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Serena, Aspirant Paladin

Published on April 3, 2015 by in RDI History

Editor’s Note: we are stoked once again to welcome guest author Geoff Bottone, a founding member of SlugFest Games and one of The Red Dragon Inn’s original designers!

Serena refused to retreat. Paladins of Korash never retreated.

She swung the pommel of her holy sword into one of the bandit’s jaws. He let out a very satisfying gurgle—Korash forgive her—and went down in a heap. That still left seven of them, and even taking into account all of her training, the strength of her faith, and the fact that they were just puny humans, they had her well and truly outmatched.

One of the bandits drove the point home, both figuratively and literally, with an expert thrust of her knife. Serena’s armor plates, and the mail beneath them, prevented it from being a lethal thrust, but it still hurt. She recoiled, baring her tusks and letting out a roar of agony that rang off of the rocks of the canyon. The bandits retreated from her a half-step, and that gave Serena the moment she needed.

Perhaps, she thought, as she fled back the way that she had come, this was what the Lord Marshall meant when she talked about ‘strategic withdrawal.’

She sheathed her brightly-glowing sword and devoted all of her energy to scrambling up the steep canyon pathway. Her wound continued to bleed and, by the time she had reached the top, its pain was so great that she was reduced to crawling along on all fours.

To her very great surprise, the bandits did not follow her, though their mocking catcalls, along with the occasional low moan, echoed off of the rocks behind her. The blood rushed to Serena’s cheeks at the sound, and she was sure that her green skin was now a flushed and vivid brown. Grumbling with shame and gasping with the pain of her wound, she pulled herself to the top of the canyon and behind the shelter of a dusty boulder.

Serena took a deep breath and whispered out a prayer to Korash. The pain in her side ebbed and the blood flow slowed to a stop.

Her new armor was bloody and dusty, scuffed in places where she had dragged it along the rocks. Her sword was still well-honed, though she was far enough from the bandits that it no longer glowed. The scroll case that Baroness Tyia had entrusted into her keeping remained safely tucked into her belt.

She thanked Korash that she still had it. This was her first mission as a paladin aspirant and, if she had lost it or let it fall into the wrong hands, the career that she had been working her whole life towards would be over almost before it had begun.

Serena consulted the sky. There were still a number of hours of daylight left, which meant that she still had some time to reach the neighboring lands of Baroness Janessa, inconveniently located on the opposite side of the canyon. The sheer number of bandits made the direct route all but impossible, and Serena saw no bridges or other ways across. Going around the long way would be safest, but as Baroness Tyia had repeatedly told her, all would be lost if her message was not delivered by sundown.

There had to be some way through. Sneak through the bandit camp? No, with her size and armor, she probably wouldn’t be able to manage it. Use guerilla tactics to pick them off one at a time? Tempting, but extremely dishonorable. What, then?

Serena wasn’t sure, so she did what she did best whenever the way ahead seemed unsure. She prayed.

A few minutes after she began her prayers, the bandit down in the canyon finally stopped moaning.

—————————-

Something huge and heavy crashed through the nearby trees. Serena wrapped up her prayers as quickly as she could without being rude. She arose and drew her sword as whatever it was drew nearer to the tree line and the lip of the canyon, snapping branches and stomping through underbrush. Serena had little knowledge of forest lore, having spent the majority of her life studying in the temple and wasn’t sure what it could possibly be. A moose, maybe?

No. Not a moose.

Serena was used to being the tallest person in the room, but the humanoid that shoved his way out of the forest was at least a head-and-a-half bigger than she was and a good deal wider. His face was rough and had a greenish cast, sporting curved, yellow tusks larger than hers. He wore mismatched armor covered in chains and spikes and was armed with a stout cudgel that looked for all the world like someone had pulled a half-burned log out of a fireplace and driven nails into it.

“Hello!” he said, raising a hand in greeting.

Serena glanced down at her sword. It wasn’t glowing.

“Well met,” she said, sliding her sword back into its sheath. “I am Serena.”

“Gog,” said the huge thing, his smile widening.

“Your name is Gog?” said Serena, not quite understanding.

He nodded vigorously. Then he looked over Serena, much more closely this time, and the grin disappeared from his face. “You all right?”

She looked down at the now rusty stain on her side. “Yes. It was just a scratch and it’s all healed now.”

Gog’s toothy smile returned. “Good, good!”

“I should warn you,” said Serena, gesturing to the path that led down into the canyon, “you may risk receiving scratches of your own, or worse, if you plan to travel that way.”

Gog shook his head vigorously, whipping his long, ropy, braided hair every which way. “Gog not go that way. Gog go along canyon to high road. Gog take high road to Blue Creek. Blue Creek home village.”

“Oh,” said Serena. “Visiting family?”

“Yes! Gog finish first adventure! Gog take share of treasure home to give to Father. Well, not magic ring that Gog find. Ring cursed. Ring turn Gog into ficus for…” Gog paused to count on his fingers. “Three days.”

“My condolences,” said Serena.

“It all right,” said Gog. “Zot fix Gog. He even let Gog keep pot. Zot nice wizard.”

Unsure of how to respond, Serena chose to nod politely.

“What about Serena,” said Gog. “You have sword and armor. You also adventurer?”

“Sort of,” said Serena. “I’m a paladin of Korash. I am on a holy quest.”

“Oh!” said Gog. “Is that why you get stabbed?”

“Yes,” said Serena, “you see…”

Gog placed his massive hands on his belly and let out a low, rumbling chuckle. “Gog make funny!”

“I don’t…”

Gog chuckled again. “Holy mean religious and it mean full of holes. That why it funny!”

“That is…rather funny,” said Serena.

“Then why you not laugh?”

“My apologies, my friend. I’m just a little distracted,” said Serena. “I need to get this scroll across that canyon by the time the sun sets, otherwise I will fail my mission and dire peril will befall the baroness. I’m just not sure how I’m going to get past the bandits down there and…”

Gog’s smile vanished. His eyes narrowed. “Bandits?”

“Yes.”

“Bandits,” said Gog, “like thieves?”

“Yes.”

Gog cracked his knuckles. “Gog not like thieves.”

In that moment, Serena wondered if perhaps Korash, who had been remarkably silent this day, had answered her prayers after all.

“Gog,” she said, feeling her own smile spread across her face. “I wonder if you would mind assisting me with something…”

—————————-

The last of the bandits hurled through the air in a flailing mass of arms and legs. He crashed into one of the camp’s makeshift tents, smashing it into a flattened mess of shattered poles and moth-eaten fabric. Serena waded through the wreckage after him, slamming her knees down on his chest and forcing her blade up underneath his chin.

“I pray that Korash has taught you a lesson today,” said Serena.

The bandit’s eyes rolled in their sockets as he tried to focus on the razor sharp edge of the glowing sword.

“Um,” he said.

“You and your friends will clear out of here and find something productive to do with your lives.”

