Over the Memorial Day Weekend Jeff and Sam from SlugFest Games attended one of our favorite local cons in the Bay Area: Kublacon. Aldo, our fulfillment guy from Impressions, was in the dealer’s hall selling our games, and a number of SlugCrew members were out running games of The Red Dragon Inn. Jeff and Sam both had proof copies of Brother Bastian, Ozrik the Adept, and Wrench on hand for pickup games. Everyone was stoked to thumb through the decks and see how they worked, and were thrilled when we visited. We always had free stuff to hand out!
The crown jewel of the weekend for SlugFest Games was the awesome RDI Tournament run by SlugCrew member Scott Boor. We had 41 sign ups for a 20 player event at the con, and were excited to see all the returning players from years past as well as brand new players. Everyone was assigned a drafting position to pick their character and the games began!
The tournament structure was pretty straightforward. There would be two rounds of grinders where players would be randomly assigned three opponents. The 5 characters who performed the best out their two match-ups (based off of their final stats when the game ended) were moved up to a finals table to win some awesome prizes.
But before we launched into the finals, we had three bonus prizes to award! Each player earning a bonus prize took home a promo pack of drinks left over from the Kickstarter campaign as well as a fist full of Kubla Bucks that they could redeem at the convention’s prize vault. Throughout the tournament we kept track of some of the most awesome interactions, as well as drink totals, gambling pots, and player kills. So, without further ado, the winners of our Achievement Prizes:
- The Gambler: The character who won the single largest pot of Gold in a round of Gambling was (no surprises) Fleck the Bard! He was able to swindle 16 gold from his opponents in a single take, and was able to snatch the last of Zot’s gold before he was beaten into submission.
- The Headhunter: Appropriately, the prize for the most eliminations due to character action went to Witchdoctor Natyli. She was able to land the killing blow on 3 of her 6 opponents!
- The Drunkard: The drunkard award was split between Gerki the Sneak and
Dimli the Dwarf, each of whom consumed a 7 Alcohol Content drink! Correction: The drunkar award was split between Gerki the Sneak and First Mate Remy.
After the second round we totaled up the standings and compared each of the characters against one another. We focused on the difference between Fortitude and Alcohol Content, Gold in their stashes, and when the player was eliminated in their given match up. After the number crunching, the standings after the first two rounds were:
- Serena the Pious
- Captain Whitehawk
- Brewmaster Phrenk
- Dimli the Dwarf
- Wizgille the Tinkerer
- Fleck the Bard
- Witchdoctor Natyli
- Fiona the Volatile
- Gerki the Sneak
- Cormac the Mighty
- Tara the Navigator
- First Mate Remy
- Zot the Wizard (and Pooky)
- Deirdre the Priestess
- Erin the Ever-Changing
- Bryn the Boatswain
- Gog the Half-Ogre
- Eve the Illusionist
- Kaylin the Renegade (and Wulfric)
Pooky was clearly in a foul mood.
The finals table saw a party of characters that would make any Lich King tremble with fear: the resilient Dimli the Dwarf, flexible Brewmaster Phrenk, resolute Serena the Pious, commanding Captain Whitehawk, and crafty Wizgille the Tinkerer. When the dust settled after a wild night of gadgets and potions, axes and sabers, and general mayhem Phrenk was left alone. The final standings for the tournament:
- Brewmaster Phrenk – Jared Osburn
- Dimli the Dwarf – Jordon Reynolds
- Serena the Pious – Darin Leviloff
- Wizgille the Tinkerer – Shiva Oswal
- Captain Whitehawk – Nick Okerman
The tournament was a blast, and we hope to see more like it in the future. If you are an uber-fan and would love to run events like this, sign up for SlugCrew and introduce yourself! We love supporting gaming groups and look forward to spreading the fun to game stores and conventions near you!
SlugFest games is proud to announce our second Red Dragon Inn: Allies character for 2014: Brother Bastian.
Brother Bastian is a priest of Korash, the same god the orc paladin Serena worships. Korash approves of his followers making sacrifices for the greater good. Just like how Serena must sacrifice Gold and Fortitude to stay on the righteous path when she starts getting a little too orcish, Bastian makes his own sacrifices. Many of Bastian’s cards have dual effects: a more powerful effect typical of characters at the Inn, and a weaker effect that will earn him Prayer Tokens.
At the start of the game, Brother Bastian is given three random Prayer Cards. These Prayer cards are extra Action, Sometimes, and Anytime cards that can have a huge impact on the game. Some of them heal Bastian, others let him exercise his zealous fervor on ne’er-do-wells, and still others will have even stranger effects. However, each Prayer Card costs a certain number of Prayer Tokens to play, so Bastian will need to carefully manage how he plays so he can maximize their usefulness.
