Thursday, September 20, 2018

“She’s All the Rage” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 61: Thissraelle

With a shriek and a loud thud, Thissraelle landed her feet hard on the top of the wagon. The two men who had been fighting with Antonerri stood and looked up at her in surprise, but smirked when they saw her. Her frail high-elf body shook with tension and rage. Her head and hands burst into vivid blue light. Her white cloak, shirt, and hair flew in a magical wind swirling around her.

She pointed at one and spoke with a harsh and cutting tone, “You...,”

She floated slowly down from the wagon top to hover just above the blades of grass, which now lashed back and forth as she approached, “...Will leave...,”

She drifted toward the man who had last been fighting Antonerri, who had been in the wagon tossing the children. “...These children...,”

He reached down to his belt and pulled out a dagger and rushed toward her. She stretched out her arm toward him and he froze, then rose up in the air, his arms and legs swinging wildly as he tried to grasp or kick at anything that would feel like solid ground. “Help! Help! Set me down! Set me down!” He screamed.

His companion ran at her from the other side, crouching low, with an angry scowl. In a few steps, she turned her head and raised her other arm to him, stopping him full in his tracks. As his grimace turned to fear, she swung her arm aside, like she were throwing away garbage. His body followed her motion, tossed through the air, slamming into the back of the wagon hard enough to lurch the wagon forward. The children inside shrieked. He struggled to gain control, to stand up. Another wave of her hand and she slammed him back into the wagon. Finally, he fell still and slumped to the ground.

She turned to back to the remaining slaver and drew him to her until his terrified face looked into hers. She hovered there with him struggling mere inches from her open hand. “You... will leave... the children... be!” 

She surged her mind and pushed him away in disgust. He flew across the meadow like a leaf in the wind, crashing across the grass and falling down a hillslope.

She breathed in deep and fell to the ground, gasping. Her mind cleared, her body shaking, her will was drained. She looked at her hands. There was no blue fire. She sat up and ran her fingers back through her hair, pulling it away from her face. The rage was gone.

She turned her head up and looked. There was the wagon, with the defeated slaver lying beneath it. Her eyes raised further, and saw the face of a child staring at her from the inside, with a strange mix of hope and fear.

“Oh, child!” She stood and rushed over, reaching up and taking the child in a tight embrace. Over her shoulder, she could see two others cowering in the depths of the wagon, and she gestured to them as well. “Come! You’re safe, now! You’re safe!”

They scrambled over to her and she held them tight, stroking their hair. She heard the children sobbing mixed with the distant clashing of metal on metal.


Question for the comment section below: What do you think is happening to Granthurg right now? What is happening to Karendle and DeFrantis?


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Monthly Monster - Dimensional Cat

We're starting a new feature her in the Hero's Tale Blog - the Monthly Monster! Every so often, we'll publish the stats of a new creature to use to scare, vex, harass, attack, or otherwise annoy your players! These will, of course, be shown in details native to The Hero's Tale, but can easily be adapted to any other game system. If you think of a monster you want to share, post it in the comments, or email us at theherostaletht (at)

Name:  Dimensional Cat
Description: The Dimensional cat appears as a typical, small, gray tabby house cat. As kittens, in fact, they are indistinguishable from their normal, non-magical counterparts. As they mature, however, their tails get a bit longer, and a bit furrier toward the tip, and a knot of bone grows at the top of the head. This is just a small bump and is often hidden by the animal’s fur. The bump becomes the locus of the cat’s dimensional powers.

They are very rare, and there are few who even know they exist. Those who know of them believe that a few normal housecats who were pets of a dimensional mage may have gotten infused with powers, and then bred among themselves. They are often found as pets of unaware humans/humanoids, or by dimensional wizards who know full well what they are.

They are also sometimes found in cities or forests as feral breeding groups of as many as a dozen individuals.

Good, Bad, etc. : Freewill. Most who know of them believe them to be evil. In fact, if a dimensional cat is content living with a particular person, they will likely not do much to change their comfortable status quo. However, some believe that they actively manipulate those they live with or near. Most dimensional cats will predominantly act in their own self-interest.

Intelligence: Slightly higher than animal level. Not quite rising to communicative sentience.
Hearts: 1
Difficulty: Challenging

Str:   -2    Dex:   +2    Frt:    +1   Awr:   +1   Soc:   0 

Attacks\Combat Skills: They can attack with their claws and bite, and these successful attacks will be quite vicious and painful, but they will only cause pain, not loss of hearts. If they fight, they will prefer to use dimensional powers.

Armor/Protections: None

Powers (including WP): Basic Dimensional powers between +1 and +4. Those with a +3 or +4 may well even specialize. If they attack, it will most likely be reality shaping rather than their physical claws. An individual will have anywhere from 3-5 DimDWP. Cats in feral groups or living as pairs in a home are able to draw on each other’s will.

Other possible skills: They move silently, and their size makes it easy for them to conceal themselves.

Special Rules:  If they are socialized to live with humanoids, they will not be afraid, but will sometimes like to be petted. They may be particularly drawn to mages or magic items, particularly with a dimensional power base. Some will be playful and easily distracted by shiny objects, which they will collect in their residence, but not hoard in a stash. Feral dimensional cats will often be fearful and will hide or portal away from people who stumble on them.

Possibility of treasure: The trinkets they gather may at some times be valuable, but the “treasure” they have will typically be whatever is in the home where they live. If a dimensional cat is the pet of a wealthy merchant, there will likely be gold in the home. Feral cats will not likely have significant treasure. They may have acquired an oculus in their stash.

Monday, September 17, 2018

“...With the Greatest of Ease” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 60: Thissraelle

Once they had gotten a good distance past the road that turned off to the north, toward the buildings, Granthurg stepped off the road into the meadow. She followed. They walked, casually, north, but slightly away from the old inn compound. They were trying not to draw attention to themselves.

Thissraelle looked up at Granthurg. I am very lucky to have found a friend like this out in this world. Still, I hardly know him. She looked back down at the meadow at her feet. With all the craziness that I’ve seen since I left the tower just a few days ago, I am amazed to be still alive.

My father tried to trap me, there, but he also taught me well. The powers of light and the dimensions have served me well.

They walked down the backslope of a low hill, and began to turn their path back toward the buildings, toward the hedgerows on the knoll. Granthurg was taller, of course, and was looking back over the hill crest.

But even with that, I feel much safer when I’m near him. Not just safe from danger, either. She looked ahead across the field. I’m not sure if he’ll want to go with me all the way to Emberfire, though.

Granthurg interrupted her reverie with a harsh whisper. “The man with the bundle of sticks is following us.”

“What?” She started up the slope to get a look.

Granthurg stepped before her and crouched. He gestured to her to stay down as well. “He turned down the road to the inn, then stepped off into the meadows. I can’t see him, now.”

“Let’s hurry,” he said, and begun a low squat run behind the hills to the hedges. Once there, they crawled up to the crest to look between the branches of the bushes. They were actually fairly close to the buildings, maybe only a few dozen yards. The buildings themselves were old and falling apart. There were no windows, just spaces with wooden planks covering the way. There were many horses, carts, wagons, and carriages waiting outside the cluster. A few had people near them, waiting for someone to bring out either purchases or money from within. From the compound a rough rutted wagon trail led to the south, back to the main road.

Thissraelle spoke softly, “That’s a lot of wagons. How do that many people fit in that small building?”

Granthurg grunted a muffled noise. She saw him scanning the brush and gentle hills of the meadow, looking for the man. He spoke, half to himself, “He was wearing a gray tunic and carrying a big bundle of sticks.”

“Who is he after?” Thissraelle thought, apparently out loud.

