Fill in the Game! With us!

We here at Foolish Media are pleased to announce that we have launched a series of videos that will show you the ins and outs of playing Fill in the Game!

Each week, over on facebook, we will be posting a picture of a new card, and card type from the game, and we are looking for you to Fill in the Game! Send us your suggestions on how you would challenge a friend to play the game, and may we will include it in the next video!

We have recorded 2 videos so far in the series. The First video, featuring Chad and his assistant Kez, can be found here. The first video featurings a Green / Easy Challenge from the Challenge Deck, and the latest video (available here)  features 3 of the 4 fools, and one Greek Goddess showing how medium challenges will work!

Next, we will have a hard challenge video, where we show you how to use Stunt Cards, and then a video on Game Changers, and then we will finish up with a couple of videos of turns / games being played to give you an idea of how this all comes together!

Stay Tuned!

PayDay’s Journal 26-29 – Things are going great

So there we were all just about dead piled into an orcish leaders room with a bear against the door like a big, furry doorstop. We took some time to rest and recover and in the process of recovery also worked our way into a chest in the corner of the room. Z seemed obsessed with just smashing it open and despite her best efforts she only really seemed to make a dent in the floor. Once opened, it was like the best thing that had happened to our group since getting out of jail. We found a quiver of six bolts that I would come to discover resized themselves when I had the quiver on to fit my hand crossbow. Later on I learned that the each of the bolts did something different when fired and would eventually return to the quiver. Some came back sooner than others. It really all depended on exactly what they did. There was also a pretty decent wand in there that Shojin claimed.

When we were done finding new stuff to better ourselves, we set up our first watch and that was when things got… real. I waited until everyone was asleep and I apologized to Shojin for the thing I did with the orc bodies next to the road. I know he never would have known but it bothered me. At least it did until we talked about his philosophy and why he was willing to fight some orcs and not others. Since he was willing to share this somewhat secret part of himself, I felt it only prudent to do the same and so I told him my real name, Violet Underbough. I also told him the truth about where I came from.

And then there were the noises from the hallway. Looking over the bear and through the keyhole we could see orcs that looked similar to those we had killed moving around in the hallway. In addition to that the bodies that had been in the hallway were no longer there.  But the “patrols” never seemed to move closer to the door to the room we were in. As such, when it came time for Z and Fayne to take over on watch we let them know what was up and caught some shut eye.

After what for us passed for a good night sleep, I offered to do some recon. I sent one of my babies down the hallway just slowly walking on the floor while I looked through her eyes. What I saw made no sense. The patrol of orcs in this place was looking more and more suspiciously similar to the dead orcs from the prior day. Although day is a relative term in this case because time was just sort of blending together the longer we were down in this place.

Ultimately it didn’t matter because one of them appeared to hear me and then they all started moving down the hallway towards our refuge. Well crap. We made some hasty preparations and locked the door to buy a little time for ourselves, but undead strength pounding on the doors was quickly closing that window of opportunity. When the door finally opened we functioned like a well-oiled automaton.

Which is to say, we were clunky and pretty much tripping over each other and only just barely successful. Gods but we are awful. And when it was done, some of the bodies started to get back up forcing us to kill them again. Which forced us to put them down again and once that was done we began to systematically dismember the bodies, although it looked like little more than crazy people cutting up dead things and piling them in the corner. And with that we put the bear back in front of the door and hid out in our little refuge with a pile of orc parts in the corner. Totally normal, for us anyways.

After a short rest we were again on our way out to search of what lay at the heart of this place and so off we went. I took point and was assessing the first room we came across and when I didn’t find anything I simply crossed the threshold and the next thing I know I’m falling. I am not good at my job. And it was as I was getting up that I found myself beset on what felt like all sides by some both seen and unseen attacker, and my attacker was a big blue and white spider that kept moving appearing and disappearing. And as I’m down in this hole fighting for my life all I can hear from above me is Z calling out “Don’t hurt it, I want it as a pet”. Yeah, I have a lot of choice in the matter as the thing is quickly making short work of my on my lonesome. Shojin was making his way to the ground near me as the thing finally bit me and I slipped into unconsciousness.

When I came to everyone was more or less in the pit I’d fallen into and I was confused as to what was going on. It didn’t matter though, eventually the spider was dispatched and I was left to heal myself, again. Of all of use being terrible at our jobs, Z seemed to be about the worst of us. She was more bloodthirsty than that Gnoman character we knew and all he seemed to know was killing, killing and more killing. Since nobody seemed interested in helping me now that I was conscious, I climbed up out of the hole we had fallen into told the lot of them to piss off and went back to the room we were using for a base. Once there I locked the door, put myself in the chest we’d opened and locked the lid from the inside. I needed time to recover before I did anything else. I wouldn’t get it but it was what I needed.

I’d just fallen asleep when I heard someone trying to open the door to the room my new home was in. Great, more things that would try and kill me. I just kept still and quiet and hoped they would leave me alone. They didn’t. It wasn’t long before what started as someone messing with the door turned into someone beating the door and working to force it open. And as loud and disorganized as it sounded it had to be my “companions”.

Once the door had been forced open, I could hear them talking and looking for me which after a short time turned into someone trying to open the chest I’d taken refuge in. I said nothing. When they couldn’t get it opened then started shaking it. I still said nothing. They picked it up and shook it. I said nothing and tried to hold still. Then I heard one of them talking about seeing a patrol that was both near us and heading towards the entrance to this damnable crypt. And I remembered.

I remembered how we all met on the road to that tiny town not so long ago. I remembered that punk with the whistle and our time in jail. I remembered our trial. I remembered the brothel and our time on the road to get to this point. There was one thing that was constant through all of that. Us. We were who we were. For better or worse and warts and all. But through it all I remembered that feeling of betrayal with that stupid spider. Z and I would hash this out at some point, but not if we died before hand.

