Monday, January 31, 2011

Character: Flynn Whiteswan

Flynn was always an adventurer, wanting to see the world and experience more then the city of Varanath could give him. He was adept at the blade, being trained by a Blademaster of some renown, as well as skilled with the art of stealth. Art and music came easy to him, as did the art of conversation. When he was old enough, he joined the Crystal Brigade, but as a spy. It was in this capacity he met Jamilia. As a bard he'd had many a fling, but Jamilia was his most beloved. And when he learned of Kenna's intended birth he was doubly enamored. Though he told Kenna he was his favorite child, she was truly his only child. He intended to eventually take the pair away to Varanath, but mysteriously disappeared right before Kenna's sixteenth birthday.

Flynn is a half elf, though he looks human for all intensive purposes. He is five foot and four inches and around one hundred sixty pounds. He is trim, though muscular, very athletic. His face is oval, but with a strong chin and no pointed ears. His skin is tan and his eyes are ice blue and slightly oval in shape. His hair is light blond, almost white, which he keeps in a shoulder length pony tail.

Flynn dresses like a flop in the city, but more muted browns and greens when he is traveling. He is always at the height of style while in town. He is an elegant speaker and can modulate his voice to fit the occasion. And he can speak street trash with the best of them.

Flynn is happy, easy going person who is helpful and outgoing, but hates wizards and ogres with a passion.

More of a background character, he is twisted and tied to so many aspects of the series. It's amazing at how many people seem to know this man who's a simple bard's father. Your PC's could meet him on the road and he could give them a rumor to point them into the direction of somehow helping the soon to be High King or keep them out of trouble. He isn't above using other people to help the Kingdom of Tridon and her future High King.
Tomorrow: Poor Housing of Bloodhelm

Friday, January 28, 2011

Chapter One Part I

I fear we elves will be unable to remain neutral when chaos returns, despite the old ones saying another like Peter will come forth. The darkness will return more powerful then before. I fear the light will be swallowed if we remain neutral this time, and thus we must act and not remain hidden away in our lovely gardens and lush forests.