The best part about playing Brother Bastian is that the three Prayer Cards you are dealt at the start of the game are kept secret until you use them! This makes Brother Bastian one of the trickiest characters to play against. You may be attacking him on Fortitude all game, only to find out that he had been stockpiling Prayer Tokens for his Prayer of Restoration this whole time! We can’t wait to show Bastian off. You can expect to see him on our demo tables at Gen Con.
For more information, and to find Bastian’s rules, check out his product page.
We are pleased to announce that the SlugCrew Major Reward for 2014 has gone to his limited print run! If you have already qualified for your Major Reward this year, you can expect to find this timid little fellow showing up in your mailbox this month! And if you haven’t earned him yet, keep reporting! This little kobold is a blast to play and is our most ambitious character yet!
SlugFest Games is proud to announce the first of our Red Dragon Inn: Allies for 2014: Ozrik the Adept!
Ozrik is a powerful elementalist with the ability to burn cards from his hand to bolster the effects of cards which he is playing. Don’t need that Gambling card or Ignore Drink? Burn them on your Action to really beef up your attack! The tricky thing, however, is that Ozrik can’t just burn any cards he wants. He’ll need to discard color-matched sets for bonus he wants to get.
To help him manage his hand, Ozrik also introduces a heavy reliance on a mechanic that has been fairly rare in Red Dragon Inn: Card Draw. Many of Ozrik’s abilities allow him to draw additional cards so he can try to tailor his hand to the combos in his deck.
All of this power comes at a dire price though! Ozrik is absolutely terrible at gambling. He has, in total, five Gambling cards in his deck! So if players decide to throw down across multiple games of chance, you’ll see Ozrik scrambling to conjure up as much emergency gold as he can muster!
Ozrik was our first character released early to our demo team through the SlugCrew program, and they can tell you he’s a lot of fun to play. Like all of our Allies Ozrik is an advanced deck that provides you with a brand new mechanic that seriously changes how you have to approach playing The Red Dragon Inn. You can find out more information, and find Ozrik’s rules on his product page.
Greetings SlugCrew (and SlugFans interested in joining SlugCrew)!
It’s about time we had an announcement about the new SlugCrew rewards for 2014!
The response to the rewards program was great in 2013. People ran more demos of our games than ever before, and we feel that it made a real impact on exposure and sales of our products. So thank you! Let’s do that again!
For those of you who are new to the SlugCrew Rewards Program, here’s the short version. If you sign up for SlugCrew and log your store and convention demos on our website, you will earn SlugCrew Points (typically 5 points per hour of work). When you earn 30 SlugCrew Points, you earn the current Minor Reward, and when you get to 150 SlugCrew Points, you earn the current Major Reward.
For 2014 we decided to do similar rewards to the ones we did in 2013. This year’s Minor Reward will be 3 new Drink Cards for The Red Dragon Inn. Here’s one of the new ones:
These new character-themed drinks continue the idea we started with Witchdoctor Brew and Chieftain’s Ice Beer. Expect to see more such drinks over the next couple of years!
Also, as an added bonus while supplies last: we have some of the 2013 SlugCrew Drinks left (the alternate versions of Gambler’s Grog, Monster Attack and Barroom Brawl). If you earn the 2014 drinks and we have the 2013 drinks left, we’ll throw them in!
We expect the new promo drinks to ship sometime in March.
This year’s Major Reward will be another RDI Ally: his name is Wrench, and he is a Kobold Artificer. Yep, you read that right. Kobold Artificer. Wrench’s actual name is, of course, unpronounceable by humans and most other races, so The Party gave him a nickname that stuck.
So, how did Wrench meet The Party? Well, he was always interested in gadgets and engineering. Although there is evidence that that was common among kobolds thousands of years ago, it is quite rare now. Wrench, however, has spent his life studying the work of non-kobold beings, poring over their manuals and periodicals whenever he could. His research led him to the illustrious works of Wizgille, and he decided that he had to meet her and see more of her work. Wrench needed a bit of persistence to accomplish this; Wizgille doesn’t love fanboys, after all. But eventually he impressed Wizgille and the others enough that he started getting invited along on certain adventures, where his gadgets have proven useful.
His deck is one of the most fun decks we’ve designed in a while. Most of Wrench’s Action Cards are gizmos that he lays out on the table. You can end up with quite the array of contraptions, each of which gives useful effects. But his gizmos are also fragile and don’t last very long–and they can be attacked as though they were players! He’s interesting to play, and interesting to play against, and we think you’ll really like him.
We expect Wrench to ship around early May.
What if I already have SlugCrew Points?
For those of you who already have some SlugCrew Points under your belt, here’s how point accrual will work. For earning 2014 rewards, we will simply count the points you’ve earned since your last reward. So that means some of you have already earned your Minor Reward for 2014!