So I popped the lid opened and moved towards the door. As I was passing through the door to the room, it looked like they were still figuring out how they were going to fix it. I moved quickly and quietly towards the entrance behind, but not to far, the guard patrol that had just exited. Next to the stairs leading out into what appeared to be nighttime, there was a lever that looked like it should work a portcullis gate thing. I pulled the level and it did lock us in. Which is better maybe than knowing these guards were going to come back and beat our half dead selves the other half of the way.

This got me thinking, how long had we been in here? It was starting to feel like days, but without the sun or moons it was impossible to know just how long we’d been here.

This next part is a little disjointed because a lot happened in a short period of time. I voiced my anger at how things went over the stupid spider and threatened to leave. Things escalated quickly to the point that Shojin snatched up one of my birds and we then got into a war of spells while I kept telling him to return my bird. When it was all said and done the only thing that ended our conflict was the intervention of Fayne and offers to ride her bear. I of course accepted. But I also made it clear that if anyone messed with my birds again, I would make them suffer. I then popped my bird into that place between places I can keep them sometimes and then brought it back on my shoulder. I also let Shojin know that I could have done that the entire time. What I didn’t tell him was that I was just trying to give him the chance to be decent. So, everyone but Fayne appeared to be angry at me at this point. I probably shouldn’t have told Z to sleep with one eye open. It was petty. So we rested again, trying to get ourselves back into something approximating fighting shape.

And then we went further inside. Skulking down hallways and through secret doors we found ourselves faced with a mystery in the form of what looked to be a cavern at the bottom of a well. It was apparently night as moonlight found its way into the room around us. Gods but we had been in here for so long.

From what I can only guess was the bucket at the top of the well there came a soft chuckle. As we started to move into the room to investigate, A hidden gate slammed into the floor behind and between us, separating the group in half. Just great. This was exactly what we needed. Fayne was stuck outside with her bear. Not that it mattered, because at that moment the… thing was upon us. It looked a bit like a glowing, floating head that just kept giggling like an idiot. Also, the bucket was it’s helmet or hat or would it just have been armor if it was just a head surrounded by bucket. I don’t know. It was just really weird.

It didn’t matter though, cause this thing whatever it was was trying to kill us. But the odds being what they were and us getting kicked all over creation at this point led us to be somehow so way victorious. And to the floor fell what appeared to be a really big gem. Z and I both went for it, but I got it first. Some malevolence presence within the stone felt like it was pushing its way into my mind. I was able to overpower it, but realized I wanted nothing to do with this.So I dropped it back to the floor and having some small idea what was going on with the stone resolved to convince any people that regardless what happened or where we ended up that Z was possessed by an evil spirit wherever we ended up.

The bigger take away from this encounter though was that this dungeon could go to hell. I was just done and said as much. I informed the group that I was leaving and they could come with me or stay and I didn’t really care what their choice was at that point. If I never saw this dungeon again it would be too soon. Everyone else followed me out the door and towards the road where this terrible stopover took place taking solace in the thought that things could not get any worse.

Gozer, The Bone Sculptor is available for download!

Gozer, the Bone Sculptor, the first of many D&D monsters to comeDo you have a Dungeons & Dragons game, and are looking for a Boss to toss in the mix? Do you think that it would be awesome if some of D&D’s most iconic monsters were there to give your low level parties some iconic monsters to find?

Look no further, than Foolish Media’s first Monster! Gozer, the Bone Sculptor, is a “Gazer” type Beholder monster, designed on the 2 Fools Rushing Podcast #177 “2 Fools and the campaign Preparation” .

You can listen to the episode, and check out just how we came up with this guy over on the podcast page, and you can now download Gozer the Bone Sculptor (FOR FREE!) right here.

A special thanks, and shout out to Natural Crit, and their awesome homebrew template!

Con on the Cob, The Wrap Up.

Jeff and Ray, Posing with our awards

Con on the Cob has come, and sadly gone, for 2018.

We fools (and honorary fool Brad) would like to take a moment to thank each and every Attendee who stopped by the booth, demo tables, or clucked around in our Dungeons and Dragons One Shot. We met new friends, reconnected with old friends, and had an absolute amazing time. A bird may not have the time to fart, But fools do! (thank you Andy, Chad can’t get that out of his head.)
Continue reading “Con on the Cob, The Wrap Up.”

PayDay’s Journal 23-25 – Slippery when greased

The next day I was up and ready to go before anyone else and ready to make Shojin keep true to his word. Gnoman was just gone. No note or anything. He just left sometime in the night. It wasn’t all that surprising and I had a feeling we would likely be seeing him sometime down the road. I did feel a little bad about how I treated the bodies, but what’s done is done. Shojin was awakened by me just sort of right in his face. He freaked a little. After everyone was up we were off to find out what was going on with the orc raiders. Fayne was able to pick up their trail and track them into the brush. We eventually came upon a recently used camp that was in line with all the signs of those we were chasing down and as such we moved off into the trees.

After moving into the deeper forest for some time through the trees into a deeper part of the woods we came upon a stream and that’s when things got weird… or interesting. Matter of perspective I guess. Things certainly did get more fun. As we approached the stream, we heard some rustling in the bushes on the opposite side and since we were tracking orcs. That was when we came upon what I can only describe as a big, dumb bear. It came lumbering out of the woods and Fayne seemed fit to pop a blood vessel with excitement.

