Tuesday, February 28, 2012

LEGACY the Path of Heroes - Session 003


The companion’s minds still reeled from the events that had taken place in the crypt moments ago. If it hadn’t been for their swift thinking they might have not been so lucky. Both the druid and the dwarf had sustained serious injuries during the battle with the undead and they needed healing. Brother John would be able to aid them with some healing once they made it to Tarrick’s cottage. “Markus make haste to Brother John tell him of our situation,” said the dwarf, “Tell him that we are going to need healing.”

Darius leaned heavily on his staff as he watched the ranger climb the rungs to the graveyard above. He thought back to the fight with undead, “The old rage had swelled up inside of him, as it had done so many years ago.” One by one they climbed up to the graveyard, tired and wounded they waited for Markus to return with Brother John.

The wooden door to the cottage opened, the cold wintery night air filled the room. Brother John turned to see who had entered the healer’s home. “Oh … it is you. Where are the others?” asked the Cuthbertine priest, turning to tend to Tarrick’s wounds. “Warm yourself over there by the fire.”

Just as he was about to answer the priest, the priest called out.

“Quick fetch me some cold water from the table and be quick about it,” said the priest. He fetched the crude clay jug from the table and handed it to the priest. “The others will be here soon,” he said as he watched the priest tend to Tarrick.

Brother John was concerned, Tarrick’s had started a fever due to his infected wounds, The priest scrounged through the healer’s bag that he had found in the cottage, tossing items to the floor and bed. Finally he found what he was looking for, Sphagnum Moss or more commonly known as Bog Moss.

John took some of the reddish brown moss that had been dried and mixed it with a bit of the water; he formed a paste in the palm of his hand. He then carefully cleaned the infected area and applied the Sphagnum paste with his finger to the infected area. Once he was satisfied that the wound was properly treated, John covered the wound with fresh cloth that he had found in the bag. He lay is hand on the wound and said a silent prayer to St. Cuthbert.

While the priest cleaned his hands he said, “So what’s taking our friends so lo …...” It was at that point that John felt the cold blade being thrust into his side, but it wasn’t until he felt the blade being forced upwards; tearing through his flesh, muscle and bone that he felt the pain exploded throughout the side of his body.

“You will not find eternal rest dear John,” whispered the assailant

Then he felt the tip of the blade touch his heart and the pain stopped, replaced by a sudden coldness. He could feel the cold steel of the dagger lingering, as if paused for effect. It was moments later that the tip of the dagger pierced his heart, but there was no pain, at first. Suddenly John screamed out in pain as he felt his very soul, his life essence being drawn into the blade; it felt like his soul was being ripped apart. Then there was darkness …

Tarrick woke from his fevered dream hearing the scream and then he felt something heavy fall on his legs. He felt weak and groggy. Closing his eyes he tried to focus his vision to see what had pinned his legs and had caused his stomach to erupt with pain.

His head still reeled with pain, but he managed to focus on the scene before him … Tarrick let out a startled cry, Brother John’s lifeless eyes peered back at him from the bottom of the bed, a man stood near with his back to Tarrick. The healer saw the blade in the man’s hand, blood dripping to the floor, and then the man turned.

“NO! Why? Markus what have you done” exclaimed Tarrick.

“I did what needed to be done.” He said with a smile.

Markus walked to the door cleaning his blade on a bit of cloth he found on the floor. “I will fetch the others,” he said closing the door behind him.

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Character Spotlight - Markus du Monte

Campaign: LEGACY the Path of Heroes
Class: Ranger
Level: 3
Race: Human (Suel)
Alignment: Chaotic Neutral

STR 17  DEX 18  CON 16  INT 11  WIS 11  CHA 08  CMS 14

Markus du Monte was born on 11 Harvester CY557 in the town of Penwick in the Viscounty of Verbobonc. He is the son of a retired knight, Sir Morgan du Monte, and his wife by an arranged marriage, Lady Madeline of Safeton. Markus was raised in Penmont Keep, Sir Morgan’s ancestral home, but was bullied from an early age by his older twin brothers, both already squires keen to follow in their father’s footsteps, who served with honour as a Knight of Verbobonc in the army that was victorious at Emridy Meadows.

Markus has two younger sisters, but he was closest to his mother during his early years growing up in Penmont Keep. Madeline was a sad woman, all but ignored by Morgan du Monte after the birth of their four children, but having grown up on the Wild Coast she was independent and loved the outdoors, and took Markus on many outings into the woods around Penwick.

