Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Star Wars: Episode One

Edge of Anarchy

It is a time of strife for the planet Korvosa. King Eodred —beloved by his people— is dead. His accord with the Galactic Empire for the planet's autonomy is now in jeopardy. The people of Korvosa anxiously await the decision of their new leader, the late king's wife, and known supporter of the Empire, Queen Ileosa.
In Shingle City, two young people —once slaves to the deplorable Gudra the Hutt— find themselves at the home of the mysterious old woman who rescued them from Gudra's clutches.
Unbeknownst to them, their actions here may set them on a path that could save Korvosa, and perhaps the Galaxy from an ancient and terrible evil...


Antares "Ant" Arkadyn 

Ant Arkadyn is the son of Arcas Arkadyn, a Mandalorian mercenary.  When Arcas entered into the employ of the Hutt, Gudra, on Korvosa, he was forced to turn his son over as a hostage to ensure his loyalty.  When Arcas never returned, Ant was forced to work as a slave in Gudra's hall.  He was rescued by the Jedi, Zellara, and set free.  Ant used his technical skills to eke out a living in Shingle City, doing odd jobs for a variety of patrons.  Ant lacks the martial skills common among Mandalorians and has always felt like a failure in that regard.

Kalen "Ghost" Dorian

Kalen Dorian was born a slave into the household of Gudra the Hutt on the planet Korvosa.  He was freed at the age of 12 by the intervention of the Jedi, Zellara.  For the next few years, Kalen made his living as a pick pocket and small-time thief.  He was often employed by information broker Gyra Reu.


Gudra the Hutt

Gudra is a small-time criminal in Shingle City on the planet of Korvosa. He has a small household and employs mercenaries from time to time. He has been known to employ local thug Yargin Balko.  Five years ago, a woman known as Zellara helped cripple his burgeoning criminal empire on Korvosa.  He has struggled to recover and, now, has amassed enough strength to finally strike back.

Yargin Balko

Balko is a killer for hire often found in the employ of Gudra the Hutt.  He is known for using acid as a means to commit his murders.  He is thought to be the killer of the Jedi, Zellara.

Gyra Reu

Reu is an information broker in Shingle City.  If you want info, he's the man to see.  He has recently entered into a partnership with Seskerin Malosh, a Twi'lek of ill-repute. With Malosh, he is the part owner of the Drunken Lizard-Monkey, a cantina in Shingle City.

Seskerin Malosh

Little is known of the Twi'lek Seskerin Malosh.  He's a new player in Shingle City and has recently partnered with the well known information broker Gyra Reu.  He is the part owner of the Drunken Lizard-Monkey.


Alnada is a Kowakian Lizard-Monkey and companion to Seskerin Malosh.  She is the inspiration for the name of his cantina.

Grundo the Gamorrean

Grundo is the doorman and bouncer at the Drunken Lizard-Monkey.  He's not particularly bright, even for a Gamorrean.


Blackjack is a legendary figure on Korvosa.  He has been known to be both a criminal and a legendary hero.  He hasn't been seen in over a decade and is thought to be dead.  Recently, the information broker, Gyra Reu, has claimed to know of his whereabouts.  Most consider him a myth.


Zellara has long been rumored to be a Jedi, but there has never been any proof.  If she is, she has hidden it well.  Five years ago Zellara brought down the crime ring of Gudra the Hutt, freeing his slaves.  She was recently found murdered in her home on the outskirts of Shingle City.  Several lightsabers were found in her possession as well as a reference to the legendary figure, Blackjack.


M1T3, or Mite, is the personal droid of Ant Arkadyn.  He built Mite from scratch from scavenged parts after he was freed from Gudra the Hutt.  Mite may look like a smaller version of the standard "mouse" droid, but he has been heavily modified and upgraded.

This game of Star Wars takes place during the Age of Rebellion.  It will be played using a hybrid of the Burning Wheel and Burning Empire rulesets, written by Luke Crane and Thor Olavsrud.

Episode One:  The Hutt Strikes Back

Antares Arkadyn and Kalen Dorian arrive at Zellara's house, on the far outskirts of Shingle City. Something has called them here, some feeling of unease.

Upon entering, they find the house in complete disarray. The beheaded body of their once-savior lies on the floor, arms outstretched toward an old book case. Kalen kicks a table over in outrage. Zellara had —5 years before— saved the two of them from Gudra's collection of orphan-slaves, and toppled his small crime empire. The Hutt had escaped, and now it seems he has rebuilt enough for his revenge.

After examining her wounds, Ant and Ghost determine that her killer must be Gudra's henchman, Yargin Balko, based on the acids used to remove her head, now missing. They inspect what she may have been reaching for in her last moments, and find a hidden compartment. They open it, and find several noteworthy items. Two weapons, used by a Jedi, known as lightsabers.

A holo-map of an old fishery, with data-notes indicating that it might be Gudra's current hideout. Ghost knows where this place would be: The old docks and fishing district.

There is also a faded, very short hand-written list of names:

Ant and Ghost decide that the two weapons are, in fact, a Jedi's (or two Jedi's) lightsabers. One a yellow-orange color, the other a pale blue. They begin plotting their revenge on Balko and Gudra. They consider some options, but eventually settle on trying to track down the third name on the list, Blackjack.

Blackjack has been a legendary folk hero for as long as people on Korvosa can remember. Rare in his appearances, he rights injustices on the planet where he can, equipped only with a blaster pistol. Many claim that they have seen him, but no one knows his true identity, for he wears a mask and hood. The task of tracking him down will be difficult.

The players write some beliefs/instincts for their characters.
Belief 1: Zellara is but one thing Gudra had taken from me. He will not live to take another. His dog, Yargin Balko, will join him in a pauper's grave.
Belief 2: The strong have a responsibility to the weak. I will be one of the strong and protect those in need.
Belief 3: Zellara had a list of names stored with two lightsabers. I will find the purpose of this list, beginning with identifying the legendary Blackjack.
Instinct: Never say no to a pretty face.
Belief 1: A Mandalorian always pays his debts. Balko will die by his own acid.
Belief 2: I seek to uncover the mystery of Zellara. I will track down Blackjack to find out more.

They call upon an old contact, a data- and information-broker by the name of Gyra Reu, a one-eyed, crafty scoundrel. Gyra used to work for the Rakghoul's Teat Boys, before becoming an independent. Now he co-owns a busy cantina, The Drunken Kowakian Monkey-Lizard, alongside Seskerin Malosh, a Twi'lek. Before entering the bar, Ghost is forced to relinquish his pistol to the Gamorrean bouncer, but both he and Ant keep their lightsabers from Grundo's sight.

Gyra greets them. They ask him to track down Blackjack. Gyra claims he already knows where Blackjack is. As per usual, he offers them a trade: They must divert a daily patrol of stormtroopers long enough for Gyra to... operate his business. If they can disable the soldiers' speeder, all the better. Ant and Ghost agree, and begin with their assignment, after stealing an extra pistol from Grundo's lockbox. Unknowingly, Ghost takes Gyra's old gang pistol! Ant leaves his droid, M1T3, behind to spy on Gyra.

They find their mark, and construct a plan. Ghost will take a couple of pot-shots at the imperials, while Ant slices the speeder. They are successful, but Ghost drops the gang pistol to —hopefully— throw off his pursuers. Their job is a success, though repercussions for their trickery will haunt them soon enough.

Session ends.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Finally, To Burn Again!

