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Hello, and welcome to my Blog. Where one geek will share with others what many dream of doing, but may not have the Skill Points to dare...

Playing a RPG.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

And on the seventh day, there be dragons!

Following our second sitting of the campaign (of which I'll update you in a later blog), our GM sent us an email with regards to the history of Ansalon and the world it's within. Ansalon is one of the main continents of a world called Krynn. While reading the history of Krynn, it became apparent at how similar some fantasy stories and lore can be, often borrowing from each other, branching out to different directions that often lead to stories or endings that can be identical if not only for location and character names. This is not usually a bad thing, as fantasy is so wide spread these days that people make it as applicable to their tastes as they wish.

I can be very picky about fantasy and sci-fi stories a like. A lot of people find it puzzling that I like Star Wars and not Star Trek. It's always the same answer I give. Star Trek is just too clean cut for my liking. Uniforms for every race. Tiny and tidy weapons. Smooth star cruisers and space vessels. Compare that to Star Wars, which is in my opinion a far greater betrayal of a Sci-Fi epic, you find big clunky cruisers full of sand and scratched to bit with weapons that look like it would do more damage to yourself than the enemy. Certainly, some will point out that Star Wars is a series of movies and Star Trek a series of television shows, but both have dabbled in the waters of the opposition, failing in some places and exceeding in others. I'm sure there are some Star Trek fans that will want to "set their phasers to kill" after this, but I say each to their own. There has to be some folk out there that appreciate the other the top, big chested, scantily clad, female portrayal that some stereotypical fantasy (and sci fi) has.

Dark, gritty, gothic, desperate and horrific. These are a few of the descriptive words I like to use for my sci-fi and fantasy. If any of you have read any of the Warhammer 40,000 novels, namely by Dan Abnett, you'll know exactly what I'm getting at.

You can imagine how happy I was when it came to reading about the history of Krynn and it's creation, realising that it's the bastard child of the Old High God, which has been dragged by the hair backwards through many a thorned bush. I'll try my best to highlight part of which hold a significant importance to our heroes and their journey.

Krynn is divided into five main continents: Ansalon, The Dragon Isles, Ithin'carthia, Taladas, and Adlatum, as well as the subterranean continent of Chorane. Krynn's history is split into four ages. The first of which is...

The Age of Starbirth - The First Age.

The Age of Starbirth is the first of Krynn's ages, and is said to begin with the High God. The High God accepts the offers of Paladine, Gilean, and Takhisis, and allows the three gods to select their companion deities. Paladine and his companions become the Gods of Light. Takhisis and her companions become the Gods of Darkness. Gilean and his companions become the Gods of Balance. Reorx (God of Creation) shapes Krynn and the first dragons under the guidance of Paladine and Takhisis. The other gods, excluding Chaos, aid in the creation of Krynn as a habitable world.

Takhisis corrupts the first dragons in her image, creating the first red, blue, black, green, and white dragons. A grief-stricken Paladine asks Reorx to craft monuments to his lost children. Paladine gives life to these monuments, thus creating the first gold, silver, copper, bronze, and brass dragons. Takhisis's treachery causes a great war on Krynn known as the All-Dragons War. The gods withdraw from Krynn before their war destroys the world. The Gods of Light build the Dome of Creation, the Gods of Darkness create the Abyss, and the Gods of Balance create the Hidden Vale.

The three pantheons discover the potential of the stars, which are spirits in reality, and the All-Saints War begins. The fighting is stopped by the High God, who proclaims that each pantheon may offer one gift to the spirits. The Gods of Light provide the spirits with physical forms so as to enjoy Krynn's pleasures. The Gods of Darkness "gift" the spirits with ambition, desire & morality. The Gods of Balance give free will to the spirits. The spirits are born into the world of Krynn as ogres, elves, and humans. Each family of gods creates one god to honour the truce, and the gods of magic are born: good Solinari, neutral Lunitari, and evil Nuitari.

Reorx is persuaded to craft a powerful gemstone that will contain the essence of neutrality. Reorx tries to infuse the gem with a portion of Chaos, but accidentally and unknowingly entraps the god himself. Reorx gives the gem to Lunitari, who puts it in the red moon that shares her name. The gemstone becomes known as the Graygem.