Markus was toughened by the rough treatment of his brothers, but by the time he was 13 he had developed a deep hatred of them, worsened by the adoration heaped on the twins by their father. At that time Markus was sent to live with Roderic, his father’s cousin, and the mayor of the nearby village of Kleinmere. Rumours in Penwick tell of the hunting incident involving Markus and a near-fatal arrow wound to one of the twins that instigated this exile, but Markus has never discussed the matter.

Markus took an instant dislike to both his father’s cousin, Roderic, and the village of Kleinmere, and his normal moodiness worsened into outright disrespect, surliness and a rebellious attitude. This resulted in Roderic sending Markus to stay with his head huntsman in a cottage where his lands bordered the Gnarley Forest. The huntsman, a tough, war-wounded, and cantankerous old ranger named Bren, took the boy in “to teach him some manners”, and set him to performing the most demanding (and demeaning) chores he could find, often from dawn to well after dusk.

However, over the next two years, Markus began to change. Toughened by this rigorous routine, and the rough and no-nonsense treatment of Bren, Markus seemed to learn to respect, if not admire the old ranger. By the time he was 18, Markus was being trained full time in the lore of the woods by Bren, and under the old ranger’s tutelage learned to master the longbow and the great axe. Swords reminded Markus of his brothers and his father, and the trappings and ‘ridiculous traditions’ of knighthood, and he would have nothing to do with them.

By the age of 21, Markus had finally gained the full respect of Bren, if not his admiration, and a strange friendship, bordering on a father/son relationship, had formed between the two. Both now served Roderic as master huntsmen, although both shared a dislike of Kleinmere’s mayor, and the type of heavy-handed mercenaries he employed as his guards.
However, soon after his 22nd birthday, an extended return trip to Penwick ended in some form of showdown between Markus and his now ageing father and his brothers. The du Monte twins, now knights of Verbobonc, were already famous in Verbobonc City, but more for their carousing and reckless gambling than their military prowess or honour. Indeed, Markus found that in the nine years of his absence Penmont Keep had fallen on hard times - most of its fineries having been sold off, and the keep itself beginning to look shabby and poor.

Markus does not speak of that trip, but what is known is that he returned to returned to Kleinmere on a stormy on the last day of CY578, along with his mother, she wrapped in a heavy cloak and hood. The two were exhausted and drenched as they staggered into Bren’s cottage, but all three did not sleep that night as they discussed their plans until dawn stained the eastern sky. No one in Kleinmere is yet aware, as Needfest gets underway, that Lady Madeline of Penwick is in hiding in the old huntsman’s cottage, and Markus will not discuss anything to do with his family.

Since then, Markus has begun to frequent the local tavern in Kleinmere. He can now be found there, sipping on a mug of ale or mulled wine, gathering news of the outside world from travellers, and keeping an eye out for whatever it is that he is waiting for that will guide his destiny and set him on the path to adventure… .

Markus dresses in the studded leather armour gifted to him by Roderic, but his prized possessions are the great axe and longbow crafted for him by Bren. Markus is suspicious of those he does not know, and surly and sometimes rude with strangers (CHA 8), but he can form long-lasting bonds with those he grows to trust. His rough upbringing under Bren has made him strong (STR 17), and years running on foot in the forest and training with the bow have kept him lithe (DEX 18) and healthy (CON 16).

Although the family portrait painted during Markus’ return to Penwick shows him short-haired and clean-shaven, he has now grown his hair long, and he sports a beard. He is not vain, but he is a handsome man (COM 14), and from Bren he has learned to use his common sense and wit (INT 11) to apply the old ranger’s simple wisdoms and no-nonsense approach to life to temper his youthful spirit (WIS 11). However, his noble blood sometimes makes Markus yearn for the finer things in life, and he has a bad habit of dwelling too much on things that bother him, or drinking too much to keep thoughts of them at bay. He can be quick to anger, and has a sarcastic sense of humour that lands him in trouble from time to time.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

