Phrenk is not your typical troll. In fact, if his entire tribe weren’t made up of trolls, you wouldn’t guess that there was a troll among them. Usually trolls are mean, angry monsters who maliciously terrorize smaller folk. Nobody is exactly sure why – perhaps quasi-immortality drives them mad or constantly getting hurt and suffering through regrowing limbs is unbearable. Maybe they are just fed up with how everyone gives them a hard time for looking kinda scary. Regardless, Phrenk and his clansfolk simply weren’t your garden-variety trolls. They used to be, though. They still tell stories – when only in troll company – about their ancestors who were more typical of how bards describe them. That all changed, however, when the nomadic tribe settled around a stony outcropping in the forest they now call home.
What makes these trolls different from all the evil trolls in the world is that they made the unique decision to settle down. They weren’t precisely sure who suggested the idea, but they all knew why it was a smart idea: one really big rock.
It was a peculiar, rectangular rock of glittering black stone driven into the ground at a steep – though climbable – angle. It was in the middle of a clearing deep in the forest and it was tall. Anyone standing atop it could easily survey the landscape from the bottom of the valley all the way out to the hills and mountainsides. In fact, when you touched the surface with bare skin, you seemed more acutely aware of your surroundings in general. The tribe took to posting their watch atop the rock, where three trolls could comfortably stand vigil throughout the night.
Over the years, the tribe realized that the Vigil Stone – what they came to call it – had some manner of magic about it. They learned that anyone who touched the stone didn’t seem more perceptive, they actually were more perceptive. The Wardens, those who stood watch atop the stone, could pick out the best hunting grounds from their perch. When one area would run dry, they knew where the next richest lands would be. The tribe was also making better tools and having more creative ideas. By the time Phrenk was born, they had begun keeping herds of deer from the forest and goats from the hillsides, erected woven timber lodges with foundations of river stone and animal hide roofs, and were following the stars to keep track of the seasons.
Phrenk was born to a family of shamans with deep spiritual traditions. While the trolls still practiced ancestor worship, tribal magic, and maintained their rich oral tradition, the ritual sacrifices and poison craft had evolved considerably. Mainly, they didn’t do ritual sacrifices anymore, and their poison craft had grown to encompass beneficial medicine and the foundations of alchemy as well. Phrenk was a savant at brewing. He was the first to begin cataloging the local flora and fauna, even adapted the tribe’s shamanic runes as a means of naming and keeping track of his findings (he wouldn’t learn Common until much later).
While he continued developing his craft, he engaged – sort of – in the other aspects of village life. All trolls, male and female, were expected to serve in all roles of the tribe. Back when they were nomads, this simply meant that all trolls were expected to hunt and gather food. Now that they were sedentary, there were many more jobs that needed to be taken care of around the village, like building huts and lodges or tending to the flocks. Phrenk’s passion, however, was in his concoctions, and he often shirked other obligations to spend time brewing – and recovering from testing – his own tinctures. He became something of a joke among the trolls of his village. He was seen as dull, good for nothing, always incapacitated or struck dumb by the poisons he kept exposing himself to and never ready to take on the tasks at hand.
When Phrenk discovered the art of distillation, his responsibilities were all but forgotten and his reputation soured further. He made liquors and spirits from everything he could find. Taken pure, these could knock out a troll – even with their rapid metabolism! But once they were properly diluted and combined with one another, his ingredients became the most potent the tribe had ever seen, and his potions were far more advanced than anything his peers could achieve. Once he shared his findings, the tribe was able to forgive his laid-back and lazy reputation. It was clear that he was a savant, brilliant and far beyond even their eldest shamans in their craft. Phrenk was allowed to devote himself completely to his studies, something he took to with relish.
Over the decades, Phrenk grew to become a well-respected member of the village. He taught his style of potion brewing to other interested trolls and even started taking on the responsibilities of being an Elder in their growing council.
The trolls had begun studying the Vigil Stone, and had already determined that it was responsible for their rapid development as a “civilized” people. They did not worship the rock, but they did come to respect it, and consider its origins. They also found that it was poisonous over time, and that creatures that didn’t possess a Troll’s resilience eventually succumbed to its effects. This wasn’t really a problem for the village – they just kept the livestock far away from it. It became a problem, though, after scouts and mercenaries from a human kingdom started coming into their valley.