“Maybe he thinks I have that thing they’re looking for.” Granthurg said, “Maybe they’re the ones that are after you.”

She looked up at him, suddenly feeling not so safe. He shrugged.

A sudden loud boom sounded from within the main hall. The walls of the building muffled it a bit, but it was still very strong, and they strained to look to see what had happened. They could make out shouts and shrieks from within the building.

“What was - “ She started to speak, but stopped when people began pouring out of the few exits in the inn. She could hear their shouts more clearly, but there were too many of them to make out any actual words.

They ran to their horses and wagons, and began to mount up and turn away down the path. Some were dragging slaves in ropes or shackles, and they were hindered and slowed by their burdens. These were loaded up into the wagons. Others began fighting in the yard surrounding the buildings.

“Look!” Granthurg pointed. One man was running toward a well-made wagon, a short distance from the others. Under each arm was a young child, and he pushed another child stumbling ahead of him. “Children!”

Children? Her mind’s eye flashed with images of the poverty stricken street kids of Twynne Rivers. Children? More memories of her own childhood in the guild hall. Children? An ugliness welled up inside her, an anger deeper than a simple argument with her parents. She felt her body tense and her breathing quicken. The world around her started to slow.

The man reached the back of the wagon and began handing the kids up to someone waiting there. The children kicked and shouted as they were roughly lifted and dragged into the wagon. As he finished, another figure in rumpled clothing rushed up behind him and tackled him to the ground.

Granthurg shouted, “ANTONERRI!” He scrambled to his feet and crashed through the hedgerow. He unslung his hammer as he started running.

Thissraelle, her eyes huge and raging, lept up into the air and sailed effortlessly over Granturg and the meadow toward the wagon. She didn’t even stop to realize she was flying.


Question for the comment section below: Which of the 5 main characters is the most likeable? The most irritating? The most confusing? The most... (you make one up)?


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Thursday, September 13, 2018

“Children in the Chaos” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 59: Antonerri

The explosion shook Antonerri to the floor. His head was dazed, but he struggled back to his feet. Others were also standing up. He tried to hold his head to steady the room, but it didn’t seem to help. DeFrantis! Where is DeFrantis?

He turned to look where he thought she had been. Instead he saw the angry face of the man he had been negotiating her sale with. The man was shouting at him, but Antonerri couldn’t hear the words he was saying over the ringing in his ears. But it was clearing, and he was starting to make out sounds. He looked at the other man, confused, as the man drew back and punched Antonerri full in the face, knocking him back, stunned, onto the floor.

Feet were flying all around him. He rolled over, partly to stand, but mostly to protect himself in the stampede of people fleeing the market. He was hearing, now, and people were shouting and fighting.

“Wizards! Run!”

“It’s the city guard!”


He scrambled to get up, but a knee in his back knocked him down again. A second try got him up on one knee. “DeFrantis!” He called out, as he frantically scanned the room. All he could see was a flurry of bodies. All he could hear were shouts and crashes.

As he turned his head, he saw a man carrying two very young children, one under each arm. Ahead of him, he pushed a third, slightly older child toward a door. The children were screaming and covering their faces with hands that were tied together, and tied to each other. This made it tricky for the one on foot to keep moving, and Antonerri saw the man shouting and pushing him forward.

Children! Antonerri lunged ahead. DeFrantis wanted to find children! She’ll be chasing the children! He pushed through the crowd trying to get to the man. In a moment Antonerri was where he stood, but the man had moved on. People were pressing out the door and running. He followed, rushing through the door.

The bright lights of the noonday sun hit his face and people behind him pushed him through. He stumbled, and caught his balance on a barrell. People were rushing to horses and wagons. Some of the wagons and carriages were finely made, others were old and worn. They hurried to get them loaded and ready. Many were fighting with each other, shouting about who owned which slave.

Where are they? Where did they go?

He stumbled forward, then ran between some wagons. He recognized some of them as having the livery and heraldry of a few of the noble houses of Twynne Rivers. They began rolling away as he came through them. He jumped back to avoid being run over.

He stepped into the clear and scanned the scene, as people mounted up and fled. There they are!

The man who had been carrying the children was roughly handing them up into a wagon, to another man, who grabbed them and threw them down. Antonerri rushed forward.

He threw himself at the man, knocking him to the ground. They rolled, struggling and wrestling, away from the wagon. Antonerri landed on top, and managed to land a good punch to the man’s chest, when he was hit from behind and knocked to the ground. Suddenly, someone else was on top of him, driving a knee into his guts, and pummeling him with fists to his shoulders and face.

Where’s DeFrantis? Then his mind went black.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Monday, September 10, 2018

“I’ve Heard that Boom Before!” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 58: DeFrantis

“Karendle!” DeFrantis began crawling and shuffling her way over. She shielded her head and face with her free hand as dozens of feet ran around her head. The flurry of motion made her dizzy for a moment, her head still ringing from the explosion.

What happened? I was with Antonerri and there was a blast. What happened to you? She reached out and grabbed Karendle’s hand, pulling herself closer.

Antonerri. Where’s Antonerri? I was looking for the children. Is he looking for the children? She tried to stand, to look through the scattering crowd, but dizziness brought her back down.

She raised her head and looked at Karendle. She lay partly on her side, partly on her chest. Her head was up, straining to see DeFrantis. Blood was all over her shirt, all over the floor. You’re hurt. You’re badly hurt. Karendle’s eyes were full of fear and pain. Her right hand reached out toward DeFrantis, and her left tried to support her while clutching a small pouch.

There was an explosion. Where’s Antonerri? Is he OK? There was an explosion. There was a sudden moment of clarity in her mind. There was an explosion. I’ve heard that explosion before. I’ve seen it. Someone threw that explosion at us when we were escaping the guard tower. I’ll never forget it. Someone tried to kill us, then chased after us.

She drew back and looked down at Karendle. Memories filled her head. It was only a few nights ago, but it felt like forever. “That was you!” She gasped and backed away. “That was you hunting after us!”.

Karendle’s mouth moved as if she was trying to speak. Her bloody hand reached up to DeFrantis.

So why didn’t you attack us on the barge? Why did you help defend us? She rose up again, just to her knees this time, and looked around. Much of the room had cleared, but there were still a few people scrambling for the few exits.

Where is Antonerri? Where are the children? What are we doing? She looked back down at Karendle, into her pleading eyes.

With a sigh, she scurried over and turned her more on her side. The dagger was stuck in Karendle’s side, under her left arm. Karendle coughed twice, forcefully, and DeFrantis settled her back down.

What can I do? I’ve used shadows to take away hurt and pain, and heal little scrapes the kids had, but never anything like this! She took a deep breath and put her hand on Karendle’s shoulder. Karendle turned her head and looked up at DeFrantis. She took hold of the dagger, let out her breath, and pulled it out. Karendle shrieked in pain, and jerked. Blood flowed fresh out of the wound over her already-stained shirt. DeFrantis immediately covered the wound with her hands and focused her concentration.  The room was already dark, but a darker mist swirled up over her, around her, and over Karendle.

Karendle coughed and her body jerked. DeFrantis heard her cough again, then again. Karendle rolled over onto DeFrantis’ legs and continued to rasp and wheeze all of the blood and fluid out of her lungs.

The darkness subsided and DeFrantis dropped her head to Karendle’s shaking shoulder.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Saturday, September 8, 2018

Diversity - How to Be a Great Narrator (Game Master), #2

I’d like to carry on with the theme that I started in my last HTBAGN (now pronounced “hit-boggan”) post. In that post, I talked about having an “open chair” policy for anyone that wants to come over and game. Our gaming group has seemed to become a magnet for people with disabilitities. 

