The tower of Tyrin stands above Wynter, like a rotten sliver of stone and iron. From atop this perch of the gods, stands two figures. One is short and bent and looking out over his city. He is completely unaware of the second, much taller figure looming behind him. Until he says," Greetings, old friend."
"So," the stooped figure tensely asks," you've finally come to kill me then?"
With a small sigh the tall man says," No. Unlike you, I do not kill those whom I call friend."
With plenty anger, and some fear, the short man responds," I did what I had to."
For several long moments, the tall man stares in appraisal at the smaller figure. Finally, he bows his head mournfully and says," Mongoose, I'm not here to take your life. I'm here to give you a final chance for salvation and peace."
"Lies," Mongoose says with a sneer," You only come to tease me. You spout your lies about peace and salvation. But I know the truth. With this blade, I am free from your touch, Harvester. You come to trick me into releasing it so you can finally have your revenge, friend." He spits the word friend out with disgust. Continuing, he says," No, my old friend, I will not give up that which keeps me safe. In fact..."
Mongoose reaches up to his left ear and fondles a shining gem. With a smile on his face, he says," You do not wish to kill me. You want to give me the.."
"STOP!" Jaccob roars. "You think that bauble's little magic will work on ME?! You were always foolish, but I never thought you were a fool. That earring will never be able to affect my kind. As one of the three facets of Life, I am beyond the simple magic tricks your feeble kind could possibly dream of."
Mongoose, slightly cowed, responds," Yeah, I know. If it were only that simple. But with this blade, you cannot touch me. It is I who could destroy you." He raises his right arm towards Jaccob. In place of a hand, lays a metallic claw made of a black, ethereal material.
"I do not doubt," Jaccob sighs with sadness in his eyes," You could destroy this body. But you could not destroy me. I do not come to tease or torment you. I call you friend, because you truly were my friend, once. I have returned to you after these long centuries to repeat my last warning to you, and to plead with you one final time."
With distaste on his face, Mongoose turns away and says," Say what you have come to say and leave me be."
"I have seen where this path you walk leads to. I watched, helplessly, as our old friend Straahd was slowly lead to his doom. The path he chose took him from my grasp as well. But in the end, he was more of a fiend of Chaos, than a person. This path you choose is the same as his and will truly destroy you, as well."
"Do not compare me to that insane fool," Mongoose shouts. "I am not some crazy gnome, who's half mad, half suicidal. His fate is not mine. His lunacy ran rampant through the realms for over four hundred years! My sins are nothing compared to his!"
Mongoose, with a cocky smile creeping upon his face, continues," Or yours for that matter, if I remember correctly. With this blade, I am removed from your touch. And as such, you can not see what happens to me. You have no power over me."
"Oh, you would be surprised, by what I can see," Jaccob, with a dread filled voice, says," I see many things and know these truths to be fact. Curiosity can cause more pain than any other emotion. The Coin of Life, placed in all mortal souls, has three sides. Ebon broke my heart. And I destroyed the world. I am more than aware of my sins. And next to mine, yours are nothing. I will wear my sins and suffer my punishment for the rest of my existence.
"And I can see more about you than you think. Your true weakness is fear. Your greatest fear is death. So, I am here to give you one last assurance, your fear has caused you more suffering than any hell you could imagine. I bear you no ill will and harbor no hatred or vengeance against you."
"Just get on with it. I tire of this game." Mongoose said in exasperation.
"Very well then," Jaccob sighs," I'll repeat my first warning to you, deliver unto you an additional warning, and as a parting gift, I give you the truth to one question. Use it well.
"Firstly, my initial warning from all those long years ago. Seven times you will witness the rise and seven times witness the fall of Wynter. If you do not relinquish that blade before the eighth fall of Wynter, you will have a choice to make. Keep your soul and die as a child of Life or lose your soul and
live as a child of Chaos."
"You've said this all before." Mongoose says," And you will not trick me, Jaccob. I freely make my choices and you cannot stand it. Now what is this new warning you have for me?"
"Do you recognize this?" Jaccob asks holding up up a large, golden coin in his hand.
"Yes. It looks to be a Heidracht coin."
"This coin caused the death of a good man this evening. I met with the man personally and before he left this world he was on the trail that would have led to your doorstep. Lord Thistledown had two coins minted special for the birth of his two children. This one has the face of his daughter on it. The other, his son. Of course you already know what befell the lord and his daughter. What you do not know is this. The twin of this coin is coming to Wynter and will cause the eighth fall. And that blade you wear will belong to him."
With a chill running down his spine Mongoose asks," How do you know this will come to pass? Do we not all have free will? If my choices are truly mine, the how does anyone know my fate?"
