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498 posts. No reviews. No lists. No wishlists.


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The hunter knelt beside his friend in the spotted shade of the aspens, feeding the megatherium handfuls of leaves from the pile built up next to him. Haranim rested peacefully on the side of his fourteen-foot, nine-thousand-pound frame, muzzle cozied up against the elf’s left leg, and chewed on the bunches of aspen leaves with methodical laziness. While the giant sloth had entered into his fifth year of life recently, the elf had reached his thirtieth, and the latter now awaited a meeting with the King of Thorns. No nerves worried at him, for he knew the purpose of this summons and what to expect of the King’s words.

“Our Lord of the Forest’s Fury demands your presence,” Nomanti’s deep baritone required of him.

Without a word, the elf rose to the beckons and started for the clearing farther up the mountain. When the megatherium rolled his bulk over to follow, the hunter swept a hand out behind him in a calming gesture and stated, “Ndu, Haranim.”

His friend listened immediately, and slumped back down onto his belly . . . though the giant sloth did slowly creep forward enough to reach the pile of leaves before settling completely.

“What say you, creature?” the satyr inquired with a mocking grin, snatching the elf’s arm above the elbow as he passed. “Time for one more beating before my King throws you from the mountain?”

The hunter looked sidelong at his teacher, expressionless. “Our King waits for me.”

Nomanti shrugged as if it mattered not. “Your tardiness will reflect poorly on you. Do you believe I would be blamed? So far as the King of Thorns knows, you wasted time here shaking in fear of this meeting.”

This time it was the hunter’s turn to shrug. “Then do as you will, Master, that I might get on with the honor of my meeting with our King.”

The fey glared at him for a long moment before finally letting go with a disgusted shake of his head. “Go, filth. I grow tired of even beating you. How fortunate that I shall not have to see you much longer.”

The lowly servant merely nodded his agreement and continued forward up the mountain.

Behind them, Haranim lowered his head back to the foliage collected for him, the powerful muscles in his limbs relaxing.

As the elf progressed up the natural mountain path to the predetermine location of the audience, he cast a glance out over the aspen grove to the wide mountain range beyond. Pristine white snow crowned every tall peak above the snow line, and the highest of them wore a regal cloak of billowing cloud. Deciduous trees blanketed the valleys below in a rolling green carpet, while thick and pointed conifers clawed their way high up the mountainsides. From his current vantage, the elf spied half-a-dozen hawks drifting on the swirling air currents, their keen eyes searching for prey. This living landscape--so overwhelmingly beautiful and majestic--cleansed the deepest parts of him and reconciled the last battling vestiges of mortality and self-preservation within him.

He knew beyond doubt that he could--and would--die for it.

Minutes later, the hunter arrived upon the lonely ledge where his future would be determined. Standing at its very edge, looking out over a seven-thousand-foot drop, resided the King of Thorns. With armor crafted from the dagger-like thorns of the hawthorn tree, and a helm that featured the long, curving horns of a mountain ram, the King hardly needed to try at intimidation. The greatsword slung on his back appeared forged of the mountain stone, with elk horn bands used to fashion portions of the guard and grip. The pommel formed a snow-capped mountain, and a rivulet of water constantly flowed its own course like a glacial river along the length of the sword. Its name, Delve, was widely known, and widely feared, by all fey in the Mindspin Mountains. In virtually every way--save for the birdlike wings covered with the green leaves of Spring instead of feathers, and deep emerald eyes that showed irises instead of only a solid coloration--the erlking’s appearance resembled that of the elf. When studying the two from afar, one might mistake them for father and son. A grave mistake that would be, of course, as the Lord of the Forest’s Fury was indisputably fey, while the young hunter most assuredly was not.

The elf crossed the ledge until he closed to within thirty feet of the fey king, then dropped to one knee and bowed his head in deference. Silence followed. He knew better than to speak first, and the King of Thorns was renown for making his subjects remain kneeling for hours before saying his first word. Good fortune trailed him this day, for he had not to wait so long.

“You are weak,” the King said, examining the panorama before him.

“If it pleases the Fury to say so, then yes,” the elf replied in strong, dignified sylvan.

The King of Thorns swiveled his upper body a fraction to the left to peer at the mortal with eyes more ancient than the mountain they stood upon. “You would disagree,” he proclaimed--the erlking never asked--in a voice that sounded like wind eroding stone.

The elf remained bowed, never making eye contact. Without leave, such would get one thrown off the mountain. Perhaps that may well be his fate anyhow. “I am as the Fury dictates. Never could any creature be more.”

“Then you desire death.”

“Such is the destiny for all worthless beings,” the hunter answered stoically.

The erlking smiled. “I would grant you this desire, mortal.”

“If it pleases the Fury to do so, then yes.”

As the elf’s final word began, but before he finished speaking it, the King of Thorns stood over him with the blade of Delve drawing a thin bloody line across the back of his neck. The hunter remained perfectly still throughout. Had the erlking wanted him dead at that moment, nothing he could have done would have prevented it. Also, the fey king’s movement had been so quick, he had not even registered it until the line of pain flared up. To shift now could mean severing his own spinal column against that impossibly sharp blade! He only hoped the King of Thorns chose not to force him to maintain this position of absolute stillness and supplication for long, and, again, fortune favored him when he felt the mountainous sword lifted away.

“My Queen has taken a liking to your nurturing heart,” the fey king sneered. “She assures me you are a protector.”

“I am pleased to have found favor in the Cascading One’s eyes,” the elf replied, emotionless. Inside, the furious beating of his heart expressed a resounding appreciation for the Queen’s approval!

“I give you leave to be a protector, then” the King of Thorns declared, slinging Delve onto his back. “Rise,” the erlking ordered as he returned to his place on the edge at a more normal pace.

The hunter stood, but continued to keep his eyes downcast.

“Still, I grant you your desire,” the Lord of the Forest’s Fury revealed. “You are weak, and I despise weakness. If the inhabitants of the wilderness do not kill you, be assured your own sentimentality will. You are not long for this world, mortal.”

“The Fury is most wise,” the elf professed with a deep bow.

“From this day forward, you are my Queen’s creature,” the King of Thorns informed him. “If you should but utter my name in the wind, Delve will finish what it started. I desire no further words from you. Remove yourself.”

He obeyed the fey king’s command without delay.

“The Fury permitted you the slow descent?” Nomanti’s tongue lashed him upon entering the aspen grove. “That hardly seems fitting for the likes of you.”

The elf arched an eyebrow at the satyr as he approached. “Truly?” He stopped and graciously provided his former teacher with a clear avenue to the path ascending the mountainside. “If you believe an error in judgment has been committed, please, take it up with a higher authority than I.”

The fey’s face reddened with embarrassment, and he sputtered in an attempt to find something to say, but knew he had been trapped with his own words.

“I thought that to be the case,” the elf confided, then continued on beyond the satyr. “My thanks for the years of training. You have taught me much. I am the Queen’s creature now. Farewell, Nomanti.”

“Do you believe this to be the last we will see of each other, rodent?” Nomanti snapped at his back.

“Certainly not,” the elf admitted without slowing. “It almost certainly will be the last I see of you today, however, and that is enough.”

“You wretched, pathetic creature,” the fey growled, grabbing for his staff. His hand quickly shied away from the weapon when Haranim hoisted up onto all fours. The megatherium had a menacing look in his eyes that Nomanti could not miscomprehend!

The hunter held a hand up to stay his friend, then half-turned so as to meet the satyr’s eyes with his own. “The time for that has passed,” he said in earnest. “I am Adanedhel now.”

“As though that were any better,” the fey spat furiously.

The hunter offered a conciliatory nod. “Admittedly, it is not much,” he conceded, “but it is enough.” He turned his back on the satyr again and called for Haranim to follow him, which the megatherium promptly did.

“The Mindspin Mountains are not so large a place,” Nomanti growled, his words sounding very much a threat.

“Agreed,” the elf replied. “Should we meet again within its expansive confines, know that I shall look forward to hunting orcs with you.

The close-knit companions of Adanedhel and Haranim departed the fey’s company without another word spoken.

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Goblin_Priest wrote:
Well Dwarves as scots is an overdone trope, really.

Like heck it is, good priest.

Dwarves are awesome. Scots are awesome. When you put two awesomes together, it can't be overdone.

Unless, of course, you've got a problem with Scots . . .

And that would just be a crying shame.

Make your hobgoblins whatever you like, but let me have my dwarves with an awesome Scottish accent, please. I'm kind of a fan. ;)

The hunter crouched atop a cliff two thousand feet high overlooking the rolling foothills east of the Mindspin Mountains. The crisp, chill air of the Fall, accompanied by the occasional strong gust, raked at his exposed face to no avail. Savage sprites from the southern stretch of the mountain range had tattooed his face, arms, and torso with woad that--mingled with fey magic--protected him from the harshness of the region’s cold climes. The frigid temperatures of the harsh climate stirred within his blood after all this time, doing little to impede him anyhow.