“Yes,” said the bandit, who seemed to be fighting the urge to nod.

“If I find that you have resumed your thieving ways, I will come after you. When I do, pray that Korash will be merciful, because I will not be.”

“Very…” the bandit swallowed carefully. “Very generous terms. Yes.”

Serena cuffed him on the side of the head, removed her sword, and stood up. A moment later, the bandit rolled out of the wreckage of the tent and, with a hand clasped over his throat, ran off after his cohorts. Gog waved as he departed.

“Thank you for your help,” said Serena, sheathing her sword. “You are a righteous…person…who walks in the light of Korash.”

“Half-ogre,” said Gog, smiling and thumping his chest.

“Ah, that explains it.” Serena shielded her eyes and consulted the sun. “Alas, I must be going. I will need to travel with all speed if I am to reach the baroness’s manse in time.”

“Gog go with Serena,” said Gog.

“I don’t want to keep you from your family.”

“It all right,” said Gog. “Blue Creek not far. Maybe Serena find more bandits or other things on way. Gog not want Serena to fail mission.”

Serena smiled. “Thank you. It’s this way.”

She jogged off across the remnants of the camp to the far side of the canyon. Gog followed after her, easily keeping pace with his loping gait.

—————————-

They reached Baroness Janessa’s manse just as the sun touched the horizon. The guards on the perimeter wall shouted warnings at their approach, taking aim on them with their bows.

“This happen to Gog a lot,” said Gog, a touch wistfully.

“Me, too,” said Serena.

They exchanged smiles as a heavily-armored man appeared atop the wall overlooking the gatehouse. “Turn back, monsters, or be destroyed.”

Very slowly, Serena reached into her belt and withdrew the scroll case. “I am Serena, aspirant paladin of Korash, and I…”

“What about him?” said one of the archers, gesturing at Gog with her nocked arrow.

“Gog!” shouted Gog. Several of the archers ducked in response.

“He is my traveling companion,” said Serena, failing to keep the irritation from her voice.

After a moment of furtive whispering, the armored man cleared his throat. “That will be more than enough of that, is that understood?”

“Yes, sir,” said the archers, though they continued to hold their bows at the ready.

The armored man leaned over the parapet. “I am sorry for the hostile greetings, lady paladin. I am Kelek, captain of the baroness’s personal guard. What business brings you here?”

That was more like it. “I bear an important missive for Baroness Janessa from Baroness Tyia of Bellhaven.”

This caused quite a stir atop the gate. Serena thought she heard one of the archers say, “she’s sending paladins now?”

Captain Kelek motioned the archers to silence before saying, “you and your companion are both welcome in the baroness’s house. Please do me the courtesy of meeting me in the courtyard. I will be down shortly.”

Serena waited patiently as the portcullis lifted up before proceeding through the gatehouse into the courtyard. Gog followed along after her, smiling broadly up at the archers watching from the parapet.

The captain descended the steps from the wall and hurried over to join them, pausing to bow deeply as he approached. “I hope that you found the roads here to be easy.”

“There were bandits in the canyon that gave us some trouble,” said Serena, “but Gog and I were able to take care of them.”

Gog popped his neck amiably, causing the captain to flinch a little.

“If you should require rest, food, or the attention of a healer,” said the captain, “I would be happy to provide them for…”

Serena shook her head. “My only wish is to fulfill the terms of my most holy quest, bringing honor to my order and grave tidings to the baroness.”

She held out the scroll case to Captain Kelek, who bit his lip and looked down at the paving stones.

“May I present this missive to the baroness,” said Serena, “or do you wish to take it yourself?”

The captain swallowed and took a deep breath before lifting his eyes to Serena’s. “I am sorry that you have been dragged into this, lady paladin. It was bad enough when the baronesses were sending messengers and sellswords through the canyon, but now that they’re sending paladins, well…”

“Well, what?”

Captain Kelek coughed into his fist. “Do you think you and your companion could move quietly and with some discretion?”

She and Gog shared a glance. “It will be difficult, but I think we can if the need is great.”

Gog nodded.

Captain Kelek flexed his fingers and took the scroll from Serena’s outstretched hand. “If you will follow along about ten paces behind me and say nothing, I will do you the honor of arranging for a proper explanation.”

—————————-

They were at one end of a hallway decorated with thick tapestries. Captain Kelek was some distance ahead of them at the far end of the hall, by a finely-carved wooden door. He raised a finger to his lips before tapping the scroll case on one of the panels.

“Enter,” came a voice.

The captain obeyed, leaving the door partially open. Through it, Serena saw a well-appointed suite with many high windows. An older, human woman in a dress of green brocade sat by a game table and sipped wine from a goblet. Serena made out the carved pieces of some game or other standing beside the woman’s elbow.

“My lady,” said the captain as he took a knee. “Baroness Tyia has sent a paladin to deliver her latest missive.”

The baroness looked off to her right, letting the red rays of the setting sun pour across her face.

“Well, she’s certainly waited until the last possible moment,” she said, taking the scroll case from her captain. “After all this waiting, we do hope that this missive proves to be more interesting than the last one.”

As the baroness opened the case and unrolled the scroll, Captain Kelek cleared his throat. “My lady, forgive me. I’m not sure if you heard, but I did say that a paladin brought the baroness’s missive.”

The baroness looked down her nose at the scroll. “Give them the usual fee for their troubles and send them back to Baroness Tyia. We are certain that they should be able to reach her fiefdom by morning light, if they hurry.”

“My lady, I…”

“Ha!” The baroness arose with such speed that the startled captain stood up as well. She turned to face the game board and moved one of the white pieces a few spaces. “Ha! Ha-ha!”

“What she doing?” muttered Gog.

“I don’t know,” said Serena. “But I’m not entirely sure I like it.”

“All this time and that’s the best she could come up with?” The baroness lifted another piece, setting it down in a different position on the board. “Pitiful! We don’t know why we bother. Playing her isn’t even remotely a challenge. She may as well forfeit now, for all the good that this move does her. Captain, inform the scribes that they are to prepare a response for our dear baroness. Tell her that she will lose in two moves. Have the paladin…”

“The paladin” had heard just about enough. Serena pounded down the length of the hallway, the soles of her hobnailed boots ringing out against the tiles. She kicked the door open the rest of the way, sending it against the wall with a satisfying crash. The baroness scurried away from the table as she entered. Serena wondered if her own visage caused the baroness’s retreat, or if Gog, who had to duck down to enter the room behind her, was responsible.

“I am Serena, aspirant paladin of Korash,” roared Serena, her holy sword in her hand. It was not glowing as powerfully as she would have liked, but the aura was nevertheless present.

“Well met,” said the baroness, her voice a squeak. “You have discharged your duty nobly, oh paladin, and we are…”

Serena whacked the game board with the flat of her blade, scattering the pieces. “Silence!”

“All right,” whispered the baroness.