Akiola Riverbridge, High Bard of Tsi-wa
From Discussions of the World
2723 AC
The storm outside the stout stone building blew heavy with rain. There would be no planting and tending of crops today, instead repairs on clothes and tools would ensue. Older children would help, but for the moment all the village’s children were inside, waiting to learn their letters and numbers. They ran about the wooden floor for the moment, shaking off the morning energies so they would sit and listen to the flashy dressed blond young man who sat to one side, strumming a lute.
He watched the children with a wistfulness shining bright in his pale blue eyes. So many times he witnessed such scenes, cherishing each one.
Thunder crashed outside, scaring some of the younger children, lightning illuminating the school room for a brief moment. The young man stood, his feathered hat bouncing. He gently hugged the closest child then whistled sharply to capture the attention of his charges.
The children turned to face the young man with excitement in their eyes. These were farm children and they hungered for knowledge of the world beyond their stormy farming village. The bard waved them to his side, bidding them to be still.
“We should begin our lessons, children, or your parents will run me out of your fine village and I will not be privy to the fine meals your mothers make.”
Laughs echoed through the wooden room as the children quickly found a seat on the hard floor before the young minstrel. The bard smiled and strummed once upon his lute, but paused as the door to his small school room blew open, allowing in a small gust of wind and splattering of rain.
The man who crossed the threshold was huge, dressed as warrior, his blue black hair covered in a sodden black hooded cloak. A two handed sword was strapped to his back, no other weapon visible. He stood in the doorway for what seemed an eternity, then slowly closed the wooden portal, his eyes never straying from the bard. The children were silent as they watched the warrior, for he was not of the village and warriors were often nothing more then brigands in the outskirts of Tridon.
The bard flashed the warrior a lopsided smile, then eased himself onto the wooden stool in front of all his young charges, strumming lightly as he did.
The warrior crossed to the back of the room slowly, his heavy boots resounding off the carefully laid wooden floor. The children watched nervously as the silent man took his sword from his back and placed it beside him upon the bench as he slowly sat. The warrior’s gaze bore into the bard.
Yes, the warrior was fierce and needed to be dealt with, but he would not show fear before his charges.
The bard strummed his lute loudly once, bringing the children’s attention back to him, though slowly at first. “I was thinking of good King Peter, our first High King, and his reign as your lesson today.”
The bard waved his hand before him, magic sparkling in the air as he brought forth a ghostly image of a man with curly, short hair, a trimmed beard and an honest face. The man bore a small, simple crown and a beautiful gold hilted sword at his side. He took several battle stances, then stood at attention before the children of the village. The little ones made happy noises and the bard could only smile as he moved the feather of his hat out of his face. He loved to show off his magical talent, especially for the amusement of the young.
“But my friend has reminded me of other things which should be spoken of.” The bard waved away the image and brought forth a staff with a miniature dragon perched atop it, the children whispering in awe at the sight of the great artifact.
The warrior in the back shook his head, his eyes filled with a brief flash of grief. Still he said nothing, water dripping from his clothes to puddle at his feet.
“The Staff of Veo, the Kingmaker, the Gift of the Gods. It is known as all these things. But this is a special artifact which can unite kingdoms, save the people of this world from a God so foul even the Gods of the Dark fight against him. Twice has this been used. Once by the Chosen, three thousand years ago against the Black Wizard, Shaniko.”
Boos echoed through out the building. No one held any love for the evil Wizard who sought to rule the world and make his God, Kahalla as the ruler of all Martapa.
“The second was not so long ago. Not long before you were all born.” The bard swept away the image of the staff, breaking it into many pieces which sailed in different directions. The children groaned at losing their story image, but the bard’s voice held their attention. “Like the first time the Gods brought together heroes to find and use the staff for the betterment of the world, those who responded to the call, both willingly and reluctantly, were a strange assortment, but the Gods could ask for no better.”
“Like the Chosen before them they would succeed or fail on their faults and favors. They would die or live on the bonds they made amongst themselves. The Gods watched in fascination to see if another war of the immortals would spring forth, for they could not upset the Balance by directly intervening unless called by the Gift and for a just cause.”
The bard smiled mischievously at the children, though he caught the eye of the warrior in the back, as well. The man’s eyes were hard upon him, but the bard felt no fear. He’d seen the same look many times before, but the story, once started, had to be told.
“At least some of the Gods adhered strictly to such doctrine. For some, both dark and light, found the Balance too strict for their liking and meant to bend it as much as possible without being noticed by the Mother of All, Catiana. It was a tight rope they walked, but some had perfected it over many millennia.”
“Especially the God of Magic. And thus our tale begins…”

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Item: The Axe of Runnel Icehammer

The axe of Runnel Icehammer is not so much an artifact, but a high end magic item. The axe head is made of platinum, with an oaken handle carved with dwarven runes. Etched into the edge of the blade is a prayer to Taniger, "May Taniger bless my arm, protect my friends, and slay my enemies." The blade also glows faintly blue.

The axe was made by dwarven smiths well before Tunnel Icehammer, but the friend of the Chosen made it famous. The blade was meant to fight not only undead but giants and ogres as well.

Dwarves have always fought giants and ogres, but the rise of undead made it necessary to be prepared for each. Made in a group of about two dozen, they were given to Generals to inspire their troops.

In game turns this weapon gives a +2 against undead, +2 against ogres and giants, +2 for saving throws against fear or similar spells. The blade also will give cleric spell: Bless (from the D&D RPG) bonuses to 2d6 party members. In the hands of a dwarf, +4 to ogres, giants, and undead. +4 against fear if followers are dwarves.
Tomorrow: A bit of Chapter One

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

History: The Last High King

So in the time of the High King's Sword, there is no High King upon the throne of Peter. There is a reason for that (other then to make a great plot mover for my book). Sixty or so years before the High King's Sword there was the Mercenary Wars. This drawn out war was a fight between some of the northern Houses, southern Houses, and the Black Wizards. All sides, even Tridon, were using mercenaries to fill their ranks.

