Thursday, April 19, 2018

“Escape” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 24: DeFrantis

“Hey! Wake up!” DeFrantis hissed as she leaned over and shook him gently. “Anto-- rini? --rooni? What is your name, again?”

She sat back. Is he even alive? After the confrontation with the confessor priest, he had just laid there in his cell. She had decided to let him rest. After taking the magical blasts, he was obviously hurt. That those blasts had been meant for her weighed on her mind.

She reached out and poked him, again. “Hey!”

This time, he stirred, and groaned. He rolled onto his back, and lifted his hand up to wipe his face. It looked like a painful motion.

“You ARE alive, after all.”

He opened his eyes, and gradually focused. She stood, then leaned over him, offering her hand to help him up. He took it, and they pulled together. She had misjudged her stance and started to fall. She reached behind her, quickly, and grabbed the cell bars for stability. Now braced, she helped him up.

“I’m guessing it’s probably night right now, so it’ll be easier to escape.” He let go of her hand, and stood on his own for a moment. His eyes finally fixed on the two open cell doors.

He smiled. “It looks like the keys worked,” He mumbled.

“Can you walk?”

He just nodded and stepped toward the door. As she walked behind him, she glanced at the small table with the mage’s bane incense burning in the bowl. She would be glad to finally be away from the smog it created, both in the air and in her soul.

The main room door was wooden, with steel banding as reinforcement. She paused in front of it. “I don’t know what’s beyond this door. Do you?”

He nodded. “There’ll be a short hallway, and then the main guard room.”

She slipped the key into the hole carefully, not wanting to make any noise. It clicked, but not too loudly. She pushed on the door and it began to swing out.

It squeaked a little, and she stopped, took a breath, and then pushed again, more slowly. When it was halfway open, Antonneri stepped through. She followed.

A lantern in the guardroom cast a hopeful light down the hallway as they crept forward.  They heard voices ahead, with a rattling noise. Antonneri turned around and gestured a shaking and tossing motion with his hands, then held up two fingers.

There are two of them, playing Lots. The air around her in the hall was a bit musty and smelly, and even still a bit damp from the rain, but she breathed it in eagerly. As it filled her lungs, she could feel it clearing her mind. She felt hope, and a bit of excitement. She nodded to Antonneri. I’m ready!

Antonneri nodded back, then turned and rushed into the room. DeFrantis immediately followed. Antonneri leaned under the heavy wooden table where the guards were playing, and flipped it up onto one of them. As the other stood, surprised, Antonneri swung his fist hard into the man’s gut. The guard dropped, gasping for breath.

DeFrantis took in the room. It was circular, but not large. Opposite the table were two straw mattresses on the floor. Behind them, circling up the wall, was a stone stairway. That’s our freedom!

“This way!” she called out as she darted to the stairway. Antonneri hit the downed guard across the back of his head, and he flopped to the floor, out. Antonneri stepped over him, then reached for his sword.

The other guard was pushing the table off as they started up the stairs. He called out, “STOP THEM! They’re coming up!”

As she came to the top of the stairs, she saw another circular room about the same size, with two more guards leaping from a table and drawing their swords. This room had windows, and a large double door. Cool air wafted through the open window, and she took a deep breath. Her head was clear, now, her will and focus returning. She grabbed Antonneri’s arm, then waved her other hand before her. She summoned her will and the darkness of the night flooded into the room, swelling up from the shadows on the floor until the entire room was shrouded. She heard the soldiers stumble and curse.

Antonneri’s chuckle sounded behind her. “I thought you renounced the shadow.” She yanked his arm and ran toward where she knew the door was. They hit the door, then Antonneri shouldered it. A third hit burst it open, and they stumbled out into the street.

“This way!” She shouted, even though she had no idea where she was. They hadn’t taken more than a few steps when a bright explosion boomed just behind them, knocking them off their feet. Antonneri jumped up and ducked in between two buildings, with DeFrantis running scared behind him.

They ran through the alleyways, avoiding the streets, behind carts and crates and fences, until they finally collapsed, exhausted. As they gasped for breath, she got her bearings. We’re in the InnerWall, near the RiverFront. She leaned against the wall and slid to the ground. With a groan, Antonneri sat beside her and they huddled in silence.


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, April 16, 2018

“A Fight to Remember” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 23: Granthurg

The rains had finally ended, and they had arrived that afternoon in Twynne Rivers. As soon as they arrived and claimed a pier, Granthurg and Rinkmorr uncovered their cargo and began to offload it. It was heavy, laborious work, but Granthurg was accustomed to it. Once most of it had been loaded to the pier next to the barge, Granthurg began carrying it up to the quay, where the street ran along the river bank. There, Rinkmorr stood, and negotiated with the buyers and vendors as they passed.

As Granthurg was carrying a crate across his back, walking up the pier, his eye caught sight of a young girl on the wharf. She stood out, partly because she was dressed in a light-colored, finely-made cloak, which you don’t see too often on the RiverFront, but also because he couldn’t quite pin down her racial features. She looked elvish, but she was thinner, and her face was more angular than most elves he had seen here and in the forests. Her pointed ears stood out more. She walked with a step that was pleasant, almost haughty, and she was looking around as if she’d never seen a wharf or a waterfront before.

I know! She’s a high elf! He’d only seen drawings of them in his scrolls, but once he made the connection, the facial features made him certain.

He leaned forward and shifted his load across his back.

When he got to the quay, he dropped his load near Rinkmorr, and glanced around. He couldn’t see her. He shrugged it off and went back for another crate.

Back at the barge, he stretched his muscular shoulders and scanned the quay and the street again. She must’ve gone into a shop. I wonder what she was doing down here by the river. I’ve never seen a high elf here in Twynne Rivers, much less in this part of town.

His thoughts were interrupted by shouts from the street. He turned and looked and saw people scattering away from the girl, with her back to the river, staring down three full-grown human men. Oh, she’s in trouble!

Granthurg reached to grab his hammer, and jumped off the barge onto the pier. His leap rocked the barge, so his footing slipped him to one knee on the pier. He jumped up and ran with thundering feet up the pier.

Rinkmorr saw him coming with the hammer in his hand and determination on his face. “Now, stop, there, Granthurg! What are you doing?”

Granthurg swung past Rinkmorr and ran up the street. He saw one of the men lunge at the girl and grab her at the waist, pinning her arms to her side. Another one stepped forward with a dagger. “Get her pouch!” The man said.

Granthurg was on a full run at the moment, and had no time to slow down. He swung his hammer in front of him, but missed as the man dodged. Granthurg’s momentum, however, carried him right over the stunned man, who crumbled under the weight of the Giant.

Granturg rolled off of him, as one of the others leapt onto his shoulders and tried to stab at him. Granthurg blocked the man’s hands, then grabbed his cloak and used it to throw the man off of him, over his shoulder. He sat up, and looked for the girl. He saw her tangled in the assailant’s arms. Then he saw her fade and dissappear, and in a rush, reappear a few feet away, free from the man’s grasp.

Granturg felt a sharp pain in his shoulder.

Not again! He swung his hammer around him, turning his shoulders and knocking the attacker to the street. The man struggled to gain his footing on the wet cobblestone as Granthurg stood and brought the hammer down in an arc above his head. The thief's eyes grew large and he rolled to one side as the hammer smacked into the stone below where his head was. A loud clang resounded and sparks chipped off the rock.

Granthurg looked up and saw the girl thrust an open palm at the one near her. A ball of light lept from her hand and exploded in brightness on the man’s chest, sending him sprawling over the edge of the wharf and down into the murky water.

The other two thieves scrambled away.

Granthurg and the girl stood, staring at each other. She was defensive, not sure what to make of the Giant. Gradually, she eased and looked around her. The people on the street were looking at her with a mix of awe and fear. As she looked at them, they averted their own faces and scurried away. She turned her face to the street, as if she were suddenly very self-conscious.

