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Posts Tagged ‘entrails’

Better late than never, right?

But first, an examination for how I did with my resolutions last year:

I, the guilt party, do henceforth solemnly swear to make a concerted effort to write on a steady basis.
I was doing all right until, you know, I stopped in October-ish. So this past year more has been written for just me than I think I’ve ever really done before. Not too bad. All in all, I’d give myself a B- on this one.

I will stop giving head-space to other people’s storylands and expand on my own.
Actually did a decent job this year on this one. My D&D campaign actually has back story! And my own stories are better for it, as well.

I will push my boundaries, and sometimes I will fail, but I will learn something from having gone further than I’ve ever gone before.
This year I picked up some new hobbies, including some things I swore I would NEVER EVER do. Good job, me!

I will actually get off my butt and exercise .
Sword club counts as exercise, right? I go for lots of walks (especially when working on my other resolution on developing my own stories), and even run sometimes. Exercise! Healthy living!

I will change the world, in small mysterious ways.
Uhm, maybe? I don’t even know what I meant by this one, so… probably did not succeed.

My resolutions for the new year?
1) Start and see a new project through to completion. I don’t know what it will be yet, but I’ve been itching to work on something different for a while.
2) Get better at fighting hand-to-hand/grappling
3) Figure out new and better ways to DM my ever-growing hoard.
4) Make one really awesome costume this year, instead of just talking about it like I always do.
5) Get caught up to the current timeline with the campaign summaries on this blog (this one will probably not happen).
6) Failing number five, I will at least try to post more often here. Given my current track record, this could be as often as TWO times a month.

Any of my faithful readers have any resolutions you’d care to share?

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Lord Pankiron’s keep, located about 6 hours away from the town of Ingleham, appears completely deserted. What will our party find as they explore?

Answer: A lot of nothing much, with some crazy mixed in. What do I mean by that? Read on!

Exploring the Keep
The keep is eerily deserted, no signs of life can be discerned. On entering the kitchen, the party is assaulted with the smell of rotting food, implying that things have been empty for some time. There are also signs that people left in a hurry, stalls and tables knocked over, everything of value taken away. Everything seems straightforward, until the party comes upon what a woman’s bedroom, dominated by a large vanity desk with mirror. Looking in the mirror, Sarin sees the reflection of Elika! He calls out in his surprise, but the other party members just see his reflection. Several other people look in the mirror, but for the most part, they only see themselves. Notable exceptions: Bimbi sees the reflection of a middle-aged blonde woman, and Israfel sees a reflection of a dark-haired woman wearing blue robes. Finding the mirror trick strange, but not odd enough to dally over, the party presses on upstairs into the keep.

The Throne Room
On entering the top of the stairs, the party sees a large room that was, at one time, quite grand. Vivid tapestries hang in tatters along the walls, the edges smeared with blood. The smell of blood and offal fills the room, the source being the dead harpies, throats and stomachs torn out, at least a half-dozen throughout the room. The end of the room is dominated by two large thrones made of dark polished wood, where a thin and pale man with dark hair sits, deep in concentration. He is cutting his arms and sticking harpy feathers into the wounds.

“What are you doing? Stop that,” says Rila, getting her weapons at the ready.
“I need wings so I can fly, so I can can finally meet the woman in the sky. She’s waiting for me, you know.” the man says, hardly looking up.
“The woman in the sky? Who is that? Who are you?” asks Sarin.
“I am the lord Pankiron. This is my keep. And the woman in the sky is the most wonderful of all. I do love her, you know,” The apparent Lord Pankiron says. He pauses, as if listening to something the party cannot hear. “Oh, you’re my enemy. You wish to stop me from meeting with my lady. Well, we won’t have any of that now, will we? Harpies! Arise and attack them!”
The (previously) dead Harpies in the corner slowly rise up, and shamble towards the party. They are very clearly undead, as seen by the one harpy that is happily chewing on its own entrails as it gets ready to attack. Seeing no other course of action, the party readies their weapons.