Chapter 0:  Prelude

From the Journal of Hugo Brandt, Illuminator of Luthien

Coming home is never easy, but when one leaves under troubling circumstances, one can never expect a warm reception.  Not that the village of Voller Creek is forgiving or warm.
A mining town, Voller Creek is full of hard people who live hard lives.  The fact that my family leads a slightly less hard life is not lost on many of my fellow villagers.  My behavior, in my youth, didn't exactly prop me up as a paragon of virtue, either.  Still, I never expected the knives of assassins in my own family home!

But I get ahead of myself.  I return to Voller Creek a wiser and more tempered man, for I have found the light of Luthien and have dedicated myself to sharing Her wisdom and light with all who will hear me.  I'm now an Illuminator of the Faith, a title within the church I never thought to achieve, but one I've worked years to earn.  Though I've reached this spiritual pinnacle, my title and position in the church is not the reason I returned after being banished from my home all those years ago.  I return to answer a summons from my father, Mueller Brandt.  It seems that mother is sick and on her deathbed. If I can give her a modicum of comfort or, Luthien willing, cure her of what ails her, I owe it to her to try.

It is a blustery, late fall evening as I return to the family home.  My twin, Harald and our younger half-brother Torvald are already there.  Father greets me coldly, as I knew he would.  I'm not sure I'll ever repair that particular broken bridge.  My brothers greet me with a little more warmth, but nothing in their demeanor tells me that I'm wanted or welcome again in our family home.  Mother is too weak to descend from her bedroom on the second floor, so I prepare to go up to greet her.  It's been years since I've seen her and I feel confident our reunion will be far warmer than what I've already received from the male members of my family.

Before I can ascend the stairs, however, a slight form detaches itself from a deep pool of shadow in the corner of the room, the light from the flickering candles doing little to illuminate the dark corners of the large hall.  A blade gleams in the candlelight and I attempt to call out a warning, but too late, the figure slides directly toward Torvald, the blade held high.  Torvald does not see the blade, but Father does.  He launches himself at the would-be assassin.  Another figure, even more slight, emerges from the shadow on the other side of the room and manages to reach Torvald, but he's ready this time and can defend himself.

A melee ensues and I lose track of events:  Knives flash, screams of pain, grunts of exertion, blood sprays on the wall.  Harald grabs a brand from the hearth and thrusts it toward the high ceiling, bringing light and clarity to the surge of shadow and blade.  A window crashes as a figure hurls itself through into the cool, night air.

As the brand crackles in Harald's hand I survey the suddenly quiet scene.  Father lies face down on the floor, a pool of blood spreading across the flagstones from his still form.  Another figure, dressed in black leathers, his face covered by a black cravat, lies crumpled on the floor at Torvald's feet.

Upstairs, Mother screams....

To Be Continued

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Fire on the Horizon

Character Pitch:  Hugo Brandt

Early Years:

Hugo Brandt is the eldest son of Mueller Brandt and Serilda (Hahn) Brandt.  As a child, Hugo settled easily into the life of leisure that his family’s money and relatively high social status in Voller Creek afforded him.  The son of a relatively wealthy mine foreman, Hugo was born with a silver spoon in his mouth and wanted for nothing in his early years.  As a result, he never developed the work ethic that he was expected to have to work in the family trade.  He was sullen and spoiled, often lashing out violently when he couldn’t have his way.  As a teen, Hugo was a tyrant and a bully to his peers and used his money and influence to seduce many a young maiden.  Mueller and Serilda were powerless to curb their son’s propensity for violence, even when they threatened to cut him off from the family wealth, a threat that Hugo laughed off.  Mueller even attempted to enroll Hugo in the village guard to try to instill some work ethic and pride, but Hugo refused to comply and was shortly dismissed from the guard.

In his 16th year, Hugo fell hard for the daughter of one of his father’s miners, a lovely and brilliant young girl by the name of Genevie Maier.  Genevie, however, was spoken for and engaged to be married.  Hugo would not be denied and pressed his claim. When that, too, was rebuked, he attempted to bribe Genevie’s fiancee to leave Voller Creek and never return.  The young man, Harold Kemp, refused and a very public scuffle ensued, with Hugo beating Harold to within an inch of his life.  With the town outraged over yet another incident involving Hugo, the situation grew even more grave when, just a few weeks later, Harold completely disappeared.  It was evident that there had been a struggle in his house and some blood was found in his room.  The village-wide manhunt turned up no sign, however, and angry eyes turned toward Hugo.  Hugo swore to his innocence, but the last straw had been broken and he was banished from the village.  There may be some in the village or even in Hugo’s own family who know the truth, but Hugo has never admitted having any part in Harold’s disappearance.

Outcast Years:

Hugo wandered the Duchy for a time, working odd jobs until he grew bored or was forced by his anger and violence to move on.  It was while serving a short stretch in a village jail for assault and public drunkenness that Hugo met Illuminator Graves.  Graves brought the word of Luthien, the Mother of Creation and the Bringer of Dawn to Hugo and, for the first time in his young life, Hugo felt something.  He felt an immediate connection both to Illuminator Graves and to the Deity he followed.  Hugo agreed to follow Graves back to his home city in the neighboring Kingdom of Calbia.  It is there that Hugo began to seriously study the teachings of The Prophet, who speaks directly to Luthien, praise Her name, and shares Her wisdom with the masses.  Finally, Hugo felt at home and at peace with himself.  He began to walk the path toward becoming an Illuminator.


For many years Hugo studied and learned at the feet of The Prophet.  He walked the righteous path and gained the title of Illuminator of Luthien.  He was happy and at peace, feelings that he deeply desired to share with his family and the people of Voller Creek...if they’d have him.  He only hoped that they could forgive him for his past transgressions, just as Luthien had forgiven him and just as he’d finally forgiven himself.  When word came that mother was dying, he knew he could not wait any longer.  He set out immediately for his home in Voller Creek.

The Wheel must burn again....

Friday, July 24, 2015

Aftermath - Virgil Zell

Just before the aftermath, from Virgil Zell's point of view.

"Damn, those skeletons brought a scrap with them," thought Virgil.  "Hope all the trouble was worth it.  Can't say I'm sorry that Glasstaff prick isn't breathing anymore.  Wish I could have been the reason for that.  Oh well."

The party began tending to their wounds just as a door burst open across the room.  The Black Spider and a small band of bugbears flooded through the doorway.  They looked ugly and battle worn but still determined to make the situation more unpleasant than it already was.

"Aha!  I finally have the forge!" proclaimed Black Spider.

"Dammit all," thought Virgil.  "I was hoping to get a bit more down time before having to deal with this ass.  Looks like this fight isn't done."

Virgil drew in a breath and began mentally prepping for another bout.  He took four steps as he planned out the best course of attack.  This was all interrupted by the gnome.  Virgil glanced to his left and saw Zook going over to the recently and violently deceased wizard.  He bent over his body.

"What's that daft gnome doing now?" thought Virgil.

Zook took up the black sphere from Glasstaff's charred hands and began looking deeply into it with a purpose.  As comprehension flowed into Zook's face, the gnome broke into a sprint towards the green flame (green flame!) of the magic forge that was the source of all this consternation.

"Run!" yelled Zook as he covered the ground between himself and the forge.

"Certainly he doesn't mean to...," thought Virgil.  "Yeah he does."

The Black Spider and his entourage came to the same conclusion.  The small party, in a panic, began shooting anything and everything Zook's way but the small gnome was too quick for them.  It didn't hurt that there was an intervening wall either.