The elf’s gaze swept across the bumpy expanse to a palisaded community upon a plateau well over a dozen miles away. At such a distance, numerous pillars of smoke from cooking or heating fires appeared frozen in time. His sharp eyes registered the settlement’s speckled activity within its protective walls and in the fields beyond them.

“Your stealth improves,” Sath complimented him dryly. “Had you masked your tracks better, it might have taken me a few more minutes to find you.”

“My intentions were not to hide,” the elf replied.

The faun moved up beside him and clapped him upside the head, drawing a look from his young pupil. “Then your intentions--and your instincts--were wrong, Adanedhel,” he scolded. “You should never seek to be unhidden in the wilds. I have invested far too much time for you to be that willing to cast your life away so recklessly.”

“From you,” the hunter clarified in a tone that indicated there should have been no need. He returned his attention to the distant settlement. “Orcs are practically blind in the daylight.”

Sath clapped him on the opposite side of the head. “Are orcs the only threat in these mountains?”

This time, the hunter dropped his head in exasperation, but withheld the accompanying sigh. “Of course, you are right, Teacher,” he acknowledged begrudgingly--without making it sound begrudgingly, knowing no victory could be attained for him in this back-and-forth.

The fey smiled, then looked toward the far off community. “Trunau. Why does it fascinate you?”

The young elf shrugged. “Our Queen has spoken of this place. ‘A bastion of freedom’ she called it. I am trying to understand why.”

“My little Adanedhel is growing up,” Sath chuckled, drawing a small groan from the elf. “It is because they will not compromise their way of life for safety. For many intelligent beings, fear deprives them of freedom by dictating how they must live. Such is not the case for those in Trunau. Just over a century ago, other settlements and homesteads dotted those hills. Then a rampaging orc horde threatened to annihilate them, and fear of death saw the lot tuck their tails and run east, where the warriors of the nation Lastwall offered them protection.” The faun shook his head and spat on the ground in disgust. “Cowards, the lot of them. But not those people: the inhabitants of Trunau. No, they valued their freedom enough to fight for it.

“And fight for it they did. The orcs pillaged and burned one settlement after another--some inhabited, some not--until the filth came upon Trunau. There, the horde found a fight the likes of which they were not expecting. The King of Thorns admired the courage of those settlers so much that we attacked the orcs’ rearguard and helped send the monstrous creatures reeling back into the mountains. That was a glorious day, indeed.”

“The fey helped them?” the elf asked, surprised. “Are we allies with the people of Trunau?”

“Allies?” Sath repeated the word and laughed gaily at the absurdity of the notion. “No! Certainly not! They know nothing of the aid we provided them. To be frank, they would rather not know. The mortal races are a prideful lot, as I am sure you can recall from your own experiences.”

The hunter cringed at the reminder. “If the orcs are enemies to us both, could we not form an alliance of some kind against them?” he inquired.

“Such would not be wise,” the fey shook his head. “Orcs are enemies to all races, and any that would ally with them for any purpose have been corrupted beyond rescuing. Even dryads, whose primary abilities involve charming threats to turn them against one another, refuse to ally themselves with orcs even temporarily. And so they should not! To die at the hands of an orc is a far superior option to working beside them for any reason! Thus, orcs as mutual enemies hardly stands as a reason for alliance; such is the natural order of things.

“More importantly, however, would be the nature of mortals themselves. They cannot be trusted when faced with what they cannot comprehend. To them, we are an enigma. While they may welcome an alliance at first--and even that is not guaranteed, over time they would grow wary of us, suspicious, and certainly paranoid of our intentions. They lack the capability to accept something for what it is and would associate some nefarious purpose to our dealings. Eventually, the mortals would turn against us, concocting some ridiculousness as to why we would be to blame. A story old as time because the mortal brain fails to grasp the concept of longevity.”

Sath placed a hand upon his pupil’s shoulder, almost a conciliatory gesture. “You shall witness it in your own time. The desire to aid the people of Trunau will no doubt come over you, for you are mortal as they are, and there exists kinship between you. To protect what they stand for is a beautiful thing, but heed my warning against seeking a kinship with them. You have been raised with a superior understanding of the world in relation to yourself, Adanedhel; one they will not fathom. Because of this, you will ever be an outsider to them. An enigma as we are. Your own kind will despise you, and all others will grow apprehensive because they cannot understand you. For all that, remember your purpose, and all will be as it should be.”

Throughout his teacher’s disquisition, the young elf’s eyes never strayed from the busy settlement. He felt no kinship with them, but he wondered what it might be like to walk among them. Would the danger be worth it? A question for another day; perhaps another lifetime.

“I will not forget,” he assured the fey.

“Good,” the faun said, then motioned back toward the mountain. “Now, come. We have a fair distance to go yet today before reaching our destination.”

The pair departed the cliff on the mountainside, picking their way along slopes and shorter faces to descend deeper into the range. They sought the foot of the mountain, specifically a long, narrow valley where deciduous trees grew thick and multicolored with foliage. Multiple streams created a series of small waterfalls over steep ridges that rippled through the valley. Pockets of ripe vegetation such as this grew up in various locations throughout the Mindspin Mountains, and they served as havens for much of the range’s diverse fauna. It happened to be one of these species of fauna that the duo quested for at this time, and they located their quarry deep within the vale.

The elf’s eyes lit up when he came upon a pair of large animals--a mother and her son--feasting on the leaves of a tree. Sitting upon her hind legs, the mother reached a branch twenty feet off the ground rather easily without needing to pull it down with her mammoth front claws. Her little one rested on the valley floor, munching away at a branch it had torn from a much lower placement on the tree, though the “smaller” of these two creatures would easily stand over five feet in height on its hind legs. Adanedhel stood in awe at the sighting of the pair, as he had seen nothing quite like them in his twenty-six winters.

“These are megatherium by name,” Sath informed him with a smile. “A more common name for them would be giant sloth. Though more often found farther south, a few of their kind have grown thicker coats and acclimated to the cooler climates of the northern regions. They are unique creatures, to be sure, and generally peaceful. Most often slow to anger, when one gets them to that point, it would be wise to flee quickly from their ire.”

“They are amazing,” the hunter conveyed, grinning widely.

“They are most certainly that,” the faun agreed. “The megatherium also live an average of six decades and make perfect companions for one destined to spend his life in the dangerous wilds of the Mindspin Mountains.”

The young elf regarded his teacher with astonishment. “Companion? You mean, I . . . truly?”

“Absolutely,” Sath chuckled.

“That would--but, no,” he glanced back at the pair still chomping on their food, apparently paying the two visitors no mind whatsoever. “That is her only child.”

“She will have others,” Sath laughed, genuinely amused. “And I have partnered with her offspring in the past. They are intelligent and trustworthy. Treat them well and with respect, and they will serve you valiantly in return. You will never know a better friend.”

The elf shook his head in disbelief. “I would be honored to have such a magnificent companion by my side in the fight to come.”

“Well, do not tell me,” Sath ridiculed him playfully. “I have but four winters left, then I am done with you! My suggestion would be to go out there and communicate that to him.”

Adanedhel almost asked his teacher how to go about that communion, but caught himself before the words escaped his lips. This was not something to be taught, he realized, but had to be found hidden deep within himself. Slowly, the hunter rose up and started forward. The smaller megatherium lifted its head from its meal as he approached and sounded a little screech. Surprisingly, he heard no warning or fear in the vocalization, only an intent to acknowledge him. Perhaps even greet him. Mother went on eating without a care.

After closing the gap to only a few feet, the young elf lowered onto his knees, removed his nature focus from a small pouch at this side, and placed it upon the ground between them. The experience that followed lasted a full day from that point, and when it had reached its completion, the two had become fast and quite exhausted friends.

Mother and faun watched over them both as the new companions slept away their second night in the valley.

“You are a useless creature,” the satyr berated the boy when the latter failed to execute a powerful parry and strike maneuver with his spear. For his failure, he had received the butt end of a staff across his cheek that now found him rising slowly from the ground to his knees. The boy’s cheekbone blazed with pain, and blood seeped out of the ruptured skin that would turn a hideous shade of yellow, green, and purple before the hour was through.

“No, I should not say that,” Nomanti corrected himself with a forced breath that coincided with a vicious kick to the boy’s ribs, sending him flying away. “I must admit to a certain pleasure at beating you bloody. Perhaps that was worth my saving your pathetic life those years ago, but you will truly rue the day when I grow tired of even that, mortal filth. And you forgot this,” the fey finished, kicking the spear at the boy squirming in pain.