One such battle, near Stormvale, the High King actually was present for. Up until this time, the High King did not leave his castle in Stormvale and left decisions to his commanders. Few found him a competent leader, but he was the rightful High King so they followed him out of loyalty and their own gain. While at the camp they were attacked by the mercenary band hired by Black Wizards, which included the famous (or infamous, depending on who you talk to), Sebastion Blackthorne.

A young lad at the time, it was his first engagement and the band of mercenaries was overwhelmed so he ran. (Not that anyone who knows him knows this). Unfortunately he ran into the enemy camp. But he was so young they took him as a scared page or squire. As he ran through camp he came upon the High King and his retinue and accidentally ran into a spear rack as the men from his band made a last ditch effort to win. When he knocked over the rack, one of the spears ran straight through the High King, killing him.

The mercenary band took this as a planned attack and protected Sebastion on the way out, taking him as their leader even though for the most part they had lost the battle. These same men became his band of mercenaries he kept with until he got entangled with Noshi and the others. No one knew, at the time, that Sebastion was running for his dear life, or that battle scared him, since he became a great swordsman and leader. Noshi suspects, but says nothing. And Shadizar, the seer he is, knows, but tells no one.

No one was saddened by the loss of the idiot High king, but there are those who do not think Sebastion should be allowed to live, let alone be the consort of one of their House Leaders, since he is Lady Noshi's husband. You could use this conflict as a plot line, where the pcs have to protect Sebastion, uncover a plot to kill him, or stop a plot to kill him.
Tomorrow: Battle Axe of Runnel

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Place: Warehouses of Bloodhelm

Bloodhelm is a large port and trading area. Bustling with trade as it is, there has to be a place store the items that come in by sea or in by wagon train before they head out the other direction or are sold in the bizarre.

There are blocks and blocks of wooden warehouses down by the wharf (there are a few independently owned warehouses close to the main gate coming from the east, but not many). They are usually three or four stories high, two hundred yards long and around fifty feet wide. Most are weathered, simply from being so near the salt air carried upward by the ocean breezes. Even new repairs are weathered in no time. Roofs are always repaired right away, even if the rest of the buildings might not be in such great repair, because rain is a constant in Bloodhelm. Wet merchandise does not sell.

Most warehouses are shared by several merchants who share the cost of security. Some of the bigger merchant trains (such as Sweet Water Inc) own their own and hire their own full time security. The city patrols will watch for break ins, but are easily bought off.

Each warehouse usually have a manger for the whole building, whether there are several merchants in a building or not.
Tomorrow: Some bit of History

Monday, January 24, 2011

Character: Elizabeth Ann of noble House Draedon

This character is minor, mentioned as Tarkil's bane at the beginning of the first book, but still I love to flush out all my characters, no matter how minor. And since I'm doing a lot of this not only to get you to know my world, but to help you have something to fill in your roleplaying world I figure it won't hurt to bring her forth.

Elizabeth Ann is the daughter of the Lord of noble House Draedon, the third daughter and seventh child. She is a good seamstress, sewing fine tapestries and beautiful dresses, but she is socially awkward. She wants nothing more then to find a husband, who she hopes is Tarkil, and raise a large family of her own.

She is human, nineteen years of age, five foot three inches, and around one hundred thirty pounds. She has a roundish figure, heavy on the hips and the breasts, but not in a sexy way, just a motherly way. Her cheeks are round and her nose and chin don't quite match her face. She bares a summer tan complexion and freckles. Her eyes are green, her long hair a mousy brown.

Elizabeth is always about two years behind in her fashions, even though they are always lovely decorated with embroidery and she can sew better then most of her peers. She prefers pinks, purples and dark blues but dresses very conservatively.

Elizabeth giggles a lot, talking nonstop until she has to take a breath, and her hands have to move to talk, whether to gesture or while she is sewing. She is open, friendly, and will talk to anyone about anything. She is always happy and enjoys going to the market to shop for special supplies or to sell her own sewing when her father lets her.