Phrenk first met The Party after he had been an Elder for decades. They came with the task of clearing out those “troll barbarians” who were disrupting the expansion of a minor noble’s holdings. They weren’t the first band of adventures that the tribe had had to deal with, but they were the first to come for a talk rather than a fight. Their attitude left a good impression on Phrenk, and before they were dismissed he threw his weight in behind them as one of the oldest trolls of the village. After that, they had to be heard out, and talked to as friends.
The Elders described the peculiar issue of the Vigil Stone. They could not leave it, because it had helped the tribe so much, and it was dangerous to humans and others like them. It was also far too large to safely move, something that they had considered doing already – after all, even though the valley was nice, it was not as ideal as some of the other locations in the mountain range. That gave Zot an idea, and after sending for Dimli – for they needed his dwarven ingenuity – the party arranged to move the Vigil Stone for the tribe. The Elders agreed with the plan, and after little more than a week of surveying, troll scouts returned with a fantastic location to rebuild the village.
After the relocation, it took only a month for an armistice between the troll village and the nearby lord was drawn. The trolls were happy to share their knowledge of the land, within reason, with other civilized folk, they just demanded that their borders be respected. After trade had been established between them and the noble’s holdings, things grew amicable quickly, in large part due to the quality of liquors and bitters, not to mention magical ingredients the tribe was happy to sell.
Phrenk joined The Party soon after the tensions between the human expansionists and his village settled down. He respected their open-mindedness and attitude – it also helped that Deirdre brought him his first quality alchemist’s kit as a thank-you for his cooperation. Besides, joining The Party was an opportunity for Phrenk to travel and perhaps change the minds of other folk who mistook all trolls for brutish monsters.
Plus, there were plenty more liquors to try among the folk who’d been distilling for centuries…
The Rogues and Warriors deck from Gambling? I’m In! (GII) is one of the staples of SlugFest Staff road trips. We played a ton of games of chance throughout the trip to Gen Con and back home. We are always trying out new games and variants, and are proud to release yet another game for GII: Heroes’ Plunder!
In Heroes’ Plunder, you are a member of a band of adventurers who are divvying up the loot from a recent quest. During the game, you will be passing piles of loot between players, taking one piece at a time for yourself. The player with the most lucrative sets of loot wins.
Order of Play:
- Each player is dealt a hand of 8 cards from the Rogues and Warriors Deck.
- Each player picks one card from their hand and adds it face down to their pool.
- Each player passes their remaining hand to the left.
- Repeat steps 3 and 4 until players are passed a hand of exactly 2 cards.
- Each player picks one of these two cards, adds it to their pool, and then discards the second one face down to a common pile.
- Each player is then dealt a second hand of 8 cards from the Rogues and Warriors Deck.
- Repeat steps 3 through 6 passing to the right instead of to the left.
- Players reveal their pool of 14 cards and the winner is determined.
- The player with the highest scoring pool wins. Cards score points based on how well they combine with other cards in your hand.
- Tiebreaker: Rank
Players earn 1 point for each card belonging to a completed Rank Set. A Rank Set is complete if it has exactly as many cards in it as there are pips on its rank (1 for Warriors, 2 for Ladies, 3 for Bards and so on). It is possible to have multiple completed Rank Sets of the same rank (10 Rogues would be two complete Rank Sets).
Each set of cards of a given rank that is not part of a complete Rank Set reduces your total score by 1, regardless of how many cards are in that incomplete set. So, for example, 4 Rogues only causes you to lose 1 point.
It is possible to have both a complete Rank Set and an incomplete one for a given rank. So, for example, 7 Rogues would be one complete Rank Set worth 5 points and one incomplete set worth -1 point.
Each card in your pool belonging to a rank with which you have scored AT LEAST ONE complete Rank Set can contribute to a Color Set. Score 3 points for each set of three colors you can build in each rank. (i.e. 2 blue Rogues, 2 red Rogues, and 2 green Rogues would score you 5 points for the Rank Set, -1 point for the incomplete set, and 6 more points for the two color sets of blue, red, and green).
In this example, only three of the five Bards score for a completed Rank Set, providing a total score of 3. If this pool had just one more Bard, the two extras would have scored for a second complete Rank Set.
Because there are two Bards that do not belong to a completed Rank Set, this pool suffers a penalty of -1 point. Notice that regardless of how many extra Bards there are in this pool, there is only one penalty point earned for the incomplete rank.
Because this pool contains at least one complete Rank Set of five Rogues, Rogues will score for color sets. There are two complete sets of three colors among the six Rogues so this pool earns 6 points for its color sets.