It was never worth writing about at length because it was annoying and just seemed like the kind of obsession someone with a childlike intelligence would have, but ever since meeting her she would not shut up about making friends with a bear, and it looked like she might just get her chance. It looked hurt, like it had maybe met up with the orcs we were looking for at some time prior to meeting us and seemed to have a little trepidation at this frantically gesticulating dark elf, but while it may have been wary of her intentions it just observed her. Eventually she healed the bear a bit and that seemed to make it a little less concerned with her being a possible threat and it was just about then that the orcs that had hurt the bear came out of brush.

Things happened really fast at that point. Shojin seemed to lose his mind and go into some kind of blood rage. Fayne positioned herself between the bear and its attackers and Z seemed like she was in the mood to hurt something. I had the misfortune of not crossing the stream with my companions before the fight, and due to it being nearly as deep as I am tall I kept a healthy distance from the fight and fired some crossbow bolts and a few choice spells at the baddies.

We ultimately were able to dispatch our foes fairly quickly, but not without the damn bear getting even more hurt. Fayne continued to insist that this was a sign of something or other and they were destined to be best friends. After the last orc finally went down Shojin just lost it. For all his talk of a decent burial for ocr-kind or whatever he just beat the corpse of the last one to fall with his staff until long after the wood cracked. We just kept calling out to him and he either didn’t hear us through the fog of war or something far more personal was at play.

Eventually I’d had enough and told him a stupid joke laced with a little arcane energy and he fell down laughing, and that should have been the end of it. However, since he was still not in control of himself he rolled down the bank and ended up almost completely submerged in the water and starting to drown. So I dropped the spell and wouldn’t you know he got up barely breathing and went right back to work beat the bloody pulp that used to be an orc to an even bloodier pulpier mess.

Eventually he just sort of wore himself out and we were finally able to continue on our way. I guess he fixed his staff and we never really talked about what happened. Tracking the orc led us to a path that appeared to follow a patrol circuit around a valley. Figuring either direction was just as likely to get us there, we picked a path seemingly at random and off we went.  

A short while later we found ourselves outside a crypt or mausoleum that was built into the side of a hill. We extinguished the outside lights and then end up in a situation where we were luring orc guards away from the door and helping them meet their god. Eventually this attracted the attention of those inside the crypt and we made our way inside.

After a bit of sneaking around I had the lay of the land down so to speak and had discovered what seemed to be an orc in a position of authority, there was a small miscalculation and we ended up once more in a fight for our lives, which was a perfect time for Shojin’s magic to develop a mind of its own and when it was down to just us and the Orcish Taskmaster, the floor became greasy and some of us had the good fortune of finishing things out firing our spells and crossbow bolts from the floor.  And it was not without paying a pretty hefty cost. We were all various degrees of beaten and bloody and the bear was very nearly dead.

PayDay’s Journal 22 – Really good at the wrong things

So I was back from the dead and I told my friends a story of family and was just trying to sleep, I mean almost dying does that to you. And we were just there trying to rest after the events of the evening. And it all went sideways again. There was shouting coming out of the woods from the direction that the orcs had come and we were tired of being beat all to hell by things in the woods.

I wanted to move to the city. Maybe open an inn or a brothel. I can have some fun too I suppose. But that’s neither here nor there. We had much more pressing matters to attend to. Whoever was shooting at us out of the trees. We moved into the woods and worked to try and engage and in the process, from somewhere out of the trees came an arrow right into Shojin’s shoulder. Some bipedal, humanoid was shooting out of the darkness. It was one thing to go down in battle protecting my friends and it was another thing altogether for them to shoot my friends.

I went ahead and had Muninn harry my newest foe who had already taken a shot from feign and knew then that death has a toll and a death knell was ringing. And down he went in a heap. This was when we found out that there were two others, who hadn’t clearly seen what was going on. Another of these night time terrors shot at us from the cover of the trees and was dispatched nearly as quickly. And this would have been about the time we heard someone call out from off in the distance… in common. Crap.

So now it came to just being quick. Z was encouraged to just thump the last guy with her hammer, which she did and we then took a quick second to clean up the scene and called out for those in the trees to reveal themselves. At which point we found ourselves in a standoff of sorts for a brief moment with what appeared to be… farmers. By the gods, what madness was this?

It seemed they were out hunting the orcs that had raided their camp earlier in the evening. Sounded familiar to what we encountered. We convinced them that it was the same orcs that killed their men that we in turn also killed. And that we could bring one of their bows as proof of their killing the farmer Zeb’s man. And somehow they bought it.

Feeling a bit guilty about being kind of amazing at fixing a crime scene I volunteered us to hunt these orcs down that Shojin seemed to be developing a violent feeling towards. He was willing to hurt them, but at the same time felt they were worth a proper orc funeral pyre. I could not reckon those two disparate thoughts, let alone that he was willing to inflict any sort of violence on anyone or anything.

Before we were able to do anything, one of the bodies was missing and we tracked it off the other side of the road and it was pointing off into the trees. Almost directly above it was a Raven that just sat there laughing at us. At least that was my take away. This had to be another sign from the lady. I refrained from running off into the trees again when Shojin gave his word he would go with me in the morning.

I confronted him about his ideas for the treatment of these orcs, something about slaver’s and their treatment of the woman who raised him, and after some exchanged words, he committed himself giving them a burial befitting his people. Which seemed unrealistic and ridiculous to me but thankfully once he established that he didn’t have time to give them a proper send off he was forced to just put some stones on them outside of the camplight. And with that we were ready to turn in for the night. But I had a simple thing to do before I turned in for the night.

I snuck off into the trees and made three of the four orcs smell like fresh carrion. Just helping the natural processes deal with some trash was all, and it wasn’t like Shojin would ever know.

PayDay’s Journal 17-21 – Goblins on Patrol

Alright, so running off into the woods didn’t work out. Shojin and Fayne caught up to me and started trying to bring me back to camp right before I passed out. I woke up back at camp and tried to get them to all understand the story the lady told me.

