DDC – Draconic Prophecies 8

More cryptic musings from the minds of the dragons of Eberron – and hints of themes and events on the horizon. As ever, as we get to things these could be about I’ll update this entry with what happened in game.

The Axe of the Stone breakers shall smite the plans of Winter – though who can tell where long steps lead? Sweet victory and sorrow, though none can tell the balance while hags plot and plans bubble.

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 142, verses 7-8

A reference to this arc’s end game, and the stakes and decisions to be weighed.

If the moons’ dark passing sees not the path to EverIce, then Xoriat’s grip fails and Khyber’s coils shift in humiliation

The Draconic Prophecies – Scale 105, verse 10

Words scribbled may gain response, but who are the writers and who the readers? Joy unbridled or fear regained may all hinge on a single lie

The Dracinic Prophecies – Scale 901, verses 2-3

Hello Weekend

It feels like it’s been a very long week, but at the same time has had some good things in it. I had a diagnosis on the tiredness and a hopefully simple and effective remedy that I’ve started now. I had my payday so that’s always helpful – and I took delivery of my new lease car.

That alone will make work immeasurably less stressful as we won’t be competing for use of Lady M’s work car. Like her my vehicle is provided as part of a fleet under a salary sacrifice scheme which covers tax and services and tire wear and tear and things like that. We’re both now driving hybrids, and mine can also be driven as a purely electric car once the VIM registration goes through and I can register with the BMW tariff for charging.

Sadly we haven’t any charging points on the estate, but various places around the area do so I’ll be learning the gentle art of planning journeys with an eye to charging points. Who says it’s too late to learn new skills?

So my plan for tomorrow is to properly read the manual, work out how to customise things and connect my phone, and then take Lady M for a drive somewhere. Its been a good ten years since I’ve had a vehicle to call my own.

HeroForge – Rescued Dwarves

The DDC have been making friends recently as they look to build a militia to help reclaim Thorin’s home. They have been successful in reaching out to both the major groups in the area – the werewolves that have been brought into line by Karkanna, and the refugees who had taken shelter and fortified Flower Town. As part of my fleshing out the leading personalities in those two groups therefore, I’ve gone back to HeroForge to put some faces to the names.

Here then are Charis Amberley of Flower Town – a retired ranger who fought alongside Thorin during the Last War and helped organise the militias that they put together – and Ennis Amberhammer, a forge master of the Clan who specialises in making armour (and who is Thorin’s cousin)

Charis had organised the refugees and created defences so that they could defend against night-time raids by the daelkyr forces or their duergar allies – and it was he who first recognised Thorin when he appeared at the outer barricades. He brought the townsfolk round to listen and has proposed the beginnings of some strategies – but bringing him round to accepting the help of their cursed cousins was a hard sell.

Ennis is still battling to subdue the beast that the curse has unleashed, but he has enough control of himself to have begun organising the defences of the shrine within which Karkanna has made her lair. He is not a strategist, but he knows how to build solid bulwarks and will follow the Amberhammer heirs wherever they lead.

These tokens and portraits are available to freely download and use in your own online tabletops – the HeroForge website has some amazing options for making your own, and the subscription model is well worth looking at if you are running your own game just for the token making alone.

More NPCs and oddities to come

Wednesday Game Night

We had a shorter session this week for the Librarian game – partly because we’ve all had long days today – but we did manage to take a peek into the lives of our new heroes with some down time, and their preparations for a charity ball that they had been invited to.

Pan hit the aisles and shelves of the libraries in search of lore that they weren’t prepared to share with their new companions. Despite many days surrounded by maps and shipping manifests, they found no new information of any consequence. Wilhelm spent a week lecturing and working at his day job, enjoying the routine of both informing and torturing the students attending this talks. He also began planning for the ball.

Xander, still woozy with amnesia, found himself worrying more and more about what to wear to the ball and so threw himself into tinkering in his makeshift workshop. He brewed a potion of healing, and educated himself with fashion magazines and reports of society balls. Lila went back to the Cogs and spent more time with the gang they’d made friends with, and frequenting a number of low dives in search of new gambling dens. Much to her own surprise, she ended up with more money that she’d started, and decided to invest it in some fine clothing.