In this example, there is a complete Rank Set of Rogues (5 points), Bards (3 points) and Ladies (2 points) for a total of 10 points on Rank Sets. Among the Rogues, Bards and Ladies there are also four complete Color Sets earning the pool another 12 points. Unfortunately, there is also an extra Rogue, Lady and two Merchants making three incomplete Rank Sets for a total penalty of -3 points. This pool of cards is worth a total of 19 points.
- A Dragon in your pool does not belong to any Rank Sets.
- A Dragon can be added to a Color Set of any rank. It counts as a card of that rank in that Dragon’s color.
- Dragons never cause you to take Penalty points.
- The Three Dragons rule gives each dragon its own unique ability:
- The Red Dragon allows you to steal a non-Dragon card from another player’s pool. However, the stolen card may only come from a rank that has at least one incomplete Rank Set. Player’s may rearrange their Rank Sets after the Red Dragon’s Effect. A player that has no incomplete Rank Sets is immune to the Red Dragon! For example, you can take the sixth Rogue from a player’s pool.
- The Green Dragon counts as any rank for completing one Rank Set. For example, you can make a Rank Set of Rogues with 4 Rogues and the Green Dragon.
- The Blue Dragon allows you to score Color Sets using any combination of ranks. For example, you can make a Color Set with a Blue Rogue, Red Merchant, and Green Lady.
- The three dragons resolve in the following order: Red first, Green second and Blue last.
- Dragons never cause you to take Penalty points.
SlugFest Games is proud to announce the official release of RDI:A – Ozrik the Adept and RDI:A – Brother Bastian. Be sure to check with your friendly local game store, as they will both be available in a few weeks.
Official Press Release Below:FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE September 5, 2014
SlugFest Games (“SFG”) announced today that they will release two new products for their Red Dragon Inn (“RDI”) line of fantasy card games. These two new releases will feature single character decks for RDI, bringing new mechanics to the game as well as increased expandability.
The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Ozrik the Adept and The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Brother Bastian will be available for solicitation September 11th, 2014 for orders to start shipping the following week.
The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Ozrik the Adept (SFG-017)
Price: 14.95; SKU: ISBN 978-0-9802092-5-9; Release Date: September 15, 2014
Description:The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Ozrik the Adept expands the party at the Red Dragon Inn with a brand new elementalist who is a master of manipulating his abilities. Many of Ozrik’s cards have more powerful effects if you discard other cards from your hand. Carefully managing your hand to build these powerful combos will be the key to victory in any tavern brawl!
- 40 Card Character Deck
- 1 Player Mat
- 12 Gold Coin Tokens
- 1 Alcohol Marker
- 1 Fortitude Marker
- Rules Document
The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Brother Bastian (SFG-018)
Price: 14.95; SKU: ISBN 978-0-9802092-6-6; Release Date: September 15, 2014
Description: The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Brother Bastian expands the party at the Red Dragon Inn with a brand new character! Bastian brings powerful prayer cards with him, giving him great flexibility. Making sacrifices throughout the game so you can use your prayers at the perfect moment will lead you to victory!
- 40 Card Character Deck
- 1 Player Mat
- 12 Gold Coin Tokens
- 12 Prayer Tokens
- 1 Alcohol Marker
- 1 Fortitude Marker
- Rules Document
About SlugFest Games:
SlugFest Games has been in the gaming industry for 10 years. They have focused on making games with simple, fun mechanics that are dripping with theme. Their games are quick to learn, fast to play, but have a surprising depth of strategy. They strive to infuse humor into their games, ensuring you’ll be laughing even if you don’t come out on top.
For further information:SlugFest Games www.slugfestgames.com email@example.com
For sales and distribution:Impressions Aldo Ghiozzi www.impressionsadv.net firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 925.240.0862
The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Ozrik the Adept and The Red Dragon Inn: Allies – Brother Bastian © SlugFest Games, Inc. 2014. SlugFest Games, The Red Dragon Inn, and all associated materials are either TM and/or © SlugFest Games, Inc. 2003-2014. All rights reserved.
Today we are excited to share more images from the most unique Red Dragon Inn character yet: Wrench. One of the most exciting and time consuming parts of creating characters for The Red Dragon Inn is establishing how they look and are animated through their card portraits. The fun of the game depends heavily on players getting to know their characters, so we spend a lot of time working with artists to create evocative and fun character designs. Wrench is no different, especially as one of our handful of monstrous player characters! That’s why we’ve enlisted the aid of a fantastic illustrator, Anthony Cournoyer, to make Wrench a reality.
A Little Kobold in a Big World
One of the important aspects to his character is how he is a perfect example of an unlikely adventurer. He does not possess great fortitude or endless bravery, and relies heavily on his gadgets and traps to see him through dangerous situations. We wanted to ensure that Wrench himself gave off an awkward, skittish feeling. After-all, he’s a kobold, and that makes him typically one of the smallest things running around in the dungeon! However, we couldn’t forget that he is a professional, and a constant surprise for his companions.
We went through multiple iterations of his character. From angular and aggressive looking modern DnD Kobolds to the more cartoony versions that would be welcome in a Don Bluth film. We wanted to do many iterations, so we could grab the pieces that would make him as expressive as we needed for his character portraits. Card titles would let you hear his voice, but his look needed to match.
His Clockwork Defenders and Friends
In contrast to Wrench’s skittish attitude, his gizmos were designed to be fearless. They are clever, and intimidating, but also had to have a cobbled together feel. We wanted them to have a bit of a “Macgyvered” feel to them, to show off just how competent a tinkerer Wrench was. He rarely has the correct parts for a given contraption, but he can definitely jury rig just about anything into the right part for the job – at least for a little while.
Bringing the Pieces Together
Of course the only way for Wrench and his Gizmos can join the party is if we put them in the tavern! Beth Trott has been one of our illustrators since we started publishing games, and is the artist responsible for the backgrounds in The Red Dragon Inn (as well as the Crimson Drake). To make sure that each character joins the party with the rest of our characters, we make sure to template and fit each illustration to the background lighting as well as the all important oak table.
Coming to a Tavern Near You
Wrench is currently only available to the most active of our SlugCrew Members. If you want to get your hands on his character deck you’ll have to sign up for SlugCrew and run demos or wait until 2015 when he will receive an official release.
Each Gen Con SlugFest Games hosts the annual Red Dragon Inn Doppelgänger Tournament. For those who are unfamiliar with the format, the tournament is an elimination-style event where each player is assigned a random character. The twist is in the first round, where you face off against up to 3 other players in a same-character mirror match!
We hit an all new record of 71 attendees this year. Players were paired up by drawing character buttons, part of the participation prizes, into pods of three to four players. After a few formalities, and some base rules and expectations were shouted out across our long tables by the rules guru himself Jeff Morrow, the party was under way!
Gog was the first to subdue his doppelgängers in one of the most wild games of gambling and fisticuffs we’ve ever seen. Piloted by Bryan S. – who stayed pretty much in character the entire time – we fully expected to see him make the top table. There were a few other Tournament veterans making the rounds as well as plenty of newcomers. After all of the doppelgängers had been subdued, the remaining heroes partied together. The finalists and their tables were:
- Bryn who fought off Fiona, Serena, and Gerki.
- Gog who battered Zot, Remy, and Ozrik.
- Eve who bewitched Dimli, Tara, and Erin.
- Captain Whitehawk who outwitted Phrenk, Brother Bastian, and Cormac.
- Wizgille who tinkered her way out of trouble with Deirdre, Kaylin, and Pooky.
At the winner’s table this year Eve the Illusionist proved to be the adventurer supreme by not only defeating her doppelgängers by out brawling, out betting, and out drinking (or at least appearing to) the competition! Congratulations to Ben R. for taking home the brilliant storage chest assembled by one of our oldest SlugCrew Barry Figgins over at Lyris Laser Studios.
To check out what Gen Con looked like for SlugFest Games visit the photo album on our Facebook Page!
We are stoked about today’s announcement. As you can probably guess, we have been hard at work designing new Red Dragon Inn characters that we know you’ll love. However, we really want to see what you guys can come up with!
SlugFest Games is happy to announce the Red Dragon Inn Character Design Contest!
Do you have an awesome new game mechanic, a hilarious take on a classic RPG trope, or a brilliant story you’d like to share about a new recruit to The Party? Design an awesome RDI character, and we just might print it!
Of course, there are some rules and terms:
- Your submission must include a signed Contest Waiver. Any character design submitted without a signed waiver will be immediately deleted.
- 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 email@example.com, with the subject line: “RDI Design Contest”.
We will be accepting contest submissions through December 31, 2014 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time. Submissions received after that time will be deleted.
There will be two prize levels:
- Winner(s) will receive $500
- Honorable Mention(s) will receive $250.
So if you’re a budding game designer, or if you’ve had a homebrew character kicking around the table for years, it’s time to show off!