I want to start off on this topic by telling you about one of our group members. I won’t use his name. One day, as we were gaming our usual friday night game, there was a knock on the door. I answered it, and saw a nervous, but pleasant-looking chap standing there. After I said hello, he said something like, “Hello. Is this where the game is going on?”

I was a little taken back, so I hesitated. It turns out that one of our group members had invited him to come play with us. But that member wasn’t there that night, and hadn’t mentioned to me that he’d be inviting anyone. 

I wasn’t sure what to do. But it only took me a moment of internal debate to swing the door open and let him in. He’s been coming pretty much every week since then.

We’ve gotten to know him. He’s told us that he’s on the Autism spectrum, and we can kinda tell that in some of his behaviors. He hesitates to make eye contact, and his characters are, well, unique, to say the least.

Nonetheless, he’s become a welcome member of our group, and we’ve come to enjoy his creativity.

Sometimes, though, I’ve thought back on that first night, and considered how difficult it must have been for him to reach out and find us, just on the recommendation of a friend. A friend, who, wasn’t even there at the time! The social struggles that many on the Autism spectrum can have must have made that a particularly difficult challenge. I sometimes think that it must have been quite a risk for him. I’m quite pleased that he took that risk. Our lives are richer for it.

Some practical thoughts, and some questions:

We’ve had several gamers at our table who are “on the spectrum” and have been diagnosed with some level of ASD. How does one integrate them into an adventure, and into a gaming group. Here are some thoughts (from someone who is definitely NOT an expert):

  • Integrate them. Engage them in the game like any other player. Help them set up characters if they’ve never played RPGs or never played your system, and just get them into the game, just like any other person at your table.
  • Give them plenty of space. That’s a tricky one, because I don’t mean to isolate or avoid them. I mean, when they do something that “doesn’t quite fit in”, either in game or in the room, let them. Have the game respond to them as they choose, kinda like the game is normally supposed to. There is always a lot of banter around the table about what should be done, and there is always a time when any player says, “I’m doing this or that thing.” As a GM, you respond to that. So, allow that same freedom of choice for all players. 
  • Overall, I’m saying to just engage them as you would any other player, and it will all work out.

Now, if any of you reading this have personal or professional experience in this area, I would love to have a conversation (phone or social media) about additional ideas about gaming and ASD. Any thoughts?


Here I'm just talking about my ideas for being a Narrator (a GM), in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

Thursday, September 6, 2018

“I See Them!” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 57: DeFrantis

The moment hung heavily in the air. DeFrantis stood, frozen, in front of Antonerri and an unknown human man. She stared at his feet, her arms tense. She gently flexed her wrists. They were tied, it’s true, but lightly. She could scrunch her hands together and slip them out of the ropes very easily. They were only there for show. The man had made an offer, and Antonerri was silent.

What’s he thinking? I hope he’s playing this like he’s considering the offer. He’s probably scared to death. He doesn’t have a lot of practice playing a slaver. Maybe he can work that to his advantage.

Antonerri cleared his throat and finally spoke. “Hmmm.  Two gold is a lot. I could buy a lot with two gold.”

No! You’re not supposed to actually sell me!

“But I have to split any coin I get with her father. I’ll have to go at least four.” She heard Antonerri’s voice, trying to sound resolute. “At least four gold pieces.”

The other man laughed. “You’ll not get even two from anyone but me! Look at her!”  She began to glance from side to side, always keeping her head down, trying to figure out what was happening around her. She vaguely heard Antonerri’s voice responding. As she looked to her right, through the forest of legs and torsos, she thought she saw a small person’s bare foot.

He head snapped to her right and her eyes focused, shifting forward and back to see through the people. Yes! There they are! She could clearly see two children - no, three - huddled close together. They were dressed in dirty, ill-fitting tunics and without shoes. Her body tensed as chills shivered through her. They look so lost! I have to save them! Wait! No. I have to follow them. I have to find who’s buying them and where they’re being taken - 

She looked up at Antonerri, but his attention was on the buyer’s face. They were deep in negotiations, but the thoughts in her head blocked out any words she was hearing. She shook her head toward the children to try and get his attention. It wasn’t working. She looked back at the children, but like a spider on the floor, they were gone.

Wait! Where did they go? I only looked away! Where are they? She leaned her body to get a better look at where they were, but other captives and sellers had moved in her way. She lifted up on her toes and craned her neck, but she was not very tall in the first place, and couldn’t see over the press of people. She suddenly heard the buyer’s voice cut through.

“Hey, where are you going?” She looked at him, then at Antonerri and suddenly realized she had slipped several feet away, and the rope was tugging at her hands. “You’d better keep your maid in line!” Antonerri was stunned, not sure what to do.

DeFrantis immediately went back to her demure role, but glanced up and pointed to where she saw the children with her head. Please, just look over there! Help me find them!

A loud crash and shouts from the other side of the room interrupted the hesitation of the instant. Everyone’s head turned. Sellers and buyers alike were shouting and falling away from what looked like a fight. Someone bumped into DeFrantis and knocked her over. Immediately, she shouted and moved her hands to shelter her face from the rushing feet around her. The rope seemed loose, so she started working her hands free. She rolled over and tried to get up on her knees, but it was difficult with tied hands.

“Antonerri!” She called out, but his voice was lost in the noise.

My hands are free! Now it was easy for her to lean forward and stand. Her street instincts reminded her to stay fairly low, for a more solid balance. She looked left, and right, searching for both the children and Antonerri.

A loud and bright explosion instantly lit the small room and knocked everyone off their feet, either struck by it’s force or ducking for cover. The concussion left DeFrantis stunned. As the ringing in her ears subsided, she sat up and shook her head, crawling away from where the explosion had happened.

She started to make out actual voices, mostly shouting things like, “Wizards!” and “Run!” She saw people begin to flood away from the room looking for exits wherever they could. As she crawled and struggled to stand, she saw a familiar face on the floor, contorted in pain.

“Karendle? What... ?” Her voice trailed off as she saw the dagger and the blood.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Monday, September 3, 2018

“A walk in the Countryside” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 56: Granthurg

Granthurg and Thissraelle left the chapel and walked in silence. It was just before mid-day, so the streets were very busy with townspeople going about their business. In spite of the noise around them, they said nothing to each other.

Their original plan had been for each group to find out what they could and to reconvene at the inn for further planning. Somehow, Granthurg felt an urgency to go where Brother Mathazar had directed them. In a hushed voice, the acolyte had said, “Keep following the main road west, along the river. You’ll leave the town. Soon, you’ll find a way that turns off to the north and leads to a few buildings. One of those buildings used to be a waypoint inn. It’s the dark market, now.”

Brother Mathazar continued, “But be cautious, and ready. If you’re attacked and defeated, you’ll be taken and sold. I daresay, you’d both get a pretty hefty price. You, for your strength.” He had motioned to Granthurg, then to Thissraelle, “And you, for, well... Other things.”

After the quiet pause that followed, he’d added, “You’re both very selfless and brave for helping your friends. I wish you the very best!”

It wasn’t long before the buildings became groves, meadows, and farmlands. They had been plowed and sown, but the crops were only beginning to appear above the ground. Keeping the unwanted weeds away was a constant task, and there were farmers and vassals out in the fields striking at them with hoes and digging them with sticks.

They were less than a mile from the edge of the town when they saw the small cluster of buildings around a larger, central structure. There were lots of wagons and horses tied to posts and fences around the perimeter.

“Hmph.” Granthurg grunted, “For such a remote place, there are a lot of people.”

Thissraelle nodded, “We probably shouldn’t approach from the road.”

“Good point.” He looked around. “How about that knoll with the hedges on the far side?”

