Gaming Rip-Off – Minuteman Miniatures – Now Called Miniature You

This little saga started at GenCon 2018.  Minuteman Miniatures had a booth where you could get your head scanned and they would provide you custom miniatures with your head/face on them.  Great idea.  I, along with my son and grandson, started the process with our scans.  In December, I ordered our minis to the tune of around $100.00.

I mentally gave them a few months grace period because I presumed there was a backlog. Then I started to email them.  No response.  I called the owner, Michael Elices, and his voicemail box was full.  Not a good sign.  I kept sending emails, every two weeks to both Mike and their support address, but got no response.

Now, a friend of mine did get his miniature – eight months after he ordered it at Gen Con and it looked great.  So this company is not an entire scam.  I am hopeful still that they would refund my money or, better yet, produce the miniatures we ordered.  At this point I would have settled for a simple “we are working on it,” response.  Instead nothing but silence, which is not good.

They have rebranded themselves as Miniature You and are promising an app as of July of this year to allow you to scan your own face and order custom miniatures from them.  I would strongly advise you to not do so.  This company has 21 Better Business Bureau complaints filed against them, all unresolved.  While I am sure their intent is to provide a service to the gaming community, and yes, some people have gotten their miniatures – there are a lot of people out there that have not.   Anyone handing them money for product is doing so with a great deal of risk.

I fully support game companies, especially start-ups.  But for them to not deliver to so many customers, then spend money to create an app to get more money…without fulfilling their orders…well, that’s borderline criminal behavior.

I will be pursuing legal remedies shortly with them.  I wanted to warn gamers out there to beware of this company though.

BattleTech Nose Art Project

IMG_0391

I retired a week ago and decided to tackle an arts and crafts project for the game room in our new house we are having built.  There will be a BattleTech theme, because, my wife is awesome.

I have always been intrigued with WWI and WWII aircraft art, or nose art.  The WWII bomber images were often of buxom women and they had a cool vibe to them.  I began to contemplate that we would have the same things in BattleTech as well.  It made sense.  You probably won’t see them at miniature scale, but it would be hard to believe that we wouldn’t have them.  So I decided to create my own and do it for a character from my work – Colonel Rhonda Snord.

I wanted a statement piece (that statement being, “I’m a geek!”) so I opted for three foot by five foot.  I got a ¼ inch sanded piece of plywood for the backing and cut the “ribs” so that there was some curve.  The cutting wasn’t tricky, but I wanted the same angle which took some hand-plaining to get it right.

I wanted a little pattern in the cross-members, so I went with some creative spacing.  These two had to be planed for the eventual curve of the metal.

IMG_0375
The ribs

The metal was from Home Depot, you get it in three-foot-square pieces, so I had trimmed some for experimentation purposes with the paint.

I used a nail gun to nail the ribs and supports to the plywood, along with some glue.  This gave me the frame for the metal.  The key is to make a diagram with accurate measurements of where the ribs are so that when you “rivet” them you know where to drive the brad/rivet.

IMG_0379
That’s right, Endo Steel is really just plywood from Home Depot

 

I laid the metal out and realized (duh) that the curve of the ribs meant my metal wouldn’t cover all of the ribs.  No problem, I decided to leave the exposed part at the top, as you can see.

IMG_0382
Nice eh?

To rivet these, you use an awl and tap a small hole.  I did mine at about one and one-half inches apart.  Using some needle nose plyers, I used some large aluminum thumbtacks and pounded them in.  I learned that at some the ends of the curve the thumbtacks weren’t long enough and popped up, so I sunk in a few screws mixed in with the tacks and glued them in just to be sure.  Next time I am getting longer brads so they will hold better.

Imperfections are okay, remember, this is outer skin for ferro-fibrous armor we are talking about.  Some imperfections are to be expected.  I think the few I have give the piece character.  I liked the aluminum skin so much I was tempted to leave it as-is and put the art on it. But we don’t see too many bare metal ‘Mechs out there, so I went to paint.

It took exactly one can of spay paint to cover this.  For the colors, I referred to my own book, Call of Duty, which described Rhonda Snord’s ‘Mech as a dull green with the Buffalo Nickel, Elvis’s TCB lightning bolt.  Her callsign was Jailhouse Rocker – but I took the liberty of trimming that down.  The nickel, well, it just looked like crap no matter what I did. I assumed this was so big on the ‘Mech that it might not apply with what I was doing. I was going to do the TCB (Taking Care of Business) lightning bolt, but decided against that.  Let’s just assume that was on the other side of her cockpit.  I only bring it up here because I know some fan boy will be convulsing that was not 100% accurate.  Well, bear in mind, ‘Mechs get painted and repainted a LOT.  Deal with it junior.

