Monday, November 19, 2018

“I Just Need a Little Air” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 78: DeFrantis

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“What are you looking for?” DeFrantis asked, twisting painfully against the pillar she was leaning on.

Eddiwarth stood near the dark window, inspecting it. “I don’t know. The glass looks pretty thick. It might be hard to break.”

She wriggled some more and tried to use the tension on the chains around her wrist to straighten herself. “Come here.”

Eddiwarth tapped on the pane. “Even if we break it, I’m not sure the opening would be large enough for us to get out.” He looked back at  DeFrantis. “Besides, we have to figure out how to get you out of your chains first.”

Karendle added from across the room. “That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s why we got you out.”

DeFrantis added, “Come over here. I think this will help.”

Eddiwarth stepped over to the pillar DeFrantis was chained to. “I’m not sure I understand what you’re getting at.” He grabbed the ring holding the wrist chains tight up above her head and tugged on them. “These feel pretty solid.”

That’s not what I’m talking about. Just focus on what I’m saying. She leaned forward, away from pillar, and arched her back. The position stretched her arms back behind her neck and she winced in pain. “Under my shirt, across my back, there’s a small dagger. That will help you break the window.”

“What?”

Just pay attention and focus! She sighed, then coughed. She leaned her head as far forward and down as she could. “Just reach down my collar, and find the small dagger that I hid there. It’s not that hard.”

“Reach down your shirt?”

Really? This is not that complicated! “Yes, and quickly. This hurts!”.  She hissed, “And don’t think of grabbing anything but the dagger!”

He hesitated and slid his hand down her neck under her collar. His hands felt cold and the invasion was awkward. She felt his arm and hand inch closer to the steel that she had hidden there.

“Got it?”

“Yeah, I think so. It’s not easy to grip.”  He slid his hand out slowly and pulled back. It was a small stiletto, more of roundel dagger. The blade was thin and triangular and came to a sharp point. It had a small metal handle, about as long as the blade, with a T-cross guard. The entire length was crusted with dried and smeared blood.  DeFrantis flexed her back, shifting on the floor. Ah! That’s much better! That’s been poking me ever since I hid it there.

“Ok. Now take that, and use the blade to break the windows.”

He still looked a bit confused, but he started walking over anyway. “Why do we want to break the windows?”

Oh, by the Creator, give me patience! “We need relief from the mage’s bane smoke. If we can get some fresh air, maybe we can muster up the will to break out of these chains!” 

“Just trust us and do it!” Karendle added. “But try to do it as quietly as possible....”

DeFrantis heard a few light taps as he nipped at the glass with the blade. Then there was a harder hit, and another harder one that, with a crackling and tinkling, told her that he had done it. Immediately, she felt a slight and cool breeze dust across her legs. “Yes! That’s it! Do another pane!”

There was another crack and tinkling of glass on the floor. “How’s that?” Eddiwarth called out.

Karendle said, “Now do one on the other end of the room, so the air blows through!”

As he moved, a bit of wind blew across DeFrantis’ face, and she breathed deep, sucking in the cool air. She coughed as she got some of the dense smog in her lungs along with it. “I can... feel it! That’s what we need!”

A moment later another crackle sounded and suddenly a more steady draft was coming into the room. As the smog grew thinner, DeFrantis breathed deep and felt that familiar surge as her head cleared and her will returned. She could hear Karendle taking in air as well.

She brought her hands forward, focusing her attention and her will on the shackles. Her will was weak, but growing, as she surrounded the shackles in shadow. She pulled on them, tensing them against the pillar. She jerked and felt them cut into her wrists. These chains that bind me will no longer hold me down. Now, I am their master! Now, they set me free!

She felt her arms and wrists relax and drop down into her lap as the shackles that held them dissolved into shadow. She looked at them, and rubbed the soreness with her hands, her face in a smile of satisfaction. She hurried to her feet, and strode over to Karendle.  “I’m out! Hold your hands up! Now it’s your turn!” Karendle smiled and raised her shackles.

DeFrantis knelt next to her. As she started to focus on the chains, she heard the wind coming through the broken windows. The wind carried with it the sound of a child crying.


<<<>>>



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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Thursday, November 15, 2018

“Am I Dead?” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 77: Eddiwarth

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Eddiwarth raked his hair out of his eyes and tried to blink away the burning. Something was irritating them. He coughed again, then twice more. Smoke. That’s what’s making my eyes hurt. He coughed again, though not as hard, and was finally able to see, albeit with a bit of a blur.  His head hurt.

He turned his head toward the voice he had just heard. He squinted, and saw the shadowy form of a person sitting by a pillar.  “Who are you?”

“I’m DeFrantis.” It was a feminine voice, fairly young. He blinked and wiped his eyes clear. His elvish vision helped him see a bit better in the dark, too. It was a young lady, wearing dark clothes, and her hands were chained to the pillar. “We need your help.”

“Who is ‘we’?” His voice was still rough from the thick incense in the room. The smell was a sickly sweet note, and it made it hard for him to breathe, and hard to think.

“That would be me. My name is Karendle.” The voice from behind his back startled him, and he quickly spun around. Defensively, he raised his hand, and raised thoughts of fire in his mind. He tried to channel those through his fingers, but there was nothing there. The thoughts and will were weak and empty. No flames, no magic. Nothing.

He looked at his hand and his fingers. Why didn’t that work? Maybe I’m dead. I’ve been killed, and I’m dead.

“Did you just try to blast me?” Karendle’s voice continued, “I can’t say that I’d blame you. But it won’t work here.”

“What?”

The other voice, DeFrantis, said, “Yeah, that smoke you’re breathing is choking off more than your voice. Your magic’s gone, too.”

These voices sound familiar. I’ve heard them, but I don’t remember where. Where have I been? He coughed a few more times, then rasped to clear his throat. He crawled aside, so that he wasn’t trapped in between the two women.

Memories started coming back to him. I was with Hamrisonn in the city. We were looking for someone. I don’t remember who. 

I was on a river barge. He and I were after something, or someone. It was there. I floated down to get it, and suddenly everything went black. I must be dead.

DeFrantis spoke again, “I imagine it’s all kinda confusing. I’m not sure who you are, or why you first attacked us, either. A lot of that can be sorted out later...”

“I attacked you?”

“Yeah, but...”

“Somehow it all went blank. I’ve been out of it for a while, haven’t I?”

“Yeah, a few days, but, like I said, right now...”

“I attacked you? Why? What happened to me?”

Karendle interrupted, “Well, there were people on the barge fighting, then you jumped in, then I jumped in, then people got hurt, and you got trapped, and right now we just need to have you help us get unchained.”

Eddiwarth took all this in. I attacked? I got trapped? 

“We can sort all of that out some other time, though. We need to get out of here and find the children before anyone else comes back and tries to kill us. So, we’d really like for you to help.” DeFrantis said, trying to smile in the dark. “Please?”

“So, I’m not dead?”  This made Karendle laugh. I guess not.

I don’t know. Sure. I can help, I guess. I don’t know what’s going on, but I guess I can help a couple of fair damsels in distress... He stood, then reached his hand out toward DeFrantis, and stopped, remembering. “Wait. How can I help if I can’t use magic?”

DeFrantis sighed. “Yeah, that will make things difficult. But I think you can help us get our magic back.”  She shifted in place, shaking her chains, and pointed to the wall behind her. “Do you think you could break one of those windows?”


<<<>>>



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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Monday, November 12, 2018

“Am I Evil?” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 76: Karendle

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“What? Who?” DeFrantis asked, then gasped with realization, “The wizard you caught on the barge!”

Karendle just nodded, not really thinking that DeFrantis probably couldn’t see her. She was lost in her thoughts as she held the polished stone in her hands. Her dwarven eyes could see a bit in the dark, and she looked at it.