Catriona spent a lot of time worrying about the ball – as much because she came from a monastic tradition in her faith – and so research was the order of the day for her too. As events would soon show, she perhaps had better sources in her research than Xander did/

All through the week, the group kept in touch with what they were looking to wear – and they got together before the ball to compare their outfits. Xander, in particular stood out – with a suit composed of elements that were of fine quality individually, but when put together were somewhat distressing to the eye. Pinstripe trousers in grey were matched with a black plaid jacket, and a blue polka-dot shirt and brown shoes. All of this was topped with a neon green bow tie. Each of the items was lightly glamered to shimmer and shine from time to time as it caught the light. He was certainly an arresting sight, and not easily overlooked. Wilhelm’s tailored suit was a vision of purple and red accompanied with a corset and frilled shirt – impeccable in construction and poise. Lila went for simplicity and practicality in her elegant dress, while Catriona affected a classic purple dress that looked old and yet classically new at the same time.

Having assembled in one of the university bars, all eyes turned to Pan as they made their entrance…

And that’s where we left it – to be continued…!

A Result At Last

So we’ve finally got to the bottom of why I’m so tired all the time – and as largely expected my most recent blood test shoes that I am severely deficient in Vitamin D and will shortly start taking huge doses over the rest of the winter – with the pronise of probably needing to do so next winter as well.

I have a colleague that has had pretty much the same treatment so I’ve spent some time today talking over it, comparing notes, and setting myself an alarm for the morning to go to the pharmacy to pick up yet more things to make me rattle when I walk

This minor inconvenience is far better than any of the more horrible things that it could have been, so I’m swallowing the mutters of “I told you so” because we’ve got here through science and methodical investigation. Even if there were some speed bumps along the way.

Social Media Stuff

I’ve been watching the turmoil across social media around the developments at Twitter. Although it isn’t something I make a lot of use of, a lot of my friends do, and it’s nice to be able to dip in now and then. I also tend to use it as another place to link to here when I post – and back in the day when Facebook allowed APIs to play nicely, I had a little chain of things set up that I could post here and see cross posting back and forth to my various other places without any intervention.

Now, just in case things go up in smoke over in that-there land of Twits, I’ve been looking at Mastodon as a decentralised alternative – mostly because most of the people I know are also heading there, along with various artists, authors, and associated ne-er do wells.

It took me a while to get to grips with it, but I’m now set up on an LGBT server (other servers, of course, are available) and am making links and getting used to the differences in how it all works – I refuse to call them toots, no matter how much they try. If anyone’s interested in wandering over – here’s a link to my profile to follow.

https://mastodon.lol/@LondonLudd#

If you haven’t already got an account, it will then prompt you to set something up, but otherwise I’ll be able to follow you back (the usual mantra of these things – have we gone back to the noughties again?)

DDC – Decision Times

We’ve started playing earlier on a Sunday afternoon so that we have more leeway if we get caught up in the action and so that there’s a chance to wind down afterward without needing to dive straight into bed. As a result, I’ve got a chance this evening to write up today’s session – which is just as well as a lot happened to a very split group.

We’d left the group resting overnight following the major revelations of the last session, and they woke to make breakfast and try to decide on what to do first to gather the local scattered survivors to begin the fight to reclaim Amberhammer Hold. Karkanna was willing to gather together the werewolves hiding in an abandoned village a few hours away, so Caeluma offered to accompany her and support her in that effort. Rather than backtrack around various crevasses and rivers, Caeluma used her wings to slowly carry Karkanna across. This was hugely exhausting, but took a long time off their journey.

When they arrived, they found a cluster of hovels near a dilapidated shrine, so Caeluma entered and prayed briefly, re-emerging to find that nearly a score of disheveled and beaten-looking dwarves in tattered clothing had emerged from the ruins and were gathering around. Much to Caeluma’s alarm, Karkanna gestured that they should speak, which took Caeluma very much out of their comfort zone.

In a halting voice, that slowly grew in confidence, Caeluma was able to appeal to their community, their shared fates, the trust in each other and might together in the face of the invaders who had overrun their home. Faced with a beaten and resentful group, Caeluma was able to rouse them and bring hope and a new sense of purpose. And so the werewolves were recruited

Lands around the Amberhammer Hold – Made with Inkarnate.com

Meanwhile, Arwan, Thorin, and Valenia travelled by foot, crossing a ravine across the rusted sword and remains of a truly titanic warforged colossus from years gone by. Local predators in the form of aggressive dinosaurs attacked them, but despite the precarious footings of all concerned, the group was able to fight through with only minor injuries and eventually made it to a fortified village called Flower Town. In happier times this village grew staple crops for the Hold on carefully maintained terraces cut into the mountainsides, but it was now surrounded by barricades and bore signs of recent fighting. Many of the refugees from the Hold had been taken in here, and they now lived in a state of constant night-time siege.

Thorin, also unused to public speaking and unsure of how to win people round, produced the Heirloom Axe and began to speak. The process was rocky at first. Many held Thorin with fond memories, but his long absence and the actions of his sister counted against him in the face of what they had suffered. Valenia tried to demonstrate that those with lycanthropy could be trusted by transforming into her new hybrid form, and back again – but this was not well received. In the end, an impassioned speech by Thorin about reclaiming their lands together, leading them to push back the dark, and seeing a land free again for all of them – a chance to end the Last War once and for all – broke the impasse.

And back at the camp, Kerne continued to research for ways to break the werewolf curse – reaching out to her sister by way of the magic book that they could both write in – and was able to convince Faye to share a recipe stolen from the Hags that trained her that could cure someone bitten by a werewolf. If she could gather the ingredients, or finish finding the rituals required, there may be another way to end the plague without putting everyone infected to the sword.

Map – Forest Arena

This is a quick bonus map I’ve made this afternoon on the Inkarnate website as a flurry of relatively generic battlemaps that I can plonk down as needed. With the DDC campaign being fairly footloose in its direction – or at least in how they get to key components – I’m building up a library of maps in different styles.

This one is meant to be a natural depression in a forest area with two main pathways out. High banks and foliage limit other routes out, but also allow for different elevations in any encounters. In addition, there are fallen tree logs, and a titanic broken sword as a hint of mysteries past or encounters to come depending on mood.

Overhead battlemap depicting a forest clearing surrounded by high banks forming a natural arena with two main routes in as well as two very small alternatives. Three fallen tree trunks lie across the brush in the clearing as well as a gigantic broken sword that is far too large for anyone  barring a giant to be able to use.
Made with Inkarnate.com

If you want to make use of this map, just save the graphic below – or follow the link to https://inkarnate.com/m/971E8l-forest-arena/ if you use Inkarnate and want the original multi-layered file for cloning and editing for your own needs.

Late Night Rambling

It’s half past one in the morning and I can’t sleep, so I’m afraid you have to put up with some ramblings and idle musings for a bit. The good news at least is that I’m not coughing all the time now.

I’ve had covid before, and this time round was about the same. I think there was more coughing and actual headcold-style wooziness. The aches this time have been mostly in my arm bones, and noticeably sharp pains in my lower arms and wrists, which was odd. Somewhat ironically, given I can’t sleep at the moment, I’ve also got heavy fatigue.

So that’s all something I’m looking forward to leaving behind.

Mind you, I was already exhausted all the time before I had a positive covid test, so it’s a bit hard to tell if there’s any connection or overlap. Frankly, if it wasn’t for the fact that nearly everyone in my life is similarly ill or falling apart, I might feel that I was being particularly targeted – because that’d the type of stupid egocentrism that I enjoy teasing and joking about.

By that I mean that my facility to self-sabotage often fluctuates between perfectionism (in the sense of setting impossible targets and failure therefore confirming my own expectations), and self denigration that doesn’t always know when to stop .

Nothing particularly unusual there, many of us do it. That said, I don’t ever really recall fitting in many places. There’s always been a sense of being a bit ‘other’ and standing on the outside, looking in and not quite getting how I should be reacting.

Growing up in the shadow of Section 28 which banned teaching of anything LGBT+ also didn’t help. Looking back I can remember a number of teachers who struggled sometimes to rephrase or frame statements in certain careful ways. I had another teacher who hindsight suggests may have been trans but ill never know, or indeed enquire because it’s none of my business.

What it did all do though, and I see it happening again in the language used against trans people in particular, was to set a code of what was ‘normal’ and vigorously mocked anyone who did not conform to it.

It didn’t matter if you were lgbt or not, the very fear of being mocked or attacked if you stepped outside the poorly defined parameters had a chilling effect on everyone. Hate language is a matter of control.

If you’ve ever hesitated to do something or express something for fear of being seen as gay, or trans, or mentally ill – or anything regardless of whether you are or not – then you’ve been controlled by hate speech.

It’s why the slogan that trans rights are human rights is so important. Its the same arguments and language that’s been used by often far right groups time and time again. It leads to people being beaten for reading poetry, or singing their favourite song while exercising.

The ban on conversations and information while I was growing up kept me closeted without even knowing that was a thing. Any raising of the subject was either derogatory, or couched in terms of eliciting fear.

The news was full of people cheering the death of gay people as HIV appeared. I was told that gays didn’t do love or relationships, and that I would die alone and unloved. I could expect to be beaten up, or maybe if I was lucky and conformed enough I might be adopted as a token eccentric but would still have people whispering and removing children from the area “just in case”

I didn’t have the language to explore who I was becoming, or question things. I liked both boys and girls and was comfortably not a sports enthusiast – which in a boarding school which focused much of its identity around rugby and cricket competitions with other boarding schools, was a bit of a red flag.

Instead of worrying therefore about young people expressing themselves in a myriad of gender concepts and sexualities, I praise educators for giving people the vocabulary and concepts to see what fits them as they grow up and evolve along their life journeys.

I don’t subscribe to the “in my day we didn’t have this so why isn’t that good enough for them?” mantra. Isn’t the entire point of growing up to make sure that the people who come after us don’t have the struggles and pain we had if we can help it?

I’m still learning and evolving. I only sound like I know what’s going on or how it all works. As the strapline to this blog says, I’m making it up as I go along. I still feel like an outsider and rarely feel that I entirely fit. I compensate by being quirky and bold so that people give me mental headspace to squirm and reposition.

I am, as several people have told me, a Fool, and a Catalyst. I have a tshirt that encapsulates those concepts in a rather pithy statement: “My sole purpose in life is to serve as a warning to others.”

I would hope that this means that you don’t waste as much time as I did fighting being the real me and being what I thought people wanted me to be. Do yourself a favour and be your own special weirdo – because there’s plenty of people who are only too happy to try and stop you. You can do it. I believe in you.

Map – Lightning Rail Station

A couple of months ago we had an extended series of session aboard a lightning rail train travelling from Windhaven towards the Breland border – and a number of social and combat encounters took place during that period. Their first break in the journey came at a station where there was a delay to offload and take on new cargo and passengers.

This night time location was revealed just after an intense combat encounter where assassins had boarded the train and tried to kill Thorin – and had nearly killed Valenia in the process – and so the opportunity to get off the train and explore the area for a while felt much needed.

The grass area at the bottom of the map is where I overlaid schematics of the train carriages the characters were in. This was done so that I could reuse this as a standardised design in the future with other carriage configurations. The platform is lit with torches, and the main areas of interest are: the main ticket hall which leads through to the street beyond (and the houses on it), and the well-lit inn/coffee house and the rest rooms next to it. There’s also a store room behind them.

On the left hand of the map is a store room accessed from the ticket hall, and the ticket office top left. There are also desks and furniture in the hallway. The office could alternatively be a House Sivis message post.

I had this set up as being flexible enough to run either combat or social encounters – in the end it turned out to be mostly social and roleplay with stall holders, people passing through, staff from the rail service, and a rather intense Silver Flame Inquisitor who wanted to ask Thorin some questions.

As ever, the zip file attached to this post includes the map and the associated text file of map dimensions and dynamic lighting information and coordinates.

For those who haven’t used Dungeon Alchemy maps, you can install an API in Roll20 and after loading the map graphic onto the map layer, you can copy and paste the text file contents into the chat input. It will then resize the map to fit and support Dynamic Lighting if you are using it.

RailStation.zip