Thursday, August 23, 2012

2012's Renaissance Faire

"Let the game begin!"  The woman, dressed as Queen Elizabeth I of England, presided over the first weekend of the Washington Midsummer Renaissance Faire

As we entered the "castle" grounds, my girlfriend Janet, leaned over and whispered, "What's with all the fairy wings?" 

Since this was her first exposure to such an event, I told her "renfaires" aren't known for their historical accuracy in portraying the historical post-medieval world.  Instead, these events are more open to fanciful re-interpretation of the period. 
Fairy wings weren't limited to humans in costumes...

Nor was the fair limited to courtly activities, intrigues and celebrations.  Pirates always manage to crash the party.

There was even some "pre-Renaissance" players.  We walked by the bivouac of the 2nd Cohort of the 7th Legion. 

Greek and Roman arms and armor were on display.  Since our visit to the fair, this group renamed itself Castra Ferrata. 

It was hot that day.  For those of us living in western Washington, "hot" is defined as anytime the air temperature is higher than 79 degrees Fahrenheit.  We stumbled across a game tent, under which were several tables with several marble-and-board games we were unfamiliar with.  One table had a chess board on it, so we spent a pleasant hour under the shade, playing chess and people watching.
There were several food vendors within the fairgrounds, along with a couple 21-and-older pavilions.  We spotted several people walking around and chowing-down on turkey legs, which seemed to be a favorite "comfort food."  The Pickle Lady could be heard all the way to the far end of the parking area, hawking her wares...
The main event was the joust, held twice each day. 

Our emcee was a Johnny Depp/Captain Jack Sparrow understudy. 
The knights gather...

There were four sets of bleachers, designated fan areas for:  England, France, Hungary, Germany and Italy.  We ended up sitting in the German section, so we tried to cheer our noble knight on to victory.  Unfortunately, he was eliminated in the first round.
I'm still not skilled at taking action photos.  Janet managed to snap these last two pictures, just prior to impact.

There faire will be running for one more weekend at Kelly Farm. 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Wargaming at the Writers Conference

Figures from Chris Humphreys' collection representing the Royal Horse Guards and the Polish Lancers.

I introduced myself to Chris Humphreys a few PNWA conferences ago.  He was conducting a seminar with Deborah Schneider and made a comment about how difficult it was to write battle scenes in historical novels.  After class, I approached Chris and asked him if he was familiar with wargames, suggested he could game-out the action and then write the sequence of events.

Our conversation went something like this--

Chris:  Oh, I use to play wargames with my brother all the time.  I still have a collection of Napoleonic figures I painted when I was a teenager.  Are you a gamer?

Me:  Why, as a matter of fact....

....and it went downhill from there.  Chris has made a number of friends among the PNWA staff and has been a regular presenter ever since. 

Several months ago he e-mailed me, asking if I knew of any simple Napoleonic wargame rules he could use to introduce to his 8 year-old son to the joys of wargaming.  I suggested Musket and Saber, by Wes Rogers.  This 2-page set of rules, designed to be played at game conventions, was available on-line for free.  Unfortunately, Wes disabled his old site and the rules are no longer available on-line.  (If his rules become available again, I'll post a notice on this blog).

A few weeks before the convention started, Chris contacted me again, asking if I'd mind bringing some miniatures to the convention and play a turn or three.  Even though Chris read the rules, he wanted to get a good grasp of actually using them, before attempting to play the game with his son.  This was completely understandable, because wargaming, more often than not (at least with me), involves kinesthetic learning

As to bringing any figures:  Even though the Napoleonic Era is my favorite period in history, ironically, I don't own any miniatures.  The elegant, parade-ground uniforms have always been too difficult for me to paint.  Instead, I've relied on the counters from games like System 7 Napoleonics to wage my tabletop battles.  For our demo session, I used some counters I made from Napoleon's Battles, shrunk down to 6millimeter (mm) scale, along a green Army blanket and some fan-made terrain cards for Napoleon in Europe.  I didn't bring my entire counter collection, just enough to run a small Peninsular War battle. 

We settled on getting together during the Agents Forum, since he was free during that time and I wasn't stalking seeking any agents to represent the work I'm doing. 