LEGACY the Path of Heroes - Session 002


Malek waited with baited breath, as he watched the two older men leave the graveyard. The assassin took note of where they were heading, he may need to tie up some loose ends later. They were heading in the direction of the cottage, where the one they called Tarrick lived. He had been watching Tarrick for some time now and knew that the cottage lay not too far off in the darkness. Malek turned his attention back to the men left in the graveyard. “What could they be up to? What had he over looked?” Thought Malek, as he carefully took a fresh bolt from his case. He slowly inserted the bolt into the shaft of his crossbow. A slight “hisssss” escaped the silence of the night, as his gloved finger brushed the head of the bolt. The assassin’s lip curled in a sneer, as he rubbed is gloved fingers together where the acid had touched his glove. Malek felt the slightest tingle of warmth on his fingers on this cold wintery night. He chuckled softly to himself as he took aim on the closest of the men before him …

The four companions looked at each, unsure of what to do next. This was unfamiliar ground for most of them. The confrontation with the creatures that had risen as undead, had left them more than a bit unsettled. It was one thing to hear tales of such things, but it was a completely different to have to confront one face to face.

Markus supressed the bile that rose in his throat, as he thought back to the earlier encounter. He had stilled his initial fear. He had killed one of these creatures with a perfectly executed manoeuvre that Bren had taught him. His great axe still had bits of gore dripping from it. It wasn’t the fact that he had killed the creature or the creature itself that had caused this reaction. It was how his axe had caused the body to explode into fragments of decaying flesh. He could still smell the dead flesh on his clothes, the smell filled his nose. The smell of death made his skin crawl.

Duerin looked at the humans before him, “He had a good number of winters under his belt, compared to the men before him. Except maybe the old druid of course.” The older human looked to share a similar age to him. He had been forced to call on St. Cuthbert for the first time since he had become a Cuthbertine priest during the battle with the undead. It was not something he had done before, not like this. Brother John had given him instruction on how to call on his faith in times of need . How to channel that faith through his holy symbol as a catalyst to rebuke the undead before him. He felt the presence of his faith, he felt it course through his body, but it felt halted upon its release. He had heard from Brother John, that priests could muster their faith had been able to defeat large groups of undead. “Will this night be such a test for him in the crypts below?” thought the dwarf. He recalled one of the priest teachings, … “as long as you maintain your faith, even in the darkest of hours, will you overcome all evil before you.”

Erehwon tapped the oak staff against the tombstone he leaned against. The half-orc wanted nothing more than to get down into the crypts below, the sense of danger invigorated him. All this talking was wasting time! He caught the last few words from the druid cautioning his friends before him. “Were they his friends,” thought Erehwon. His once again attention drawn back to the altar. “EREHWON! Heed my words, have you heard anything I said?” asked Darius sternly, not too pleased that the half-orc was not paying attention to his instruction. “I too was na├»ve at first, I have encountered many a dark creature living in the Fens. Wisdom has taught me with age, when to act and when to stray from danger … ,” continued Darius. The druid’s words once again drifted into the ether, as Erehwon felt something pulling at his subconscious …

From the depths below she could feel the presence of the life forms in the graveyard above ground. She focused her will, sending tendrils of her essence to the surface flowing through the old passage ways, under locked stone doors, through the cold darkness, searching for the ones above. Like tendrils of smoke she flowed over the old metal rungs that led to the graveyard above, she could feel their fears, their desires, soon one would be hers …

Monday, February 13, 2012

LEGACY the Path of Heroes - Recap 001

Silence descended the graveyard as the companions regrouped to assess their situation. It had only been a few hours since they had left the Wayward Inn. It was at Darius’s insistence that they had come to investigate the graveyard.

According to the druid he had stopped at Tarrick’s cottage on the way into the village before passing the graveyard. It was here that his mule had started to neigh and buck at the reigns he was holding. The animal had refused to go any further. The old druid had to calm the animal with soothing words. He walked the animal some distance off, before he could tether the animal to a tree.  It wasn’t long after that, that the druid had found the open grave and from the looks of it, something had clawed itself way out. Tracks lead of into the darkness of the muddied graveyard; wet from the winter slush. It was now a matter of urgency that he found Tarrick.

The young ranger sat propped up against one of the tombstones, his face contorted in obvious pain.

The older of the companions, Darius moved forward to take a look at Markus’s injuries. The old druid informed the young ranger that it was just a matter of putting the dislocated shoulder back into place.

The companions were all on edge, worried that the assassin might still be in the darkness ahead or of the chance of fighting more undead.