For his part, the boy labored to breathe but shed no tears. He knew they would only spur this one on to greater heights of pleasure, and he refused to feed that fire. In his twelve winters of life amidst the fey, he learned quickly that this satyr’s hedonism went beyond bedding every woman he could pounce upon; Nomanti was a sadist, and he merely the instrument by which the satyr could satisfy that itch. Within the fey world, hedonism of all kinds was regarded as a good thing, which meant his current treatment was not frowned upon but encouraged. Rather than aid him, most fey would prompt him to masochism in light of his current situation. Such was their way.

It most certainly was not his.

The thinness of the satyr’s hoof punctured the skin between two of his ribs, but it also saved either from breaking. That meant the pain was superficial, not internal, and that gave him some cause to be thankful.

“Get up, creature, and get back over here,” Nomanti beckoned him. “You will get this maneuver correct before we end this session, whatever the agony to be endured until you do.”

The boy breathed deep just to make sure all was intact, then climbed back up to his knees. Sun-kissed hair spoiled with dirt, twigs, and loose grass streamed down on either side of both shoulders. Determined eyes of amber--dulled only by the constant beating he had endured--glared at the satyr as he reached down to recover the spear.

“Adanedhel,” his second teacher called for his attention, which he gladly gave the faun. The boy enjoyed the company and education of Sath. While he suffered his fair share of beatings to that one too, those were never issued with malice in mind but with the understanding that one must feel the touch of pain to grow stronger. Sath treated him as a teacher should: offering instruction for each misstep, satiating his curiosity with answers not derision, and even praising him when he performed a task correctly or proposed a thoughtful inquiry or response. Indeed, the boy’s feelings for his teachers were as different as night and day.

The benevolent teacher flipped another spear his way, which the boy caught with a wince as it stretched the wound in his side. The haft of this new weapon extended an additional two-and-a-half feet from its traditional counterpart. Behind its ten inch spearhead, several short branches projected outward from the shaft at irregular intervals, each angled forward and tipped with a smaller leaf-like blade. Though heavier than other types of spears, this elven branched spear boasted perfect weight distribution, enabling one possessing lithe elven movements to manipulate the weapon with astonishing speed.

The boy offered Sath an appreciative nod, then used the branched spear as leverage to regain his feet.

“You think a new toy that keeps you at distance will save you punishment, little creature?” Nomanti ridiculed with a chuckle. He pointed to the patch of dirt before him with his staff. “Take the position.”

The boy stepped up dutifully, branched spear situated at the ready. No sooner did he come to a complete stop than Nomanti launched a series of staff strikes from all angles--a flurry of blows well beyond the maneuver they had been training for the better half of the last hour. To his credit, the boy parried the first three away before getting overwhelmed by the satyr’s superior skill. The fourth clipped his right elbow, numbing it and lowering his guard. A barrage of bruising body shots elicited a storm of torment the boy’s mind proved incapable of tracking effectively. His reactions slowed to a point where his body lingered two hits behind, and all thought disappeared into an incoherent haze.

When consciousness returned, motor control did not, and the fear of paralysis gripped him. An unintelligible cry escaped his lips, though it sounded more akin to a high-pitched whine.

“Easy, Adanedhel,” murmured Sath’s calming tone. The faun repeated the soothing words a second and third time before the boy registered it. “Your body has yet to recover from the shock of its beating,” he assured when his pupil quieted. “Control will return soon, with copious amounts of suffering in accompaniment. You will need to be strong and brace yourself for it.

“V-val-l-er-i-i-an . . . . “ the boy badly stuttered the word.

Sath smirked and shook his head. Valerian was a potent herbal sedative that both killed pain and numbed the wits. “No, I think not. You are undeserving.” The fey sighed at the harshness of this lesson. “You wish to blame Nomanti for unfair treatment, but such is not your place. If you did not wish to feel this agony, your choice was to do something about it. In that you failed, and so your punishment must be endured.”

The boy’s face began to twitch, and his teeth clenched tightly.

The faun offered a sullen nod that his student could not see. “You will own this, Adanedhel,” Sath warned, kneeling down over him.

Pain erupted through the boy’s torso in a rush, feeling to him as though he were caught beneath a stampeding herd of bison hooves, with not a single one missing. He screamed with the sudden anguish, the feral sound so powerful that its vocal capacity nearly flayed his throat.

Sath clenched the boy’s throat to cut off airflow, causing him to choke almost immediately. “You do not scream!” the fey growled at him.

Within that powerful grasp, the faun’s student thrashed wildly and pounded the ground in futility, every exaggerated movement compounding the suffering caused by his injuries and the panic from his inability to breathe.

“You earned this, Adanedhel,” Sath reprimanded him. “You will own it!”

His strength sapped completely, weakness once again overtook the boy, and the world faded into oblivion for a second time.

The faun blew out a quick breath to soothe his own anger, then placed a couple fingers upon his pupil’s neck. Finding a pulse, he patted the young cheek a couple times before moving away a couple yards to sit facing the late morning sun, his back to the boy. Many minutes passed before he heard weak signs of movement behind him.

For the boy’s part, he fought every urge to move. The physical pain had hardly relinquished from before, but the emotional pain of Sath’s hand about his windpipe crushed him far more. He felt betrayed by the one fey he had come to rely upon for fairness and direction, that one figure he had looked up to and thought he could respect. For the longest time, he wanted nothing more than for the faun to believe him dead and walk away. When the hour ended, and he realized that Sath was not leaving, his despair finally got the best of him.

“Why?” the boy whispered in a voice shallow and hoarse.

“You tell me why,” the fey said, not bothering to face him.

He swallowed the pain of his tears in a raw throat before answering, “I trusted you.”

“Have I ever given you reason not to?” Sath retorted. A long silence stretched out in reply, and the faun sprang to his feet and marched angrily back to his pupil, still laying sprawled out and unmoved but with eyes open. “Have I ever given you reason not to?” he repeated forcefully.

In an act of painful defiance, the boy turned his head away.

“I am disappointed in you, Adanedhel,” Sath expressed with recognizable disgust. “Have I ever been anything less than honest with you? Have I ever been anything less than genuine in my teaching? Yet now, over such such a simple lesson, you doubt me?”

The boy gulped down his sorrow. “You would not help me, Sa--”

“Stop!” the faun exploded with such fury that the boy jolted in fright, sending waves of renewed agony washing through him. “Do you think this about you? Do you earnestly believe that is why we have done all this? For you? Have you not been paying attention, Adanedhel? Have you closed your ears? Have you shut your eyes? Have you not witnessed the beauty, the majesty, the glorious power of all that surrounds you? Have you chosen to ignore its magnificence and purity, its grandeur and prosperity?” Sath stomped away in frustration, needing to put distance between he and this upstart student that had apparently learned nothing! Even as he moved away, however, the fey found himself storming back from whence he came, his anger boiling over.

“You arrogant wretch! From where does your conceit swell, that you believe yourself of more value than all this?” Sath’s hands clenched into fists so tight his knuckles whitened. “I have taught you the methodology of the branched spear, a weapon designed for your people. I have taught you marksmanship with the bow. I have taught you herb lore, plant lore, and how to read the markers of the land. I have taught you how to move in the trees and climb the mountains. I have taught you how to read animals, how to run with them, how and when to befriend, and how to hunt them. You are a distinguished tracker amongst even the fey because of the skills I taught you! Do you believe I have done all this to somehow validate your self-worth? From where does such egotism surface?” The faun practically pounced upon the prone boy, grabbing him by the front of his woolen shirt and pulling him up so their faces were only inches apart. “I will rip that vanity from your very pores, Adanedhel! I will beat it out of you wherever I find it until you comprehend that none of this is for you!”

His fury played out, the fey finally took a moment to examine the boy. Tears streaked down his face in tiny streams, and Sath recognized that none of them derived from the physical pain he undoubtedly felt at this moment. These tears represented the boy’s hope and innocence bleeding out, and the faun knew he would be lying to himself if he refused to admit a piece of his heart broke to see it. Even so, Sath knew it had to happen, and he took comfort in the knowledge that a new hope would take root one day in the future--a hope not misplaced in narcissism.

Sath lowered the boy back to the ground gently and wiped the wetness away from those flushed cheeks. “Grieve the loss of your innocence, but do not dwell on it. The longer you hold onto it, the harder it will be to find your future.”

The faun rose and stepped away from the boy toward the rising sun. “The world is not fair, Adanedhel. The sooner you dispel such foolish notions like fairness the sooner you will be ready to accept what it has to teach you. What I, and Nomanti, have been teaching you. I will await you at the tree line.”

The fey walked away, then, leaving the boy to his thoughts and pain and innocence lost.

The child fidgeted as the most beautiful woman in the world assessed him with eyes of frigid waterfalls. A sparse-covering dress of deep green aspen leaves edged in frost rested comfortably against cerulean skin that glittered like spraying mist. Elegant hair the color of lathering foam cascaded down the length of her body to within an inch of the floor.

