Posts Tagged ‘Ishtal’


Words to page – A note to Nydia

May 18, 2010

A note left in my companion Nydia’s pack after the fall of Tyrias and the stabilization of Areah.

My good lady Nydia,

I have long thought of the contents of this note, but have not had the time nor courage to write it.

I have of course noted the distance between us since the night of Raleigh’s reclaiming. I cannot say that this has been easy for me, nor I’m feeling for you. I need to try and explain things from my viewpoint, and hope that you can see fit to reconcile. Your friendship means the world to me. You were the first that I told about my true nature here in Ishtal, and that I hope is not lost on you.

I shall just begin with a basic truth. I am the Raven Queen’s hand on this material plane. You and I both know that this is not a matter of faith. The gods exist and are real. And my mistress has goals and plans that are mine to enact. I was raised to this, and ofttimes have direct knowledge of her wishes.

And as much as I hope this next fact does not cause you further distress, Raleigh knew this to be true as well. As a follower of the Dark Lady, she was well versed in the wants and needs of her goddess. She followed her fate to this strange place because she was guided by a direct hand. She thought her place was to be raised up and made something more than herself. And in a very real way, this is what occurred. Noose the warforged was made real by my actions directly guided by something truly greater than all of us.

Again, I am aware of your thoughts on Fate. We differ here, but think on this. The Raven Queen is not only the mistress of Death and Fate, but Winter. The season of decline is as much a natural part of the cycle of things as Death. From Winter’s cold grasp comes the new promise of Spring’s Life. Just as Raleigh’s Fate gave a new Birth to Noose’s beginnings. We all played our roles in that.

Growing up in the Shadowfell I felt the trueness of the Dark Lady every day. I lived in her home plane, and knew nothing but her Truth. This whole ordeal with Raleigh really shook that to the core. I had a crisis of Faith, but in the end I realized it is not Faith that drives me. It is the knowledge that all of this is very real. Very simple. Very necessary.

I hope that through my words you can begin to understand that we are not all that different in our service to our gods. By necessity the means will be different, but the ends are similar. I want what is best for people. It was just that in this case, that meant Raleigh was to move on to her destiny. She knew that. And finally so did I.

I am truly your friend in all of this. We are bonded us five. I hope that one day you will feel the same way again.

~ Zire


Road Stories: Sharing the Chex Mix with new friends

March 23, 2010

I’m all about player creativity in Dungeons and Dragons.

To me, the game is a shared creative work.  This hasn’t always been my opinion however.  Back in earlier editions of the game, specifically Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, I felt that it was the DM’s World, and that we as players were there to enjoy it, sometimes rebel against it, and generally try to shape it with our actions.  But there was no give and take, no shared world building. The end. Amen.

I’m not certain if this was just the longtime DM’s influence, the way we learned the game, or if it was built in to the game subtlety or not so subtlety.  Its been some time since I had the opportunity to sit down with those books and get a feel for it again.  We won’t be blaming my younger brother for selling all of my RPG horde while I was away at school in this post.  I’m sure that that will fuel one of its own.

Whichever influence shaped this mindset, 4th edition has really changed that for me in a lot of ways.  Backstory now includes events that happened along the way, that have details not provided by the DM in advance.  My Avenger, Zire, for example, had to travel with his mentor from his monastery south to the Lowlands, through the Dwarven Nations, through a shallow piece of the Underdark, and finally through the lowland plains alongside a pilgrim’s convoy to get to the parties starting spot.  Fairly basic stuff, unless you consider that most of that didn’t exist in the world before a player wrote it into being.  From the mentor, to the monastery, to the dwarves we met, to the fight against the fire elementals while underground, and the pilgrim’s passage, all of it came from a player’s imagination.  And of course from a great DMs understanding and care.

All of this is a long expository just to insert and celebrate the idea of shared world-building.  And along those lines, my suggestions for Road Stories.

Road Stories are something that I have introduced to my fellow players in our Ishtal campaign recently.  In those times that you have some uneventful days of travel, across boundless tracks of wilderness, or roads trafficked with nothing but benign wildlife, rather than just says days past, you as players can use this time to bring to the table 2 -3 things that you would have as characters shared with friends along the way around the campfire.

Always have a short list of events from the past years of your PC’s life that you can use to shape the world around you.   This is your stage to dazzle but keep it within your character’s capabilities or you risk breaking the shared sense of disbelief.  Very few new adventurers have bested a Balor in single combat, but you sure could have fought alongside a Dwarven scouting party to hold back some minor fire elementals, while trying to hold back your fear.

Thought of a bandit encampment that you passed along the way?  Tell us about it.  Some strange and unexplained magical phenomenon you saw while sailing across the sea?  Details, please!  The best Dungeon Masters will grab at the chance to revisit this later on in your travels.  Some appreciate the plot hooks you’re raining down on them.

Again, depending on the overall feel of your campaign, don’t blow your wad with airship battles and planar invasions.  The smallest details can still bring about fun and creative event with a clever DM in place.

Worldbuild, help shape your surroundings, then have fun dealing with whatever comes back for you in the night!  Its all about shared experiences, and growing your characters in the end.

I really hope that was a pilgrim’s caravan after all…


Questions? Comments? Bananas?  Feel free to use your creativity and leave a sign that you were here!


Eventually, Hers – an elegy

March 22, 2010

Eventually, Hers

Eventually, all drop to a knee before her.
Drained of life and filled with time, they come.

Eventually, on raven’s wings they present themselves.
Always in passing, the spirits make their peace then go.

Eventually, the Dark Lady ushers them away.
Only her champions remain at her side.