Sometime in the distant past, I have no real way of knowing how far in the past as the Lady never said anything about when it was, it just like a deeply old story, there lived a Tribe of Goblins unlike those we know in the world today in a jungle valley surrounded by mountains to the south of The Golden Wastes. They lived in a state of isolation from the rest of the world, mostly due to geography and were deeply connected to nature in an almost spiritual way. They called the valley home and they called the tribe family, because the valley was their home and sometimes in very literal ways, other members of the tribe were family. They revered the world around them and the spirits of nearly everything from the elements to the animals.

At the time of the story I was told, the valley was in a drought unlike any drought it had been through for generations. Now, life was hard for the goblins on a good day living so isolated from the world, but the idea that water is life, was an almost mantra of the tribe. Not every member of the tribe was a magic user but every magic user in the tribe knew how to magically make water and in times of drought they were called upon to provide for the tribe. It was their way and it was how they made it through.

Focusing in more and more, the story centered on two members of this unnamed tribe of goblins. Two brothers, Paak and Grit, were worried by the lack of their father’s return from a patrol in the valley. It seems that all members of the tribe when they are of a certain age are required to perform patrols of the valley. These patrols followed a well worn path that made a large almost pointed oval around a majority of valley. Typically taking three to five days, depending on what difficulties were encountered along the way. This patrol filled two functions, the first was to keep the valley safe for the tribe from any predators that roamed the jungle and the second was in helping to provide meat and leather for the tribe through hunting various animals encountered.