Granthurg took a deep breath and smiled. “I’ve never met a high elf before.”

She looked up with her own smile. “And I’ve never met a giant!”


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, April 12, 2018

“Watch The Street” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 22: Thissraelle

For the rest of the day, Thissraelle avoided children.

This left her conflicted. On the one hand, she wanted to help. They are just children! They need a meal and a roof to sleep under! But there were just so many of them, and they were so aggressive, it was more than a bit overwhelming. She struggled to understand as she walked the streets of the Twynne Rivers InnerWall.

I knew there was crime and poverty and suffering. I just imagined it happened to grownups. Isn’t there some sort of shelter? An orphanage?

The streets meandered, lined by wood and stucco homes and shops, most of them two stories, occasionally separated by fences. The streets themselves were still wet from the rains, but drying. Most of them were paved in cobble, but many of the smaller side streets and alleys were dirt, now mud. There were many dogs trotting along the streets, and she thought she even saw some rats.

She walked past the working people, carrying heavy loads, leading carts and animals, sitting on the streets surrounded by food and wares for sale. Most wore rough and ragged clothing, cloaks and leggings. Many looked at her as she wandered.

Before long, she stepped down a street that opened up into a wide and busy walkway. As she moved forward she worked her way between passers-by and suddenly found herself looking over the expanse of docks and piers that lined the edge of the Wynne River.

She paused, struck by the sight. For years, she had seen it only from her tower window. It meandered through the town below her. Now, as she stood on the waterfront itself, it was much wider and stronger than she had imagined.

And much busier! People were walking up and down the piers next to barges and boats, loading and unloading. Carts and animals helped carry the heavier loads.

She began walking down the waterfront, away from CenterTowne. She was fascinated by the constant motion. So much so that she almost ran into a man. She was startled and backed away.

“Oh! I’m sorry!” She stepped to the side, out of his way. He was a tall human, and wearing a dark shirt under an very black cloak.

“You look a bit lost.” He said, and stepped into her way again.

“I’m... fine.” This time she stepped away from him, a bit taken back by his imposition.

“You look like you’re not from this part of the city.” He took a step toward her.

“Excuse me, sir, I’m just passing along the street.” She stepped back again. “I’m not trying to be in your way.” She continued to back away.

She felt herself back into someone else, who immediately steadied her by grasping her shoulders.  “Steady, there, miss,” a man said, but didn’t let go.

She tried to move aside, but he held her firmly in place. The first man moved forward again, so there was very little room to spare. She looked to her right, toward the buildings of the RiverFront, and saw a third man in a deep brown cloak walking forward, smiling and stealthily drawing a dagger.

He spoke, “You really shouldn’t be in this part of town. Why don’t you come with us?”

She felt her breath quicken, and her heart race. Her imagination ran to dark fearful places in her mind as she saw herself beaten, robbed, or worse.

Get control! Get strong! Breathe deep! Her fingers pressed to her temple, focusing her concentration. She dug deep into her will, and suddenly pushed out with her mind. The three men tumbled away from her, knocked off their feed by the force of her mental impact.  Suddenly freed, she stepped to put her back away from them, to see them all, and to draw her own blade.

The surprised passers-by lept aside and the three men scrambled to their feet and faced her. They all stood, facing off, as she started backing away. She glanced behind her and saw that she was only a few feet from where the dock drops straight to the river. She was cornered.

“She thinks she’s a mage!” one of them taunted, but he was still a bit hesitant.

“I don’t care!” Another said, “She’s obviously got money!”

She tried to play it up. She stretched her hand out and said, “I WILL use my powers!” Her summoned confidence was doing a bad job of hiding the fear shaking her voice. “I Will!”

Someone on the street shouted, “A wizard! Run!” People started to scatter.

The man to her right laughed and lunged forward.


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Monday, April 9, 2018

“Magic in Her Hands” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 21: Karendle

Karendle sat on the street, watching the guard tower.  How am I supposed to get in and get that mage? If she’s captured already, should I still take her? Her mind slipped back to the day after that first meeting in the inn. The two men had come back and found Karendle ready and eager. She could hardly keep her seat.

“Can I have the oculi?” She had asked as soon as they appeared. She reached out.

“Easy there, miss.” One of them held back the pouch. “First, a couple of rules. Then, we’ll have to show you how to use them.”

She sat back, still impatient.

“First of all, you will tell no one about us. You will communicate with us using the blue oculus, but only when you have caught a mage, or are in dire need. And no-one can see you do it. Understood?”

She nodded, “How do I use the gem?”

“Calm down, we will explain all!” The other one also laughed at her impatience.

“Second, do not feel you need to ask questions of us. We will tell you what you need to know, when you need to know it. Dig no deeper than that.”

That was a little troublesome, but she had nodded anyway.

“Good. Here.” He tossed a small pouch to her. It jangled a bit as it hit the table. “That will get you started.”

She opened the pouch and saw coins, easily five gold, and a few more silvers and coppers. She looked up, her eyes wide.

“When you bring us your first wizard, you’ll get more.” He stood and gestured to the door, “Shall we?”

She had followed them into the storm, to an isolated alley, and they had shown her how to hold the oculus. She had struggled at first, but was finally able to channel her will through it and shoot out a sharp blast of fire, which quickly fizzled in the rain. The memory of the thrill of feeling magic in her hand for the first time still made her tingle.

The next few days had been spent in her room at the inn, practicing with the oculus. When she did get out, the constant rains meant there were few people, so she found no information about any mages.  Finally, a pubcrier had announced another criminal wizard assault at an inn called the Brown Boar. Rain or shine, she would find this wizard!

As she sat remembering, an ornate white carriage rolled by and stopped in front of the tower. It was pulled by a single horse, and the carriage and livery were all white. There was a symbol of three stars or lights on the side. What’s this?

The driver set the brake, and climbed down to open the door. A man in white robes stepped out, then reached back in to get a long staff.  He and the driver walked around to the door of the tower, being very careful to not step in any mud or puddles.

The driver opened the door and called out, “Please stand for the Priest Confessor!” The priest stepped in, and the driver returned to the carriage.

Karendle stood and walked down the street a bit further to get a better view. She’d seen the symbol a few times in the city. It was on a few of the cathedrals, and some of the soldiers wore it. She’d never seen it in the Dwarven Kingdom.

After a while, the Priest emerged from tower and called out to the driver, who scurried to open the door for his master. Karendle noticed that the priest looked agitated, flustered. What could have happened inside?

Karendle sat back down as she watched the carriage rumble 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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Thursday, April 5, 2018

“The Tower” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 20: Karendle

After her meal, she walked down the gentle slope of the hill, and found the wall separating the Inner and the Outer city areas. It was tall, possibly fifteen feet. It was built up of stone, and thick enough for a walkway along the top, complete with battlements. All along the wall was a wet cobblestone street, and opposite were houses and shops. The shops were starting to close up for the evening, and the people she passed were moving into the homes. As she walked along the street, she soon came to one of the guard towers built into the wall.

It was large and round, jutting out from the wall itself, with doors and windows. The tower was a few stories tall, much higher than the wall itself, with battlements on top. Upon finding it, she stepped into the door, and found two soldiers sitting at a table.

They were tall humans, especially compared to Karendle’s own stature, each wearing a tunic with the emblem of the Twynne Rivers army. They stood right away and put their hands on their sword hilts.

“What are you wanting, now, miss?” One of them said, with narrow eyes full of suspicion.

“A - a young wizard was brought in here last night. A thief. I want to see her.”

“Prisoners don’t get visitors!” He barked, then reconsidered her. “What’s your authority?”

She hadn’t considered this question. She looked carefully at them both, “I’ve been given charge to track wizards in this city. I want to speak with the one you have captive.”

“So you say. Show us your letter and seal. We won’t just let anyone through here.”

Of course. Those men didn’t give me any authorization. And I should have asked to see theirs, too. What’s their authority? Who hired them?