Eventually, this one hopes to be worthy of this grace.
Sending the Fated on their way to my Cold Mistress.

Eventually, Hers.


Zire, Devout Avenger of The Raven Queen

March 21, 2010

I thought I would post a quick picture of my 3rd level Avenger of The Raven Queen, Zire.  This is back when he was still in the Shadowfell, at the place where he grew to adulthood, Winter’s Edge – a monastery dedicated to the Dark Lady.


Ishtal, Star-crossed Lovers and the Dragonborn Staff

March 20, 2010

Continuing the log of my DnD experiences, this is my first in the lands of Ishtal.

The Lands of Ishtal

Brought together by intrigue and carnage at the bi-annual Selena melee tournament, our group has now weathered town trade politics, Elven black markets, endangered little girls, slave traders, and the “kidnapping” of Princess Cassera by Onar, the son of Keloron, an Elven black marketeer, erm… wine dealer.  We have all undertaken the quest to return said princess back to her father, and to that end have tracked across the countryside, and fought dreaded blood beasts, only to find that our princess was a deluded Eladrin with a compulsion to end our journeys.

We then found our way to the Underdark led by Reitan, a high standing priest of The Raven Queen, through a long forgotten Dragonborn fountain entrance.  It was there that we parleyed with a Drow contingent, led by the Blademaster of the House of Eskar.  It was there that we noticed that our scaly friend, Charik was missing. After much searching and the fretting of our paladin, we in the end had to give up search so as to not lose time on our quest.  The living stone of the Underdark was quickly shifting and closing off routes and any hopes of finding them.

Heading northwest, we encountered and defeated bloodthirsty Quaggoths, met a strange but seemingly potent new companion in Rune, a construct of the Forgefather, and traveled the hard road underground to the mad spiral city of Tik.  Learning of their city and the protective illusion that had recently fallen exposing them to the prying eyes of “outsiders”, we decided that regretfully we could not take the time from our present course to aid them in their sojourn to the City of Kenn, where they sought refuge.  Instead we trusted them to lead us to where “all the other outsiders went”.

Trust is something easily given and just as easily broken, as we were led to a trap; falling long an far to a lower level of the Underdark, with its own set of trials.  This was the Kingdom, such as it was, of Lothoron the Deluded.  A dizzy Adamantium dragon who craved servants like others craved gold.  He had only the need for company and entertainment after have been stuck down here for endless years alone.  Nydia dazzled him with stories of the Dashwood’s life of both romance and heartbreak, ending with love and lasting happiness while the rest of us took a long needed rest.

Lothoron agreed then to take us on his back, across his underworld kingdom, from shore to shore of his own ocean, in return for our vows to return to him after all was resolved with our quest.  We all agreed to at least try.

At the other side of the sea, we came upon 3 tunnels, each with its own interesting characteristics.  One seemed to promise the scents and feel of the surface.  One passage presented a much traveled route but stank of indistinct danger.  The last tunnel beckoned with a feeling of a great abundance of magical energy, as well as drifting sounds of a carnival atmosphere.  Ozric the Odd consulted the Dark Lady via her Hand of Fate ritual and we went with the result that would take us to the princess as quickly as possible.  This turned out to be the surface tunnel, and it brought us across the lowlands to the Pool of Spirits, a destination days east of where we entered due to the strange shifting spacial nature of the Underdark.

A short distance away, we soon sighted a small contingent of the peaceful knowledge seeking Loremaster tribe of the Dragonborn.  We were quickly ushered in a stone circle to meet with Lynera, a large blue Dragonborn and the tribe’s nominal head.  He spoke of the Staff of Chakan, a legendary lost artifact of the Magehunter tribe that was causing turmoil in the lands.  The thief’s identity was not confirmed, some seeing a dark haired human, some a goliath with tattoos, and others a dwarf with a braided beard.  During his tale, we noted the striking similarities to what we knew of as the Staff of Othello, which was used by a summoning mage at the arena battle.

It was then too that we learned that the nature of our quest had now shifted focus.  It seemed that instead of a kidnapping, we were now tracking star-crossed lovers.  And elf and a human who’s union could lead to open warfare between their two nations long involved in very ugly trade disputes.

After making our goodbyes and thanks to the Loremaster of the tribe, we headed off northwest, tracking the lovers to the Pool of Spirits, which was said to have healing properties.  Ozric felt compelled to partake of the waters, and did feel somehow subtly changed.  Further tracking led us to the outskirts of Tharington, a farming community, and an odd encounter with a pig farmer, and his beloved Winnie the swine.  His dimwitted offers of the pleasures of the pig shack were politely declined and we set off to the city proper since he had seen our quarry a few days back head there.

There we learned of the current Magehunter occupation of the town.  Ozric dazzled the guards with tales of warforged creation, and we were quickly shuttled to see the General of the Dragonborn forces, one Tao.  Under his orders, the town was now under martial law, and he confirmed that they did indeed have Onar, our long sought after Elf, in custody on charges of spying for his nation.

Due to Ozric’s newly favored status, we were allowed to speak with Onar, in his cell under the scrutiny of several large guards.  With a combination of diplomacy, bluffs, and outright lies, we were able to ascertain that they were indeed a couple, and that Onar legitimately lost contact with Princess Cassera, and was fearful for her safety.  They were to meet some unknown contact on the Isle of Areah, long thought destroyed in the civil wars of the Genasi.  Only the princess knows how to find their mysterious benefactor and he supposedly has the key to ending the Elf/Human struggles.  Onar offered to accompany us if we could somehow gain his freedom.  In the end, it was decided that we could not take on a legion of Dragonborn to break him free and denied his wishes.

We then decided to resupply and head to the West…