"I can say no more of these things my old friend. Unless one of those is the question you wish to be answered."
"I have no use for your answers. You will not help me with my wishes. And I doubt you would be honest in the answer. So for the final time begone." Mongoose turns his back to Jaccob and starts walking to the door.
Jaccob says in a mournful voice," I have always been honest with you. And we will see each other one last time. But sadly, I know what your answer will be. And unfortunately, you will ask me the wrong question."
Mongoose opens the door and asks, with a small laugh," Since you know what the punishment for my sins is. What is the punishment for yours?"
"So be it. When everything is gone and nothing remains. In that void I shall remain for ever alone with him. My punishment is the same as his. In the end, I cannot be destroyed. But it isn't farewell yet. I will be there when your choice is made. And that was the wrong question."
Mongoose could see his shadow sharply etched into the wall in front of him. As a brilliant light flashed from behind. When the light vanished, he heard a metallic clink. He turned towards Jaccob and saw that only ash and the Heidracht coin remained.
Friday, February 3
Inspired by Stirges suck. I ran across that post a few weeks back while researching for one of my tales, I started using the slackbox idea to make the locales and adventures for my heroes. After realizing that I was putting waaay too much work for a few short stories, I thought maybe I could throw my hat back into the DM ring. I haven't DM in a decade now. Usually when I DM I either take the lazy way out and run a module or I spend way too much time plotting out an adventure to railroad my players through. I say railroad because I always tried to set up almost every possible scenario so I could have fall backs for when the player, inevitable, turned left when they should go right. I was basically writing a choose your adventure book, instead of allowing for player imagination, I was basically writing the story that I would use in some of my tales. The players were basically allowed to choose which directions the characters would go but in most cases, I already had that mapped out. Let me tell you, it was way too much work.So I hated to DM.
Now the idea of running a sandbox scared the hell outta me. I knew that I would never be able to plan out every situation in a large enough area to make sandboxers happy. But I also know that a long time ago, more than ten less than twenty years, I had a friend living with me. He and I would alternate DMing our two characters, his was a dwarf and mine was something weird (they usually were since I'd gotten bored with the standard a long time before then). All we had was the three core books and The Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting for 2nd edition. So using this map we started our characters out. Now we were both pretty busy at the time so we played about an hour every couple of days. So with almost no prep we relied on storytelling and random encounters. We had a freakin blast. It was the last time that I remember having fun as a DM.
So I said," Screw it." I called Eric up and asked him if he would mind me trying out a sandbox campaign in Ganth. He said with a little trepidation," Sure." Right now, it's not in the BIG BOOK of GANTH yet, but we'll see how it goes. It's not my place to tell you what's in that book, so far, but maybe this will be a sneak peek. I do plan to have a few random tables(including some adventure hooks), npc names, lair locations, and a couple dungeons ready. The dungeons will be drawn, hopefully in some unique ways, and have a few key encounters but I'm going to try flying without a safety net. We'll see how it goes.
The players will start off in Krixen's End as recently released slaves. I allowed no clerics or paladin's, since they wouldn't survive the slavery. The character's also start off as third level characters for this railbox. The were originally first level when they were captured and sold into slavery, I decided to say after five years in bondage they gained the extra levels. So ends the rail part of the box. Now on to the sandbox version.
So far the guys have chosen to make a dwarf thief and human illusionist. Both are neutral evil, we'll see how that works out. We could use a couple more players but as of now these two will have to learn to survive. Let's hope Eric and Nick make some interesting tales.
ALSO, as a side note, there will still be Tales coming. I'm currently writing up the first few parts of The Fall of Wynter. Hopefully, I can get the first post up in the next few days.
Thursday, February 2
Wynter. The glimmering city of rot. It's shimmering spires and majestic citadels rise from the land like festering boils on the face of Ganth. The wounded city, doomed forever in it's own beautiful death.
The city of Wynter is locked eternally in a war between Law and Chaos. Since time immemorial, Wynter has been the center of commerce, art and knowledge. But trapped beneath it's beautiful surface lies avarice, envy, and pride. The putrefaction slowly creeps into the city's heart over generations. With the disease comes the clarion call for destruction. Following the razing, either self-inflicted degeneration or the purifying flames of the just, the city is slowly rebuilt.
Only the ancient histories of the elves or the memories of the eldest dragons could possibly know how long the city of Wynter has been locked in it's endless cycle of death and rebirth. No one living knows how many countless faces the city has worn. With the inevitable turmoil one truth remains constant, Wynter is doomed. Wynter is known in all languages of Ganth. In many it is a warning, a feeling of dread, or a source of excitement and adventure. To all races, Wynter means City of Man.
And soon Wynter will fall again.