I met Chris at his room and set up my "wargame-in-a-blanket" on the hotel desk.  One of the first pieces I pulled out represented Sir John Moore.  Chris and I instantly concluded our desktop demo would be a replay of the Battle of Corunna.  We couldn't remember if the opposing French general was Soult or Massena, so we settled on Massena.  (It was Soult.  So much for our encyclopedic knowledge of Napoleon's Marshals). 

The British (red and green counters), with their backs to the coast; held the woods, village  and heights.  The French (in blue), formed-up behind a small stream and were prepared to assault the British positions.  Unfortunately, the French cavalry (on the right) didn't receive orders to charge their British counterparts.

The British cavalry, on the other hand, wasted no time in waiting for orders from Sir John (Chris) and slammed into the French 4th Infantry Brigade as it crossed the stream, while still in column formation.

Predictably, a great slaughter of the French ensued...

Seeing their comrades hacked down, the French troopers spurred their mounts and counter-charged the British cavalry.  Meanwhile, the British artillery battery on the heights fired into the densely-packed column of the French 3rd Infantry Brigade, inflicting scores of casualties.

While the British cavalry was driven back, the French Infantry 3rd Brigade retreated from the shot and shell spewing from the British gun battery.  The 4th Infantry Brigade quit the field and the 1st Infantry Brigade struggled to cross the stream.  This left the 2nd Infantry Brigade unsupported as it attempted to assault the British battalion holding Corunna proper.

Unfortunately, the 2nd Infantry Brigade was shot to pieces by the combined fire of the British fusiliers and riflemen (the green counters) emerging from the woods.  Seeing his attack collapse, Massena ordered a retreat.  The Emperor would not be pleased.

So the French "...came on in the same old-style..." and were "...beaten in the same old-style."  Just before packing up the game, Chris posed with his victorious army...

Running this demo helped both of us get a better feel for the rules and Chris wrote copious amounts of notes as reminders and examples-of-play.

As I wrote this post, I began to wonder if we set a precedent at this year's conference.  Game sessions are often conducted during comic book and sci-fi/fantasy conventions.  But I've never heard of a wargame being played during a writers conference, at least here at PNWA. 
When I contacted our President, Pam Binder about this, she'd never heard of anyone doing anything of this sort in any of the past conferences.
Maybe this is the beginning of a new PNWA trend?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

2012 PNWA Conference: The Agents Forum

(Image from:  Archer). 

Agents, the book-type, not the secret-type, are the liaisons between writers and publishers.  They know the type of material editors are looking for--and just as important--what they're not interested in. 

As with finding editors, the best way to meet these literary linchpins is in-person, at writers conferences.

But like the irresponsible Sterling Archer, I skipped-out of this important forum altogether.  The reason why will be the subject of my next post--so, stay tuned!

Thanks to the PNWA 57th Writers Conference Guide, I can still provide you with the list of agents I didn't meet this year:

Saturday, August 18, 2012

2012 PNWA Conference: Editors Forum

(Image:  J.K. Simmons, as J. Jonah Jameson in Spider-Man)

Getting published can make one feel like a superhero.  But even superheroes need a support network.  Because of their role, writers often view editors as adversaries, like Spiderman vs. J. Jonah Jameson.  However, they have a business to manage and, like writers, are also trying to produce the best work possible.

Publishing is a collaborative effort among writers, agents, editors and publication companies.  So it's best to maintain a sense of professionalism at all times.  In doing so, a writer might gain an editor as an ally, just like Superman did with Perry White.

(Image:  Laurence Fishburne, as Perry White in the upcoming movie, Man of Steel) 

The trick in gaining an editor-ally is finding them.  And attending writers conferences, like this year's PNWA conference, is one good way to gain personal access to potential allies. 

The Editors Forum was the lead event for the second day of the conference (Friday, 20 July).  According to the official guide, nine editors were on hand for a panel discussion.  But by the time I arrived, I swear there was ten, or more people on stage. 

Yes, I was late again.  This time, I ended up chatting with C.C. Humphreys about a wargame rules orientation we planned on conducting.  (More about this after my Agents Forum post).