"Oh this is gonna hurt." was Virgil's last thought as he dove behind a pile of magical ore in the room, which might as well have been a nice set of silk curtains for all the protection it provided as a fireball of a size and force never witnessed in history lit off, taking the side of the mountain with it.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Elalanil Moonfire stands on a wooded hill at the edge of the forest he has protected for most of his life, and hangs his head in sorrow.  It is a parting he never expected.  This is not his home anymore,  not now.  Perhaps it never was.  It is hard to reconcile the lifetime of change that has come over him in the short time he traveled with the band of misfits he now feels closer to than he does his own kind.  That is what happens, though, when the bonds forged by war are tested by those who have never known such things no matter how long they may have lived.

He had tried to explain to the Enclave what his friends had sacrificed and why they had done it, and that they were deserving of remembrance as the heroes they all were.  It did not matter if one was an Orc, or a Pirate, or whatever other group the Enclave was prejudiced against.  What mattered was that these Brothers of his had given their lives to save not just the forests, but everyone and everything that would have fallen into the grasp of the Spider Wizard and his allies.

But the Enclave, despite all of their years and all of their vaunted wisdom, failed to see it as more than a minor nuisance they could have taken care of themselves had it gotten to that point.  They even explained how the whole expedition was nothing more than a convenient way to get Elalanil out of their way for a time while they considered what to do with him.  They went on to say that his beliefs were just too different from their own and that they would not be accepting him into their order, but as a 'thank you' for handling the forge issue they would do him the high honor of allowing him to keep his territory and his title.  Their mannerisms during this brief speech made it quite clear that they thought it was much more than he deserved for such a trifling deed.

The bitter memory brings tears to his eyes, the first he has been able to shed since crawling out of the dirt and debris from what had become of Wave Echo Cavern, a trickle that once started becomes a torrent as he sinks to his knees wracked with pain and loss.

Sometime later, and after regathering his composure, he sets out to meet with The Druid of the Wood to collect his Owl Bear cubs.  From there he will continue on to his new home, a place where he can raise the cubs in peace and build a proper memorial such that even The Old Man of the Wood would have to take note of it.

It suddenly strikes him as no coincidence that he should be compelled to save the cubs and raise them, an incredibly risky and foolish endeavor, and also be spared from certain death at The Forge.  A profound peace settles over him as he realizes that The Oak Lord had known the outcome all along, and that He had provided all that he could.

Elalanil's stride lengthens in his impatience to begin his vigil, and to guard the graves of his friends to the end of days.

Monday, July 20, 2015

A Song and a Memory

From the writings of Ardil Fellar, on the destruction of the Spell Forge and the formation of Zook. 1508

… At first it was just the songs. They spread from small inn to small inn. Audiences claimed that the performer or performers ended with them. Interestingly, the performers themselves had no knowledge of performing the songs, not the first time. The songs were never the same, at the beginning, only being “normalized” when non-entranced bards learned them, and used their craft to refine them. However, the songs all featured similar elements, and the same cast of characters, telling the story of Zook and his party, discovering and destroying the Spell Forge at Wave Echo Cavern. The cast, now all famous in their own right, consisted of:

An Orc holy warrior with no name
An ex sea captain named Virgil
An elven druid named Elalanil "El"
A brave goblin named Droop
And Zook himself

    More curious were the performers who gave the first “tranced” performances. Days apart, all former members of a troupe called “The Clash at Tethyamar Keep” (a troupe who achieved some moderate renown along the Sword Coast) had each performed a version of the epic. Interviews later revealed that a long missing member of this troupe, whose full name was Glimzookfrugsindri "Fnippernim" Ningel-Nackle, occasionally went by “Zook”.

    After the songs spread through the Sword Coast, a curious discovery was made. At the Bard College in Waterdeep, amongst the stacks of books considered fiction, a new tome was found. “The Clash at Cragmaar Keep” was discovered by chance, when a librarian noticed (as their kind is wont to do) books out of place. The text describes in much greater detail the same story the songs told.

“...all he could think, as the sorcerer stormed into the room, is it must be destroyed. The gnome’s magicks were not enough alone. The answer lay in the fallen body of the traitorous Glasstaff. As the gnome ran, he dropped his notes. The only thing he had never let his companions see, it contained this story...their story.

“Run!” Zook yelled.

No One, Virgil, and El hesitated. They faced death from the sorcerer and his bugbear cadre on one side, and a companion whose actions weren’t clear on the other. Through everything they had done so far, surely together they could take this next threat? Soon it became clear, the Bard’s goal. The sorcerer saw this as well

The gnome streaked towards the orb, scooping it from the charred body of its former owner. Zook thought the burning would start immediately. It did not. Had he not the power to wield this artifact? The Sorcerer saw an opening in this hesitation, and signaled his attack. Throwing spells at the running gnome, while his guards advanced on the rest of the party. El replied in kind with arrows, as he and the others dove for the entrance to the cavern.

The room flashed, and Zook screamed. The gnome had activated the orb, and held it aloft over the Forge. His hands and arms to the elbow already blackened by the power of the orb. Zook screamed again, “You shall not have its power,” as he slammed the orb into the magical font.

The magical blast destroyed the cavern, the mountain containing it, and all in the vicinity. All, except Zook.

Through some fate, the gnome survived. Changed heavily, now a being of magical energy. Perhaps a god. As the dust settled, a green flame enshrouded figure shot through the rubble, and far into the sky…
[The Clash at Cragmaar Keep]

So, it is possible that the entity known as Zook is the very same who joined the adventuring party in seeking out Wave Echo Cavern, which led to the destruction of the long lost Spell Forge. It also seems likely that Zook placed both the songs, and the book into the material world. For now we can only speculate on the reasons why.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The Pitch

It has been far too long since I played Burning Wheel.  Brandon has been busy this summer and I've let other games distract me.  But the desire grows and presses against my brain so that I can think of little else.  I want to play BW again and....

Okay, I feel better.

Some of you may have been following my previous game, in which we see an aging Grimnar "Greymantle" Voss attemp to rid himself of the curse that is The Father of Swords.  In doing so, he has stirred up or, more accurately, found himself smack in the middle of a battle with the spirit world.  It's too early to say if this battle was caused by the Sword, or if Grimnar's luck just led him into it.  Nevertheless, that campaign seems to have stalled, so I've tempted Brandon to return to the world of The North is Burning by travelling back in time and examining the adventures of a younger Grimnar.  Before he is burdened by the Father of Swords and before he has even earned his "Name" among the people of the north.

It has been established that Grimnar's children are both red-headed, so it stands to reason that before he goes totally grey (probably has something to do with the Sword), he also had red hair.  That's why I love this picture to represent a young Grimnar.    Here's the pitch I sent to Brandon:

Behold, young Grimar Voss, a man who has not yet become "Named".  He seeks his fortune and fame in the South, where the merchants are rich and free of care and the nobility is fat and ripe for plunder.  What adventure will he find?  What riches will he accrue?  What cursed swords will he forever be burdened with?

Only Brandon can answer these questions....

Let's hope he takes the bait!

(If you have no idea what I'm talking about, please start here:  The North is Burning)

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Elalanil's Report, Part 2

My companions and I traveled on to Old Owl Well with some trepidation, given the news I relayed to them from my feathered contact.  When we arrived we saw signs of battle everywhere, most of it older, and a tent.  A fresh tent.  With humming coming from it.  My companions and I chose to hide while the bard played a trick on the unseen inhabitant, softly playing the accompanying tune to the sound brought on the wind.

