Thursday, August 19, 2010

First taste of combat...

Diary Entry: Northwind Campaign

I awoke to the tingling of my arms regaining their circulation and once my vision cleared I could see the large helmed man and his men had been beaten. A Sleep spell had knocked us and most of the guards out and after finding my equipment and getting my bearings I turned to the odd Dwarf with the deep accent, bowed and introduced myself, thanking him and his group for the timely rescue.

Turns out they were exploring this dungeon themselves in hopes of finding some information on the area in general. After spending a bit of time searching the room a leather bound book was found in a secret compartment. Malator, a human mage decided to study it in some detail. While he worked on that, we tried to find one of our formal captures whom knew anything, but it turns out most of them were hired help only in it for a few golds.

We'd wake a man, strip him naked, question him, then move them to another room, leaving their clothing behind as a sign to the others. In the midst of this questioning a voice screamed out:


With weapon's already drawn, and silent curses to various gods we all tensed, turned and stared at the mage - whom held the large tomb in his hands frozen in place, eyes wide open. He glanced at us, then down at the book, and then we heard the sound of something approaching quickly.

Dark shadows could be seen coming down a side hallway, I being the closest knelt down and drew my bow, another fighter in the group stood behind me and I could hear the string on his bow stretch under the strain of an arrow held in place. Odd primeval sounds came from the direction of the unknown creatures, but we could plainly see they held spears at the ready.

A throwing axe flew past my head, followed moments later by the caveman running past wearing only a loin cloth and screaming something unintelligible. I loosed my arrow but too quickly and it slipped sideways off my hand, however it took off like a shot and buried itself into the caveman's shoulder. I grimaced in sympathy but quickly drew another arrow. Three more arrows joined mine in flight, along with another axe.

Artemist the alchemist, standing in the back of the party threw a flask of oil down the corridor, holding a lit torch at the ready. The oil bounced and let loose its bounty, covering a wide section of the floor amongst the creatures and our men. My eyes grew wide at the possibilities, but as quick as the fighting had started, it was quickly ended when Ukkla, the caveman, body pressed the remaining creature into the floor.

I bashfully made my way over to try and help with Ukkla's wounds...

Monday, August 16, 2010

There and back again: One stinky dwarf!

Diary Entry: Northwind Campaign

Drowsily I opened my eyes and tried to make sense of the flickering images. I was being herded, along with a dwarf and fighter through a dark corridor lit by greasy torches that filled my eyes with smoke. A cold chill ran through my bones when I tried to flex my arms but I was bound tight with no weapons nearby and I was naked. When we slowed, stumbled or fell down, a knife stabbed me in the ribs. I swore that I'd remain silent and not cry out, praying for the blow to come fast and sure. If my lot was to die in this dank place, I'd not give my captor any pleasure. Memories flooded back...

"Khem-Tep, I grant you leave. Return with proof of these dark tidings and keep thy mind strong. Take with you this feather of Maat, and the carved figurine of Sekhmet - items to help you on your journey. Speak with no one of this, but seek the guidance of a singer. Opal eyes shall be your sign, oh son of Idonis" The voice of Herem-Tem, Priest of Ptah echoed in the silence.

I ran, hard and fast through the woods stopping near a brier bush to collect my breath. For twelve days I'd ran, and now finally I neared my goal. A small village lay in the distance, a promise from the bard that I was nearing a clue. Three hours later as I left the witches room I felt something tugging on my cloak. As I glanced down a small wax beetle with gossamer wings flitted away, and the world went dark.

"Get a move on you bastard, or I'll poke you again"..

I felt the knife dig a bit deeper in my side, and I bit my lip hard to not cry out. We had travelled for an hour or so, when we entered a large room. In the torchlight I could make out tapestries on the wall, and the smell of ape filled my senses though I wasn't sure what kind it may have been. We were shoved into a corner, and then our feet were tied together. I was side by side with the dwarf, a smelly stocky one at that. When our captor moved over to talk with the others, I nodded to him and whispered "I am Khem, we will escape and kill them:". He gruffly replied "Burr".

Suddenly Burr yelled towards a guard, the man walked over, a sword in his hands and backhanded the dwarf hard across the face. I saw something in his eye - defiance.

I drifted off for a while unsure how long I slept but when I woke a female was tied near us. I tried not to stare but was struck by her physical strength. She sat with back against the wall, though relaxed she looked ready to fight. The guards had moved away, though some milled nearby, not close enough to catch any real news of where we were or how long we'd been here. A large man, wearing a huge helm was their leader, dark energy flowed around him and his aura was black as night to me. He pointed to us, then broke into shrill laughter, and the word "slaves" filled my head.

