Fortune’s Favored Fool

14 Oct
Fortune's Favored Fool

Admit One

“Gather round my lords and ladies, for I have a tale to tell! A tale of adventure, daring, and deadly consequences! Gather round for another tale from Faulkir, Fortune’s Favored Fool!”

Polite applause rose from the assembled court as the garish halfling took to the raised stage in the center of the audience chamber of Duchess Halvar, ruler of Silverspear. While most were delighted to get a chance to hear him perform one of his legendary tales, the Duchess herself seemed rather bored of the spectacle.
“Now this story is from my younger days, when I was perhaps a bit more brash,” he finished that with a sly wink toward the Duchess, “if such a thing is possible.” Laughs from the crowd, but the Duchess did not seem amused.
“While passing through the tiny town of Aubenglade, I met a simple farm girl of a singular beauty, like a spring lily that had just come to bloom. Walking through the market, she sang a hymn to the Mother as she shopped. I was smitten by her golden locks and cherub smile.” The bard expression seemed lost in remembrance, like trying to recall a pleasant dream.
“For days I did woo her. I sent her flowers. I read her the sweetest poetry. I even sang to her! I sang every song that I know.” And then in a hushed tone “Well except for the bawdy ones. Alas she quickly became bored at hearing the same three songs over an over again.”
As the laughter subsided, Faulkir pulled am exquisite mandolin from his back, playing a faint tune to accompany his tale. As the notes carried through the audience, the magic of the instrument took hold. It was a subtle spell, one designed to ensnare the senses.
“Alas, she would not have me. I was too fat, she said. I was too foolish, she said. Why, I do believe she even said that I was too short! Can you believe it?” He said with a defiant tone. At that, even the Duchess let out a snort. The magic had her as well.
“I could not let such a slight go unanswered! I might not be tall in stature, but I make up for it in bravery and guile, and I decided that I would prove her wrong. So, after hiring a few local guides, we set off to prove that I was in fact the tallest man in all the land. I would prove it by summiting the nearby Teventas mountain! None could be taller than that!” There was much chatter in the audience. That peak was known to be deadly to climbers for its height and the terrifying beasts that live on its slopes.
“Five days we traveled into the mountains, making our way toward the peak. Alas, we would never reach its heights, for during our journey, we found something far more dangerous.” His voice had gone suddenly cold as the story took a turn. “A fane, made from the blackest basalt, carved with sinister symbols of the darkest intent. A shrine to the shadows of the mountain.”
“Now, I could have ignored it, continued on my trek to prove my stature and win the heart of my farm girl, but NO! For I may be a fool, and I may be a cad, but one thing I am not is a coward!” The crowd had grown silent, listening to his heroic choice. They were all consumed by his tale, and his magic.
“This foul place could not be allowed to be, not so close to the sleepy community of simple peasants and bumbling woodsmen. Bravely onward we ventured, me and my brave guides, but inside we found that the place was far from abandoned. Vile cultists roamed the halls, intent upon casting the mountain’s shadow across the entire world!”
The tale carried on with the brave bard and his bumbling guides venturing further and further into the shadow shrine. No matter how grim things seemed to get, Faulkir would find some way to win out in the end, if not by wit then through the cunning use of magic or sword play. By the end, the gathered crowd of nobles hung upon his every word.
“Finally we found our way into the heart of the foul place and there stood an obelisk of the blackest stone, floating above an unholy altar. No light would shine upon it. Indeed it seemed that the shadows from within were reaching out to ensnare our light and our very souls!” His strumming had taken on an ominous tone. “The terror of it left the mage I had hired in a state of babbling terror. The hunters I brought with me to guide me up mountain tried to fight the tendrils of darkness, but it tossed them about like mere twigs, killing one and driving the other to madness. Fortunately, I kept my wits.” It was silent in the room. Everyone was waiting to hear how he would come out victorious once again.
“My keen eyes noticed a series of runes on the altar, below the hovering menace. I could just barely make out the words of a summoning ritual and in that moment I knew what I had to do… for only I could do it!” The diminutive bard strode around the stage as he talked, more like a giant than a halfling.
“Ducking the nearest tentacle, I rolled up to the altar and climbed atop it.” Faulkir danced around the stage, dodging imagined foes. “None of my companions, being big folk such as yourselves, could ever have hoped to squeeze into that space, tucked beneath the floating obelisk. It was my small stature that allowed me to crawl underneath. Using my trusty blade, I scratched out the runes, ruining the ritual and breaking its unholy power. In an instant it was over. The obelisk tumbled to the ground and the remaining cultist fled. They knew I had beaten them.”
“After that, there was no point in climbing the mountain. I had proven my courage once again. This time, being the shortest was a virtue, and fortunately for this fool, the fair maiden did favor me with a kiss.” Faulkir ended his story by blowing kisses to the crowd, who returned the gesture before letting loose a thunderous round of applause. The magic had worked once again. Faulkir’s purse would be fat with coins tonight. Almost everyone seemed delighted, even the Duchess.
In the back, leaning against a pillar, one figure was not at all amused.
She was trying to decide whether or not to kill the halfling. She knew his tale was nothing but lies. Caeth had been there and she knew that the danger was far from over. It was about to happen all over again.