“You and Baroness Tyia have wasted my time. You have wasted the time of your previous messengers. You have put us all into dire peril. You have distracted my friend here from an important trip to visit his family…”

“Gog not mind,” said Gog.

“…all so that you can play this game?!”

“When you put it that way,” said the baroness. “It does seem rather…frivolous.”

“This ends now!”

“Yes.” The baroness gave a birdlike nod. “Of course.”

“I will make a full report to the paladins at my temple. We will be watching you and the Baroness Tyia from now on. If I ever hear of either one of you doing something this wasteful ever again, both of you will lose!”

To punctuate the warning, Serena hurled the game board through the nearest window. The captain covered his head to shield himself from the glass shards, but even though she was at the highest point of her dudgeon, Serena detected the ghost of a smile on his face.

—————————-

“You are welcome to stay the night,” said Captain Kelek as he escorted them both to the gates.

Serena shook her head. “No. Your offer is generous, but I am certain that the baroness no longer wants me around. I will not stay any place that I am not welcome.”

“Fair enough,” said the captain. “I should also warn you that, when she recovers herself, she will not have kind things to say to your superiors.”

“I am aware of that,” Serena sighed. “I sometimes worry that I am far too prone to violence to be a proper paladin.”

“Gog not think so,” said Gog. “Serena good paladin. Serena help make people better. Baroness need extra help. That why Serena need to yell and throw things. Baroness will remember lesson from Serena.”

She chuckled. “Thank you, Gog. Now do me the honor of allowing me to return your favor and escort you to Blue Creek.”

“That sound fun!” said Gog.

Captain Kelek regarded them with a bemused expression. “Safe journeys.”

 

Erin the Ever-Changing

Published on March 27, 2015 by in RDI History

Editor’s Note: for this character history, we are very pleased to welcome guest writer Geoff Bottone, a founding member of SlugFest Games and one of The Red Dragon Inn’s original designers! He has graciously agreed to do a little writing for us. Thanks, Geoff!

Erin2.F

The path ahead was partially clogged with white pine branches. Fiona set her jaw and barreled onward, using her brute strength and heavy armor to push through them. One of the branches, a long springy one, slithered off of her hip and snapped back behind her with a sharp, cracking sound.

“Ackppfttt!”

“Oh, Dimli,” she said as she swung around, briefly snarling her arsenal in the branches. “Sorry about that, I should have…”

The sputtering dwarf waved her off with a beefy, gloved hand while using the other to brush sap and pine needles out of his long beard. “It’s fine, lass. No harm done.”

“I’ll try to take more care from now on.”

“Good,” said Dimli, winking at her, “and I’ll try to keep my head down and stay farther back in case you forget again.”

Fiona rested a hand on an armored hip. “You’re sure you’re all right?”

Dimli spat a stray needle into the bushes. “Yeah, yeah. It’s just, y’know, all the trees. Makes a dwarf a bit uncomfortable, you know what I mean?”

Fiona nodded. A childhood spent in the Greyport Undercity had made her extremely comfortable in small, dark places, slimy tunnels, and silent crypts. The great outdoors? Not so much. Everything was very big and very bright, and there were noises and smells that she hadn’t quite gotten used to.

She felt a small pinch on her cheek and slapped absently at it with a gauntleted hand. When Fiona pulled her hand away, she saw the remains of a mosquito smeared across the small armor plates. She scrubbed her armored palm on her hip. Stupid bugs.

“I wish Kaylin had come,” she said, watching the sunlight filter through the forest canopy above them. “She actually likes it out here.”

Dimli took off his helmet and scratched at his sweaty forehead. His dark brown hair lay damp and flat across his scalp. “She said something to me about ‘too close to home.’ Not quite sure what all of that was about, and she shut up tight when I pressed her. At least she arranged for a guide to meet us in Munson Glen. Once we meet up with them, we’ll be able to get our bearings and find out what’s poisoning the river.”

“Sure. Now all we have to do is find Munson Glen.”

“Kaylin said to just keep heading north, which is what we’ve been doing all vlnkin’ morning. We’re bound to reach it sooner or later.” Dimli settled his helmet back on his head. “But if we don’t reach it in, say, another hour or so, I suggest we go back to the Red Dragon for a pint and better directions.”

“I like the way you think, Dimli.”

They pressed onward for a bit before a thought occurred to Fiona.

“So, is ‘ackppfttt’ another dwarven swearword?”

Dimli chuckled. “Shaddap.”

—————————-

“This must be the place,” said Dimli.

They stepped out of the trees into a meadow filled with tall grass and colorful wildflowers. Fiona raised her arm before her face and squinted into the light of the noonday sun. Aside from a cloud of bees hovering amidst the flowers and a small, black bird that circled the outer perimeter of the meadow, they were alone.

“Are you sure?” she said. “Kaylin said that our guide would be waiting for us.”

“Have you seen any other glens since we left Greyport this morning?”

Fiona lowered her hand. “Well, no.”

“Then this is it.” Dimli shrugged. “Probably.”

“We can’t have gotten here before our guide,” said Fiona, peering off into the tree line at the far side of the meadow. “Not with all the walking it took…”

“Prithee, friend, to me attend,” said a voice.

Fiona whipped around, her sword already half-clear of the sheathe on her hip. Dimli moved to cover her left flank, crushing the tall grass beneath his heavy, dwarven boots. His axe was in his hands, its razor-sharp blade gleaming in the sunlight.

“Stay your hands, my friends. I mean you no harm.”

The speaker was an elven woman of substantially smaller height and proportions than Deirdre. Her skin was a rich, brownish hue that was enhanced by the thick mop of red dreadlocks sweeping back from her high forehead. She was dressed in simple wilderness attire, though it, like her hair, was adorned with bits of bright stone, animal bone, and feathers. She favored them with a lazy smile and gazed at them with half-lidded eyes, an expression that only further annoyed Fiona.

Fiona slammed her blade back into its sheath, hard enough to make the sound of metal ring throughout the glen.

“Don’t sneak up on us,” she said. “It’s not healthy. For you.”

The elven woman rolled her shoulders in a languid shrug. Her gaze drifted from Fiona’s face to some place above and behind her. Fiona turned, just in case someone else was creeping up behind her, but only saw the leaves of the nearby trees swaying in the wind.

Dimli threaded his axe handle through the loop in his belt. “Kaylin sent you, I take it?”

The elven woman nodded, gently, once. After a moment’s pause, she held out her hand, palm down, fingers loose. “I am Erin.”

Fiona took Erin’s hand and gave it a brisk shake. She was a little put off by how limp and lifeless it felt. “I’m Fiona,” she said, releasing her hand and cocking her thumb over at Dimli. “And this is Dimli, son of Gro…”

“No need for all the titles, lass,” said Dimli. He glowered at Fiona as he took Erin’s still extended hand in his own. “Great to meet you.”

Erin still wasn’t looking at them. She seemed bored. “Likewise.”