TO BE CONTINUED…

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I never really understood method acting. It seems so… contrived in my mind. After all, the audience doesn’t care about what you feel, they’re more interested in what image you present. To paraphrase Lord Olivier: “Try acting, dear boy.”

Given that, it seems paradoxical that I’m spending so much time in character heads while planning out my weekly D&D session. But I assure you, I have good reason. Well, I have a good justification, anyway. Because the thing is the adventures that I think have flowed the best are the ones where I plan “bullet points” and then use my knowledge of the characters (and players, too) to fill in the rest during the session.

Here’s a recent example:

1) Party arrives in Ingleham

2) Kurt isn’t there (local lord re: attacks)

3) Alanna asks party to go to shrine

4) MONSTERS IN THIS SHIT!!!

5) No sign of Alanna’s mother! ZOMG!

6) Footprints head east into swamp area

7) OH NO HARPIES

8 ) Clarice goes crazy again, attacks party.
a) win- [redacted]
b) lose- teleports away, goes to super-secret awesome lair

9) Rescue Tamara and Pankiron (the younger, and he of ever-changing first names).

10) Halfling entrails! ❤

And you know what? I think that was the best dungeon delve I’ve ever done. And even though the party kind of ignored everything saying “GO EAST! THAT’S WHERE THE STUFF IS!” for as long as possible, I didn’t care because, hey, it’s not like my plans were set in stone. And it’s not like bullet point nine HAD to happen as written… or any of them, really, when I think about it (except 10, I was getting antsy for some entrails). I liked having the flexibility, and I certainly plan on using this technique in the future.

But really, part of why I think I can plan sessions like this now is because I’ve spent so much time thinking about the PCs. So much time. A ridiculous amount of time. But it’s a good way for me to plan when I don’t have pen/paper/a computer/recording device handy. And so I spend a good chunk of my daydreaming time thinking about character motivations, responses, and quirks.

Thinking like that can be a bit disorienting sometimes.

But I have to admit, it can be a lot of fun. 🙂

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Ah, one advantage of not running D&D for three weeks is that I can use my spare time and creativity to take care of some art related stuff. Besides being on a Generiquest kick, I also have been drawing characters from Endwin Redwood’s d6 campaign. Here’s a short comic I drew at work, and tidied up a little using ArtWeaver. I present to you William And Blythe Comics! Click to increase to a large for only 60 cents more.

Oh yeah, William has psychic powers. And a tail. You just can't see it because he's sitting down.

This was a lot of fun to do, and I really like drawing these characters. Maybe I’ll make this a semi-regular feature, with assurances to our GM that none of these are canon unless he says so. I adore both of them, so it could be fun. I don’t know. I guess we shall see. But the idea is growing on me….

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Last time, our party managed to overcome the tyranny of bread puns and actually managed to move the story forward! With much rejoicing, the party heads over to Canti Tower, Alba in tow as a guide. At the start of this, I asked if I could have everybody’s character sheets, and had everybody draw a number. I had a plan that was going to either be awesome or made of fail.

The Morning Before
The party wakes up and head to the meeting place. They greet Alba, climb aboard her wagon, and head to the tower.

Canti Tower
After an uneventful trip to the tower, the party arrives! Grateful to have finally reached something exciting happening, they don’t even comment on the strangest property of the tower: It is only three stories tall. Disregarding any personal safety, the party enters the tower from the main door at the north. A hallway, running east-west lies before them. The party heads east, and enters the kitchen. On the way, they notice several suspicious reddish stains on the walls and floor.

Map generated courtesy of Gozzy's Cartographic Emporium. Check them out here: http://www.gozzys.com/article.php?cm_id=8

The Kitchen
The kitchen is rather nondescript. Every available surface is coated in a thick layer of dust, and nothing appears out of the ordinary. Rila and Pentaros decide to poke around in the pantry, hoping to find either something salvageable or interesting. As they touch the pantry, however, they both vanish.

