Monday 22 March 2010

Breccia Feldspar

Hello I am Igniter Breccia Feldspar. Humans call us Firemen. I will have you know that to be chosen as an Igniter is both a calling and a title. I am the third son of a third son, so my destiny was assured. My role in the dwarven mines was to investigate and safely ignite Fire Damp to make my peoples work and lives safer.

I no longer work in the mines of my ancestors because of kobolds and goblins. My mine and hearth is gone.

I live in the world now. I talk with Axe Mace Sword and Hammer

Saturday 20 March 2010

The Darine

This information is culled and adapted from the Vaults of Pandius. Any further information found on that site might be true, or it might not. This post represents general knowledge and rumours that an educated Karameikan would know about the Darine. Note that I am giving the characters the benefit of the doubt by assuming they are educated to some extent. Any player taking on a Darine character will be given additional information.

The Darine (singular, Daro or Dara) are the Dom "nation" of Traladara. The Dom are descended from the Traldar that migrated west into Sind during the invasion of the Red Orcs in 1000 BC. Since then they have never quite fitted into the local culture and have wandered ever since. The reason for their inability to settle is lost in the mists of time. Some say it is an ancient curse laid on them by an immortal that they slighted, others that they are just feckless and lazy. As the Darine comprised the bulk of the Dom refugees, they remain the largest of the three Dom nations. Darine may be found not only in Karameikos, but also in Ierendi, the Five Shires, and a few in Minrothad and Vyalia.

The Darine resemble most Traladarans in appearance: dark hair, light to olive skin, dusky eyes. They dress in even more vibrant clothing than their Traladaran cousins, preferring bright kerchiefs, scarves, and sashes, along with embroidered trousers and vests worn with billowing shirts, Both men and women typically wear a great deal of jangling jewellery, and men pierce their ears as often as do women.

The Darine are the bards of Karameikos. They travel widely, with tribes wandering over the whole of Karameikos, and in doing so, they pick up and spread the news. While visiting a town, they perform music, songs and dance, storytelling, fortune telling, healing, and do some trading. They also pilfer a lot, so their arrival is greeted with mixed emotions. Those of Traladaran descent are usually more favourably disposed towards them than the Thyatians are. Although the Darine are officially citizens of Karameikos, they do not acknowledge this themselves unless it is to their advantage. Many Thyatian Lords barely tolerate them in their lands, and from time to time declare them outlaws and thieves for real or imagined crimes. In many cases, problems occurring after a visit from the Darine are blamed on them, regardless of their guilt. For example, a farmer's cow dies the day after a Darine caravan passes through town, so superstitious townsfolk blame the sudden death on a Darine curse.

They earn their living in various ways, mostly through services, trade, fortune telling, and entertaining, although they have a reputation for thievery. They occasionally hire out as guides. They have a knack for guiding parties safely to wherever they wish to go. They are clever, and always find ways to honour their agreements, even if these have been made with conflicting sides.

A Darine tribe consists of a caravan of 5 to 50 members, and is usually an extended family. The Darine travel in wooden wagons called vardos (small wagons with a high arching roof and a door at the back with the driver sitting in front). Vardos are painted in vivid colours and might even have tiny windows of tinted glass, if the owner is prosperous. The vardo travels with a small menagerie of dogs, goats, and crated chickens. A Darine caravan is a colourful sight to see.

The Darine language is actually a dialect of Traladaran. As such, the two are mutually comprehensible, although some words are different and the accents also differ.

Friday 19 March 2010

Jazin Greyhide - Introduction

Manaz azhik, as we say in Darine. My name is Jazin Karizadi, that is Greyhide from the colour of our wagons. You may think that you know all about the Darine from what you have heard others say; I would say forget all that you think you know. We are a proud people, but we are not tied to a place like you; ours is the road, the land and the sky, even on a day like today when it is, as we say, miki mazar, hammering us with rain!