When I finally sat down, Bob Dugoni, our perennial emcee, had the forum well underway.  The panel consisted of the following editors (links are to the publishing houses they represented):

I'm afraid I was preoccupied with my upcoming game with Chris, so I don't have extensive notes on this opening forum.  I did however, manage to jot down the following advice:

From Tom Colgan:  Don't write to the market. 

The hot, new trend will be old and cold by the time you're ready to present your draft to an agent or editor.

From Tim Schulte:  Write what you're passionate about. 

This is a change from the old mantra that was "write what you know,"  because it's not possible to become an expert in everything. 

Lynn Price and Diane Gedymin had this to say, regarding memoirs:  They must have a unique perspective and a consistent theme throughout. 

In other words, a memoir should be more than a laundry list of significant and/or sucky events that have happened in your life.

Bob brought up the issue of self publishing and said there was good news and bad news.

The good news:  Anybody can self publish.

This means you can get your book printed, even without approval from the publishing industry's "gatekeepers."

But the bad news is:  Anybody can self publish.

In other words, there's a lot of trash out there readers have to be wary of. 

Finally, Tim Schulte had this to say:  Write a good story.

Sounds simple enough, doesn't it?

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Studio Storage Renovation

Well, I had today off but I didn't get any writing done.  The chores and errands I had to do got in the way of working on things like:

--Chapter 5 of my webcomic Breakout From Bongolaan
--Posting the games I ran at Enfilade!
--Posting a game session of Assassin, and
--Writing reviews of all the PNWA Conference workshops I attended

What I did accomplish though, was finding shelving at Home Depot that fits into my "studio" closet.  I should have taken a "Before Photo." 

Since I didn't, you'll have to imagine all the boxes in the above photo being stacked on top of each other.  It was a real pain in the butt to find anything I needed.

And of course, it always seemed like everything I needed was on the bottom of the pile, which required me to pull out ALL the boxes.

But no more!

After toiling away in the summer heat (80 degrees in Western Washington State constitutes a heat wave), I assembled the shelves and restacked my boxes. 

And behold...there's space for MORE STUFF!

Vaults of Zukat: Now on Obsidian Portal

The Vaults of Zukat Pathfinder campaign is now available on Obsidian Portal, an RPG campaign-managing website. 

I'll post future adventures as links to Obsidian Portal

I've only spent a couple hours on the website, primarily uploading the information on my Pathfinder character.  But from what I've seen so far, I'm really impressed.  I'll probably make use of this site to enhance my Star Wars Redshift Chronicles campaign.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Remembering Family--The Wargamer's Way

Contrary to popular belief, gamers have lives beyond the game table. 

Just about everyone, gamer and non-gamer alike, has experienced loss.  My friend Dean, writer of the popular WAB Corner, channeled the recent loss of one of his dogs, in a way that only he can--by painting a miniature memorial.

Most guys in our gaming group are excellent painters.  What puts Dean ahead of the pack is that he's FAST!

Projects that take months--or longer--for everyone else, Dean can complete in a week.

Normally, Dean's blog is strictly about miniature wargaming, especially Warhammer Ancient Battles, or "WAB."  However, just over a month ago, Dean reached out to his fellow gamers with his only non-gaming post to date.

A few days ago, Dean unveiled his Changun and Changun as a tribute his family, his heritage and his dog.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Book Review: Couillon

(Image:  Vaslav Nijinsky's tomb)

This isn't a book review per se, but a review of a short story written by a friend.  For you Kindle users, Couillon, is available for $0.99.  I posted a 5-star review on Amazon, but I've transcribed it here, in case you don't want to go jumping around on various links:

Sara Stark is indeed, a friend of mine.  However, this isn't why I'm giving her debut work a 5-star rating.

While I don't consider the protagonist, Janice, very high on the "likability scale," I grew to understand the motives behind her actions throughout the story.  Sara crafted a haunting, descriptive and clever tale, starting with the title--Couillon (pronounced "KOO-YOn"), which means fool, dupe and/or several other desparaging monikers.  In reading the story I discovered more layers and applications for this aptly-chose, one-word title.

