and The Dowager explained that without these protections, we would be ‘drawn’ into the city and go back in time to relive the last days of its fall, time and time again without end, until this world was no more. Even my insatiable curiosity failed at that point, what use is exploring something, if one cannot write about it.

I resolved to question them both more on this at some stage in the future.

We entered the ruins of this once great city and here we saw marvels that have been lost to us all. The remains of massive bridges and buildings, great waterworks, and parks. This would truly have been a city at the pinnacle of its power before it’s fall. We explored some of the outer buildings and I found some quite interesting artifacts, which I will go into more detail of at another time.

Eventually we reached a tower, remarkedly undamaged amidst all these ruins and as I watched, one lone armored figure patrolled its battlements. Then it dawned on me who we looked upon. This was the tower of the Lone Knight. This was fable brought to life. This terrified me, for if that fable is true, then the great darkness he holds back must also be true.

We entered the grounds of the tower, past metal gates, wrought asunder as in the tale, and before us in the courtyard lay the crystallized remains of the evil beings he fought as he entered the tower. This was a sight I would never have believed I would have seen. As I gazed in stupor at this myth become live, the Lone Knight appeared. He greeted us warmly and then he, The Archmage and The Dowager clasped arms like old friends. Then he bade us all farewell and returned to his post.

“Is this it? What now” Morgaine asked.

“Now we leave.” The Dowager Countess answered. “We have delivered to him the blessings of the Gods anew and now we leave before this place traps us all.”

And so, we left. I will continue to implore them for us to visit again, for it is a city of wonder and of myth and must be explored in more detail.

The Tale of the Lone Knight

A tale told by Mrs Nogg to her family

Gather around my children and let me tell you a tale. A tale of duty, a tale of sacrifice, a tale of how one man keeps us all safe against the horrors of the night. Yes, little one, this is the tale of the Lone Knight.

Now you all know the poem and like good children you all say it before bed, but this is the story of how the Lone Knight started his watch.

A long time ago, the world was in chaos. The Arrival had torn the fabric that held our world safe and things from other places had made their way into our lands. Strange things lurked in the shadows, Gods fought for their very survival and magic was wielded by mortal man unchecked and uncontrolled.

Dark things embraced the night and wrought destruction on the innocent. People feared leaving their homes at night and if the lights went dark, come morning were never to be seen again. We learnt to fear those that lived in the embrace of the night and huddled together in the light to be safe.

From this chaos, one man rose and stood tall. His name was Heranous and he was brother in arms to Sir Delamour. Yes children, Sir Delamour the Brave, the shining hope of the people in those times. But hush this is not Delamours story.

Now Heranous was a tall man and solidly built, not a beautiful man, but striking, nonetheless. A serious man, who never shirked his duty or hard work. A man who, while not one to win people over with his words, won them over with his steadfastness and humility. He was a man that people respected and looked up to, a true knight in those dark times.

He and Sir Delamour rode the lands, driving back the dark things and giving succor and hope to those that dwelled in these lands. Their stories are many and I could spend years just telling them. This story however is about the great sacrifice that Heranous made to keep us all safe.

One dark and unpleasant evening, as the storms lashed the grounds of a great ruined city, Heranous found himself standing outside an ancient keep. What powers had brought him to this place I can not tell you, but they were great powers, taking a great gamble to save our world. As Heranous approached the gates to this keep he was attacked by many of these dark creatures. Steadfastly he fought his way through them and reached the gates. Putting his shoulder to the gates, he forced them open and entered the courtyard. Here more creatures attacked and Heranous fought them off.

He advanced into the keep, ignoring the whispered offers of power and greatness that came to him through the night. He faced horrors that I will not describe to you, or you will never sleep again. With sure steps, Heranous fought his way further and further into the depths of this ancient keep. At one point it is said, he nearly faltered as the forces arrayed against him seemed never ending and he felt alone and tired. The stories say in his moment of need, two figures appeared beside him. One an old lady and the other an ancient dragonborn. Yes, children the stories say these were the Earth Mother, and Vindr, he who watches.  They placed a hand each on Heranous’s shoulders and, emboldened by their presence Heranous fought on.

Eventually Heranous’ battles brought him to the heart of the keep. Here he faced a creature of horror, a creature of tremendous power, a Lord of the Night. Dark energies lashed out from this creature and wracked Heranous in pain, but still he walked on. The creature tore at him and assailed him with foul magics from the shadow world, but still he walked on. The creature tried to bargain with him and promise him power, position, wealth, but to no avail. Heranous would not be swayed and as he reached this creature it tried to flee, but Heranous’ sword was faster, and the creature fell.