She didn’t say anything else. They waited there in a silence that was broken by the low hum of a passing dragonfly. It zipped up to inspect a shiny patch in Fiona’s breastplate before darting away again.

Fiona let out very loud, very significant, cough.

When Erin continued to not respond, she said, “Kaylin said you’d show us what’s fouling up the river.”

There was another long pause. Fiona and Dimli exchanged glances. Dimli shrugged.

“We’re ready whenever you are,” said Fiona, letting the end of her statement rise up until it almost sounded like a question.

“Follow me, and I will take you to the source of the affliction.”

Erin wheeled around and took off across the meadow in a brisk jog, her dreadlocks bouncing along with every step.

“What is with her?” said Fiona.

“Dunno,” said Dimli. He watched Erin vanish into the trees and sighed. “She’s not going to run the whole way, is she?”

Fiona adjusted her sword belt and started off after Erin. “I really hope not.”

—————————-

Fiona slowed to a walk. Dimli matched her speed and, from the rich, ruddy color of his cheeks, Fiona suspected that he was glad for the change of pace.

Erin swiftly outdistanced them, but Fiona didn’t care. She was breathing hard and sweating inside of her armor. She hoped that there wouldn’t be any chafing. Chafing made her cranky.

“What is with this woman?” said Dimli between breaths. “I know she’s a friend of Kaylin’s, but…”

“I know what you mean,” said Fiona. “Something’s not right about her.”

“She seems like she’s on another plane.”

“And,” Fiona pulled on her breastplate, hoping that the somewhat cooler air might find its way under her armor, “she doesn’t have any weapons.”

Dimli tugged on his beard. “Maybe she’s a wizard. I mean, Zot doesn’t have any weapons, either.”

“Zot has Pooky.”

Dimli chuckled. “Point.”

“And I don’t know that I’d want her casting spells around me. She doesn’t act like she’s paying attention to anything at all, and you know what Zot says about concentration, why I bet…oof. Hey!”

She glared down at Dimli, who had given her a sharp elbow in the ribs, hard enough that she felt it through her breastplate. Dimli put one thick finger across his lips and nodded his head in the direction that they were traveling. Erin had stopped a short distance away, and Fiona realized that they were rapidly approaching her position.

Fiona felt a slight twinge of embarrassment knowing that the elf might have been able to hear her, but when Erin turned to address them, her face still bore its sole expression of sleepy detachment.

She didn’t appear to be sweating either, which made Fiona a little jealous.

“And now, my new companions, do look upon the source of the problem.”

Fiona stomped up the last few steps to stand beside Erin, her hand on the hilt of her sword. Down below her, the hill sloped into a shallow valley by a meandering brook. There had once been trees here, but they had all been chopped down and, judging by the hacked up stumps that remained on the hillside, rather crudely at that.

In the valley, amidst the stump, arose a gigantic mound made of equal parts sawdust and slime. Dark, wet holes riddled its surface, opening on twisting passageways leading into the interior. From these openings issued a susurrus noise that made Fiona’s teeth ache. A significant portion of the mound rested within the brook itself, sloughing off its ropy, slimy residue into the water.

“Pfaugh,” said Dimli, holding his nose. “What’s that awful smell?”

“Whatever it is, it’s coming from the mound, I think,” said Fiona.

Dimli drummed the fingertips of his other hand on the head of his axe as he considered their options. “What do you want to do, lass? Crawl in there?”

“Pfft. No,” said Fiona.

“Didn’t think so.” Dimli reached under his helm and gave his forehead a meditative scratch. “Plans?”

“How much dwarven firewater have you got?”

Dimli reached back and patted his pack protectively. “Three bottles. Why?”

“Well, I was thinking…”

A deafening buzzing sound erupted from the trees behind her, drowning out her words. A dozen bugs about the size of dogs boiled out of the forest, their wings a vicious blur. Fiona’s ducked beneath a flurry of clacking mandibles, unsheathed her sword, and slashed one of the bugs across the abdomen. It fell out of the air and died thrashing, spraying ichor in every direction. Some of it got in Dimli’s beard, sizzling and smoking where it landed.

“Careful, lass, they’re acidic!”

Fiona pulled back into a more defensive posture, drawing a throwing knife as the bugs ringed them in on all sides. Dimli said something in dwarven that was no doubt very unpleasant and hefted his axe.

The buzzing and clacking of their assailants was loud enough to reach the nearby mound. The low, droning noise coming from within was soon replaced by sharp shrieks and chittering. Bugs started pouring forth from the openings on the mound. Fiona couldn’t do anything about them, as she was already hard-pressed by the bugs flying around her. She hurled her dagger toward one of her attackers, stabbed another in its luminous, compound eye, and managed to get back-to-back with Dimli. By the time she had a chance to look again, a seething, buzzing carpet of bugs blanketed the mound.

“That looks bad,” said Dimli, slapping a bug out of the air with the flat of his axe. He brought it down again in an overhead strike, cleaving the insect’s head from its thorax. “We should get outta here.”

Imraael kerpi!” shouted Erin, raising her hands to the sky.

There was a bright flash of light and a rumble, as if of distant thunder, and a small, black raven darted up into the sky from where Erin had stood just a moment before. The raven let out a throaty caw as it arrowed through the cloud of attacking bugs, heading for the mound.

“She can turn into a bird?” said Fiona, wincing as a gobbet of bug guts struck her in the cheek, searing her skin.

Another bug landed on Dimli’s helmet, its mandibles battering against the metal with a sound like a dozen smith’s hammers. Dimli very carefully smacked himself in the head with the butt of his axe, dislodging the creature.

“Nice for her,” he said as he brought his axe down for a finishing blow, “but what about us?”

Fiona cut another bug out of the sky. “Finish these off. Get clear before those other bugs get in the air.” She scrubbed the acidic slime off her face with the pommel of her sword. “I wish I had brought my crossbow!”

“I wish you had brought a dozen crossbows!”

Even without the crossbows, they were holding their own. The cloud of bugs had thinned out substantially. They just had to finish off the rest before…

Fiona groaned as the bugs covering the mound began to beat their wings and took to the sky. She was about to shout a warning to Dimli when she noticed that Raven-Erin’s trajectory took her right over the apex of the mound.

“What is she doing? When they get in the air, they’re going to cut her to…”

Imraael temri!” cawed the raven.

There was a flash of light and the raven was gone, replaced a huge, elder oak tree. The tree crashed down onto the mound, crushing bugs beneath it and caving in the roof of the mound. Those bugs that were not killed outright or trapped in the tree’s whipping branches began to swarm, and soon a cloud of whirling, buzzing darkness obscured Fiona’s view of what was left of the mound.

“She can turn into a tree?” Fiona shouted as she struck down another bug with a well-placed pommel strike.

“Just one more reason not to trust trees,” said Dimli, looking out over the devastation. Then he swung his axe upward. “Duck, lass!”