Sara effectively captures the sights, sounds, dialect and even smells of New Orleans.  But she steers clear of pegging the story down to a specific time frame, beyond being "contemporary."  Vehicles, appliances and various common-place items are given generic descriptions, so the narrative has a timelessness to it.

The story itself follows the trajectory of a woman finding herself in an abusive marriage.  How Janice gets involved, then escapes, delves into the mind of someone truly desperate.  The protagonist, a woman with no self-worth, employs voodoo magic, to make her life better.  However, as in all "wish fullfilment" stories, the situation goes horribly awry.  However, even though Janice and some of those around her believe in the "old magic," the reader never sees any overt manifestations of the supernatural.  Unlike paranormal romances and thrillers, no zombies, aparitions, ghosts, or demons, burst out of portals to wreck havoc here on the material plane.  So the only horror in this story is one of emotional, physical and sexual abuse.  Nearly all the odd occurrences have a logical explaination.
Or do they?  The reader is left wondering.

And any story that leaves you wondering, long after you've read it, deserves a 5-star rating.
In case you're wondering why I chose Vaslav Nijinsky's tomb for the lead picture, you can Google-search the word "couillon,"--or better yet--buy Sara Stark's story.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Sojourn to Oregon Coast, Part 1: Fort Clatsop

(Image:  Fort Clatsop's Main Gate)

Last weekend my girlfriend and I took a trip to the Oregon Coast.  While the West Coast may not have the plethora of battlefield parks the East Coast does, there are some significant historical landmarks on this side of the country.  One of the earliest, non-Native American sites is Fort Clatsop, the winter quarters of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.

(Image: Exterior of Lewis and Clark's room)

After a 3-4 hour drive, we managed to reach the national park a few hours before it closed. 

(Image: The Back Gate)

The "fort" was rudimentary at best.  At least the expedition leaders got the deluxe accommodations...

...such as it was.  And they still had to be roomies.

The "Couple's Suite" belonged to Sacagawea and her hubby, Toussaint Charbonneau. 

I have to admit, I know very little about Sacagwea and was surprised to learn she was already married while on the expedition.

(Image:  The fort's well)

There were a handful of reenactors on hand to answer questions from us tourist-types.  The best part was the rifled-musket demonstration, where the gentlemen, pictured below, regaled the small crowd on the expedition's first encounter with a Grizzly Bear.  The bear chased several men into a river and was finally brought down on the eighth shot. 

We left the fort 15 minutes before closing time.  After checking-in to the hotel, we had dinner at Doogers, where I had razorback clams for the first time.  Then it was a "race against time," as we drove to the beach to catch the sunset...

There's plenty to do and see on the Oregon Coast and we're looking forward to visiting this area again. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The Art of Finding the Right Agent

(Image from:  Mr. & Mrs. Smith)

Meeting a literary agent that you hope will endorse your work, can be an awkward affair, like in the opening scene of Mr. & Mrs. Smith.  Or it can make you feel wrecked, as in this later scene...

How can you avoid such emotionally catastrophic events, while trying to publish your novel? 

In the workshop, The Art of Finding the Right Agent, Sarah Callender explained that finding Mr. or Mrs. Rightagent, was like a romance story:

Writer meets agent.
Writer ditches, or (most often) gets ditched by agent.
Writer finds another agent.

Or as Sarah put it:

Getting hitched.
Getting ditched.
Learning to love again.

So, how do you avoid, or at least mitigate the effects of this road-to-publication roller coaster?

You research and prepare.

Before you being your quest for Mr./Ms. Rightagent, you need the following:

1. A polished manuscript (for fiction), or proposal (for non-fiction).

2. A supportive community of writing pals.

3. A list of available and APPROPRIATE agents.

One of the "recurring themes" agents complain about, are on receiving manuscripts from genres they have no interest in representing--even when its clearly posted on their website.

Once you are prepared, it is time to submit a query letter.  The key parts of this introduction to you and your work should include:

1. Pertinent details about your manuscript.

2. Pertinent details about you.

3. Why the agent seems to be a good fit for you.

4. Sample pages, but only if they are requested.

Have a plan when you undergo the querying process.  Sometimes you'll receive form-letter rejections, while other times, you may not hear anything back at all.  Give yourself and the agent(s) you queried a reasonable amount of time, before launching another salvo of query letters to other literary agencies.

Then be prepared for more rejections.

And more rejections. get the idea.

Every author I've encountered, talked about how discouraging this serial rejection can be.  Despite such an onslaught against your emotional health and well-being, it's important to maintain your professionalism during such adversity. 

You don't want to burn any bridges...

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Pathfinder RPG: Sherwood Forster and Beowoof

Sherwood Forster is represented by the Freeleague Ranger figure, from Wizards of the Coast, Dungeons and Dragons miniatures, Blood War set.  (Collector # 14/60).  His companion, a mastiff he named Beowoof, is represented by a wolf figure, (Collector # 27/60 ).

Sherwood is my ranger character in Seth's Pathfinder RPG campaign.  A member of the Freeleague Rangers of Absalom, he found himself, along with the rest of his companions on board a merchant ship with no memory of how they go there.  The vessel was wrecked in a freak (magical?) storm and dumping our heroes, unharmed, but unarmed, on the beach near Ander's Point, a village not found on any map. 

The party soon set out for the ruins of Glorfindel.  As the only ranger in the group, Sherwood assumed the duties of scout.  However, his "baptism of fire," was not quite an auspicious occasion.  While confronting a ghoul, he was rendered unconscious for about half a minute (4 rounds in game terms). 

Then during the final battle with the Ettercap and his giant pet spiders, Sherwood took aim and--pulled a tendon (was inflicted with a dexterity hit, causing a -1 modifier to his shooting skills). 

Seth was using his Critical Fumble Cards to create such colorful results to "1" die rolls.  Seth also uses the Critical Hit Deck, but Sherwood has yet to draw one of these cards.

Despite these fighting faux pas, Sherwood obtained a Heavy Crossbow of Seeking and over 1,200 gold coins.  More importantly, he managed to survive the adventure and obtained 2nd level.

Sherwood Forster's Stats
Campaign: Pathfinder Class: Ranger
Race: Human Alignment: LG Level: 2
Height: 5'10" Weight: 170 lbs Eyes: Green Hair: Red
Initiative: +2 Base Attack: +2 Speed: 30
Saving Throws: Fort-5 (3 w/o the Amulet of Fortitude), Ref-4, Will-5
Attack Bonuses: Ranged +2, Melee +2
Abilities: Str-13, Dex-15, Con-12, Int-13, Wis-16, Cha-10
HP: 20 AC: 17

Touch:  2  Flat-Footed:CMB:  3  CMD:  15
Special Abilities/Feats: Stealthy (+2 to stealth checks), Nimble Moves (treat the first 5' of an obstacle as clear terrain).
Skills (Trained/inherint class):  Craft (bowmaking), Handle Animal, Heal, Intimidate, Arcana, Dungeoneering, Geography, Nature, Profession (Soldier), Ride, Spellcraft, Stealth, and Swim.
Languages: Common, Elven, Gnome, Goblin, Halfling,

Weapons: Heavy Crossbow of Seeking (ignore cover), Heavy Flail, Masterwork Dwarven Warax, Masterwork Dagger.
Armor: Masterwork Studded Leather Armor and heavy wooden shield
Ammunition: 30 masterwork crossbow bolts.
Magic Items:  Amulet of Fortitude (+2 to Fortitude Checks), Potions of Cure Light Wounds

Equipment: Backpack, Tinderbox, Steel Mirror, Oil Flasks (x2), Sack, Bedroll, Whetstone, Flint & Steel, Paper & Ink, Sewing Needles, Thread, Signal Whistle, Chalk, Candles (x2), Waterskin, Belt Pouch, Spy Glass, Map Case, Tinder Twigs (x10), Soap, Silk Rope, Thieves Tools,
Money/Treasure: 1,262 gold coins

Companion Animal: Beowoof, (Large dog).
Beowoof's Attributes: Str-15, Dex-15, Con-17, Int-2, Wis-12, Cha-6
Beowoof's Saving Throws: Fort-4, Ref-3, Will-2

Initiative: +1 Base Attack: 0  Melee:  Bite +3 (1D6+3), Trip Speed: 40
Touch: 1 2 Flat-Footed: 12 CMB: 3 CMD: 15

HP: 13 AC: 13
Special Abilities/Feats: Skill focus (Perception)
Skills:  Acrobatics +6, (+14 Jump), Perception +8, Survival +1, (+5 Scent Tracking)

Racial Modifiers:  +4 Acrobatics, when jumping; +4 Survival when tracking by scent

Senses:  Low-light vision, scent, perception (+8)

Friday, August 3, 2012

The Vaults of Zukat, Part 3

(Map by Seth)

After making several relay trips between Ander's Point and the Glorfinel ruins, we sat down to divvy-up the spoils.  This process consumed the rest of the day as we haggled amongst each other on the best way distribute the magic items among the party members; and we haggled with the village elders on the fair market value on all the masterwork arms and armor we acquired from Good King Griffdelogh.

In case anyone's wondering, our merry band consists of the following individuals:

Raven (female halfling wizard and party leader due to her high charisma)
Brony Hornblower (halfling cleric)
Frito Bugger (halfling wizard/fighter)
Valkar (dwarf fighter)
Tos (gnomish rogue)
Arya Aerivar (female, half-elven fighter), and,
Sherwood Forster (yours truly, human ranger) and his dog, Beowoof.

There are two additional members who were also absent during the attack:

Chep and Kylation.


As we were settling our accounts, Sherwood Forster noticed goblin tracks on the outskirts of the village and set out to investigate.  (In reality, I had to leave the game and get ready for work the next day). 

Meanwhile, Tos was making the rounds relieving tavern customers of any "excess" items.  He then started a card game with a couple of the village guards--while they were on duty.

In the wee-hours of the morning, the goblins struck.

Since I wasn't there for the big finale, here's Seth's recap to fill in some of the details: 
  • Dwarven king Griffdelogh sits on his throne still after so many hundreds of years, ruling over a crumbling, ruined Glorinfel. He expressed remorse and accountability for the evil brought to his kingdom by a necromancer who promised the greatest defense the dwarves could ever imagine. Italoniupus, the gimp armed necromancer, caused such horror, even Griffdelogh would not mention it. Would it be worth it to the party, and the king, to bring him peace?
  • Found a Gnome named Finelkalinpentar who was searching for the golden fish pendant that you'd found. He told of his connection to Moltazinfalarpentar, his great-great-great-great-great-great... great-grandfather who was also searching for it and left information that he would search north for the pendant. Since no word was heard from Molta again, Finel decided to come find Molta's trail. You did not divulge your finding the pendant, but did explain your finding Moltazinfalarpentar's corpse and journal. When the party returned to Ander's Point, Finel rested for the night and was gone in the morning. He left a note saying "Find me in Absalom and you shall be rewarded for your kindness".
  • There was a hasty ceremony to dispatch the Earth Elemental. Just before the pendant holding the sands of both Ander's Point and the Earth Elemental Plane was broken, the Earth Elemental lunged forward and grappled Lars. The generated portal sucked both Lars and the Earth Elemental back to the Elemental plane of existence. Is Lars Dead? Is he now a slave to the inhabitants of that realm?
  • After the hasty ceremony, you spoke with Ghaleen and Analisse about how the ritual to bind the Earth Elemental to the village was procured and they gave the same story - a nondescript man of dark complexion sold the scroll and elemental soil that facilitated the ritual. Their recollection of the ritual was crisp and clear, but they could not describe the peddler.
  • With the Earth Elemental dispatched, the town officials from Kettermark weren't prepared to leave Ander's Point unprotected. A guard Tower is being constructed near the tower ruins on the hill behind the Thorp, a picket wall is being built around the buildings and fields, and guard posts and housing will soon be completed.
  • Unfortunately, the protection was not completed in time as several raiding parties struck Ander's Point. Though you were able to save some villagers, some buildings were burnt to cinders.
  • There are plans in the works to make Ander's Point a viable Port for trade. The first ship will be mooring in a few days and will be heading South.
Once Sherwood saw the flames in the distance, he made his way back, but was too late to participate in the battle.  He met Brony tending to some of the refugees.  (In reality, this was an on-line exchange):

Sherwood:  So has the village been overrrun?

Brony:  No we saved half the town.... I got the folk to the boats, The other half burned... But the rest of the group defeated 4 waves of goblin raiders!

Later, we were joined by Valkar.

Brony:  I suggest we take some time here to discuss what we should do next.

Valkar:  I think there is something fishy going on about the town - other than the fish wine. (Blech!)Other than that, there is either the boat or heading overland.

A refugee eavesdropping on our conversation:  I shall brew up a batch of fish wine ... don't knock it till you try it.
Brony:  I figured we could either venture inland to Kettersmark and the mines, then maybe north to the larger Linnorm Kingdom settlements, or we could stick around the town, though that is not my interest... or finally, we could take the ship south and see where it takes us?

Either way, I'm still very much interested in finding out more about how and why we got here... is it a coincidence we are in this kingdom? If so, then there is certainly no reason to stay. If there could be a connection, maybe we should explore inland more, though we aren't going to find out if there is a connection here without staying here.
To be continued...

Thursday, August 2, 2012

The Vaults of Zukat, Part 2

(Map by Seth)

I finally managed to attend the third session of Seth's Pathfinder campaign.  But before I regale cyberspace of our tale, here's a recap of the previous session:

  • A journal was found, owned apparently by a gnomish thief named Moltazinfalarpentar who died several hundred years ago while looking for the gold fish object you guys found previously. He called it "Sol" and had a picture of it with a companion fish he called "Lune".
  • In the journal, details about the Aboleth were described. He'd found Aboleth's journal and found the recipe for the anesthetic used, and found out that it doesn't sedate the creature, more that it drives the creature away.
  • The journal mentioned the Vaults of Zukat and how Sol and Lune are related to the Vaults.
  • The journal (4130) was dated 28 years after the date marked on Aboleth's journal page (4102) and he'd mentioned that whatever cataclysm that killed the dwarves happened several years earlier. - it is currently the year 4711.
  • The party found a proving ground of sorts inside the dwarven ruin. Through the proving ground, each member of the party received a medallion that adds +2 Fortitude bonus when worn around the neck, as well as allow the wearer to pass through the magical barriers around the dwarven ruin.
  • The older man from the ship wreck died. Before he died, he cried out "Pentar! No!". Before that, his fitful sleep was only full of mumblings an incoherent speech. This was probably for the better. His missing legs were not healing.
  • The ruins are full of dwarf skeletons and zombies, with a few spiders.

  • Notice Seth didn't say anything about the SIZE of the spiders we'd encounter, did he? 

    As our party trekked through the dwarven ruins, we encountered dire rats...

    ...ghouls and zombies...

    ...along with the spirit of the Dwarven King, Griffdelogh.  We discovered, Glorinfel, the dwarven halls we were now exploring, came to ruin thanks to a wandering necromancer, who promised the dwarves he could provide them with the ultimate defense against their enemies.  We swore we'd find the necromancer (who is probably a powerful lich by now) and bring the incorporeal king peace.

    After taking our leave of King Griffdelogh, we discovered the armory chock-full of masterwork weapons and armor.  Just in time to fend off the spider swarms...

    After wading through a pool of healing water, Frito Bugger (halfling, wizard/fighter), discovered Finelkalinpentar, great-great-etc-so-on-and-so-forth descendant of Moltazinfalarpentar.  He was looking for the same fish medallions his ancestor was.  Despite having seven members in our party, none of us got around to mentioning we found the gold fish medallion his ancestor was looking for.

    Tos (our roguish gnome), was the first to cross the chasm on a spider-web bridge. 

    He was also the first to take-on the Ettercap and his giant spider pets. 

    We defeated the Ettercap and his pets, thus making the ruins of Glorfinel safe--for now.  We spent the next several hours hauling out gold coins, weapons and armor, to bring back to Ander's Point. 

    A well deserved rest and reward were in sight. 

    Or so we thought...