The party could run into her at the market and learn some tidbit about the nobility by simply talking to her. Or maybe the party, after becoming quite wealthy from their adventures, asks her to make them a dress or dress clothes.
Tomorrow: Warehouses of Bloodhelm

Friday, January 21, 2011

Item: Everyflowing Tankard

This tankard was made by the few mages harbored by the dwarves. Dwarves in most fantasy realms like to drink, and I admit, I couldn't cut that out of my dwarves, either. They are stout drinkers who can hold quite a few ales before they even start to feel the effects. (If you have a inebriation table, bump dwarves up at least 4 drinks before they start feeling even tipsy.)

Because dwarves are such devote drinkers, the mages of the dwarves felt the need to make some sort of tankard which traveling dwarves could use, since kegs of ale are not practical to carry without a wagon when out in the wilderness or cave exploring.

These tankards can be plain or extremely decorated with scenes of battle and drinking. Most are made of wood and silver, but with a hint of magical glow to them. These tankards will produce one tankard of ale every hour, with the use of a trigger word. The ale will be a replica of the last ale the dwarf poured into the tankard so quality could vary. The trigger word could be anything, depending on who has asked for the tankard to be made or the person who made them, but the person who says the word must be gripping the handle when saying it.

The bonus to some of these tankards, usually the more expensively made, is that they act as a plus one blunt weapon if used in battle. And dwarves have been known to use what ever is at hand in a drunken brawl.
Monday: Someone else from my list of characters!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Knighthood of Tridon

The Knighthood is a complicated, yet simple beast. Originally any who wanted to join to protect the Kingdom of Tridon could, whether rich or poor, man or woman. As time went one, more and more rules were put into place.

By the time of the Chosen women Knights were an oddity. Though not forbidden, they were frowned upon. Society did not believe it was proper for a woman to be swinging a sword.

It didn't' take long for the new nobility to segregate themselves from the peasant stock they'd come from. After a few hundred years one had to be from nobility or a child of a Knight.

All males of a House or noble House are trained in the ways of Calvary and arms. Those who are good are also taught bows. They are taught tactics, though only first generation scions of the House command, usually the second boy of each generation.

Under the Knights and Knight Calvary are the footmen. These men come from common stalk but are drilled just as much as the Knights. Half usually serve as a House home guard. They are usually rotated into the regular arm so as to keep them well huened.

Knights are suppose to protect the weak and innocent, protect he lands of Tridon, and give charity and mercy when possible. These are the tenants of Perter. Unfortunately, these too, were forgotten soon after Peter's death. There always people among the Knights who try to uphold such virtues, but they are far and few between.

Each Knight bares the colors of the House they are beholden to. If they are from a noble House they also bare the colors of noble House on the trim of their tabbards.

Knights usually stay at their House or noble House but if they are second or third generation Knights they stay in the barracks each House or noble House provides. These Knights are given a stipen, equipment and a horse. They are allowed to marry and move out of the barracks but are always at the Houses's beck and call.
Tomorrow: Magic Item

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Place: The Slipper Eel Inn and Tavern

This place is your typical, run down inn, situated near the docks and meant to accommodate dock workers and ship hands. The building is made of worn down wood, singed in several places, though never really replaced after said incidents which singed the wood. The roof leaks in several places, though obvious tries at repairing the leaks are clear from the outside. Buckets are placed strategically around the send floor to catch the water, and wood boy also dumps these buckets when needed.

The tavern part of the Eel is dark, dank, musty...just not a pleasant place to go unless you are running away from something or need some place to do some not so legal or shady business. Tables are in sad states of repair, as are the chairs, since many have been part of several brawls. The bouncer is a half ogre named Lute. No one makes fun of his name more then once. He's smarter then he lets on, and can read and speak several different languages.

The bartender and owner is a short, homely looking man who bares the appearance of an account for the royal treasury, not a barkeep. He was just that for a while, then his father died and his mother needed someone to run the tavern and inn. It became a full time job and almost paid as much as his other job. He makes money on the side selling gossip and information.

The tavern serves poor food and drink, costing what would be common for such things in your roleplaying system. (usually 5 copper pennies for each). Rooms are 8 copper pennies a night, though half the price will get you a room for a few hours. The rooms upstairs are small, dank, and not warm in the winter. A single bed in each, a water basin, and that's about it.