The Age of Dreams - The Second Age.

The Age of Dreams is often considered the beginning of recorded history. Three time periods collectively form the Age of Dreams: The Foundation, The Time of Light, sometimes referred to as the Age of Light, and The Time of Knights.

The Foundation

Ogres, elves, and humans establish homes and the beginnings of civilization. Reorx gathers a select few creative humans and teaches them his craft. Ogres begin enslaving humans. An ogre governor named Igraine learns compassion and is declared a traitor by his race. Igraine and his followers call themselves the Irda and move to a distant island. The ogre empire descends to barbarism as human slaves revolt and elven civilization comes into its own.

The Time of Light

Reorx curses his chosen humans for their arrogance, stripping them of their skill in forging and leaving them the desire to invent. He also strips them of their size, changing them into the first Gnomes. Centuries later, a Gnome is tricked into retrieving the Graygem from the red moon. The Graygem escapes immediately after touching down on Krynn and brings wild magic into the world. The gem's chaotic nature transforms animals, plants, and races across Krynn, resulting in the eventual creation of Dwarves, Kender, and many other races.

The First Dragon War begins when the elven king Silvanos brings his people to a forest inhabited by chromatic dragons. The dragons fight the elves for control of territory. The three gods of magic provide the elves with five dragon stones, which capture the spirits of the first dragons. The dragon stones are buried, stopping the war, but the other deities punish the gods of magic for their interference.

Dwarves and Minotaurs conflict as the new kingdoms of Kal-Thax and Mithrandus are built. The Minotaurs are enslaved until a Dwarven civil war causes the abandonment of Kal-Thax and the creation of Thorin. The kingdom of Ambeoutin is built in honour of the minotaur who led his fellows to freedom. As Balif leaves the elven kingdom of Silvanost to establish Balifor, the twin minotaur realms of Mithas and Kothas are formed when Ambeoutin's sons fight to a draw for control of the empire.

Dwarves find the buried dragon stones and return them to the surface, ignorant of the stones' history. The first dragons are released from the stones and strike at Silvanesti, beginning the Second Dragon War. The war ends when three mages command the earth to swallow the dragons. Their magic is successful but thousands of lives are lost in the backlash, and the gods of magic take the three mages into their tower. The three mages become the first Wizards of High Sorcery and help to found the Towers of High Sorcery. The dwarves, realizing the havoc they unleashed, close Thorin.

Ackal Ergot founds the Empire of Ergoth, while misplaced kender found the nation of Hylo. Ergoth's influence expands and the empire opens trade with the elves. Sithel's mysterious death leads to the Kinslayer War, which pits Ergoth against Silvanesti. Dwarves leave Thorin to build Thorbardin and are drawn into the conflict. Thorin is renamed Thoradin after its decline. The lawless town of Bright Horizon is founded. The Kinslayer War ends with the signing of the Swordsheath Scroll and the founding of Qualinesti. Thorbardin dwarves forge the Hammer of Honour and present it to Ergoth as a peace offering.

Time of Knights

Kith-Kanan, king of the Qualinesti, convinces dwarves, elves, and humans to erect Pax Tharkas as a declaration of peace. The remaining dwarves of Thoradin disappear without cause. Ergoth bears witness to a succession of brutal kings looking to exploit the empire for their own ends. Vinas Solamnus rises to the rank of Praetor and marches on Vingaard to quell a rebellion. He becomes sympathetic to their plight and thus begins the Rose Rebellion. He marches on Ergoth with a mighty army, forcing the emperor to grant independence to many states. Shortly after the nation of Solamnia is founded, Vinas forms an order of knights dedicated to the cause of Good. This knighthood is known as the Knights of Solamnia.

Vinas brings order to Bright Horizon, which is renamed Palanthas. The High Clerist's Tower is built and Palanthas is redesigned by dwarves. The Great Library is built and the historian Astinus makes his first known appearance. The nations of Istar and Sancrist are formed. Ergoth continues its decline as Silvanesti withdraws from the world.

Takhisis begins the Third Dragon War by sending her dragons across Ansalon in massive numbers. The Wizards of High Sorcery create the Dragon Orbs to defend their towers. Huma Dragonbane and the silver dragon Heart sacrifice their lives to defeat Takhisis, who agrees to depart Krynn as long as the world is whole.