Since the story the lady told was from the perspective of the brothers, I will adjust my retelling here to be from the perspective I saw it through.

~~~

Dad not coming back wasn’t normal. He was one of a select few that would go on solo patrols. It wasn’t because he thought he was that good. He didn’t have to. The tribe treated him that way. About the only time he would travel with any sort of companions were when he was showing someone newly of age to patrol the ways to make it from start of the path in the village to its end back in the village coming from the other direction. He could easily protect himself easily as well as he could protect the members of the tribe.

The elders refused to let us leave because of the need to make water for the tribe since both my brother and I have the ability to fill the basins used to contain the water we need to live. The thing that pushed my brother and I to a point of haggling over being allowed to leave and the elders finally agreed to allow our departure after I agreed to use one of my few daily spells to make water for the tribe prior to departing. I could not in good conscience leave without doing the tribe this service based of the the way the elders were speaking of this drought. Our normally brightly colored home was muted and browning and it was only fair.

Before we could leave though we caught word that the patrol immediately after our father’s came running back into the camp earlier in the day and word around camp was that something scared them. My brother and I insisted on talking to them to get some idea of what was going on in the valley. And this proved to be an almost entirely useless endeavor. All they would say was that there was some noise that scared them. Nothing more than that. A noise they had never heard before and that they were unable to describe. REally though, who runs from a noise?

And so, no more enlightened we headed out in search of father. He took the higher path and knowing how long he had been gone it made sense to take the lower path. A few hours into our trek we came across the first of many of the tribes pre-made campsites. Each campsite is made roughly the same. A clearing of about 30 paces by 30 paces with a fire pit in the middle. On a tree near the edge of each of these clearings is a platform for sleeping and is reachable by a bit of climbing.

As we settled in for a short rest and to eat, I noticed something, a slight tremble in the earth around me. There one second and gone the next. My brother and his…companion Nocht didn’t seem to notice, but Nocht never seemed to notice anything. Before we moved on from this camp, we checked all the brush around the camp for signs of our father and found some tracks leading off deeper into the trees. It made sense to leave some means of finding our way back to the trail. I told my brother we should do muddy handprints and his solution was to just make a bunch of mud, pile it on the back of his companion and just be anything but quiet as we worked through the trees.

And that was problematic because not long after we lost sight of the path we were ambushed by jungle cats of a size and ferocity that we had never seen before. The elders would talk of a strangeness in our valley home when a drought would be upon us and that sometimes animals out of legend would come near the village. Now while these cats got the jump on us, I was able to call upon my ties to the warrior and fought valiantly with an image of father to help us and all of this despite my brother’s best efforts to stop us. I mean who thinks that the best course of action after shooting a cone of flame into the dried-out foliage is to follow it up by making a sleet storm to put it out at the expense of everyone’s footing?

So after a completely unnecessary bunch of falling on our faces were finally able to best the beasts and drag them back into the camp. We started to alternate between field stripping the meat and firing bolts of fire into the in the hopes that the camp would see and return the mark in kind. It was a kind of agreed to call and response. This call and response and meat cleaning went on into the night and eventually my fire was responded to with two small pops of fire to which I responded with three, which was met with four. Stories are told of a time when the call and response lasted all through a night into numbers that were nearly uncountable.

Eventually, we slept in the tree with Nocht curled up at the tree’s base. Partway through the night I was awakened by the tree shaking and after my initially being concerned that we were once again under attack I discovered that it was once again Nocht up to his shenanigans waking me up again. So I did the one thing I always did in response to his waking me up. I peed on him. After that I was able to get back to sleep and slept peacefully until the morning when I awoke to the most delightful foot of my brother rubbing on my face. I hate my life some days.

As we made our way further down the path we felt the tremor I had felt the prior day and saw off in the distance some movement in the trees. A lot of movement, high up in the trees. My brother decided this was a good time to go for a bug ride, the silly fool, and so he searched for a minute and called on the spirits to make a bumblebee big enough that he could ride on. He flew straight up in the air to a point well above the trees and he came back reporting that he was not able to see what was moving the trees only that whatever it was had to be either really big or really powerful or possibly both. None of those options were all that appealing but forward was the only way to complete our patrol and possibly find our father.

So onward we went, and when we finally got closer to the next camp the trees ahead of us shook violently and were pulled back by the powerful force to reveal the terrifying visage of a lizard the likes and size of which we had never seen before. It stood on its hind legs and had tiny forelimbs pulling back the trees and screaming with a roar that much like its appearance was something so outside of the normal and we were so scared. But this thing made a noise that was terrifying and new so we believed that this must be the thing that killed our father.

And what once again ensued was a comically terrible battle. And while the three of us did the best that we could it was neither easy nor fast and it seemed as though we were going to lose when this giant beast finally scooped me up into its mouth and was proceeding to eat me. It was in this moment of great peril that my brother charged in and in a feat showing his great  connection to the spirits ran in front of the terrifying beast and once again loosed his fiery spread directly into the massive beasts stomache and chest. Burning a hole through its skin and causing its insides to no longer be inside. Or so he said. I was too busy falling and trying not to die to really notice. What I did notice when I freed myself from the things jaws, was the clearly dead, and not by my brother’s hand, father sliding out of the beasts insides and onto the dirt with the beasts insides.

Father at last. My heart sank. He was such a strong man and to see him felled by such a thing made no sense. He was easily as strong as my brother and I put together. I was angry and happy at the same time. Angry that this thing killed him and happy that we had finally found him. I resigned myself to the task of putting him to rest and nothing would be more fitting to mark his grave than the top part of the skull of the thing that ate him. My brother thought this was the perfect time to question father on what happened. We argued over whether it was the right thing to do and I finally walked off angry, but as soon as I heard my father begin to respond I was right at my brothers side. My distaste for it aside, this was going to be the last time I could see and talk to my father and I was not going to miss it for anything.

We asked my father a series of questions that left us more puzzled than before. It seemed that this beast may have been the thing that killed him, but it was not the why. There was something else. Something different and something more. He asked that we protect the tribe, and we vowed that day to protect the tribe to our dying breaths. But the thing that broke us was that he said he was proud of us. Two sons of many children. It almost broke us.

When he was done, we heard a voice calling out from the tree. A female goblin voice asking if it was safe to come out. Coming from our village we knew everyone and this was someone we didn’t know. That made us question everything she said. We made her come down from the tree so we could see her and she was an older looking goblin. But we had just lost our father so we didn’t have a whole lot to say to her so my brother took to cleaning up the camp and I just turned my back on her.

And with that I went back to working in silence on cleaning the skull and digging a hole and preparing a grave and it took most of the rest of the day. And it was exhausting and it was rewarding and I felt a great sense of pride of finally laying my father to proper rest. In the process we did find my fathers things which included all of his fetishes, walking stick, dagger, ring, shield and bow. My brother and I split these things between the two of us made a campfire and settled in to eat. We finally decided to question this new person.

She said that her name was Imirth and that she came from outside the valley to the north. This made no sense as we had never had contact with anyone or anything from outside of the valley. It seemed that her tribe did not stick together and she was all that was left. They had over time scattered to seek out their own ways in the world and eventually she got tired of the solitude and struck out looking for a new place to call home. When she arrived in the valley her first experience was in seeing our father running away from something, she claimed not to know what. What he was running from mattered less than what he was running towards and that happened to be the beast we’d only recently killed.

