Tales of Lost Omens: Wheels Aflame

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Dust settled, leaving two figures behind in the carnage. One a looming mass of hulking muscle and teeth. The other a gnome, small, but—against all odds—still up.

Torrick Wilderbark grasped the lever of his wheelchair in a white-knuckle grip, jaw set hard. His breaths came laboured, tongue caked with a layer of grit and grime. The warehouse lay shattered around them. Broken boards and timbers cracked further under the weight of his wheels. Behind him, the steam engine that powered his aid thrummed, vibrating against the seat in a steady rhythm.

The troll had been pushed back, pulling itself out from under a pile of broken stone and cracked roof tiles. It mumbled a growl as it staggered upright, wobbly at first, but centering itself with every passing second. Dark blood oozed from its stunted snout. Torrick fumbled for the sword strapped behind the right wheel.

His hand closed around air.

An ice-cold wave of dread crashed over him. His sword. Pathetically trying to tamp down the rising panic in his throat, Torrick turned in the seat, twisting as far as he could as the safety belts bit into his thighs. Not only the sword but the scabbard was gone, too. The belt securing his gear must have snapped during the collapse, and, rattled by the all-consuming barrage of fractured stone and wood, he had failed to notice.

Mere feet away, the troll whined in pain.

Letting go of the lever, Torrick gripped the arms of the chair, straining further to look around him. The beast may be stunned for now, but it was rapidly regaining focus. Hard leather straps dug further into his legs, and he winced against it, taking in his surroundings.

Nothing much was left of the warehouse. What little remained jutted out of the ground at odd angles, still crumbling. Splintered wood protruded like snapped bones, pinned by blasted chunks of stone and shattered glass. The alchemical bomb he’d tossed had certainly done the job. Torrick was lucky to be alive.

But severely unluckily, the troll was, too.

As his gaze scoured the rubble, a glint caught his eye—a flash of steel. A mere few feet away, snagged tight around a listing beam, was the remains of his gear, the belt pierced through by a nail and tangled about the shaft of the scabbard. And there, by some great mercy from the gods, hung his sword.

He had no time to think, no plan. Every moment wasted was one in the monster’s favor. Torrick fell back down into his seat and clutched at the lever once more. The bubbling panic in his throat was not yet sated. He needed to get his sword. Now. Steam hissing, the engine roared up as the chair heeded his command, veering right and toward the dangling weapon. Debris clattered and cracked loudly under the wheels, but he couldn’t care less about the racket he was making. He was close, so close. The weapon hung before him, taunting. Torrick reached out, free arm straining as though he could somehow will it into his hand.

Come on, he thought, pleaded. To any deity that cared to listen. The chair stopped, his fingers barely made contact, ghosting over the handle of the blade. He needed to get just a little higher, reach a little further, then he could—

A thunderous roar shook the very ground.

Torrick spat a curse.

Heavy footfalls, blackened claws scraping. It lumbered closer, with a loping gait that swiftly ate away at the distance between them. Torrick’s pulse pounded in his ears as he fumbled. Another roar, a deep bellowing sound that vibrated in his chest and sent him frantic, straining to reach higher, shoulder burning in its socket, hips protesting at the bruising line of the security belt.

Almost there. Just a little further. Come on. Please—

The troll fell upon him in a flurry of limbs and gnashing tusks. Torrick immediately dropped back into the seat, tucking in as small as he could as the pressing weight of the angered beast threatened to consume him. In its rage, it had overshot its mark, instead grappling the frame of the wheelchair and barely missing Torrick’s body; the tips of razor-sharp claws snagging on his armor.

And yet hope. Clutched in his hand, cool against sweaty fingers, was the sword. Held in a white-knuckle grip.

Lunging again for the lever, Torrick twisted awkwardly to avoid the troll knocking the weapon out of his hand. He pulled hard enough that the metal screeched and the engine almost backfired, revving so loudly it almost drowned out the sound of heavy-set limbs pawing at the wheels. Lurching abruptly backward, the chair shunted its way out from under the troll’s crushing form, the creature’s claws scrabbling at the frame.

With the chair now pulled out from under it, the monster stumbled to adjust and pitched forward, grunting in confusion, its brow furrowed deep and hard. Torrick wasted no time, taking no chances as he let go of the shaft and slipped a vial from a pouch at his belt, smashing it against the flat of his blade as the wheelchair continued to roll back on its own.

The vial shattered easily, oil inside bleeding down the groove before reacting with the air. The effect was immediate: a tongue of fire that blazed brightly. With a victorious bark of laughter, Torrick kicked the lever forward once more with his foot, using both arms to drive all the strength he had into a wide swing.

A red-haired gnome with a flaming sword steers his steam-powered wheelchair to swipe at a troll in the midst of some urban ruins.

Illustration by Firat Solhan from Pathfinder Guns & Gears. Find more accessibility devices to use in your campaigns in Pathfinder Lost Omens Grand Bazaar.