As my companions crouched in hiding I surveyed the ruins, again wondering about the nature of nature.  What was the line between protecting nature from destruction, and destroying nature in the name of protecting it?  At what point did savior become destroyer, and protector become aggressor?

I was startled out of my pondering by the man humming in the tent, who was clearly the "brother in red" we were told about.  I had been so preoccupied with my musings that I hadn't paid proper attention to hiding with my companions, and was easily spotted.  This intellect can be a curse sometimes.

The man in red didn't seem to take too kindly to my presence and demanded to know what I was doing, a request accentuated by summoning a group of zombies.  While it was bad enough that that wasn't overly friendly, the worst part was actually trying to figure out if he was a threat to nature.  Obviously working with Undead is highly unnatural and should be dealt with, but something persuaded me to listen to what he had to say.  I find that when I don't know what to do, if I just show a little patience the solution will present itself.  So I listened and tried to figure out the correct course of action.

In the end we came to the mutual conclusion that neither was out to hurt the other, and he pointed us in the direction of some Orcs.  Orcs are something I don't have to think about, I know they are an abomination to nature and that The Wild One is always pleased when I reduce their numbers.  It also bought me time while I considered what to do about zombies in my area.  And is it my area?  Is my area only the one assigned to me by the council, or is it wherever I happen to be?  And if it is just the one assigned by the council, does that mean that anywhere I traverse on official business counts as my area?  Questions, questions, questions, and no answers!   Hunting orcs is much simpler.

Following the instructions given by the Red Wizard of Thay we easily found trouble, once again while resting.  Side note for trivia:  did you know Ogres are tough?  Well now you do.

I won't bore you with the details of that fight, it went pretty much text book:  It attacked us, we attacked it, it fell on me and pinned me while my companions continued to beat it senseless, I got out from under it, and then it was over.  Nothing to write home about.

We proceeded to track it back to its cave, but saw that it just had a small family there, no need to continue the attack.  We traveled on.

When we finally found the Orc cave we were looking for we discovered it wasn't just your average Orcs.  Not only were there average ones, there was one burly one with a wicked axe.  Oh, yea, and an OGRE.  Nothing is as simple as it should be!

They had a guard posted in an excellent spot, very difficult to sneak up on.  Fortunately arrows sneak fairly well, especially when the target is distracted by having something important skewered by our entirely too sneaky swashbuckler.  On the plus side his suffering was short.  The plus side being that he suffered, of course, not that it was short.

We waited for his replacement to arrive so we could pick them off one by one but alas, this plan was ruined by an untimely dinner.  When the battle was joined we learned some important things:  ( 1 ) the little bastards are fast, ( 2 ) magic axes hurt, and ( 3 ) Bards are kinda handy to have around!

Droop wasn't too bad to have around either; he did a fantastic job of interpretation and even took a swipe or two in battle.  Spunky little guy!

We started the battle on our own terms but somehow we went from coordinated attack to flat out brawl.  If Zook hadn't kept the Ogre out of the fight until the end I am afraid the fight would have been the end!  Blood, fur, and body parts were flying, mostly mine.  I began my attack with a roaring pounce, biting and clawing for all I was worth.  I was quickly surrounded, however, and my awareness became limited to my desperate fight for survival.  I was drawing blood left and right but I just couldn't bring anything down, and all of the nicks and cuts began to take their toll.  And then the big guy with the axe stepped up for a swing, and it wasn't a miss.  That axe hurt like hell!

At some point in the battle I was aware of a hideous laughter emanating from what could only be the Ogre, and was grateful that Zook was able to entertain him.  I also remember seeing Virgil's flashing blade here and there, and hearing Droop call out translations.  But mostly I remember blood and pain and exhaustion.

No matter how much damage I dealt out The Axeman and friends dealt out more, and it wasn't long before I was forced out of my Wild Shape by a mighty axe blow which transformed me back and dealt me a great wound.  I had suffered enough embarrassment at the hands of the wolves during my failed watch a few days back, however, and I surged back into Tiger form with renewed determination to make up for that earlier failing.

The battle was long and bloody, and it took all of our reserves and no small amount of luck, but we eventually prevailed.  Even my ability to Wild Shape was exhausted, leaving me tired and bloody in my native form.  It has been a long while since last I was this grateful to sleep in a cave recently inhabited by Orcs and Ogres, but I was too exhausted to care.

Once we rest up it will be time to continue our journey...

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Lost Mines of Phandelver - Elalanil's Report, Part 1

Yes, believe it or not, we're still playing D&D 5th Edition, though infrequently.  I was more than a little surprised and very pleased to receive an in-character recap from our last session.

Today I awoke from troubling dreams, dreams questioning my understanding of the very nature that I worship and swore to protect.  Questions... well, one question anyway... so profound it threatened to shake the earth and tear asunder the heavens!  A question for the prophets!  A question...
...for the Oak Lord himself.  Who else has the wisdom and knowledge necessary to answer this profound question, this riddle of the ages!  "What life is considered natural?"  I resolved to bend my entire intellect and will to solving this problem so that others could benefit from my scholarship.
In the meantime my companions and I gathered supplies and information, along with a comb and a request to find a book of some sort, and headed out to rid the world of abominations in the name of Rillifane Rallathil!  Although to be honest the others of my party do not seem all that impressed by The Wild One.  I must work on that.  They must be taught respect for The Sacred Wood!

While I am used to traveling long distances in a day, I am not used to doing it in the company of others.  Especially those who need so much sleep!  How do the other races bear such short lives being reduced even further by this daily hibernation?  It is uncomfortable to bear witness to.
Having said that, they are pleasant enough.  The Bard occasionally does something he considers music, which is entertaining.  To be perfectly fair, which I always strive to do, I must say he is rather good.  Fortunately he is not human, that might have caused me some level of strain to admit that about The Excitable People.

Along the way we came to our first destination, the home of a Banshee.  This unnatural place did not sit well with me, a feeling not improved by meeting her.  We traded the comb for a question, which my companions and I discussed briefly amongst ourselves before asking it.  Sadly we asked the wrong question and received a useless answer.  Personally I would have rather asked her how she had deserved such a fate, having once been a beautiful Elven woman.  What a tragic existence she now suffers.

One character flaw I have discovered in myself is that I think too much.  There are just so many mysteries in the natural world and I feel that I have been given this long life so that I can discover each and every key to each and every puzzle and solve them all.  Why else would I have been blessed with this longevity and intelligence?  And why else would I be beloved of The Leaflord, who personally chose me and left the mark of his hand on my Wild Shapes?

Perhaps this tendency to unravel the world's natural secrets explains how I was caught totally unaware when the wolves attacked our camp undetected while I was on watch.  Being intellectual has its downsides, apparently.

As the battle was joined I heard the screaming of my companions and knew shame like I have never known before, and deep anger ignited within me, a fire that could only be quenched by blood.  A fire that raged higher as I felt the fangs of my forest brothers tear into me as they challenged my right to live, a challenge answered by the tiger within.  Too late they realized their error as I tore into them, rending and tearing and reveling in the blood and gore.  The last of them fled into the night, but the blood price was not yet paid and his life was forfeit.

When it was over my shame began to replace the blood lust, and I dropped the last wolf's corpse at my companion’s feet in apology.  With nothing to say and much to make up for I remained in my animal form for as long as I could, hiding in the tiger's lack of human speech as much as using its strength to ensure my companions safety.  Some protector I have become.

But no sense in crying over spilled milk, as I once heard a human say.  Which has always confused me a bit, given the incessant crying humans are always doing over every little thing.  I suppose when one’s life is lived in the blink of an eye even the smallest ill must seem monumental tragedy.  It would certainly explain why they are so excitable.