Light shone in the keeps hall for the first time in forever and the night was silent. Heranous gave thanks to all the gods for the light and bowed his weary head.

“Your task is not yet done brave Heranous.” The old dragonborn spoke. “Those that embrace the night will always try to enter our world and make it their own. What you have done this day has set them back greatly, but they will be back. And the terror they bring will fall once again upon this world.”

Heranous lifted his head, “How do I stop this?” he simply asked.

“Vigilance is the key.” The old Dragonborn stated, “We must watch and guard against those that dwell in the night and keep fast this keep and the seals that hold with it, or another Lord of the Night will find his way through and then another and another, until our world has fallen.”

Heranous looked at the old Dragonborn, turned and started to leave the room, “I guess I better get myself a room sorted here then. No time to sit around and discuss it, what needs to be done, needs to be done. The night will not be victorious while I stand guard in this place.”

After Heranous left the room, Vindr, the old dragonborn, and the Earth Mother looked at each other. “How long will his duty be?” the Earth Mother asked.

“Until the towers fall, and the sun is darkened. His duty will never end until he does.” Vindr replied. “Let us hope that he is as strong as we believe him to be.”

Now, my children, if you look far into the night, you may see a light in the distance, glinting off a knight’s armor as he stands his watch. Think well of this knight as his devotion keeps you safe

The Chronicles of Hastur: Part 9

The Chronicles of Hastur: Part 9

Excerpt from ‘The History of Vanagard – The Reuniting of the Tribes of Hastur’ by Professor Albert Lynath

The Chronicles of Hastur, taken from verbal story telling’s and combined into one written form.

“Hail and well met Beskadur.” Hastur said. “What do you know of the mountain Dwarfs?”

Beskadur paused and looked around as if making sure he was not being overheard. When satisfied they were alone and not over-heard he started.

“Well, the thing is…” He looked around shiftily again… “I know the mountain dwarfs quite well, seeing as I am, well, how can I put this… I am one.”

“By the Gods!” Exclaimed Sverdoff “How can this be, you were born to the tribes were you not?”

“Yes and no” Beskadur replied. “You are familiar with Hastur’s story, aren’t you? Well I am not the only one who was not born in a tent as far as I know.”

“Walk with us and tell us your story.” Hastur said and indicated for the others to walk away from the conclave.

“And go where meathead?” Sverdoff asked sarcastically “It’s not exactly the easiest place to find somewhere quiet for a nice chat is it?”

“While I agree, don’t forget we are going to visit Sabarax’s clan later to witness his coming of age, but my desire to quest has started to itch after Belaadry set it upon my mind. Come, let us go back to my tent, I can set a watch there and make sure we are not disturbed.” And with that he led the weaving way back through the camp. The smells of smoke, the call of children playing, and the sound of singing, drums and shouting were all about him. This was life and he loved it here, he felt more at home in the camp than anywhere else, yet he could feel the desire to move, the desire to explore the world around him, and not just at the head of a conquering army.

It did not take them long to get back to his camp, he barked an order to a clan member and instantly his tent was given a cordon and they were left alone.

“So Beskadur, tell us your story then, it seems you have your secrets in the same way that I have my blankness, as I remember not, where I was before coming to the tribes.” Hastur said.

“My clan is mostly, if not entirely made of dwarfs and we spend most of our time in the foothills of the mountains, and we go there often to find ores and to hunt Ogres, so we have dealings with the mountain dwarves more than most of the clans in the tribes.” Beskadur went on. “My father had a dalliance, and it was fruitful and as you can imagine this is scandal to both the mountain dwarves and the clan, which is why it has been kept secret.”

“Ah, I can see the difficulty you face” Hastur said, Sverdoff was nodding and looked understandingly at Beskadur.

“My father was handed a me not long after my birth, the mountain dwarves came in secret and just left me with my father, to his credit he was betrothed and my mother took me and cared for me as her own and nothing has ever been said about what happened.” Beskadur continued.

“Well how did you find this all out then?” Sverdoff asked.

“I go to the mountains a lot, I feel drawn to them and on one of my visits I met my real mother, I feel she sort me out, or had at least been keeping an eye out for me. She told me everything, she told me not to hate my father as she loved him and knew he loved her back and that exposing the shame would benefit no one, and that I agree with.”