So, TL;DR: new promo drinks, new SlugCrew Ally, get out there and run some demos!
If you have any questions or comments, contact us. Thanks, everyone!
“If you leave here, do not return…”
Kaylin heard her father’s voice echoing through her head and began to cry.
In the week since she had left The Grove, she had had numerous lessons in exactly how indifferent the big world could be to a little pixie.
Then the rains started, and things went from bad to worse. Now she was slumped down in the dirt, sheltering under a large toadstool while she waited out the storm, alone with her thoughts…
It’s well known among the few outsiders who have interacted with pixies and their culture that a pixie’s hair color is determined by their birthday. For example, spring pixies have green hair, summer pixies are bright blond, fall pixies are redheads, and winter pixies’ hair is purple or dark blue. It is also believed that a pixie’s temperament is determined similarly. Spring pixies tend to be bright and joyous, summer pixies are enthusiastic and excitable, autumn pixies are calm and peaceful, and winter pixies are cerebral and introspective.
An interesting point must be made here. Since pixies value happiness and community above all else, they would generally plan to have their children in the spring or early summer. Over the centuries, winter births became rare, and then finally unheard of. The practice became tradition, and no one bothered to question it.
Not all births can be meticulously planned, however. Kaylin’s parents had married in the spring. With all the babies being born, and with both of them being of a summery temperament (blond hair, enthusiastically cheerful, occasionally flighty), they threw caution to the wind. Tradition was forgotten. What’s the worst that could happen…? they thought. And so Kaylin ended up with that most inauspicious of birthdates, the winter solstice.
Kaylin started life as an outsider. Her blue-black hair drew amazed stares from other pixies, even as an infant. Her parents became concerned when Kaylin began displaying some rather un-pixie-like tendencies, such as preferring to play by herself and asking about the world beyond of The Grove. The more her parents tried to mold her in the “normal” pixie image, the more Kaylin rebelled.
By adolescence, Kaylin had developed a reputation throughout The Grove as being odd and sullen (at least, by pixie standards). She spent most of her time reading old books to study pixie magic and learn what little she could about the larger world beyond the borders of The Grove. Kaylin’s parents worried for their reserved, bookish daughter and just wanted her to be happy. So they truly believed that they were doing Kaylin a favor when they arranged for her to be married to the youngest son of a nice, normal family.
“You did what??!?!”
“But Kaylin,” her mother said. “Ciaran is a fine boy who will make a good husband.”
Kaylin tried unsuccessfully to calm herself down. “I have no problems with Ciaran, but that’s not the point! I don’t want to get married, and I certainly don’t want a marriage arranged by my parents to get their oddball daughter to fall in line!”
“Kaylin, why don’t you want to be happy?” her mother said in a caring, but rather condescending tone. “Please, trust us. You’ll be happier being part of The Grove rather than an outsider. We just want what’s best for you, and this is the first step.”
“So there are more things in my life that you’ll be planning out for me? No thank you!” Kaylin stormed into her room and slammed the door. As she overheard her mother crying and her father talking in muted tones trying to comfort her, she knew what she had to do. She loved her parents and did not want to hurt them, but they simply did not understand her! She packed a satchel of essentials and waited until nightfall.
That night, as she approached the front door, she heard her father’s voice from the shadows in the sitting room. “Kaylin, why do you need to be so different?” he said.
“I don’t know… but can’t you see that I just am?”
“Things could be good here. You could be happy.”
Kaylin did not turn away from the front door. “Oh, but I am,” she said calmly. “That’s what you don’t… what I’m afraid you can’t understand. You and mother proved that for me today and now I know that there’s no life for me here anymore.”
“And where will you go? Have you forgotten how much bigger the world beyond is than we are?”
“I’m not helpless, father. If you realized that, you wouldn’t be trying to ‘fix’ me.”
“Ungrateful child!” he snapped. “Go then… but if you leave here, do not return!”
Kaylin was taken aback by her father’s tone. She had never heard him raise his voice nor utter an unkind word, and the fact that he did so now frightened Kaylin. But worse, she felt guilt that she was the cause. She knew with absolute certainty that if she stayed there was no way for things to get better… in fact, they would definitely get worse. This strengthened her resolve. It was not fair… A tear rolled down Kaylin’s cheek as she stepped outside and closed the door behind her.
Now she was in the forest, in the rain, convinced that she had made a terrible mistake. Surviving in the larger world was turning out to be much harder than she had anticipated. She had had trouble scrounging for food, she had no one to talk to, and she had even had to fend off an attack from a crow looking for an afternoon snack. The rain made flying difficult, so she sat beneath the toadstool and replayed the interaction with her father in her head for what seemed like the millionth time. The rain was starting to let up, but she was still hungry, cold, and alone. She hugged her knees to her chest and pondered her options… none of which seemed all that good.