This place is a prime place for plot hooks or information gathering. If given enough coin, the barkeep or bouncer will give all sorts of good information. Shady contacts for the thieves in your campaign are also found here. Or maybe your characters are so dirt poor when they get to Bloodhelm maybe that's all they can afford.
Tomorrow: a bit of history

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Character: Cassandra Berkshire

This young lady isn't a key personage in my book, but she is the love of Cailus, future High King. It was fun making a lady who was actually a lady, for most of the time I make my women scrappy. I can't stand women in drives me nuts.

Born to a mage and weaver woman, her father brought them north to live once he realized his daughter had the knack for divination. He didn't want her used by the lesser noble Houses of the south. He found sanctuary within the walls of Goldleaf, selling his talents as mage and paying for his daughter to be tutored. It was here that Cassandra met Cailus, youngest son of Lord Goldleaf. He had little patients with reading so Cassndra would help him with the subject as much as possible. A friendship developed until it bloomed into love. As the youngest son he was freer to marry whom ever he wanted, but when both his brothers as well as his father died he was suddenly thrust into role of Leader and such a union was most likely no longer viable. But she stuck by his side as his mage advisor and in hopes that he will be allowed to marry her.

Cassandra is human, thirty two years old, about five foot two and one hundred twenty pounds. Her build is slight, she is muscular, because she trains with the staff often, and her fingers very long and tapered. Her face is oval with high cheek bones, a small nose and unobtrusive ears. Her eyes are hazel and big and doe like. Her dark chestnut hair is kept in a single braid which falls to her butt.

She wears a dark maroon robe with large sleeves which falls to her finger tips and flares at the end. It is conservative, showing only her neck and feet with a little bit of braiding and decorations.

Cassandra speaks quietly, with calming words. She sometimes speak in large words common to her profession when she becomes excited about something. She does not understand the intricacies of court life, but tries to stay out of its way.

She is merely a background character for the most part, but she could be used in your roleplaying campaign as a quest giver or even someone to ask a divination question of if the campaign is in the north.
Tomorrow: Slippery Eel Inn and Tavern

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Item: Gift of the Gods

The Gate of the Heavens is the end product of the Gift of the Gods. Made to help the mortals of Martapa, the Gift of the Gods comes in three major parts.

The first is the Staff of Veo. Originally called the Staff o the Elves, this staff is six feet tall and made of pure platinum. The top is crowned with a dragon, its forearms out stretched, its wings flared. Atop this would sit a fist size gem.

The second part is a gold circlet with two dragons facing each other, each with a single clawed hand on a gem socket. At one time this was referred to as the Circlet of the Humans, but by the time of the Chosen, Amber Blackwolf simply refers to it as "the circlet".

The last part is two gems, one fist size, one thumb size. The color depends on the viewer, lighter the color the more good leaning the viewer. These were once called the Gems of the Dwarves, but the name, like the others, were lost over time.

Words of power, inscribed upon the walls of the Temple of the Gods, are spoken by the person wearing the circlet and baring the staff. The person's soul is the conduit for the magic which will rise up and call forth the Gate Dragons. The dragons, bound by the magic of the Gift, create the Gate which will allow the Gods to enter the mortal plane with all their powers intact.

The user will most likely die in the process and must be a very strong magic user to do so. The death can be averted by someone willingly giving their live for the user or be granted by Lokar the gift of life. Lokar will grant one life to the user for doing this great feat, thus the user's life could be spared. The user could use it upon someone else, however, which Amber tried to do after she used the Gift.

This is a game ender. If your campaign requires the Gods to be called forth by your PC's you messed up somewhere. That said, if they are aiding the High King in finding the Gift (not to use, just to protect) or stopping an evil form taking the Gift that should be fine. Think hard on bringing this in as anything as background, though, since this is a relic of the highest magnitude.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

History: Gate Dragons

In the time of the Chosen there were no known dragons upon the face of Martapa. In truth there were a few, well hidden ones, but not near the numbers there had been when the giant beasts were created. Some of the decline was due to the fact the dragons rarely had clutches of eggs. Part was simply dragons dying of old age (even though, for the most part, they are virtually immortal). Most had to do with the fact the Black Wizard, Shaniko, had sent his minions to kill dragons and their broods.