“We’ll keep walking on the road as if we’re passing onward, and then double back.” She drew her cloak around her, in spite of the noonday sun.

A wagon started leave the compound, its driver steering the team along the narrow, but well-worn path to the main road. They picked up their pace a bit so they wouldn’t cross their paths.

Another man had been walking along behind them. He carried a bulging pack over his shoulder, filled with a bundle of sticks.

Granthurg glanced down at Thisraelle and turned his gaze back to the road.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Tuesday, August 28, 2018

How to Be a Great Narrator (Game Master), #1

Welcome to all!

As we created, tested, and adapted the rules to The Hero’s Tale over the years, we’ve had an unwritten rule at our table: Anyone is welcome.

I will say up front that this has been both good for us and bad for us. However, overall, this has been right for us, and has been very helpful for many of us at the table.

How this has been good:

I’m not inside the heads of those who sit at our table, laughing and throwing dice, but as I look around it, I see a core group of great friends who have been through a lot together. We’ve saved the world and the universe a time or two, and, in the process saved each other. We all have issues. We all have struggles. Over the years, our (mostly) consistent adventure night has given us a chance to bond with each other. We’ve become “our tribe”.

All of us, in some way or another, have at times felt like we were socially disconnected. We’ve felt “not cool” or on the fringes of the mainstream. There are some of us at our table that have actually been professionally diagnosed this way, with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Social Anxiety Disorder, or even with physical disabilities. When we’re playing, the table evens everything out.

Through the years, various people have drifted in and out of our group. Some stay for a while, some stay only for a session or two. A few have moved away and come back. Life is kinda curious that way. I like to think that each one has brought something interesting and beneficial to the group, and I hope that the group has been beneficial to them.

There are a few in the group that I’ve essentially seen grow up here. When we started, Jacob, my youngest son, was 14 years old. He’s 18, now. There are two or three that came in from his social circle that are in the same age range. A lot changes in those four years of a kid’s life. I look at the process of their growth, and I’m certain that the gaming group had a big impact on that.

How this has been bad:

There are some practical considerations with having an “open chair” policy. One can be the physical lack of chairs. There have been nights where we actually run out of chairs and room around the table. We’ve gotten good at adapting things.

That indicates another “big” problem. The party gets to be too big. It takes some tricky Game Mastering to manage that many players. At a few points, we’ve tried to split the group into two tables, but for some reason, we always tend to drift back to one big one. I guess we like the camaraderie. And yet, in spite of the challenges big groups bring, our GMs have never insisted that anyone leave.

That many people also means a lot of character inconsistency. There are few weeks where everyone is here. How do you continue the story with missing characters? You just adapt. Our running joke is that this character or that character is “visiting his mother”. Or someone else can play the character of the missing player (as long as he/she stays true to that character’s character).

In spite of all of the challenges it brings, I’ve seen the impact our game group has had on the players themselves. I’m quite proud to be a part of it all. For all of the problems it brings to the story line, I would now always err on the side of inclusion.

Keep on rolling!

Monday, August 27, 2018

“Stopping a Thief, Part II” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 54: Karendle

I’ve lost him. I’ve lost the thief, lost the wizard, lost it all.

The sun was much brighter, shining down in mid-morning glory, and making the market air warm. Karendle wasn’t feeling it. She had just spent the last hours limping up and down the alleyways of this little town’s center. Back and forth, over and over, looking for some sign of the man in the dark cloak that had robbed her. By now, her leg was hurting her less, or maybe she was just getting used to it.

This is a small town! There isn’t that much to see! Where could he be hiding? She looked up and down the street. There were vendors lining far side of the street, away from the docks, mostly squatting on blankets with grains or cloth spread out before them. The de facto marketplace only went for a few blocks either way. She had asked a few of the vendors, but no one had seen the man she described.

The street was getting more full as the sun kept rising. Karendle found a bench near some bushes where she could rest and rub out the pain in her leg. I’m sure that by now, he’s opened the pouch up and tried to sell the oculi. Is there a jeweler in this town? Maybe he knows they’re magical. He can probably get some good money out of oculus stones.

The sun was getting warm on the side of her face. Of course, stones like that would have to be sold in a dark market. There’s no way anyone would have those out in the open. I wonder if there’s a dark market jeweler? 

She sat up and raised her head. Something familiar caught her eye. It was DeFrantis stepping out of a shop onto the main road, not more than ten yards away! A man was following her. It was Antonneri, but he was dressed differently. His church tunic was gone, and replaced by a finer shirt. His five-day beard was gone, too, and she was suddenly struck by how handsome he looked.

Quickly, she jumped up and stepped behind the bushes near the water. She leaned and watched them closely. What are they doing? Shopping? I thought they were going to go find some kids they were looking for. They talked to each other, but she was too far away to hear. They looked too focused, intent, to be casually shopping. They walked eastward down the street, into the sunlight.

She watched them go, wondering, then came out from the bushes. All that time I spent chasing her, and now, here I am, without my oculus to catch her. They could probably lead me back to Thissarill, too. 

Her mind was racing. So many things. How can she find her gems? How can she find a secret, dark market? Where would she look? Her mind drifted, then suddenly focused. Wait! I’ll bet he knows! I’ll bet he’s seen a lot more than he lets on! He’ll know where to look!

With an unsteady gait, she took off to find the alley.


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Thursday, August 23, 2018

“Stopping a Thief, Part I” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 53: Karendle

Karendle tried to run through the alley, but it was too cluttered and her knee and shin were painful and weak. The best she could do in the shadows of the dim morning light was to limp and stumble her way forward. After a few yards, she saw some barrels stacked along the side of the building and reached out to them for support. Her eyes adjusted. Maybe it’s just getting lighter. She steadied herself and ran ahead.

I can’t lose him! He had to come this way!

She came to a spot that was a bit lighter, where the alley intersected with another at the end of the building, along a fence. Which way to go? She looked each way. I’ll bet he went left, she told herself, and took off that way.

Immediately, her foot hit some garbage and she tripped. She fell, hard, onto the dirt of the alley. Just as quickly she heard something shout in pain. That wasn’t me.

She flipped over and leaned up. Next to a couple of crates was a small, brown burlap tarp. The broken twine at the corners suggested that it had probably been covering the crates at one point. Something was moving under the clutter. Yes, there are two legs sticking out from under that wrap! Ignoring the sharp pain in her leg, she stood and whisked the tarp away.

“No! Don’t take me! Don’t take me! Let me go home!” He was thin, and looked older. The empty jug on his arm and the ale-soaked shirt told her his story.

“Hey!” She said, grabbing him and picking him up. She leaned him against the wall.

“Don’t take me!” He shrieked again. She winced at the toxic smell of alcohol that wafted from him. His tunic was also a dull brown and caked with dirt and dust.

“I’m not taking you anywhere!” She shouted, shaking him. “Who would want you?” She let go and he slumped down again, mumbling. Wait. He might have seen the thief. 

“I’ll go home...”

“Did someone just run by here?”

He looked up at her, confused.

“I”m not going to hurt you! Just tell me if someone came through here!”

He sighed and wiped his face as he cleared his thoughts. Then, he nodded, and pointed. “Yeah. Just now. Did you get robbed?”

“Yeah.” She limped off in that same direction. Yeah. I got robbed.

He called after her. “Watch out! Don’t let them take you!”

Karendle didn’t allow herself a moment to wonder what he meant.


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Monday, August 20, 2018

“What’s She Worth?” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 55: DeFrantis

“I don’t like this!” Antonerri whispered.

“I know. But you look very good like that.” DeFrantis stood in front of him, with her back to him.