“Tell me of your education, child,” the hamadryad commanded in an effervescent voice that thundered like a powerful waterfall.

The child reflexively shied away from that power as its sound crashed over him, drawing a mischievous smirk from the Queen of the Frozen Falls despite the insult.

“Answer the Queen when she speaks to you, Adanedhel,” Sath prompted him when no apparent answer was forthcoming.

“Adanedhel?” the fey queen smiled, amused. “That is his name?”

Sath bowed respectfully. “It seemed appropriate, Cascading One. If it does not please you, I will change it to something that shall.”

“No,” she told him, brushing her fingertips along the child’s angular cheek and chin. He startled at the touch, for while it was gentle, her fingers felt cold as glacial waters. “It is ideal. That is all the identity he should ever require.” Still smiling, the Queen lifted the child’s face up to meet her own with a nurturing tenderness almost surreal coming from one so otherworldly. “What do you most favor in your learning?”

“Hunting,” the child replied hesitantly.

The fey queen smiled sweetly. “Of course, hunting. What have you hunted?”

Feeling quite squeamish, but too frightened to turn his head away from the fey queen, he tried hard to answer the question with honesty. “Mice,” he began in docile tones, pausing in apparent thought between each creature so named. “Squirrel. Rabbit. Mountain goat. Mule deer.” He opened his mouth to say another, forgot what it was, and, after a few moment’s thought, closed his mouth again with uncertainty.

“Have you hunted orc?” she asked.

“No,” the child admitted, then, almost as an afterthought, he added, “Only tracked them.”

“And do you enjoy tracking them?”

The child nodded as much as he could with the fey queen’s fingers still propped under his chin. “Yes. It is easy.”

“Good,” the hamadryad grinned. “What can you tell me of orcs?”

The child’s lips tightened into a line as he swallowed. “They are evil and bad,” he said with recognizable disgust. “They hate everything they see and hurt everything they touch. They kill all they can and leave it to rot in the sun, but eat their own children. They must always be killed. Always. I hate them.”

“Oh no, child,” the Queen kindly corrected him, “do not hate them. Save your hate for something deserving of it. Think of orcs as insects whose sole purpose is to destroy. When you see such an insect, you crush it beneath your boot because it must be done, then continue on and think of it no more. When you find an infestation of these destructive little bugs, it must become your first priority to eliminate them completely and efficiently; leave none behind, or they will only multiply again and continue their destructive ways. So, you must always kill orcs without remorse or mercy, but do not lend them your hatred. Do you understand?”

“Yes,” the child said in the sullen tones of one who has been rebuked.

“Wait outside, then, and think about what I have told you,” she directed him. “I must speak with your teacher.”

The child needed no further encouragement. The final words had barely escaped her lips when he turned and hurried away.

“Bow!” Sath ordered curtly, to which the child halted, about-faced, offered a wooden bow from the waist, then bolted from the chamber.

The Queen of the Frozen Falls watched him rush out with a fond smile. “How old is the child?” she inquired of the faun who remained behind.

“Six winters, as best as I can gauge it, my Queen,” Sath answered humbly.

The hamadryad regarded him with the rapid currents of her eyes. “He is a shy one.”

The child’s teacher nodded. “He is emotional. Adanedhel internalizes everything and keeps it close to him. I believe Ethwanessa adequately illustrated it as ‘feeling all the feels,’” the faun smirked in recollection of his talk with the dryad.

“That can be dangerous,” the hamadryad intoned.

“It can be, my Queen,” Sath carefully agree, then chanced to continue on, “but I believe it can also be properly managed. The child benefits from high intellectual capacity; he picks up teachings extraordinarily quickly. If I may say so, Cascading One, for his age the child is an amazing tracker. I have known fey incapable of tracking and locating creatures as well as he. With the proper training, I have no doubt Adanedhel could become a useful tool in our cause to eradicate the orc vermin from the region.”

The fey queen quirked an eyebrow. “Do you not believe his emotional state will get him killed?”

“On the contrary, my Queen,” Sath divulged, “I absolutely believe it will. However, the aid this child would provide through the damage he will do to the orc population between now and that time could be exceptionally impressive. He is an amazing hunter, and his rapport with animals--while not the best I have witnessed--is commendable.”

The Cascading One studied her vassal for a long moment, and he stayed silent throughout, not daring to interrupt her thoughts with his insignificance. “The King of Thorns despises the child,” she revealed finally. “He says the child is weak.”

At that, the faun bowed so low his horns nearly scraped the floor in supplication. “I cannot possibly repudiate the wisdom of my King,” he professed with sincere humility.

His Queen considered him shrewdly, then inserted for him a drawn out, “But . . . . “

Sath replied without lifting his head. “I respectfully believe there exists a difference between weakness and a lack of strength.”

“I thought you would,” she smiled, and without granting him permission to rise--she admittedly enjoyed his groveling--said, “Continue.”

“The child lacks physical strength, it is true,” the faun proceeded as he was bade. “Point-in-fact, I do not believe he will ever attain it--not as the great warriors are known to possess it anyhow. But, Cascading One, he does exhibit the natural flowing grace of his elven heritage, and if properly trained, I believe that will be his boon in combat. I have witnessed his movements up close, and already taught him rudimentary combat maneuvers with the spear. The child possesses a rare agility and prowess now. In three decades? Forgive my contradictory understanding to the King of Thorns, I beg, but the child is most certainly not weak--at least, not where his strengths are concerned.”

“You believe he will make a good hunter and protector,” she reasoned.

“I believe he will excel at these things, my Queen,” the faun validated her statement.

“Rise,” the hamadryad commanded, and Sath immediately obeyed. She cradled his face in her unnaturally cold hands, but rather than shrinking back from them, he welcomed her touch. “Teach him, then, as only you know how.”

“Yes, my Queen,” Sath breathed his affirmation.

The corner of her lip raised in delight at both his response to her touch and the realization that he had something else he desired to say. “What else do you wish?”

“I would ask”--the faun began, his words labored due to her gentle caress--“that Nomanti be dismissed as a teacher for the child.”

“Sath,” she spoke his name affectionately. “You have a soft heart for the child?”

“I do not believe his instruction of the kind Adanedhel needs.”

The Queen smiled once more, but this time the gesture held sorrowful undertones. “I cannot,” she expressed to him sadly, removing her hands from his face and stepping away. The break in contact nearly caused him to weep. “Nomanti belongs to the King of Thorns, and so he must continue in his capacity with the child, as well. Nothing can be done about it.”

Sath nodded, more forlorn about her pulling away than the refusal of his request. “I understand, my Queen. I only fear that Nomanti’s techniques may hinder Adanedhel’s development.”

“Perhaps,” the Queen of the Frozen Falls pondered. “Or, the child will learn all the quicker what he is not.”

For the record, this is not a journal, per se, but a backstory for my character entering into a Giantslayer campaign that my group started a few months ago. I will try to post pieces of it every couple days. While it's primarily here just to share with the community, any feedback is appreciated!


“Behold the splendor of this wilderness realm: its every rock, tree, and stream. Within, animals have created a kingdom, and mankind has erected a bastion of freedom. Measured against these things you are insignificant. But, in dying to protect them, you may find worth."

--Horethama, Queen of the Frozen Falls

A goat hoof pressed against the shoulder of a prone figure and turned the lifeless body onto its back. The ghostly dawn mist washed over its bloody features in curling wisps, as though the spirit was just now departing in sorrow.

Not far away, an infant’s cries haunted both the living and the dead.

“Here’s the mate,” Nomanti’s deep, melodic voice called out to his hunting partner. The satyr bent over the female elf and ran a finger along her slender cheek, stopping just above the ugly canyon that her throat had become. “What a waste,” the fey sighed and shook his head.

“Two elves, then,” replied the soft tenor tone of Sath from twenty yards off. Despite their loud conversation, the faun held his bow at the ready and watched the surrounding trees for any sign of danger returning. “A score of dead orcs by the other, with another dozen about this one. They fought hard and well.”

“And much good it did them, eh?” Nomanti scoffed, his hands liberally searching the dead elf female for whatever goods of worth she might carry.

The faun shook his head at the negativity of his companion. He strongly desired to remind the satyr that had the two of them perished slaying over thirty orcs--the scourge of this land--their King and Queen would have celebrated them with feasting and singing. Instead, he remained quiet and progressed toward the crying infant, cradled atop a soft bed of moss and ferns.

His brow arched as he approached. “The child is not hidden,” Sath expressed with some intrigue. “However did he survive, I wonder?”

“It obviously was not crying at the time,” the satyr stated, tossing an empty potion flask he had found on the dead elf at Sath.

The other caught it easily, examined it for a moment, then glanced back down at the baby as he pieced together the small puzzle. “But why sacrifice herself and turn the child invisible?” he wondered aloud. “Why not drink the potion yourself and both escape?”