When Amber Blackwolf opened the Gate of the Heavens to allow the Gods upon the mortal plane with their full powers the Gate Dragons were created. These seven dragons (I'll get to the eighth in a minute) souls were drawn from the very Chosen themselves, the mortals giving a bit of themselves to recreate these fine beasts once more.

These seven dragons are the biggest, most powerful dragons of all time. The magic they cast is nearly unstoppable. They are immune to magics of most kinds. Only magical weapons can harm them greatly (they can still be scratched by normal weapons, but nothing to actually kill them). And most strangely of all these dragons feel more comfortable in mortal forms then their true form because of their ties to the Chosen. They still love to soar in their own form, but they also enjoy the mortal form more then normal dragons. They are Catiana's children, the Goddess of Neutrality. They do not harm mortals if they can help it, but they will stop anything which upsets the Balance.

Now the Gate needs eight Gate Dragons to operate. The last of the eight dragons was actually a dragon born to a dragon mother. He is the biggest, most powerful of all the dragons, both Gate and normal. He was found by Richard Goldenstern, nearly dead as was his dam and siblings, put in a cave by the God Targon for the Chosen to find. Because of being rescued by the Chosen, he grieved greatly when they finally succumb to their mortality.

The eight dragons went on to spawn many generations of dragons and by the time of the High King's Sword their children populate the world, though hide from mortals as best they can. Easily done since they can shift form when they want and could be part of mortal society without even being noticed.
Tomorrow: The Gift of the Gods

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Place: Mage Guild of Bloodhelm

The Mage Guild of Bloodhelm, in the north east corner of the city, is five story building made of brick, a spendy material when river rock and wood is so much more available. The windows are large, spanning several stories in some cases. But they are magically protected to prevent breakage and people breaking in. The floors are made of solid, imported wood from Calabay, the walls also panelled in a similar manner. Rugs from the old Houses of Tayke are also here, carefully preserved by magic but used daily.

The first floor is simply offices, teaching rooms, and a cafeteria. All the teaching rooms are protected by magical barriers so wayward students don't blow up the whole building. The cafeteria is staffed by three dozen bakers and cooks who take two shifts, allowing food to be available at any time of the day. Meals are prepared at normal meal times but off meals are always available since mages sometimes forget to eat on time.

The second floor is for the hired help and additional class rooms. Most of the classes on this floor are more theory then actual spell practice. The hired help rooms are comfortable, with a large bed, window, storage area and small stove to heat the room. Hired help are given 5 gold ducats a month, room, and board (this is a very good deal, but the mages want to keep their good help).

The third floor is purely for apprentices. The rooms have two bunk beds and four chests and a wood stove. Some even have windows. Apprentices are usually there because they have paid to learn, but occasionally mages sponsor an apprentice because they are powerful or they are helping out a patron. (Duncan was sponsored by Saber, the head of the Guild, because he didn't have money to go there on his own.) There are soaking pools at one end and a place to do laundry. (Apprentices have to clean their own clothes, the mages have theirs washed.

The fourth floor are rooms for Guild Members who may not be present but call the guild home. They come back occasionally to teach classes or to share a discovery, but don't stay long. They can leave their gear, but the rooms might be given to others in their absence. these room are similiar to the helps, but have more book shelves and a small greating room.

The fifth floor holds the rooms of teachers and ranking Guild staff. These room are huge, having a bedroom, a bathing room, and a greeting room. Everything is finely made, some have gold gilding on items depending on what station if they come from wealthy homes.

The building is huge. Spanning acres both up and across. But as large as it is, there is an extra dimensional bit to it. Thus how so much can be crammed into a relatively small space.

The last place is the basement. Here are the achieves, the relics and magic items brought in by members that must be protected, and anything unusual which is kept. Only the older journeymen and mages are allowed here, and only by permission of the head of the order.