I was going to hand stencil the letters but my tests on the scrap metal left me worried that, given my lack of artistic ability, I would screw it up.  So I ordered the stencil work, and her artwork logo (Jailhouse Rock) from https://doityourselflettering.com.  The cost was around $50 but was worth it compared to the price of me messing up such a large project.

 

For Rhonda, I went to cover of the scenario set and scanned her.  Three fans jumped in and helped me crop her out perfectly.  I then went to Fat Head’s web site and ordered up Rhonda.  https://www.fathead.com/custom does custom vinyl’s – just upload and rock. The cost was $35.  Strangely enough they sent me two of them.

Total cost of the project, including purchasing of metal cutters, and awl, etc., was around $200.00 total.  I’m not a carpenter or very skilled, but the time involved was around 15 hours or so – with the majority of that being putting the rivets in.

Alright, truth be told, I used my time machine, went to the future, found this replacement cockpit side for her Highlander in a junk pile, grabbed it, and came back.  All of us BattleTech authors have a time machine because all of this stuff is REAL.

You may not like it.  You may think the proportions are off and stuff, but I love it and can’t want for us to get the house built so I can hang it in the game room.

I have a three foot piece of plywood left and am contemplating doing a Black Window one too.

BattleTech Pronunciations

Lyran

This comes up all of the time, what is the right way to say proper names in the BattleTech universe.  Not so much in writing, but when you get gamers together.  Well, if it makes you feel any better, we writers slug it out as a topic as well.

We had a meeting last month in Seattle and we arrived at a few agreements among ourselves on certain ones.  I saw this pop up in the forums as well this last week…so let me offer the ones we aligned on.  Note:  I am not an employee of Catalyst Game Labs, I am a mercenary author – so none of what I say is cast in stone.  It is simply my understanding of the proper way to pronounce certain names.

Lyran

Producers of the Atlas, the Atlas Scout Lance, the Atlas Candy Bar…you name it.  Two three forms are used the most.  Lee-run, Lie-o-run, and Lie-run.  Well, it’s Lie-run.  At least, I’m pretty sure that’s where we landed.

Davion

The Happy Go-Lucky Whackadoodles of the Federated Suns who produce the nicest plate collections for your royal weddings.  It has the Max Liao seal of approval!

Two variants come up all of the time.  Dah-vion and Davey-an.  It’s Davey-an.

Alaric (Ward)

Alaric
He’s dreamy…

The cover of Inner Sphere Sweet 16 Magazine.  True story.  We argued on this one for a while.  Someone suggested we call him “Al” which made me conjure up the image of Al Bundy, hands down his pants, etc.  There were impersonations involved. As it turns out, we were fairly split on the two forms:  Ahl-erick  (with the variant of Al-erick) and Alair-ick.  For the most part, we seemed to settle on Ahl-erick or the variant.

(Stephanie) Chistu

I think we all settled on “Shist-oo” however Randall did produce Cheese-stew, which opened up a number of cheese-based jokes including Cheese-doodle.   We never put in pin in this one, but I favor Shist-oo.

I feel assured this will spark countless hours of nerdgasms…so my work is done for the night.  You are welcome!

The Chronicling of our D&D Campaign Part 34 – In Search of Lexa Lyoncroft

Badguy

Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters. For me, it lets me do a little creative writing between more serious projects. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this one. Enjoy!

Althalus…

After our defeat of Savitar and his minions we found ourselves in an empty village, weary yet more experienced in fighting the undead. We holed up in the keep to recover.  Each hour more animals started to return to the village – now that the taint of the vampire was gone.  Our second night there we heard a growling outside the keep.  We went up to the battlements of the old structure and looking down, we saw a large, black, two-headed dog stalking around, frothing at the mouth.

I had no idea what it was, but I knew I wasn’t going to go down and confront it.  Arius fired his crossbow and I unleashed my eldritch blast. The green beams hit its black hide and seared smoking holes, knocking it back hard onto the stones.  One head looked up at me and growled, no doubt frustrated it couldn’t reach me.  Brandon unleashed his own magic, a hail of thorns, making the creature wail in pain. Injured, it took off, one head yipping as it fled. “No doubt one of the minions of Savitar,” I muttered.  It made me wonder what else might be lurking around us.