“She was right there, your father would and should be driven from the camp for this.” Hastur said, “The law is firm on such things, we pair for life and this could bring bad omens on his clan.” He looked at Sverdoff as he spoke this, she blushed as she returned his gaze.

“I know, but my mother, in the mountains that is, swore me to secrecy! I would never betray that, well, until now that is as I feel this is of such importance that I have to risk this”

“How is this important to what is happening Beskadur?” Hastur asked.

“For one I am an excellent guide, I know the mountains and it’s dangers like no other in my clan, or all of the clans. I am a mountain dwarf, I can feel the mountains in my blood, calling me. Secondly, the person you speak of and seek is my grandfather. I can guide you to him, it won’t be easy especially as it could risk all being disclosed, but for the good of the clans I am willing to risk this.”

Hastur nodded, the wisdom of what Beskadur was saying sinking in.

“Ok, can you be ready to travel at first light?” Hastur asked.

“I am ready now. I carry everything I need.” he patted his axe and a pack he was carrying that he had slung casually on the floor of the tent as he came in. “I always am ready to go off to the mountains, in truth it is only a matter of time before I go to them permanently, either in death or to live out my days. Every hour I spend away from them I feel as a physical pain now.”

“Ok, we have plans for tonight, we have a young man to see become the man I feel he is capable of, after that, I am hoping he can accompany us on the morrow.” Hastur said.

“You can’t be serious Hastur, he’s going to be in no fit state to travel to the mountains on a quest after what he’s going through.” She spoke of the ritual he was undergoing at the moment, his flesh pierced by Ogre horns.

“I understand that, but if he’s the character I feel him to be, he will leap at this chance, regardless of his condition. He has thews of iron and a spirit to match that young man. We will see.” He nodded. “So, let us be up, we have ale to drink and plans of adventure to make, and I don’t know about you, but I always feel the best pans are made with a horn of ale in my fist!” And with that he was up and out of the tent, with the other two left looking at his massive back has he stopped out of the tent into  the firelight beyond.

The Tree

“The Tree” A report by Hastorax Verdissien assistant to Professor Lynath, resident at the faculty of Hasturian studies.

The Tree sits on the continent of Hastur, it sits alone in remote valley in the mountains of Hastur, I was blindfolded on the way in and out so I am unable to give precise locations. It has long been held as a sacred place by the tribes and as such has been guarded jealously by them.

They only refer to it as “The Tree” it has no other name to them that I know of. I managed to arrange a visit there, under close guard for “my safety” to protect me from the mountain Ogres that have been known to approach the tree, probably to try and kill the guards for food as they only come when times are particularly hard for them, and I have to say I was singularly impressed. The tree is obviously ancient and is quite massive. It easily stands over 200 feet high and unusually it is remarkably thick in its girth. I measured it, carefully as I was not allowed to touch it, as well as I could at about 100 feet in diameter. In appearance the bark is smooth and the tree almost looks like it is upside down with the roots out in the air and the branches buried such is the difference between trunk girth and the span of the branches themselves. The leaves were coppery, when I asked if this was due to the late season, I was told (gruffly and after repeated patient questioning) that the leaves were always of this colour. They are hugely broad, well over a hand-span in width.

And this is the interesting thing, because of its large girth, it has been hollowed out over the centuries (or millennia) and is now a dwelling used by a shaman of the tribes. I was not able to see the shaman, but I could smell her from some considerable distance outside of the tree’s shade. The smell of burnt herbs and body odour was quite repulsive and thick in the air. Even some of the tree’s guards commented on the smell as apparently the shaman was quite “ripe” that day according to one of them. It was good to see that the tribes are as reverential about their holy people as the rest of the world, although I dare say I would have been slain on the spot had I said anything of the same sort back to them.

With regards to the trees magical properties, there can be no doubt. I am attuned to sense magic and I could feel it emanating from the tree with some degree of strength, in a way I have never quite felt before too. Almost like a sacred grove of the elves, but retained in one massive tree, at night it is said The Tree shimmers with its own magical light, but I was sadly unable to verify this due to the lack of time I was allowed to stay at the location of The Tree.

It can only be postulated on as to the magical nature of the tree, it is undoubtedly ancient so does it in fact transfer some life giving properties to those that dwell in it or near it? I was unable again, to garner any information that would have helped me with this respect as any questions were met with blank and hostile stares.