“I wasn’t talking about the shirt.” The room was dark, even though it was day. The windows of the old inn had been boarded up. Only a few thin rays of light shone through the cracks. It was also crowded, with people pressing their way in, out, and around the cramped space. There was a low rumble of voices filling the warm, smoky, damp air.

“I know you weren’t. We’ll be fine.” Her hands were tied in front of her, not too tightly, but enough to show who was the seller and who was for sale. Antonerri held onto the other end of that short rope like a child held his mother’s hand.  “You shouldn’t be talking to me. Push me around a bit. Find a buyer.”

He half-heartedly nudged her forward and she took a few steps, angling between a few others. She added, “And keep an eye out for children.”

“Quiet, you!” He nudged her again, then whispered, “Sorry”. She tried not to laugh. They stepped cautiously through the crowd.

To her left, two men spoke quickly to each other, gesturing intensely with their hands. One of them had a hold on a chain attached to two other younger men. They were in tattered tunics, and their thin, frail bodies were covered in mud and dirt. Their eyes were down, and hidden by scraggly strands of hair. Their elongated ears told her they were wood elves. Probably from Umbrawood forest. I wonder if they came to Dirae on their own or if the slavers had taken them in a raid on their treehold.

The two humans shook hands. As DeFrantis and Antonerri continued moving, she saw one hand the other a pouch. Then they were lost from sight in the press. We have to shut this down. So much suffering. But I have to stay focused.

She felt Antonerri stop and turn when someone with a deep, gruff voice said, “Let me see her!” A hand grabbed her shoulder and spun her around. Instinctively, her hand reached up to block, but she immediately realized it was tied to her other hand, and it reminded her not to react. She kept her gaze down.

The man standing in front of her wore tall boots of fine leather. His leggings and shirt were clean, and appeared to be expensive linen. He reached his hand up and grabbed her jaws and cheeks. He pulled her face upward and looked her over. His face was shadowed, but human and angular, bent in a scowl. With a look of disdain and a harsh shove on her cheek, he turned back to Antonerri.

“I’ll give you two gold.” He rasped, “And that’s generous.” He pushed her head down again.

She threw a worried glance at Antonerri and saw his jaw tense. Quickly, nervously, she dropped her head again, like the obedient captive she was supposed to be.

This could get ugly really fast.


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Thursday, August 16, 2018

“Brother, Sister, Friends” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 52: Granthurg

Granthurg pushed on the large wooden door. It gave way easily, though not without a sound. As it creaked, he stepped inside and looked at the cathedral hall before him. Immediately the vaulted ceiling and the arches supporting it surrounded him with a sense of smallness. The hall itself wasn’t so much big as its openness and vastness made him feel small. The colored lights of the morning streaming in through the windows covered the benches in warmth, but left the upper lofts shrouded in shadow and smoke from candles, incense, and hearthfires.

There was a peace, a calm about this place that he found oddly familiar, and, as he looked across the room, made him smile. Churches had always made him feel a bit uneasy, like he was unworthy of being there. But today, it reminded him of an easy summer night on the river, and it filled him with relaxation. He felt an urge to kneel, but he didn’t know where, so he simply stood, awkwardly, in silence, as Thissraelle moved out from behind him.

She stepped forward, interrupting his reverie, toward a man who had been walking up the aisle toward them. Granthurg had been so enraptured by the building that he had ignored the man entirely.  He was a human, but a bit short, and plump. He wore the robes of a monk, not a priest. His hair was cropped short, and his beard was trimmed. He bowed as he approached.

“Welcome! Welcome! A fair day to you both!” Thissraelle extended her hand in greeting. He took it, then surprised her by drawing her into an enthusiastic hug. He set her back down and reached up to Granthurg, who backed away slightly. I don’t know about this...

“Oh, come here!” The brother gently chided, and moved closer to Granthurg, reaching up to embrace the giant. He hesitated, then found himself relaxing. He received and returned the hug. After a couple of gentle pats on the back, the old friar released him and stepped back. “I’m so glad to see you both! Come! Come up here and sit down!”

Granthurg found himself chuckling at his odd and overly friendly style, and followed him toward the altar before the pews. Thissraelle followed.

“I’m Brother Mathazar. We don’t get many visitors,” He gestured to the benches, then sat himself on the edge of the altar’s dias, “Especially mid-day, and mid-week.”

Thissraelle sat on the most forward bench, and Granthurg eased himself down next to her. The bench groaned under his weight, but held.

“What brings you here, today,” Brother Mathazar said, “Confession? Worship service? Marriage?”

Thissraelle coughed, startled. “We’re here because we need your help. One of our traveling companions is looking for some missing children. We believe they might have been brought through this town.”

The sudden silence in the thick air was palpable. Brother Mathazar looked closely at each of them. “That would mean you’re not from around here. That would mean you don’t know about Dirae, do you?”

Granthurg’s eyes narrowed. “I’ve been through here before. I work the river. Mostly the Lesser Wynne, though.”

“When was the last time you came by here?”

Granthurg thought about this. How long ago was it? I was working the Portstown runs last year, and I wintered at home in the mountains.  “Perhaps, two, maybe three summers ago...”

“About a year ago, Dirae became a dark market hub. One of the darkest kind. There, they buy and sell the saddest of wares.” He got very quiet. “They’re slavers!”

He saw their reactions, and continued, “They’ll sell anyone, from anywhere! Even children! They have no shame! And they’re ruthless and bloody. They’ll kill anyone that gets in the way.”

Thissraelle ventured, “Is that why we see no children begging in the streets here?”

“Yes!” the brother whispered, “Good parents won’t let their kids out of their sight, and kids without get snatched up and sold! We had to move our orphanage to the abbey in the forest to keep them safe! The people have gone crazy, here. Every once in a while, there’s a big fight in the streets as rival guilds fight for control. Outside of the waterfront, people just work their farms and stay inside. They don’t come to church any more. Most of them are too afraid.”

Granthurg saw Thissraelle’s head droop. His large hand rested on her narrow shoulder. She looked up and said, “When will I stop being amazed by the horrors I see?”

“Oh, my dear sister,” sighed Brother Mathazar, “My dear, dear sister...”


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Monday, August 13, 2018

“Going to the Chapel” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 51: Thissraelle

“Maybe I’m too naive.” Thissraelle admitted. “It’s true that I barely know these people. And we’re being hunted by the Wizard’s Guild and who knows who else...”

She and Granthurg walked along the waterfront, to the west, as the road followed the flow of the river. The morning busy of the markets was beginning to show on the street. The shops were opening, and vendors were setting up by the side of the road. The sun rising over the town’s houses had replaced quiet with chatter. The barmaid at the inn had told her that following this road would take them to the town’s small cathedral.

She continued, “But then, I barely know you, too. And I find you to be trustworthy.”

He smiled. “Thank you. DeFrantis and her friend seem to be sincere enough, I guess. I’m just wary.”

“That’s probably a good thing, I would think.” She glanced up, and pointed over a shop’s roof. “I’ll bet that spire ahead is the chapel.”  He nodded.

They stepped over someone’s basket of grain. “You seem to be lost in thought. What is worrying you? Besides what we’ve already talked about, I mean.”

“I’m wondering,” He said, looking at the spire she had pointed out. Not really at it so much as beyond it. “What is on our barge that made those men attack us back in the city? What is it they want?”

She shrugged and looked behind her for a moment. “I’m wondering something, too.” Then she looked west again, down the street.  “Where are the children? Twynne Rivers had lots of them, running in the streets, playing, begging, stealing. There are none here.”