“I, ah, I don’t have one yet.”

The guards laughed and glanced at each other. “Well, you’d best be getting one, or we won’t let you pass.”

“Of course,” She muttered, mostly to herself, “Thank you.” She stepped back out onto the street.


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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Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Family-friendly Role Playing! Updates, Revisions, Preparations

We interrupt this thrilling narrative to bring you news of the game itself. You know, what all this is based on?

This friday will be interesting gaming session! We’re setting aside our regular characters and our ongoing epic story line to test a new combat system. We’re looking at a whole new way of dealing with initiative and ordering the actions in a fight. See, fight scenes are chaotic messes with lots of actions and reactions and general craziness. In order to play it at the tabletop, it has to have, well, ORDER. And a big part of that order is figuring out who’s first, and what happens next. This week, we’ll be testing a new system of doing that.

I’m very excited for this, but also very nervous. On the one hand, this new system is more fluid and more story-driven. It also will take into account some things I’ve observed as I’ve been watching fighters fight, both for real, and in simulations (like with foam swords and things) on youtube. It has the potential to make the game much more exciting, and much more like the game I want.


It could melt down into total chaos and completely break the game.

If that happens, that’s OK, really, because then I’ll know, as the “lead designer”, what went wrong and we’ll start to tweak it. That’s what playtesting is. But also, we’ll all know that if it really goes south, we can revert back to the system of initiative that we had, and it would all still function. I mean, we’ve been doing that for 3+ years, now, right?

This comes at a time when we’re seriously looking at a lot of aspects of the game, and doing some changes that I’m really happy about. We’re working on detailing the economy of the game, which we had always left to the abstract, before. We’ve recently made some excellent changes to the skills tree, and there are more changes on the way. This current adventure (Narrated by Tyler) has been the longest one we’ve done so far, and looks like it will yet continue for a very long time. That will give us the opportunity to see how the game plays with higher “level” characters.


Stick around! We’ll keep you posted. It’s likely that we’ll be making the game available to the public sometime soon, possibly this summer.

In the meantime, enjoy the story!

PS Are there any artists among us?  Post in the comments!


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.

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

Monday, April 2, 2018

"Forgiveness Is The Key!" - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 19: Antonerri

What is she doing? Is she mad? Antonerri was stunned.

“It’s all true.” She spoke with a clear, determined voice. “I confess.” The priest turned toward her, distracted from his ranting.

Antonerri saw her shoulders shaking behind her bowed head. Her hands were raised before her face, pleading for mercy. “I renounce the shadow! I embrace only the light! Please, Father, save me!”

No. Don’t give in. Resist! But Antonerri had no strength to protest, or even call out.

“This is good, child, your punishment may be eased.” Turning toward Antonerri, the priest declared, “You would do well to follow her example!”

She lunged forward, throwing herself down at the priest’s feet and reaching for his robes. “Please, Father! I need redemption!”

The priest jumped back, unwilling to let his robes be sullied by her dirty hands. She shifted, and reached for the guard, grabbing at his tunic and leggings. “Please. I’ve been so wrong! My life is over! Help me be renewed!” The guard ripped his clothing from her hands and stepped back behind the priest. DeFrantis fell to the ground, shaking and sobbing.

The priest and the soldier exchanged glances, then with a nod from the priest, they stepped to the door. As they left, the soldier tossed a few more grains of incense into the bowl, which flared momentarily, adding to the smog in the room. Antonerri watched them go, then closed his eyes against the pain. He heard the door creak shut.

Only silence remained. DeFrantis had stopped crying and was lying, curled up, on the floor.

After a moment, he saw her raise her head and look at the door. Then she looked at him and curled her lips into a faint smile. What is she thinking? How can she confess?

She rolled onto her back and sat up. She brought up her hand, pointing her finger. Dangling from it was the large ring of keys from the guard’s belt.

In spite of his hurting, he shared her smile.


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, March 29, 2018

"The Price of Redemption" - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 18: Antonerri

Antonerri was jarred from an uneasy sleep by a loud clanging.  Startled, he shook his head and opened his eyes. Across the cell bars, next to the table stood two figures. They were mostly obscured by the dark and the incense smoke, but Antonerri knew who they were. One, a soldier guard, held a lantern low in one hand. It was swinging from side to side, jangling against the keys and tools on his belt, and casting shaking shadows around the room. The man’s other hand swung back and forth, banging a sword against the bars of DeFrantis’ cell.

“Get up, you!” He shouted in a scratchy voice, “Wake up! It’s time to face your charges!”

Next to the guard stood a man in long, elaborate robes of fine white silk, trimmed in yellow and red piping. The robes bore elaborate embroidery of the emblem of the Church of Three Lights. He held a staff with a large, clear gemstone set in the head. He maintained his silence, glaring intently at Antonerri’s huddled form.

Antonerri looked to DeFrantis and saw her stir and sit up from the cold floor. She shook her head and ran her hand across her hair.

The soldier was losing patience. He banged his sword again. “Get up, you! On your knees before the Priesthood!”

She looked up at the priest, and Antonerri could see a shadow of fear cross her eyes, as she became fully awake and aware. Slowly, without removing her gaze, she knelt in the middle of the cell. He could tell already this was not going to go well for her. She needed to be strong, not timid. He shifted forward on the floor.

The priest spoke, “State your name!”

She dropped her gaze. “Are you the Confessor Priest?”

“SILENCE! I - ,” He pounded the staff on the floor for emphasis, “I will ask the questions!”

She flinched and hid her face.

“What is your name?”

“DeFrantis.” She whispered.

“Speak up!”

“DeFrantis. Of the OuterWall.”

The priest snorted haughtily, and opened a small book carried under his arm. He held it in the light of the lantern and thumbed over the pages. “You are accused of thievery and robbery.”

She straightened up, and reached out. “I didn’t actually steal anything! I was attacked!”

“So, you are guilty, then?”

“I was only trying to feed the kids! They’re hungry! There’s no one to look after them!”

The priest pushed his shoulders back, raising the staff up higher.  “I don’t care! I’m not interested in your justifications! You are guilty, and you must be punished! Do you confess?” He stepped forward and hissed, “Do you also admit to being a practitioner of the Power of Shadow?”

Antonerri’s mind raced. Oh, no. This is bad. He’s going to go off on her, and She’s not going to be able to take this! He rolled forward onto his feet.

She hesitated, “I -”

In a deep tone of righteous indignation, he intoned, “Are you a wizard of darkness?”

“No! I’m not!” She said, trembling, “I only know a little -”

“There is your confession!” The priest pointed the staff at her, “So, feel the purging power of light!”

“No!” Antonerri lunged ahead and threw himself at the the bars, reaching through and grabbing the staff. A flash of light exploded in the room, coursed through his arm and body, and sent him flying back into his cell. The fierce pain in his muscles made it hard to breathe.

The priest’s rage was quick. “How dare you interfere! Your punishment will be severe!” He pointed the gem at Antonerri and unleashed another blast of brightness. Antonerri screamed as the power rushed through him.

DeFrantis looked on in horror. “STOP!”

Antonerri rolled over and got up on his hands and knees. He struggled to stand as a third blast threw him up against the back wall of the cell.

“So, this is what happens when you intervene!”

Antonerri lay back against the wall, breathing heavily. His body could not move, shaking in pain. He looked at the priest, then at DeFrantis. I tried. I tried to stop him. 

She rushed to the bars between them as if she wanted to break through them and comfort him. She looked at the priest and soldier in fear. He saw her eyes darting from one to the other. The soldier looked on with a smile, while the priest shouted latin curses at Antonerri.

“Yes, Father. I have sinned,” DeFrantis said. He looked back at her in confusion as she kneeled by the bars before the priest. What is she doing? She bowed her head, “I need redemption.”