The Hasturian tribes have a treasure there beyond our reckoning, and the fact I am not able to fully investigate it is an itch I fear I will never be able to scratch.

The Gods of the People of Saragan

The Gods of the People of Saragan

Excerpt from ‘The ‘Gods of the World of Vanagard’ by Professor Albert Lynath

On the war torn continent of Saragan, there are handful of Gods that are held in common belief. These Gods, while I believe them to be potentially less powerful than the Gods of the Izon Supremacy, are the powers of Saragan. It is worth noting there are many, many dozens of lesser Gods worshipped throughout Saragan, however these ‘Gods’ range in power and influence greatly, many of them have their power limited to very small areas and others to only a handful of believers.

Saragan has quite a list of deities when compared to the Hastur and The Izon, and unlike the Hastur and Izon, their deities have churches and followers in other lands as well.

Some of these Deities may be modern day versions of the ‘Old Gods’ and some of the minor powers may even be remnants of the lost ‘Old Gods’. My list below does not take into account any dark powers that may be worshipped in this land – This is covered in by book ‘Dark Gods of Vanagard, A study in unspoken powers’.
Professor Albert Lynath

DeityDomainsSymbol
Auren, Silver HeartTruth, Valor and GoodA Silver Heart
Agr-ValKnowledgeCrossed Scrolls
BethorganLawA Golden Gavel
Cal-ToranBeasts and The HuntA Wolfs Head
Evengal TorrenCivilisation and CommunityIntertwined Circles of Gold and Silver
JulianPurity and TruthA Blood-Stained Flail
OlanTrickery and LuckThree Platinum Dice
PercusTrade and WealthA Stack of Coins
Syr TerraqWar and CombatA Circle of Swords
Tyrran, Golden SunSun and Light    A Golden Sun
TylasProtection         A Platinum Shield
Werrith               Death   Three Emerald Skulls
Xeryn, The FatherRedemption and Forgiveness        A Wooden Bowl
Zal ByrathCraftAn Anvil

Mortyn Dael, The Kingdom of Sand

Mortyn Dael, The Kingdom of Sand. An account by Professor Albert Lynath to the Deans of the University of Tyran.

Sitting in the heart of the continent of Tyn-Veron, conquered and ruled by The Arygr Republic for over 100 years, Mortyn Dael was once land of great forests, rich pastures, and prosperous trade. Its people were honest, hardworking, practical people whose God, Relon, watched over them from afar, aloof but not egotistical, instead allowing his people to carry with their labors with feeling the need for constant worship from them, this may have been a mistake, but this was the way he felt served his people best.

It is said that Relon and the other Gods of Tyn-Veron, combined their powers to keep The Court of Terringorn for attacking their lands before that ill fated nations destruction at the hands of the Izon Supremacy. Rumors are that this power drained them mightily, while others say that Ith-Rae, God of the Arygr peoples betrayed them all and stole power from the other Gods, but still other tales say that the Izon Gods fought with the Gods of Tyn-Vernon and bound them into lesser forms of themselves. Whatever the truth may be, apart from the Elven lands of Tyn-Vernon (from where the continent gets its name), and Ith-Rae, the power of the other Gods of Tyn-Vernon seems limited to only the lands of their people, or in some cases to small areas inside those lands.

Once the great forests of Mortyn Dael teemed with life, her pastures fed much of the continent and her people were prosperous. However, in the 50 years leading up to the invasion by the Arygr Republic, the rivers dried up, the pastures turned to deserts and the great forests died. Life became hard and bleak for the people of Mortyn Dael well before they were subjugated.

Relon is a small part of what he was, however, it is said that the belief of his people grows stronger every year and that his powers may slowly be returning, but this could just be tales told to bolster his people and give them hope. Why the Argyr bother to hold such an inhospitable land escapes me. Their desire to delve deep into the mysteries of history seem to be nonexistent and the ruthless way they govern Mortyn Dael wins them no favors or friends amongst the other nations.

It is a land where adventurers could aid a subjected people and solve the mystery of their Gods fading power. It is a land where heroes can make their names. It is a land where those that fail to be heroes suffer a forgotten death in its endless sands. It is a land in need.

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The Hold Masters of Gallia

The Hold Masters of Gallia. A recording by Professor Albert Lynath of a conversation with the Archmage Chastormax.

“Ahhh Professor, I had forgotten you were there.”