Saber Deathwielder (not his real last name, but the one he took on) is the current leader of the Guild. He is in his mid sixties, with a friar Tuck look, both in hair and rotundness. He use to be very fit when he was a mercenary (though part of the guild). He wielded two sabers and battle magic with ease. He does not suffer fools and has a hard time with some of the political power plays which happen in his Guild. He is the most powerful mage here, but he is not heartless. He's taken on many down on their luck people who want to become mages because he thinks everyone deserves to be a mage if they can. Saber came from a rich merchant family, but he sees no reason why money should stand in someones way if they have the ability.
Tomorrow: History

Monday, January 10, 2011

Character: Emperor Dardanos

Dardanos doesn't come into play much until the third novel, but his undertones permeate the first two novels. He was actually one of the first characters I made for my realm when we were roleplaying. After all, I needed a bad guy for Krom. But he has become much more three dimensional since that first moment.

Dardanos was born the oldest son of Leo the Second. He was groomed to become Emperor since the day he was born. He learned the art of politics and weaponry early and failed in neither. When his father ruled everything remained status quo, the merchants sailed north and traded with those of Tridon and those who were ruled by the Black Wizards, but no new exploration ever occurred. Dardanos feared that it would cause the Empire to stagnate. He vowed that when he became Emperor he would send ships out to explore the east, colonize the non human lands, and perhaps even take Taina from the fools in the north. When his father died of a stroke he swiftly put his plan into motion. Now the empire thrives under his hand, though at the cost of the poor, the non humans and those who don't share his ideals.

Dardanos is Ariellan, thirty seven years old, six foot tall and around 200 pounds of pure muscle. His face is very chiseled, with a square jaw and light ebony skin. His eyes are a dark shade of chestnut that turn a dark shade when he is angry or annoyed. His Black hair is cropped short in military style. He wears a toga of white with a purple palla with gold trim and griffins.

Dardanos speaks little unless necessary. He is like a military commander, straight and to the point, unless discussing something vital to the empire. He does not mince words, he says what he thinks, though he is always seeking the advantageous political outcome.

Dardanos is friendly to those he likes, even a few of his enemies that he has gathered over the years. To those he does not like or are in disfavor he is blunt in his speech and usually spends little time speaking to or of them. He is not vindictive, he sees his expansion as simply a way to help the Empire prosper. He isn't above using assassins and the like, but he prefers open warfare or negations to slights and assassinations.

My hardest trick with Dardanos was making him seem human. Sure, he is against Tarkil and his group and their goals, but he is trying to make his people safe, secure, and comfortable. He is not doing what he is doing for selfish reasons, which makes it even more fun to write him.
Tomorrow: Mage Guild of Bloodhelm

Friday, January 7, 2011

Magic Item: Mage Staves

Mage staves are highly decorated, highly empowered items which only some mages, and Wizards, use. Most who use a mage's staff do so to focus their power when casting spells both big and small.

There are several reasons a mage would use a staff. The first ist to help weaker mages imbue their spells with a little more pwoer. Each day tehy cast spells upon teh staff which adds to spells they cast else where.

Another reason mages use staves is for focus. Sometimes powerful mages can not focus their magic and use the staff to focus the magic. Without their staves these mages have trouble keeping their spells directed where they wish to place them or making them do what they wish.

In game terms a mage's staff gives the mage a +2 to Initiative and +1 to each damage (or healing) die. It also allows a mage to expand or decrease the size of a spell. But if a mage loses his staff, a new staff must be carved with runes and imbued with spells in a process which takes a month. During that time they do not have bonuses, but a -2 to Initiative and -1 to each damage (or healing) die.

Most mages will add more runes and gems as they become more powerful and richer.
Tomorrow: Dardanos, Emperor of Ariella

Thursday, January 6, 2011

History: Merlinous' Birth

Two thousand years before the High King's Sword novels, a woman, Lady Valerie Merlinous, saved Bloodhelm. It wasn't a simple siege or some small skirmish which earned her rank and title. No, it was the death of not only her squad of Knights and footmen, but herself as well. The woman of great stature and baring always wore her dark hair short, wore only breeches and t-tunics, and swore like a sailor on shore leave. But she was greatly loved by her men and she greatly loved her home.