As we continued our journey I felt an uneasiness, and called to a winged brother for information.  He told me that Old Owls Well was death, and that the only living thing was a humanoid in red.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Year 487

Sir Jayden

Winter of this 487th year of our Lord
Transcribed by Father Oswald

Combat is never easy. Every time the sword comes out of its sheath it sings death for either the man opposite of it or for the one who holds it. Fighting a single man can be a death sentence to other lesser men. Fighting two men at once would certainly be as if facing the Reaper himself, but fighting three men at once?  Who would have the stalwart heart and strength of arms to do such a thing? The answer to that question is I, Sir Jayden. While out on a search on behalf of King Uther, my party of fellow knights and myself were ambushed by dirty Saxon pagans. With great surprise they rushed from the cover of the tree line and attacked us.

Sadly, Sir Morah was knocked unconscious by the Saxon warriors that beset him and Sir Tristian took a great injury to his leg, yet still managed to dispatch his enemies. I, on the other hand, made quick work of the two Saxon warriors who were unlucky enough to meet me on the field of battle.

Seeing Sir Morah carried off into the woods by the enemy I had to make a snap decision to rescue him from their dirty hands and leave Sir Tristian to our squires. I rode my way to the enemy on horseback, but the forest was thick with trees. Because of this I was forced off my horse. With my horse no longer holding me back I was able to make good time on foot and caught up to the Saxons, it was then that I saw my predicament. There were three of them. I could not leave Sir Morah in their clutches, so I steeled my heart and joined battle with them.

With a quick yet strong slash downwards of my sword I was able to snap the battle axe of one of the Saxon warriors while also giving him a mortal wound, and as he lay on the ground I countered the attack from his partner killing him outright with a stab through the heart. The third Saxon upon seeing his fellows dispatched so quickly decided that he should join them in hell. He rushed me, screaming in his guttural language. Again I made quick work of my enemy, leaving him on the ground, quite dead. With the enemy dispatched I threw Sir Morah over my shoulder and made my way to where Sir Tristian and our Squires were. Afterwards we rode back to the City.

It was an exhilarating experience saving my friend from mortal peril.

Sir Morah

Sir Morah and his friends were once again summoned to court to attend the king. There was much feasting to be had and the presentation of Excalibur was to be done. Sir Morah, however, missed much of the activities because he was occupied with other endeavors. The morning after the feast the knights were given a choice to fight with the prince on raiding missions or go with the king and serve under him. They chose to go with the king and help rally support for him with the other kings.

They were sent on a mission to the north to a far ruling king to ask his attendance on behalf of King Uther. They set off to find him missing from the town and fighting off Saxons. They chose to go looking for him but found more trouble than the knights had bargained for. They were ambushed in the woods when they were following the trail of the army and Sir Morah was knocked out after slaying a man with one blow. When he came to they were back in town getting medical treatment for the others hadn’t fared that well in the fight either for only Sir Jayden remained capable to fight.

When the king returned they were quickly dismissed for he had no interest in seeing King Uther.

Sir Tristian

Thoughts for Year 487

This year appears to be a fantastic year, my land bodes well, bearing great harvests and the weather appears as fine as the most elegant silks. We are yet again summoned to Sarum at the behest of our lord, Earl Roderick, however this year an important guest appears before us, The Pendragon, King Uther himself! A great feast is held and our adventure for the great Merlin is told to the entire court, and Merlin himself appears and hands over the sword from the lake to the king, a sword named Excalibur apparently.

This year we had a choice for what our duty would be, some favor the King had asked our Lord to bestow upon us, to either accompany the King and Lord Roderick to the north, or go raiding with the Prince and lay waste to the Saxon navy. Though I personally would of preferred nothing more than to wet my blade with blood against the Saxons, my duty was clear, to protect my Lord and his Majesty, King Uther.

We rode north and more feasts were held, King Uther showed off Excalibur to the Lords of the north while we were tasked with traveling to Eburacum, on behalf of King Uther to invite the king to visit Uther in Lindsey. We arrived though to learn that he was away fighting the Saxons, as such we decided to journey to him instead of waiting for him in the city. However we were ambushed by the Saxon scum from the woods, and while I easily dispatched the Saxon filth in front of me, one struck my leg with a mighty blow, such luck the Saxon had, but short lived as he fell to my sword.

Despite my Injury, everything still went well, I made progress with the beautiful Lady Elaine, we talked, we danced and I even presented her a lovely brooch, fitted with a diamond that reflects the beauty of her eyes. However this is just the beginning of what I have planned for the one who I hold in my heart…..

Monday, June 15, 2015

RPGaDay 2015

Here's a fun little activity taking place in August.  I participated last year and I'll do so again on Google+.  Feel free to post your responses on your favorite social site, just make sure to use the hashtag:  #RPGaDay2015.

Here's a higher resolution copy if you're having trouble reading this one.

Knight's Tale - 486

Sir Tristian's Tale

At my lords request, we march for Silchester, there we gather with the rest of the Kings army to prepare for battle against the Saxons, I can look around and see many of my fellow Knights nervous, though I look at Sir Jayden and see an award winning grin on his shoulders, and I cannot blame him, for I too wore such a grin, a chance to prove to Sir Osbert what I can really do, for Saxons if nothing else would at least prove a worthy foe to test my mettle against.

At Mearchred Creek we did battle, charging in with lance in hand, I effortless dispatched my first opponent, however we were ordered to fall back, a mistake on Sir Elads part as it put all of us in great danger. Luckily Sir Osbert efforts in my training were not wasted as I pushed back my next foe, and with the tides shifting I once again showed my mettle, slaying anyone who stood in my way until the battle was done, where I took pity on the foes in front of me, and let them run away, but not before giving him a nice scar to remember me by.

Winter Court this year was depressing, much had happened and people were worried, many of the festivities simply did not occur, nor did I get a chance to see the one I secretly like….

The Year is 486 and the mood has improved if only slightly, we knights assemble to Sarum in order to do our duty to our Lord, Earl Roderick, sadly that duty was simply Garrison and patrol duty, no doubt due to the embarrassment that Sir Elad received by the hands of Jayden and Morah. Nevertheless, we did our duty, and in doing so we came across an old man who was in need of aid, at his request we went to secure his goat, however this was no ordinary goat… the thing was MASSIVE!! I mean come on! How did he grow such a beast!? You’d think he fed it with grains and oats from the Heavens themselves!! It was at this time we came across a foul giant that was assaulting the poor beast, we swiftly charged in and with one mighty thrust from my blade I slew the beast, to ensure that the beast was dead however, I got off my steed and delivered a rather fancy Coup de Grace. Upon our return to the old man, his appearance changed into a rather familiar figure, Merlin. It appears he had in need of our assistance in a matter. We followed him into the woods when we were besiege by some weird figure on top of a horse with four arms, and we did battle with it, and in the end it appears we bested it, because apparently it got a lucky blow and knocked me out…. Damn Faerie creatures and magic, such pains they are to deal with, give me Saxon hordes any day… At least they fight fair…

Sir Morah's Tale

Now let me tell you of Saxons scum. Sir Morah wasn’t just called to Sarum to be knighted. You might remember I told you war was waging and men were needed. Very shortly after the knighting Sir Morah and his friends set of to fight in what would become the Battle of Mearcred Creek. You might have heard that the battle ended indecisively. This was indeed the case as the battle went back and forth for several hours. After the initial charge the unit your great great grandfather was in was foolishly ordered to pull back. This mistake almost cost the battle. Were it not for Sir Morah and his friends valor and strength to pull the fight back King Uther would have likely been defeated on this day. After the battle Sir Morah and his friend Sir Jayden’s pride led them to berate their commander, Sir Elad, for his folly in front of the Pendragon himself! They are lucky he didn’t have them killed for their arrogance, but they didn’t get out without penalty for Sir Elad held a grudge for them after that.