I couldn’t understand how why she wouldn’t help father but she claimed that she arrived as the thing was swallowing him and at that point it was simply too late to do anything to help. My brother, and his somewhat warped sense of humor reformed his spiritual companion to resemble the beast that we’d felled, only smaller of course. The only difference was that any time he remade his “friend” after he fell in battle he would come back with a new white feather on the top of his head. He was up to four or five now. I don’t really know because I never really paid all that much attention.

We decided to settle in for the night and even without completely  trusting Imirth, we invited her to share the platform with us. It would be cramped but she appeared to easily be old enough to be one of her tribes elders and it only seemed right. Plus, keeping her close would make it easier to keep an eye on her. I was awakened early the next morning by something hitting the tree. I hate Nocht in the mornings.

Having paid our final respects to our fathers the path forward was the only way. We did still have our patrol and hunt to finish and we would be needed back in camp to help with the production of water for our people. So we set off down the path and continued trying to get a read on this new person. I just had trouble believing her story because it made no sense why anyone would travel over the mountains unarmed, appear to be both old but in great health and was unable to do anything to help our father avoid his fate.

As we traveled down the path and were nearing the midpoint of our patrol we heard so much noise directly ahead of us. It appeared to be some sort of army or maybe a whole tribe of dog men. We’d heard stories of things like this from the tribe elders, but it had been so long since they had been seen in the valley that it was the elders being told by their elders about how their elders had seen them sometime in the past.

And there were so many of them. Some of them looked dead, which was an affront to the spirits. Some of them looked healthier and stronger than the rest. And then there was the leader and his pet. The leader stood easily a head taller than those he barked orders too. He wielded a three-headed flail that look like smaller metal versions of his people’s heads. And from the eyes and mouths poured something smoky. And when he commanded his troops the sound felt like it was touching my soul. But there was also the matter of his pet. His pet was the single most abominable thing I had ever seen in my life. It had the body more or less of a wolf, and was covered with a white patchy fur. The rest of the patches were made up with scales and along the beasts spine were these protrusions that poked up out of the fur and looked lizard-like in appearance. And then there was the matter of this things tail. It was like that of a scorpion with the same sort of stinger, but it was covered in the same patchwork of fur and scales like the rest of its body.

Before we even had the chance to process what we were seeing Imirth took off running towards the gathered enemy force calling over her shoulder to not close the distance to her and that she had a plan. As she ran away from us I could have sworn I heard her counting off her steps as she went. When she was far enough away to do whatever she was planning, the goblin just sort of melted and in its place was a beast that looked like the thing that killed our father, only it shone so brightly in the sun that it hurt to look directly at her. She then turned and opened her mouth and out came a blast of icy air that even as distant as we were still felt a little chilly but did not real damage to us. It did however destroy a majority of the opposition.

While we were getting ourselves set up and our new enemies to close the distance my brother made some more giant bugs after a cursory look around. Four giant size mantis, and it was just as ridiculous as it sounds. It was also kind of amazing. They were instrumental in holding the dog-men off of us while we tried to contend with the scorpion-tailed lizard wolf. Imirth help with that as well, while my brother and I worked on picking off the various dog-men who tried to approach. We knew that if we could thin their ranks before they were able to close to melee range we would may have a chance at survival. We were mostly right.

It didn’t take long for the battle to begin to swing in our favor. A few lucky shots from the bugs and some focused effort on the scorpion wolf saw the enemy ranks thinning out, but there was a cost. It was after the leader closed in after the last of the bugs were killed and the scorpion wolf went down that Imirth was looking a little worse for wear. She had been taking a beating that would have easily destroyed both me and my brother and not once did she cry out or complain. But, that would change when she was finally struck blow by the leader that took her out of the fight.

What happened next happened so quickly that I may have some of the parts mixed up and there was a small bit of this that I was unconscious for and had to rely on my brother telling me what had occurred. He had used father’s staff to cast a regenerative spell on himself at some point in the battle. That was a key component. It was down to us and the leader and it had just hit my brother in the face and he crumpled to the ground, but as it came in on an attack, the attack that would lay me out, I was able to retaliate with my father’s shield at the same time to make him feel a little bit of pain. This in turn was apparently enough to take him down. And so everyone was just laying there bleeding out into the dirt. Except for my brother.

The spell he’d cast on himself, brought him back from the brink almost immediately and he then went to some efforts to try and bring me back, and his fantastic story has him hitting me with father’s shield and using the jolts it made as some life-giving current. Ridiculous, I say, but I owe him my life. As we were preparing to use whatever means we could to help Imirth come back from the brink, she coughed and said weakly that she was ok.

I was happy to be alive and furious a this new revelation. I had a bunch of new questions for her. No, she didn’t know these things were here, but it made sense that father would retreat from this many opponents. No, she really couldn’t have done anything to help him. Yes, she was truly sorry about that. But there was one question that gave me an answer I didn’t really expect. What did she want from us? Home. She wanted a home. She was lonely and she wanted friends and a home. She wanted nothing from us beyond that and she said she could do something that would help us. And with that she sat down, crossed her legs, shut her eyes and it started to rain.

I naturally assumed she was one of the great sky spirits. She laughed and said no. What followed was an explanation of what she was. She was a silver dragon. But everything else was true. She was just looking for a home and to not be lonely. And if she could help with our water problem, then all the better. As much as we wanted to just say yes, right then and there it was not our decision to make. Something of this importance would need to be brought to the tribe. And the elders needed to see this for themselves. She offered to carry us back to our village if we wanted but we still had a job to do. So we cleaned a couple of those dog man skulls, to make some fresh bone helmets, and worked on setting up a camp. We were all beat, battered and very nearly dead. My brother again reformed Nocht into a new beast, this time a Mantis. And now he clung to the underside of the platform as we slept. And he woke me up again. I would kill him someday and not think twice about it.

The next day as we were on the path Imirth remained quiet unless we spoke to her. I think she felt guilty about keeping secrets from us when we met and I also think she genuinely meant it when she said she wished she had been earlier to be able to help father.

We came upon the next patrol around midday and we shared a meal and a story. We told them to be careful up ahead because we had seen more on this patrol than ever before. They thought we were making a good portion of it up but did offer to pay their respects to father when they made that camp. Something about that portion of the story must have rang true. Imirth asked if she should show them what she showed us and we told her no, that was for the whole village and not just a patrol.

We encountered nothing else on our patrol and made really good time getting back to the village. Every night there is a gathering overseen by the elders to honor the spirits and we arrived as it was beginning. We asked the elder if he would indulge us a chance to address our people. Seeing that we were carrying our father’s belongings he nodded solemnly. We regaled them with the tale of our adventure. From the jungle cats to the beast that slew father to the army that appeared to be possibly moving to invade our home. If there were more of those scorpion dogs or leaders with the crazy flails (I kept it by the way) then we we in trouble. But when the talk turned to our new friend Imirth, we asked everyone to back up for a brief demonstration and we promised that it would be both worth it and an answer to all of our prayers.

Imirth went to the center of the gathered people, sat down cross legged and the goblin form slipped off of her, replaced again with her silver dragon form, and in that moment it began to rain. And how my people cheered. I told Imirth to go ahead and look like a goblin again to help push things along. I explained that she was unique in that unlike the rest of her kind she did not want to strike out alone in the world. She wanted a home. She wanted a tribe. And so I asked the elder who in turn asked my people, could we give her a home? They all said yes, and Imirth, protector of the jungle has been with my people ever since.