A snuffling noise nearby shook her out of her melancholy and set her on edge. Although Kaylin knew enough magic to defend herself, her wet wings meant that her mobility would be limited.
A large gray snout sniffed closer to her hiding place. Kaylin noticed that the snout was attached to a rugged-looking wolf. Upon noticing Kaylin, the wolf looked at her curiously, as though he had never seen a pixie before (which seemed quite likely to Kaylin).
“Uh, hi there,” said Kaylin to the wolf, who responded by wagging his tail. “Looks like you got separated from your group. I can relate,” she said. It felt good to have someone to talk to, even if it was an animal.
She noticed a scar on the wolf’s ear. “You’re probably pretty good in a fight, huh? That could come in handy. Wanna travel with me for a while?”
The wolf settled down next to Kaylin. He did not smell too bad. Kaylin suddenly felt a little less alone and considerably warmer.
The animal showed no signs of wanting to find its own kind as he traveled with Kaylin for the next several days. In the process, she decided to start calling him Wulfric, primarily because it sounded better than “hey wolf”. Kaylin told Wulfric the story of how she came to be out in the big world. Wulfric listened politely, enjoying the attention from his new friend, but giving no indication that he understood anything that she was saying.
A few days after they had met, they came to the outskirts of a small human town. Kaylin’s first instinct was to flee and hide in the forest, but she knew that if she were to live outside of The Grove, she would need to start interacting with the “larger folk,” as they were referred to by pixies. Kaylin paused as she considered how to go about making some new friends, or at least some helpful acquaintances.
Wulfric suddenly began sniffing the air and panting excitedly. He trotted off toward the town. Kaylin followed at a safe distance, trying to stay out of sight. She was pretty sure that few humans had ever seen a pixie, so she also knew that they would likely respond to such an encounter with fear–or worse.
Wulfric stopped outside of a house with delicious smells emanating from it. He barked a few times in an attempt to get the attention of whoever was inside. An old lady opened the door and showed some generosity by offering Wulfric a tray of water and some scraps of meat. Kaylin decided that the old lady’s display of kindness meant that this would be as good a person as any to reveal herself to. She slowly flew forward toward Wulfric while he happily munched on his scraps.
The old lady saw Kaylin, cried out in fear, ran back inside and slammed the door. A few moments later, a tall young man emerged from the house across the road. “Gran? Gran, are you all right?” he called breathlessly. He saw Kaylin and froze. He started shaking. “Ah…ah…are you a pixie?” he asked Kaylin.
“Um, yes,” she said. She was pretty nervous about the whole situation herself, but concealed it as well as she could. Wulfric looked at the young man for a few moments, decided that he was not a threat, and went back to his scraps.
“Aren’t you going to put me to sleep?” asked the young man, terrified.
“What?” she asked with genuine confusion.
“They say that if you ever gaze upon a pixie, it will put you to sleep for a hundred years!”
“Who says that?”
“Really…” Kaylin said pensively. She briefly considered threatening the man with exactly the spell he feared in order to get some food and some information. She quickly decided, though, that it would be wrong to take advantage of the situation in that way. She did some quick thinking and decided on a different approach. “I’m not planning to put anyone to sleep – I mean I could, but… um… no, I am looking to earn some food for myself and my friend here.”
“Earn?” asked the man. “What kind of work could someone as small as you do?”
Kaylin raised an eyebrow and smirked at the man. She shot a small fireball into the air that exploded with a satisfying foom. As he recoiled in terror, she said “I dabble in magic.”
The young man nervously informed Kaylin that the common food storage barn on the outskirts of town was “haunted”, and that a reward was offered to anyone who could solve the problem. Kaylin decided to investigate, Wulfric in tow.
When they arrived at the building, a little surreptitious sleuthing by Kaylin confirmed what she suspected–there was nothing haunted about this barn. It had simply become home to a small group of opportunistic goblins. Kaylin noticed the makeshift “camp” they had set up near the back door, complete with fire pit, sleeping blankets, and totems representing the various deities and superstitions that this particular group of goblins adhered to. She counted four goblins seated near the fire and decided that clearing them out would be a simple matter.
She retrieved Wulfric from his hiding spot and they waited out of sight just inside the entrance to the building. Kaylin decided to try a little bit of deceptive magic first. She used a simple telekinesis spell to lift one of the totems and float it around the fire pit in full view of the goblins. All four jumped to their feet, and two ran out the back door and into the nearby forest.
“Well, that was easy, Wulfric,” Kaylin said. “Now it’s just two on two!”
That’s when nine more goblins jumped down from the rafters. Kaylin silently cursed her sloppy reconnaissance work and wondered if she had bitten off more than she could chew. She still was not sure whether Wulfric would stand his ground or run at the sight of danger.