This was to be my new life. Wizard hunter. I was going to get back at the Wizard’s Guild. They were going to pay me well for him. I was going to be able to prove myself. This stone holds all of my opportunity, my future. Should I set all of that free? Should I let it go?

“Can you loose him? Give it a try!”

It also holds a person. A person I trapped. A person I don’t even know. He’s a wizard, and one of the Guild, even! Wizards are evil, right? Like DeFrantis. She’s a wizard, of sorts. But she saved me. And she’s just trying to save the kids. She’s been trying to save them their whole life. How can that be evil? 

She felt the smooth, polished surface under her fingers. It was round and gray, like a stone out of a river. I caught him. I reached out with this stone, and caught him, just like an animal in a trap. I was going to sell him. I would have taken him and sold him to my own connection, in my own little dark market, just like the slavers and thieves were doing. Selling people. Real people. And children!

Does that make me evil? As that thought hit her, she recoiled. I’m not evil! Am I?

“Karendle? Are you alright?”

Karendle took a breath before she said, “Why did I let myself get trapped in their game?” DeFrantis didn’t respond, and Karendle didn’t honestly expect a response.

No more! I choose the game, now. I choose the moves! 

She clenched her eyes and gripped the oculus tight in her determined fist. She stretched out the hand holding the oculus and focused on it. Even using the will embedded in the oculus was difficult with the mage’s bane, but after a moment she felt a shiver, and the stone began to glow with a silvery light. The light grew, and Karendle opened her eyes. She could see across the room, into DeFrantis’ delighted face.

The silvery glow leapt from the stone, in the direction of Karendle’s point, and settled on the floor, surrounding a reclining body. He was wearing the same dark pants and loose shirt he had on the day of the fight on the barge. He lay still until the glow subsided, when he began groaning and rolled over. He breathed, then coughed, hard. He gasped for breath, rasping and finally crawling up on his hands and knees.

“By the Creator!” he wheezed. He tried to look around, sat back on his heels, and finally said, “Where am I?”

DeFrantis just giggled. “We’re not entirely sure, either!”


<<<>>>



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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Thursday, November 8, 2018

“Oh, To Breathe Again” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 75: DeFrantis

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Part 7

Reunion


DeFrantis is trying to find the street children she's been caring for. They'd been taken from her and sold off as slaves. Now, the slavers have captured her and Karendle and are holding them captive. They have managed to magically contact Thissraelle, Antonerri, and Granthurg, in hopes that they'll come to the rescue. But who is The Dragon's Flame?


“I wish I wasn’t so hungry,” DeFrantis heard Karendle say, across the darkness, “Because this gruel tastes absolutely horrible.”

I’ve had worse. DeFrantis thought about that for a moment. Actually, I’m not so sure of that. She carefully held the bowl close to her face, partly because the chains holding her wrist high wouldn’t let her hold it any other way, and partly because that was the only way to use fingers from her other chained hand to scoop the meal into her mouth.

“Is it really this bad,” Karendle continued, “Or is it the mage’s bane smoke that makes it taste like this?”

DeFrantis carefully wiped the last of the gruel from the wooden bowl with her fingers and then licked them clean. Disgusting. But having something in my stomach is a good thing. Something. Anything. 

I wish I’d had a bit of time to prepare. If I’d known when they were going to feed us, I might have been able to figure out a way to snatch a key from the guard. The last time that had happened, with the Confessor Priest and his guard, it was kind of improvised. Maybe it was her hunger and her bane-addled mind, but she hadn’t seen an opportunity to move on this time.

“You’re very quiet.”

DeFrantis raised her gaze. Even though the rain had stopped, the sun had also set, shrouding the entire room in darkness. She squinted to try and see where Karendle had been, where the voice was coming from. There was only shadow and smoke. She dropped the bowl to her lap, and it rolled off and clattered onto the floor.

“So, you’re awake? You’re done eating? Are you lost in thought?”

DeFrantis shifted her aching back, breathed deep, and then coughed. “Yeah. Just thinking.”

“...About...?”

“I’m just trying to think of a way to get us out of these chains.”

“That would be nice.” Karendle agreed. “I hope they can find us soon.”

“Yes, well, that really would be nice. But, honestly,” DeFrantis tensed her chains, “I’m getting a bit tired of waiting. If I could just use my shadow power, I could make short work of these locks. If I could just clear my head!”

“This smoke is just so thick. It’s hard to breathe, much less to think!”

“Well, that’s how the incense works. It makes your head all foggy, and suppresses your will. It makes you despair, if you let it.” DeFrantis crossed her arms and held her shoulders, as if to comfort herself.

“Yeah. I get it. What I wouldn’t give for one breath of fresh air.”

Yeah. Fresh air. To breathe deep and feel alive.

Fresh air.

Fresh Air!

“Fresh air!”

“What?”

“If we can somehow break a window or open a door, that might bring in enough air to restore even a part of our will!” That’s what happened the minute we opened the door to the holding rooms in the guard tower back in Twynne Rivers! The moment I got good breath in my lungs, I felt my will return! “Help me, Karendle! Help me think of something! Is there something we can throw at a window? Maybe someway to wedge the door open when they come in. Anything?”

There was silence as they both tried to think. DeFrantis began to twist and squirm against the chains, trying to see if she could reach where she had hidden the dagger.

Karendle said, “What about the oculi? Can you use any of them? Can you use their will?”

“Are any of them onyx? For shadow?”

“No, and I only know how to use the sapphire for connection. I don’t know if it can be used to move things.”

“Too bad you lost the red one. You could just blow up the chains.”

“Yes, but...” Karendle’s voice trailed off in the dark.

DeFrantis stopped struggling. “...But what?”

“What if someone else broke the window, or opened the door?”

DeFrantis squinted. “What are you talking about.”

“I just remembered that I have someone trapped in this stone...”


<<<>>>



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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Monday, November 5, 2018

“Over the River and Through The Wood” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 74: Antonerri

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Thankfully, the rain had stopped by the time they were ready to travel. It was still overcast, and dark, and the rain had made the ruts of the wagon’s path very muddy. Still the horses were strong and pulled them forward.

“This must be a path they’ve traveled many times. They seem familiar with it.” Antonerri commented. Granthurg nodded.

Getting across the Wynne had been a fairly simple task as well, using Granthurg’s barge. Clearing off the ransacked rubble to make room for the wagon was not as easy and had taken much of the rest of the morning. Then they began the journey into the southern deep of the Umbrawood Forest.

It was dark inside the forest, partly because of the overcast skies, and partly because of the thick canopy of trees which gave the forest its name. The leaves had just come on to the trees about a month before, and were thick and strong. It was clear that this path was used, but not used very much. There was some underbrush, much of it new growth, but it wasn’t high enough to impede movement. Even so, the ground below was uneven, and full of old tree roots and it made travel bumpy and a bit noisy. A thick layer of last winter’s dead leaves, now wet from the spring rains, was helping the wagon get through the mud. It gave a musty smell to the trail.

“I don’t understand.” Antonerri asked, “What is the significance of the Dragons? Who is this ‘Dragon’s Flame’ we’re hearing about?”

Granthurg was thoughtful before responding, “Yeah, I don’t know, either. I’m trying to put it all together in my mind. There are some histories I remember. Some I read, and some I was told as a kid. They say that the Dragons used to rule this land.”

Antonerri was surprised at this. Thissraelle stirred in the back of the wagon and leaned forward between them to hear the story.

“Even before the Mage Kings of the High Elves. The story goes that they were quite oppressive and enslaved the humans for generations. Then they started dying off, and nobody knew why. The humans and the elves finally overthrew them, and that’s when the elven Mage Kings began ruling Wynne. Now, of course, it’s all fractured. It’s like each group has divided up into its own space.”