The tall figure of Professor Lynath stopped short where was just reaching for a crystal orb which appeared to have moving figures inside and turned around.  “That’s ok Chastormax, at your age I understand forgetfulness is a thing. I mean you have had what 2000, 3000 birthdays?”

Chastormax sighed and sat down, “Now Professor, do we have to do this again? Your endless preoccupation with how long my race lives, while amusing, is never going to be answered you know. Otherwise, I would have to dream up a new way to torment you. Now what were you here to quiz me about this time? I assume you must be up to volume 912 if your latest series of writing on my people?”

“Heh, hardly, I am still compiling my notes. No, you agreed to explain to me about your Hold Masters.”

Chastormax nodded, “Ahh yes, so I did.. Very well, get comfortable and let’s begin. In ages long past, before The Arrival, my people had developed many magics well past how the younger races wield them. We had long studied the power of Elven Glade Masters and Druid’s in their Groves and started to experiment with our … what would be the best example for you to follow it?… rune magic. Yes, that will simplify it for you. As our studies progressed, so did our understanding and in the span of a few short millennia we had combined these powers.” Chastormax chuckled at the wince on the Professors face.

“Our people were not always as civilized as they are now, and we had many enemies based partly upon the expansion of our territory throughout the cosmos and partly by jealousy and desire for what other races decided we possessed. We developed complex rituals for the lords of our distant fortifications that merged part of their conscious with the building and greatly expanded their powers over it and the area around it. These became our first Herra-Kastali or Hold Masters in your tongue. With the establishment of the Herra-Kastali, our defenses became even stronger and so this practice was spread throughout the Empire. Every castle, fort, seat of power and many grand houses soon had their own Herra-Kastali and the Electors soon stepped in. Every Herra-Kastali became answerable only to the Council of Electors and they raised even higher in our people’s esteem.”

“The events leading up to The Arrival saw us lose many Herra-Kastali and our people still mourn their passing. In Gallia now, there are many Herra-Kastali by your standards, but by ours it is a minute fraction of what once was.”

“The powers of a Herra-Kastali are great. From strengthening and repairing their hold, to damaging, blinding and confusing its enemies, to even forcing the weaker of will to remove themselves from the building. It is said that a Herra-Kastali can see and hear all that occurs inside their hold, I believe for the more powerful of them, the range of their sight extends for many miles around as well.”

The Professor looked up from his notes, “Does this Prismatic Tower of yours have a Herra-Kastali?”

Chastormax smiled, “If we deemed it a seat of power amongst our people, then it would indeed.”

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OnTo Destiny Episode 7

From the diaries of Isyadora.

When our valiant band of adventurers awoke, they were lead to a giant dining hall where all manners of creatures were eating and talking. “Sit, eat, replenish. The Archmage will see you soon” their guide gestured at a table. They sat and ate and watched in wonder as strange creatures appeared and vanished all around the room. After some time, their guide appeared again, “The Archmage will see you now”.

The party rose from the table and their guide lead them to the entry door. As they walked through the door, the hallway changed into a comfortable room, stacked with books, weird objects and plants. Waiting for them was the Archmage Chastormax, in his prismatic robe.

“Greetings and thank you for freeing my cousin from the other side.’ He gestured and chairs appeared. ‘Sit, and let me tell you of your part in the events that are unfolding.’

“I will be brief, for unlike some of my colleagues, I understand that boredom is thing that the young suffer from… You sit now in my study in the Prismatic Tower, currently in the continent of Gallia on the World of Vanagard. Gallia is the home of my people, the Izon Supremacy. You will see much of wonder in Gallia and learn from masters that are older than the nations you once called home.”

“Gallia is a protected continent, the City of The Twins, where you first arrived and Drenger Holm, are the only two cities in our land that non citizens or special invited guests can set foot. Hmmm? Oh lets just say that we are little private and that if you stray past these cities your death will be quick and absolute. Hmmm? Magic is in the soul of my peoples and we will know and find you… Anyway, back to my tale…”

“You will be graced with special markings that allow you to travel our lands. You would call them tattoos, we call them The Knut. They symbolize the union between us, the land and our Gods, and also allow you to use the vehicles and magics that form part of our societies daily life.”

“Now,” and the light seemed to fall heavy on the adventurers, “When you defeated the Lord and Lady, you started a chain of events that now must be contained and controlled, or the darkness will be loose upon the worlds again. You are now pivotal parts of this and must fulfill your destinies. Trust me when I say, failure is not an option I am interested in discussing. You have started the unlocking of the doors that will allow the Darkness in and if all these doors are unlocked, the war for supremacy will span countless worlds and leave most of them ash.”