We turned our attention to those mysterious runes we’d found. I used one of my spells to understand them better.  They were enchanted, they attached or bonded to a weapon.  One seemed to have intelligence with it.  One seemed to increase the odds of hitting a foe.  Another summoned some sort of cloud. The final one that intrigued me the most, imparted some sort of intelligence to a weapon. It was the extent that my powers could obtain answers from the nether as to what they were, but it was enough. I was a little disappointed though, none of this was anything I could use.  Ultimately we decided not to attach them to any of our weapons.

Brandon revealed to us that he has been tasked secretly with reporting to the High Council of Rangers. We were not entirely surprised they were keeping track of us, after all, look at all we had been through. His candor in admitting what he had been asked to do was appreciated.

We spent the rest of the week recovering and debating our next steps.  We considered returning to the city of Karn with the map, in hopes that the mapmaker, Chester Grayson, could tell us where it was.  Thoughts of returning to face the Vizir however did not settle well with us. The compelling thought was that we had to find Lexa Lyoncroft. We could wait for her to show up, which we thought she would eventually.  Or we could go back to where we had seen her before – the Gellasian Fields.

I have to admit, it was strange, going back to where we had started those long months before.  Memories of Pot Head the Ogre and the cockatrice that had almost turned my leg to stone were not pleasant.  There was also no way to know if she was still there or would receive us well.

Brandon sent a bird with a message back to the High Council of Rangers, and we set out along a road towards the Fields and a rendezvous with an old adversary.

We set out and found little more than a strange cairn of stones along the roadside, one we gave a wide berth to.  After several days march, we turned to the south east, cross-country.  We did come across a churning of the earth, as far as we could see, as if a giant mole had come through, crossing our path.  Whatever it was, it had furrowed a long tunnel before us. We tried to jump the furrow, and as it turns out, I’m the least athletic of our group. I fell in and the tunnel collapsed, leaving me with only my head sticking out of the ground, my legs dangling beneath.

“I hate this,” I cursed.

Theren spoke up.  “Wait, do you hear that?”

There was a rumbling sound to the east…and me buried up to my neck.  “Get me a rope…now!” It took some effort, but I made it out, covered with dirt thanks to Arius.  As I got my footing we all saw the source of the rumbling – a fin breaking the surface of the ground, moving towards us.

“Landshark!” Theren called out.

“Bulette,” I corrected.  Now we knew what caused the tunnel I had fallen in.

It closed to within 75 heads of us and I unleashed my eldritch blast.  It hit the creature, pushing it back down the tunnel it was carving. “You know, he’s not moving fast.  We could just run away,” I offered.

Everyone looked at me and we began sprinting away.  “Run away!” We ran fast and kept on running until we finally collapsed in a heap of sweat and exhaustion.  The Bulette eventually stopped its pursuit, for which we were all thankful.  I had heard about such creatures and had no desire to tangle with it.  We heard it several times in the night, in the distance, clearly still searching for us.

It took us two days march to reach the edge of the Gellasian Fields.  It was here where the biggest battle of the great war was fought…both haunted and cursed.  Brandon was nervous and I told him about it quickly.  “This place is haunted, there are cockatrices, ogres, lots of undead, and where Lyoncroft had a camp.”

The grass was browning from the late fall air or just because of the proximity to the old battlefield, but we finally could see the edge of the Fields.  The grass was shorter, more weed-filled.  The magic unleashed here during the battle must have been powerful indeed to have corrupted the very soil of this place.  The problem we faced was this was not a part of the ancient battlefield that we had traversed before.

That first night we could smell a hint of sulfur in the air.  It was a restless night, reminding me of why I disliked this place. The dead don’t rest easy in the Fields. This was the closest we had been to our home in months.  I doubt any of them would even recognize us at this stage.

Our morning was cloudy and cold.  There were copses of trees and dead grass gave way to rolling hills.  Brandon spotted several carrion birds circling over a bubbling tar pit in the distance. He slinked back to us and told us that there was an old man with a cane near the edge of the tar pit and that the birds were circling over the large pond-sized pool of tar.  Small little geysers were puffing steam. He told us that there were bones around the perimeter of the tar pool.

My first instinct was that this was dangerous.  Arius, ever the sterling paladin, led the others to talk to him.  Me, I was readying an eldritch blast.  When I saw the area, I knew what it was from histories I had read of the Fields. This was the Hellground.  This was where the centaur armies were driven into during the battle.  They became mired down here and were nearly obliterated by the undead hosts.  Many souls perished here.

Arius called out to the old man, asking why he was there.  “There’s a lot of treasure out here in the tar.  I’m picking through it.  I found some a chest with some gems in it.  I need someone to wade out and take a rope to help me bring it in.”