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, March 26, 2018

"Not So Scary" - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 17: Thissraelle

Thissraelle stepped out of the inn, onto the street, and blinked up at the dull, gray, afternoon skies. The raining had stopped! She was happy about that. At first, it was thrilling to fly over the darkened city in the middle of the night with the rain in her face. Then, she felt the chill of the wet night air, and her will subsided and she had to land and look for shelter.

She had managed to get past the protection of the CenterTown walls, and had begun to walk through the silent shadowed streets. Before long, she found the glow of the oculus lamps on the main street of the RiverFront Quarter. It was still quiet, except for the rain, but there were lanterns shining through the windows of pubs and inns.

Her escape and wandering had taken much of the night, so once she settled into an inn, and a dry, warm bedroll, she slept long, way past the dawn.

This doesn’t look so scary in the daylight! Yes, she had to admit to herself, in addition to being excited to being free in a new world, she also felt some fear. All up and down the street there was activity. Vendors pushing carts across the puddled cobblestones, women haggling over the price of a pig, and a man trying to coax a load, probably bags of grain, on to the back of an uncooperative donkey.

“You got copper?” The tiny voice jerked her gaze down. In front of her, there, no more than half her height, was a small human child, in ragged clothes. The child’s long scraggly hair and unwashed face gave no clues as to whether it was a boy or a girl.

“I - I’m sorry?” Thissraelle stammered, off-guard.

The child held its open hand up higher. “You got copper?”

“Oh!” Thissraelle suddenly understood. “Yes! You poor waif!” She dug into her purse and pulled out two copper wedges, cut from a larger coin. She dropped them into the child’s hand, who scurried away.

She stood, watching as it vanished into the crowd and buildings. She had never seen anyone so poor before. I hope there’s a family for him. Her? She stepped along the street, moving between vendors and residents, not really noticing the way they were looking at her.

She stopped abruptly when another child stepped in front of her. This one was a bit taller, a bit older, and her tattered clothing resembled a dress. She held out her hand and said, “Hey, you got copper!”

Thissraelle stepped back. She wasn’t sure if that was a request or a statement. Maybe even a command. She reached into her purse as another child, a bit younger, rushed up and just started saying, “Copper, copper!” A third was following a short ways behind.

Thissraelle turned, and began to move more quickly in the other direction. The children followed, with their hands out. She grabbed some coins and wedges from her purse and tossed them to the side. As the kids scrambled to the ground to pick them up, she darted away, turning as quickly as she could.

The people on the street watched her go, then returned to their own efforts. Nobody noticed the one man who followed her.


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Thursday, March 22, 2018

"The Easy Way?" - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 16: Karendle

As she sat in the Brown Boar, finishing her dinner, she thought about how her life had changed in the last few days. Twynne Rivers was nothing like she had expected.

After getting thrown out of the Wizard’s Guild, and after shouting angry dwarvish curses over the fence at the guards standing by the CenterTown wall, she had stormed away. It was evening, and darker than usual because of the heavy clouds that had drifted over the city. She started walking, but had not gone far when the rains began.

The first inn she found was quite expensive, and she only had a few coins. She tried  offering work, cleaning, in exchange for a meal and lodging. One by one, the inns turned her back out into the rain. As she got further down the RiverFront the prices did get lower, but not low enough.

Finally, after talking to an innkeeper, she shook the rain from her clothes and started toward the door. As she passed two men sitting at a table, one of them gestured to her, “It looks like you’re having a difficult time, eh?”

The other was more finely dressed, thinner, and had features that looked elvish. He called the innkeeper over. “Give her a room,” he said, tossing three silver pieces on the table, “And a good hot meal.”

She froze. “No, sir. I’m not sure who you think I am!”

The man laughed. “Not to worry. We’ll not harm you. Sit down, miss.” Then added, gesturing to the chair, “Please?”

He took charge of the conversation, asking her name, and telling her that he had seen her shouting at the Wizard’s Guild at the gates to CenterTown earlier that evening. Her shock that she had been followed lessened as he explained that they also had problems with the guild.

As the innkeeper brought out their food, the elf explained that criminal wizards had become a huge problem in the city, but that the guild blocked all efforts to bring them to justice. He worked with a faction that wanted to put all of the rogue mages behind bars, and would she be willing to get back at the guild by helping them?

She hesitated. “How?”

“It’s simple, really. By finding and capturing rogue criminal wizards, and bringing them to justice.”

She was intrigued, but also suspicious. “And how would I do that, if I haven’t learned any powers?”

The elf scoffed. “Who needs to learn magic? That’s the long, hard way.” He leaned in, and spoke more intensely. “I can give you the easy way to throw magic around. Are you interested?”

Her eyes opened wide. I can use magic? Easily? It’s always been so hard for me! “I am! Tell me how that works!”

He reached back and grabbed a pouch and set it on the table next to her dinner plate. She slowly picked it up and peeked inside. There were a number of gems, big enough to fit in the palm of her hand. She reached in the bag, but the first man stopped her.

The elf explained, “We’d rather not have you display those here, for all to see.” Nodding, she set the pouch back down on the table.

“Are they... Oculi?” She had heard of them from her father, who knew all about gems. She had never seen any like these, because the only ones that came to her city so far up in the hills were the ones on the river barges.

“Yes!” He explained, “Eyes of the Creator! With the red one, you can throw fire. With the blue one, you can move things using your mind. The grey ones? They’re what you’ll use to entrap the foul mages that are sullying up our city. If... If, of course, you decide to help us.”

He reached across the table and picked up the pouch with the oculi. Having finished their meal, and the conversation, the two men stood. The human put his hat on, and tipped it toward Karendle. “Miss, enjoy your dinner and your stay here. We’ll talk more, tomorrow.”

She could barely think of anything to say as she had watched them step out the door and into the rain.

Back at the Brown Boar,  she blinked her eyes, and came out of the reverie. She tossed a copper coin onto the table next to her plate and walked over to the stairs leading up to the rooms. As she passed the innkeeper’s wife, she asked, “So, do you know where they took the wizard that your husband overcame?”

“I don’t know.” She put on a puzzled look, “But it’s probably the guard tower in the InnerWall, just down the sloping road a bit. That’s the closest one, I’d think...”

Karendle smiled. “Thank you very much!”


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Monday, March 19, 2018

"Don't Have the Spark" - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 15: Karendle

By noon, the rains had stopped in Twynne Rivers. As the afternoon grew, the sky was still overcast, but at least it wasn’t crying like it had been for the last three days. The streets were still wet, even puddled, and sometimes still flowing.

People wasted no time getting back to business, slogging over the paving stones and occasionally the mud to get their burdens where they needed to go. Shops opened their windows and doors.

Karendle weaved her way between the people as she hurried past them. She wasn’t tall, but she was stocky, with stout shoulders and long, thick hair braided behind her. Her face was round, with full cheeks below brown eyes.

She looked at the banners hanging above the doorways as she walked. The Brown Boar Inn. There it is! Just like they said it would be.

She stepped up, opened the door, and passed inside. It took a minute for her eyes to adjust to the dimmer light. At the far end was a fireplace, and there were several strong wooden tables scattered around the floor. There weren’t too many patrons yet, so she moved to one of the tables and sat down.

Her father had been a dwarven gem trader in the western mountains, and had returned from Twynne Rivers with a new human wife. They soon had a daughter, and as she grew up, she felt the differences between herself and the full blooded dwarves around her. She was taller, but not so strong, and often felt out of place. That was made worse by her desire to learn magic. Her mom knew a bit of the powers, and had tried to teach her, but it never seemed to click for her.

Finally, after coming of age, she determined to go to the great city and see if she could learn the powers directly from the elves there.

The plump and smiling innkeeper’s wife interrupted her memories and asked in a loud, friendly tone, “What can I get for you?”

“Just a meal with some ale.”

“Is chicken and bread good for you?”