Two thousand year before the High King's Sword novels the city of Bloodhelm was under siege for two months by ogres, bandits, and a few renegade wizards. The harbor was barricaded by pirate ships and the populace was slowly starving to death. The Knights within the walls of Bloodhelm sallied forth many times, trying to break the lines and get messengers through to bring aid from other Houses. But no messengers made it through the ranks of ogres and bandits.

Valerie knew why they weren't getting through. The Knights refused to sacrifice themselves for the populace by guiding the messenger all the way through the ranks of those who laid siege to Bloodhelm. Sick with the thought of so many dying while her fellow Knights ate well, she asked her squad to accompany her and the messenger as far as they could make it. No one refused her request despite knowing it was a suicide mission.

The next morning dawned and Valerie led her brave men through the protected gates into the mass of death before them. In the end she managed to protect the messenger to the edge of the encampment, allowing him to ride to Vandez for aid. But she lost her life in the noble effort.

The House of Bloodhelm realized their mistake or at least wanted to quell the populace before they demanded she be granted sainthood. They named her son the leader of a newly created noble House in answer to the problem.
Tomorrow: Mage Staves

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Place: Torak's Tavern

In the first novel of my series, Krom ends up going with Elly and Guthlaf here because he finds rumors of his foe being present at the tavern. This rough and tumble inn is near the docks, so there are not so pleasant people here.

The tavern itself is in good repair, freshly painted (because of the constant birds which roost on the building at night), and well guarded. A half ogre named Bruiser, (no one knows he's real name) mans the door most evenings and most of the day. There are two other human bouncers who help out, but the sight of Bruiser usually keeps things in line. The owner, named Chad (Torak was the original builder nearly 300 years before) doesn't really care what race a person is, as long as they have money to spend and don't cause too much damage.

The room has few windows and few lamps, so at night it is dark in the tap room. There are about two dozen round tables and a few tall stools at the bar. A single fireplace warms the place, but there are usually so many people in the tavern at night it is never cold. The food is passable, the ale cheap. The tavern wenches are all trained to use daggers and have been known to pick the pockets of the unwary or drunk patron.

The normal patrons of this place are sailors and workers on merchant boats. Also the low life of the city likes to congregate in this place so many a rumor could be found. Later on in the night and into the early morning drunken brawls happen often.

Some uses for your campaign is to find rumors or maybe even to find a person of not so high standings to help complete a quest. Or if they need to find a ship, this is a good place to look.
Tomorrow: History

Monday, January 3, 2011

Character: Calius Goldleaf

Cailus is the mover of this book, whether he really is in the books that much. He is the reason Tarkil is trying to help his country and thus is very important to the plot.

Cailus is the youngest of three sons. His oldest brother, Garath, was killed in a hunting accident. His second oldest brother was killed along with their father by Kin or Black Wizards, he is not sure. Their deaths left Cailus and his twin sister, Helen, to take care of House Goldleaf. Their mother left for Weatherworn and Merryweather to gather allies for him when they learned he was legitimate heir to the High Kingship. When several minor House assassins tried to execute him, he left his sister in charge of Goldleaf, faked his death and went into hiding, trying to find a good way to gather allies and bring back Tridon to where it should be.

Cailus is 35 years old, six foot and two inches, and about 200lbs. He is broad across the shoulders, but trim about the waist. He is not heavy set, but not trim either. He could definitely hold his own in a fight of brute strength. His complexion is pale, his eyes blue, and his hair a dark chestnut brown which he keeps in a small pony tail at the base of neck.

Currently Cailus has taken to wearing a leather tunic, studded with small silver studs, a billowy blue shirt with gold trim. He wears black pants and knee high, black riding boots. He carries a saber, a small gold colored oak leaf with a sword through the top on the belt buckle. He wears a short cape of dark blue, almost black color with gold trim.

Cailus is an articulate speaker and when he talks he gives heart to those around him. He doesn't mince words, he says it how it is, which is rare for nobles. He can speak tavern trash talk as well as a native of such dives and has no qualms about speaking one on one with a foot shoulder.

He is a happy, but serious man. He lost many of his male family members to Black Wizards, dishonest House nobles, and mere accidents to take anything lightly. He want to help his dying country, though he knows he can't do so in a rush of youthful optimism.
Tomorrow: Torak's Tavern