Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Character: Vetchdoron

Vetch, as I call him, doesn't show up until the second book where he shadows Elly for a reason only known to him. But he does become a keystone in my storyline despite my best efforts. (Darn those secondary characters!) He is a fun character to write because he is a big minotaur with brains. Bronze with brains, what a change.

Vetch is large minotaur, standing a good six and a half feet tall, clay red fur, with a white splotch over his right eye. The tip of his left horn is broken from some battle in the past. He wears leather armor with studs and carries a two handed battle axe nearly as big as himself. He wears studded bracers with the symbol of the dragon on it, denoting his rank as captain amongst the minotaur mercenaries.

Like many of his kind, Vetch is a mercenary who hires out to the highest bidders. In this day and age it is the Black Wizards. Vetch in a quandary. Because minotaurs are so honorable they are bound by contracts, but at the same time they do not like what the Black Wizards are doing, for they are trying to bring back Kahalla. Vetch in the books is trying to figure out how to save his people from the Black Wizards while still remaining honorable.

Vetchdoron is most likely to be found in Last Stand in the time of the High King's Sword, for that is where his troop of mercenaries are stationed. He works hard to keep his men safe and would hire extra help (i.e. the players) if they are honorable and will work hard. He and his men can also be hired for protection if Vetch and his company are not currently working for the Black Wizards.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Item: Dragon Shield of the Gods

The Dragon Shield of the Gods was used by Richard Guildenstern, one of the Chosen. Presented to him by the Master Mage Ukiah and made by the God Taniger himself, Richard loved the shield, once he got over the magic it harbored. The shield is made of pure platinum (though not heavy to the wielder) with a platinum dragon breathing fire upon its face.

This shield bares several qualities. The first is that with a single word it becomes palm size and can be attached to a bracer to be opened up on the shield arm with a single word. The second is it negates magic. If placed in the path of magic it brings the magic into itself and the magic can be redirected, either to heal the user or to harm an attacker. The third is it is meant to protect the wielder from God like blows.

The shield has been lost and it is rumored that the dragon Fire Flash looks for the shield of his human friend. Beware any who might have it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Expanded Time Line XV

2165 PA (Post Avatar)
A dragon is found dead outside of Varanath's gates. The beast is covered in wounds, scorch marks, and weapons still stuck in her hide. The Lord of Varanath can not determine who killed the dragon, who she might be, and why she was injuried and came to Varanath to die. The Lord of Varanath would like to find some other dragons to help him, but can't find any.

Unicorns are seen on the plains of Ariella. The elves of Ariella would like to protect them by capturing them and bring them to their home range. There are also other people who would like to capture them for their horns, blood and other magical components. Adventurers are asked to fulfill both requests.

Strange creatures with red eyes and look bear like attack Calabay in the middle of winter, killing livestock and men alike. The Leader of Calabay asks for help tracking down these strange creatures.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Locations: Willowdale

Though not as important in the High King's Sword series, Willowdale is a fine little country village which doesn't seem to grow any larger in the three thousand years from the time of the Chosen.

This village has an inn, a general store, a stables, and a blacksmith. Comprising of only about three dozen houses, the village of Willowdale is the home to mostly farmers and foresters. About one hundred people live here, the inn doubling as a school room during the winter when there are few travelers.

North of Devonshire but near the Tsalagi Mountains, this village doesn't see a lot of traffic, except for seasonal lumberjacks, trappers and gold miners. Sometimes the King's Men will do training excersies nearby. Supplies are shipped in from Devonshire or Varanath once a month, usually just staples which can not be made or found in the village, like sugar, flour, iron ingots, silks, even writing materials. Wool is turned into cloth here, so boys are always shepherding sheep around because they provide not only clothing, but meat as well.

Travelers are looked upon with suspicion, though their coin is accepted. Bartering is actually the best way to get a good deal here, since coin is not needed so far from civilization. A group of adventures fresh from discovering a "haul" might find that jewelry box they thought was worthless, might be worth a warm meal and bath instead.