Nomanti offered a derisive chuckle. “Sentimentality for that one, I would say,” he nodded in the direction of the male elf over 70 yards west of their location. “I will never understand the foolishness of the mortal races.” He admired the dead female one last time and repeated, “What a waste,” then strode toward faun and child while pocketing the two full potions recovered from the body. “Silence that thing and let us be on our way.”

Sath heard the intention in his partner’s tone and frowned at its maliciousness. If ever there existed a reason why fauns hated being confused as satyrs, it surely involved the complete lack of empathy shown by the latter. In deliberate protest, the faun set his bow upon the ground and picked up the child, cradling him and attempting to quiet him with gentle rocking.

“Truly?” the satyr spat with indignation. “Will you try suckling it next?”

“I am taking him with us,” Sath informed his companion.

“To what end? Two are dead already trying to keep that creature! It is a bad omen, Sath, and it will only slow us down.”

The faun glared at Nomanti. “Our purpose is not to kill the weak and innocent, but to protect them, or have you forgotten?”

“Our purpose is to kill orcs, not look after the dead’s baggage. I will not die for that useless creature,” Nomanti pointed accusingly at the child. “Had these foolish mortals cared for the thing at all, they would not have brought it into such a dangerous realm to begin with. Do not let their mistake become ours.”

“I know not why these elves were here, and I refuse to question their purpose or intention based on what I do not know. What I can discern is their quality in arms by the score-and-a-half dead I witness around them. If this child inherited such skill, he might be an asset to our own cause.” Sath locked eyes with his hunting partner and filled his voice with absolute determination that brooked no argument as he insisted a final time, “I am taking him with us.”

The satyr spat on the ground and helplessly threw his hands in the air. “It is a waste of time, I say, but fine,” he gave in, then quickly formed a most sardonic grin. “The King of Thorns will likely dispose of the thing at first glance anyhow.”

“Mine is not to question our King’s judgment,” Sath stated simply. “Only yours.”

RJGrady wrote:
While the HD follow some patterns in relation to 3e stats, there are several monsters they just arbitrarily changed to a number they wanted, so I am skeptical of hit points goals being involved.

I've not looked especially close at the monsters per se, but since hit die are based off from size in 5e, there actually is a legitimate correlation between a creatures size and how many hit points it can have. Not saying that's why they did it, but that correlation is built right into the rules system for monsters.

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bookrat wrote:
Sub-Creator wrote:
I guess all I'm saying is that the whole "RAW adherence" thing has its benefits and drawbacks for players. Which it might be depends entirely on how creative your players and GM really are. I'd argue the more creative a play style a group has, the less RAW adherence will benefit them.

I'm in complete agreement with you. I find 5e to be much more free and allow for a lot more creativity. However, imagine a DM running 5e who played by strict RAW - since souch is left for a ruling by a GM, you'd be extremely limited in what you could do. At least with PF, you have a rule to back you up.

Here's a recent example from someone I know:

I quit my first 5E group because the DM was a jerk. In one session he spent 10 minutes arguing with a player on her ability to fix the mast of the ship we were on. She had to go into exacting detail of what to do. He finally relented, but it was still a craw with him the following week. He said, I quote, "I'm a DM who believes players should never get what they want.

A DM who's only in it for his or her own edification at the expense of the players can't be reasoned with regardless of the edition or the rules. Said individual will seek to screw with the players regardless of rules adherence. Sure, this rule enables you to do such-and-such a thing, but then this kind of DM will arbitrarily punish you for having the ability to do something he or she didn't want you to do anyhow.

There is no "rules protection" against that in any edition I've ever played in.

bookrat wrote:
Player Protection from a Bad GM. RAW can be used to protect players, especially when Rule Zero is used to punish players.

I've played both, though a lot more PF than 5e, which we've only tested in a single adventure. I do hope to possibly run a 5e campaign or two down the road, transplanting them into Golarion.

However, I did wish to note that RAW, when adhered to correctly, just as often works against the player's creativity as it can be used to protect the players. Feat requirements to do some of the most trivial things in combat or outside of it can do more to restrict player desires than anything. We've found this to happen a lot in our PF games, where a player wants his character to do this or that, and I have to ask them if they have this or that feat which permits their being able to do what they want. Obviously, people can forego feat requirements if they choose, but now you're also foregoing RAW, which can set ugly precedents for down the road, too.

I guess all I'm saying is that the whole "RAW adherence" thing has its benefits and drawbacks for players. Which it might be depends entirely on how creative your players and GM really are. I'd argue the more creative a play style a group has, the less RAW adherence will benefit them.

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Murdock Mudeater wrote:
Incorporeal creatures get CHA to AC as a deflection bonus. This is explained in the Phantom Rules.

I thank thee. I think I've read through those rules a couple different times, but must have continually skipped over that somehow. Definitely appreciate that clarification, and I'll try to read more closely next time!

A Spiritualist's phantom gains a Dex/Cha bonus throughout its progression. I'm simply curious as to why it gets a Charisma bonus. They are not considered undead, so it doesn't help them with hit points. There doesn't appear to be anything that the Charisma score does to help it. So, why does it get such a boost? Why not give it progression in Constitution, so it would get more hit points, or Strength, so that it can do more on attack/damage? Honestly, the phantoms aren't that viable as combatants anyhow, so why gimp them more by giving them a useless ability progression?

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Dude, I wouldn't accept those offered hugs if I were you . . . I've seen evidence of the shattered and burnt out husks of those that have scattered all about these boards and elsewhere. These are dangerous times, my friend. Dangerous times!

Alni wrote:
Combat Monster wrote:

Your best bet is to as a player find ways for your hero to retreat that are in character.

GMNPC's being involved is a mixed bag. Used rarely to effect is fine. If the group is finding itself the sidekick to the overpowered GM characters, it's an issue.

** spoiler omitted **

I hate GMNPCs with a passion. I know some GMs play them well, but I've had bad experiences with them continuously "saving" the group. I'd rather scale down the battle, or just pretend the bad guy ran out of spells, fudge some rolls or something, than have someone pop in the last minute. As a GM if I mess up the DC the other way around -too easy- I just let it roll. My last bad guy was taken down in a round, no one complained. So I try to make sure the battle is not overwhelming, and if in the end its too easy so be it.

I've played a couple characters where retreat wasn't an option. One had it built right into him as a mental block: when he went into combat, his a rage filled him until either he won or he dropped. Sometimes it can be fun to play someone like that. However, when you choose to make a character like that, or with a "no retreat, no surrender" type mentality, there's no room for getting upset when said character goes down. You have to know it's coming, and it's not the GM's job to ease up on the character based on an RP decision you made for the character. Besides that, according to your spoiler, it sounds more like this became a "player vs. GM" situation, not an in-character thing. Stubbornness against story. Not saying the GM was in the right for making such a ridiculous comment that served no purpose but to infuriate; just saying that you as a player could have handled that differently in an out-of-character way, rather than simply saying screw the character, I'm not giving into the GM here.

I can think of two times in my GMing career where I set the characters against a "no-win" scenario. Both were relatively early on, and one was prophesied: if you take this item, this will happen eventually. It was built into the story. As a rule, I haven't really designed anything like that since. I've come to accept that having nothing you can do about a situation as a player just isn't any fun for them. As stated above, I have used narrative (cinematic) situations when story has dictated that something needs to happen, and it happens too quickly for them to stop. My players have been good with this, primarily because they are all "story trumps all else" players and understand its reasoning. Even so, I do this relatively infrequently, as well. Again, like Odraude stated above, sometimes player actions lead to the blowing up of the CR system, which I also allow. Consequences are important, and if players start getting the notion that they can do whatever they want whenever they want however they want, logistics start to break down and the game spirals out of control quickly. Boundaries are important. Sometimes, it's not about whether they can do something, but about whether they should do something.

GMNPCs aren't something I like. More often than not, it's not because I use them to overshadow the PCs, but because the PCs turn to them for all the answers rather than try to figure it out themselves. If a GMNPC gets involved in a combat with me, it's because the players wanted he or she to be involved. Basically, they end up needing the NPC to thwart people dying. I tend not to make GMNPCs powerful for that reason. More often than not, however, unless there is some pivotal story point that requires their presence, I don't even have them available.

Finally, when it comes to retreating, I've instituted a rule that states when you make it off the map, you've either successfully gotten away, or there will be a chase scene coming. This has worked very well for us, thus far, and my players have gotten a kick out of the chases, too! It does help make tactical retreats (or, for those of you who hate retreating, "tactical redeployment") much more successful. Many times, in fact, making that successful escape with everyone can be far more hair-raising and heart-pounding than just sitting there watching as PC after PC goes down in turn. I think it's imperative that you provide the PCs with a retreat mechanic that can make it successful. As the game is written, it really doesn't exist, and watching the frustration on the faces of the players as their characters drop dead because they know they can't get away anyway just isn't any fun at all.