The dwarf and the half-orc scanned the area ahead. The old druid took hold of Markus’s arm, “Bite on this if the pain is too much,” offered the old man, giving the young man a bit of wood. Markus had received some healing from Brother John earlier; and the magic had already started to mend his wounds. It was the first time he had received healing from a priest in this manner; and it would take some getting used too. His right side of his body had sustained most of the injuries when he had fallen down the shaft behind the altar.

He had run seeking cover from the assassin that had fired upon them as they had approached the altar. It was the same person that had fired on them, pinning them down behind the low stonewashed wall of the graveyard.

Tarrick leaned heavily on a tombstone, where Brother John rested. Both he and the priest of St. Cuthbert had been injured during the attack. Tarrick gripped his stomach as he recalled how the creature had just about disembowelling him with its claws.  The rotting corpse had risen from the ground, the stench of death hung in the air. They had gone to investigate the graveyard on the outskirts of the village, close to his cottage. It was the same graveyard that he had given blessings over the night before.  Brother John had also been injured; he had been shot in the back, the bolt piercing his left shoulder. The bolt had been fired from the cover of darkness while they had been battling the undead. The tip of the bolt had been treated with acid, as Erehwon realised pulling the bolt from the priest shoulder. Both Brother John and Tarrick were too weak to continue and needed rest.

John and Tarrick would return to the healer’s cottage. There they would rest and wait for the companions to return from the crypt below the shrine. If they should not return within a few hours they would leave for the village to warn Lord Roderic of the threat and seek help.

Duerin thoughts drifted back to the sign that had manifested itself in the graveyard during the fight with the undead. The sign had appeared in the middle of the graveyard. He alone could see the greenish, blue pentagram that illuminated the darkened graveyard beyond.

Markus had taken refuge behind the altar; he would later learn that the ranger had found a shaft leading to a tunnel below.

Erehwon had taken refuge with the priest behind one of the larger tombstones after the priest had been shot. Darius had cast a spell to summon mist to hide their position so that the assassin could not target them as they made their way to their friends; unfortunately Darius was not within the area of effect. It was at this moment that he had moved along the low stone wall, crouching as he moved to get a better look for their assailant. The moment he cleared the summoned mist is when he saw the pentagram aglow in the centre of the graveyard.

His first instincts had told him it was a sign of Iuz the old, but now he wasn’t so sure. There was something familiar about the pentagram, something he had read.  There was a symbol that appeared in the centre of the pentagram, a symbol of an eye ablaze with fire.

Erehwon peered into the darkness, brandishing the oak branch before him. He had used the oak branch as an effective weapon against the undead that had risen from the ground earlier. He had felt no urge to tackle these creatures with his dagger, how he wished he had brought his axe along …

“Markus, on the count of three I am going to put your shoulder back into place, ok? Ready! 1 … 2 …,” Darius informed the young man before him. Markus merely nodded, biting down on the bit of wood the druid had given him. “1 … 2 …,” the ranger cried out in pain. Spitting the wood out, he spoke out in anger, “What happened to three? You said on the count of three! Not two …. Three!” “How is the shoulder? Better?” enquired the druid with a smile. He got up to go tend to Brother John and Tarrick at the nearby tombstone.

Moments later the small group escorted the injured Tarrick and Brother John to the outskirts of the graveyard. Erehwon a few paces away felt ill at ease, he and the dwarf watched as the two men walked off. Their eyes accustomed to the lack of light, searching for signs of the assassin in the darkness ahead.

The old healer’s cottage was a short distance away. An eerie silence filled the night sky as the companions watched Brother John and Tarrick leave the graveyard and return to the healer’s cottage. Brother John helped Tarrick onto his cot and set about to starting a fire. Walking to the windowsill John placed the now burning lantern on the windowsill that he had found in the cottage. It was so that Duerin and his friends could see that they had made it back to the cottage safely.

The old priest pulled a stool close to Tarrick’s cot and waited for the fire to take. John took his old holy symbol from his neck, the very same one he had received all those years ago. A starburst pendant of rubies, which were in fact coloured glass he recalled with a chuckle. He started his prayer of devotion to St. Cuthbert.

It was a few minutes later that the small group saw the light from the lantern off in the distance.

Snowflakes danced in the evening air as the friends contemplated there next move ….

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Interview with the Herald - Jim

Time for another interview with the Herald and this time I am interviewing Jim Beach a friend of mine from the Old School Gamers Group on Facebook.
I had the privilege of getting to review one of his products that he had recently released on RPGNow, called The Cheese Shop.