“The weapons you carry are ancient symbols of my people, so I suspect your part in this was foretold. Hmmm? Meddle not in the plans of Gods, little rogue, for they are honestly not often well thought out and it will leave you feeling very glum…”

“The next step for you is to go to see the Oracle, she will confirm my thoughts and help set you on your way. But first…” Chastormax raised his hands and a burning feeling arose for a moment on the adventurers arms. Startled, they looked and on their lower arms were now swirling runes that shifted color as they watched. “This is The Knut. Whether the Electors like it or not, you are now all one of us, bound together on this path. Glory is yours for the taking, and the worlds will sing your tales should you succeed.”

(cue end of episode credits).

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The Chronicles of Hastur: Part 8

The Chronicles of Hastur: Part 8

Excerpt from ‘The History of Vanagard – The Reuniting of the Tribes of Hastur’ by Professor Albert Lynath

The Chronicles of Hastur, taken from verbal story telling’s and combined into one written form.

Hastur chewed his lip deep in thought as he and Sverdoff walked back into the main body of the camp. The smells and noise from his recent experience in the tent of the mad old crone still affecting him. The weight of what she had said was pressing him down. Planning for war and conquest was one thing, fulfilling the prophecies of an old lady were another.

“Just how do you expect them to go for this Sverdoff?” He asked.

“It may have escaped your notice Hastur” She replied, “but the people of the clans are a superstitious lot, don’t worry about the elders. Leave it to me.”

And with that she gently took his hand and led him deeper into the camp, at first he was shocked at the open display of friendship. It was not unusual for the people of the clans to hold each other’s hands, it was a sign of friendship and trust, you would often see men deep in conversation with their fellows, hand in hand. It was normal, but for members of the opposite sex to do so was considered a sign of a deeper friendship and a public display of that friendship had much deeper meaning.

“Are we a couple now?” Hastur asked.

“Are we not?” Sverdoff countered.

“I would like us to be. I think you can tell that. We have been with each other lass than the passing of one day and yet I feel there is something more there.” He stated, “Don’t you?”

“Yes, I feel there is something more there, I feel like we were supposed to meet last night. I have spent a lot of time with Belaadry in the past and I have learned from her to trust my instincts. And my instincts are to stick with you now. Besides,” She paused and looked at him almost bashfully “you are not unattractive and you are quite attentive, even when you have been in your cups.”

Hastur felt himself blush, this was something he was not used to or expecting.

“Ah, yes… I am not sure how to reply to you Sverdoff. It is true I do like you and feel very comfortable with you, your words however have, um, shocked me somewhat. You are certainly not like other women. I am not sure what to say now! He said.

“This is obviously confusing for your meathead brain!” She laughed. “Look, I like you, just leave it at that shall we.” With that she giggled and started to jog, Hastur had no choice but to follow her despite his fragility after the night before and the events in the tent of Belaadry.

***

It was late afternoon by the time they got to the centre of camp where the tents were gathered in a large circle, this was where the elders from all the clans met. At the centre of the circle was a single wooden post with a horn fashioned from a mountain Ogre’s horn suspended from rawhide, Hastur took this up and gave it a mighty blow, the sound coming out of it was loud enough to be heard over all the camp and would summon the elders to the circle. It was a simple but effective method of gathering the clan chiefs and elders to conclave.

 It took a matter of minutes for the first of the elders to turn up, they quietly took their place, in the circle and started talking to the few others that gathered. They asked no questions of Hastur and Sverdoff who remained in the centre of the circle. The procedure was to wait until the entire conclave was filled, to the observer this would seem impossible without a register being called, but there were people present who were selected for their incredible memories who knew by sight the faces of the chieftains or their representatives. At the nod from these select few the meeting would begin, but not before.

It took over an hour for that nod to come, it was starting to get dark and all around the camp, the sounds of the daily activity gave way to the sounds that took over in the night, singing, shouting, drumming. The camp truly came to life at night Hastur thought.

It wasn’t Hastur that spoke though, it was Sverdoff who faced the gathered faces of the chieftains and elders.

“Mothers and Fathers of the tribes.” She started, Hastur noticed her voice did not tremble with nerves and she looked utterly at ease doing this. “We have had to call you here this night, although I am sure some of you will still be feeling the effects of last night.”