She obeyed, feeling the breeze of the passing axe as Dimli chopped the last of their attackers out of the sky. Ichor drizzled down on her armor, leaving bright streaks in the metal.

“It’s not over yet,” said Fiona, pointing at the swarm of bugs with her dripping sword. “We have to…”

Imraael karki!

The tree—leaves, branches, and all—vanished in a flash of blinding light. The form that replaced it was huge and shaggy. Erin reared up on her hind legs and, with a mighty roar, laid about herself with great sweeps of her massive paws, slashing bugs out of the sky.

“She can turn into a bear!” shouted Fiona.

“A grizzly, by the look of it,” said Dimli.

The bear tore through the bug cloud, rending wing and smashing carapace. Her fur was smoldering in places and she bled from a few wounds, but she fought onward, her fury undiminished. The bear dropped on all fours, bringing her front paws down to pulp several wounded, but still living bugs, only to rear up again and bellow a titanic roar.

Fiona felt herself smiling. “I take back every bad thing I said about her!”

“Me too, lass, and gladly.” Dimli started off down the hillside toward the mound. “C’mon, let’s help her.”

Fiona charged down the hill, roaring a battle cry. She and Dimli fell on the bugs from behind and carved their way through them, toward the snarling bear.

—————————-

“Shame to see such fine vintage go to waste,” said Dimli, as he upended the contents of the last of the bottles on what was left of the mound.

Fiona knelt nearby, striking sparks from her flint and tinder, blowing gently when the alcohol and the slimy bulk of the mound looked like they were starting to catch. She stood up as the flames began to spread, sending greasy smoke skyward.

Erin, now in her original form, paced back and forth along the pile of bug corpses, whispering something in another language. When she finished, she joined Dimli and Fiona by the burning mound. Despite the fact that she wore no armor and had borne the brunt of the latter part of the battle, Erin had nothing more than a few scrapes and scratches.

“I am loathe to take so much life, but a little death here saves the lives of many who depend on the river. Thank you for your help.”

“You’re welcome,” said Fiona. “So tell us, how did you do all of that? The shapechanging stuff, I mean.”

“I am a druid,” said Erin with a slight smile. “I am a part of nature and, as you have seen, nature is also a part of me.”

“I like it,” said Dimli.

“Me, too!” said Fiona, extending her hand. “And thank you. That was amazing.”

Erin shook Fiona’s hand, this time with a grip firm enough to make Gog jealous.

“We’re going to head back to Greyport and the Red Dragon Inn,” said Fiona. “Do you want to come with? Drinks are on us.”

“No, lass,” said Dimli, waggling the empty bottle. “Drinks are on you.”

The Winner of the 2014 Red Dragon Inn Character Design Contest!

Andourwinneris Hey SlugFans! It’s the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Jeff Morrow and Sam Waller have been grading and playing the more than 60 entries that made it into the running for SlugFest Games’ first RDI design contest. SlugFans showed off their creativity with awesome character designs, brand new mechanics and plenty of humor. Deciding on a winner was tough, but after weeks of play testing, we are proud to announce that the winner of the 2014 Red Dragon Inn Character Design Contest is:

Ben Iverach-Brereton Keet the Goblin Archaeologist by Ben Iverach-Brereton

Many of submitted decks included clever new mechanics, but Keet, designed by Ben Iverach-Brereton, takes the cake by introducing a new mechanic that will completely change the way you think about Gold when Keet is in the game. This deck is thematic, interesting, and loads of fun to play. We’re being a bit vague here, because we’re already working on this character! Expect an announcement about Keet in the near future.

HonorableMentionsWhile Ben took the top prize with his character Keet, he was up against some awesome competition. We have not one, but THREE honorable mentions to hand out, so without further ado, let’s meet the best of the characters that couldn’t make it!

JimAiTall Hunter the Hunter by James Flatmo and Ai Tran

Hunter is a bowman with a quiver full of arrows that are both mechanically interesting and hilariously funny. This character really made us laugh in the worst of ways (the arrows were so punny!). Congrats to James and Ai!

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ChiziSmallNitrelConcept Nitrel the Goblin Sapper by Chizi

The artist Chizi submitted both a character deck and a sketch! Nitrel is a load of fun with exactly the kinds of incendiary effects you’d expect from an explosives expert. Congrats, Chizi!

SeanChronos Chronos the Time Mage by Sean ConroyDey

We’re going to have a boatload of fun with Chronos. Chronos is one of the most cleverly flavorful decks we’ve ever seen. With adolescent, adult and ancient Chronos causing mayhem in the tavern he will definitely be a riot to play!

So there you have it! We’d like to thank everyone who took the time to create and submit a character. It’s great to know that we have a fan base that cares enough about the game to help us make it better!

Meet Tara

Tara was born with a blindness that neither arcane nor divine magic could cure. While that was reason enough for her well-to-do family to shelter and coddle Tara during her childhood, it was not the only thing that worried them. Instead of normal sight, she was born with the ability to perceive a strange, and bewildering world of interactions and echoes. She could not see the world, but could see all of the potential fates and possibilities of every action taken around her. Growing up in a bustling city, the chaos of information she did perceive was overwhelming, and Tara could not make any sense of her visions for years to come.

Try as she might, Tara saw no rhyme or reason to her visions. She tried to reject them, attempting to blank them out and lead a sheltered, miserable life during her teen years. Fate had other plans for the seer though, and an encounter with a band of gypsies changed her life forever.

They had been searching for just such a girl as Tara. They knew she had been born, that she was lost in the world, surrounded by those who could not fathom her gifts. The gypsies recognized her potential immediately, whisking her away from the lap of luxury. While the experience was terrifying at first, the farther and farther away Tara was taken from the great city, the more and more she was able to see. The gypsies taught her their ways, how to read objects by contacting spirits, or gaze into the future with powerful divination magic. As she came to understand the art of fortune telling, she was able to use it like a lexicon to better understand her gift – which was in many ways much more powerful. She learned how to peer through the haze of information and pin-point important events and individuals.

In turn, her kidnappers became a family to her, taking her on their travels to many distant lands, and granting her the freedom she had always wanted. They predicted a girl of her talents would be very important in the coming times, though they would not share how or when.

Nowhere did she find her visions easier to read than when the gypsies booked passage aboard a sailing vessel. The relative isolation of the open seas allowed her to make sense of her visions in almost perfect detail. When she traveled aboard ships, she could understand and predict interactions weeks and sometimes even months ahead of time – whereas on land the constant noise of all the probabilities around her allowed her just days or only hours of accuracy.

Much to the new family’s sadness, Tara longed for the clarity of sight she possessed while at sea. She spent years seeking a captain that would have her. None saw her more than a blind gypsy, a vagabond who would endanger the crew and endanger herself aboard their ship. None except Captain Whitehawk, who possessed enough imagination to see the value in a fortuneteller aboard her vessel. Valuing freedom more than fate, her family of vagabonds let Tara go, warning her, and her Captain, that she may still be of great importance in the coming times. Much to the Captain’s delight, Tara not only proved to be a valuable investment, but a fine (if dramatic) friend.