Thanks, everyone! Happy designing!
And now the fine print:
As the Contest Waiver states, we reserve the right to award any number of prizes, including none. In addition, receipt of your prize will be contingent upon assigning exclusive rights to your design to SlugFest Games.
One of the new deckhands approached the towering blonde, “How did you get so big?”
She turned around, shifting the load of a full barrel on her shoulder, and peered down at the swabbie with a fiendish glint in her eye, “Why did you stay so small?” Then with a laugh and a hearty slap on the back, she sent the poor fellow stumbling over the railing and into the drink.
In her youth, Bryn, like most children, loved getting better at things. She loved running faster than she did the previous week. She loved skipping stones farther into the ocean than the day before. She loved getting taller than she was last year. She even loved hauling in heavier and heavier nets on Old Man Whitehawk’s fishing boat.
But Bryn was weird. You see, most children eventually stop getting better at things. They grow up, settle down, and accept that they have reached their limits. They convince themselves that they won’t get any stronger, faster, or smarter than they currently are. Bryn, on the other hand, decided that those rules didn’t apply to her.
And so far, they haven’t.
Instead, Bryn lives her life by a different rule: each day, do something better than yesterday. The fruits of her motto are obvious to anyone who meets her. Not only does she tower over nearly everyone – there hasn’t been a ship built that she didn’t hit her head on while going below decks – she’s also broader than most orcs, and has limbs as thick as tree trunks. Her ambition for self improvement doesn’t end with just her strength and size though. No single sailor on the high seas can tie a knot tighter, trim a sail fuller, or recognize a coastline more reliably – she holds that divination magic, while terribly useful, is cheating on the last trial – and it took Captain Whitehawk years to gather a crew that could keep up with her.
Bryn has looked up to her friend Captain Whitehawk ever since she met her years ago. Being ten years her elder, The Captain has always been like a big sister to Bryn. When Bryn was barely old enough, the captain (well she was just Elizabeth back then) and Old Man Whitehawk took her out aboard their fishing scow… Bryn fell in love with the sea. She had never found herself with as challenging a task as sailing a ship. The pair have been all but inseparable crewmates ever since.
Over the years Elizabeth has looked out for Bryn making sure she never got into anything too far over her head. On the other hand, Bryn has always had Elizabeth’s back when she needed it, and is one of the few crew to keep up with her wit.
Elizabeth Whitehawk was the daughter of a fisherman. She learned the sailing trade from her father, and as soon as she was old enough, she joined him on his fishing voyages out to sea. As she gained experience, she inherited more of the duties of the family business.
Elizabeth has always been a fine judge of character. This was first evident when she met Bryn. Most people only saw a stringy and hyperactive 6 year old, but Elizabeth saw something more. She invited the girl to join her on fishing trips, and Bryn proved to be a most adept assistant. Over the years, under Elizabeth’s watchful eye, Bryn grew up to be quite the sailor. Eventually, the two inherited the business and the ship. With a broad grin – and to Elizabeth’s dismay – Bryn started calling her “Captain.”
The two went on to make a humble, but successful living. Both of them would have been content as fish in the wide blue sea had fate not dealt them a peculiar hand.
One late night on their return from a long day at sea, Elizabeth saw smoke rising above the small port-town she called home, and a great 3-masted warship with crimson sails anchored in the bay. Pirates! She ordered Bryn to quench the lamps and turned the sloop around, beaching it on a bank not far from town. The pair snuck into town to survey the damage and assess what they could do.
Upon entering the town, they were set upon by three pirates. The pirates underestimated Bryn’s strength and Elizabeth’s guile and were quickly dispatched. Elizabeth ordered Bryn to find other villagers to organize a counterattack while she liberated a saber and pistol from the bodies. As soon as Bryn was out of earshot, a strange blue elf approached Elizabeth – his rapier drawn at the ready.
“Where did you come from?” he demanded.
Elizabeth could see that the elf was a trained fighter and she would be no match for him. She felt foolish for getting caught! She wondered though – why hadn’t this stranger attacked when he had the element of surprise? She decided that, since he seemed to be honorable, she should at least be honest. “My boat is beached just to the south – we turned aside when we saw the smoke.”
“Then it is fortunate that my captain ordered me to kill everyone in town.” He replied in an emotionless tone.
“But,” Elizabeth paused, “I am in town.”
“You were not when my captain gave the order.”
“You don’t seem to be a pirate.”