Rain is dangerous. You keep your eyes half-shut, your head down, your mind on where you will be resting rather than what is on the road ahead. That’s what happened to my tribe once, as we were on our way to our next resting place. We wanted to stay dry, keep warm; soon, however, the mud got thicker and our wagons started to stick in it. The horses pulled, whips cracked, men shouted and swore. Distractions, always distractions. We had no idea what was waiting for us.

They killed two of us in the first volley of arrows; Uncle Adizar and his oldest son Rami. We pressed our faces to the floor of our wagon as more arrows came through the hides. Yaikar my oldest brother grabbed a sword and joined the menfolk to defend the women and children. I peered through the hide to see what was going on. It was goblins all right; and not a few hobgoblins with them. They came rushing out of cover, splashing through the mud, screaming their battle cries, swinging their huge rusty, notch-bladed swords. Our men were good but there were too many of the monsters; soon the fighting was going on by the very wagons themselves.

Suddenly, the hides were ripped aside and something huge leapt up and into the wagon. I’d never seen a hobgoblin up close before. He said something in his uncouth tongue and grinned, his yellow fangs glinting in the meagre light. I could smell the stink of his breath from where I lay. Minari and Aramina cowered behind me; my mother and Zaidin were further back, hurling pots at the intruder, who batted them aside as if they were insects. Behind him, I could see more leering faces, baying out in glee. The hobgoblin raised his sword to strike me down – I was the only man in the wagon. And then something happened. Something flashed and flashed again and the faces were gone. The hobgoblin noticed that I was staring past him and half-turned; I took my chance and wrapped myself around his stinking leg. He stumbled, glanced down, raised his arm to strike and then fell heavily through the hides and slid down into the mud. There was blood all over his neck and chest.

A figure leapt after him and over him and I saw a sword, sticky and red, rising and falling, thrusting and lunging, sending goblins into the mud. The figure was a blur of movement in the rain; I never knew someone could move so fast.

My father climbed up into the wagon, asking if everyone was all right. We all nodded, and he jumped out again, shouting to others, checking to see who was still alive.

We had lost Adizar and Rami, and my father’s cousins Kobizan and Marikor. My brother Yaikar was hurt and two wagon horses had been killed. But when we saw how many goblins and hobgoblins had been attacking us, we knew that we had escaped lightly. The figure who had done so much to help us pulled back a damp green hood and the light glinted on long chestnut hair. My father muttered “Kadizai”, which is the Darine word for the Warriors of the Wilds. You may know them as Rangers.

The kadizai introduced herself as Danika. She explained that she had been tracking the band of goblins for some days and thought that she had lost them in the rain. Then she came across the ambush site and did not hesitate to attack. She also told us that the hobgoblin who had climbed into our wagon was their warband leader, and that he had brothers who needed to be found and killed. She could not stay long; she had work to do but she helped us get the wagons free from the mud and observed with us the washing and the three bindings, our ritual for the dead.

It has been a good few years since the ambush but I have thought often of Danika-zin and the way that she helped us. I wanted to be as fast as she was, as brave, as keen with a sword. Kadizai wear the wilderness like a cloak, moving through it as if they were a wind.

My family have not forgotten it either and now they feel that it would be good for the Greyhides to have someone like that in the tribe, to defend us if something like that were to befall us again. The Darine need good fighters. We asked on the road and word came to us that she had last been heard of at the mountain town of Threshold. The closest our tribe was going was Verge, so that is where I bade them farewell and took the road north.

Thursday 18 March 2010

And so it begins ...

Travelling in Karameikos, even on the Duke's Highway, can be hazardous. The Duchy is quite lawless. Footpads, robbers and cut-throats abound in the forests and hills away from civilisation. The goblin tribes are often on the war-path and the orcs are not renowned for their hospitality, so it is safer to travel in a group. This is why most travellers get together with others that are heading in their direction. You have all done the same and are now a party of six heading for Threshold on the northern frontier. You are all young and there are fortunes to be made in Threshold, by all accounts, if you have the nerve. With all the cockiness of youth, you expect to be rich by this time next week. 