“Guys,” I whispered.  “This seems suspicious, but he seems like a nice guy.”

“Are you mad?” Brandon asked.

“Do we want to help the old guy?” Arius asked.

“I’m not wading in hot tar,” Theren said.

That sounded right to me.  “I wouldn’t wade into hot tar for anyone, let alone this guy.  I mean he seems honest, but I don’t think we should risk it.  I do have a spell that has the shape of a hand.  Maybe I can reach out and find it, tie it off, and drag it in.”

“It’s out there.  You have to walk out and feel for it,” the old man said.

Theren looked at him with a cocked eyebrow.  “He’s lying.  I am completely convinced this guy is full of shit.”

“That’s enough for me,” Arius said.  “Good luck with your treasure…” the paladin said, waving to him and walking away.

“I don’t risk my life for treasure,” I grumbled, still convinced that he old man was telling the truth.  “Power is a different thing.”

We marched off, leaving him to his fate and trudged on. The next day, mid-afternoon, we saw a long ridge bisected our path.  It was steep, rocky, and was miles long. Brandon, scouting ahead, spotted what looked to be a man sitting alone at the middle of the ridge, unmoving.

“You watch,” I warned.  “It’s the guy from the tar pit.”  I was, for the record, totally wrong.

Our side of the ridge was rocky.  This was going to require us to climb.  As we got closer, the man-figure we saw sitting up there looked more like an old suit of plate armor.

Theren pointed out that we should go around it.  When we got around to the other side, we saw, in the distance, the north-south road…the main road that runs through the Gallesian Fields.  Our side of the ridge was more sloped, easy walking.  Brandon spotted a sign halfway up the ridge and we walked up the side reading it.  “Beware Sir Tristen, the Last Defender of Rastor’s Ridge.”

For a few minutes, we contemplated continuing up.  In the end, we had to know who Sir Tristen was.  Brandon took point and we made our way up the grassy slope – the cool wind whipping at us as we walked.

When we got within one-hundred-heads distance the armor clanged and clattered to a standing position.  Almost instantly, Brandon’s sword Nightstalker, glowed brilliant blue.

“It’s undead,” he said turning his head back.

“No joke,” I replied.

My first reaction was to close and unlashed my eldritch blasts.  The emerald energy missed by five heads length.  Curses!  The haunted armor closed with our party, and my thoughts were back to the sign that warned us about him.  The eyes of the possessed helmet on the abomination glowed red and it drew a massive great sword.

Brandon rushed forward, Nightstalker and Bonebreaker shimmering and flailing at the massive suit of armor.  In a panic, he missed with both weapons.  Arius cast one of his spells, making the monstrous suit to turn and move away from us to near the edge of the cliff.  I unleashed another eldritch blast, knocking him back and down, leaving smoking holes in the armor.

Brandon sprang at him, swinging wildly with Nightstalker – losing his grip on the backward swing, sending it flying in our direction!

The suit rose from my staggering blast, holding its hand out in Theren’s direction.  A hellfire orb of fire from his fingertips.  The ball sped toward Theren as the ball of flames expanded and I realized that it would engulf me as well.  The air became searing as the ball of flames caught me in the open. I smelled burn hair and realized it was my own beard! Smoke stung at my eyes as I saw Theren, charred but still standing.  My own defenses sent some of the fire back at the haunted suit of armor, igniting the hillside around him.  One thing is certain we are telling the countryside we were in the house!

I used vicious mockery at him but it was to no avail. Theren heated his armor to the point where it glowed orange, but it made no sound and only seemed to ignore the ripples of heat.

Arius, in all of his paladin glory, struck him with thunderous smite and the echoing clang of Skullringer! The air roared from the hit, and the hit was so hard he was knocked back ten heads and dropped to his knees from the fury of the attack.

He rose and struck the ground.  A wave rippled out from where his sword stabbed the soil.  It was like the soil was a wave of water, the ripples were massive, churning the rock and turf hitting Brandon, who somehow managed to keep his footing.  Not so with Arius who was tossed hard to the ground and badly injured. Both were injured badly by the attack.

My eldritch blast knocked him back again, pushing him up the ridge.  Arius struck the creature again, smiting him with the power of the church, damaging the visage of Sir Tristen once more.  The unholy knight used his own unholy smite, hitting Arius three times with that great sword – with a white hot intensity, setting Arius on fire in the process – knocking him out.  The flames lapped at the paladin as he lay unconscious.

“I think the right answer here is to kill him,” I muttered, missing with my eldritch blasts.  Smoke rose from his glowing breastplate, the results of Theren’s attack.  Our smoldering druid pointed to the sky above us and purple clouds magically appeared. A wave of lightning bolts stabbed downward at the knight.  It hit him hard, excess energy lashing outward.