“I am as long as my captain is.”
Elizabeth raised her pistol, “I believe I can see to that.”
By daybreak, Elizabeth found herself aboard the deck of the pirate ship with Bryn at her back and the pirate captain laid out before her. A thin stream of smoke wafted from the muzzle of her pistol as she looked about the ship and finally took in the events of the evening. Bryn smiled broadly, “So… we get to keep the ship, right Captain?”
Elizabeth sighed, as she looked up to her tall friend, “We can’t possibly sail a ship this big.”
“I can teach you.” The blue elf was walking up the gangplank, a wry smile on his lips. “The Crimson Drake is yours, Captain Whitehawk.”
After the Day of Red Fire that burned the surface of Greyport and forced the Mage’s Collegium to erect a stasis field (see Zot’s story here) many of the inhabitants of the city turned to life underground. Greyport was an ancient city first established by the dwarven kings of old. That meant there were miles and miles of tunnels, mines, catacombs, and sewers running throughout the rocky peninsula. Many of these deep, dark places had gone unused for centuries, but now became home for many of the displaced citizens of Greyport. Regular dragon attacks and a deep, unexplored depth ensured that the only safe place to live was just beneath the streets. Over the decades, the Undercity of Greyport came into its own. A thriving black market, a den of thieves, a place where every wicked diversion could be experienced and any foul thing could be bought or sold … but for most who lived there, it was home and it was all they ever knew…
Fiona was raised on stories of adventure. Her parents were professional scavengers, themselves born in the Undercity of Greyport. They were at home in the endless tunnels, and they carved out a reasonable, respectable life for themselves. Each day they would venture out, leaving Fiona safely in their hidden home they had found deep in the Undercity. Fiona was instructed to stay home and stay quiet while they were gone. When they came home with food and trinkets they would tell Fiona stories about explorers who would delve deep into dungeons in pursuit of treasure, just like they did. They laughed and loved, so Fiona’s first years were filled with excitement and joy.
Fiona’s parents weren’t naive. They cautioned Fiona against the strangers who lived in the Undercity. Reminded her that she could really only trust her family, and that bad people were all around. That the Undercity was dangerous, and that going out on her own meant she might never come back home. But they promised to keep her safe and that they would never let anything bad happen to her. One evening, however, it was Fiona’s parents who did not come back. As the days went by, the food ran short, and her new reality sunk in. The young girl was forced to leave her home for the sewers and tunnels… to fend for herself in the dark of the Undercity.
Fiona survived, barely. Living off scraps of food, sneaking around and staying out of sight as best she could. She wasn’t nimble or quick enough to steal fresh food or new clothes, but she was small and quiet, and went by unnoticed as she scavenged for whatever she could eat. She had enough sense to stay away from other people, having been taught that adults were untrustworthy, and the other children were no better. She travelled the tunnels, never staying rooted, constantly exploring and scraping by. With a bit of luck, Fiona lived like this for months.
There was no orphanage in the Undercity, and even if she had known of the Great Temple’s orphanage on the surface, she would never have thought to venture out of the perceived safety of the Undercity, with its shadows to hide in and endless tunnels to escape through.
By chance Fiona discovered a curious little kid one day. He was about her size, but appeared to be older, like one of the mean kids that bossed around the other urchins. But he snuck around on his own like she did, and his quick little fingers seemed to get him whatever he wanted. She had never seen anyone so talented at picking pockets or snatching things off of carts. He climbed walls and picked locks and snuck into places he shouldn’t go, and he was smiling constantly. He seemed thrilled by the danger of the Undercity, even though he lived on the surface. Fiona thought about following him out of the Undercity, but was too afraid of what she might find on the outside. So instead, she would wait near the thieves’ secluded tunnel entrance, and then spend her day following the peculiar little boy on his exploits.
Eventually, the kid found out that Fiona was following him, but he didn’t seem to mind. He started bringing her food from the surface. She never approached him for it, but each time he headed back home, he left behind a small sack of bread, cheese, or meats. The free meal gave her all the more reason to keep up with him, and over time she followed him more and more closely.
It wasn’t until she had helped him escape a sewer gang that she properly met Gerki (see Gerki’s story here). She found out that he was a halfling, and that was why he appeared so adult for such a small kid. As their friendship grew, he attempted to take her up to the surface with him and back to the orphanage, but the outside world was big and unfamiliar to her. Even though the Undercity was not kind, it was home – close, tight, and predictable. Gerki’s visits to the Undercity grew more frequent as the two of them started working together. Now that Fiona trusted him she showed him the place she had grown up in. It made for a suitable hideout in the tunnels. With a safe place to stay, Gerki ran away from the orphanage for good.