They passed the building before them and then stood in front of the cathedral. It was tall, but not as expansive and majestic as the one in the Twynne Rivers Center Towne. This one was plain stone, with smaller, circular stained glass for windows along the sides. It had no lawn, no foliage. It opened simply onto the street. There was a tall spire with a bell tower pointing upward to heaven, and a single larger stained window below it, depicting three bright yellow stars. The Church of Three Lights. I wonder why Antonerri and DeFrantis were so insistent on not coming here. His shirt bears that same image. You’d think that he’d want to talk with them. 

Granthurg turned his eyes away from the chapel to look at Thissraelle. “Well, let’s hope they know where they’ve all gone.” He stepped forward to the door.


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Thursday, August 9, 2018

“Darkness” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 50: DeFrantis

The morning sun in the eastern sky cast shadows before DeFrantis and Antonerri as they walked along the waterfront. Shops and taverns were beginning to open up, and dockworkers were unloading barges. Others, who just brought wares to sell, were laying out baskets of grain or fruits onto rugs and blankets on the side of the street. She had never been to Dirae before. It was not a large city, like Twynne Rivers, or even Portstown, but where most villages were little more than a collection of a few hovels where farmers and peasants gathered at the end of the work day, this one had streets of cobblestone, a series of docks on the river, and buildings and business.

The streets along the river were pretty clean, too, but as they walked past the side streets she could see that the paving ended quickly, and the mess and mud quickly replaced it.

Antonerri finally spoke, “So where would we find this dark market?”

“In Twynne Rivers, the dark market isn’t a place. It’s more of a network. It’s a lot harder to shut down that way. Where you go depends on what you’re wanting to find.”

He nodded. “...Or what you’re wanting to sell.”

“Yes. So, once we find a hub, they might be able to direct us to the right place.”

“Once, while I was a guard, our unit was sent to break up one such hub. We just went where we were told and arrested them.”

DeFrantis laughed. “It was probably another dark marketer who sent you. They must have had an argument over a payment or something. You were just doing the cleanup!” She nudged his arm and smiled.

He laughed, too, but not as enthusiastically. “So, what should we be looking for? Do we want to act like we’re buying something?”

She thought a moment, and stopped walking. She looked around at the shops.  “No, I think we’ll be sellers. But we’ll have to get you some nicer clothes. And with something other than the Church’s seal. It’s a good thing you shaved. The half-beard wouldn’t have worked.”

“Worked for what?” He was genuinely confused. “What will we say we’re selling?”

“That's easy,” She said, “You will be selling me.”


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Monday, August 6, 2018

“Quick With the Fingers” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 49: Karendle

Karendle stepped away from the crates and shook herself off. The light was starting to show a bit more in the eastern sky. She looked up and down the street to check if anyone had seen her. Across the street were some shops, and someone was there with a large cart, beginning to unload things onto the street in front. There was nobody the other way. It looks like it was clear.

The chilly breeze blew past her as she began walking westward, back toward the inn. She picked up her pace, a bit excited.

If I can get back before everyone gets up, I could even sneak into her room and take her from there. Then, it would be easy to slip away, get on a barge or a caravan heading east, and be gone!

She was so wrapped up in thought that she didn’t see the figure step up at her side, or the stick swing across her path and across her shins, sending her face-first onto the cobblestones. The pain shot harshly through her legs. She tried to roll over but suddenly felt a weight on her. Someone had jumped onto her back, and was pressing her face into the street. She twisted and squirmed, trying to get a hand hold to press herself up.

“Hold still, wench!” He leaned a knee into her back, between the shoulder blades and pulled back her cloak. “There it is. I knew when you came out of that nice inn, you’d have some money!” She felt a harsh tug and a snap at her belt and suddenly the weight and pressure were gone. She heard his footsteps rush down the street. She rolled and saw him running east. He turned quickly between a couple of buildings.

She tried to stand, but the pain in her shin bones racked her legs and she sank back to her knees. She glanced at her hips. He got my pouch! My oculi! My bounty! 

Wincing through the pain, she stood and lurched toward the alley where he had gone. Gradually she picked up speed and was able to start walking, then running.

When she got to the alley, she turned and a short breeze blew a noxious odor of manure and trash past her. In the dark she could see piles of rubble. Looking deeper, she saw light ahead, probably another street.

She swore, a little more loudly, and stumbled in.


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Thursday, August 2, 2018

“What’s in a Name? Part II” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 48: Karendle

Karendle wrapped her cloak more tightly around her, against the chill of the morning, while she sat on the bench. She grabbed her pouch and opened it up. They said the blue one would be for communication, and that I should only use it if I caught a wizard. I did that. Still, she felt a bit nervous. She wasn’t sure how it worked.

In the early morning shadows, she stepped toward the docks, toward some crates stacked close together. She looked for a spot that would give her a little cover. She wriggled herself in between a couple of the crates, and reached into the pouch. The first draw brought out the red gem, but the second fetched the blue. She held it in her hands and focused her concentration on it.

It did nothing, but feel cold and smooth in her hands.

She frowned, and furrowed her brows more, as she closed her eyes and concentrated more.

Still, it did nothing.

She let out a sigh of exasperation, and held back the temptation to step out and fling the stone into the river. Instead, she just held it, and looked at it in frustration. How do you make this thing work? The flame one and the capture one worked just fine!

She turned it in her hand, looking at the facets carved into the sapphire. She looked at the angles, as they seemed to sparkle in the dim light. The blue hue grew deeper as she stared into it, and suddenly she realized the glimmer wasn’t a reflection, but a light shining from within the stone. It became lighter and brighter as her eyes grew wider with excitement.

“What’s going on?” She was startled by the voice and lurched to hide the glowing stone. She looked out beyond the crates and saw no one near. Was that voice in my head?

“Yes, it is.” It was a man’s voice, sounding very clear, as if it were close to her, but she knew she wasn’t hearing it.

Uh... Hello?

“You have my attention. I’m awake. It’s early, so I’m hoping you’re telling me good news.”

She smiled, proud to be able to deliver just that. Yes! I caught one! I was trailing one who had tried to steal a chicken, and I caught another one instead. He’s actually one of the wizard’s guild.

“Oh! Well. That’s an interesting twist.” There was a pause, and in the silence, she wondered if the communication was still flowing. She looked at the stone. It was glowing. “How did you find him?”

Oh, it was easy, actually. He and his friend were trying to catch another mage that was also on the barge! They said something about trying to take her home. For some reason they were all in trouble and had to sail out of town fast. I don’t know what was going on, but I traveled with them to this small town upriver. I’m going to get passage back to Twynne Rivers and bring you this guy right away.

“Ok. That’s a good plan. When you get here, contact us again.”

“Thissraelle!” Karendle called out, as she suddenly remembered the name. Then, just as suddenly, she huddled back against the crates to hide.


Thissraelle. That was the name of the wizard that the one I caught was chasing. I traveled upriver with her and the others.

“What? Did you say her name was Thissraelle? Is she an elf, by any chance?”

Yes. Do you know her?

“Are you still with her?”

No, she’s back at the inn with the others.

The man’s voice took on a new intensity, almost an excitement. “Here’s a change in your plans: Follow her. Capture her. She is your next target.”

Karendle was taken aback for a moment. OK, sure! She must be pretty important, then, right?

“You don’t need to worry about that. Just bring her in with the other one, and we’ll pay you well. Very well.”

Sure. I’ll do that. No problem.  With that, the glow dimmed. She sat for a moment, thinking about Thissraelle, and wondering why she would be so critical to capture. Finally, she shrugged and stepped away from the crates, walking briskly back toward the inn.

She swore quietly under her breath. I STILL forgot to ask them their names!


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Monday, July 30, 2018

“What’s in a Name? Part I” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 47: Karendle

Karendle had gotten up very early, as the dawn was first making its light in the eastern sky. She cleaned herself and dressed, then stepped out into the inn’s common room. The elf girl had bought a room for everyone the night before, when they’d arrived. What was her name? Thizarell? Tissarill? She couldn’t remember.