This scenario features the Golden Wheel Cheese Shop and Jim gives you a story hook to work with for either a small side quest or possibly something bigger. Now what I liked most of about this product was that Jim took the time and added just the right amount of detail, but still allowing you the DM enough leeway to make the scenario your own. In this scenario you will find a map of the Golden Wheel Cheese Shop.You will meet the proprietor and Lorna, his wife and learn about some exotic cheeses and there selling prices.

There are three areas of play in this scenario, which includes the shop, a barn and a yard. This gives you the flexibility to expand the scenario and not only be limited to the shop itself. Jim has even included a side quest that could be fleshed out into something bigger at later stage. I personally like this and feel that it could be used at all levels of play depending on how much you as the DM would like to expand upon it.
I like the conflict that Jim has introduced between Morgan and Lorna, which would reveal itself when he learns of Lorna's "problem." Then there is Lorna and how she learns of her transformation and learns to deal with her changes. How will she feel when her beloved cats turn on her? But this is all left for the DM to work out in as much or little detail as is needed for his game.

I am looking forward to seeing more of Jim's City Block Series. So if you are interested in seeing Jim's other products why don't you head over to RPGNow and show your support by purchasing one of Jim's products. I know I will be.

Section One: Information
What is your name?
My name is Jim Beach

Where are you from?
I was born in Newport, Kentucky but Dad was career army so raised everywhere

How old are you?
I am 54 years young right now

What do you do for a living?
Presently I work part time as Inventory Specialist for an auto parts store

What are your hobbies or interests?
Gaming is my all consuming hobby. I also like to read and my tastes are rather eclectic, I read scifi, fantasy, westerns, war stories whatever strikes me at the time.

Do you have a blog or website?
I have recently started working on doing a blog The DM's Notebook

When and what was the first roleplaying game you played?
I started with the little brown books and the blue box set back in 1979. We quickly graduated to AD&D and its been on ever since. I have been playing for 33 years.

Do you prefer to be a Player, Game Master or Both?
I prefer to be the DM. I love making the games and setting the encounters and watching the enjoyment my players get. Not many thrills bigger than a group of guys telling you, you are awesome for the game just ran.

What are your favourite roleplaying game(s) to run?
I have been a D&D fanatic from the beginning but I have started running more Pathfinder games now. I like some elements of Shadowrun but not really thrilled overall. Atomic Highway is a great game too.

Has playing roleplaying games had an impact on your life?
Yes. I was always kind of shy as a kid and even later as an adult. Playing D&D and the social interaction of an RPG helped me to develop people skills.

Section Two: You the Game Master
When last have you been a Game Master in a roleplaying game and what adventure did you run?
Last adventure I ran was a short one shot for some of my son’s friends online. It was a longer version of the Coffee Break Adventure I published called, Here Kitty, Kitty. They all seemed to like it and things went rather well.

Do you prefer to referee a small or large group when running a roleplaying games?
Small groups are better but to me a small group is around 8 players.

How often do you get to be a Game Master in a roleplaying game?

Every chance I get. Whether its online or around my game table at home or at a convention.

What do you think is your biggest weakness as a Game Master right now?
Not having enough time to actually game. It slows me down a bit with my writings as I call my work. I get together either online with a group or in my home with some of our regular players  when I can.

What could you do to improve your game as a Game Master?
Win the lottery so I have infinite time to devote to my game

Describe your perfect session as a Game Master in a roleplaying game:
No one dies and everyone has fun, that is what counts the fun part.

How would you describe the group that you currently GM to?
I really don’t have a group per se. I hit one shot games when I can usually with different people each time just to playtest something I want to use in a published adventure. If it were my group I had when my kids were growing up they were all wild and unpredictable. They played their hearts out and could go for hours. It never seemed to matter how well crafted I made an encounter they would figure a way through, around or over it. Great bunch, "The Flaming Chaos Crew."

Do you have a memorable moment that you would care to share as a Game Master?
Way too many of those. I don’t have any gazebo stories or “I attack the darkness” players but over 33 years I have seen some doozies. Maybe one day I’ll sit down and write them out.