A healer is available (in games terms usually a druid or cleric of level 8-12th level), but he or she will ask for a favor to help the village in turn for his or her service. Whether it is getting rid of a monster problem or just clearing debris from the only road in, the healer will make sure his work helps the village in some manor, since he taken care of by the village.

Stories and news are always welcome. Magic is not shunned, but certainly frowned upon (save the healer) since the village was the target of the Black Wizard Shaniko in the time of the Chosen (and his descendants on and off through the years).

Monday, May 23, 2011

Character: Margaret

Of all the characters who were simply supposed to be background text, something to give the world life, Margaret was perhaps the only one to take on such a life of her own. She appears in the prologue of the book, the Seer's granddaughter who leaves the scene with in two pages. But my critique friends and even my husband demanded to know what happens to her and thus I have had to write her into four books.

Margaret is an eight year old human, four foot tall and fifty pounds wet. Her hair is curly brown and reaches her waist. Her doe like brown eyes watch the world with a soul much older then her age. She wears typical dress for an eight year old from a stable family, a skirt of blues and a tunic of the same color. She likes to wears ribbons in her hair and a shawl like her grandmother does.

She is always very helpful, very quiet speaker, and truthful to a fault. She is curious about history, magic and other races and will pester anyone who might know anything about those subjects. Her grandmother is a great Seer who people from all over come to see, though they live moderately. Margaret has shown no magical aptitude at the moment, which her grandmother is grateful for because being a Seer is a hard mark to live with.

The PC's might come into contact with Margaret during or after the High King's Sword books at the inn and tavern in Devonshire owned by Joseph. She spends most of her time there with her mother's friend, Joseph, and his children because Margaret's grandmother teaches the children.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Items: The Lost Library of Janesh

The Lost Library of Janesh is an extrademinsional library brought from the lost of islands of Janesh when the islands were destroyed in a volcanic eruption. The form in which it was transported has been said to be many things. Some have called it a door, a key, a locket, even a small cube of little decorations. A key word has to be said and a meta-physical door decorated with fanciful creatures and ancient writing appears.

Once the door is open inside is an immense library of five levels with sweeping arches and huge windows which open up into ethereal nothingness, and the center area is open to all five levels. Books on every subject abound here for the people of Janesh loved to study everything. Ancient, forgotten magic, languages long dead, even studies of dragons can be found here. The prize is the tome supposedly called Life Immortal by Hideo. The book supposedly gives a way to magically extend life. This is what the Black Wizard, Shaniko, was after when he ransacked Tayke.

But even though finding the library is hard, actually finding the password and crossing the threshold is near impossible. The password was passed from Keeper to Keeper of the Lost Library, the last killing himself before Shaniko could reach him. And it is in the ancient language of Janesh, which few, if any, can speak.

Finding this library and how to open it could become a whole campaign spanning goal. It would be up to the GM on whether or not Hideo's Life Immortal is actually there or actually holds the key to life immortal.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Expanded Time line XIV

2164 PA (Post Avatar)
The High King of Tridon calls for expeditions to the ruins of Tayke to find the lost library of Janesh. He is offering a huge reward for anyone who can find the artifact. Subsequently he also will pay well for any other artifacts or treasures found from the ruins.

Settlers in Ariella head off west, encountering Akicitia and Elven resistance. Many die, but some settlers do manage to build holdings here and there. Some even come to agreements with the local clans of Akicitia and tribes of elves to live in peace.

An alchemist believes he has found the secret to eternal life and is seeking certain ingredients, which includes elven hair, dragon scales, and unicorn horns. Searches in the forests and high mountain tops explode as people try to not take advantage of the craze, but also try and earn immortality.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Location: Ruins of Tayke

This once proud House sits east of Goldleaf over the Tsalagi Mountains with no good pass between the two. Before the Chosen ever came on the scene, the Black Wizard, Shaniko, destroyed this House looking for information and magical advances, none of which he obtained. Many of the inhabitants fled, carrying their knowledge with them, or killed themselves so they could not be used to help Shaniko. Many of the buildings were destroyed outright, but as time has gone on more have been lost.