Four Simple Polls

12 Oct

Minotaur FB LogoThe poor lost souls, trapped forever in the Minotaur’s maze, sure to appreciate the answers you have been giving to our polls. We promise, it is going to allow us to scrawl better games on the walls of our infernal prison. To that end, we have come up with a series of quick, easy to answer polls about your group and the campaigns you play.

The screaming echos in here tell me that if we hit 200 responses to these, I can share a secret with you…

Including the GM, how many players are in your most recent game group?

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How long have you been playing your most recent campaign?

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Of the following categories, which best describes your most recent campaign?

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Have you ever played an adventure with the characters provided?

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Last Call

7 Oct
Last Call

Last Call at the Slagpit

Dropping a few coins on the soot-stained bar, the last of the regulars got up to leave the Slagpit, a small, smoky tavern in the forge district of Silverspear. It was late, even for the pit, and Weltan just wanted to go home.

“Last call.” He said with a quiet urgency to the only patron left sitting at the bar.
The dwarf woman looked up from her empty cup and with a slightly puzzled look on her face, before tapping the rim of the glass a few times. Weltan topped her off with the good whisky that came from across the sea. He knew she had the coin. Her type always did.
She smiled as the cup slid back to her grasp, her ruddy cheeks reaching back toward her ears in a huge smile. She looked up at Weltan, pushing back the blond hair that was falling in a mess across her face. When she grinned that way, the scars about her became very pronounced, some ragged, some clean. She had seen a lot of fighting, against beasts and blades alike.
“I ever tell you about the time me and my friends fought against the darkest death?” She was loud. She was clearly drunk and Weltan had heard this tale before.
“Sure have, twice now tonight.” He hoped there would not be a third as he finished wiping down the bar. Heedless to his response, she continued.
“Four days we marched… or was it five. No matter. It was past the wood, up the maw, right down its gullet!” The bartender sighed as she rambled on. “That old path led to the deeper parts of the mountains, the forgotten parts where none did tread. None but us lucky seven, the seven from Aubenglade. The company of the glade.”
She said it with a certain pride, puffing out her chest, but the moment quickly passed. She took another sip from her glass.
“That’s where we found it. The fane, at least that is what that little bastard Kir kept calling it. You ever heard his tale about it? I heard he still tells it, leaving out the rest of us as if he were the biggest hero in the whole damn world! Earning coin off our tale.” She spat and took another pull.
“Where was I?”
“The fane.” Weltan replied, hoping she would hurry it up.
“Ah yeah, the fane. Darkest damned place I ever saw. Nothin’ but creeping darkness that even I could not see through. There were more of them ragged bastards there. I tell you about them?”
“Three times now.”
“Good. They were everywhere, worshipping that black stone, chanting in their cursed tongue”. As she spoke, her hand slipped down the haft of her axe on which was a dull, black stone.
“I chopped ‘em down, me and the Mother, fighting as one. This was back when she was still with me ye see.” He did not. She was making less sense with each retelling of her tale. He kept cleaning the glasses.
“But we were too late. They had opened the stone and the darkest death was pouring out. We had to hold it off while the mage tried his magic to close it. Its tendrils, they were everywhere.” That last word was but a whisper as she lifted her cup again.
“That weren’t the worst of it. No. That was the voices, the things it said. The truths it told. They made me afraid for the first time in years. I still hear them. They never went away.” Her voice trailed off for a moment.
“Valtirus, he broke. His magic failed him. In the panic, poor Eadmar was grabbed by the thing. It squeezed and squeezed until blood was pouring out of him. It tossed his broken body at the feet of his brother. I’ve never seen Ren so angry. He lost it then. Picked up Ead’s blade and charged right at it. We all followed. If Ead was going to die, then we were going to make sure that thing paid.” She lifted up her cup, closing her eyes in painful remembrance. She downed the last of the amber liquid and set the cup upon the bar.
“But I’ve told ya this tale before.” She said, with a note of sadness. “And I got ta travel home in the morning.”
She looked at the bartender, waiting for him to ask what happened next, waiting for him to care, but there was only silence.
Dropping a pouch of coins on the bar, Karwyn got up to leave.