What do you do as a Game Master to prepare for your usual game sessions?
Cackle maniacally a lot, jot down notes and play it pretty much by ear. After playing with Flaming Chaos for so long I learned players will quickly subvert your most well laid plans and head off in a direction you did not plan for at all and have nothing prepared for. I finally gave up and run it all by ear now. I know some players will call a DM on something and demand to see where they wrote that down but thats something my players understand I write hardly anything down and I WILL change anything in the books to suit the story at the time.

Do you use published material or create your own?
I use published material and strip it to its bare bones. I might like a map but usually not the written parts. If there are bits of that I like I will just chew them up and redo them to suit MY group MY story.

Have you had any of your own material published?
I have War Games South and I publish short adventures and other gaming stuff on DrivethruRPG..

What gaming aids do you use when you play roleplaying games?
At the table I use minis, large scale maps,home made terrain just whatever it takes to make the whole gaming experience fun and exciting for my players.

Do you make your own maps or props for your gaming sessions?
Yes I make my own terrain and dungeon props.

Do you have any advice that you would care to share with new upcoming Players and Game Masters alike?
Read all you can. Know your game know your character class. Have fun cause thats what really counts.

Section Three: The Industry
How did you get into producing RPG Products and When?
Couple of years ago I met Sean Patrick Fannon at a con party. He was representing OneBookShelf and DrivethruRPG at the time and we started talking and I got his card and by the time I had sobered up the next day I had forgot the meeting. Later after returning home and getting clothes ready to wash I found his card. I thought about it for several weeks wondering if I was really up to making the plunge then finally contacted Sean. He helped me out quite a bit and is a regular at the cons I work for. Long story short and no where near as funny and interesting as it was that is how I got into publishing my own stuff.

Where does the name War Games South come from?
I wanted something with Dragon in the name but everything I tried was taken. Years ago I used to order all my gaming stuff from a company called War Games West which is now defunct and I wanted to be as customer friendly and as knowledgeable and helpful as I recall those folks as being so I took the War Games SOUTH name in honor of their skills. RPGNow - War Games South

Do you have any big projects in the pipeline for War Games South?
I am in the process of creating an entire city block by block with maps and writeups on all the businesses and people running them.

It seems like that you have been around the block with RPG's, what is your take on DnD Next?
No Comment.

Jim thanks for taking the time to do this interview with me and I wish you all the best with your city block project.

Monday, February 6, 2012

LEGACY the Path of Heroes - Session 001

Tomorrow brings the start to my LEGACY the Path of Heroes Campaign, set in the World of Greyhawk. Below you will find the introduction that I sent out to my players, setting the scene for the session to come.

The week of Needfest marked the coming of the New Year and was celebrated with a week of festivities throughout the Flanaess. It was a celebration of life in the most frigid and miserable of seasons, a time of merrymaking and overindulgence.The village of Kleinmere, like many other villages across the Oerth, was a hum of activity, as the villagers prepared for the week’s activities. The highlight of the festival in this particular village was the Winter Solstice, which was celebrated on the fourth day of Needfest. The Winter Solstice was also known as the Midwinter Night or Dark Time, as some of the older patrons of the Old Faith referred to it. It was also the longest night of the year on Oerth. The Solstice occurred when Luna was completely dark and only Celene was visible in the night sky. In celebration of this night the villagers decorated the village and their homes with yellow candles placed on their windowsills and evergreen branches covered the pathways leading to their front doors.

The marketplace was also in the process of being prepared for the festivities, with candles and magical lights covering the many stalls. The area that made up the market space was also covered with the same evergreen branches. In the centre of the market place tables were in the process of been stacked with assortment of different foods, prepared by the villagers in celebration of the holidays. The food would be shared amongst the villages during the festivities of the coming week. The foods include freshly baked breads, pies, pastries, dried meats, cheeses, nuts and fruits. In honour of the Feast of Fools, Mayor Roderic had sent his head huntsmen Bren into the forest to trap a deer for the occasion. The deer would be spitted and roasted on an open fire in the market place. The juices from the roasting meat would drizzle down on to a tray of roasting vegetables. It was customary for thanks to be given to Beory the Oerth Mother, in form of small offering by the villagers of Kleinmere on this occasion.