Karendle had traveled down the river, and sought out the Wizard’s guild. It hadn’t been easy to find them, and they were none too happy to see her. They had one of their instructors humor her with a quick exam, then dismissed her as uninstructable. “You don’t have the... the spark inside you. You’ll never be a mage.” The more she pressed them, the stronger their denials became. Finally, they had expelled her from their guild hall, and from CenterTown.

A few more patrons had begun to flow into the inn, as dinnertime drew closer. Some took seats at tables, others went back to the bar to talk to the innkeeper. The evening pubcrier stepped in, and everyone turned to listen as he rattled off his announcements and news. It was typical things, a pronouncement of taxes from the King, news of a band of wizards being arrested for attacking a shopkeeper on the RiverFront, and a Councilman decrying the attack and calling for stronger measures of control. The Wizard’s Guild, of course, opposed. As the patrons listened, they murmured their assent.

The innkeeper’s wife soon brought out a plate of food and set it before Karendle. “Here ya go! Those mages. I don’t know!”

“How so?” Karendle asked.

“Some are nice enough, I suppose. But they’re getting out of control, I say.” She put her hands on her hips. “We had one try to rob us just last night!”

“Really?” Karendle asked, trying to hide that she already knew, “What happened?”


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Wednesday, March 14, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 14: DeFrantis

I’ve got to keep trying! DeFrantis stood in the center of her dark stone cell and slowly extended her hands out in front of her. She closed her eyes and focused her mind on the part of the room just beyond her cell bars. She dug deep into herself and gathered her will, her strength.

Please, please! Just let me open a small portal! Let it work!

But she felt nothing.

There was no surge of power from within, no welling up of confidence or determination. Nothing to show her that there was any personal will inside to draw on. She was an empty dry well of... nothing but smoky darkness.

She leaned forward, pushing outward with her hands. “OPEN!” She commanded, pushing,“OPEN!”

She lost her balance and fell to her knees on the cold stone floor. The smoke filled her as she heaved her breathing. She coughed, hard.

Antonerri moved to the bars between their cells and stood, resting his arms on the crossbars. “Powers won’t work here in the dungeons of the towers.” He muttered. “I’ve tried.”

“Why not? Why can’t I do it?”

“It’s not you, it’s the incense they’re burning. It’s called mage’s bane. It suppresses your mood and your will.” She looked at him, confused. She glanced over at the smoldering bowl dimly lit on the table beyond the cells, then turned back to Antonneri. From this distance she could see him a little better than before. He was tall, and his shadowed face was hidden further by a few day’s beard stubble. He was wearing a white tunic, with the three-starred emblem of the Church on his left shoulder. “If you’ve never breathed it before, it’s probably effecting you more. That’s probably why you haven’t wanted your gruel.” He gestured by her cell door, to the half-empty bowl.

She hadn’t noticed it before. Suddenly, her empty aching stomach overtook her and she crawled over to it. It looked horrendous in the dark and smog, and there was no spoon. She picked it up and smelled it, then used her two fingers to scoop a little into her mouth.

It was bland, but not the worst thing she’d ever eaten. She took a second mouthful, then another.

She paused to ask, “So, will we ever leave? Will there be a tribunal?”

“Maybe.” He leaned his head against the bars. “A Sacerdotis Confessoris - a confessor priest - will come in and read you your charges.”

DeFrantis noticed a darker tone to his voice. “What happens then?” She asked, trying not to show her fear.

“That depends on how you answer them. If you confess your sins and beg for repentance and redemption, your punishment may be light, and your freedom quick.” His tone was sharp, almost sarcastic. He turned and walked back into the darkness of his cell. She heard him sit down.

“Aren’t you part of the Church? They should let you go! Your tunic has...” After a moment’s hesitation, she ventured, in a hush, “I’m guessing that you haven’t properly asked for forgiveness, yet, have you?”

He let out a sigh. “It would help if I understood my sins.”

The sorrow in his voice weighed heavily on her like the dark gloom of the cell. She sat back with her gruel. It must just be the incense, right?


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Monday, March 12, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 13: DeFrantis

Her first deep breath of consciousness brought a fit of coughing and hacking. The thick air was tough to take in. DeFrantis rolled over onto her belly and tried to lift herself up on her hands and knees.

The second sensation was a sharp, but steady pain in her head and neck. That dropped her back down with a moan. Next came the cold, from lying on a stone floor in dripping wet clothes.

She lay, slightly shivering, as her breathing steadied, and her eyes took in her surroundings. She saw the shadows of the bars of the cell holding her on the stone walls on the opposite side. She raised up on her elbow and squinted through the haze. She could make out the form of a door and a table, and another cell next to hers. She thought she could see a dim shape up against the far wall. Could it be... a person? She couldn’t be sure.

She sat up, slowly, this time, and brought her arms tight to her chest, to hug off the cold. Her cloak was drenched and only making her colder. She unbuckled it and let it fall back.

“Are you awake, now?”

She reflexively jumped and rolled to the corner of the wall where the shadows were darkest, and curled up to be as invisible in the dark as possible. The voice had been quiet, but it had startled her nonetheless.

“I see you are.”

She passed her hand in front of her, and tried to will up the shadows around her, to hide her, but nothing happened. Confused, she tried again. Nothing. She tried controlling her breathing to make herself silent, and waited. But he didn’t move, and said nothing else.

Finally, she spoke. “Who are you?”

“Another prisoner, like you. A heretic, apparently.”

She began to feel another sensation, the pangs of deep hunger. “How long have I been here?” She wondered, out loud.

“Hours, maybe. Probably not more than a day. It’s hard to tell down here.”

“Where is that?” She began to creep toward her cloak.

She heard him sigh. “You’re in a holding cell under one of the guard towers built into the InnerWall. You’re here because you were arrested.”

The scenes of the night played through her mind swiftly. In all her life, she had never been caught stealing. She didn’t like it, and she knew she wasn’t especially good at it, but she’d never been caught, either.

She heard him move, repositioning himself on the floor. He said, “What did you do?”

“I tried to steal some chickens.”

He laughed. “A thief!”

“It’s not like that!” She hissed, “There are kids that are hungry. They count on me!”

“Still...” He thought a minute. “I’m surprised they’d put a thief here in the dungeon. Usually they’d just beat you and toss you back to the OuterWall. You must have done something particularly bad.”

She bristled at that. “No, I didn’t! I just tried to take--”

“Did you use magic?” Her silence was his answer. “I’ll bet that’s it.”

“Magic isn’t illegal. That wouldn’t be right!”

“Do you think ‘legal’ matters down here? Do you think ‘right’ matters?” He laughed again, “Nothing matters down here.”

Then more silence.


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Thursday, March 8, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 12: Antonerri

Antonneri lay on the cold stone floor of the holding cell, the dark of doom swirling in the smoky air around him. He had been to places like here before, but always on the other side of the bars. A faint glow from a small table across the main room cast faint shadows around him. His muscles ached, his head ached. Even deeper, his heart ached. And through the ache was a core of confusion.

He rolled over and heaved himself up onto his knees and hands. His physical aches were the residue of blasts of light power he had received at the hands of a Sacerdotis Confessoris - The Priest Confessor of the Church of Three Lights. His deeper aches and confusion were also residual of the same blasts.

He had grown up in the shadow of the Church, serving as a young boy, longing for the day that he could join the Holy Guard as a soldier of The Creator. When he achieved that goal, it was the happiest day of his life. As a holy soldier, he was ready to defend the weak and serve the downtrodden.

His early duties were not so exciting, mostly protecting high priests and relics. He didn’t mind, though. He was proud to wear the three lights on his chest.

He sat back on his heels, kneeling into a familiar position of prayer. Please, he began, help me understand!

Memories of a few short days ago filled his mind. He had been assigned with a corps of guard to protect a Count of the Twynne Rivers High Council as he traveled through the InnerWall area of the city, gathering taxes from his subjects. All went well for the first few stops, then they came upon a shopkeeper who couldn’t pay.