On the other side
Rila finds herself seeing the world from a much different perspective. For one thing, she is much shorter. For another, she sees Rila standing next to a child. Pentaros, for his part, sees a small child and Bimbi. Rila-as-Bimbi doesn’t know what’s going on, but somehow, somewhere, she knows that she has to protect this child and escape where they are. Pentaros-as-Rila knows deep down that they need to get to Pentaros’s army Looking around, the players see that they are in a library with only one exit. unfortunately for them, there are a series of angry sounding footsteps and a cry of “I think they went that way!” coming from the other side of the door. With a lucky dungeonering roll, Rila-as-Bimbi remembers that there is a hidden passage in the library, and between the two of them, they manage to fight it. Escaping through the passage, Rila-as-Bimbi and Pentaros-as-Rila share the information they know. This only takes a moment, since the players are pretty confused at this point, being the first thrust into a strange situation. Rila-as-Bimbi asks the child its name, with a cheery “I’m Edward!” as a response which cues a convenient fade to black.

Meanwhile…
Back in the tower, the remaining party members are staring aghast at the spot where Rila and Pentaros were once standing. After poking the spot furtively a couple of times, they gave up and decided to go look for them elsewhere in the tower. Passing through the other end of the hallway, they enter into a receiving room with a large chair in the middle. Cedrick and Sarin poke it, only to vanish like the Rila and Pentaros….

A Forest Glade
Sarin finds himself in a wooded glade, standing next to a lovely lady. He is melancholy, but he doesn’t know why. He also inexplicably feels much stupider. That’s right. Through the luck of the draw, Sarin found himself in the body his (in-game) half-brother, Cedrick. It was at this point I cackled maniacally to myself, for I knew at that moment that my experiment, no matter what else happened, would be a great success. Smiling to myself, I knew what was to happen next would knock everybody’s socks off….

To Be Continued!

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For some reason, I seem to have hit a brick wall in writing about “A Stitch in Time.” The setup to stuff happening is kind of convoluted, and I just don’t know how to write it. I’m working on a way to make it entertaining to read, so it’s slow going. Instead, I’m going to discuss something that I ALWAYS think about: Entrails.

My campaign seems to have a bit of a running joke involving entrails. It started off simply enough. After all, I wanted a gruesome mode of death that would be memorable for my first D&D campaign ever. And it was great for a one-off adventure, but then I decided to tie the original story into an over-arching plot. That meant that there were a lot more entrails in the next couple of sessions. Delicious, delicious entrails. Maybe I used it a bit because my party is starting to expect entrails to spontaneously explode out of every new NPC they meet. As one player put it: “[player name], I tell myself, don’t get your hopes up about the new NPC you just met. Remember how the last NPC just became a pile of entrails? Don’t let that happen again. But no matter what I say, I become hopeful whenever I meet someone new. *sigh*”

Now, in my defense, I think that only one named NPC (as opposed to a tower full of random dudes in the past) has had seen his own innards, that the party knows about, anyway, so I don’t think the above statement is entirely fair.  But my players are responding rather calmly to a sea of entrails.

Just like this. It's a look of annoyance coupled with resignation and pants-crapping fear.

As it stands now, it seems that I have two options. One, just drop the entrail thing. I am loath to do this, since it’s an established mystery that’s part of the Big Bad. Two, embrace the innards and run with it. This is what I plan on doing, since, well, it’s already built into the parts of the campaign I’ve actually planned ahead. Besides, I am a strong believer in touchstones in stories. The audience/player needs something familiar to grasp when they wade into unfamiliar territory, otherwise they will just be lost and confused. If there is one concept that seems familiar, people are more willing to explore an unfamiliar setting. I’m not sure why it is, but I’ve definitely noticed this in my writing.

In short, this shirt will be the motto of my campaign.

Hmm… now I’m starting to regret laying off the vivisection for a couple of adventures. Well, there is always next adventure….

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