They were a surprisingly good match. Gerki was more than capable of getting them whatever they needed (within reason, of course) and Fiona knew a surprising amount about the Undercity. She showed Gerki the unused tunnels where they could scavenge for relics from the past. In turn, Gerki told her about the world above. When he learned that she loved tales about heroes and adventure, he started weaving stories based on their daily scavenging, searching and theft. It had been a long time since she had heard tales like these, and she was enthralled by the exploits of Gerki the Sneak and his friend, the brave swordswoman Fiona.
As the two grew up, Gerki became a more accomplished thief, sticking to what he knew, with ambitions for joining the thieves’ guild. Fiona, on the other hand, changed a lot as she matured. She bloomed early, and fast, her confidence and skill finally matching her instinct for survival. Fiona developed a good eye for functional equipment – durable gear that required minimal maintenance. She also started taking care of problems head-on, including those that Gerki had traditionally encouraged them to just run away from. Fiona eventually overcame her fear of the surface, but she and Gerki still called the Undercity home. Gerki taught Fiona how to read, and she consumed stories of adventurers, warriors and barbarian queens, and manuals of weapons and fighting styles. Her tenacity grew. She knew what she was going to become.
As the years went by it became obvious that she intended to become an adventurer. She loved exploring the tunnels of the Undercity. Fiona collected gear when she could, to better prepare herself for a life of heroics. She begged Gerki to help train her in swordplay – something he had to teach himself just to keep up! The halfling constantly told her that it was safer to dodge a confrontation, and that the typical heroic stuff just ended up getting you killed. She would hear none of it, insisting that his brains and skill with her brawn and instinct were a perfect match. Besides, exploring the tunnels of the Undercity was almost like being a true adventurer anyway!
There was nothing to do, so Gerki relented. He agreed to go on just one adventure with Fiona, a nice, safe one. That’s when they finally returned to the surface, and found themselves at a table one night with an Elven priestess and a black-clad wizard with his white bunny familiar.
After the Temple of Greyport was reestablished, one of the many tasks it took on was taking care of the city’s many orphans. The dragon attacks were a thing of the past, but the three decades of relative peace had only emboldened the criminal element of the Undercity. Many children were still being abandoned, or were the victims of other cruelties. The temple saw to it that these misplaced youths were taken care of, and were welcoming of any child who wanted to come off the streets.
Since before Gerki could remember, he had always been a ward of the Temple. He did not know who his family was and was nameless until he was old enough to pick one out for himself. However, the Temple orphanage had been good to him, and he was not a sad youth.
Nothing excited Gerki more than acquiring hard-to-get things, especially if they belonged to someone else. As soon as he could walk, he was grabbing at things with his little fingers. He would raid the pantry for sweets and treats during the night. “Borrow” toys from bigger kids when they weren’t looking. He was caught repeatedly and punished for the mischief he caused. But each punishment was a learning experience for the clever little halfling. He figured out ways to avoid getting caught. He learned patience and came up with plans that would leave no evidence. By the time Gerki was seven, his wardens were certain he had changed his ways, and that one of the bigger, meaner kids was behind all the raids in the larder.
By then, Gerki had also learned the value of coin. Gold and silver was easy to collect for an enterprising lad like himself, and they bought things he thought were too dangerous to steal. The problem with his newfound appreciation for wealth, though, was that the Temple didn’t have much of it lying around. Yes, it was an architectural and artistic masterpiece, but anything of real value had been looted decades ago, or was so heavily protected by divine magic that he knew he shouldn’t bother with it. So Gerki decided it was time to start making arrangements for leaving the orphanage.
From the time Gerki was seven and until he was ten, he regularly slipped out of the orphanage to explore the city. His first challenge was getting out of the Temple to begin with. He taught himself how to pick locks to get out of the orphanage gates, a skill he continued practicing out on his adventures. He watched the other kids, the ones who lived on the streets, and he learned how to pick pockets and cut purses from them. His agile fingers snatched gold faster than the street kids had ever seen, and he made friends with them. Traveling the streets taught him a lot about the world, about who to avoid, who to take advantage of, and where to go hiding when things got heavy.