What remains are the ghosts of elegant sweeping buildings, once beautiful gardens, and fountains of such beauty they would make a person weep. The city was huge, with a stone wall which encircled it all. Most buildings were made of wood, single story, and decorated with fanciful creatures, both real and imagined. Tayke was a city of magic users and innovators, and so some structures still stand, even after three thousand years of neglect because of magical wards.

Many come to these ruins in search of magic not seen for three millennium as well as innovations of mechanical skill not known in the time of the High King's Sword. Many people have traveled north, but few have returned. Between the Black Wizards, ogres, and rumors of undead in the area, few have lived to tell the tale. Those who have returned have told of huge mazes of underground networks, creatures of the like no one has seen before, and ghosts that sing haunting tunes of sadness and death.

The prize, which many believe Shaniko was after, was the lost library of Janesh, an ancient civilization of power who disappeared long before Peter ever dreamed of the Kingdom of Tridon. None have been able to find such a thing, but if the library did exist, many would pay a king's ransom for such knowledge.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Character: Jarvis

Jarvis has been Kredoc's butler since Kredoc took on the title Lord. But they have been friends since Kredoc turned into a wild adult. They were partners in theft and assassinations when Kredoc was learning the ropes and they saved each other's backsides more then once. Jarvis doesn't think anyone is good enough to see Kredoc, not even his sons, and is always an obstacle to overcome when trying to reach Kredoc.

Jarvis stands about six foot tall, greying hair in a proper short ponytail and is always dressed in proper, black attire. His face is severe and it appears he never smiles beneath his hooked nose. (Rumor has it his nose was broken in one of he and Kredoc's adventures.) He is lithe in stature, but even now can outrun most people half his age. He speaks in proper and respective tones, but seems to be talking down to everyone. He loves poetry and bardic tales, and always carries a dagger at his side (sheathed in poison).

Jarvis has many skills besides those of a man servant. He can scale walls, blend into shadows with ease, and pick pockets like a well huened thief (which he once was). He can tell without trying if someone is lying to him and he doesn't take kindly to such things. His biggest asset is his honest fondness of his friend, Kredoc. Anything which threatens Kredoc becomes his problem and is dealt with swiftly.

Jarvis probably won't be encountered by player characters unless one is trying to reach Kredoc. Then it becomes a game of cat and mouse as to making their way through Jarvis. He can not be bribed and would take such things badly. If there is information regarding some harm coming to Kredoc or the House Jarvis may allow the PC's to see Kredoc then.

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Item: Salay Warhorses

Salay warhorses are the finest of all warhorses on Martapa. Bred to be fleet of foot, brave of heart and quick of wit these horses are always a much sought after commodity.

Bred by ranchers near the House Cole the lines of Salay horses are always carefully recorded and documented. Inbreeding is discouraged because it weakens the animal.

They stand around 17 hands at the shoulder and though built like a riding horse, they can carry quite the load and still put on the speed. They are solid color of black, chestnut or charcoal gray and bare no markings save a small mark on the left shoulder which resembles a lightning bolt, which all Salay horses bare.

People buy these animals both as warhorses and riding horses because they are all battle trained. Stallions are never sold, only geldings and mares. These animals are five to six times more expensive then their normal counterpart and can only be sold by authorized Salay sellers.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Expanded Time Line XIII

2163 PA (Post Avatar)
The Emperor of Ariella is nearly assassinated. A group of humans, elves, and Akicitia breech the walls of Notitia but are stopped by the Hand. Some escape but most are slaughtered. The Emperor loses most of his Hand and offers a reward for any survivors of the attack that are found and brought to him.

A trading dispute erupts between Merryweather and Varanath and logging is halted in the area. Prices of hardwood for furniture and the like triple and many people who depend on the business of logging go hungry.