The innkeeper wasn’t up yet, even. The hall was oddly quiet, considering how noisy and smokey it had been the previous night. She stepped through the main door and out into the street. The inn was on the waterfront, and across the street were docks. She could see the giant’s barge docked several berths away to the left. The giant had insisted on staying with it.

She quietly stepped eastward, walking along the river. It flowed calmly past her, moving west toward the swamps of Umbramoor. That’s where the rest of them said they were going, after they got the thing with the kids sorted out. A part of her hoped they would succeed. They seemed like sincere sort of people. Unfortunately, the kind of people that this world would chew up and spit out like bad gruel.

She had other plans.

She felt her pouch bounce against her hip as she walked. In it were the oculi, the gems she carried to give her magic. One of them, of polished granite, contained a wizard, magically trapped in the stone. She had to get this stone back to Twynne Rivers, to deliver this bounty to her contact.

So, first, I have to find a barge to take me back downstream. Actually, first I ought to contact my... My contact... Had she forgotten their names, too? No, she realized that they hadn’t given her their names. In her excitement to get the oculi, and to get access to the powers they brought, she had never thought to ask, and it’s odd that they never offered their names, either.

She took a moment and sat down on a bench by the docks. There was a slow breeze blowing with the river. It was chilly in the morning, even though the weather was warming with the summer coming on.

Where would be a good spot to reach out? They told me to do it in secret, where no one was watching...

She didn’t notice, however, that someone was watching. Someone hiding across the street, by the still closed waterfront shops.


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Friday, July 27, 2018

Happy Gygax Day!

Hey, folks -

At this rather undramatic juncture in the narrative, I have a few announcements!

First of all - Happy Gygax Day! Apparently, July 27th is Gary Gygax' birthday.  Who was he, you ask? Only the father of all role-playing games! So, everyone go out and roll a natural 20 today to celebrate!

Second of all, and as a fitting tribute, we now have our rule book available! A work spanning 4 years!  Here's the link to where you can purchase a hardback copy and/or a pdf download.

We're very excited! Through the month of August, the PDF version will be only $10, and if you buy the hardbound version ($29.99), you'll also get the PDF free!

Third, we will be showing the game at the Eagle Mountain Street Fair, in our home town, on August 11th, and we'll also be demoing the game at the SaltCON End of Summer Event in Layton, UT on August 31 and Sept 1!

More to come!

Thursday, July 26, 2018

“Well, Now What?” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 46: Antonerri

Antonerri stepped down the stairs into the common area of the Inn. It looked much brighter and more welcoming than it had the night before. He could see the activity of the morning picking up, and recognized a table full of his traveling companions. As he approached, he heard DeFrantis say, “I’ve been in dark markets before. Maybe I’ll begin there.”

There was an immediate awkward silence after her statement, which Antonneri broke by pulling out a chair and sitting down.

Thissraelle was quick with a smile and a greeting, “Good Morning! How did you sleep?”

The sleeping was fine. The trouble was waking up. “Fine, thanks.” He looked over the breakfast food. “Much better than in a jail cell or even an army barracks.”

I’ll try and keep it cordial. No need to bother them with my own struggles.

“Are you hungry? Have some!”

He nodded. He was quite hungry, and so he reached for a plate and the serving bowl. He glanced over at DeFrantis, who returned his look with a slight smile. He nodded a quiet morning greeting. As he began eating, he thought about the interesting collection of souls gathered around the table, from so many different backgrounds and experiences. As they had been traveling the day before, they had talked and, to a certain extent, gotten to know each other. He thought it odd that they would all be together at the same table. Just a few days before, none of them had known any of the others.

Oh! I’m being ungrateful! He suddenly dropped his fork and said, “Forgive me and my bad manners. A thanks to whoever provided this meal, and the bed for the night.”

Thissraelle had a mouthful of food, but gestured with her hands as if to say not to worry.

“So, what was this about the dark market?” He asked, hoping to restart the discussion.

Granthurg answered, “This village has one, but I’m not sure we should get messed in with it. It’s probably dangerous, and, considering how we were run out of Twynne Rivers, it might not be a good idea to be seen here among those who connect that way.”

DeFrantis swallowed her spoonful. “True, but since we’re already in danger, that wouldn’t really make much difference, would it? We really should go where it happens. I mean, children aren’t going to be sold in the open square.”

Thissraelle wondered, “Doesn’t the Church of Three Lights take care of orphans and street kids? Maybe we should ask the local Priest what he might know...”  Antonneri and DeFrantis both stopped eating and shared a fearful glance. Antonneri had to shake his head to resume breathing.

DeFrantis finally spoke. “This is my task. These are like my children. I should have protected them. I have to save them now. I can’t require any of you to join me in this danger. Each of you have things you need to do. Thissraelle, you’re wanting to go to Emberfire. That’s a long Journey. Granthurg, you’re needing to get the barge upriver. Antonerri...” Here she paused, then continued, “You all don’t need more risk and distractions from me.”

No one spoke. No one ate. For a moment, the air was decorated with the sounds of glasses clinking, footsteps, and voices mumbling from other tables. Outside, and child’s laugh drifted through the window. Antonerri saw the elf and the giant looking at each other with questioning glances.

Granthurg cleared his throat. “Well, that’s true enough. We all have our own plans. We don’t have reason to get involved. Except that there are children’s lives at risk.” He saw Thissraelle smiling at him. “So, I think we can postpone our journeys and help.”

She nodded enthusiastically. “Yes! We can!”

DeFrantis sighed with relief. “Okay, then. We’re a team.”

Antonerri nodded his assent, then asked, “So. What do we do first?”


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Monday, July 23, 2018

“A Very Close Shave” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 45: Antonerri

Antonerri awoke disoriented. Morning light fell across his face, making it hard to see. He blinked and rolled over, then rose up on one arm. He was on a bed. A nice one, actually, padded well with what felt like a feather mattress. With real blankets.

Wait. How did I get here?

As he wiped his eyes with his other hand, the memories of the last few days flowed into his head. The last bed he had slept in was in the barracks of the Church Guard, and it was made of rough straw. That seemed like a completely different world, now.

He sat up, then stood. The wizard girl had gotten them rooms at this inn. For a small town, there was one pretty fancy inn, and she had found it. “We should all get a good night’s sleep!” she had said. All but the Giant. He had wanted to stay with the barge. Antonerri had offered to stay as well, but Granthurg insisted he go. The room itself was small, but nicely furnished. The rug felt good on his bare feet. There was a small table with a wash basin and soap. He rubbed his hand across his face and felt the four days of stubble.

He crossed the room again and reached for his pouch. He pulled out a dagger and unsheathed it as he walked back to the table. It was finely crafted and had a good edge. He had picked it up after the fight on the barge. It must have dropped from one of the attackers’ belts. He set it on the table and poured water from a pitcher into the basin. He rinsed off his hands, and got them soapy, spreading the foam over his chin.

His hand shook a little as he raised the dagger to his neck. Memories of the accusations of the Confessor Priest flashed through his mind. I am unworthy. I am rejected. I have nothing, and nowhere to go. It would be simple. It would be quick. The wondering would be over.

He stood, transfixed, feeling the cold edge of the blade on his dripping throat. He took a deep breath and shifted the dagger in his fingers. He drew down, scraping away the soap and the beard.

No. Not yet. I have to help find the children, and free them. Maybe then I can find some peace, one way or another.