Derklord wrote:
Sub-Creator wrote:
I've had a character CdG'ed at an early level. I had no problem with it because we were squaring off against orcs, and that's exactly what they'd do (this wasn't RoW), but man is it a helpless feeling.
Actually, it's not, at least not what Golarion orcs do. "Orcs are natural slave masters", and "[h]aving one or more slaves is a mark of status for an orc." Source: Orcs of Golarion pg. 9

This particular clan apparently had cannibalistic tendencies and preferred eating the slain rather than enslaving them.

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Captain Yesterday Smurf wrote:

I like to toot my own horn.

It's what Popeye would do.

Well, yeah . . . but Popeye is, like, totally awesome!

. . . .

Okay, okay, and you are too.

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Kobold Cleaver wrote:
There are positive ways to read his departure. I am inclined to trust the GM's side of the story on it.

You don't think the GM might not be slightly biased concerning how the situation went down? I'll be honest with you, I have no idea what the GM was even doing posting this, except to vindicate his actions and basically say he/she was in the right, while the player was a baby. Granted, the GM asks the question about doing it right in the OP, but has never shown any inclination as to being open to doing it any other way. There has been adamant statements that he/she did nothing wrong, and that he/she enjoys running cutthroat games, but absolutely no impression made anywhere that perhaps the way the GM actually played it was incorrect or should have been altered.

I'm inclined to believe that this was a "toot your own horn for being awesome" thread and nothing more.

Wrath wrote:
The Sword wrote:

Thanks for pointing that out. So for the first six rounds the party was within 20 squares of each other. In a forest? In my book that isn't splitting the party.

It sounds like the Paladin was targeted. Which is a shame if it was a new player.

Incidentally I don't consider losing 1/5 of the game group in a session to be a win, unless that person has had a repeated negative effect on the group.

I would be fascinated to know the circumstances of the session: mates house/gaming store/event etc?

100 feet in a forest blanketed in deep snow. That's 30 metres through foliage, snow and probably intervening snow fall or rising mist.

So visibility to the paladin is quite possibly nil.

On top of that, no one seemed to have a bow, maybe 30 feet is the best range they're going to manage with spell or bomb etc. Once he's up in the high branches etc, the prey lose sight. This is snow that comes on hard and fast. In what's normally a temperate forest so I'm guessing there's pretty dense foliage to start with.

So, that's as effectively split from the party as if he was in different chambers in a dungeon, or split by a chasm.

On the other hand, if conditions are so bad that you can't see anyone unless you're incredibly close to them, it's possible the Paladin would have needed an awesome Survival check just to retreat back to the party (without meta-gaming). Not sure he would have had the skill for such a check.

I've had a character CdG'ed at an early level. I had no problem with it because we were squaring off against orcs, and that's exactly what they'd do (this wasn't RoW), but man is it a helpless feeling. You always dream when you're playing a fantasy game, and you've put hours into building your fantasy character, that if he's going to die it'll be in a heroic way, at least. Lying helpless on the ground and having an orc lop your head off with an axe doesn't really scratch that itch, you know? It's just not fun.

Quark Blast wrote:
Sub-Creator wrote:


I've read all the D&D APs except for the newest one, and they all seem to be easily adaptable.
As I understand it, this is exactly what they were aiming for with 5E.

Mission successful! =)

For the record, I own Out of the Abyss, and I think the AP is a good one, all things considered. I have plans to port it over to Golarion as a sequel to Wrath of the Righteous (which I won't be playing through, but will be making the events take place from that AP). My group will be playing 5e, but the switching of worlds doesn't appear to be overly complicated based on my reading of the AP and the setting book Darklands.

I've read all the D&D APs except for the newest one, and they all seem to be easily adaptable.

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In addition, I will be GMing a couple 5e campaigns set in Golarion. It would be incredibly useful for me to have a dedicated 5e forum (that others can easily find) to shoot ideas back and forth with others. Not absolutely necessary, mind you, but helpful!

FGG is a standup organization, so I'm not concerned about the fact that the product is coming. It'll get here . . . eventually.

Admittedly, I'm a bit old-school, but this experience (my first and only) with kickstarter has certainly soured me on it. I can't see myself backing another project via kickstarter in the near (or distant) future. I'll just wait for the product to get to the shelves. That may mean paying a bit more, but at least expectation will be met: I order, it comes in the mail within a few business days. If a highly-praised company struggles to meet its date by such a huge margin, I'd hate to think what it'll be like backing a company without such a phenomenal reputation.

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
IrishBouzouki wrote:
1. Something starting as sea-raiders based in Linnorm Kings but moving overseas thru exploration of some new unknown areas along the coast of Arcadia where it could wind up in some sort of sandboxy settlement-building (and continued sea-raiding).
Oh for Heaven's sake. Arcadia isn't empty, people. Stop assuming that it is.

Well, granted . . . but there have been lots of places that weren't empty, yet still considered unknown by those who had no presence there. I fear you're taking a phrase and willfully associating a negative connotation where it's entirely possible negativity did not exist. This happens a lot nowadays.

Oh, and I'm still in for anything Linnorm in origin. We need more Vikings.

Something that actually delves into the Mwangi culture more would be fun, too.

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Tectorman wrote:
Kieviel wrote:
Skeld wrote:

Let's rename the book to "Non-Generic Guide About People Who Go On Adventures, But Are Members of Golarion-Specific Organizations That Have Been Discused In Print Before, But Have Updated Game Rule and Campaign Flavor Information That Can Be Easily Customized For Non-Golarion Settings."


So if we can get them to say its name backwards, will it get banished back to the fifth dimension?

Or it becomes Welsh . . . ;)

All this AP really needs is . . .

. . . a good blanket.


Oh, Pat Morita! You have been missed!

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Friends and I loved the show. Truly happy a 2nd Season/Sequel is coming out and can't wait to watch it.

One thing is for sure: no one is winning a parent of the year award in that show . . . even for the '80s! We were mocking the lack of parenting skills throughout the entirety of that series! It was truly comical.

I'm currently running this as well, though greatly expanded upon. I'm using PFS scenarios to fill in gaps between adventures, as I've expanded upon the ioun stone aspect of the shards that requires them to research and find those, as well. My players have also been enjoying this AP quite well, especially all the roleplaying that the first book allowed for. I'd recommend it.

For the record, I think Book 6 of Shattered Star is one of the best I've seen to date (of Book Sixes).

PaleMask wrote:

They are splash weapons and I am not really trying to throw them at any one in particular I'm literally dropping bombs in a crowd of hundreds. No I cannot hit the one square I want but I can hit a large crowd of hundreds. Second, tell me what they can do then? They have no abilities that can reach me they can run and try to take cover in this totally open grassy meadow they are camped in (which we have accounted for) but considering its perpetually night in the demi-plane they don't even know anything is happening until the first bomb hits. Nor can they see where the rest of the bombs are falling so its not like they know which way to run to avoid them. I guess I should have mentioned I have fast bombs so it takes 8 rounds for me to drop all of them.

As far as me doing it repeatedly, the only thing I can come up with is they can attempt to build some shelter. But that requires wood or stone, meaning they have to clear cut or quarry their demi-plane. Don't be a pretentious ass and say Well, I think the comment "know of something to stop me besides just GM says no" pretty much tells me all I need to know about this" when you don't even have a real way to answer my question. If you need more background on something we are doing you can ask me. It would just take a a long time to type it and it was 3 a.m. when I first posted this.

I quoted the comment because that pretty much tells me that if anything happens to dissuade you from doing it, then you'll simply blame the GM. That's not being pompous, friend, just identify the significance of a statement. You are allowed to take that as you will, however.

So, first off, at 1,000 feet high, the only possible thing you could be aiming for would be the campfires. The demi-plane has the "dim light" trait, meaning that it's perpetual night with only star- and moonlight. You wouldn't be able to see anything on the ground except for the fires with a -100 to your Perception check in addition to the nighttime penalties. Secondly, the very text description records "hundreds of campfires," so the allotment of campfires you're throwing at is quite significant, and you haven't any idea how many spriggans are actually huddled around any given campfire at one time. Thirdly, even the spriggans that camp on the open plain are a few miles away from forest or mountain. After a single night of bombarding, they could move camp, set more decoy fires (it certain they have stored wood on hand, else they couldn't keep the fires going to begin with), or even use the additional wood to do the other thing you mentioned and build shelters. Using the mountains to the north as cover against you would be a viable option after the first night. Spriggans have low-light vision, so unless you've got dark vision, you're not seeing better than they are (and that wouldn't serve you any at all from 1,000 feet anyhow), and they have crossbows if you come down far enough to come close to pinpointing them. They've also got worg riders for speedy communication with other camps (and outriders that are always on patrol, so peppering the large area of a camp wouldn't get to these outriders you wouldn't be able to see). That makes them capable of getting help (and yes, there is help that could be gotten to defend your 1,000-foot theory, but I don't know how much your GM wants you to know about this).

And that's just a few of the options and problems. Naturally, you can simply hand wave all this, say you've bombarded the heck out of the camp, expect that all the spriggans are huddled up in a nice little quivering mass of flesh for you, get your XP, and call it a day. And that's cool! Like I said in my last post, if that's your game, I hope you have a blast with it! In the end, if you're having fun and your GM is having fun, then all this is moot anyhow. Collect your XP and go about your business. It's all good!

I wish you all the best, PM. Just have fun, man. =)

PaleMask wrote:

For a little background info my friend and I are just gming campaigns for one another. We decided to do a solo module with him as GM and me running an alchemist at lvl 8 with double gold allowance. I made it to level 10 doing encounters the regular way until this.

So we progress through the module until we get to the part where I am supposed to sneak past these armies of 300 spriggans. I've already fought the spriggans and generally know their abilities and their weakness of fire. My Alchemist has explosive bomb discovery and fly, so instead of sneaking past I'm just going to fly above the army out of range, bomb them, fly away and rest for a day, rinse, repeat.

Lots of math involved, including some made up but suffice to say I can kill roughly 150 spriggans so far with splash damage. Also, nothing says I can't do this repeatedly though he did say hes going to finish reading module entirely to be sure. So it may be there is someone in the Queen's retinue who can do something about it but I doubt it since they would have to find me a thousand feet in the air.

At 1200exp a spriggan that means I get 180,000 experience and I was already lvl 10 on fast track 71,000 so that puts me at 251,000exp, about halfway through lvl 13.

So, I'm curious if anyone else has done similar or know of something to stop me besides just GM says no. If you want the exact math my int modifier is +7 and I've given you relevant discoveries and levels. Spriggan Hp is 34. I'm pretty sure I've done it right though.

Well, I think the comment "know of something to stop me besides just GM says no" pretty much tells me all I need to know about this, but there's a ton to stop you from doing it that has absolutely nothing to do with your GM deciding he just doesn't want it to happen. The first would be the monumental penalties that should be involved in being able to hit a tiny location with a bomb from 1,000 feet up. The second is that spriggans have an Intelligence score of 10. If they just stand around looking dumbly up at the sky as fire reigns down upon them from above, your GM isn't playing them properly. By the numbers, I'm sure you've got it worked out beautifully. Math is the easy part! Playing the monsters as if they are legitimate, thinking beings should factor into all this too, however.

I wish you all the best in your gaming though! So long as the both of you are having a blast, that's really what matters in the end. =)

Odraude wrote:
Sub-Creator wrote:
Juda de Kerioth wrote:

oh with the new comic series comming up with Red Sonja, i would love to see a propper adventure (at least a module) in the hyborean setting, or a new barbarian unchained (more like conan, you know, con bonus to AC when unarmored and those kind of things), also, a new fighter class aproach to fit Sonja and such.

Also, with the new suplement coming from Message from Mars a Vampire hunter AP entirely, in that world (vampire hunter D´s)

I'd really hate to break the news to you, friend, but I'd wager that your chances of seeing an AP outside the Golarion setting is zero. I'd keep expectations firmly rooted to the Paizo home world. You'll find the possibilities of something you'd like to see exponentially increase. ;)
Well, with Strange Aeons, they are going to Carcosa, which is pretty far off from Golarion.

And I know that you're being particular here, which is cool. But, when that equates to them building APs in worlds other than Paizo's own homegrown setting I'll be impressed. Somehow, I just don't believe their deciding to go to other setting specific worlds will correlate into APs based on R.E. Howard's Conan stories or whoever the heck created Vampire Hunter D.

I suppose I could be wrong though . . .

After all, they are going to Carcosa. =)

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CBDunkerson wrote:
Haladir wrote:
The whole "dwarven women have beards" thing is from one line from J.R.R. Tolkein's The Two Towers, where Gimli is talking/boasting about dwarven works to Eowyn, and Legolas makes a snide side-comment. It's not fully clear from the text, but I always took the line to be a joke they are trying to pull on Eowyn. (I don't have a copy of The Two Towers with me, so I can't cite the reference.)
There is no such line in the book. The discussion of the issue in the movies was invented by the script writers.

But was, indeed, based on the very quotation you've provided from Tolkien's Appendices in Return of the King. So, while the script writers did create the scene, the material was written by the good doctor.

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Juda de Kerioth wrote:

oh with the new comic series comming up with Red Sonja, i would love to see a propper adventure (at least a module) in the hyborean setting, or a new barbarian unchained (more like conan, you know, con bonus to AC when unarmored and those kind of things), also, a new fighter class aproach to fit Sonja and such.

Also, with the new suplement coming from Message from Mars a Vampire hunter AP entirely, in that world (vampire hunter D´s)

I'd really hate to break the news to you, friend, but I'd wager that your chances of seeing an AP outside the Golarion setting is zero. I'd keep expectations firmly rooted to the Paizo home world. You'll find the possibilities of something you'd like to see exponentially increase. ;)

One of the key aspects of the game is that you get to play with these ancient artifacts throughout the campaign. That's half the fun of it. The AP is designed for you to keep the shards, yes.

Perhaps your GM has other ideas about how he/she wishes to run it, however. I don't know why he/she wouldn't allow you to use them though.

Tangent101 wrote:

You have groups who ignore that sort of thing, rush in headlong, and get upset when they die off. You have GMs who don't have many groups and will let their players get away with BS like this and thus... meh. The way Runelords handled encountering Karzoug prior to the final fight worked quite well actually. And Queen Elvanna in Skyrim: Golarion Edition had a decent reason as to why she wasn't seeking out the group to wipe them out (if she even knew they were around).

But when you get down to it... a truly smart Big Bad would be preparing for the PCs once they had foiled a couple of their plans and would go after the PCs with considerable force. So you would need some sort of reason as to why the PCs aren't targeted.

If you have groups that do everything in an AP exactly as it's drawn up, then you have groups completely unlike mine. I make sure my crew knows the expectation of the AP/campaign going in . . . that goes for the ones I wrote myself back in the day, as well as the pregens I run for them now. If they choose to "ignore that sort of thing," that's their choice. The consequences belong to them. That's called accountability, and I enthusiastically support holding my players, students, friends, etc. to it. ;)

If a GM with his group has a play style that differs and lets the group get away with things, I suppose he or she knows his or her group well enough to know what's fun to them. That's the best part of gaming with groups you know! The enjoyment level differs from crew to crew.

I also loved Runelords! How they covered Karzoug was fantastic, and I enjoyed playing that up too. Don't mind if they change up things a bit.

As to what a "truly smart Big Bad" would do can be dependent on the Big Bad, and whether said Big Bad is having fun . . . or not seeing a threat. You speak of foiling plans, but if the PCs aren't foiling plans, but merely being nuisances because the Big Bad is actually the victor in those plans (to a point), the Big Bad may find itself enjoying their interference. And that's just one possible reason; others are certainly feasible. Forcing them to do what they can in a series of no-win situations, which they can score minor victories in, would be something fun and different, however. It's forcing them to cope on a whole other level than they're used to, and it makes the consequences real.

Now, I'll concede that there are a number of people that couldn't--or wouldn't--handle this sort of AP well, which is probably why something like it will never make it to print. I know my players would eat it up though, because they love challenge and suspense, and the thought of going up against high CR cities killers at level 3 or 4 would be a rush of adrenaline they'd be all about! I think there's many that would enjoy it. That's personal preference though. To each his/her own. =)

Happy gaming!

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Tangent101 wrote:
Eliandra Giltessan wrote:
Cole Deschain wrote:
Actually, that could be a relatively new narrative structure... instead of the PCs moving from victory to victory on their road to kicking the wyrm's face in,maybe they move from defeat to defeat- sure, they get more powerful, and they learn the ways of their foe- heck,maybe hey inflict some lasting scars along the way- but if the dragon has them on the run the whole time, it'd be something interesting to try out...
I feel like this would be really hard to pull off, given the power level characters can reach vs. the assumed power level of an AP. People would end up killing the dragon way too early, or would be stymied by the plot not letting them.
Given an Red Elder Wyrm is a CR 23 encounter (if I am remembering correctly), having the PCs encounter it early would mean it kills them unless they are given some form of plot armor.

Albeit, one of the things you could do with this is make it plain that if they choose to square off against the dragon itself, they will die. Heroic, in this case, means doing the best you can to mitigate the damage/destruction without having the ability to kill the thing. I think this could lead to some amazing adventure potential, because it would mean that the PCs have to play this stuff smart. Honestly, I kind of like the idea that the dragon actually wins some of the battles. That helps to build up the legend of the dragon in question, and it gives them the opportunity to meet said enemy numerous times throughout the AP before they're able to actually destroy it.