Antonerri saw the image of the poor man’s crying face as he begged for more time. The troop was ordered to “render justice” by beating him and seizing his property.

What did I do that was wrong? Please, help me see!

He saw the rage on the face of the Count as Antonerri refused to execute the order. Then he saw the other soldiers of the guard, his colleagues, turn on him, beating him, binding him, and delivering him to the dungeon of the guard tower.

His pains intensified as he remembered The Priest Confessor’s visit.

His own tears streamed down as he prayed. I just want to know why! Am I not there to protect the weak? Why am I here?

The acrid smoke in the room added to the burning in his eyes and the gloom covering his heart. He knew the smell. It reminded him of the times he had captured a thief or a heretic and brought them to a place like this. He had thought they deserved this treatment for their sins and their crimes. All those times he never dreamed he would be one of them.

With a creak, a door near him opened and a brighter glimmer of light broke into the space, broken only by the metal bars that grew up from the floor in front of him to reach the ceiling.

The door parted further and two guards of the city’s militia stepped in, dragging a body in a rain-soaked black cloak between them. In a spare hand, one of them carried a lantern that cast spinning shadows as it swung under his hand. They lurched past his cell. After fussing with the keys, they swung the door to the neighboring cell open, and dropped the other prisoner inside. One of the guards moved to the table and tossed a few more grains of incense into a small metal bowl smoldering there. The other clanged the cell door shut, then glared at Antonerri.

“Yeah, you’d best be praying!” He said in a raspy voice, then laughed as they both closed the main door behind them. Dark and sorrow closed around Antonerri again as he bowed his head.


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Monday, March 5, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 11: Granthurg

Rinkmorr lit a lantern and hung it up under the tarp. Its glow spread all over the steering platform, showing the rain dripping off the shelter and the darkness around them.

Granthurg was standing at the edge of the platform, looking out over the river past the barge. Since the two pirates had been defeated, he had been scanning the slowly growing morning glow on the horizon looking for more. There had been none. The bleeding in his shoulder had stopped, but not the pain.

“Ok, let me look a that wound.” Rinkmorr said, pulling a box up, and gesturing to Granthurg to sit. Granthurg turned and obeyed. Once he was seated, he pulled back his shirt from his shoulder.

Rinkmorr looked. “That’s a deep hit.”

“Yeah,” Granthurg smiled, “It really wasn’t very knife of him to do that.”

The older giant narrowed his eyes and nudged the wounded shoulder, turning the smile to a wince. “Did that hurt?”

“No.” Granthurg could see that Rinkmorr didn’t believe him. “Well, not much anyway.”

“This river’s getting more and more dangerous. There was a time when I didn’t have to hire extra muscle.” He leaned over and felt the wound. Granthurg winced again.

Rinkmorr stood, closed his eyes, and breathed deep, focusing his concentration. Granthurg saw a brief grimace on his face, as if he was feeling the pain, too. Then, he felt the energy of life swelled up in them both, drawn from the waters, the land, and the trees. Granthurg also took a breath, almost involuntarily, and held it in, savoring the feeling as the hurting faded.

Then the sensations also drained from him, back into the river, and he let out the breath. His shoulder was healed. As the two giants opened their eyes, Rinkmorr offered his hand, then pulled Granthurg up.

He smiled. “Someday, you’ll have to teach me how to do that.” Then, he stepped to the steering rudder at the stern of the platform.

Rinkmorr lay back down on the blankets padding the deck. “It’ll be dawn soon, and then we’ll be in Twynne Rivers. I’m gonna get some sleep.”

It wasn’t long before the rain on the tarp was punctuated by his snoring. Granthurg adjusted his shirt and watched out over the barge across the night.


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Thursday, March 1, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 10: Thissraelle

I know my father loves me. I know he’s just trying to protect me. She sat and cried without sobbing. I want to leave! I want to live!

She took off the dripping cloak, and the bag, and lay back on the floor, looking at the ornate ceiling like she had done thousands of times before. Her eyes traced the shadows of the intricate woodworking on the rafters. She let her thoughts drift off into mindlessness, needing to escape her frustration. Her eyes continued along the lines above, tracing the sculpting, the inlays, the frills.

With a deep sigh, she closed her eyes. She wasn’t tired. She was looking for peace, and not finding it.

WAIT! She blinked, and her eyes narrowed. If my father enchanted this tower, it would have had to have been done a long time ago. It would take a lot of will to maintain it that long. Her heart raced and she sat up. She scanned the ceiling again.

He wouldn’t use his own will for that power. He’d use an oculus! She’d never paid much attention to the stones inlaid in the ceiling. They were just a part of the room’s decor. She levitated up to the rafters and began looking more intently. As she found them, she touched them, felt them. They were all just cold gray stones of granite. She smiled. Gray is the color most often associated with dimensional wizardry. The kind of powers that could warp and fold space in around itself so that one couldn’t leave, say, a room or tower?

Her hands touched each inlay in turn, and felt nothing but cold stone. She felt herself getting tired and knew that she couldn’t keep flying much longer.

She felt a shiver. Was that something, or just from being out in the rain? She moved her hand back to the stone she had been touching. She felt it again, stronger, this time, as she focused on it.

That’s it! That’s it! She could definitely feel the latent power emanating from it.

I’ve felt that all these years, and just hadn’t realized it.

She wasn’t sure what do do with it, though. She grabbed at it with her fingernails, but wasn’t strong enough to pry it free.

This is dimensional wizardry, isn’t it? I can play in that game, too! She hesitated, uncertain. I can’t send it away, or shatter it. My father is more powerful than I am. What if I use my own power to twist reality around it? I can make a dimensional warp around its own dimensional warp, and shrink it down. Then I’ll be outside of its reach, at least for a few minutes! 

She looked down at the study below her. My will is getting weak. I’ll need more strength! Where can I find more? 

She saw the table, chairs, books, shelves, all lit up by the glowing oculi.

The oculi! She swept to the floor and put on the bag and the cloak again. She rushed over to the nearest oculus on the wall and reached up to surround it with her hands. Focusing on it, deeper, and deeper still, she stared into its glow.

A little at first, she felt its energy flowing into her hands, and arms. Yes, more! I need more! The lamp flickered, dimmed, then went out. She rushed to the second one, then the third.

Re-energized, she flew up again, and looked for the stone. It was difficult to find, now, in the dark, but she felt for it. She surrounded it with her will, and concentrated. Suddenly, she felt a nauseating wave of rippling reality sweep over her as it shrunk to converge on the stone. She blinked and backed away. I hope that worked!  I won’t have much time!

In a moment she had flown through the door and was lost, laughing, in the dark rain over the city.


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Monday, February 26, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 9: Thissraelle

As she rushed through the air, away from her tower room, the rain fell into her eyes. She pulled the hood lower and wiped the water away. When she looked again, she froze, then willed herself to stop only a few feet away from, could it be?  Her tower? She glanced up at the roof. It was there on the roof that she had spent many nights learning about the stars. It was through that window that the morning light had shone on her magical studies.

Yes, it was her tower! She could see the light shining out through that same window!  But there’s no balcony! What’s this?

She spun around and instantly recognized the view of the city. I’m on the other side of the tower! How did I get here?

She floated in the rain, confused, looking back and forth from the tower to the empty air over CenterTown.

I went that way, she mused, pointing past her room, then turning, And came from that way... She pointed the opposite direction. I wonder...

Slowly, then building speed, she floated away from the back side of the tower, out into darkness, and in a moment found herself floating before the balcony where she had stood just moments before. Its warm and familiar light looked odd from the outside. She floated forward. Light and understanding were also gathering in her mind. Understanding that troubled her.

My father! He’s enchanted this tower. He new someday I would try this. He knew I would want to leave. She hovered there, clenching her fists, frustration swelling inside her. I really AM trapped. I really AM a prisoner! 