Undead appear in the pass of the Tsalagi Mountains, attacking caravans. Caravans hire lots of adventures as protection and the city of Devonshire looks to hire adventurers to help clear out the undead.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Place: Last Stand

This place is pivotal in not only the High King's Sword, but my never to see the light of day stories as well as the very history of Martapa. Here is where Peter and his friends started their march against the ogres. Last Stand is where Jared Swiftarrow of the Chosen finds a part of the Gift of the Gods, and here is where my troop of merry adventures in the High King's Sword find answers to more questions then they thought they had.

Last Stand originally was a farming village before Peter and his friends came. Taken over by ogres and the inhabitants made slaves, they were eventually freed by Peter. The village grew into a great trading city, being so close to the only pass viable for wagon trains in the Tsalagi Mountains. Before the Black Wizard Shaniko destroyed four of the Houses on the east side of the mountains, this city was a place of learning, housing no less then three mage colleges. Magical strides were being made, coming close to matching those of the ancient land of Janesh. But Shaniko came for them and instead of allowing the Black Wizard to claim the knowledge, many mages destroyed their research and then killed themselves. It was a dark time.

In the time of the High King's Sword, Marius Vandez rules the city as leader of the Black Wizard's of Shaniko. It is Marius which the group seeks and something he stole.

The city itself houses nearly 50,000 people. There is no wall, per say, but there are gates on all the major roads which lead into the city. Because the Black Wizard's rule, few of the Black Wizards have felt the need for such mundane defenses as walls. Anything is available for sale here, even slaves. Ogres, half-ogres, and skiegs are common sights walking around the city, many hired personally by the Black Wizards which reside there. People live here willingly, at least in recent years. Marius sees no need to put his thumb down on people. Commerce is good for the Black Wizards, after all, as it is for any city. But most people who live here willingly are exiled nobles, Black Wizards, thieves, assassins, down their luck people, and those who are always looking for a quick gold coin. There are a few honest people living here that are simple merchants and tradesmen and Marius has made it clear they are not to be harmed unless they break the law. After all, they bring in money and must needed goods for the city.

Bringing your party here is a good jumping point off into adventure. They can enter freely, as long as they don't scream "Death to the Black Wizards". The only people that may be stopped are elves. Elves are always looking to destroy the Black Wizards and player characters may have to go in as slaves if they wish to go in. Anything, I mean anything, can be bought here, but always at a price. If you want to let a PC to have it, but couldn't think of a way to get it in, this is the place. Magic is monitored, so over use of it may draw unwanted attention from the Wizards.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Character: Mahatalo

Mahatalo is an Akicitia who was a leader filled with destiny. He left his home in the southern part of Ariella to head north to Tridon and the Tsalagi Mountains. He did so with a group of loyal followers after Catiana herself came to him and said he would be needed in the north. His people were persecuted by ogres and the elves of the newly formed Clan Warriors helped them put a foothold in the north. Because of this, Mahatalo promised his people (who were longer lived then elves) would be protectors of the protectors, though in the open.

Mahatalo was ancient when he finally died, thousands of years old. He stood six and a half foot tall, was broad shouldered, and weighed as much as two grown humans. He was lightning fast, even when he approached death, and his followers called him "terror claws". He wore the hunting leathers of the Clan Warriors, even down to the feathers in his mane. He was a dark color, almost chocolate brown, and his eyes were wide and brown.

Unlike most Akicitia he was open and friendly, joking with people of any race, playing cards, rolling dice. He could socialize with anyone. But if you meant to harm any of his friends he was death with claws. He had a special friendship with Veo Sunstar, seeing him as a wayward son who needed guidance, but a friend to go drinking with. Mahatalo was particularly watchful of any of the Sunstar line, for he knew they all would need a little guidance.

When he died, his sister, Kangi, took the remaining members of the tribe to the south once more, seeing as most of the Clan Warriors had died. Though he doesn't show up much in the books, mostly as conversation on Krom's part, he shapes not only Krom, but some of the Clan Warrior history and I thought he might be of interest here.