He paused and thought. “I’m not sure what the ‘Dragon’s Flame’ is. The man who attacked me said they were cultists that worship dragons. There are still dragons in Wynne, but not many live, and few ever see them.”

Thissraelle took this in. Antonerri looked at his companions then down at the horses and the trail before them.

“I’m so grateful to know you two. Your knowledge, and,” He gestured to Thisraelle, “Your magic has been a great help. I hope we can get to DeFrantis before...” His voice trailed off.

Granthurg smiled and put a huge hand on Antonerri’s shoulder. “Don’t worry, friend. We’re here.”

Thissraelle added, “We take care of each other. We’ll find them. Once we’re closer, I’ll be able to place them and hopefully I can open a dimensional portal straight to them.”  She paused, and sighed. “That may, however, take most of my will. I’m not sure how useful I’ll be in a fight after that.”

Granthurg gave Antonerri’s shoulder a friendly shove. “Getting us there will be a great help. Leave the fighting to us. That will be our job!”

“Once we find DeFrantis, hopefully then we’ll be able to find the children she’s looking for.” He smiled at his new friends. Isn’t this what I always wanted? Why I joined the church guard? To fight for those that could not fight for themselves? 

But there was a fear inside him as well. A fear of the unknown. What are we getting into? What’s waiting for us? Am I up to this? We’ll need the blessings of the Creator for this, and I’m not yet sure I deserve that.

The wagon rumbled and creaked along the dark, hidden path.


<<<>>>


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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Thursday, November 1, 2018

“There They Are!” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 73: Granthurg

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<<<>>>

Antonerri pushed the plates, dishes, and food aside to clear a space on the table. He wasn’t too gentle about it, as plates clanked and bits of flatware clattered onto the floor. With a thump and a slight grunt, Granthurg dropped an armload of books and half-loose scrolls onto the table. He began rustling through them as everyone gathered behind him.

After a moment, Granthurg found the particular scroll he was looking for and laid it onto the table, rolling one end out. He paused, then rolled the other end up, and scooted the scroll back to do it again.

“There we go!” He stood up, looking down at the drawing on the table. It was a map, and fairly detailed.  “So, this is Wynne. It’s a really old map, but it’ll help. This is Twynne Rivers, and here are the two branches of the Greater and Lesser Wynne Rivers. All over this area, you can see that land dotted with manors and villages. Over here is the southern part of the Umbrawood forest. If you follow the northern Wynne River along here, you’ll get to Dirae. That’s where we are right now.”

He spun around, trying to orient himself, and mumbled, “Which way is East?”

Antonerri jumped up, too, and pointed, “Well, that door leads into the main sanctuary, so, the front door would be--” He turned a little, “--there.  Then--” He turned a little back the other way, “That would be East.”

Granthurg nodded agreement, and leaned back over the maps. He took the two scroll sticks, lifted the map, and oriented it on the tabletop to line the map’s Eastern direction to the way Antonerri had been pointing.

Antonerri joined him at the table. “Thissraelle! Which way to DeFrantis again?”

Everyone looked at Thisraelle as she pointed out the south window of the hall, toward the river, and the forest. Then he she closed her eyes and took deep breaths. After a moment, she adjusted her arm slightly. “That way.”

“Hold that!” Granthurg said, and began tracing a line from Dirae that followed the general direction of Thissraelle’s arm.

“Just a minute.” Antonerri drew his sword and laid the straight edge of the blade at Dirae. He turned it, glancing up to match the direction as close a he could to Thissraelle’s arm. “Like this?”

Thissraelle looked down and nodded.

They all looked as Granthurg’s finger followed the edge of the blade across the river and into the forest. Soon it touched a spot marked with a shield and some small writing. Granthurg squinted close and read, “Barony of Westwood.”

“What’s that?” Thissraelle asked. Everyone looked at each other, but nobody, including the friars, had ever heard of it.

“Hold on...” Granthurg moved a few of the scrolls and grabbed a tome he’d been reading. It was labelled “Wynne”. “This is where I found out about the dagger!” He began flipping the pages.

Antonerri glanced over at Thissraelle with a hopeful look. “Is this where DeFrantis is?” Thissraelle just shrugged, but smiled, anyway.

“THERE! Oh, by the Creator!” Granthurg called out, and pointed at the page. It was full of shields, coats of arms, and at the top was the title “Heraldry of House Twynnham of Wynne”. Granthurg was pointing to a crest. The others looked at the page, at his insistent finger, then up at Granthurg. They didn’t share his moment of clarity. “That crest was carved into the side of the wagon we took from the slave market! I didn’t think much of it at the time, because the wood planks were weathered and it was hard to recognize the charge. I assumed it was a gryphon or a lion or something. But I’ve figured it out! I know where they are!”

Antonerri glanced back down at the page, at the crest under Granthurg’s large tapping finger.  “It’s a dragon!”

<<<>>>




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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Monday, October 29, 2018

“They Went That Way” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 72: Thissraelle

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<<<>>>

“What are you waiting for, child?” Brother Mathazar’s question interrupted her thoughts. “Eat! Eat!”

She startled then looked back down at her bowl of stew. The smell of the rich brown broth wafted up into her face, and the meat and vegetables looked appetizing as well.  Beside her steaming bowl was a torn half-loaf of bread. She picked up her spoon and smiled. “Thank you!”

“What has your mind so enraptured?”

She looked over at him, then at the others. Next to him were two other monks each dipping into their own bowls, and across from them sat Antonerri and Granthurg. The giant was, at least, eagerly slurping on his stew, alternating mouthfuls with the bread. The sight of him stuffing his mouth made Thissraelle giggle.

He stopped for only a moment. “What?”

She smiled and took a spoonful of stew. It was delicious and full of savory flavors. She swallowed and reached for her bread.

“I’ve just been thinking of all that’s happened to us. How we all came to be in this place, and now all that we are finding out about the Dragon’s Flame.” She raised the bread. “It’s kind of overwhelming.” She took a bite.

“True. You’ll no doubt be wanting to find your other friends as well.”

Antonerri raised his gaze as he heard that, and Thissraelle nodded. She lifted her spoon again.

“Are you there?”

Thissraelle’s head jumped up and looked around, confused.

“Are you there? Can you hear me?”

She dropped her spoon with a clatter and stood up from the table. She looked frantically around the room.

Granthurg said, “Thissraelle! What’s wrong?”

“I know that voice!” She whispered. “Where is she?”

“You CAN hear me! Talk to me!”

Thisraelle shook her head and closed her eyes. She’s in my head.

“Yes! I am!”

Where are you? Are you well?

“DeFrantis is with me! We’re captured! We need your he--”

“Where are you?” The others at the table stared at her outburst. Her mind fell silent. Frantically, she cleared her thoughts and opened herself up. She looked around the table, trying to find support. “Where ARE YOU?” She shouted again.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorr--”

No! Come back! Talk to me! Where are you? Her mind, her thoughts were silent. The connection was gone.

She stepped away from the table and closed her eyes. She raised her hands out to her side and began slowly turning.

Granthurg stood. “Thissraelle, are you OK?”

“They reached out to me. They contacted me.”

“Who?” All eyes were on her as she slowly turned. Her hands and head began to slowly glow with an azure halo.

“Karendle.” She kept turning, then stopped. “And DeFrantis.”

Antonerri jumped to his feet. “DeFrantis! Where?”

Thissraelle moved one arm before her to point. “That way. I don’t know how far, but they’re that way.” They all looked where she pointed, out the rain-spattered window into the cloudy dark beyond.


