Saturday, November 10, 2018

:: Gullystead, Forest Village ::

Just a quick stroll through a village. Enjoy.


I was walking along Market Street at Gullystead. The sun shone down through the sparse clouds on the tables spread with emerald green fabrics, the scorching air filled with the scent of freshly baked sugar cookies sitting on the windowsill of the bakery nearby. The street itself was fairly short, but wide and filled with curiosities, so after I passed along one side I immediately turned around and walked down the other side (chewing the warm cookie I had bought at the bakery).
A vendor—Itri’s Diverse Diversions—sold wooden jewelry, and I found a ring made of cedar wood that I thought a friend of mine might like. I picked it up, held it to my nose and inhaled slowly to take in the wood’s natural sharp musk. After I paid for the trinket I thanked the merchant, a short twig-folk girl by the name of Itri. Her small hands—full of fingers like spider’s legs—would have alarmed any who were not used to her kind, the Winslies. But for me, who had seen many of her kin selling their fine long blue-steel carpets in the villages east of the Great Chasm, she was a familiar sight.
She wore a practical outfit and a wary demeanor, but I introduced myself and asked how long she had been here, at Gullystead. She seemed to take my friendly approach in kind and replied that she had only been here a day or two and was just passing through. In her breathy voice she explained that she had gone out into the world to find out who she really was. Another Winslie emerged from behind a curtain and exchanged trays of items on the table, never looking at me and never saying a word before disappearing behind the curtain again.
The other Winslie was her brother, Fron, Itri explained. She admitted sheepishly that she was afraid of being separated from him, which was probably what kept her in the stall and not out and about on such a sunny day.
She tugged the hem of her hood lower over her eyes in a polite gesture—it was the Winslie custom to cover their eyes to reassure others that they meant no harm. For, you see, their eyes were a literal shock to behold, as they flashed like silent lightning when they became alarmed. Itri was nothing but friendly, however, and after a brief chat I thanked her again for the ring and went on my way.
Gullystead appeared to be a simple, bustling village in the Beryllian Forest. “Population 82,” a small sign had said as I came in. And that was after one of the villagers had stopped by to change it from “81.” Evidently a baby had been born the night before.
As I walked from Market Street to the shrine near the gully outside of the village, I felt the prickle of magic dance over my skin; there must have been a leyline running through the area. Sure enough, I saw a heavy glistening stone carved into the shape of a dwarven house-deity—a sure sign that the Fairy Faith was practiced by someone in the village. The stone itself was ice white, inlaid with eyes of blue quartz.
At the foot of the figure I saw that there was a clean clay bowl with three small pebbles of azurite inside—an offering for the Fey. Someone had also offered a short spear with a lindenwood haft and a head made entirely of glass. Several offerings of fruit were also laid nearby, and I thought a moment about what I could leave behind out of respect for the local gods. I pulled the cedar ring out of my pocket and considered it. My friend could do without a ring this time; there would always be more baubles. Holding it under my nose one last time, I inhaled the sharp cedar musk and laid it inside the bowl beside the azurite.
Stepping back, I took in the sight of the shrine as a whole. It was appealing and clean, a sign that the villagers of Gullystead truly respected their gods. I suddenly felt more honored to have been among them that day.
My final stroll took me along the gully, a long and dirty scar across the otherwise thick and shady linden forest. Coffee beans dangled in vines from the branches, adding their scent to the forest air, now cooler under the canopy. Deep in the gully I saw deposits of sandstone, and a discarded set of padded clothing. I paused and wondered whether it had been thrown there, or if someone down in the gully had removed it before undertaking some dubious action. At last I decided my mind had run away with me, and I went on my way, soon to see some other place, with more things I had never seen before.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

:: NPCs - Adventuring Party 1 ::

So as to not spoil the future plot for my Tales of Athanasia players, I have named this post (and will probably name future posts) generically in the main title and then get more specific in the body of the post. Don't let the bland titles fool you, though—plenty of juicy detail below.

A small sample of the minis
I have yet to paint.
A bit of backstory: I've been gathering up all my unpainted minis and painting them (hereafter known as the Miniblitz) so I can group them together and start making encounters. As I did so, I found that I had, like, a crap-ton of unique adventurer minis. This is great for my players, because I will usually have something close to their character for them to use. (Cue Tevia voice) On the other hand, the Miniblitz has landed me with all these unused adventurer minis and nothing to do except throw the occasional villain at the party, which just goes way too slowly for me.

My solution has been to create villainous (or at least antagonistic) adventuring parties to give the PCs a big challenge up front and then let them use their first encounter to figure out how to take them down the next time. They might go find them later at their home-base and fight them one room at a time, or research each adventurer's weakness and exploit it to make an all-out battle that much easier. Plus, I don't plan on levelling up the opposing party, so the battle will automatically feel more manageable to the PCs if they level before encountering their rivals again. This makes for fun recurring foes, and gives the players a through-line for a particular plot arc. At least, that's my theory; I haven't actually tried it yet.

Wish me luck.

:: Einar's Pack - Creation Tower ::

Einar is the notable Fenris barbarian who was the first to be cursed with Zoanthropy, the equivalent to Lycanthropy in the Grimoire campaign setting. The main difference between Zoanthropy and Lycanthropy is that any given human or halfling has a particular animal ancestry, and Zoanthropy brings out that ancestry rather than always turning the afflicted into a wolf. The result is that those bitten by Einar contract the curse and are forced into the form of their animal ancestors at the full moon. As a Fenris, Einar becomes an enormous wolf in his full zoe (animal) form and rampages through vulnerable villages and hamlets, perpetuating his fame and the fear of his name, which means "Lone Wolf."