The Wayward Inn sported a number of fine locally produced meads and wines for its patrons to consume over the festive period. Fenwick, proprietor of the Wayward Inn, was especially proud of his, “Spiced Cinnamon Mead.” It was of his own creation, but truth be told, and only after a couple of tankards of his own mead would he admit, that his recipe might have been influenced by some mead he had sampled in the town of Verbobonc, some winters back. The pungent spiced cinnamon and honeyed flavoured drink was best served warmed, with a fresh stick of cinnamon and a bit of freshly grated nutmeg to individual taste. In celebration of the Winter Solstice and the Feast of Fools, Fenwick had prepared a special batch of his mead, two large barrels in fact. The usual spiced cinnamon and honeyed flavoured one and a new surprise recipe. Fenwick had been very secretive about the new recipe and his patrons would have to wait for the last day of the festival to sample the new recipe.

The last day of the Needfest festivities was concluded with the “Feast of Fools.” It was on this night that the “Fool” was granted the privilege to run the village for exactly seven hours, from sunset to midnight. How the fool was chosen, differed from village to village, but how it was done in the village of Kleinmere was a simple process. Whoever received the most votes was appointed the title of, “The Fool of Kleinmere.” Even Mayor Roderic had to be content with the fool during the time of the festival, and this was too many a villagers’ delight.

Mayor Roderic stood on his front porch and looked out at the villagers as they hustled about getting the village ready for the upcoming festivities … he wasn’t pleased! He took his frustration out by kicking one of the large yellow candles from his porch. The candle landed nearby with sizzle in a puddle of melting snow. Watching the melting snow extinguish the candles flame brought a small bit of satisfaction to the mayor’s face. Roderic pulled his fur-lined yellow suede cloak tighter around his portly frame before heading inside, running his fingers through his receding hairline.

These damned festivities always put a drain on his finances. The poor trade and bad harvest of the past year, and now these wretches expected him to pay for the festivities. The thought of this fuelled his anger even more. How could he not pay! Lord Connor of Penwick would be not pleased, if he heard word back that his vassals were unhappy. He didn’t ask for this, he didn’t ask to be sent to this place. He was a man of title, he had paid his dues. He should be sitting dinning in the high quarter of Verbobonc, enjoying the festivities. For now he would comply and smile, but soon he would have his day.

Darius looked out across the marsh through the window of his cottage; the winter snow lay thick across the ground. The old man felt a shiver run down his back as the cold wintery wind blew the cottage door open. He had meant to get the latch fixed. Had it been a year already?  Pulling the door closed, Darius braced the wooden chair he had been sitting on against the door. Walking over to crude stone hearth, the old man stoked the coals with the metal rod that lay close by. With the fire stocked the he leaned down to place some more wood into the fire. The fire crackled and flared to life as the dry wood landed into the burning coals. Darius found himself momentarily lost in time, as he watched the wood burning. The burning wood stirred old, dark memories, memories of a different time of his life. He had been a different man then, a younger man, a foolish man and he had paid the price.

Darius had fled his former life in Verbobonc and ended up in the small upstart village of Kleinmere, but the village wasn’t for him. He couldn’t find the solace head needed in the village, so he left after a few months with some supplies and set out into the marshlands known as the Fens of Tor. It was here that Darius found the solace that he sought, the solace that had eluded him for all this time. He had finally found a place he could call home. Sudden anger flared up in the old man as he pounded his fist into the cottage wall, “I will find a cure, my beloved,” whispered Darius, as he looked at the figure laying in the cot at the far end of the room. She had been his saviour, now he would be hers. He would set out at first light and head for the village of Kleinmere; he would find answers he needed to save his beloved Irriana. But, before he could leave, Darius first needed to tend to Irriana. He would need to find a woodland friend to watch over her while he was away, in case her condition got worse.

Markus du Monte had been sent by his father to live with his uncle Roderic in the village of Kleinmere, a matter he would not discuss. It wasn’t long after his arrival that his uncle had got fed up with his rebellious attitude and had sent him to live with his head huntsman Bren. He sat on his bed oiling the blade of his axe, remembering Bren’s instruction as he ran his whetstone along the weapons edge; the whetstone had to be rubbed with the grain of the metal, in one direction only or the blade would be dulled. The old ranger had taught him this and many things within a few months of his arrival in Kleinmere. Bren had left at dawn to go on the hunt for Mayor Roderic. The mayor wanted a deer for the Winter Solstice and Bren would only return once he had caught one. Markus knew he would be given the duty of cleaning the deer, when the old huntsman returned with his quarry.