The closest goblin gave an evil chuckle and came at Kaylin with a club. She cast a quick spell to set the goblin’s head on fire. His chuckle turned into a pained scream as he ran away from Kaylin and out the front door. Two more goblins came from the left but were tackled by Wulfric before they could get too close to Kaylin. One ran away as the other was eviscerated by Wulfric’s claws.
When the goblins saw their friend being torn apart, they became much more cautious. This bought Kaylin some time to work a sleep spell. That took down two more. Wulfric was staying close by in an attempt to protect her, but by this point, the goblins had them pretty well cornered. Wulfric continued to snap at any goblin that attempted to approach them, but one of them managed to nick him with a spear, drawing blood. Wulfric fell back a bit but continued to growl menacingly.
Kaylin knew that they had to try to break the standoff, so she started focusing herself for one decisive attack. She floated just above Wulfric’s head and said “Okay Wulfric, get ready to pounce! One, two, three!” She let loose a forceful blast in all directions that knocked the remaining goblins off their feet. Wulfric took full advantage of the situation, leaping forward in a tornado of teeth and claws. His first target took a slash to the face before he even realized he had been knocked down. The second was disemboweled in a similar manner. As Wulfric snapped the neck of a third with his powerful jaws, the remaining goblins leapt to their feet and fled for their lives.
“Good boy, Wulfric!” Kaylin exclaimed breathlessly.
The pair received a meal and a pouch with some coins for their trouble from the grateful townsfolk. Kaylin tied the pouch around Wulfric’s neck. Several brave folks were on hand to see the non-sleep-inducing pixie that they had heard was in town. One, a young boy, looked up in awe at the pixie and asked “are you an adventurer?”
Kaylin started to say “no,” but then stopped herself. She had read about adventurers in books back in The Grove. “You know, Wulfric, I bet we’d make a pretty good adventuring team,” she said.
One of the other townsfolk overheard her and said “well, some adventurers came through here a few years back. Seemed like good folks. They really helped us out back then, just like you did today. Said they were based out’a Greyport. What was that wizard’s name?”
The young boy shouted out “Zot!” and then started running around pointing at things and saying “Zot!” over and over again.
“Yeah, that was it. If I remember correctly, he said if we ever needed help, we should leave word for him at The Red Dragon Inn in Greyport.”
Kaylin had never heard of Greyport or The Red Dragon Inn, but their success against the goblins had filled her with a new sense of confidence and curiosity about the world outside The Grove.
“What do you say, Wulfric? Wanna go to Greyport?”
Long ago, centuries before Dimli was born, the Bastion of Dwarvenhold and its sister city of Greyport were lost in a single blow struck by an ancient black dragon. The Five Clans of Dwarvenhold were scattered, and became refugees seeking the aid from clans and cousins across the land.
Each of the five clans of Dwarvenhold had a task. One clan grew crops, brewed spirits, prepared feasts, and saw to the health of the dwarves of Dwarvenhold. The second mined the earth and were the architects of wondrous structures both within and upon the mountains and cliffs. The third were artisans, skilled in their trades, who brought the city wealth and culture. They worked the ores and precious stones that were excavated from the depths and the fine woods harvested from the lowlands. The fourth clan was the clan of the king, peacekeepers within the bastion’s gates; among them were the priesthood. They were the fair and just mediators for the clans. The fifth clan, Dimli’s ancestors, were the guardians. They had the honor and the responsibility of safeguarding the bastion from enemies beyond their walls.
Dimli’s great-grandfather, Growlin, was master of the watch when the ancient wyrm reared its twisted and desiccated head. Before that invasion, the walls of Dwarvenhold had stood for centuries. In all that time, no foe, mundane or mythic had ever pierced the defenses of the five clans. Growlin’s defeat at the claws of that great dragon cast a black mark on his clan-name. Such failures are not soon forgotten among the dwarves. Even so, it may have been possible for the Guardians to one day restore the honor of their clan.
Betrayal, however, is irredeemable.
It was rumored that Growlin himself must have been in league with the enemy, for it was believed that no foe, not even a dragon, could take Dwarvenhold by force! Because of this, Growlin’s name became a curse among the other four clans, and the dwarves who admitted to being kin of Growlin were outcast. Most dwarves swore that the clan of the Guardians would bear the shame of betrayal until the end of days. Under this cloud of disapproval, many of Growlin’s clansmen forsook their clan-name and lineage, and were scattered across the land. It was better to be clanless than clan-shamed.
Dimli’s parents did not.
Dimli was raised in a small human village far away from Dwarvenhold. His grandfather, father, and mother were smiths, sharpening plows and shoeing horses for the farmers. They never asked for more than a fair price, and their craftsmanship was exceptional. The family of dwarves were appreciated for their trade and became welcome members of the community. They raised Dimli with the knowledge that hard work earns its own respect, and that he should feel no shame so long as he believed in what he did.