When he finished shaving, he dressed. He hesitated to put on his tunic, looking at the emblem of the three star lights over the left breast. Finally, having nothing else to wear, he put it on. Then, he stepped out into the hallway, looking for DeFrantis.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Thursday, July 19, 2018

“Placing a Breakfast Order” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 44: DeFrantis

The bright morning sun shone through the slightly smoke-tinted windows of the lower level of the village inn. Its lower angle swept the sunbeams across the tables and floor. There was already activity in the common room, even at this hour.

“Hearye, hearyeall!” A man in a bright red jacket shouted. The pubcrier’s clothing was vivid, the red cloth trimmed in light yellow piping. His hat had long white feathers sweeping toward his back. His appearance, if not his voice, cried out for everyone’s attention, and everyone in the pub turned to give it to him. He lifted a scroll and began reading the day’s news.

“King Hastone III, of House Twynham, may he live long, and protect us all, has issued a decree of a tax of 5 coppers for anyone traveling the roads to and from Twynne Rivers. This includes the western road that follows the Greater Wynne River, to our fair village. This tax will allow the king to provide soldiers to protect the merchant caravans and travellers along these roads.”

The few people in the common room muttered their complaints and turned their faces back to their breakfasts, or to each other.

The crier continued, “This is primarily due to increased danger from brigands and wizards along the vital trading routes.”

As the crier droned on, DeFrantis squinted in the sunlight and looked across the table at Thissraelle. “I don’t understand why wizardry is so despised recently.” Thissraelle shrugged, as DeFrantis continued, “I guess there are always those who use powers to steal or hurt others.” I guess I have, too, but I do try to only use it to protect myself.  Still, I’m not really a full wizard.

Thissraelle leaned forward. “I spent my life hidden away in the Twynne Rivers Guild Towers. All I’ve known is wizards and wizardry. Mages are wonderful people. I don’t understand the fear, either.”

The front door swung open, flooding the floor with morning sunlight. Just as quickly, the light was obscured by a tall silhouette that stepped into the doorway and ducked through. As soon as she recognized the giant, Thissraelle waved. “Granthurg! Over here!”

DeFrantis was surprised. “Didn’t he stay in the inn, too?”

“He insisted on guarding the barge.” She waved again. “Here we are!”

Granthurg stepped over to the table and pulled out a chair. It was clearly too small for him, but it was steady enough to support his weight. “Good morning. I trust you slept well.”

DeFrantis smiled. “I’m not used to beds. It was...” she paused, thinking of what to say, “..oddly restful. I’m very grateful to you both.”

Granthurg nodded and looked around. “Where are the others?”

“I’ve not seen either of them this morning. Antonerri is still asleep, I suppose. Presumably, the bounty hunter has left to return her capture and collect her pay.” DeFrantis hesitated, “She kind of scares me, honestly. I’m not quite sure what to make of her.”

The innkeeper interrupted them with steaming bowls of meal and eggs, and set drinking glasses before them. He stood at the tableside for a moment, looking at them awkwardly. It suddenly occurred to Thissraelle what he was wanting, and she dug into her purse for a few silver pieces. “Does this cover the rooms and the meal?”

“Thank you, miss!”

DeFrantis hung her head.

“What’s the matter?”

“I’m not used to beds, or.. kindness.”

They began eating. After a moment, Thissraelle broke the awkwardness by asking, “Will you begin your search here?”

DeFrantis nodded between bites of egg. Granturg said, “This is the village of Dirae. I heard it’s named for one of its founding settlers. It’s mostly farmers working the land for a few remote nobles. It’s the first trading stop on the westward trip up the Greater Wynne. It’s not a big city, but it might be where they brought the children. I’ve heard there is a dark market here, but I don’t know where. They could have tried to sell the kids there. Of course, now there are brigands in the forest attacking the caravans and even the barges. They could be holding them hostage.”

The two women paused in their breakfast and just stared at the Giant.

“What? I stop here in this village every time we sail up the north river. Granted, it’s not very often, but still, I hear things. People talk, especially the river runners.”

“I’ve been in dark markets before. Maybe I’ll begin there.” She returned to her meal. She didn’t see the concerned glances between her table companions.


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Monday, July 16, 2018

“Placing a Dinner Order” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 43

Tonklyn stood on a large balcony, jutting out from halfway up the side of a mountain. Really, to say the balcony was large was really an understatement. It was easily thirty to forty feet wide, and it jutted out over the mountainside at least twenty feet in a sweeping half circle. The light glowing from the oculus at the end of his staff barely chased the dark from the balcony’s edge, enhanced a bit by the moonlight. There was no ledge or railing, just a stonework masonry floor, and then a steep and fast drop down the side of the mountain. Below the balcony were crags still full of unmelted snow, spotted with trees.

Tonklyn stood a safe distance from the edge, but not against the mountainside opposite the drop off, or particularly close to the gaping open mouth of a corridor carved into that mountain. The night breeze was cold. It was the late spring, of course, but at this altitude, the air was still winter. His heavy dark brown robes and hood kept him relatively warm as he waited.

It was a clear night, with lots of stars, and an almost full moon. The view of the forest at the valley floor below him was stunning. His eyes, however, were up in the air, scanning, looking, watching.

The balcony was built just at the timber line. There were trees below, but above him only rocks and mountain, except for two other constructions, watchtowers jutting upward out of the mountain on either side of the balcony.

The wind blew stronger for a moment, and he drew his hood and cloak tighter, though his breath still formed a mist in the chill before him.

He caught sight of a motion in the air far off to his right, and his eyes focused on it immediately. It swept across the sky, silhouetted before the moon. He stepped forward and stood a little taller. As the shadow turned in the air, he raised his staff and waved it from side to side. It grew larger as it drew closer, and it came quickly. It dropped down, and for a moment was out of sight.

Tonklyn could hear the heavy flapping of huge wings and felt the wind sweeping up from the trees below. Suddenly the balcony was enveloped in shadow as a massive dragon swooped up over the edge, waving its wings to both stop and steady itself. Its neck arched over and its head looked across the balcony, finally focusing on Tonklyn, whose cloak was waving fiercely in the torrent created by the wings. As the wings drew back and up for another stroke, its back legs, easily as long as Tonklyn was high, reached down and settled onto the edge of the balcony. The muscular body was covered in skin of deep black scales with a slight tint of red reflecting on the underside. The wingstroke came, though not as hard as others, and the forelegs reached out and landed on the stone floor. The dragon leaned back on its back legs and lifted up its head. It stretched out its wings and shook them before folding them neatly across its back. It swayed its head from side to side as if to work its muscles, and finally looked at the human.

Tonklyn stepped forward and dropped to one knee, bowing deeply. “My Liege.”

The dragon snorted, enveloping Tonklyn in smoke and fumes. It turned and lowered its head to slide his body into the corridor entryway. The pounding of his feet on the floor echoed through the chambers. Tonklyn scurried after him, trying to catch up to the head. He spoke hurriedly. “There is a scroll for you, a message from the High Priests of the Church of Three Lights in Twynne Rivers. Shall I get it for you?”

“Yes. But I am hungry. Bring me a meal, and read it to me as I feed.”

“Certainly.” They stepped from the corridor into a large open chamber with a high ceiling supported by pillars all around, each with a dimly glowing oculus. In the center of this space was a vast round carpet of soft furs and blankets. The dragon strode in and circled himself onto it and settled down, with his head up and alert.

“But I grow tired of cattle and venison. Bring me something more delicate.”

“Yes, my Liege.”

“Bring me children.”

Yes, my Liege. Right away.”


This continues the story of the heroes in Wynne, in Twynne Rivers, in the world of The Hero's Tale, Family Friendly RPGs. Here's more info on The Hero's Tale, and family friendly RPGing.

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Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins.