NPCs – The Amberdune Booksellers

In the Librarians game, the group has encountered a close-knit group of family who run a book stall in one of the markets in Sharn. Glib and ready with an answer to any enquiry, the booksellers have been linked to a spate of books that later turned into monsters – and as yet the truth of the matter has yet to be revealed.

I made a Heroforge portrait of the owner of the book stall, and then decided to round out the depictions of the other members of the family. Those of you who have played or who have access to Candlekeep Mysteries will know the secret of this family. If you don’t want to have a spoiler, then stop reading beyond these portraits of Theryn, Zan, Inbar, Marliza, Ramah, Avani, and Korvala.

The Amberdune book sellers are a pack of jackalweres who used to follow a lamia that was killed by adventurers. Unlike other lamia which are creatures of evil, this one delighted in the amassing of knowledge, and taught the jackalweres to do the same. The pack’s leader is Korvala, and the lamia taught her how to summon creatures that could duplicate the appearance of objects as well as become ordinary small animals and amorphous creatures. These creatures feed off the life energy of the living but are only able to do so when in their native state.

Geased by the lamia not to share this knowledge with the rest of the pack, Korvala has been using the ritual to create temporary duplicates of rare books scavenged from the lamia’s lair so that the pack can raise the funds for magic to restore the lamia to life. There had been no intention of harming anyone, and it was sheer bad luck that the duplicates were traded to the library and then starved enough that they reverted to their natural forms to feed.

We shall see how the group resolves this situation, hopefully next week…

It’s The Weekend – Have a Spare NPC

It seemed like it wasn’t going to make it, but here we are with a screeching halt to the headaches, sinus pains, and tension headaches as various targets and goals were hit, and we had a massive rainfall that seems to have cleared some of the excess pollen for now. I’ve just had a nice relaxing session of shooting things in Destiny with boy s and Lady B and now to wind down before bed I’ve just had this wonderful mischief maker crawl out from behind the sofa and demand money with genteel menaces

Full body portrait of a green-skinned, large eared woman with purple hair in a  victorian up-do, dark aviator sunglasses, and layers of red and orange skirts and a long sleeved top over a dark blue blouse. Her feet are bare on a wooden floor, In her right hand she casually holds a human femor, and has small fangs set in a gold neckalce. Her gloved left hand is open. Her smile reveals sharp teeth

Welcome to Mrs Hibbert, a fey goblin who wears dark sunglasses against the day’s brightness, and probably has a couple of ogres or hobgoblins standing just round the corner to loom when she clicks her fingers. She’s a lady of local standing from a well-known family, and she’ll brook no nonsense or any mess on her freshly-cleaned carpets. Now just leave your pocket change in the ashtray there on the way out the door, and we’ll be seeing you soon.

So, I guess I made up a small business-goblin who rules her family with an iron fist inside her velvet gloves, and who is definitely, positively a legitimate member of the business community – or her money back. I sense a wonderful new contact for one of my adventures that I’ll be keeping in my back pocket.

NPCs – The Eladrin

I got a bit sidetracked making the Winter Eladrin assassin for last week’s game and enjoyed reading about how these elves physically and supernaturally change as their emotions ebb and flow – changing them into one of four distinct types each time they rest. These overwhelming emotions correspond to seasons:

Spring eladrin are flighty and happy, positive and lighthearted. The Summer eladrin is brave and powerful, bringing confidence and righteousness. The Autumn eladrin are kindly and full of good will, while the Winter eladrin are mournful and morose.

So I may have had some fun in Heroforge to make some tokens up for future adventures as the faerie realms and the nature of stories weaves into the regular game. They seem to be a useful piece of the storytelling puzzle that change their appearance and nature as much as you might expect of creatures of such an inconstant realm…

Day on the Road

We’ve headed out for a celebration today – and that meant an afternoon on the road among roadworks and the usual Friday afternoon traffic shenanigans. We would have been off sooner, but the cub decided that he would rather play in the local park with his friends than come straight home and jump in a car. I can’t say I entirely blame him – he’s very nervous about meeting a lot of people in my family for the first time.

Still, we kept busy with the perennial favourite of ‘I Spy’ – with no more than the usual assortment of swear words, and with a game where we made up words from the letters in the registration of vehicles ahead of us. The latter game got quite tricky as we got into a traffic jam and the seemingly impossible task for people of knowing how to merge lanes.

All is well and good though – we’ve travelled and arrived, and are settled in our rooms. Tomorrow will bring jollity and probably some last-minute shopping as the cub has had a growth spurt.

And just as an end of day wind down, here’s a set of tokens and portrait for a charging minotaur done in Heroforge (of course):

Heroforge – Opposites

Just been playing around with some of the newer models available in Heroforge and thought I’d do a couple of contrasting pictures – and when it comes to mounts for heroes there’s no greater contrast than between a Nightmare and a Unicorn. The former in fantasy games is usually depicted as a horse from the infernal realms, with flames instead of mane and tail. Unicorns are usually depicted as visions of serenity, pale and calm.

They’re interesting models – I really hope that some more poses become available, but I’m also aware that these are also designed to be printable so there are limitations on size. I shall no doubt have great fun trying some odd and counter-intuitive colour schemes in due course – like swapping the schemes on these two models. It’s also fun to see what they look like with previously generated models mounted on them…

NPC – Berenghast the Dire

There’s nothing like a good villain for an adventure to highlight. Here I am again unwinding after a long day and rather than heroic or nuanced characters I thought I’d go with something a bit more malevolent for adventurers to contend with. Using my general approach of start with a random template and start playing around, I had a bit of a play in HeroForge and came up with this pleasant chap: Berenghast the Dire

Berenghast belongs to that wonderful pantheon of delvers after forbidden knowledge and power who don’t let a little thing like dying and the corruption of their immortal soul get in the way of results. As his skeletal appearance suggests, he did not rest in his grave easily – and the broken horns on his brow suggest the nature of the entities with which he dealt. There’s a rawness and bloody tinge to his bones and fanged maw that suggests he is still somewhat fresh from what should have been his final fate – and his magical blades positively gleam with potency. The scimitar in his right hand gleams with ruby light, while the blackened poniard in his left boils with greasy flame. The remains of purple robes still twine around his body, hinting at royal ambitions. Even his token suggests something twisted compared to the simpler circles of others.

Now, I have no idea what use I’ll put him to – so he’s going in the back pocket for now. If you use him in your own games or stories, let me know what he gets up to.

Busy Month Incoming

Tomorrow sees the start of LGBT History Month – which will be a busy month for me in my Staff Network capacity. We have events and blogs planned, including a social event and an evening at the History Centre. There’s also Valentine’s Day, a birthday, and a plan to finally see my parents for the first time since lockdown.

Oh, and of course there’s the day-to-day engagement required to keep libraries open. We have family events as ever, stock rotations, and collaborative work with charities and local groups. I have amazing and hard working staff working to make it all happen. Even when I have occasion to quietly mutter under my breath, its within a context of people trying their best.

I think the best challenge is going to be to keep a balance between all the things going on. I’ve not even touched on the D&D games yet. The Librarians adventure will get going properly – hopefully as scheduling settles – and the DDC will return soon.

By soon – I mean this week. I am busy writing adventure seeds and ideas for where it all goes next. I have a very rough direction for it, but picking up the threads from where we ended up will take some work. We ended the last chapter with some very definitive closures for Thorin’s story and have entered into some more epic territory.

We’ve already had prophecy and dragons in the mix – and the levels of power that the characters are at in Eberron are the sort of levels where many adventurers have already retired for easier lives. The DDC are now truly exceptional individuals, and their swashbuckling adventures will be reflecting that if all goes to plan.

So, here’s hoping my brain keeps up with all this plate spinning. Who knows, I might event get some stories and sketching done too…

Unused Scenario – Summoning School

This scenario was an encounter keyed to the Amberhammer Hold and would have been something wandered into had the group taken a stealthier approach. Unfortunately things didn’t go that way and it didn’t feel right to bring this in as events escalated. So the scenario is presented here to spark ideas for you.

So, in the original draft of my notes, the cult of the Triumphant Dead is in many ways a fledgling group and looking to garner power. To that end they have been making alliances and summonings and gathering favours from a whole slew of occult and obscure sources. These have ranged from books stolen from libraries, deals with Daelkyr, favours from and for the Fae, and nefarious connections to the Lords of Dust.

The Summoning School is found within a warehouse area, carefully cleared and engraved with sigils and a circle. Seven cultists and a cult fanatic are being led and instructed as the group arrives on the scenet. Ofalgrim Grazztblood has agreed to instruct the Cult of the Triumphant Dead in how to raise Banderhobbs. These ogre-sized creatures of shadow and corrupt flesh with a toadlike appearance can then be sent to assassinate, kidnap, or steal on the cult’s behalf. As the encounter begins, the small cult group has just succeeded in their first ritual.

The cultists are spaced around a complex glyph laid out in charcoal and salt while the cambion directs them and leads the chant. Connected to the first glyph is a larger one, within which the Banderhobb has just formed from a desecrated pile of corpses. Spooked by the group’s arrival, Ofalgrim will tell the cultists to stand their ground and use their new power. He and the Cult Fanatic (Tesselthwaite Cobb) support with spells unless the group is a serious threat – in which case Ofalgrim will either fly or plane shift away and attempt to flee.

The cutlists have 21sp, 6ep, 4gp, potion of healing x2. Ofalgrim has 240sp, 90gp, potion of invulnerability, a potion of healing, spear is of dwarven make from a clan destroyed by Thorin’s folk for worshipping devils. It can only be destroyed on their original forge, heated by infernal flames. Its head is cast to resemble twisting corkscrewed flames, and flame motifs run up and down the shaft. It feels cold to the touch.

Heroforge – Faces To Watch For

We completed year two of the DDC campaign this afternoon with an emotional rollercoaster that tied all sorts of loose ends together. I’ll write it up properly tomorrow. In the meantime, here are some faces that will loom into view in the next chapter. One of them is a recurring character called Inquisitor Rojas who is a paladin of the Silver Flame, while the other two are duergar heroes who escaped the final battle for Amberhammer Hold.

The DDC first met Inquisitor Rojas while enjoying a break in their train journey – he approached Thorin in the station bar and asked a series of questions about Thorin and about his sister. He played his cards close to his chest but pledged the assistance of the Silver Flame should they be needed. As the Silver Flame were the main drivers of a pogrom that destroyed all known lycanthropes and doppelgangers before the Last War, the presence of a body of armed men on the borders of Amberhammer lands, led by Inquisitor Rojas led to a great number of discussions about how to prevent them from descending on the dwarvish lands to eliminate the werewolves. The fear was that zealotry would lead to mass civilian casualties.

With the defeat of the mindflayers however, the Inquisitor made one more appearance – arriving alone outside the Hold to have a conversation with Thorin. He congratulated the new Lord on pushing back the powers of evil and defending his people – and was told by Thorin that the werewolf problem was now under control. He offered to bring his people in to assist with any last rounding up that needed doing but was rebuffed. He seemed convinced by Thorin’s arguments – at least enough not to push the new lord on his own doorstep – but he did pause when Caeluma growled at him as he left. After a moment, he continued on his way, and led his force back to the larger body of men still camped outside Cragwar.

The two remaining characters are duergar who fled the battle and remain within Amberhammer lands. Umbas Fell is a psionicist, while Marko Patchbeard is a paladin with an oath of vengeance. Time will tell how they impact the stories to come.

DDC – Valenia’s Parents

Earlier this year we ran a D&D session around celebrating the birthday of one of the players – Lady B as it turned out – and it became an extremely wholesome session of parental gossip from back home and the players all scurrying around the local town to find the perfect presents for them. Lady B plays a half-orc ranger and described her parents in simple terms which allowed me to lean in on how to play them.

Anyway, this is all a roundabout and long way to say that my early evening yesterday was spent in HeroForge to create representations of these two NPCs as a nice reminder of the event and an aide-memoire for as and when they may turn up again later. Given they were last seen staying at a hostel near the DDC’s house I really wouldn’t be surprised if they became house sitters while the group was off saving the world. So, please welcome Misaki and Valenash.

I wanted to capture their zest for life and hint at their pasts as retired adventurers so a moderately hedonistic cleric and a gruff and generally laid back woodsman were born. Lady B said these were fairly close to her own imagining of the pair so that’s as sound a mark of approval I’ll get given these were done blind without referring to my notes…

Each of these digital images were created in HeroForge using a Pro subscription. Just thought I’d share.