Winter that year was quite boring as Winter Court was but a shadow of what it could since the Pendragon was busy dealing with some problems of state. Spring started out that year no more exciting as Earl Roderick had Sir Morah and his friends hold garrison duty. While honorable and worth of glory garrison duty is, it is not a knight’s first choice for adventure. However, one patrol would change the tone of the entire summer.

Patrolling is part of a knight’s responsibility during garrison duty and Sir Morah and his friends were not ones to shirk their duty. On one of their patrols they came across an elderly man claiming to the knights that his goat had run off and he desperately need their help. Helping the peasantry is very important for a knight and the group, albeit not eagerly, set off to help the old man. They quickly spotted the goat and upon further inspection found it to be huge. It was easily the size of a horse. Their approach spooked the goat and it ran into the forest. The knights chased after it and after a few minutes they lost sight of it over a hill. Soon after they heard the pain stricken cries of the goat coming over the hill. They quickly rode up the hill and found the goat being held by a giant. Now things were getting interesting. Finally it was time for the knights to do something worthy of their station. All the energy the knights had yet to use this summer was quickly put into one furious charge at this creature. Sir Jayden led the charge and dealt a sound blow to the creature knocking the tree it had in its hand to the ground, Sir Tristian followed and finished the creature off with a second blow. While Sir Morah followed quickly behind Sir Tristian he got there after the creature was just felled.

Now all of you have surely heard of Merlin the Druid. When they returned the goat the old man magically turned into Merlin himself! This was a test for the knights for Merlin had need of their help. They began off into the woods and immediately something seemed off to Sir Morah. Your great great grandfather was quite knowledgeable about things relating to the Faerie World and immediately realized they were heading there. Not seconds after arriving in the Faerie World Merlin said he had something to do and we needed to protect him. A monster of Green Goo stood before the brave knights and charged them. This creature was a man and a horse with 4 arms each wielding a weapon. The brave knights fought this beast and slowly they began to fall to it. After both of his friends were down and Sir Morah was the last standing, he too took a mighty blow that put him on the ground, or so the monster thought. As the monster crept away towards the druid Sir Morah stood back up and finished the creature with one last swing of his sword! And that children is where the green sword we have comes from, for Sir Morah took it after slaying the beast as a trophy of the accomplishment.

Sir Jayden's Tale

The Battle of Mearcred Creek, The first battle in which I fought as a knight. War is an interesting subject. At no time in my life was I more afraid, yet nor has there been another moment more exhilarating. One false move could end in death.

Before the battle was met I had decided to look upon the field of battle. It was at this time that I discovered the land from which our army was supposed to fight upon was wet and muddy. This would have led to a serious disadvantage to our knights and the rest our men. How the King missed this was beyond me. Upon realizing this I immediately tried to alert King Uther but was blocked from entering his tent. Unable to alert the King I went to Sir Elad with the information, and he had gone to Earl Roderick who was able to inform the King.

Know that while being engaged in mortal combat with the enemy may be a scary experience, there is nothing more terrifying on the Lord’s Earth then being in front of the King. It was an honor to advise him on the upcoming battle but never before in my life had I had to carefully choose my words.
Now onto the matter of Sir Elad. During the Battle of Mearcred Creek he was the commander of our eschille. I now believe this to be a mistake. He may have been the man to train us, but mistakes in battle lead to lives being lost. Sir Elad’s command to pull back after the initial charge was such a mistake. If it wasn’t for the efforts of myself and my fellow knights Sir Morah and Sir Tristian our eschille would have been destroyed. After the battle though, Sir Elad was given the credit for our actions. My blood was boiling. I do not know if it was due to my nerves after nearly dying in combat or if I truly felt slighted by Sir Elad but I had to do something. Sir Morah and I confronted Sir Elad on his tactical mistakes during the the battle, especially that first pullback that nearly led to our deaths. I am not sorry for what I did.

It seems that I may be making an enemy in Sir Jaradan for during Court at Christmas he had challenged me to a duel to the death. He may have had too much to drink, but I believe I should be careful around Sir Jaradan from now on. I may have to end this feud one day, and that would have deadly consequences.

The Green Sword wielded by both Sir Morah and Sir Jayden, taken from the vanquished Nukulavee.  While wielding the Green Sword, the knights cannot be disarmed.  The sword is also cursed.  The knights cannot willingly discard the sword and as long as they wield it they receive a permanent check to their Cruel Trait.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Year 486 - Her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite...

With talk of war brewing and the Saxons still raiding in the Northeast, the knights descend upon Sarum to do their yearly duty to Earl Roderick. They are brimming with excitement at the possibility of once again riding forth to bring battle to the ravaging Saxon horde. Instead, Earl Roderick crushes their expectations and announces that they would stay behind and perform garrison duty in Sarum. There was much grumbling, but the knights are loyal and do their duty to their lord.

On a routine patrol, the three knights happen upon an elderly goatherd, who cries out for their help. His prize goat, a beast of unusual size, has slipped his lead and run off up a hill. The goatherd begs the knights to catch the prize goat as his back and knees are far too sore and weak for him to make the climb. The knights immediately take up the challenge, though they mutter words of suspicion and distrust, and charge their horses up the hill in an attempt to catch the goat. The goat proves itself far too nimble, however and easily eludes their clumsy attempts. It runs into some thicker brush down the other side of the hill and disappears.

The knights begin to trot down the hill when they hear the goat shriek in pain and then suddenly the ground shakes and the trees part. A huge, three-eyed giant emerges from the copse of trees, the hapless goat clutched by the horns in the giant’s huge fist. Spotting the knights, the giant tosses the goat aside and tears a tree from the earth to use as a club. The knights, undeterred by the size of their foe, dip their lances and charge! The knights strike true with their weapons and lay the giant low. “That’s easy!” they cry as they gather up the goat and return to the goatherd.

As they approach the goatherd, the air around him seems to shimmer and he suddenly transforms into Merlin! He nods at the knights and tells them that they will suffice for the coming task. He bids them follow him and protect him as he goes about the business of the kingdom. They follow him into some woods and find themselves walking through the faery realm itself. A short time later they come upon a calm lake, a small raft secured at its shore. Merlin steps onto the raft and tells the knights to defend him with their lives.

Before the knights can question the druid, a mounted knight emerges from the woods. Both knight and horse are a sickly green color and seem to be slimy and not-quite solid. The knight holds a green sword in each hand and, to the horror of the knights, grows another set of arms! With those arms it rips free branches from a nearby tree to use as clubs. The knights boldly move to intervene as the creature charges directly toward the lake and Merlin. The conflict is bloody, with Sir Jaradan nearly being killed with a single blow of the slimy, green knight’s sword. Sir Tristian, likewise, falls to the creature’s attacks. Sir Morah, the last knight standing between the knight-creature and Merlin, suffers a stunning blow and is knocked off his feet. Morah, being a tactical and prudent knight, plays dead for a moment, which causes the green knight to move past him toward Merlin. Morah then surges back to his feet and launches a desperate attack, which finally destroys the creature, just a few feet from the lake. Morah, bloody and barely able to stand, watches as Merlin’s raft drifts unerringly to the center of the lake. He gasps as a hand, clad in the brightest, shimmering samite, rises from the still pool clutching a glowing sword. Merlin takes the sword and tucks it under his robe. The hand then slowly slides back beneath the surface and disappears.