Over time, Gerki’s talents drew him to the Undercity of Greyport. He had been tantalized by stories of lost treasures, hidden vaults, and a thriving thieves’ guild. As he explored below the surface, Gerki found a dirty, dark, and dangerous place… but it was massive! The activity on the surface was nothing compared to the Undercity, which had flourished for decades while the people of Greyport were too afraid to return to the surface during the reign of the dragon. Fortunately, Gerki was cautious enough to keep himself out of trouble, and found that life in the Undercity was perfect for his talents. It didn’t take long for him to decide that he wanted to live down there.
Gerki, of course, wasn’t too hasty. Life below the surface of Greyport was frightening for most children, so he spent years exploring, preparing, and searching for a suitable hideout first. He went about his business, stealing what valuables he could find to gather up a fair bit of coin and some new equipment. He took to carrying daggers to ward off the occasional rat when he couldn’t just sneak past or run off. He was getting rich, and he was learning a lot, and for a surprisingly long time he had no idea he was being followed every day he went below the surface.
The halfling didn’t know how long she had been trailing him – days, weeks, months? But as soon as he spotted her, he noticed her every time he went underground. She was a human girl, mousy, probably four or five years old at the most. She was quiet, careful and rail-thin. She never interrupted his business, and seemed more invisible down there than even he was, so he tried to pay her no mind. But day-in and day-out, this starving human girl found him and followed him from the moment he snuck down into the Undercity until he left for the surface and the orphanage. Gerki wasn’t exactly sure why he started to, but as the weeks went on, he began bringing down extra food and leaving it behind for her. And every day that he left something behind, she followed just a bit closer than before.
Months passed like this before Gerki finally met the girl. He had been caught, and a pair of thugs were chasing after him down the alleys of the Undercity. In the chase, the halfling had lost track of the girl who followed him. He had made the mistake of escaping to an unfamiliar section of the Undercity, and had lost himself in the process of trying to lose his captors. They were hot on his tail until he spotted the girl motioning to him down a dead-end alley. She was propping up a flagstone tile. He didn’t bother thinking and dove down below. The tile was dropped back down behind him, but the girl didn’t follow him, and Gerki found himself in a tight crawl space beneath the streets. He heard his pursuers running into the alley, cursing and fighting amongst themselves about where he had run off to.
The next day, when Gerki returned to the Undercity again, he saw the redheaded girl waiting for him in her usual spot, but this time Gerki didn’t go about his normal business. She didn’t run off when he approached her, and when the halfling was close enough, he tossed her a small sack of gold. “Here. Half the take from yesterday’s job. I reckon you saved my life, and you deserve a bit of the reward.” She just looked over to him, a few yards off, the gold just sitting on the floor between them. “I also brought you more food.” He tossed her a knapsack, brimming with rolls, cheese, and dried meats. This time she responded, smiling wide and snatching up the leather bag of provisions. After that, they were thick as thieves.
Gerki learned that her name was Fiona, and that she lived alone in the Undercity, another orphan. He tried to take her to the surface, so she could be properly cared for by the Temple, but although she stuck to him like glue in the Undercity, especially now that he was talking to her, she refused to go above ground. She didn’t say too much herself… it was obvious she hadn’t interacted with another person in a very long time. He passed the time telling stories about the surface. She seemed to take a liking to the legends of heroes and adventurers that he had learned at Temple. To keep himself from getting bored, he started making up his own stories, ones about himself, Gerki the Sneak and his new friend Fiona. In his stories, Fiona was courageous and confident. She got the two of them into trouble all the time, but through luck or instinct frequently got them both out of it again.
As the years went by, the two of them explored the catacombs, sewers, and mines that stretched out around and beneath the Undercity. They had to be careful; there were dangers all about. Some days they got in over their head and would need to scamper back to more traveled tunnels or hide for hours until the trouble had moved on. However, they were always safe and home by evening and Gerki would weave the days’ exploration into a tale of adventure. Gerki had become a talented young thief, and seldom returned to the surface. Fiona, on the other hand had grown into the adventurer that Gerki told stories about. It had become clear that she was determined to become a true adventurer. Whenever she wasn’t helping Gerki with a job, she was leading them deeper into the tunnels of the Undercity.
They were a perfect match for one another: Gerki had the brains and skill while Fiona had the instinct and prowess. When things went south on a job, she had a knack for getting the two of them out of trouble. Rarely did Gerki resort to violence, relying instead on escape plans and talking his way out. Fiona, on the other hand, just skipped straight to the brawling solution. After years of exploring had gone by, the two of them realized that they weren’t street urchins anymore. They had become adventurers.