Placing his great axe back on its rack, Markus carefully packed away his cleaning kit that he used to maintain his weapon. It would be a few more hours before Bren returned, that is if Bren returned this evening and he didn’t feel like staying in and waiting for the ranger. With a quick wash of his hands, a fresh shirt, his winter cloak and Markus was on his way to the inn. He had a few coins in his pouch which was good, as Fen would surely have some spicy roasted potatoes cooking in his oven. Nothing like Fen’s spicy potatoes and a tankard of ale or two too lift your spirits on cold winters afternoon. With that thought in mind Markus soon found his mind thinking of Sasha as he walked towards the inn. The last time he had seen her was at the Wayward Inn, when he had clumsily split his tankard of mead over her dress. He might just be in luck and bump into her again.

Erehwon carried the large barrel of spirits over his shoulder that Fenwick had ordered from his foster family’s farm. He had been in the village now for just over two years and still had no memory of his past, other than the single childhood memory of a town called Narwell. A town he later learned from a passing merchant was located on the Wild Coast. Absentmindedly, Erehwon ran his finger along the scar on his brow, as the sweat trickled down the side of his face. It was cold out, but somehow he always managed to build up a sweat.

Whenever he touched the scar, he found his thoughts drifting back to the last memory that he had of his past. Whoever had done this to him, had wanted him dead. How he had made it to the Sheppard’s farm was beyond him. The last thing he remembered was a sharp pain to the head, warm blood running down the side of his face and him falling to the snow covered ground …. And then everything had gone black. His assailants had left him for dead. Still he wanted answers, but for now he preferred to be alive. He wasn’t in any hurry to awaken old demons from his past.

It was Needfest, a start to a new year and a time for celebration and knowing Fenwick, he would have brewed a large batch of his cinnamon and honey mead for the festivities. The half-orc planned to spend the holidays in the village and enjoy the celebrations; after all it wasn’t often that he got to spend time in Kleinmere. He had some coin in his pocket and the Sheppards only needed their provisions by the end of the week. All was good. Maybe he would see his friend Duerin at the Wayward Inn. Come to think of it, Duerin was the closest person that he could call a friend. There were the Sheppards and Fenwick, but they were different.

Duerin sat with his back against the wall in the Wayward Inn’s common room, the inn was hive of activity. The smell of roasting meats drifted from Fenwick’s kitchen to fill common room with a rich, pungent aroma of herbs and spices. This had left the young dwarf quite hungry. It was late afternoon and the inn was starting to fill up with locals. He had been rather excited earlier that afternoon, when Brother John had told him that he would be going to Hommlet on church business. Now he was not so sure if he was ready. He hadn’t travelled this far from the village before. He took another swig of the warm spiced cinnamon and honeyed mead from the tankard that Fenwick had brought him earlier. Somehow the mead always seemed to help him clear his mind.

Duerin found his thoughts drifting back to the day Brother John had pulled him from the rubble of the cave in. The first thing he remembered seeing was the light reflecting of off the old priest’s holy symbol. It was a starburst of rubies, the holy symbol of St. Cuthbert. In the coming days the young dwarf found himself more and more in the company of the aging human priest, listening to the teachings of St. Cuthbert. By the second day he knew he had found his calling.

“Stoney,” shouted the half-orc as he spotted the dwarf sitting in his usual spot. The young dwarf was pulled from his thoughts, hearing his name being called. A name that Erehwon knew irritated the young dwarf more than an empty tankard of mead itself. “Stoney!” He heard the half-orc shout across the room again. It made him grit his teeth.
After the half-orc had delivered the barrel of spirits to Fenwick he grabbed a tankard of mead from one of the serving girls. The half-orc took a silver noble from his money pouch in payment for the mead and made his way over to the table where his friend Duerin sat, or as the half-orc liked to call him, “Stoney!”

Malek watched from his vantage point as the villagers went about their business in the small village. “How easy it would be to kill the lot of them …” he thought? He continued to scan the village, looking down the shaft of his crossbow. A portly man stood on his porch wearing a rather fine looking yellow suede fur-lined cloak, “What an easy mark, you make my friend.” Chuckled Malek, but that was not his purpose for now. He had bent sent to recover the dagger for Vanaur.

Malek still could not believe that the dagger would be here. It had to be a mistake! “The dagger could not be here,” he said to himself. But, if it indeed was here, in this backwater of a village, then it wouldn’t be long before the dagger revealed itself. The dagger always did. Malek smiled with that thought in mind and continued to watch the village as first signs of the afternoon snow started to fall.