With no visible means of propulsion, Merlin’s raft slides across the water and returns to shore, where he acknowledges Sir Morah’s bravery and skill at arms. He then uses his strange powers and heals the knights, returning them to full health. With a wink and a small bow, he disappears back into the woods, leaving the confused knights to return to Sarum with their strange tale. Sir Morah and Sir Jayden take the strange green swords that the Nukulavee (as they learn from Merlin) dropped when killed.

Back at court, Sir Tristian awes the assembled court with a song about the exploits, while Sir Morah tells the tale around the hearth fire. Sir Jayden butchers his version of the tale and is accused of boasting.

Thus ends Year 486….

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

485 - The Battle of Mearcred Creek

Our Knights, Tristian, Morah, and Jayden, travel with the Earl’s retinue to rendezvous with King Uther’s army just outside of Silchester. The King’s army is massive and the knights begin to feel anxious. This will be their first battle as knights and they struggle against a tide of anxiety and fear as they march closer to the site of the battle against the Saxon force led by King AElle.
The King’s forces finally confront the Saxons at a narrow valley, bordered on the south by dense woods and rolling hills to the north. The Saxons make camp in the woods while King Uther’s men strike their tents in the hills. The battle will take place in the valley, over a shallow stream called the Mearcred Creek.

With the moon high, the knights look over the field of battle, perhaps trying to envision the carnage to come or to screw up their courage for the inevitable slaughter. Sir Jayden’s keen tactical mind spots what he considers a fault in the battlefield which would put the King’s knights at a disadvantage. The ground north of the creek, over which they would be charging, is mired in deep, thick mud, while the ground to the south, upon which the Saxons would be assembling, was more rocky and solid. Jayden immediately seeks counsel with the King, but is turned aside by his house knights. Instead, Jayden and his companions seek out Sir Elad, their trusted trainer and friend. He surveys the battlefield and finds Jayden’s observations both insightful and valuable, so he takes the information to Earl Roderick, who takes it to the King. The King is grateful for the insight and thanks Sir Jayden for bringing the information to his attention. He asks Jayden how he would conduct the battle and is satisfied with his response. Jayden returns to his fellow knights with a bit more glory and the King’s respect, but whispers of him being disrespectful to the king filter throughout the camp.
As the sun rises, the knights find themselves assembling in the command of Sir Elad, who would lead their eschille. Earl Roderick himself addresses the group before the battle, offering words of encouragement and inspiration.

Across the creek, the Saxon forces scream and chant in their gutteral language, sending new waves of anxiety through the young knights. Sir Elad’s strong presence and forceful command set their minds at ease, however, and when the call comes to charge they set spurs to flanks and thunder across the valley, the tips of their lances shining brightly in the morning light.

The knights meet Saxon footmen, armed with longspears on their initial charge. Their lances strick true and Sir Elad’s forces smash through the Saxon lines, dealing death to their lightly armored foes.
As the knights recover from their charge, deep in enemy territory, their luck turns. Closely engaged, Sir Elad calls for his unit to fall back so as to allow for another charge. The order proves to be a disaster as they are attacked by well-trained but older Saxon warriors, clad in chainmail and wearing blue cloaks. Armed with long spears, these Saxons attack with ferocity and strike the knights hard, unseating Sir Jayden and wounding Sir Morah. Sir Tristian rallies his squire, Terric, and has him give his horse to Sir Jayden. Terric is more than happy to retire from the battle and scurries off toward friendly forces. The unit as a whole, however, is in disarray and threatening to unravel completely. Sir Elad attempts to rally his forces and calls to stand fast as axe-bearing warriors smash into his knights. Tristian, Morah, and Jayden fight with savage desperation and overwhelm the lightly armored axe-men by force of will and the might of their arms, driving back the attacking forces.

Sir Elad, finding the field around him clear, thanks in no small part to the heroics of Jayden, Morah, and Tristian, orders a charge against a group of shield warriors setting up for an attack.

Again, the knights smash into the smaller Saxon forces and rout them, sending them fleeing from the field of battle. Things are looking up for Sir Elad, until he makes another horrible error in judgement and allows his forces to be surrounded by another force of shield-bearers and axe-men. The knights fight with desperation and ferocity and manage to drive both groups off. As they recover from the fight, they hear the general retreat and fall back as both armies leave the field. King Uther’s forces prevail, but the victory is minor and come at great loss of life.

Sir Elad’s force was the most effective unit on the field and glory and praise is heaped upon him. Sir Jayden and Morah, however, confront the man about his tactical blunders during the battle and point out to all those within earshot that if not for their prowess, the entire unit would have been destroyed. Sir Elad is shamed in front of the Earl. With a face ruddy with embarrassment, he retires to his tent to await the return to Sarum.

At the Christmas Court later that year, Sir Jayden is confronted by an obviously drunk Sir Jaradan, who demands satisfaction for his loss to the Jayden earlier in the year, a duel to the death! Sir Jayden is able to talk his way out of the fight, much to the relief of the court, but feels that Jaradan’s hatred and envy of the young knight will lead to an inevitable confrontation.

Friday, June 5, 2015

Year 485

Below is an accounting of the first half of the year 485 in the Great Pendragon Campaign, as told by the knights Morah, Jayden, and Tristian.

The Story of Sir Morah of Winterbourne, a knight in the service of Earl Roderick

Life of Sir Morah as Told by his grandson to his great, great grandchildren.

Young ones let me tell you of the first year they called your great great grandfather Sir Morah.

The year was 485. As with any knight your great great grandfather was known only as Morah as he had not yet earned the title Sir. Early spring came that year and as a final test, their knighthood was believed eminent, him and his longtime friends Jayden and Tristian were put through the grinder. Morah was the first to go through the trials and started out loudly declaring his famous loyalty for Earl Roderick and even though his horsemanship was not known to be outstanding he seemed as though he was a champion horse rider! He flew through the course jumping bushes and ditches with great ease. He was set to make an expert time when at the last test, the two on one fight, where instead of hitting the squires below he threw his sword. Were it not for that mishap he would have surely won instead of finishing second.

The next day Morah and his friends were called to Sarum as war was waging and men were needed. On the road there they came across three bandits beating a poor farmer. The three were directed to fight the bandits and Morah, being a valorous squire, quickly squared off against the one who posed the most challenging. After a few seconds of blow after blow Morah knocked the man off the cart he was standing on and demanded the bandit’s surrender. Morah was well known to be an incredibly just knight and justice was due this man so they took him as their prisoner and gave him to the earl when they reached Sarum.

Two days after arriving and Sarum Morah would forever be known was Sir Morah for he and his friends were knighted. Now you’ve all heard of the leap. Well Sir Morah had too, but in a grand fashion forgot the leap part and tripped right into the rump of his horse. It is lucky that he is not known through the land for this magnificent failure though he is known to have joked about it during his life.