If your party encounters Mahatalo he will be friendly and open with them, especially if one of them is a clan warrior or one of his kind. His one problem is his hate for ogres, so if any bares ogre blood he will attack on site, no questions asked. He can help them on their way with supplies, maps, or even a tale or two. Perhaps he has a tale which will get them on their way to some lost ruin or such.

Thursday, May 5, 2011

Item: Horn of Strength

Horns of Strength were created by the dwarven battle mages to help their warriors in battle. When played, usually by the standard barer, any orders given by horn blow gives a +2 strength bonus to all in a 100 foot radius which lasts for ten minutes. If the sound of retreat rings those within 100 feet receive a 10 foot move per round bonus and a +2 to their defense. They also do not suffer any retreating minuses.

Only those of similar alignment to the horn blower gain the bonus and if they leave the area of effect they lose the bonus right away instead of after 10 minutes.

Most horns are made from a ram's curved horn and carved with dwarven runes and scenes of battle. Dwarves covet these and may seek to buy one off a non-dwarf at any price. If they happen to be a not so honorable dwarf they may seek to steal them.

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Expanded Time Line XII

2162 PA (Post Avatar)
Mount Varanath explodes in the dark of night, sending plumes of ash into the air for miles around and lava crashes through the thick forests, but misses any civilization. As the lava cools the rulers of House Varanath ask for adventurers to go check on scouts and woodcutting villages that may have been in the area.

A giant sea serpent begins attacking ships between the Isles of Taniger and the mainland. Many trade ships are lost and both Tridon and the dwarves send ships out to hunt the monster

A pact is made between the elves of Ariella and the Akicitia. The pact covers trade, movement between each others lands, and a clause is put in that if one is attacked by the Empire, the other will aid, whether with troops or aid for refuges.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Place: Mount Varanath

Mount Varanath is a semi-active volcano which has given the land around it good nutrients not only for forest land, but some pasture and crop land as well. House Varanath is named after the mountain, and mountain itself was named after a scout name Spring Varanath who discovered and studied the mountain before the Houses were even formed.

Though seen from a distance while in the city of Varanth, Mount Varanath is over two days away from Varanath proper by horse. Once in the forests that surround the volcano, people will find little used paths, fey creatures and the remains of old elven villages and buildings. Though the elves had little presence near Varanath, they still left their mark, building observatories and libraries in the study of nature and the volcano. Such places have been striped clean in some cases, others they were buried in volcanic ash in the few eruptions which Varanath has belched forth. These places might house long lost elven artifacts or well preserved libraries and mosaics. What most scholars would like to find is the long lost observatory the elves set up to watch Varanath, hoping to find the knowledge the elves garnered so long ago

Recently ogres and undead have been spotted by rangers and druids and the animals of the area have been acting strange. Observers aren't sure if Varanath is ready to blow again or something insidious has come to roost.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Character: Tresh Bloodhelm

Tresh was a big boy and always considered slow because he was so strong. But he was a great strategist. He designed several things which improved life in Tresh's village. As a stout and loyal friend to Peter he left with him to seek adventure. His last name was Weaver, but during a battle fighting ogre's his helm was punched in and he broke his nose, blooding his helm.

Tresh was human and lived to be 81 years. He was 6 1/2 feet tall and nearly three hundred pounds of muscle. He was broad shouldered, with thick arms and legs. He was never fat, though he added a bit of weight right before his death.

Tresh's face was oval, with cherub cheeks, non distinct cheek bones and a heavy brown. He bore a farmer tan, with dark sea blue eyes which were heavy lidded. His hair was straw blond and grayed with age.

Tresh wore dun colored pants, green tunic, rope belt and sturdy leather boots. Once he was leader he wore more blacks and reds, in silks and nearly gaudy. He was a straight forward man, but usually he allowed others to speak for him. Later it was his wife that spoke for him.

If your party plays in the time of Peter Tresh might be in need of scouts or adventurers to scout the area around Bloodhelm since at the time it was very wild, though Tresh knew the port would be a good place to settle. He will take no treachery, but pay well for such services.