The Age of Might - The Third Age. (The most important age for our story)

The Age of Might focuses primarily on the rise and fall of the Empire of Istar. A cleric of Paladine protects the city of Istar during the war, endearing the populace to the church. Dwarves return to Thoradin and open trade routes with Istar. Solamnia allies with Hylo and grants mining rights to the Dwarves of Thorbardin. The Thorbardin Dwarves found the kingdoms of Kayolin and Hillow and begin work on the Tree of Life. As the Elves continue their self-imposed isolation, the Ogre Wars occur as Ogres attempt to drive the dwarves from Thoradin. Balifor begins a trade war with Istar over the empire's trade laws, and the Kender tax is signed. Istar expands into Silvanesti naval routes and is blockaded. Shortly thereafter, Istar signs the Swordsheath Scroll. Thoradin follows suit after a second conflict with Ogres. Barbarian raiders from Estwilde raid Istarian caravans and are confronted by Solamnia, which re-signs the Swordsheath Scroll.

Istar's expansion continues until it becomes Ansalon's major power, and claims itself the moral centre of the world. The first Kingpriest takes power in 280 PC. The empire of Istar begins enforcing the Kingpriest's policies and repressing freedoms. Frustrated Elves withdraw into their forests. The Kingpriest of 118 PC gives the Proclamation of Manifest Virtue and draws up a list of evil acts that result in execution or arena time. Istar's priests begin losing their clerical powers. The Kingpriest of 94 PC adds to the Proclamation by declaring that certain races are evil. The empire of Istar conquers the Minotaurs and forces them into slavery. Istar becomes the religious centre of Ansalon. Tensions mount between the Istarian clergy and the Wizards of High Sorcery, until Kingpriest Beldinas starts the Lost Battles by sending Istar to war with the Towers of High Sorcery in 19 PC. Two towers are destroyed but the wizards agree to exile themselves to the Tower of Wayreth, ending the conflict. Istar begins using mind readers to ensure that no one is thinking evil thoughts.

Ultimately, Kingpriest Beldinas prepares to ascend to godhood with the aid of the Disks of Mishakal. The people of Istar applaud the effort and are sent Thirteen Warnings by the gods to warn them of their folly. True clerics vanish, trees weep blood, and the city of Istar is battered by a continuous storm. The citizens of Istar and their Kingpriest mistake the signs as being the work of Evil. The Kingpriest continues his preparations, and on the third day of the new year, the Cataclysm occurs. On both Ansalon and Taladas, lands are torn asunder, new bodies of water form, and innumerable lives are lost. The empire of Istar is destroyed, Ergoth is separated from the mainland, Thoradin becomes Zhakar, and the New Sea is formed. Most clerical power vanishes from the world.

** Additional Kingpriest/ Cataclysm Information**

Though at the beginning Beldinas only fought evil, as time passed, he began to include those who did not think exactly like him. Thus, he destroyed temples and expelled followers of the Neutral Gods, as well. With time, his obsession drove him to also destroy even "heretic" followers of the Gods of Light. This also caused the Kingpriest to try to destroy all Wizards of High Sorcery, causing the Order to destroy the Towers of High Sorcery in Losarcum and Daltigoth in self-defence. This also caused Andras Rannoch, who was being mind-controlled by Fistandantilus, to curse the Tower of High Sorcery in Palanthas upon his death.

The Thirteen Warnings:
For thirteen days prior to the Cataclysm the gods sent warnings to the fanatical Kingpriest and his followers, all of which went unheeded. The warnings, in order.

  • The true clerics left the land to the realm of the gods beyond. This night became known as the Night of Doom.
  • The Durro Jolithas, the Tower of the Temple of the Kingpriest dedicated to Kiri-Jolith, was destroyed by a whirlwind.
  • Dark fog spreads and settles in Balifor and Hylo, the kender realms, breaking their spirits.
  • In a full night eclipse, Nuitari hides both Solinari and Lunitari.
  • The dwarves of Thorbardin were hunted by an ancient beast of darkness.
  • In Solamnia, no fires would burn.
  • In Abanasinia, fires spread uncontrollably, destroying everything.
  • In Dargaard Keep, Lord Soth raised his arms against the Knights of Solamnia.
  • Palanthas was covered in mist. The weather was oppressively hot and the seas were unsettlingly still. The mist was so thick the scribes in the Great Library stopped working.
  • In the elven kingdom of Silvanesti, trees wept blood.
  • The forest animals near Qualinesti suddenly turned savage.
  • In northern towns like Pesaro and Tucuri, the fish disappeared, and the water turned red.
  • In the Khalkist Mountains, dormant volcanoes became active again.
The warnings had been prophesied by the First Son Revando before taking his own life. Emissary Quarath, though knowing about the warnings, did not tell the Kingpriest their true meanings.

The Petition

The Kingpriest misunderstood the warnings, utterly convinced of his own infallible truth. He believed those were the last efforts of the evil gods, and only hardened his resolution.
He regarded Paladine as too weak to completely destroy evil, but with the Kingpriest as his right arm, evil could be defeated. The Kingpriest called for the genocidal destruction of the Ogre races, and the relocation of the Dwarves and Kender. For his arrogance, the gods punished the city of Istar.


Soon after the Kingpriest made his demand, a "fiery mountain" struck Istar. The city and all the land around it driven deep into the ground, and the sea roared in to fill the gap. Thick, red soil was churned up by the water, giving it a reddish tint. This new body of water became known as the Blood Sea of Istar. Where the Temple of the Kingpriest once stood, there was a perpetual, massive whirlpool that kept the red soil churned up, leaving the Blood Sea permanently blood-coloured. On the opposite side of the continent of Ansalon, the Kingdom of Ergoth was broken from the mainland, and split in two. More water flooded inland and created the Newsea. The city of Caergoth, an inland farming city, suddenly found itself on the ocean's doorstep. To the south, the thriving port city of Tarsis found that the sea had retreated, and they were now surrounded by plains as far as the eye could see. The effects of the Cataclysm continue to be felt on Krynn to this day.

Several cities, including Xak Tsaroth, were utterly destroyed.

The Age of Despair - The Fourth Age.

The Age of Despair begins with the Cataclysm. Two time periods form the Age of Despair: The Time of Darkness and The Time of Dragons. The latter being "present day" and the time our heroes embark their adventure.

Time of Darkness

The fallout from the Cataclysm lasts for centuries. Plague and famine wrack the lands. Knights of Solamnia are unjustly persecuted as scapegoats. Lawlessness and banditry run rampant. The Seeker movement begins as people look to new gods. Beleaguered hill dwarves and humans attempt to gain entry to Thorbardin for food and begin the Dwarfgate War. The archmage Fistandantilus destroys both armies as well as the fortress of Zhaman, but disappears. The Dwarven hero Kharas, sickened by the acts of his people, takes the Hammer of Honour and departs Thorbardin. He leaves a prophecy saying that no dwarf will rule Thorbardin without the hammer, which becomes known as the Hammer of Kharas.

Plenty there!

As you can see, it's very rich is terms of creation, gods and war. Something you can really sink your teeth into and something I think every GM and player a like should pay attention to. Whether you're role playing in the world of Krynn or any other world within the D&D universe. It's certainly added an extra dimension of understanding and flavour of the lore and story we're following. It'll certainly make more sense once I have updated you on our second installment.

With the ball well and truely rolling on the blog and the campaign, I have plenty of ideas in which to keep you guys entertained. Following this blog, I have plans for the aforementioned second installment, proper introductions to our heroes and NPC (non-player characters) and even a entry dedicated to the ever important dice!

Stay tuned guys and keep on rollin'!

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

The lands of Ansalon...

Recently, when telling people I was joining a D&D group (D&D 3.5), I got three standard answers. The first was the “Oh cool, when and where?” answer, which is always welcome. The second was “What’s that?”, which is certainly better than the third. “What the hell for? You must be a massive geek!”.

Well, for this self-proclaimed geek the answer was often a simple one. “Because I’ve never played it and yes, I am.”

I can understand the stigma, I really can. I get that some people just aren’t into Fantasy or Sci-fi for that matter. Anything that doesn’t exist through scientific fact just doesn’t interest them. For some, it goes against certain parts or rulings in their chosen religion. That’s fine too. And for some, like my special friend, they just think, and I quote, "It's gay!". Here's looking at you, Lewis.

A lot of people will tell you that I have my head buried in the sand. That I’m a big kid or immature, often staying put in doors while playing World of Warcraft or Magic: The Gathering. I’ve never been a big drinker. My tastes in music are never really catered for in the “club scene” and I’ve never taken drugs. What I’m getting at is “Different strokes for different folks.” As an Atheist, I don’t really believe in these things, I just enjoy creating and being involved in stories. If there’s anything Dungeons and Dragons can give you, it’s stories.

I’ll leave the character introductions for a later post. In the mean time, I’ll take you over a quick glimpse of the story so far.

Lox, the half-orc barbarian (played by myself), Minty, the half-kender bard (played by my girlfriend, Sarah) and Isosceles, the half-elf cleric (not yet fully trained) (played by Kirsty, a good friend of ours). Our heroes were accompanied by Dominic. A mysterious, black plate wearing NPC, who was played by our Games Master (GM) Chris. The story goes like this. Our heroes were all child hood friends, growing up together in Solace and when they reached adult hood, went there separate ways. There journey was a simple one. Find any living clerics who may still live in the world on Ansalon, as in previous years a great cataclysm had engulfed our characters world, turning it upside down. Gold is now useless and Steel was now the most precious thing you could trade and buy things with. Nothing is as it once was. During the cataclysm, the clerics mysteriously disappeared or died and their precious knowledge with them.

Joining our friends outside Solace, our intrepid group of friends found themselves in a forest setting about 2 days walk from the small city. They swapped there stories and made camp. Not one of them found any sign of a cleric throughout the lands.

While chatting away and eating there meals, a gang of hobgoblin marauders set upon the camp and surrounded them. An allusive figure in the background shouted, demanding the Blue Crystal Staff be returned to Khisanth and then vanished. With that, the marauders attacked our heroes who made short work of the ambushers.

That following morning, while travelling towards Solace, our group came into contact with Riverwind and Goldmoon. Two Pathfinders who came into possesion of the very staff our heroes were ambushed for. Sensing a coincidence in their meeting, they band together and reach the safety of the Tree City, Solace. It seems that Riverwind had a vision as he slept. Of a well within a black swamp, guarded by a shining lady and a terrible black beast. Through discussion and investigation with the locals, our heroes decide that the abandoned city of Xak-Tsaroth is the next point of call due to the familiarity with certain aspects of Riverwinds dream.

Our heroes reach Solace to enjoy a meal of Roast Chicken and Spice Potatoes (Kettle Chip!)
To reach Xak-Tsaroth, the travellers had to venture through the Darken Woods. These woods were famed in Solace as being a place that no one returned from. However, with their goal firmly in place, our heroes ventured forth. It took them 3 days to travel through the forest. On one occasion, our heroes could have sworn that they saw a white beast, like a stag or a horse, but it quickly vanished. The last evening of the journey had them come across an hooded figure next to a broken cart. The man approached our heroes, telling them that his injured friend was inside the cart and that only the Blue Crystal Staff would be able to heal him. Our heroes played dumb, not wanting to lose the staff or their advantage. The situation became worse, and more hooded figures emerged from the trees. Our heroes became weary and backed off. The figures stepped further and with that Dominic and Riverwind ran into the trees! Our heroes grew worried. Outnumbered and poorly equipped, they tried to bargain. Where did Dominic and Riverwind go? Why now?! Suddenly arrows fly from both sides, mowing down our heroes' foes. The hooded figures became angry and attack, only for more arrows to take them out. With most of the figures dispatched, our heroes take to finishing the the last of them with ease. Lox swinging his war axe into the chest on one, only for the body to turn to stone and the axe to be tugged from his grasp. Isosceles, finding an opening, swings round to the back of one foe and plunges her dagger into it's back. The body slumps to the ground. Isosceles turns the body over and reveals the face, only to be look on herself, as if looking into a mirror!  Riverwind and Dominic return, revealing it was them that attacked back with the arrows. Reluctant to leave his axe, Lox and the heroes camp for the night, only to find the stone body has turned to dust, returning Lox's beloved axe. Our heroes now see Dominic in a new light. What has happened to their friend. He merely replies with "I know the truth."
The hooded figures attack while guarding the broken sharpener cart!
 They came out of the woods and forests to find only marsh land. Venturing over all manner of water and what could be counted as land, they venture far to come across an old temple. It's tower was crumbled. Walls broken. It's ceiling had collapsed. Up the stairs they went, pushing open the ancient doors, to find a large square room. The temple in it's entirety, with a large black pool in the middle with evidence of 5 leather like egg shells scattered around the floor. Our heroes tried many things, finding the water puzzling, but it was only when Riverwind put the end of the staff into the water that something happened. A small leathery, dragon like face appeared in the middle of the pool. Bubbles started around the edge of the pool. The creature came out of it's pool and hovered above. 3 more emerge from the back. Upon showing them the staff, they all shrieked and flew out of the pool as quick as their wings could carry them. Isosceles waded into the pool, finding it to be deep in the middle. Much to her surprise, the 5th beast appeared from the water and didn't take kindly to Isosceles' intrusion. She swam back to shore with wounds from the attack. Lox and Dominic aiding her to safety.

With that, they backed off. Camping outside of the temple on what little firm ground they could find.

Morning came, and to the campers surprise, a small gully dwarf was foraging for food near by. Maybe it was a mistake for Lox, our Half-Orc, to approach, as the little bugger ran for the hills. Lox made chase and quickly caught him after the dwarf tripped in the marsh. Turns out that the little guy is called Pulb. Lox didn't like Pulb, and Pulb disliked Lox even more so. Pulp was a child and with that in mind Minty and Isosceles became quite fond of him. With Pulb leading them back to his familys den, the heroes meet the family. Pulb's father is weary at first, but eventually Pulb takes Minty and Isosceles down into the den. Not trusting the men, they stay outside. Pulb shows the ladies that they have "treasure". Now, a hill dwarf can be pretty dumb, but still, amongst the sticks, leaves, rocks and unmentionables, there was indeed items of real value. After insisting, our ladies take some of the items from Pulb in exchance for a mighty fine stick. The ladies made their goodbyes and the heroes left, making camp a few hours from Pulbs burrow.

Just as they were bedding down for the night, Dominic says "What does a gully dwarf need with treasure?"...

They fell asleep in knowing that is wasn't the last time they would meet Pulb and his treasure.

That was about 4 hours of play. It's alot more than I remember now I've typed it all out, but hey, as I say, I love to get lost in a good story and this is no exception. All of us had a great time. To our surprise, there was a lot less dice rolling and a lot more problem solving than we thought. With Chris at the reigns, he guided Sarah, Kirsty and I through the story without making us feel stupid. Sure, as you can probably tell, leaving Pulb without further questioning was a mistake, but that's why Dominic is there. The crafty bugger. What's he up to?

I'll leave it there for now. As mentioned, I'll properly introduce you to our heroes before our next installment. Until next time...

Keep on rollin'.


Friday, 20 August 2010

The calm before the storm...

So here it is. My first proper blog.

I have been debating about whether I should do this or not, as I can't imagine that many will find it that interesting, but, if you're like me, you'll think why the hell not.

I, like many people, have never played any sort of Pen and Paper Role Playing Game (PnP RPG). It's always been something that I've known about, but never actually played. This is similar to a lot of things in my life. Most recently it was Magic: The Gathering. A very popular Collectable Card Game by Wizards of the Coast. As a kid, I always knew of it, but never knew anyone who played it. So, I became just an avid fan of the art work, and many of the artists are favourites of mine today. I never did learn how to play until very recently.

Rewind back to mid June. A friend of mine emails myself with a link to a chap who had started a new RPG Group for the Greater Glasgow area. I thought why not. Within a couple of weeks, I had had lengthy email discussions with the group organiser and after our first inaugural meet, we were very much impressed at how many turned up and how many seemed genuinely interested. So within the group, due to numbers, we now have two campaigns, with many other people still joining. Of the two groups, mine is yet to start. This coming Sunday in fact. Hence the blog.

So there we go. A quick recap of my reasoning behind the blog. I warn you though. Through blogging on various other sites, I've been told I write blogs well, but apparently I talk some amount of rubbish.

But hey, we're talking about D&D here. Not all loot is good loot, right?