~~~

Shojin just looked at me slack jawed and questioned my grasp of geography. Fayne looked like the embodiment of confusion at my tale. All I could do was say that it’s what the Raven Lady said to me, because it was true. And with that and my story told, I just kind of passed out. I was glad to have a second chance at life and that my first death didn’t take. It was not a death that anyone could really be proud of.

PayDay’s Journal 16 – Travel arrangements

So with the decision finally made, several options lay ahead of us. We could make the journey in less than a fortnight by river on an almost round about way. Speed of the river had its privilege, or we could take the journey by land and have it take three times as long. Of course we tried the boats first, but I had the bright idea that maybe we could trade our services as guards for the journey.

First boat was a bust. The captain was just not interested in anything I suggested, which was fine. Plenty of boats in the harbor. Second boat wanted to assure us that river travel was safe and that while he wouldn’t give us a free ride, he would charge us a meager fee for a fast, safe journey. I was becoming a bit disheartened but that only ended up making me all the more determined to find a way to make the journey fast and free. We had to have something go our way at some point.

But… it was not to be with the third boat we approached. I haggled and haggled and haggled for a ride, but it didn’t matter. This guys barrels of whatever he was hauling eliminated any room he had or something of the sort. I was so frustrated at the third rebuff that I said “river be damned, we’ll just walk”.  And so we began our journey, on foot once again after a day of haggling down at the wharf. It was almost nightfall and we should have stayed at the inn another night and left in the morning but I didn’t care and I just wanted to be done with this town.

So we began our journey along the main road south to Highbreeze as the sun was setting on us. We finally set up camp when it became so dark I couldn’t see anything and it was clear that if we continued I was just going to slow us down. Our camp was set back from the road just a little bit for the sake of safety. Ha. Safety our in the open.

At some point in the evening and I no longer remember who’s watch it was, we were beset by a small warband of orcs. This fight was over almost as quickly as it began as we fought as ferociously as we could, but it didn’t seem to matter. These orcs were able to get the upper hand on us early in the great battle and I am sad to say I never saw the end of it. Because, despite my valiant efforts to the contrary, I was hit by an orc’s wild attacks and I succumbed to the damage.

As the light faded from my vision and I was fading into the darkness a soft voice called out to me. A familiar voice. Where did I know it from?

“Pay attention little one, it is time.” The lady said to me. It felt like she was whispering in my ear, but was somehow also inside my head.

I couldn’t speak.

“Rest, and listen. I hope that you are able to take the message to heart. There are several tenets for your service to me. The first is that those who choose to cheat death are an abomination and not to be tolerated. The second is that you are my will in the world and your…function in the great order, is to help those that need to meet their end do so at the appointed time.”

She paused for a moment.

I still couldn’t speak, but a thought occurred to me. What was the importance of these tenets?

“Let me tell you a tale to help you understand.”

The next thing I knew my eyes were open and I was sitting up as I watched what I believed to be the lady calmly walking into the woods adjacent our camp, her raven hard cascading around her shoulders.

I still had questions and she didn’t look far enough away that I couldn’t catch her if I hurried and there was only one way to find out. So I got up and started running with Huginn flying ahead of me and Munnin on my shoulder.

PayDay’s Journal 13-15 – It started with a big, sticky mess

With only a few minutes to prepare we did the one thing that we’ve come to be pretty good at. We made an awful plan. We found one of the darker doorways of the street and Shojin conjured up a pretty good looking false wall. This gave us a prime vantage point to view the rat pack of thugs that we were waiting for. And we sat. And we waited. And we waited some more. I mean, that was it really. We were going to lie in wait behind a conjured wall and “get the drop” on the bad guys. That was our brilliant plan. Seemed like an alright idea at the time.

While we were waiting a group of guards approached from the opposite direction. Now by travelling companions and I have a distrust of the law in most “modern” cities and Dillard was one of the worst experiences in our travels, so we immediately had a distrust of these folks. I had a bit of a test in mind and thought I would use some of the… talents I’d acquired while we were in town recovering from being prisoners. In a green not found in nature and bright to near  glowing degrees, across three of the cobblestones in the path of the guards I scrawled “Beware the Rats”. Now my thinking here was twofold, first I thought it would be an indicator of whether the guards were even aware of the situation. Second, I thought it would be a litmus test of sorts for the guards stance on said situation. The one I would later find out was the leader moved some dirt over top of the word Rats. To me that meant they were aware of the situation. My hope was that it was laziness that they just let it go on. Later, Shojin would reveal to me that in that moment he knew the guards were on the take. After that the leader of the guards went inside while the rest of his men waited outside.

Eventually the pack of five “bab dudes” finally came round the bend and stopped in front of the tea/coffee/neither place and the guy in the sling who appeared to be the leader waived them off. Finally confirmation that these were the jerks we agreed to deal with. The sauntered down the street and seemed confused that the bread cart that had been waiting in front of The Velvet Saddle wasn’t there and said something about charging the old man double next time. Well damn, we were the reason that poor man was going to suffer, but only if we failed to deal with the problem at hand. Three of the Rats went into the Saddle after greeting the guards in the street while the other two took up posts in the street as something of a guard.

Damn, they knew about these guys. That complicated things. But we gave Valorie our word, and that had to mean something. So Shojin and I sprang into action of a sort, while Z and Fayne just kind of hung out where we had been hidden. Z, coiled like a snake ready to pounce and Fayne looking on the verge of a nap.

We crept down the alley to a position just past where the bread cart had been. Shojin conjured up the image of a bread cart. I conjured up the smell of fresh baked goods. This attracted the attention of one of the guards who meandered over to investigate our wares. Well, Shojin’s wares because at the time I was hiding behind him. They exchanged some words and it was going well until that guard reached out for some bread and his hand passed through it. Then it got weird .

I popped out from behind Shojin with my hand and fingers spread wide and shouted “Ta Da”. The guard looked downright flummoxed by this. I went on to explain that we were “Half and Half” and we were doing a little testing of our upcoming stage performance. And… the guards were having none of it.

At this point the upset and confused guard began to draw his sword so I asked if he would like a little coin for his troubles, and made a hand-sized coin and just sort of lobbed it his direction. He greedily pocketed it, but it seemed to have little effect. All the confusion attracted the attention of another guard and I tried the same trick with him but again to no avail. Now there were two guards and a bunch of commotion attracting the attention of everyone in the street, and at that point it seemed like it was about eleven to four. Those were terrible odds, but we thrived under terrible odds.