Mature Content

1 Oct

cropped-Logo.jpgWe poor souls lost in the maze are always trying to make our games better, to make a fun play experience that is what you want. To help us with that, we’ve come up with a poll asking you about mature content. Most games include at least violence, but some might take it a bit further. We would like to know how far you take it? What types of mature content do you include in your games?

What types of mature content do you use in your RPG game? (select all that apply)

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The Hunter’s Tale

30 Sep
A Chimera's Horn

The Trophy

The stout wooden door slammed shut as the last of them arrived. It was Harrick. He was always the last one to arrive, Renmar silently noted once again. As the elderly hunter hung up his cloak, Renmar stood up to call the weekly gathering of the Aubenglade Watchers to order.

Knocking loudly on the table with a gnarled wooden hammer, the leader of the group called out, “I hereby call this conclave to order.”
He continued by taking the roll. Harrick was just taking his seat, complaining about his bad knee. Orlon, and his cousin Palgin, were at the far end, both smoking a rich smelling tobacco from clay pipes. Ilmina sat to his left, picking burrs out of the hem of her cloak while Albinara and Yolt sat on the other side of her, quietly bickering over some small amount of coin spent on supplies. Finally, to his right sat the rotund Durwan, sharpening a dagger with flat stone. With the roll complete and everyone in attendance, Renmar continued with the agenda. “The first order of business tonight, who brought the ale?”
For the next hour, the eight of them laughed and drank, feasting on a smoked boar shank provided by Orlon. They talked about the wild animals that seemed to be growing ever bolder in attacking local herds. They planned their next expedition, which would be little more than a relaxing three day adventure into the wilderness, disguised as an important scouting mission for the town. As was their tradition, a flask of particularly strong mead made the rounds after the dinner trenchers had been piled up at the end of the table.
“Well, that just about covers all of the Watcher business.” Renmar concluded, letting out a small burp and patting his stomach. “Anyone want to hear the latest draft of the Hunter’s Tale?”
There were groans from all around the table. The other members of the Watchers had heard this tale over a dozen times already.
“Is the beast even bigger now, maybe the size of a cottage?” Durwan called out, drawing chuckles from the around the table.
“Did you finally get around to mentioning that the poor thing was clearly half-starved and asleep when you found it?” Laughter echoed throughout the small wooden lodge as Ilmina’s barb hit home. Renmar put on a scowl. She was right of course, the chimera had been ill when he encountered it, but it was still a danger to the town that had to be dealt with. Renmar’s battle with the beast was legendary around Aubenglade, and even after all these years he was admired and respected for his daring assault and expert marksmanship. It seemed that such feats of courage were a thing of the past for him now and holding on to the tale, no matter how embellished, was all he had left.
“Well fine, I’ll save it for my lovely daughter. She never mocks me for my heroism.” Renmar concluded with a wry smile, which brought on more laughs and a few hearty pats on the back.
The mirth died away slowly, leaving a calm silence as they all looked around at each other. It was almost time to go, to get home to their families before the dark came to the woods and the going became treacherous. One by one, the Aubenglade Watchers stood and gathered up their gear. Renmar looked as his friends and grabbed his exquisitely carved bow from the mantle above the fire.
“Remember, I won’t be able to make it next week.” Renmar’s voice sounded suddenly hard. “I have the reunion.” With that there were a number of grumbles and stern looks.
Harrick came up and looked Renmar in the eye. “Try not to be too hard on the boy. It’s been, what now, over fifteen winters?”
“You know that I can’t.”
“And all the more’s the shame for it. It will be good to see the lot of you again. The real heroes of Aubenglade.”

 

As Renmar made his way home, the thought of the upcoming gathering grew to dominate his thoughts. It would be good to see Karwyn again at the very least. The dwarf was a fine warrior, and even after she lost her faith in the group and the town, he still trusted her with his life. He hoped that this time it would not come to that, but they had to finish what they started. Eadmar would have wanted it that way, even if it meant working with Valtirus again.
In the fading light, Renmar approached the back door of his home on the outskirts of Aubenglade. There he found his daughter, lithely dancing between the trees with her rapier in hand, practicing her forms. He watched her silently, noting that she really had improved. He was so proud of her, of the young woman she had become. She was going to do amazing things someday, go on incredible adventures, and see wonders beyond his imagining.
He only hoped those days would wait a little longer.
Making his was up to the kitchen door, Renmar called out to his loving wife. “Leylinia, I am home!”