Green flesh parted easily, black ichor slicking his hands, but not enough to douse the alchemical flames that burned crimson on cold steel. The troll screeched, reeling back and away as it was almost gutted in one fell blow. Barrelling past a few feet, Torrick pulled the wheelchair around in a wide arc, throwing up dust and debris in a trail.

Wild with fury, the beast turned on him, yellow eyes wide and tusks bared. Fiery sword still in one hand, Torrick grinned and gripped the lever once more. Now the real fight would begin.

About The Author

Sara Thompson is a disabled freelance writer and game designer for tabletop roleplaying games. They have worked on Pathfinder, Starfinder, Hellboy: The Roleplaying Game, Bardsung, and more. Currently, they are working on The Witcher Pen & Paper by R. Talsorian Games as well as their own personal projects creating disability and accessibility items for TTRPGs. They are also the creator of the Combat Wheelchair—a homebrew ruleset for 5e Dungeons & Dragons which has appeared on shows such as Critical Role and Rivals of Waterdeep as well as in licensed video game Idle Champions of the Forgotten Realms through character Talin Uran.

About Tales of Lost Omens

The Tales of Lost Omens series of web-based flash fiction provides an exciting glimpse into Pathfinder’s Age of Lost Omens setting. Written by some of the most celebrated authors in tie-in gaming fiction and including Paizo’s Pathfinder Tales line of novels and short fiction, the Tales of Lost Omens series promises to explore the characters, deities, history, locations, and organizations of the Pathfinder setting with engaging stories to inspire Game Masters and players alike.

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Tags: Pathfinder Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Tales of Lost Omens Web Fiction

4 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Maps, Pathfinder Accessories, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

That. Was. AWESOME!!!!! :D

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

11 people marked this as a favorite.

Sara, this is badass! You should write more fiction! :D

1 person marked this as a favorite.

This rules and Sara is one of the most badass people in the hobby. Adore this.

Pathfinder Adventure Path, Lost Omens, Rulebook, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Roleplaying Game Subscriber

This is fantastic! Thank you, Sara and Firat!

Jenny Jarzabski wrote:
Sara, this is badass! You should write more fiction! :D

The 3.0 version of the Combat Wheelchair she wrote for 5e has a pretty long piece of fiction about one of her OCs that is pretty great.

Scarab Sages

Pathfinder Adventure, Adventure Path, Lost Omens, PF Special Edition, Starfinder Adventure Path Subscriber

These Tales of Lost Omens are Fire. Need more like this one.

Wow, I love this gnome so much.

Silver Crusade

2 people marked this as a favorite.

Badass! Kick their ass, Torrick!

Deeply cool action scene.

Horizon Hunters

This is quality content. Love it.

Grand Archive

1 person marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

The description of the action is DEEPLY cinematic!

4 people marked this as a favorite.

This is my continual call for Paizo to start putting out Pathfinder Tales books again. (And dare I say...Starfinder Tales?)

Paizo Employee Starfinder Society Developer

8 people marked this as a favorite.

Wait. I just realized that Torrick was fighting a TROLL, haha, this is brilliant. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE! :D

Paizo Employee Designer

8 people marked this as a favorite.
Jenny Jarzabski wrote:
Wait. I just realized that Torrick was fighting a TROLL, haha, this is brilliant. I SEE WHAT YOU DID THERE! :D

It's really not a coincidence that Guns & Gears included an art order for a hero in a combat wheelchair cutting a troll in half with a flaming sword, lol!

Pathfinder Maps, Starfinder Adventure Path, Starfinder Maps, Starfinder Roleplaying Game, Starfinder Society Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Are there any plans for a PF2 book that provides game mechanical backing for this story?

Paizo Employee Designer

5 people marked this as a favorite.
David knott 242 wrote:

Are there any plans for a PF2 book that provides game mechanical backing for this story?

There are a variety of combat wheelchairs in both Guns & Gears and Lost Omens Grand Bazaar. The art pictured here is actually from the Mobility Aids section of Guns & Gears, a fair chunk of which was also written by Sara.

David knott 242 wrote:

Are there any plans for a PF2 book that provides game mechanical backing for this story?

Grand Bazaar or Guns & Gears, presumably.

I believe Lost Omens: Grand Bazaar and/or Guns & Gear already has everything you need (I'm blanking on exactly what is where).

Now put this together with a Psychic, and we're just a few steps away from having Dr. Xavier and his School for Gifted Youngsters . . . which suddenly reminds me that the ONE thing that would have a chance of persuading me to move on beyond Pathfinder 1st Edition would be an unholy hybrid of Pathfinder with Mutants and Masterminds.

Great read and I can't wait for the book.

Grand Archive

3 people marked this as a favorite.
Pathfinder Pathfinder Accessories Subscriber; Pathfinder Roleplaying Game Superscriber

Just to note that Sara saw these comments and said on Twitter that they are VERY touched by all of them. :3

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