Another thing this does is enable you to play with the dragons themselves. Give us a dragon that doesn't abide by conventions. That way, knowing that you're going up against a red dragon doesn't mean you have the ability to prep for it. Throw some monkey wrenches in there to really screw with the PCs and make them far less comfortable about their tactics because the dragon's tactics are ever changing. Almost the Napoleon of dragons!

Also, there was talk of a hard mode AP. I think you could really get away with making a dragon AP hard mode, so that the power potential of PCs would also be mitigated by a dragon/dragons that are built unique and incredibly powerful. Make it life and death stuff unlike we've seen in any AP.

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Gorbacz wrote:

I'd say the same thing about your ROBOTZ WITH LAZORS!!!!!!

But I choose to play nice with you there. Least you can do is return the favor. ;)

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No interest in Starfinder.

Strange Aeons has Lovecraft, and while I am a fan of Lovecraft, I ran a Lovecraft campaign expansion in my Kingmaker game, which pretty much put an end to our need for this one. My players aren't interested in doing another one based on the Lovecraft mythos. I'd be up for playing in it, but otherwise this one won't happen for us. I'm not getting it.

Ironfang Keep I'm somewhat ambivalent about. I love the idea of learning more about Nirmathas and Molthune, but haven't enough interest to purchase it. However, if our other GM decides to purchase this AP for us to play, I would be willing to play in it.

Ruins of Azlant I'm all over! This one has me exceptionally excited, and I can't wait to get my hands on it. I love the ancient history stuff for Golarion. Thassilon has been an incredible amount of fun for my players, as they all love it the history too, and Azlant is something I've desired to learn more about for a long time. Also very excited to do some underwater exploration! Everything about this AP is win where I'm concerned! I wish it was next!

And for those disliking the fact that they're doing new underwater rules for this AP, I think they're overreacting a lot. My expectation is that they'll put these new rules in the free Player's Guide, as Valantrix1 stated, and so it won't be hard for anyone to get their hands on them for absolutely no cost to them at all.

Vic Wertz wrote:
Every rulebook since the second printing of Rise of the Runelords has had a page in the back called "Things to Keep In Mind," which includes a section headed "Cards Don't Do What They Don't Say." It's very germane to your question.

The Rise of the Runelords box that we have was bought something like 2 years ago, so I'm not sure it has that page . . . but I've personally not read the rulebook anyhow, so I can't say for sure. Two of the gents that I play with were looking through the rulebook the first couple times we played, and the person in question (who was doing this) came into the game on our third session, so I don't think he's seen the rulebook either.

Regardless, your point is taken, and all the help has been appreciated very much!

Many thanks to the both of you! I shall pass this knowledge on tonight when we get together to play.

This may be a unique question, but we're new to this adventure card game, and a friend of mine did this last session. I wasn't sure about it then, but didn't want to say anything until I got some input.

Basically, he's playing Valeros. When he would explore and draw a weapon to acquire, because the "Check to Acquire" says Strength Melee he was using a weapon card from his hand to give him an additional die (or two, if he recharged it) to acquire the weapon.

As an example, let's say he drew the "Horsechopper +1" weapon card while exploring. The Check to Acquire for the weapon is Strength Melee 9. Valeros has a d10 in Strength, with a Melee +3 bonus. He would then reveal a longsword to give himself an additional d8 to the roll, and discard (or recharge it, because he's Valeros) for another d6. Thus, he would end up rolling 1d10+1d8+1d6+3 to acquire the "Horsechopper +1" with a score of 9.

Is that legal according to the game rules? Or, must he only use his d10 Strength +3 Melee roll to acquire the weapon?

I'm all in for this. Let's get a serious dragon AP going, Paizo. You could do something great here!

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My only disappointment here is that I didn't see Brandon Hodge on the list of authors for Ruins of Azlant, and he has been involved in so much of the Azlanti stuff thus far . . .

This, of course, does nothing to diminish my excitement for this AP! Honestly, I don't think I've been as ready for an AP to hit the stores than I have for this one. I love it when Paizo explores their history because they do it incredibly well.

And, for the record, Serpent's Skull was the first AP I ever ran/finished in Golarion, and my players absolutely loved it. Granted, it required more prep time from me than any other I've done since, but it was worth it. I expect Ruins of Azlant to be better because they've had plenty of time to grow from that one.

I'm geeked people, and I'm not frightened to share that fact! Thank you, Paizo, for doing this one!

zimmerwald1915 wrote:
Mine all mine...don't touch wrote:
Didnt i read somewhere once that chthulu wont appear on golarion?

What you probably read is probably that in Pathfinder canon Cthulhu lies in R'lyeh, which is where Lovecraft and his followers put it: in the south Pacific, on Earth.

Whether that means he won't appear on Golarion (or that your players won't encounter him on Golarion or elsewhere) at some point is an entirely separate question.

Truth! My players already met him . . . in the conclusion of our Kingmaker AP.

Man, that was fun.

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Ruins of Azlant?!? I could not have asked for a better AP! Should I be alive and able next summer, I will certainly resubscribe for that one! Have been waiting for this one for quite some time . . . Very exciting!

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Dragon78 wrote:
If it is set in Varisia I will skip it.

Well, I'll make sure to sign back up so as to offset your skipping it. ;)

Hayato Ken wrote:
Sub-Creator wrote:
Those looking for high level adventure in the Silver Mount should look to AP #90.
Not exhaustive.

Never claimed it was. But, if you're looking for high level adventure in the Silver Mount, you can look to AP #90. From pages 8-55, it's all adventure in Silver Mount.

Those looking for high level adventure in the Silver Mount should look to AP #90.

- My vote would be the broken Azlanti Islands. Bring in Mr. Hodge and let him work his magic on that Azlanti culture!

We just started playing this card game a couple weeks ago and have only done so once. I actually played Ezren in the opening scenario of the RotR box set, although it wasn't part of that AP (it was some sort of beginning trio of scenarios, of which we played the first).

I'm seeing you all talk about different Ezrens, and especially this "CD" Ezren, and I'm curious as to what your meaning is by that?

Thanks in advance to any info provided!

Garde Manger Guy wrote:

However an underwater themed AP is a much more viable product line. For starters, you have an entirely open underdeveloped area to work with. It's still on Golarion, but an area of the sandbox that is almost completely untouched. Almost anything you can think of can be placed here at the moment and the opportunity for follow up adventures and supporting paraphernalia is absolutely immense.

If done right, the AP sets the stage for exploration of this "undiscovered world". Then the guides, bestiaries, and pawns associated with it contribute to the revenue stream and heartily encourage continued exploration of its cold mysterious depths.

Just please don't use "Under the sea" as the title or place any pineapples on the sea floor.

Plus, they could work out a way to provide maps that somehow work on every axis! I mean, if you're going to be fighting under water, you'll not have to worry about that silly x-axis only, but the y-axis too! Need to figure out a better way of doing that on these maps other than clear dice containers flipped upside down! =D

Well, this might not help you with naming conventions, but the following thread has a ton of info on Azlanti stuff, if you're interested! he-Azlanti

Also, I remember Eric Mona stating in a thread I was involved in years ago that Absalom had definitive connections with Jerusalem (historically) as far inspiration. As Aroden was Azlanti, I also decided to use Hebrew as the root for the Azlanti language. I think it works well in the end.

Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
Nutcase Entertainment wrote:
Dale McCoy Jr wrote:
MidknightDiamond wrote:

Apologies if this has already been suggested, but given the popularity of it - why not an all goblin focused AP?

Just because.

IIRC, we're getting a hobgoblin themed AP next year.
All PCs are Hobgoblins? If not, you misunderstood something...
I don't see any reason why all PCs can't be hobgoblins. But then again, I never see a reason why that can't be the case. Humans, elves, and dwarves are overrated.

Humans are what they are. They're relatively plain, but I think that's because we are humans, and so know them best and find them least mysterious.

Elves are pathetic. Not a fan of Golarion elves at all. They're simple hedonists, which apparently one has the right to be because they live long lives. I'm actually playing an elf in the upcoming Giantslayer campaign, but he's forlorn, and has had all that conceit and hedonism beaten out of him. He's a simple protector now. I am looking forward to that. However, a typical elf in Golarion? Pretty much want nothing to do with them.

Now, dwarves? A dwarf is never overrated. Battle-hardened war machines that are loyal and dutiful and love to create. I'd probably take a dwarf over any of the races in Paizo's world.

I'm not really a fan of any evil races, at least not playing them (outside the GM role, of course). The one exception to this might be goblins, but even then I couldn't do it for an entire AP. Honestly, I don't know how one could expect a goblin to live through the first book of an AP anyway. They're so chaotic and self-destructive that playing a goblin correctly would mean death no further than two-to-three books in at the most!

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