Sir Tristian's tale, a knight of Cholderton in the service of Earl Roderick

The year is 485, and yet it seems just like any other year, Sir Osbert the famed and feared knight known as “The Bear” has yet to improve his boar’ish attitude and demeanor towards me, or anyone really so I guess it’s just not me. On the bright side though, while I may not of scored high, I at least passed Sir Elad’s Grinder, a task to which I know that not even “The Bear” himself has…..
Talks of Saxons and war are spreading like wildfire these days, some tell tales of that squires may be knighted to help improve the Lord’s Army size. I hope this to be true, to test my mettle against Saxons would be far more glorious then sparring with these silly wooden effigies they call training dummies…
By the request of Sir Elad, we occupied him to Sarum when something most interesting occurred, we encountered a local being accosted by brigands. I swiftly flew into the fray and slew the vile thug with one swing of my sword in the Earl’s name, though admittedly on the inside it was no more glorious than dealing with those Effigies again…
Seems some lively entertainment befalls us tonight, Sir Jaradan, the supposedly renowned knight known for his swordsmanship challenged my friend Jayden to a duel. It seems that all the knights bet on sir Jaradan to win but three…. I of course was one of the three, Morah was another, and to my surprise, Sir Elad was the last…. Sir Jaradan may be skilled, but to be famed is to be arrogant, and to be arrogant would lead to his downfall. For it was with one mighty swing that Jayden knocked the arrogant fool on his buttocks in front of the entire court. The Knights that lost to our bets were at a loss for words, though Morah and myself just grinned quietly knowing that this would be the outcome.
Rumors of knighting seemed to be true, but alas, Sir Osbert being the stubborn man did not name me for recommendation…. Only after I stood up to him did he finally relent and with the rest of the squires I became a knight, and now I am one step closer to my goal, to overcome sir Osbert and truly prove I am stronger than he is, in both body and soul…..

From the journal of Sir Jayden of Broughton, a knight in the service of Earl Roderick

Spring of this 485th year of our Lord
Transcribed by Father Tewi

I, Sir Jayden newly knighted servant of Earl Roderick have decided to begin the keeping of a record in which I may put down my thoughts and experiences. Due to my inability to both read and write I have enlisted the help of the venerable local Priest of Sarum Father Tewi to help me in this. I hope that with time I will learn to read and write. I feel that a man of my great station should be able to do such things. I am no common peasant. A man of honor such as myself should know of these matters.

The reason I am starting now is my recent knighting. I am now a Sir. No longer a Squire. Because of this I believe that a record should be kept of my actions and the actions of my fellow knights.

Let’s begin with my recent bout with Sir Jaradan. It is said that Sir Jaradan is supposedly the finest swordsman in all of Salisbury. I have to disagree. To begin a fine swordsman does not play with his opponent, instead a fine swordsman would take his opponent seriously. Not playfully tapping their sword on their opponents shoulder. I am a bold man. This is the truth of the matter. Entering into that duel I had no idea which one of us would leave with their pride intact. I knew I was not the favorite to win, most bet against me. But I would not back down. I made them eat their own words. The buffoon tried to play the crowd, and I took advantage of it. As he was distracted while dancing around me I caught him off guard with an unexpected sweep of my sword and sent him flying into the wall. I took everyone by surprise, even the Earl who exclaimed “Good Lord”.

On top of the Victory I had against Sir Jaradan there were the Ladies that my dear friend Sir Amaury de Ganis had introduced me to. Of course, I made a great fool of myself only making Sir Amaury de Ganis look all the better in comparison. It isn’t his fault. I know I am not the best looking or most suave of men, but I hope to make up for these faults with strength of arms and honor in battle. I dedicated my victory over Sir Jaradan to the lovely Lady Gwiona who had taken my breath away when I first saw her. Some say she is cursed but if this is so I seek to shatter it.

GM's Recap

The Grinder

The spring of 485 found our young squires, Jayden, Tristian, and Morah, in the court at Vagon Castle, where they had wintered with their knights and were continuing their martial training under the tutelage of Sir Elad, the Marshal of Salisbury and Castellan of Vagon Castle.

Sir Elad had heard that the squires, having reached the age of 21, were soon to be knighted, and not a moment too soon. King Uther had called up all able knights to battle the Saxon King Aelle. All eligible squires were to report immediately to their liege, Earl Roderick, and receive their sword and spurs. Sir Elad had but one task for them left: The dreaded Grinder!

The Grinder is a steeple chase of sorts, mixing horsemanship with combat arms in a gruelling and dangerous course. Many a young squire has failed to complete the Grinder, much to their life-long shame. The famous Knight, Sir Osbert, is among those who failed to complete the course.

Morah was the first knight on the course, astride his trusty charger. He completed all the jumping tasks along the course, but failed to strike the quintain and failed the “footman’s ambush” task. He finished the course with a score of 46.

Tristian was next on the course. He also failed the “footman’s ambush” as well as the solitary lance target and the ditch jump. His final score was 48.

Finally, Jayden ran the course. He also failed to strike the stationary lance target, but partially completed the “footman’s ambush”, the only squire to do so on the day. He won the course with a total score of 42 (the lower the better). He received 20 glory, while the others received 10 for having completed the course.

Sir Elad and the squires left for Sarum immediately, leaving their knights to follow along later with the supply trains. Elad was anxious to get the squires to the Earl, not knowing exactly how quickly he wanted to knight them. On the road to Sarum, the squires and Sir Elad encountered a few bandits harassing a farmer on his cart. The squires sprang into action and routed the bandits, killing two and taking one prisoner.
At Sarum, the Earl was impressed by their actions on the road and took time to congratulate and speak with each of the squires. The squires spent the rest of that evening in prayer with Father Tewi at the Church of Salisbury and playing chess in the Earl’s Great Hall with the rest of the squires and pages.

The next day, the squires were treated to witnessing the arrival of Prince Madoc, who brought news of a second Saxon force marshalling at Caercolun. Prince Madoc declared openly that all eligible squires were to be knighted on the marrow by order of his father, the King, and called for a feast to celebrate. The knights from Vagon finally arrived and the squires were put to work arranging their kits for battle and seeing to their horses. Sir Osbert swore that he would not nominate young squire Tritian for knighthood.

At the feast that night, the squires were able to meet and introduce themselves to many ladies of the court, including the beautiful Lady Elaine, Lady Gwiona, Lady Adwen, and the dowager Lady Indeg. Sir Amaury was his usual charming self, and was confronted by Sir Walter after he spent some time flirting with Lady Elaine. Calmer heads prevailed, however, and Sir Walter was pulled aside and calmed down. Sir Osbert, as usual, drank himself under a table…literally. He managed to embarrass himself and his squire, Tristian, a situation that Tristian is all too familiar with.

Toward the end of the evening, Sir Jaradan, known as the finest swordsman in all of Salisbury, challenged Jayden to a duel. Jaradan struck the first blow, a light tap upon Jayden’s shoulder. It was obvious to the court that he was merely toying with the young squire. Jayden, however, would have none of it and knocked Jaradan off his feet with a staggering blow, causing the Earl himself to rise and exclaim, “Good Lord!” For his part, Sir Jaradan took the loss in stride, but promised to see Jayden upon the field of honor again. Much money changed hands that night, including a large wager between the Earl and Sir Elad.
The next morning, Jayden and Morah were nominated by their knights, but Sir Osbert, true to his word, refused to nominate Tristian. Tristian, before the entire assembled court, launched into a stirring oration and was able to sway the recalcitrant knight. Sir Osbert finally conceded and offered Tristian for knighthood. After the ceremony, all but Sir Morah made the leap. Morah, much to the delight of the court, stumbled and planted himself face-first into his horse’s ass.

The Earl’s entourage set forth immediately for Silchester to rendezvous with King Uther and bring battle to the hated Saxons.