Whenever Whitehawk would mention gypsy prophecy to Tara, the blind woman would simply smile. “Have I not proven time and again that fortune can always change. I’ll probably see whatever grand scheme the gods have for me before they’ve even thought of it.”

One Month left for the RDI Design Contest!

Published on December 1, 2014 by in SlugNews

 

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Attention SlugFans!

Submissions to the Red Dragon Inn Design Contest are due at the end of December. That means you have only one month left to get your designs and forms in to us in time to be counted! We’ve already received a number of great submissions and cannot wait to see what you’ve cooked up yourself!

Remember, your submission must include:

  • A signed Contest Waiver. Any character design submitted without a signed waiver will be immediately discarded.
  • Your submission must include a brief description of your character. Who is he/she? What does he/she look like? How does he/she act? Why was he/she invited to join The Party?
  • Your submission must include a PDF that we can use to print and test your character. We recommend 2.5 x 3.5 cards, 9 to a page. And if your character uses special rules or mechanics, include a write-up of them.
  • Send your signed waiver, description and cards to slugfestgames@gmail.com, with the subject line: “RDI Design Contest”.

A couple of you have asked how you format a PDF for us. A simple word file saved as a PDF works great! The cards don’t necessarily need to be full size, just easily laid out so they can be dropped into sleeves and playtested!

Promo Drinks for Fun and Profit!

Published on November 21, 2014 by in SlugNews

Hey SlugFans!

In late 2012, we here at SFG started talking about a revised version of our SlugCrew program, and we decided to create several promo drinks to reward people who ran demos and events for us. We had done a con giveaway card once for En Garde, but that involved tacking a print run of a promo card onto another print run we were already doing with our manufacturer. With the advent of print-on-demand from our friends at DriveThru Cards, it suddenly became feasible and cost-effective for us to design many more promo cards and order only the amount we thought we would need. So we did exactly that and have used them for several different customer appreciation efforts ever since.

Some people have asked us about our promo drinks – what’s been printed, which ones are still available, and so forth. So we created a page on our website for that purpose. We will try to keep that page as up-to-date as possible as we release more promo cards.

We thought it would be fun to share the stories behind each set of promo cards, so that’s what this post is about!

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Alternate Barroom Brawl Alternate Monster Attack Alternate Gambler's Grog

These three drinks were the Minor Reward for SlugCrew folks who did demos for us in 2013. For this batch of drinks, we decided to create zanier, alternate-effect versions of existing drink cards: Barroom Brawl, Monster Attack and Gambler’s Grog. Two of the three mix things up by requiring die rolls, and Gambler’s Grog adds a neat little twist to the original.

Note that we still have a few of these left! While supplies last, anyone who earns the 2014 Minor Reward drinks (shown below) will also receive these!

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Witchdoctor Brew Chieftain's Ice Beer Wizard's Mystic Martini BrewMaster's Top Shelf Ale

When we announced our Kickstarter campaign for RDI 4, we knew we wanted to offer promo cards to sweeten the deal for potential backers. We also knew that there was a pretty good chance that we would meet our stretch goals for Natyli and Cormac, so we decided to create character-specific drinks for them. Natyli’s drink went through several iterations in playtest, but the effect we were going for was a stiff drink that turns into a luck potion. We wanted Cormac’s drink to be big and beefy, like Cormac himself. From there, the drink sort of designed itself!

Partway through our Kickstarter campaign, we were contacted by the folks at Loot Corps, makers of the game DrunkQuest. Their own Kickstarter campaign for their 90 Proof Seas expansion was happening at the same time, and the creators asked us if we were interested in a cross-promotion deal. We said yes, so now 90 Proof Seas has promo cards featuring Fiona, the Crimson Drake, and the Red Dragon Inn, and we have these two neat promo drinks based on the Wizard and BrewMaster characters from DrunkQuest. Since the art was done by Loot Corps, the style is quite different from our usual drink style, but we still love the way they turned out!

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Wizgille's Phenomenale Wizard's Wine Lucky Rabbit's Foot Ale Ozrik's Powerale

In late 2013, we needed new promo drinks to use as 2014’s Minor Reward for SlugCrew. We wanted to stick with the theme of character-specific drinks, so Jeff started brainstorming ideas while on a plane one day. After some playtesting and tweaking, these were the result!

Interesting note: starting with these drinks, we moved drink card art production in-house. These drinks were designed and drawn by our own Cliff Bohm.

And, of course, there’s still time to earn these drinks if you go out and run demos and events for us through our SlugCrew and Organized Play programs!

GC2014P

Eve's Mystery Mead
So, we didn’t quite give you the full story about the drinks above. Our original plan was to have three drinks for the 2014 Minor Reward, and to release Ozrik’s Powerale as our Gen Con promo card to correspond with the release of Ozrik himself. But we screwed up and accidentally announced and spoiled the Powerale in our announcement about the new SlugCrew Rewards. Whoops.

However, this was really a first-world problem for us, so we just made a new drink for Gen Con: Eve’s Mystery Mead.

Astute observers will notice that this art (again by Cliff) is a heavily-modified version of Mead.

RDIOP1

Compulsive Gambler's Grog Deirdre's Detoxifying Draught

Our most recent promo drinks were just announced a few days ago. These are the drink cards you can get by participating in a Red Dragon Inn tournament run through our brand-new Organized Play program!

There are a few fun facts about these drinks:

  1. They again stick with the theme of character-specific drinks (these are Deirdre’s and Gerki’s drinks).
  2. The art was done in-house by Sam Waller.
  3. Deirdre’s card uses the new icon-based drink design that we’re rolling out with the upcoming new printings of RDI and RDI 2.

So there you have it – a brief history of Red Dragon Inn promo cards! As you can see, in just two years we’ve released 14 promo cards, and we plan to make more in the future, so stay tuned!

Announcing the RDI Organized Play Program!

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Hey SlugFans!

We are pleased to announce the launch of our official Organized Play program for The Red Dragon Inn! You can now come to your local game stores and play in Tournaments for your chance to win new promo cards. The launch of this program is a huge undertaking and we are eager to see how you all like it!

OPDrinks

Your Friendly Local Game Store can now order Organized Play Kits. What’s in the kit? Glad you asked!

  • 4 Tournament Prize Packs. Each pack contains twenty participation cards to be handed out to anyone who attends and three premium cards to be handed out as prizes. That’s enough prize support for four tournaments!
  • A poster for advertising the event for a store-front window.
  • Copies of the RDI Tournament Rules documents so you don’t have to print them out yourself.