They also taught him pride, sharing stories of his ancestors, the great battles they fought, and the feats of valor and honor that the heroes of his clan had accomplished. Yet these were never stories about any individual dwarf standing against countless odds. Every king had the strength of arm given by his warriors and berserkers. Every dwarf had an axe forged by a smith. Every smith used steel dug from the mines. Every miner had his belly and mug filled by a farmer. And every farmer was protected by the king and his army. While Dimli’s ancestral kin were the edge of the axe against the enemies of Dwarvenhold, the Five Clans together were the weight behind the blow. Growlin’s jeweled helmet, the only artifact that the family had to remind them of the old times, to would sparkle in Dimli’s hands as he listened to great tales of bygone days..
Like his father and mother before him, Dimli did not forsake his clan-name, and in his travels he was sometimes forced to defend himself because of it. He was worse than a clanless dwarf, he was a clan-shamed dwarf. Others who held to dwarven customs would turn him away. He had no cousins or relations he could call upon for help, or trust in an emergency. He had only his aging family and his own tenacity to rely upon. Dimli learned how to fight his own battles, watch his surroundings with a critical eye and read his allies with caution. He was always prepared for the worst, and he often faced it.
His life on the road was not always a struggle. In his travels he met many honorable masters and tradesmen, some of whom would become his friends. Dimli apprenticed to brewers, farmers, smiths, and countless other professions. He would throw himself into work when he had it, and made sure he earned his keep. He knew there would be no handouts for clan-shamed dwarves, and would refuse on principle any riches which he did not feel he had earned. He traveled and worked for years, earning wages when he could, settling for food, shelter and experience where he couldn’t.
Eventually, Dimli’s travels brought him back to lands of this ancestors, to the foot of the mountains that had once burned with black dragon fire centuries ago, to the once-great city of Greyport. A new dragon had begun to terrorize the mountainside. Ancient and red, it had toppled the Temple of Greyport and sealed away the Mage’s Collegium decades ago, but as the crimson wyrm’s seasonal attacks had seemed to wane in recent years, a new order had been established in the city. Rogues, thieves, and more unsavory types had found the ruined city and its cavernous catacombs and sewers to their liking. The rabble of Greyport had all but forgotten about Dwarvenhold, and the countless adventurers who sought its wealth over the long years returned empty-handed, or not at all.
Dimli never believed that Growlin had betrayed his kin. He always dreamed that he would be the one to find Dwarvenhold and to find out what really happened there in the last days. He wanted to be the one to restore the honor of his clan. In truth, that was what he had been preparing for all his life.
Dimli spent all the coin he had been able to save on adventuring equipment. He encased himself in thick steel plate and armed himself with the finest axes he could afford. With the little bit of funds left, he acquired sturdy boots and strong rope. With Growlin’s helmet on his brow, he struck out into the mountains, searching for his homeland. He struck out alone, for who would accompany a clan-shamed dwarf on his mad quest to find Dwarvenhold? Besides, there was still that red dragon still rumored to live in the mountains.
Before he set off in search of Dwarvenhold, Dimli spent weeks trying to learn what he could about the once-well-traveled paths through the mountains that would lead him to the massive gates of Dwarvenhold… if they still stood at all after the centuries. Unfortunately, Dimli could find none who knew more than rumor.
Time and again, Dimli ventured into the mountains for weeks or months at a time. And time and again he returned to Greyport empty-handed. Years passed. Dimli persisted.
Those who knew of Dimli’s ventures into the mountains thought them to be a fool’s errand at best. Dimli was no fool. He knew that his quest was all but hopeless… somehow, though, he did not lose faith.
When the seasons turned cold, the dwarf would spend months in Greyport. When he was not researching history, he was earning what he could as a sell-axe and adventurer, or by fighting in the pits for the entertainment of others. He was not proud of this work, but it meant that once the ice thawed he could once again strike out into the mountains with renewed vigor and new equipment.
It was after one of his many failed, lonely quests into the mountains that Dimli found himself back in Greyport. A trio of brothers were on a quest to recover an artifact for the elves of the north, and had need of a capable warrior. Dimli decided to go see what exactly the job was about.
“Oh c’mon, Fiona, where’s the adventure in that?” asked Wizgille with a playful grin. Fiona just laughed and shook her head.
The Party was about a week’s journey south of Greyport, off to their next adventure. They were following up on a tip from a mysterious merchant they met at the Red Dragon Inn, who said that there were some old forgotten dwarven ruins in the area that had become a powerful nexus of dark occult forces. In other words, it was the type of thing that The Party couldn’t possibly ignore.
Dimli was acting as party lead on this particular adventure. Fiona and Eve were the combat support, along with Fleck, who also brought his usefully in-depth knowledge of history and lore. Erin was their healer, and Gerki and Wizgille provided the specialized skills that they all knew would come in handy while exploring dwarven ruins.