<<<>>>




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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
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Wednesday, October 24, 2018

“A Gem of an Idea” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 71: Karendle

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<<<>>>

“That’s it!” Karendle gasped. “That’s my pouch! How did you get it?”

DeFrantis smiled. “I picked it up off the floor after I healed you. I didn’t know what it was, but you were reaching for it when I got to you. I figured it was important. I didn’t even have a chance to look in it.”

“They didn’t take it from you when they hauled us away?”

“When you’re a street kid, you learn where to hide stuff that’s been stolen.” DeFrantis chuckled. “I’ve got your dagger, too.”

Karendle looked surprised. “I didn’t have a dagger...”

“Yes, you did. Stuck between your ribs. It’s a pretty small one.” She shifted on the floor. “I’m not sure I could reach it right now, though.”

She held the pouch in her hands in front of her and began to untie the leather strap. It wasn’t easy with her hands suspended by the chains. She looked in the pouch. “I can’t see very well. There looks like one, two, three stones.”

They looked at each other for a moment, and Karendle nodded. “I’d like to fix this. Can you throw me the pouch?”

DeFrantis nodded and re-tied the strap. She wound it up into as small and tight of a bundle as she could, then tossed it. The chains rattled and snapped her arm back. The pouch flew about halfway across the room, then slid a few more feet, still a good distance from Karendle.

Karendle swore an old dwarvish curse. She reached out with her leg to try and scoot it towards her, but couldn’t reach it.

“Try again,” DeFrantis called out. Karendle scooted herself as far from the wall as she could and tried to lay flat on the ground. She stretched her legs out and pointed her toes at the pouch. It was close, but still not enough.

Grunting with pain, she pulled against the chains and reached again, this time able to nudge the pouch with her toes. She carefully pressed on it and shifted it slightly toward her before her foot slipped off. Her arms were hurting in their sockets, as they had to both reach and support her weight. She reached again and was able to move it closer a few more inches.

She slouched, gasping for breath.

“One more try!”

As she drew in breaths, the smoke from the incense made her cough. She took in a breath, and held it as she reached her toes past the pouch and drew it toward her. Then, panting, and coughing, she shifted back to the wall, moving the pouch with her foot along the way. Finally, she sat again, with the pouch in front of her.

“Great. Now how am I going to pick it up?” She looked at DeFrantis, who shrugged. There’s gotta be a way to do this. She looked down at the pouch on the floor between her outstretched legs, right between her knees.  My knees...

She used her feet to push herself and the pouch as close to the wall as she could, then, using the chains as a support, pulled her legs behind her and got up until she was kneeling.  Yes! Yes, this can work!

“What are you doing? Are you getting it?”

Karendle didn’t answer. She moved her knees together, pressing the pouch between them. She pressed hard, gripping it as tight as she could. Then, with a grunt, she pulled on the chains, lifting herself up off the floor slightly. She flipped her legs out from under her and dropped herself back to the floor. She closed her knees to her chest, and fell back against the wall, again panting and coughing from the exertion and the smoke.

“What did you do?”

Karendle opened her eyes and saw the pouch sitting snug between her upraised knees. She reached down with one hand, straining against the chains and took the pouch in her fingers. She gingerly lifted it up and took it securely in both hands and finally relaxed her back and legs. As she slouched, she untied the strap and shook the stones out onto her hand. Two gray stones and a blue gem.

“I got them!” She held them up for Karendle to see. “I got them!”

She looked at them and held them as if she was holding her whole life. The red one’s gone. I must’ve dropped it when he attacked. Oh, well. The blue one’s right here. And here’s the stone with the wizard. She looked at it intently, as if she were trying to see him inside of it.

She shook off her thoughts and put the two gray stones back in the pouch, holding tight to the sapphire. She set the pouch on her shoulder and held the blue stone up before her. She looked across the dim fog at DeFrantis. Her friend smiled and nodded slowly.

OK. Here we go. 

She turned her focus to the gem.



<<<>>>




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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox!

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Monday, October 22, 2018

“Magic, or No Magic” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 70: DeFrantis

Here's how you can read the story a week (two scenes) ahead of everyone else!

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The morning had dawned, but the rain fell on. It was still dark, but some light was getting through the clouds, the trees, and finally the windows. DeFrantis could finally see across the dim and hazy room. It was not as large as an open hall in a castle, but it had a high ceiling and walls, each decorated with several tall windows. Tapestries and curtains hung around in the shadows of the room. It looked like the place had once been a manor for a well-to-do noble, but it hadn’t been cared for in years. There were no furniture pieces, only a few pillars reaching upward into the darkness from the stone floor.

Karendle was slouched against the far wall, with her wrists and forearms dangling by the chains in front of her. Her head was tipped, and her breathing was heavy.

Well, I’m glad one of us can sleep, at least. I guess it’s about time we figure out what we’re going to do.

“Hey!” She called out, trying to rouse Karendle. There was no response. “Hey! Wake up!”  Her head bobbed a little.

“Karendle! Hey!”

“What? Wha -?” Karende raised up and blinked.

“Wake up!”

Karendle lifted her hands and ran them over her face and through her hair, shaking the chains as she did. DeFrantis could barely see the outline of her face and her short, stocky form in the shadows. She heard a grunt.

DeFrantis spoke first, “I’m hungry and I want to find my kids. I don’t know why they didn’t just kill us outright, but we’re here, we’re alive, and I’m wanting to get out of here.”

There was silence for a moment, as Karendle shook herself awake. “ OK, great. I’m all for that. How do we do it? Can you wizard up a way out of these shackles?”

“Not with all this mage’s bane in the air.”

“Huh?  Mage’s bane? What’s that?”

“It’s what’s making all the smoke that’s been choking up your lungs. It blocks your ability to use magic.”

The wind had picked up a little and was blowing the rain more fiercely against the windows. There were no thunderclaps, though, with this storm. Karendle mumbled, “Do you think they’ll bring us anything to eat? If someone does, maybe one of us could overcome him and get a key.” She yanked on her chains either to test them or simply to punctuate her thought. “That would be pretty difficult, though.”

Karendle continued, “Maybe Antonerri or that Giant guy have been looking for us. Maybe we’ll get rescued.”

DeFrantis wasn’t very hopeful. “I don’t even know where we are. How would they find us?” How would they find us. Are they even looking? Did Antonerri even survive the fight? She shook her head, rejecting that thought.

Karendle interrupted her dark reverie. “Too bad we can’t send them a message, right?”

Send them a message! DeFrantis’ head shot up, her eyes suddenly alert. “Hey, when you were back in town, how did you contact the men who had hired you?” Her voice was quick, suddenly intense.

“What?”

“You said you told them you’d caught a wizard, right? And they told you to go back for Thissraelle, right?”

“Yesss....”

“So how did you contact them?”

“I used an oculus. A blue gem. I just focused on it, and I spoke with them.”

“Great!”

“But isn’t that magic? I thought you said we can’t do magic with all this something bane smokey stuff!”

DeFrantis’ mind was rushing through a thousand thoughts at once. “But the priest used powers! He blasted Antonerri over and over! How did he do it?”  Her mind began running through her memories of that night.

“What priest?” Karendle sat up, confused. “What are you talking about?”

DeFrantis pictured the Confessor Priest, standing outside her cell, in an elaborate white robe. She saw him turn and shout at Antonerri, and raised his staff. His staff had a glowing gemstone! “An oculus! There was an oculus on the staff! Maybe the mage’s bane doesn’t stop powers from oculi!”

Karendle’s confused look made DeFrantis say it again. “I think we can use your oculi! If that’s true, we might be able to contact them! Thissraelle uses the powers of the mind, maybe we can reach her with your blue gem!”

“Well, that may well be, but I don’t have it. They took my pouch when they captured us.” Karendle slumped again. She had gotten a bit caught up in the excitement.

“Well, maybe they didn’t.”

“Come again?”

DeFrantis shifted her weight, raising herself up on her legs. She reached through her collar, deep under her shirt. It was tricky to reach, because the chains restricted her movement, but in a moment she pulled out her hand and a leather pouch with a drawstrap. She held it out toward Karendle.

“Is this what you’re talking about?”


<<<>>>



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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox!

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Thursday, October 18, 2018

“It’s Not Just a Dagger” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 69: Granthurg

It was mid-morning, but it was still dark and gloomy outside of the cathedral hall. Where normally the rising sun would have streamed bright colors through the eastern stained glass windows, like it had just the day before, now thick rainclouds made it almost as dark as the night. Rain streamed down from those windows, beating with the winds against the panes.

Granthurg sat at a table that had been set up in the back of the sanctuary, strewn with scrolls and a few books. The corner was lit by a few oculus lanterns, creating a glow that made the pages shine and fed his hunger for understanding.

The Dragon’s Flame. The Dragon’s Flame... He leaned back in the chair and heard it creak with strain under his huge weight. He wiped his face with his hands and rubbed his eyes.

He reached over and picked up the ivory dagger. He hefted it, musing. Why does everyone seem to want you bad enough to kill for you? 

When he and Thissraelle had gotten back from the barge late last night, he had wanted to break open his scrolls immediately. Thissraelle had convinced him to get some sleep first. He agreed, but didn’t sleep that much, and got up early anyway. The few resident monks were already moving about and attending to their daily lives, and helped him to set up the table.  As he began to spread out his scrolls, they had mentioned that the Father kept a small library in his chambers there at the cathedral.

Granthurg set the blade back down and turned a few more pages in the tome he had been looking through. It seemed to be records and observations kept by the Father about religious influences in the south of Wynne.

He turned another page and looked at its title: How Can We Justify the Sacerdotis Confesoris? What? He read about the tortures used to extract confessions by some in the city of Twynne Rivers. Intrigued, he turned the page again, but there was no more on the topic. I wonder if this is why Antonerri and DeFrantis didn’t want to come here to the cathedral.

He turned a page, then another, skipping ahead to see if there were more on the topic, then stopped, staring at a drawing on the page. That’s it! That’s the dragon breathing flame! It was a drawing of a dragon with spread wings holding its head up, blowing tongues of fire up into the sky, the whole image surrounded by a circle. He picked up the blade and turned it to place the pommel next to the drawing. The dragon’s tails were curled in different loops, and the flames flickered with differing tongues, but they were too similar to be a coincidence.

The door to the sanctuary creaked as it swung open. Brother Mathazar stepped in. “I’m sorry to bother you. It’s so good to have company here, so we love to accommodate whenever we do!”

Granturg looked up, distracted. A man stepped in behind the Brother, the man Granthurg had fought in the field the day before. He walked with a bit of a limp and soreness, and his hands and feet were chained. His face was down, and he didn’t look nearly as threatening as he had then. The fact that he was flanked by two armed and armored town guards ready to take him into custody made him even less so.

Brother Mathazar shrugged. “He said he wanted to talk to you before he left.”  He stepped back, and nodded to the two guards before gently closing the door. It clicked in the heavy, awkward silence.

Finally, without looking up, the man spoke. “You brought me back here and had me healed.” Granthurg just looked at him closely, until he continued. “I couldn’t move. You could have easily left me there in the meadow, in pain, for the wolves. Now, I’m alive. I can walk.” He looked at the shackles on his wrist.

He looked up at Granthurg and the things on the table, seeing the dagger. He smiled a little. “I guess you do have it, after all.”

Granthurg laughed and picked it up. “This isn’t mine. My boss--My friend owns it. I had no idea this was what all of you were after. I don’t know what it is, still.”

The man shrugged. “Others will still come after it. Lots of people want it. Lots of powerful people. Lots of people who aren’t powerful enough, yet.” He looked at Granthurg and smiled. “But don’t worry. I won’t tell them you have it. I’ll tell them it’s gone. I owe you that much.” The guards looked at each other with uneasy glances, then pulled on the chains, moving him toward the door.  “Looks like I’ve got to go.”

“Yes,” Granthurg replied, adding, “Bless your steps.” The man nodded, accepting the blessing, and stepped toward the door, chains clinking on the floorboards. The guards opened the sanctuary door with a creak.

“A question for you!” Granthurg blurted. The man stopped and looked back. “You said I was going to sell this to The Dragon’s Flame. Who is that?”

He nodded. “I only know what I’ve heard. I was sent from Twynne Rivers and I don’t know Dirae very well. But it’s said that they’re a dark and dangerous cult that worships dragons. I think they were tangled up with the slavers at the old inn. Don’t let them know that you have that blade. I’ll bet that won’t go well for you.” He took in a breath, then bowed his head slightly toward Granthurg. “Bless your steps.”

Granturg nodded, and the man stepped through door. As it closed, Granthurg looked back down to the image on the page.

Worships dragons?


<<<>>>


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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!
Thank you: Chet Cox!

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Monday, October 15, 2018

Shameless Plug #2

Hey, everyone!

Thanks so much for coming to our blog and reading about gaming! Thanks for following the story, and our characters, Granthurg, DeFrantis, Thissraelle, Antonerri, and Karendle. Just yesterday, my son, Jacob, and I worked out the basic plot outline for the next story arc, well into next May or June! I say, I'm very excited!

This weekend, if you're in Northern Utah, in Provo, please come see us at the Timpanogos Game Convention! We'll be demoing The Hero's Tale and Seeker's Quest both Friday and Saturday!

Also, if you believe in great games with your kids for amazing bonding and family learning, and if you've been enjoying the thread of our fantasy story, please consider supporting us with a Patreon pledge! Just a few dollars will help, and will allow you to read the story a week in advance of everyone else! You can spoil it for your friends!  :-)

Thanks so much for your visits, your comments and your support!


“It’s a Long, Long Story” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 68: Karendle

Karendle pushed her back up against the wall, and brought her knees up to her chest. The chains on her wrists made that difficult. The stone masonry was cold against her back.

How can I tell her? I was trying to capture her, not kill her! But, I would have sold her out just like the slavers. And my contacts told me not to tell anyone. But she saved my life. I owe her at least that much, don’t I? But where do I start? She thought for a moment, then began.

“I came to Twynne Rivers from the western mountains because I wanted to learn to do magic. I went to the wizard’s guild, but they wouldn’t take me. I’m part Dwarf, and Dwarves don’t ‘do’ magic. Or at least the High Elves in the guild don’t think so. I met a couple of humans who told me how I could do magic right away, and even get back at the guild. I was thrilled! They showed me these stones, gems, that gave me magic.”

“Oculi?”

“Yep. They showed me how to use them, a little. Then, they told me that I had to go capture wizards. Two of the stones they gave me, gray, dark stones, were just for that.”

“That’s how you zapped the one on the barge?”

“Yes. They said that wizards are evil and are ruining our city. They said they’d pay me well for every wizard I brought them. So, I set out on my task. I heard about a shadow wizard that had been caught stealing from a local inn, and I figured that would be an easy start.”

“So, that was me.”

Karendle hesitated. “That was you. I lost you for a while after you ran from the tower. I wasn’t trying to kill you. I was trying to catch you. I didn’t really know how to use the stones. I guess I still don’t. I lost you, anyway, but found you back at the waterfront on Grunthos’ barge.”

“Granthurg.” DeFrantis corrected.

“Yeah. Him.” Karendle took a breath, choked, and coughed. She shifted against the wall. “So, when the fight started, I thought it was others coming after you. I rushed in. When the other wizards showed up, I don’t know why, I suddenly had a chance to get a guild wizard! And it worked! I was so excited! The guys that hired me were pretty pleased as well. I was going to take him back to Twynne Rivers and get paid. I would have been out of your life completely.  But then....”

Karendle didn’t like the pause. “But then... what?”

“They told me to go back. They wanted Thissarill, or whatever her name is. I guess she’s a big deal for the wizard’s guild or something. They told me to capture her. I don’t really know why.” I don’t really know why I’m doing any of this. “But before I could get back to the inn, I was robbed, and he stole my pouch with all of my gems. I had to get it back, so I tracked him to the dark market, where the slavers were. You have to understand, my whole new life was given to me in that pouch, and taken from me when he robbed me! I fought him and grabbed it. That second blast was meant for him, not you. I grabbed my oculi and blasted him, just out of sheer spite. It didn’t work. I missed him. He rushed me and stabbed me instead. He would have killed me.”

Karendle fell silent for a moment.

DeFrantis continued, “In the chaos you created, I lost sight of the children being sold. I had hoped that they would lead me to the children I’ve been looking for. Now I have no idea what happened to any of them. I have no idea what happened to Antonerri, either.”

Karendle dropped her head to her hands. The smoke irritated her eyes. “I’m so sorry. I was only worried about myself. Now here’s the mess I’ve gotten us into.”

Then they fell silent. Only the steady rain and the occasional lightning flash cut through the haze.



<<<>>>


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. If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!


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Thursday, October 11, 2018

“It’s a Long Story” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 67: Karendle

A stroke of lightning hit very close, with a bright flash and loud clap. Karendle jolted awake with a shout, a gasp, and a jangle of chains. The room was dark once again, and she tried in vain to see her surroundings. She could hear rain pelting windows, but could see no light from them. The air was thick with a heavy, musky incense that was difficult to breathe. The floor below her legs was cold, hard stone. She tried to stand, but the chains on her wrists, over her head, prevented her. She moved her legs under her and sat up against the wall that held her shackles.

“So, you’re awake now.” A voice spoke to her from across a room. She tried to focus her eyes in the direction. It was female, and it sounded familiar. It carried a tone of anger, though, that she didn’t quite recognize.

“Who are you?” The smoke made Karendle cough when she first spoke. “Where are you?”

“I’m right here. I’m chained to the wall, like you are.” DeFrantis replied. “And you know who I am.”

Karendle was surprised. “I do?”

“You’ve been chasing me for a week, now, but I have no idea why. I would say that you had finally caught me, but it looks like you’re just as caught as I am!”

Silence fell again, with a weight that hung like the smoke in the thick air. The only sound was the rain. Lightning struck again, more distant, but still bright enough to flash through the windows and illuminate the room. She recognized DeFrantis in the shadows from across the floor, and she looked away.

Her mind was clearing, now, as she became more fully awake. She remembered things, images. You were running from the guard tower, and I threw a blast at you. You were on the barge when I captured the other wizard in the stone, and when we traveled up the river. You, the giant, the elf girl, and the other man. You were there at the dark market when I got my oculi back from the thief. You were there when he stabbed me...

“You were the one that healed me!”

“Yes. Yes, I was.”

After a pause in the darkness, Karendle asked, “Why did you save me?”

“I don’t know. Maybe you can tell me why you were trying to kill me!”

“I wasn’t trying to kill you!”

“A couple of fireballs say otherwise!”

“That wasn’t meant for you!” Karendle thought that over, “At least, the one in the market wasn’t...” The rain again filled the empty spaces in between their words. “Maybe I’d better explain.”

“Yes. Maybe that would be a good idea. Take your time. I’m not going anywhere.” Karendle heard DeFrantis’ chains rattle, as if she were settling in for a long story.


<<<>>>


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.If you like this story, support us at our Patreon!


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Tuesday, October 9, 2018

The Murder Hobo - How to Be a Great Narrator (Game Master), #3

Recently a friend of my son’s was over an they were playing Fallout. Actually, the friend was playing, and my son was mostly watching. I don’t know much about the game. I was sitting at the kitchen table writing scenes for “A Tale of Heroes” (the next few have been really cool for me to write!), but I was marginally paying attention. I’ve also watched them play it pretty extensively before. It seems to be mostly wandering around trying to not be killed by various mutant monsters. Yes, there are some other characters involved that you occasionally meet, but mostly, you’re running around trying not to be killed.

And, much of that “trying not to be killed” part involves killing everything else out there. There’s a kind of core assumption that anything that doesn’t look like (mostly) a human is dangerous and should be killed immediately. Then, when their bodies litter the ground, you can search them over for anything useful to your survival and move on.

Fallout 4 is rated “M” for “Mature”, and this description is from it’s ESRB page:

“Content Descriptors: Blood and Gore, Intense Violence, Strong Language, Use of Drugs

“Rating Summary: This is an action role-playing game in which players assume the role of a fallout shelter resident emerging from a post-apocalyptic world. As players traverse the open-world environment, they complete various mission objectives and use machine guns, machetes, lasers, and explosives to kill mutants and other human survivors. Battles are frenetic with realistic gunfire, explosions, and large blood-splatter effects; some attacks result in slow-motion dismemberment and decapitations. A handful of scenes depict chunks of flesh as well as severed heads and dismembered corpses. During the course of the game, players can consume a variety of fictional drugs (e.g., Buffout, Jet, Psycho) through the use of a menu; repeated use of these drugs leads to an addiction status and various negative effects for characters. The words “f**k,” “sh*t,” and “a*shole” are heard in the dialogue.”

Now, whether or not games are too violent is not my point, here. My frustration is that this text not only shows the more extreme moments of combat, it also pretty effectively describes the plot. By that, I mean the entire point of the game. There really doesn’t seem to be much deeper substance there beyond killing things and grabbing stuff.

Now, there’s more than just rated M games that seem to suffer from this malady. I love to play “Breath of The Wild”. This one is rated E10+ (meaning that it’s rated for all players, but recommended more for ages 10 and up). There’s a little more to the story line, and a few more options for actions, but mostly it involves wandering the open countryside killing bokoblins (or other denizens of evil) and taking what they have that’s of use.

There are thousands of other games with a similar, underlying concept. Even games as “child-friendly” as Adventure Quest and Wizard/Pirate 101 are still all about wandering around, defeating bad guys and taking their loot.

All of this comes, I believe, from the rich tradition of tabletop role-playing games. In the beginning, D&D began as primarily a dungeon crawl game. As a party of adventurers, you found a underground network of halls and chambers (no one is sure who built it), populated by horrific monsters (no one is sure where they came from), that got stronger and more terrible the deeper you went (no one knows why the structure was dug so deep). As the game moved into above-ground adventuring, it was easy enough to carry on the tradition of killing and looting. It’s easy to justify if you’re raiding orc and goblin encampments, but if your character is evil, it’s a lifestyle that’s easy to claim.

And thus, the murder hobo was born.

The murder hobo wanders from village to village, killing and looting. As an RPG lifestyle, it’s an easy way to live. You have a constant source of experience points and gold pieces to feed on, and before long, you’ve leveled up enough to be a feared local legend.

While the community may mock the playstyle, it seems most tabletop and electronic game systems still actively encourage this way of life. I’m kinda surprised that it’s not its own character class by now.

So, what can you do? Well as the GM (Narrator) of the story, you can do two things:

First, you can make a story line so exciting and compelling that the idea of just wandering the countryside making mayhem is downright boring. Give a focus, set up a quest. Give them some real, true villians to fight! Make it a real story!
Second, make consequences happen! If someone kills just out of spite, greed, or boredom, have the friends or family of the victim come after the character. Constables, guards, or local law can come down hard on the lawless as well. Finally, in The Hero’s Tale, use negative karma points to make life difficult for the offender.

Maybe there is a villian among the villagers! I think a cool 2-3 session adventure would be for a party to be hired by a local king or noble to go capture a local murder hobo who is causing panic amongst his peasants. Find him and bring him to justice!

Let’s make our games less rampage-ey, and more heroic!



<<<>>>


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.If you like this story, support us at our Patron!

Monday, October 8, 2018

“The Dragon’s Flame” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 66: Granthurg

The rain wasn’t hard, but it was steady, forming pools and streams in the street. Grathurg and Thissraelle held their cloaks tightly as they moved through the dark from the cathedral to the wharf.

“Slow down a little!” Thissraelle complained, “Where are you going?”

“Back to the barge. And I don’t want to be seen.” He said, glancing back over his shoulder. She ran a few steps to catch up to him.

“What’s at the barge?”

“Answers, I hope.” He kept up his stride. Assuming everything is still there.

They approached the wharf. The waterfront in Dirae was pretty long, and there were several docking ports for boats and barges. There were crates and boxes all along the street above the docks, and Granthurg slipped between them to cover his movement. It wasn’t easy, as tall as he was. Thissraelle followed suit.

“You OK?” He asked, as they paused behind some cargo at the top of the dock.  She nodded.  He looked up and down the riverfront, illuminated by a couple of bright oculi suspended on poles high above the wharf structure. He moved quickly, but carefully down the slippery dock to his barge. When he got there he stepped onto it, and helped Thissraelle. He immediately moved past their own cargo toward the steering platform at the stern. As he did, he saw that the boxes and crates had been untethered and tossed around. Many had been opened, with their contents strewn over the deck, now soaked and ruined. He heard Thissraelle say, “What happened here?”

Granthurg stepped over the clutter and said, “They’ve been here. I knew it. They probably searched here when their man didn’t come back from the dark market. I’m glad we were safe up in the Cathedral.”

He stepped up onto the platform, under the tarp. The noise of the rain beating on it was oppressive. One of the barge’s lighting oculi had been taken, and the other was dim, making it hard to see. Before him on the deck was his trunk, opened and overturned. He sighed and bent down, turning it upright. He knelt and began putting scrolls and clothing back into the trunk. Thissraelle knelt next to him and helped. “Some of these got a little wet from the rain. Still, it looks like they’re not badly damaged.” They latched the trunk closed.

“Is that what you wanted? Your scrolls?” Thissraelle asked.

“Yes, partly.”  But there’s more. Before she could ask, Granthurg had turned around and stepped off the stern of the barge, landing in the river with a huge splash.

“Granthurg!” Thissraelle scrambled to the edge of the platform, and looked over just as his head bobbed up out of the water. He spat and shook the drops from his face, a gesture that was a bit useless in the rain. Then he rose up and stood on the bottom. The water was just below his shoulder. He smiled up at her. “It’s not that deep here.” He stepped forward, then ducked his head as he passed under the barge, between the long floats that kept it buoyant. He felt along the floats as he moved further into the darkness, his hands searching.

“Are you OK back there?” Thissraelle was leaning over, with the rain falling on her head, trying to look over the edge.

His hands hit the box, and he reached up to untie it. Once it was freed, he held it over his head and moved through the water back to the stern. His boots were slow on the slippery, muddy riverbed as he ducked to come out from under the barge.

He handed it up to Thissraelle. It was a small, wooden box, only a few feet long and a half a foot wide. She set it on the platform.

“Can you lift me up?” Granthurg said with a smile.

Thissraelle laughed a little at the irony, then extended her hand. Nothing happened. Granthurg looked up, blinking in the rain.

“Hang on”, she said, and refocused. Her hand began glowing slightly with a shade of blue, and Granthurg raised up, dripping, until he was even with the platform. He hovered there, and shook most of the water out of his shirt and pants, then stepped onto the barge. He knelt and reached for the box, being careful not to drip on it.

“What is it?” Thisraelle leaned in to look.

“I don’t know. It’s Rinkmoor’s. I suspect it’s what these attackers have been after, so I hid it that night that everyone else slept in the inn.” Granthurg set it in front of him. “It’s not mine, so I didn’t want to open it. But if our life is at risk, I need to know what we’re dealing with.” He looked at her, as if for approval, or reassurance.  She nodded.

He reached to his right and grabbed a small metal wrench from the deck, and easily twisted off the lock. Gently, he raised the lid.

Inside was a beautifully ornate dagger, with a curved white blade and a finely stitched leather hilt, set on soft black velvet. Granthurg picked it up and turned it in his hands. The blade looked like ivory, but not like any he had seen before, and was etched with intricate and overlapping lines. The crosspiece was a dark metal and shaped like two arms with clawed hands. The pommel at the end was a large disc with a pattern carved into it. Granthurg turned it in the dim light to see it better, and sharply drew in his breath. “Oh, Rinkmorr, what have you gotten yourself into?”

“What?” Thisraelle asked, “What is it?”

He turned the blade to show her the design. It was a dragon, breathing fire.


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Thursday, October 4, 2018

“The Prayer of the Wicked” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 65: Antonerri

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Antonerri picked up a small reed from the cup by the candles. His arm was sore and stiff from the bruising he’d received at the dark market inn. He held the reed in the flame of a candle until it caught a small tongue of its own fire. Then he slowly, painfully, used it to light more candles for his own prayers.

The sanctuary of the cathedral was dark, punctuated only by occasional colorful outbursts of lightning coming in through the stained glass from the storm cascading outside. The room smelled of incense and heating fires. The warm glow of the candles in the rack surrounded him as he knelt down before them.

He bowed his head.

But no words came.

His heart was filled with emptiness. He knelt as an offering, but had nothing to offer his Creator, nothing to give. Only failure.

He heard footsteps behind him, but didn’t look up or turn. He heard the rustling of robes as Brother Mathazar also lit a few candles and knelt down beside him.

After a few moments of silence, Brother Mathazar spoke. “We’ve moved the children you rescued safely to our orphanage. Are you well? You took quite a beating.”

Antonerri kept his head bowed in silence.

“But I suspect,” Brother Mathazar continued, “That the beating you have taken has been much deeper than what happened yesterday.”

Antonerri breathed deeply but still kept his gaze on the candles. “And DeFrantis? Is there any word?”

The brother shook his head, and looked at Antonerri. “They say that confession is good for the soul...”

At that, Antonerri tensed, and stared intensely at the monk. His eyes narrowed, and he hissed with menace, “The last time I was told to confess, to purify my soul, the powers of light were not so cleansing.”

Brother Mathazar turned and sat on the steps of the altar. “I don’t know what you’ve been through, or what you may have done. I don’t claim to have any answers, either. I’m just offering a chance for you to unburden.”

Antonerri looked him over, then returned his eyes to the candles. “I am unworthy. But I don’t understand it. I have been cast from the church, and my own powers have left me,” He took a breath, “And I have no idea why. My greatest sin is to defend the weak, to fight for those that can’t fight for themselves. Isn’t that what we’re supposed to do?”

The brother nodded.

Antonerri continued, “So what great sin am I guilty of? Why has the Creator abandoned me?” The rain blew on the windows as he fell silent again.

“Has He?”

Antonerri glared at him again, with a quizzical brow.

“I don’t know, but it seems to me that he’s still using you to help the weak. You have saved three children from the depths of misery. You have three friends who value you enough to save you, and it looks like there is at least one other that needs your strength now. I wonder how they all feel about your ‘worthiness’.” He reached out and grasped Antonerri’s shoulder and patted it in reassurance. Then he pressed on it to support himself as he stood.  “I’ll bet they lean on you, too.”

He stepped away from the altar. “I’ll leave you to your prayers.”


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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, October 1, 2018

“Oh, No, Not Again...” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 64: DeFrantis

It was the sound of lightning and its flash that awoke her. Immediately, low hanging smoke filling the room bit into her eyes and made them water. DeFrantis clenched them closed, then shook her head, and covered her eyes with her hands.

Her hands were heavy, and as she moved them she heard the clinking of metal. She looked down, and in the dim light she saw the shackles on her wrists, each attached to a separate chain. She stretched out her hands, and quickly the chains went taught, attached to something up above her head. She could only move her hands down to about her shoulder level.

She let herself breathe and instantly recognized the smell.  Mage’s bane! Again!

She felt cold, and shivered. The room wasn’t drafty, but it was obviously not heated, either. There was another flash in the window, revealing strong rains falling on the glass. Rain. More rain. The more things change... She remembered what had happened last time a heavy storm blew across the Wynne River meadows. She had been captured and locked away, just as she was, now. That was how she had met Antonerri.

Antonerri! Her head jumped up, scanning the room. Then she remembered. They had been separated back at the inn, the dark market, when the explosion had gone off.

As if on cue, another lightning strike illuminated the room, and she saw another figure asleep against the opposite wall, chained as she was. Karendle! You’re the reason I’m here. You’re the reason he’s not.

She had crawled across the floor of the dark market place, toward the bleeding and dying Karendle, and tried to save her, tried to use her shadow powers to keep her from slipping into the darkness of death. It had worked, but she looked up and saw the points of swords in her face. Someone was shouting at her, but she couldn’t make out any words in the chaos of the moment. Then something had hit the side of her head, hard.

She drooped her hands back against her shoulders, resting them uncomfortably as they dangled by the shackles. You’re the reason I lost sight of the children.

She took another slow breath, then coughed. The mage’s bane smoke made her dizzy. She hung her head. Her mind danced with images of life in the old abandoned chapel with the other street kids. Andrina was the youngest, at about eight, and the most playful. But she had gotten a little sick with the rains right before DeFrantis had left to steal some food.

She remembered when Tomanas, who was almost her age, had first told her of the offer to buy the children away. She had been shocked, but he had pressed. “They’ll be out of our hair, and we’ll have enough to live on for months! Maybe we can even get a real place to stay, and some real food!”

Now here I am, locked away again. I’m of no use to anyone. I’m out of tricks. I’m out of options. Maybe that’s just the darkness of the mage’s bane telling me what it thinks I want to hear. She yanked on the chains in frustration. They laughed at her with a jangly chuckle.

Or maybe it’s the truth.


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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, September 26, 2018

“She’s Just Fine” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 63: Thissraelle

“Thissraelle!”  She raised her head from the crying children at the sound of Granthurg’s voice. His face was wide, covered in worry, surprise, and quite a bit of blood.

“Granthurg! Are you alright?” She released the children from her embrace across the back of the wagon, and reached up to his forehead. It was cut and still drizzling blood over his eye and cheek. “You’re hurt!” She turned to the wagon and began to tear a strip of cloth from the covering.

“I’m fine! Are you harmed? Where’s Antonerri?”

She laughed quietly and turned to him with the torn rag. “I’m OK!” She began wiping his face. It was cut, but not deeply. He winced as she touched it. He looked over and saw the unconscious forms scattered around. He stepped over to Antonerri, who was beginning to moan. Granthurg leaned over him. The side of his face was beginning to bruise, and his shallow breath sounded raspy.

Thissraelle said, quietly, “I can’t heal him now. My powers are drained.”

Granthurg nodded. “We need to leave. I was attacked. There could be more.” Granthurg gently picked Antonerri up and lifted him into the back of the wagon. The children made room for him, and watched Granturg warily. Thissraelle climbed into the back of the wagon with them, and set some blankets under Antonerri’s head. It was definitely Antonerri. He was dressed differently, though. He was wearing a finely made shirt, which was rumpled and roughed, even though it looked newly made. His scruff of a beard was gone, too, shaved off.

She looked out of the back. Granthurg was looking intently at the man on the ground. He bent over and moved his shirt collar aside, as if inspecting the man’s shoulder.  He mumbled something.

“What?” She said

He looked up at her with a quizzical look on his face. “It’s a dragon. Breathing fire. Tattooed on his shoulder.”

Mhmmm.  Is that supposed to mean something?  He stood and walked to the front of the wagon, then climbed up. She and the children had to reach out to steady themselves as his weight shifted the wagon. Then, the horses moved and the wheels creaked and groaned. They surged forward.

She noticed, as they moved and picked up speed, that Granthurg kept looking off to the right, back toward where the fight had happened. After a moment, the wagon paused and stopped. It shook again as Granthurg stepped off.  “What’s happening?” she asked, but didn’t get an answer.  Then, Granturg appeared in the opening at the back of the wagon with another unconscious man. This one, she recognized as the man in grey that had been following them. She looked up with surprise.

“He’s badly hurt, too. I can’t just leave him.”


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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 24, 2018

“Fighting Over What?” - A Tale of Heroes - Scene 62: Granthurg

Granthurg shouted, “ANTONERRI!” before he jumped up and broke through the bushes in the hedgerow. He unslung his hammer as he started running. The pounding of his heart in his head matched the heavy thud of his feet on the ground.

He could see Antonerri struggling with the two men at the wagon. Hold on, there, friend! I’m on my way!

In an instant, something swept his feet out from under him, and he fell forward, reaching out to block his fall. He hit the ground hard, and the handle of his hammer bounced and struck the side of his face. That pain was harsh, but immediately a heavy weight landed on his back and grabbed at his neck. The blow knocked Granturg windless, and dropped him fully to the ground.

“You’re going to sell it, aren’t you?” a voice said. A sword blade appeared in his peripheral vision. Granthurg rolled a bit to one side and brought up his arm to shield his face from the blade. The motion caught his attacker off guard for a moment. “You’re going to sell it to the Dragon’s Flame, aren’t you? They’d love to get their hands on it!”

Won’t these people ever leave me alone! He took advantage of the moment by twisting his body the other way, throwing the man off balance. Granthurg rolled away, grabbing his hammer as he did.

They both stood and faced each other. Granturg felt warm blood running down his face. Was that from the hammer or the blade? He wasn’t sure, and didn’t want to lose his focus on the attacker. He held his hammer before him ready to block with the handle or swing with the mass.

“Maybe you idiots would get some useful answers if you just told me what it is you’re after!”

“Maybe I’ll just take it from you after I kill you!”

Granthurg steeled his stance. He could hear Thissraelle’s voice shouting, but couldn’t make out what she was saying. I don’t have time to waste on this! She needs my help! 

“Not today, you won’t!” He lunged ahead. The man was nimble and quick with the sword, but Granthurg blocked his assaults with the hammer’s handle. Twice he landed hard blows with the butt end of the handle. “Does that feel good? It hurts, doesn’t it?”

They danced a tight choreography of thrust, parry, hit, shift. The attacker faked a motion to the left and went in with a lunge from the right. Granthurg twisted to barely avoid the blade, which cut through his vest and shirt. The man stepped back to re-set his stance. Granthurg wiped the blood from his face, then shifted the grip on his hammer.

“Didn’t it ever occur to any of you,” he hissed, “That if I had it, I would use it to defend myself?”

The man’s eyes narrowed, and he rushed in, sword first, reaching in for the kill.

Granthurg shifted, and swept his hammer by the handle, parrying the incoming sword to the side. He continued to swing it up above his shoulder and back down onto his assailants extended hip, with a crackling and crunching noise. With a shriek, the man collapsed onto the ground, writhing in agony.

Granthurg stood and caught his breath.  “You wait here.”


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Question for the comment section below: What is it they're trying to get from Granthurg? What do you think it is?

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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.