Then, a blast of light came from a corner of the room - "Have at ya", a dwarf with a deep accent screamed out, running into the room he hefted a throwing axe. Soon, I saw a couple spells being cast, one certainly a missile of some sort and the large helmed warrior was hit hard. Some of the guards slipped to the floor, never to breathe again, and then a break..a dagger came careening towards us.

I tried to reach it with my feet, but it was no good. The ropes held me tight and too far away. We had to move together as a unit quietly sliding forward. Just as I reached the dagger, a chant went off in my head and darkness engulfed me....

It's been a long road...

 It's 1973 and I'm ten years old.

My earliest memory of role playing began for me that summer with Chainmail (albeit that was more a convenience of miniature and rules for them then what most know of today) and my fondest desire was to create my own fantasy world where I was, for lack of better definition, a god.

I hid away like this for three years, designing a region, a manor, even a dungeon slowly growing more reclusive from the trials of the real world, and my grandparents and mother were rather obstinate of this insanity that was growing inside of me. See, I was the type of fella that Tolkien would have considered "queer", I'd much prefer to spend days, weeks, months reading some fantastic story, then go outside and suffer the bane of "playtime". Then in the midst of my revelry my mother married this shell of a person whom invaded my world like the bubonic plague in 1976.

What I discovered in those early days was I truly enjoyed the hours of work put into this world. Seeing the various inhabitants springing to life before my very eyes and along the way I began to round out a place that was truly my own, free and far from the guise of my ignoramus of a stepfather, and closer to heaven than I would ever see - well that is until women captured my attention. Damn them!

My grandparents instilled this idea in me to be a pen pal, so I wrote to people all over the world, some in Scotland, some in England, and others around the corner in Florida and California. When I discovered that some were playing the same exact game that I was, well, my letters/intrigue/interest/mania grew. I suddenly had others whom shared this passion and fascination and when my grandparents found out about this - well, they did the most horrible thing they could have done - they told me to keep writing.

In 1977 stamps were 13 cents each and we mailed on average 20 dollars worth of mail per week. Stop and think about that and we pretty much were keeping the local post office in business. My grandfather got a larger mailbox installed at the end of the lane, and the letters started pouring in. It was around this time that I read in Avalon Hill's The General Magazine about this neat idea called Play-by-Mail (PBM) gaming. So a few friends and I decided to try it out. I sent maps, background material, and even Instamatic camera snapshots of the world to the players in 7 different states. In return, we adventured all over my world for the next 5 years, and along the way I started gaming locally with some other like minded people.

Then I was betrayed when a friend stole my entire gaming collection, and wiped me out.

I continued to play though, and while I had lost everything, I would not give up my world, my place away from the insanity that I witnessed everyday. I kept gaming, traveling to Columbus, West Virginia, and even as far away as Arizona. During one 6 month period in 1989 we played non stop for 135 hours, slept for a day then did another 100 hours back to back. It was bedlam. But damn was it fun.

I refused to place my world on a shelf and forget about it. Even when I was away in military duty the game always was there, in the background - sometimes peaking around the corner of my commanding officers desk just smiling at me. Then, I became a care-giver. I still worked on my world during that eight year period and even when I was by myself, I was never alone. The voices would comfort and plead with me to finish the Castle of Mygi, plan the expansion to the twelfth level of the dungeon and work on the history of the realm.

Just this past Friday I had the opportunity to game locally with a group of players whom were closer to my age, and I discovered that the insanity which had consumed me for the last 30 years was still alive and it was real. Now, if your reading this you may think I consider myself a bit - or perhaps, a lot crazy. Truth be told I'm one of the sanest people I know, and this adoration for gaming is who I am.


So this blog will help to save my sanity. Along the way I'm going to recreate the entire world I have from memory and while I know its a deep hole I've dug for myself, I'm looking forward to the ride. So why the Bloated Blowfish ?.

Well, this was the very first Tavern I created for Isolde, a place that I call home, a place that I've visited so many times that when I walk through the front door and the crowd turns to greet me, Pegleg One Arm doesn't even ask me what I want, he simply pours me a cold Meade, motions to the Bard in the corner and everyone sings "Welcome Home!".

See, I thought that somewhere in my alligator mind the dwarf was sitting at the console reading a penthouse magazine, drinking some crown royal and smoking a stogy - AND that he wasn't paying attention to the neurosis slowly festering there, deep in my cerebral cortex. Turns out he was tired of looking at the magazine, was out of whiskey and needed something stronger than a greasy old cigar. So when I took the time to meditate on this whole thing and came face to face with him, he stared me square in the eye, spat on the ground and said "Where the hell you been, and what did you do with me dice!?"

Indeed, its been a long road...