The journey has gone smoothly so far, but the skies are dark when you leave the town of Verge with your new companions. Still, you expect to reach Threshold by nightfall all being well. Unfortunately, things do not go to plan. The skies open a couple of hours after you leave the town and soon the road ahead of you is thick mud. Travelling is tiring, but still you push on. By noon you are desperately in need of rest, so you stop in the best shelter you can and have lunch, before continuing. By mid-afternoon you are still some miles from Threshold when one of the feared mountain storms opens up. Thunder crashes overhead and lightning forks to the ground, while huge hailstones pelt down around you, heavy enough to bruise where they hit. There is no option to continue now. You must find shelter and sit out the storm. Ahead, a large, rocky tor rises from the ground, silhouetted at regular intervals by great branches of forked lightning. It promises some shelter, so you climb it. A few narrow ledges offer some shelter, but further inspection reveals a large opening in the hillside. Great fragments of a large round rock lie before it. The opening promises a dry haven for you all so you enter. Within is a huge stone chamber. Traces of paint and decorative stonework on the walls indicate that it must once have been decorated with some care, but the style is unknown to you, and, whatismore, not actually that important. Even the stone doors in each of the chambers' walls carry less significance than lighting a fire at this time.

With the fire blazing and the storm blowing outside, you settle down to wait out the storm. Given its fury, you are sure that you will have to stay the night here, so you make the most of it and introduce yourselves properly ...

Tuesday 9 March 2010

The Battle of Blore Heath, 1459 - The Cavalry

As part of our Rather Large Towton Project, we shall be putting on a small game of Blore Heath at Triples in April. Please come along and say hello if you are there. The Lancastrian army at Blore Heath had a cavalry wing and Blore Heath was one of the few Wars of the Roses battles to feature cavalry so it is fun to play it out. Here we see the whole of that cavalry wing, in this picture led by Exeter. Click the picture for a larger image.

I can't wait to see these guys thundering across the battlefield and then getting shot down by the heroic Yorkists! ;-)

Here are the knights on their own:

And here are the men-at-arms on their own:

As usual for the Towton project, all the figures are by Baccus. The banners are by Freezywater and the company flags on the men-at-arms are by Baccus. It has been fun painting some cavalry for this project instead of the masses of infantry that I have been working on and still have a lot of to paint. Mind you, I am behind schedule with my painting, so I had better get on and paint more infantry.

Saturday 6 March 2010

A-Roleplaying We Will Go ...

Yup, I have made contact with roleplayers in the area! They appear to be friendly, or at least mostly harmless, so we have agreed to start up a game of Labyrinth Lord in about two weeks' time. Needless to say, I am excited about DMing a game again. I really enjoy the creativity inherent in building up a world for the players to investigate and tear apart. Hopefully this game will lead to others and we can continue to play a campaign for a while to come.

Labyrinth Lord is a Basic D&D clone that is available as a free download from the Goblinoid Games website. There is also an advanced expansion that takes the game into something closer to 1st Edition AD&D, but without any of the nonsense that went with that game. So, as part of preparation for this game, I have dug out all of my D&D Gazetteers which describe the world of Mystara, since this nostalgia-fest deserves only the best. I have also dug out all of my old B-series modules for it. Now all I have to do is read the rules and modules again in time for the players to ignore all of my plans and head off in a totally different direction. Wish me luck, and if not luck, at least good aim with the cowapult, when I feel they need to be taught a lesson. I have already loaded it with the Piano of Doom and the Heifer of Despair, so I just need an excuse to let rip ...

While doing all this preparation, I also realised that I did not have a Labyrinth Lord GM's shield, so I made one quickly by printing out the reference sheets and gluing them to a piece of 3mm foamboard. Here it is:
So now, no matter what the players do, I shall at least be secure behind my shield.