Shojins solution to the guard being upset was to put him to sleep, which cause another one to freak out. And at that point it was on. I made a beeline for the door to The Velvet Saddle while the rest of my crew handled the street. I know that Shojin won’t kill, but he will certainly do some crowd management. As I ran headlong into the Saddle, I heard an unmistakable code, “Oh, I’ve made a big sticky mess!”,  that Shojin and I had worked out beforehand when we were discussing ways our abilities may be able to combine in new and more inventive ways.

Once inside I saw the leader of the guards and the leader of the Rats in polite, albeit confused conversation. But I didn’t have time for that. Knowing the code and what it meant I did the one thing I knew would be the most impactful, or supposedly impactful, and set fire to the thick and sticky webbing that now filled the alleyway. Or at least reached the door. I was never really clear on how much of the alley it covered as we were not mathematicians.

Either way I yelled back the predetermined response “Sorry!” and focused on the people inside the Saddle. This is when fortune smiled on me and coming down the stairs was the unmistakable Gnoman who appeared to be finishing up with the last bits of outfit organization after visiting one of the madam’s ladies. I called out to him and he looked confused as all hells and I focused in on the task at hand.

I got Huginn to work as a distraction and proceeded to start working my way through dispatching my opposition. Huginn took that opportunity to call out to Gnoman, who finally seemed to shake from his confusion, and jumped into the fray on my side. Which, after everything I had heard made me happier than I could have hoped to be.

While I was working my way through the various Rat thugs Gnoman focused in on the guards leader, but he was nothing like Simple had described. He seemed like he was barely able to hold his own, let alone be the wild man killing machine that he was made out to be. I knew Special was lying.

Then a hole just sort of appeared in the wall like an extra window and I caught sight of a terrifying looking Z, eyes aglow, with a weird (no other way to describe it) look about her face and eyes. It was about this time that I heard a Thunderous roar outside and the sound of glass shattering and people screaming in the street. Then an arrow came streaking through the door dispatching one of the Rats. I guess Fayne joined in instead of taking a nap.

Gnoman and I finally finished with the group inside and heard a lot of noise outside as Shojin, Z and Fayne sounded like they were freaking out. One of them had heard the sound of approaching guards and were trying to clean up the alley to help make it look like we were not to blame. Fixing a door broken off its hinges and busted windows and walls. But there was a wrinkle.

One of the guards had been pinned under one of his comrades in one of Shojin’s webs and was still squirming trying to get free. If we were going to spin this situation to our advantage, we could afford no witnesses and it pains me to say this because he deserved better but we killed him in the street where he lay. Does our killing him make us any better than his own corruption? Were we still the good guys? I’m still haunted by his death but I have come to accept that it was him time. The lady helped with that.

When the guards finally arrived, and there were so many, we told them a tale of how the Rats had shown up, engaged in conflict with their comrades and we joined in just trying to help and that the Rats were responsible for the missing people, shaking down the local businesses and also for fighting with the guards. We were paid handsomely (at least it seemed like a lot at the time) for our troubles and we decided at that point that we needed to get as far from Dillard and our stupid quest to tell people the trade routes were open. We would help people as we could along the way but it was finally time for use to make our way to the grandest city in our part of the world, Highbreeze.

PayDay’s Journal 12 – Made in The Shades

People were missing from the poorer parts of Town. There were animals going missing from the lands up north. Other jobs that seemed outside our wheelhouse of expertise. All these and more were available after things were set “right” in Dillard. We opted for the missing persons. Maybe it was because we’d all lost something on our own personal journeys. Maybe it was just out of some sense of duty. Probably it was really just about the gold. Gold buys stuff. We like stuff. It was easy math.

So we headed to The Shades. It was the poorest part of Dillard and was little more than a slum. For the most part the streets were quite narrow and it was easy to see why it was called The Shades.

On the widest of the streets, if street was really the appropriate term here, we were wandering almost aimlessly when we came upon a vendor with a little cart selling bread in the street. It looked like trash but I knew how Shojins belly worked. He bought some and I couldn’t bear for him to be unhappy with the taste. So I worked a little something and it seemed to make that bread taste like the heavens.

The vendor was happy with the sale and when asked about the missing people he didn’t know anything about it, but he did point us to one of the finer establishments locally, The Velvet Saddle.

The Velvet Saddle was a… well brothel.

We were met outside by what I at the time could only imagine was the madame of the place. She was hesitant to talk in the street but when presented with a little gold was more than happy to bring the lot of us into one of her rooms.

Of course that room turned out to be her office. She asked us to turn around and so I let Huginn help me see where the safe in the floor was, in case I would ever decide to come back later since it sounded like there was a good bit of gold in there.

Valerie, the madame, knew nothing of the missing people, but did seem to know about a group calling themselves “The Rats”, who were shaking down local businesses for protection money. It seemed that they travelled in packs of three and were due back later in the day. But first we needed more information.

So we travelled down the street to what appeared to be a coffee house or tea shop,  but upon entry was neither. Siefert the owner was more than happy to fill us in on the comings and goings of these “Rats”. It seems that they tried to collect from him but Samuel, the man mountain by the door, I would later find out was Clever’s brother, broke their leaders arm and had sent them scurrying off to the shadows.

While there we also encountered a man called “Clean Peter”, who tried to plie us with kind words and seemed to know more than he let on, but we never had the chance to find out. We were burning daylight and we needed a plan. So we headed back into the street for a return to the Saddle and to see if we could get anything more.

Before heading inside, I hung back and let Huginn fly and looked through him at the local surroundings. I was looking for groups of three and after a few minutes found a group that looked like it fit the bill, except that it was five, counting Mr. Broken Arm and I saw them coming out of what I would find out was “The Albatross”, some dump a few blocks away. We had precious little time to prepare. But we work best under pressure and love to test our mettle.