She threw her head back and screamed into the rain. She screamed again. Finally, in dejection, she drifted down onto the balcony, opened the door and stepped back inside. Her shoulders shook. Her eyes dripped more rain onto her cloak, and onto the floor.


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Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 8: Thissraelle

After the final stair, Thissraelle entered the dark room at the top of the tower. The rain was making a steady rustle on the roof above. She waved her hand and three oculi shone, revealing her study table in the center of the room, cluttered with papers and books. Next to it was a huge bookshelf. She rushed to it, tossing herself to the floor at its base. From the bottom shelf she pulled a moderately sized wooden trunk. It clattered to the floor and she shushed it, then laughed at herself.

It’s not like anyone can hear me up here anyway! Especially through the rain.

She took a small key from her pocket and undid the lock, then through it open. For months, now, she had been stealing up the stairs and secreting things away in this trunk. She retrieved them, now. A heavy travelling cloak with a hood. Very finely made, with white and blue trim, it would be especially useful tonight in the downpour.

She had contemplated postponing her escape for the weather.  Escape? Is that the right word? She thought about that for a minute, and looked around at the tower. She loved this place. It was her solace and her place of learning. It was also her cell, along with the guild hall and the CenterTown below, trapping her as securely as a prison.

Finally, she had decided that she had to stick with her plan. Rain or not, she had to escape. Really, the rain would help. The storm clouds would darken the cover the night would give.

She slung a pouch over her shoulder. It had a few changes of clothing, a small blanket, a few coins, and some bread and cheese she’d brought up earlier in the day. She swirled the cloak over her shoulder and clasped it under her chin.

She leapt to her feet and pulled the hood over her head. It was only a few quick steps to a door, and she was out on the small balcony, feeling the cool wet air on her face. She looked up into the rain and smiled.

She lifted her arms to welcome the clouds and willed herself up into the air. She spun through the rain out of sheer excitement, then flew away from the tower.


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Monday, February 19, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 7: DeFrantis

“You leave my chickens be!” The innkeeper grabbed a shovel leaning by the side of the door and stepped toward DeFrantis.

“Wait, wait...” she said, “I don’t mean any harm! I just--” She began backing away, toward the fence.

“No harm would be not trying to steal my chickens!” He shouted, swinging the shovel before him. She dropped the chicken and jumped back, losing her balance. She went down with a splat in the mud and straw. Through the rain in her eyes, she could see him lifting the tool to swing at her again.

She lifted her hands, palms up, and willed herself to be hidden. The shadows all around her swelled up and swirled over her, enveloping her in darkness. She willed it outward, to cover the stockyard.

She heard the innkeeper gasp. “Wizardry!” Then she heard a crash. “I can’t see you, but I can still hit you!”

She rolled to her side, then up to her feet. As quick as she could with the slippery ground, she struggled to reach the back fence. When she reached it, she jumped up and tried to grab on to pull herself over. She slipped and fell with a splash.

“There you are!” He shouted through the rain, “I’ll get you!”

She frantically curled up and tried to make herself as small as possible in the darkness of the shadow. She could hear him slogging through the mud toward her.  She heard him grunt as he swung the pitchfork, once, twice, then she heard only rain. I’m so glad the others usually do this. I’m so bad at it!

She cowered, breathing heavily, and trying to be silent. I’ve got to get out. The shadow won’t last forever. Is he gone? With all the caution she could muster, she slid to her knees, then to her feet. She was near the fence, she was sure, so she reached behind her and felt it. She slowly turned in the dark.

She bent her knees slightly and jumped, reaching the top of the fence and grabbing on. She had swung herself up and hooked her leg over when she felt the sharp pain of impact on her head. It shot down through her whole body. She tensed, then fell, limp, into her own darkness.


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, February 15, 2018

A Tale of Heroes:- Scene 6: DeFrantis

DeFrantis slipped under the window and continued creeping along the street to the back of the inn. As she went, she began to smell the aromas of cooking meats and stews wafting through another open window. It made her empty stomach beg. This was not the distraction she needed.  She kept moving.

Soon the building ended and with it, the overhang. The wall she was leaning on changed to a fence. On the other side of it, she could hear a pig grunting. The smells had also changed. As she continued, the fence also turned a corner, and the street branched to the right into an alleyway behind the inn. The rainwater flowed out of the alley and into the street. She hurried across and into the alley, with the splashes rushing over her shoes and soaking her feet.

Feeling along in the rain and the darkness, she found a gate. She tried it, and it was locked. She looked up to the top of the fence and leapt up and grabbed the top. One of her hands slipped, and she shifted and reached again. She swung her body side to side and pulled herself up and over. She landed, feet-first, in a pile of straw. Her footing slipped in the wet straw and she fell back against the fence.

A light shone into the stockyard from an open door in the back of the inn. She could hear someone inside along with clanging pots. That must be the kitchen. To her right was a lower fence and through its sparse slats, she thought she could make out a pig. Further away, on the left was a chicken coop. Most of the chickens were huddling inside, but a few were pecking around the straw, dung, and mud under an overhanging roof of the coop.

She leaned forward, crouching on her heels and began creeping toward one of the chickens.

“C’mere!” she hissed, trying to both whisper and be a bit louder than the rain. She tried making clucking noises. “Get over here!” She moved forward, reaching for the chicken. It stood and stared at her as she got closer. She set herself for the spring, and threw herself at the chicken. It dodged away in a flurry of flapping and she landed in the muck.

The foul smell hit her immediately and she pulled herself up to her hands and knees. The clucking of the chickens sounded more like laughter to her. She scrambled to her feet and lunged at the nearest one, hissing, “You hold still!”  She grabbed the chicken and stood with a surprised expression and questionable balance. She raised her eyes to look up at the angry innkeeper standing in the light of the doorway.


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.

Monday, February 12, 2018

A Tale of Heroes - Scene 5: Granthurg

The barge deck heaved up and down, and the rain made it slippery and hard to stand steady. The forward pirate grabbed the railing, trying to hold his balance. Granthurg punched the downed man under him, hitting him twice. The barge stabilized a bit, as did the pirate, and Granthurg lifted up to see the him lunge. A sharp, cold pain stabbed into the giant’s shoulder and he lost his balance, falling backward. He smashed onto the deck and the cargo crates, and struggled against the assault, knocking bags and barrels loose.

He looked up into the angry determined face of the assailant as he pulled back on his sword and raised it for a second strike. Even though the man was smaller, he was positioned so as to make it difficult for Granthurg to move. He lifted his arms to shield himself, in spite of the pain.

At that moment, a deep splash of slimy river water rushed over him, down his throat, in his nose, and washed him further down the length of the barge. He rolled over as the water flowed past him, and coughed and gagged, gasping for breath. Finally, as his lungs and his head cleared, he knelt and looked up. Down the walkway, he saw Rinkmorr standing with his hands still forming the follow-through of a watershaping spell. The rest of the riverwater flowed off the barge, and Granthurg saw that the two pirates had been washed off with it.

Suddenly the awareness of the pain in his shoulder returned. He winced as he stood. The clean rain was gradually rinsing off the muddy river water, as well as the blood flowing from his wound. He grabbed the railing for balance, and raised his gaze to his friend.

“I could have handled them.”

“Yeah. Of course.” His boss smiled, with more than a hint of sarcasm. “I’ll bet you could’ve.”


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.

Previous Scene, Next Scene
Start the whole story from the beginningStart from where this current story arc begins.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

The Land of Wynne

The Land of Wynne is the world where we first began our playtesting sessions. It's one of our group's favorite worlds and we have returned to it many times with different parties and different goals.  Now, it's the setting of the fiction portion of the blog, A Tale of Heroes. Here we include a map of the land, along with a little bit of background into each race and the place they inhabit.


We'll begin at the bottom of the map, in the south, with the humans.

The humans in Wynne are physically like those in our world. An adult male would be about 6 feet tall, a female a little shorter.

Where other populations in the world may have a reputation of one kind or another (magic, or mining), the humans are best known for their practicality and adaptability. Even though some humans might have personal or family resentments toward another race or people, for the most part they will trade with, work with, or fight with anyone. As a result, the two largest human cities (Twynne Rivers and Portstown) are an eclectic mix of peoples. It's common to see elves, dwarves, giants, and even pixies buying and selling in the markets right alongside of the more populous humans.

Portstown is along the southern coast, and is the main point where trade happens with human (and non-human) lands beyond Wynne. The city is cut into parts by the Wynne River, which is used to carry freight and travelers north. The giants dominate this service, using nature powers to ply the barges up and down river all the way west to their mountain home and back.

Portstown is a bustling, active city of medium size. Because of the active trade, many go there looking for work or adventure.

Northwest, up the river stream, is the city of Twynne Rivers. It carries that name because it rests in the fork of the Wynne (which flows from the west, from the mountains of the giants) and the Lesser Wynne (which flows from the Umbramoor Swamps in the northwest).

Because it's such a central hub for travel and commerce, it's a large and metropolitan city. Even though the people are predominantly human, there are people of almost all races here. Governed by a feudal king, there are wealthy courtiers and ministers, rich merchants, working-class craftsmen and artisans, as well as poverty-stricken beggars. Soldiers and constables try to keep order, but crime is rampant, especially in certain neighborhoods.

Human society (in both cities, and even in many small villages) is divided by guilds, factions, or churches. All three are organizations with varying goals and beliefs, all vying for status and control. Guilds are usually made up of people with a common bond, like a trade, a location, or an agreement for mutual protection. For example, there is a freighter's guild, a smithy's guild, etc. Each guild will have a pub or some kind of guild house.

A church is another kind of organization that operates in the cities and villages. They're a lot like guilds and factions, but they act more in the spiritual and religious areas of life. Churches can also vie for political power.

Outside the cities, the lands are held by the feudal lords and gentry. Villages and towns dot the lands surrounding the manors and castles of these lords. The lords will often be in allegiance to one of the factions as well as the king.

The Pixies\Fairies

The homeland of these mystical folk lies in the islands to the southeast of PortsTown. There is a lot of variety among them. They can range anywhere from 1 to 3 feet high. The shorter ones will often be winged.

Many humans say to "never trust a pixie". This is not so much because they believe the pixies to be dishonest, but more because the humans and the pixies have a history of antagonizing each other, while at the same time, trading and interacting with each other. Add to that the pixie’s cultural tendency to change their mind at a moment's notice, compared with the human leaders’ need for order, and there are frequent conflicts.

They are often fluent users of all kinds of powers.

The Wood Elves

Immediately to the north of the Twynne Rivers countryside, you'll find the Umbrawood Forest. This is the home to the wood elves.

A typical adult wood elf is about 4 to 5 feet high and quite muscular. Although there are a few larger settlements in the forest (most notably Umbrawood City), they tend to live in small family-based clans in tree-top villages throughout the forest. They have developed their own ways of agriculture, harvesting fruits and fungi from the trees and herding venison.

They tend to be a very magical group, favoring nature powers. They often use these powers to shape their villages, which are more like interconnected levels of tree houses. Even the sprawling Umbrawood City is made from the living trees of the forest.

There is a wood elf high council in Umbrawood City, headed by a King, but the outlying clans and villages really only follow them if all of the forest is in danger. If that happens, they are quick to form up an army and rally to fight.

The wood elves trade frequently in Twynne Rivers. As a result, the concept of the guilds and factions has begun to take hold in their city, much to the frustration of the current ruling class.

They dislike the High Elves, whom they consider to be elitist and arrogant. They have almost no contact with the Dwarves or the Felisians to the east.

The Arachins (Spider-folk)

Umbrawood Forest is home to many strange creatures. One of these is the race of the Arachins, or the Spider-Folk. In the distant past, they were the dominant life in the forest, but have since been slowly crowded out by the wood elves. In appearance they look like larger versions of common jumping spiders. From the ground to the top their heads, they stand 3 to 4 feet high, and can have a leg-span of as much as 6 feet.

Little is known about them. Because they can't form the sounds of humanoid speech, they don't interact with bipedal races. They are brilliantly intelligent, however. They have their own society with its own hierarchy, even though they mostly live solitary lives, living off small animals of the forest.

Most humans fear them, but, in reality, they are reasonable creatures, some good, others bad.

The Khelnar

In the Umbramire swamp, to the west of the forest, many dark creatures live. This includes a race of intelligent lizard-like people known as the Khelnar.

They spawn in the murky depths of the swamp, going through a tadpole-like process of metamorphosis into an adult.

The Giants

Further to the west of Twynne Rivers, the forest, and the swamp, at the end of the Wynne River is the mountain range home of the Giants.

These are tall, strong, and stocky humanoids, who stand anywhere from 7 to 12 feet high. They are not known for their speed or dexterity. Many of them, however, have made a study of nature powers, particularly stone and water. With the skill in water powers, they have made a trade shipping things and people up and down the rivers of Wynne.

They tend to dislike human society and pay little interest to the manipulations of the guilds, factions, and churches of the big cities.

The Western Dwarves

The dwarves are short, yet strong. They typically stand 3 to 4 feet high, yet could easily defeat many humans in tests of strength or endurance.

They live in cities dug into the sides of mountains, as an extension of their mining. They are skilled artificers, and their armor and weapons are prized throughout Wynne. They trade freely with the humans and other races in Twynne Rivers, using the giant barges as transport. They rarely put their efforts or attentions to learning to use powers.

The High Elves

The high elves are similar in height and appearance to the wood elves except they are thinner, with paler skin and more delicate features. They live in the mountains to the north of the forest, primarily in a city built onto the side of a semi-active volcano named Emberfire.

The High Elves claim that they are the race from which all other elves have descended (there are tales of desert dwellers as well as sea elves and even winged cloud elves). This leads them to a certain elitism, even racism, believing that they are superior to the other races. At times in the history of Wynne they have dominated or even ruled the land. For now, they are isolated on their mountaintop, believing all others are beneath them.

They are powerful mages, studying and mastering all kinds of powers. Their armies are fierce, being reinforced with striking powers and driven by pride. In spite of their arrogance and isolation, they have a vast intelligence and communications network throughout Wynne using crystal artifacts (Oculi Creator) infused with blue mental powers.

The Eastern Dwarves

The eastern Dwarves live in a vast intermountain complex\city in the mountains on the eastern edge of Wynne. Physically, they look like their western counterparts, but they have also chosen to isolate themselves from interaction with the rest of the world. They will sell precious and practical metals, as well as gems, but this is done by the rare caravan to Twynne Rivers. Foreign merchants are never allowed into their city.

The Felisians

The Felisians are a tribal and nomadic race of cat-like people who inhabit the plains in between the Umbrawood Forest and the Dwarven mountains. When standing on their two back legs, they are as tall as a human, at about 6 feet. The males are maned and muscular. They all have retractable claws with opposable thumbs.

Their traditional blade weapon, called the claw, is a metal grip that also attaches to the wrist, with one or two long blades extending like short or long swords out over the back of the hand.

They are both fierce fighters and noble friends, but no other race has made any effort to contact them or trade with them, perhaps because they think the cats are "wild" or "uncivilized".

The Dragons

Dragons once ruled all of Wynne, in fact most of the world. They are now few. When not killed outright, they live hundreds of years, growing to lengths of up to 40 feet or more. Dragons are almost always winged, and have the ability to breathe or spit some kind of horrible destruction from their mouths (like fire, acid, frost, etc...). Many of the older dragons are also powerful mages of varying types.

Dragons live reclusively, in mountains, deep swamps or forests, or sometimes in abandoned castle ruins.

In recent generations, there have been more stories of encounters with younger dragons. Some of the older historians and loremasters speculate that more dragons are hatching, and could be preparing for a return to power.