There are three groups of SlugFans that this launch affects, so we figured it would be best to address you each separately:

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For the SlugFans who love playing The Red Dragon Inn, you’ll want to have the opportunity to earn a copy of these promo cards! It’s up to you to let your Friendly Local Game Store know that there is a demand for Organized Play. There is currently no other way to get these promos! Your FLGS can order the kit through our website here.

You are also important for making sure that these tournaments are fun! So make sure you can attend, bring your friends, and have a good time. Let us know what you thought of the tournaments and the system after you get a chance to try it out! You can send feedback to us at: SlugFestGamesOP@gmail.com

StoresBanner

OP Kits are for you to promote your store and our games. We are offering them only to brick and mortar retailers, and will be selling them direct unless demand dictates we move to distribution. We want you to be successful because you are responsible for the bulk of our income! Keep up the good work and share an exciting program with your customers.

Each kit comes with enough material for four events. We tried our best to price them economically and want all the feedback you can give us about the kits and the program. You can send feedback to us at: SlugFestGamesOP@gmail.com

SlugCrewBanner

SlugCrew members are going to be more important than ever! Storefronts will need dedicated fans of our games to run these events. Organized Play will offer you a chance to earn more points toward your SlugCrew Rewards, as well as the opportunity to earn these new promos! We really want to see this program take off, and will be relying on the feedback of tournament organizers like you when we start moving this program forward. When you submit event reports, feel free to include any feedback you might have for us!

You can get all of the documentation ahead of time on the Organized Play Page of our website. Brief yourselves on the rules and regulations, and then get out there and let your FLGS know you want to run events!

SlugFest Games wants your opinions!

Published on November 6, 2014 by in SlugNews

Hey SlugFans,

You may have noticed a lot more activity recently on our Facebook page. We are reaching out to the fans of our games because we have a number of projects on the horizon. So many projects that we want to get your input on some of them! Below, you will find a link to a survey. If you could take 5 or 10 minutes to answer the questions it would really help us out!

Click this link to go to the survey.

We have also reached out with a video question asking what style of storage box you would prefer if we were to produce a Big Box solution to storing all of your Red Dragon Inn games. You can watch the video here, and then head over to our Facebook page to leave your comments.

We look forward to hearing back from you. Happy gaming!

Gog the Half-Ogre

Published on November 3, 2014 by in RDI History

Dance“C’mon Gog, wake up! You don’t want to be late for your day at the blacksmith’s shop!” Gog’s father Rogar, a strong and sturdy human, stood over his bed. It was before sunrise, and Gog was still tired, but he was excited enough about his day that he jumped out of bed. As he hurried toward the kitchen table for breakfast, he knocked his father’s broadsword off its display stand on the wall. The sword clattered to the ground, and Gog’s father looked at him sternly. “Be careful, Gog!” he said.

“Sorry.” Gog knew that the sword was very important to his father. He kept it on the wall as a reminder of his days as an adventurer. Those days were behind him, though. Age had slowed Rogar in a way that goblins, dragons and demons could not.

“Gog ready to go?” asked his mother Lor, a large ogre who was nearly always smiling.

“Yes!” answered Gog enthusiastically. About once a month, Jarrod the town blacksmith invited Gog to help him for the day. He taught the young half-ogre about blacksmithing techniques and let him swing the hammer. Jarrod also showed Gog the weapons and armor he made, and told tales about the adventurers who used them – including Rogar. Gog loved his time at the blacksmith’s shop – even the farming implements that Jarrod spent most of his time making were fascinating to him. He thought that it would be fun to be Jarrod’s apprentice, but part of him longed for the kind of adventure Rogar had told him about over the years.

Gog was nearing adulthood, and had grown to be almost as large as his full-ogre mother. Unfortunately, this made some of the townsfolk aloof and condescending towards him. Not everyone liked the idea of an ogre living among them. Many could not accept the idea of a marriage between a human and an ogre, and this disdain sometimes spilled over onto the product of that marriage: Gog.

Gog lived with his parents on the outskirts of Blue Creek, a small but thriving farming town with rolling hills, beautiful scenery, and fertile lands. Although not everyone accepted him, his upbringing was happy thanks to loving parents and enough friends to assure his family that no, they would not be run out of town with pitchforks and torches in some kind of unexpected non-human purge.

Gog ran to town and arrived at Jarrod’s shop just as the sun came up.

“Good morning, Gog!” said the blacksmith, beaming up at the large young half-ogre.

“Good morning!” replied Gog enthusiastically.

“It’s finally finished, Gog. Come take a look!”

Gog walked over to where Jarrod was standing. Mounted on the wall was a gorgeous sword – a long broadsword with a jeweled hilt and elaborate designs etched on the blade in gold.

“It took months, but it’s done at last,” said Jarrod proudly.

Gog just stared, open-mouthed. He had seen the sword a few times while Jarrod was working on it, but the beautiful final product left him speechless. Finally, he managed one word: “Pretty…”

“Yes, a local noble ordered this work.” He leaned toward Gog conspiratorially. “And he’s paying me quite well for it!” He slapped Gog on the back and laughed jovially. Gog couldn’t help but laugh, as well.

“Show Gog how make pretty swords!” Gog exclaimed eagerly.

“Someday, my young friend. But first, I need your help with some thresher blades…”

——–

The annual harvest festival was a few days later – Gog’s favorite time of year. Several years ago, he had caused a bit of a ruckus during the livestock races by jumping onto the track and running alongside the cows. Many of the townsfolk were aghast at this, but Gog’s parents were mostly just amused.

This year, Gog had offered to help Jarrod with his work at the festival. The blacksmith had given Gog some horseshoes to deliver to the folks in charge of the cart-pulling contest. Gog was hurrying back to the stand Jarrod had set up. In his overeager state, he stumbled over a stone in the road and fell to the ground.

A small crowd of kids about Gog’s age were nearby and started laughing cruelly. “Can’t stay out of your own way, eh ogre?” jeered one.

“What’s big, green and dumb? Gog!” shouted another to howls of laughter.

“Go home, half-breed! This festival isn’t for monsters!”

Gog stood up and brushed himself off. He burned with shame and anger, and a part of him wanted to just give in to that fury and punch a laughing face or two. But he knew that was wrong, and would cause many more problems than it would solve. Instead, he turned and walked off toward home, their laughter echoing in his ears.

The path home took Gog through the center of town, and he was surprised at how quiet everything was – the whole town was at the festival, after all. The unusual silence left Gog alone with his thoughts. He gazed at the ground and thought back to all the times when the children of Blue Creek made fun of him. He found himself wishing that Blue Creek was deserted and quiet like this all the time.

His reverie was interrupted by a loud clattering noise coming from Jarrod’s home, nearby.

“You idiot! You’ll alert the whole town!” hissed a voice from inside.

“No I won’t. The whole town’s at the festival!” said another.

Gog knew that something was wrong. He snuck around the blacksmith’s house to the shop behind it. The door to the shop was open, so he went inside. Things had clearly been disturbed. Gog knew what the shop was supposed to look like – and this wasn’t it. Drawers were open, tables and chairs were overturned, and the place was generally a mess. Gog looked toward the wall holding the elaborate sword Jarrod had made.

The sword was gone.

Gog hurried out of the shop and arrived back at the street just as two tall, thin men were coming out of Jarrod’s house. Both had packs on their backs that were loaded up with valuables. Strapped to one man’s pack was the elaborate sword the blacksmith had just completed. Gog was outraged.

“Thieves!” he shouted. “Gog no like thieves!”

Seeing the large half-ogre and clearly being in no mood for a fight, the thieves ran. They darted around a corner to an alley behind the butcher shop. Gog followed, nearly taking out the shop’s awning with his head as he lumbered past. The thieves turned again and found themselves in the town square – a large empty space with nowhere to hide.

“Let’s just get out of here!” shouted one thief to the other. They headed straight out of town, but they failed to take into account that this path led them close to the festival grounds. Gog continued chasing after them and noticed that they seemed to be slowing down ever so slightly. Gog was barely winded, so he had plenty of energy to shout “thieves!” several times at the top of his lungs. Many of the festival-goers pointed at the sight, and it wasn’t too long before half the town of Blue Creek was watching Gog gain on the thieves as they ran along the road leading out of town.

Blue Creek’s constable and several of the town guard took off toward the scene, but their effort was unnecessary. As they started running, they watched Gog make a flying leap and tackle both thieves to the ground. One large-fisted punch to each thief’s terrified face was all Gog needed to knock them out.

“What the blazes is going on, Gog?” asked the constable breathlessly when he arrived on the scene.

“Thieves steal from Jarrod! Gog stop thieves!”

Other townsfolk soon arrived on the scene, including Jarrod and Rogar. “My sword!” Jarrod exclaimed. He looked at Gog. “Gog, my friend, I am in your debt.” He put his hand on his chest and gave a short bow to the half-ogre. Then he called out to the crowd. “Three cheers for the hero Gog!”

Most of the assembled townsfolk joined in the cheering. Gog noticed that even a few of the kids that had just made fun of him were now cheering along. Gog smiled proudly.

As the constable led the thieves off in chains and the crowd dispersed, an older gentleman wearing dark robes and a tall man with pointed ears and colorful clothes walked toward Gog. The robed man had a gray beard and a serene expression. The man with pointed ears had a lute strapped to his back. A small white rabbit bounded into the robed man’s arms. Gog thought that they looked very unusual – nothing like the typical folk he saw in Blue Creek.

“Hail, good sir ogre! Well met!” exclaimed the pointy-eared man enthusiastically.

Gog stared at the pair, slack-jawed and confused.

“That means hello,” said the man in dark robes.

“Uh… Hello,” replied Gog.

The robed man bowed toward Gog and said, “I’m afraid my friend Fleck here doesn’t always express himself in the simplest and most direct way. My name is Zot.”

Gog pointed to his chest and said simply “Gog.”

“Your strength and stamina are quite impressive, good sir Gog,” said Fleck, smiling at the half-ogre’s lack of pretense.

“Gog is strong,” said Gog matter-of-factly.

“Indeed,” said Zot. “Are you part of this town’s guard?”

“Gog not guard. Gog just want stop bad people. Thieves bad, Gog stop.”

Zot and Fleck looked at each other and nodded. “Well, Gog,” Zot said, “we are adventurers. Would you like to travel with us and stop bad people all across this land?”

Gog looked confused again. “Leave Blue Creek?” he asked. Gog was conflicted, but also excited by the possibility of being the kind of adventurer he had heard about in stories – an adventurer like his father.

Rogar was standing nearby, and he walked up and put his hand on Gog’s shoulder. “You know, Gog,” he said gently, “you could probably do more good out in the world than you could by staying in Blue Creek.”

Gog furrowed his brow in concentration.

“I know this is rather sudden,” Zot replied soothingly. “You don’t need to decide now. Have you heard of the city of Greyport?”

“Yes. Gog go there with father long ago.”

“Gog was very excited about being in the big city, as I recall,” said Rogar, smiling up at his son.

“Good!” exclaimed Zot. “If you decide to join us, go to Greyport and ask for us at the Red Dragon Inn.”

Cormac the Mighty

Published on October 27, 2014 by in RDI History

Kormac_8_croppedCormac hails from the frozen lands of the north, a harsh and demanding countryside that yields a hardy and proud people. For generations, the factious barbarian tribes would wage war over the few available resources. To make matters worse, the lands were rife with all sorts of monsters – not to mention the Ice Giants who would invade regularly from high in the mountains.

That was until Cormac’s grandfather, Killian, raised an army and with it conquered the other tribes. As each tribe fell he offered their leaders a place in his tent. In time he built an alliance strong enough to end the petty squabbles. Killian forged a time of peace, drawing together many banners under one ruling council. Songs of the valor and wisdom of Killian the Tribeforger are still sung in the halls of Cormac’s people.

Cormac’s mother, Navlyn, had her turn to earn a place in legend. The peace brought on by Killian and the council was broken when the Ice Giants of the mountains descended upon the tribes. United under a common banner and with Navlyn’s leadership the barbarian tribes waged war against the giants. Even bards from the kingdoms to the south know the stories of the one-armed barbarian queen Navlyn the Giantslayer. After defeating the Ice Giants, Navlyn’s warriors vanquished the remaining monsters that still plagued the north lands, guaranteeing a lasting peace for the barbarian tribes.

In Cormac’s lifetime, there have been no great wars to fight or harrowing beasts to slay. The “barbarians” have settled down – ending hundreds of years of nomadic tradition. The people started to keep cattle and cultivate the land where they used to hunt and forage for food. They even started constructing walled cities!

Cormac was raised on the songs of his kin. He was fascinated by the the stories of warrior-chieftains, and especially the accounts of his mother’s and grandfather’s deeds. Cormac longed for the warrior’s way of life but found himself spending his days as a chieftain’s son, presiding over council meetings and discussing trade agreements. This would not do! Cormac, Son of Navlyn declared that he would be known as Cormac the Mighty. He struck out into the world to make his name, following in the traditions of his ancestors.

Over five years, his quest took him far to the south. He slew dragons and giants alike, and earned his self-proclaimed title. Yet he never believed that he accomplished anything worthy of his mother’s or grandfather’s legacy. His quest lost its meaning. Cormac was a hollow and misguided man when the party met him. He had become a drunkard and a brawler… fighting in pits for the amusement of others. Deirdre took pity on this once-great warrior. Seeing the spark of adventure dimming in his eyes she insisted that he come along with them on their next quest. Journeying with the party rekindled Cormac’s pride, and with it his ferocity and prowess. He had found new purpose, and companions who were his equal.

Cormac the Mighty does not know if there will be songs sung of his adventures when he returns one day to take his mother’s place as chieftain – but he does know that the band of heroes he journeys with is worthy of them.