There were more than a few nods and groans in agreement with her statement.

“You decided last night that the words of this man stood in front of you” She motioned towards Hastur, “Should bring the tribes together and fight our common enemy outside our realm and stop them encroaching any further into our ancestral lands.”

There were nods and shouts of agreement now, the gathered faces looking eager at her words.

“But as you will know, we are a people bound by tradition, bound by honour and bound by duty to our past and to our elders.” She paused to acknowledge again their nods and consent. “It was with this in mind that I took Hastur to see one of our eldest, the wise woman Belaadry from my own clan. Hastur was keen to get started on battle plans and campaigning, getting our logistics organised and appointing generals!”

She paused again, Hastur felt now she was being theatrical, but he would be the first to admit, the people of the clans loved a bit of theatre and show, they would be appreciating this, it would form part of the stories they would go and report back to their own tribes as soon as the conclave broke.

“But I persuaded him, I said Hastur, this is no time for hot-headedness, this is a time for council and for listening to the spirits, he was not convinced, but I took him anyway!” The gathered elders laughed at this. Hastur was beginning to appreciate what she was doing, she was painting him as keen and eager to serve the tribes, but also as someone who would listen to council and if necessary be guided to do something for the good of the tribes. She was a fine woman and his heart was beginning to fill with admiration for her.

“Those of you who know Belaadry will know that she has always been here for the tribe and that she is to be taken seriously when the spirits call to her. I have known her all my life and my mother before her knew her from when she was a child and she has never been wrong, although she has also never been clean!” That last statement raised laughter and more than a few of the elders gathered there wafted hands in front of their faces to indicate they knew what Sverdoff was talking about.

“We went to see her just hours ago and she said that Hastur would be successful, but that he needed to meet with Skrannol Firehelm of the mountain Dwarves before anything else could be settled.” There were some murmurs now in the crowd, people looked at each other trying to figure out what this information told them.

“We don’t tell you this because we need permission, we will go regardless. But we do need you to understand, the fire in your bellies at the thought of war is burning bright at the moment and we want you to understand that we do this because we have to, we need your understanding.”

Hastur spoke then, understanding why Sverdoff had said she would talk to them first.

“Sverdoff although young is the wisest person I have met, she understands the ways of the tribes better than I do. She knows that I needed to go but if I just went, you would perhaps feel I was just playing at leading you to war and that perhaps I wasn’t serious. Believe me, I am serious about war, it is what we were born for! But I know we need to do what Belaadry said and to hold the fire of war in our bellies until I have been to the dwarves. I need you to understand I am not running away from what I asked so fervently of you last night.” Hastur now paused as the elders were silent. “I want to fight, but I also want to do what is right, and I believe that this is the right thing to do, before the war comes.”

An elderly lady stood to speak from amongst the gathered elders.

“Hastur and Sverdoff, you have shown, to me at least that you are taking this seriously. We have time enough for war and Sverdoff is right, the spirits and the elders need to be heeded at this time, more than any other time. I don’t speak for us all here, but you certainly have my understanding and blessing to go seek what Belaadry says you must!” The elder sat down, stiffly but with dignity Hastur thought, only for another to take her place, a man, younger, not much older than Hastur himself.

“Hastur you have shown more leadership in coming to us to seek council than just charging like an Ogre into the task of war. We respect you more for this, you have the blessing of my tribe.” He sat, for his place to be taken by yet another who voiced similar feelings as those preceding him. This was repeated by many others until Hastur raised his hand for silence.

“My brothers and sisters of the tribes, have I your understanding and consent to go and see the mountain Dwarves as foretold by Belaadry?” A great shout came from the gathered elders. “So be it then, I will be getting a party together to travel as soon as possible, as I am impatient for war, my axes thirst for blood, but I will respect the tribes and more importantly the spirits of the tribes. Svarya, our blessed god of war will have to wait, for now. We thank you for your time, brothers and sister, this means more to me than you can possibly imagine.”

With those words the elders stood and slowly started to make their way from the conclave in twos and threes, all talking and as far as Hastur could tell, all looking pleased. One figure remained though, the small figure of a Dwarf, one of the clan dwarves of the tribes, he started to make his way over to where Hastur and Sverdoff stood.

“I am Beskadur of the Stone Wolves, I think I may be able to help you with your quest to meet my brothers and sisters of the mountains.” The Dwarf said.

***