The rolling plains they were hiking through gradually showed more and more signs of civilization–gnomish civilization, to be precise. The houses they passed were fascinating combinations of art, science and controlled chaos. At first glance, they looked like rather run-down country cottages, but as The Party approached, they saw that even the most modest of the cottages had noticeable pipes, gears and other artifices running up and down, and in some cases through, the walls.
“Hey, Wizgille, didn’t you grow up near here?” asked Fleck.
Wizgille’s broad grin diminished almost imperceptibly. “Um, yeah,” she said. “In the town of Copperforge. It’s a little ways up ahead.”
“Oh, I’m quite interested to see where you grew up!” said Erin.
Wizgille started looking a bit uncomfortable. “Well, about that. There’s a road that will take us around the city rather than through it. It’ll save us half an hour, at least,” she said.
“Nonsense,” said Dimli. “Besides, it’s almost suppertime anyway, and gnomish ale…from the source? We can’t pass up this opportunity!”
“I must agree with our esteemed leader on that!” said Fleck cheerfully. Fiona and Gerki nodded enthusiastically, and even the often-dour Eve seemed intrigued by the possibility.
Wizgille looked non-plussed. “Fine,” she said. “It’s this way.”
As they rounded a bend in the road, they spotted a middle-aged gnomish man with two young children. When the gnomes noticed Wizgille, they suddenly looked awestruck. The two children started whispering excitedly to each other, and one pulled what looked like a well-worn periodical out of her shoulder satchel.
“I think you’re right, Liana,” said the man as The Party came into earshot. “Why don’t you introduce yourself?”
The girl froze.
“Well, if you don’t, I will,” said the boy. He confidently stepped out in front of Wizgille and asked “excuse me, but are you Wizgille the Tinkerer?”
Wizgille, turning decidedly red, managed a weak smile and said “yes, I am.”
“Wow! I’m Jona and this is my big sister Liana and when we grow up we want to be inventors just like you and can we have your autograph?”
The Party looked on amusedly as Liana slowly and nervously held out the periodical she was holding. It was entitled “Gnomish Inventors’ Quarterly” and there on the cover was a picture of Wizgille posing in front of her alcohol-to-gold transmutation device.
“Holy Fillkh, Wizgille, it’s you!” exclaimed Fiona.
“Watch your mouth, lass! There are children present!” barked Dimli. He turned to the blushing gnome and his tone softened considerably. “Still, that is pretty impressive, Wizgille.”
“Yeah, I guess so.” Wizgille handed the autographed periodical back to the girl who handled it as though she were a cleric handling the holiest of holy relics.
“Hey, we need to tell the others!” exclaimed Jona. Liana snapped out of her reverie and nodded vigorously. Both children ran ahead down the road.
“Wait!” called the children’s father. He quickly tipped his cap and said “thank you, Lady Wizgille,” then took off after them.
Several awkward moments passed, with The Party staring at Wizgille, dumbfounded. Wizgille looked at the ground for a while, then managed to timidly say “yeah, I get that a lot around here.”
About fifteen minutes later, The Party arrived at the outskirts of Copperforge. Nearly every gnome they passed smiled and waved. Several cheered loudly. When Fleck smiled and waved back, they ignored him, much to his chagrin.
As they approached the town square, they noticed that a sizable crowd had gathered. At the front of the crowd was a gnome who was somewhat more garishly dressed than the others. “Oh no,” lamented Wizgille quietly.
The gnome called out so he could be heard by everyone. “As the mayor of Copperforge, it is my proud privilege to welcome home one of our most illustrious daughters, Wizgille the Tinkerer!”
The crowd went crazy.
The Party stood and gaped as Wizgille was hoisted up onto the shoulders of some of the stronger gnomes, while others closed around her and led her off to the nearby town hall.
An elderly lady was one of the few gnomes left behind in the square. She smiled up at Fiona. “It must be a great honor to work with such an important inventor,” she said calmly.
“Um…yeah?” said Fiona, clearly confused.
Fleck was still a bit annoyed at not being the center of attention. “I don’t get it,” he said with genuine confusion. “What’s so special about Wizgille, anyway?”
The old lady looked aghast. “You mean you don’t know?” she asked incredulously. “Come with me and I’ll tell you all a little story.” She led them into a small tavern just off the square.
Wizgille had not been viewed as a particularly gifted student when she enrolled at Copperforge Inventors’ College, but she had two qualities that served her well in her studies there. First, she worked hard (and didn’t need much sleep), and second, she had an unflappable optimism that was almost impervious to failure. While other students were questioning themselves, wondering if they really had what it took to be an inventor, Wizgille simply took failure in stride, brushed herself off (often literally), and tried something different.
This particular personality trait meant that Arcane Invention was a natural fit for her. Arcane Invention, the art of blending engineering and magic, was not a particularly common subject for gnomish inventors to study, due to the high device failure rate and frequent dangers. Arcane inventors studied ways in which powerful magic crystals, talismans, and other artifacts could be used to supercharge inventions with abilities far beyond what they should, by all rights, have.
Like most gnomes, Wizgille did not have any magical aptitude herself, but that wasn’t a problem. From her teachers at the Inventors’ College, she learned how to detect magic and harness it to power inventions of all kinds. She also learned that arcane inventions frequently failed, sometimes catastrophically, and that any especially powerful invention could be considered a triumph even with a success rate as low as 10%. Her Omnisight Goggles earned top marks during her final exams, and her career took off from there.
Within a few years, Wizgille had become a prominent inventor–one who was known for taking on high-risk, high-reward projects. At the annual Inventors’ Guild conference only four years after her graduation, she introduced the world to her alcohol-to-gold transmutation device. Since very few arcane inventors had ever attempted anything so ambitious, her device was expected to be a mere curiosity with a vanishingly low success rate. But, like all devices displayed at the conference, it was subjected to rigorous public testing to see just how reliable it was.
The device’s success rate of 26.2% left the testing panel of the Inventors’ Guild dumbfounded. They had never seen such a wondrous device work so often–or at all, for that matter!
After that conference, Wizgille became a celebrity among gnomes, and even among inventors of other races. But the success soon took its toll. Wizgille found herself spending most of her time giving talks, attending conferences and parties, and making public appearances. Precious little of her time was spent building and testing interesting new devices. About three years after the success of her alcohol-to-gold transmutation device, she published an open letter in Gnomish Inventors’ Quarterly:
For several years now you have made me feel like the greatest inventor in the land. This has been both a blessing and a curse. I have learned a great deal, taught a bit, and acted as a role model to many. However, this has left me with little time to pursue my true passion: pushing the bounds of Arcane Invention.
It is with a heavy heart, but firm resolution, that I announce my immediate departure from Copperforge to embark on an adventuring career. I plan to use my talents to fight evil, help people, and subject my devices to the most demanding test–real-world, life-or-death situations.
I am eager to start on the next phase of my journey. I apologize if my decision disappoints or offends any of you, but I truly believe that it is only by using my inventions in real-world situations that I can make the best use of my skills.
“Since then,” said the old woman, “Wizgille has sent frequent reports back about the devices she has built and how she has used them while adventuring. Her work is highly regarded–each new article she writes is eagerly awaited by inventors everywhere!”
“Wait a second,” said Eve to the old woman. “You’re telling me that all a gnome has to do is invent something that works a quarter of the time and they’ll be famous?”
“No, that would be ridiculous,” she said. “Look around you. All the devices you see here in this tavern are gnomish inventions, and if they didn’t work reliably, this tavern would be out of business! But truly gifted arcane inventors don’t bother with mundane stuff like this. You must understand, Wizgille makes the impossible. The fact that her devices work at all is truly amazing.”
As The Party was finishing their food and drinks, Wizgille rushed into the tavern, causing a ruckus of cheering among the few gnomes who had chosen to be there rather than at the party at the town hall.
Wizgille looked shell-shocked and exhausted. “Let’s get back on the road,” she said simply.
The mayor’s party was still going on, and sounded like it would probably continue well into the night.
Fiona looked confused. “Don’t you want to stay for the party? I mean, you’re a hero to these people!”
Wizgille gave Fiona a faint, wistful smile. “That’s why I had to leave,” she said. “Using my devices to do great things is much more important than accolades or awards or parties.” She looked toward the tavern door. “I want to be out there adventuring, not resting on my laurels in Copperforge.”
Dimli nodded sagely. “I understand, Wizgille,” he said. “Come on, friends,” he called out. “It’s time to move on. We can get a few more miles in before it gets too dark.”
The Party headed out of town in silence. As the buildings began thinning out, they noticed one with a well-lit outbuilding. In it, young Liana was tinkering away on a workbench that was adorably small, even by gnomish standards. She looked up from her work as the party passed. This time, she didn’t hesitate. She ran out to the road to talk to Wizgille.
“Lady Wizgille, I’m sorry I didn’t thank you before,” she said. “I didn’t know what you’re supposed to say to such an important person. But now I know. Thank you for the autograph, thank you for all of your work, and thank you for just being great. I’ve always wanted to be an inventor like you, but now I’m even more sure of it. Thank you.”
Wizgille noticed that the copy of Gnomish Inventors’ Quarterly she had signed was already framed and hanging over Liana’s workbench.
“Why don’t you show me what you’re working on, Liana?” she asked. She smiled down at the girl and thought, well, being a hero isn’t all bad…