Brandon fired his longbow, missing entirely. His second arrow bore in with a hunter’s mark. An ethereal wolf appeared near Sir Tristen, no doubt summoned by the ranger.

Arius managed to awaken enough to heal himself and extinguish the magic-fueled flames lapping at him. Sir Tristen swung twice at Arius and lost the grip on his own great sword, sending it flying down the hillside in my direction.

I hit him again with my eldritch powers, staggering him back once more. The storm clouds rained down again, hitting him once more with a loud crack.  Brandon fired twice.  His first arrow hit, the second one snapped his bow.  Arius sprang at the ghost knight with Skullringer, missing with one swing, but catching him on the back-swing.  The armor flies apart – searing the dead grass it was so hot.  The stench of unholy death rose from the empty suit, stinging at my nostrils.  Sir Tristen was no more.  The storm clouds parted and I was far too aware that we had attracted so much attention.

Suddenly, there was a finger tapping my shoulder. I jumped and turned around.  Standing there, her massive sword in hand, was Lexa Lyoncroft.  I tried to look calm and cool, but I was sure that failed.  “Hello boys, so we meet again,” she said coyly.

lexa (1)
Lexa Lyoncroft

Theren, still smoking from the fireball, pulled it off better than me.  “’Sup,” he said.

“We need your help,” I managed.

She glanced over and Brandon and offered a grin. “Ah, fair ranger.  I see your mission to the gash paid off well for all parties involved.  Of course your friends never learned the true nature of our relationship.”  She gave him a big wink.  What the hell?  Was she messing with us, or was Brandon holding out on us.

“We were trying to find you,” I said.  “Did you know there was a vampire that was hunting you?  We killed him.  And then there’s Viktor Barristen, he’s out for you too.”

“Tell me your tale,” she said.

We relayed the story, as best we could – the trapped paladins in Cyrilla Drex’s sword, Tempora, everything.  At times three of us were talking at once but she seemed to understand.  “Let’s go to my camp.”  It took an hour to reach the tents of her camp.  There were men there, some we had seen and fought before.  There was also several young women there. It was odd seeing Lexa again, after all of this time.  The last time, we faced her in battle.  It was over a half a year ago.  The one Barbarian working in the camp scowled at Arius, then it hit us, the paladin had killed his twin brother and taken Skullringer during our last meeting.

She asked about the death of Cyrilla Drex and we told her about the fight. “Cyrilla and I never quite saw eye-to-eye on things.  She took the sword and concealed our Order’s keep.  Are you telling me that it is intact, inside the plane in her sword?  And Barristen has that weapon?”

“Yes,” Theren said.

“Damn,” she spat.  “The last time he was incarnated, he raised an army of the dead to wage war against the Church.  He was defeated on these very fields. He will raise another army of undead.  If he does that, I will never truly be free of my own curse.”

“What curse?” I pressed.

“I made bargains, an exchange, to fulfill my life.  Until I fulfill my burden, my oath, I am trapped by the curse and continue to live the life eternal.  I’m a lot older than what you boys think.”

“What is your quest?”

“I am to restore the Sisterhood of the Sword both physically and to right the slander that has been spread by the Church.  The Church was misled into purging our priory.  It is my burden to set all of that straight.”

“We tried hard to keep the sword, but he managed to take it from us,” Brandon said.

“The swords we carry are unique.  Each blade is forged by a swordmaiden of the order.  Each member of the order carries one of the blades. In the forging process, with incants of old and a lock of our hair, the blades are quenched.  To us, they are as light as a feather.  Only a member of the order can wield such a massive blade.  Each has a stone with a unique property, crafted by God and the swordmaiden. Cyrilla’s was an alternate plane of existence, where time and magic had no grasp.”

“We saw that,” I said.

“You were there?”  We nodded.  “Did you see the keep?  Were the wards still in place?” Again we nodded.

Lexa shook her head.  “There were five of us that survived the Church’s purge.  Cyrilla wanted more than to survive and rebuild.  She was blinded with revenge against the Church.”

“I understand,” Theren the druid said.

“She left, taking all that was ours with her.  That keep has all of our spellbooks in it, all of our magic reference.  It even has our holy forge.  Everything needed to rebuild the sisterhood once more.”

“What happened to the other survivors?” I asked.

“Scattered.  Some refused to accept the curse I did.  Others have retired, turned their backs on the Church and the world that had wrongly persecuted them.  We may yet have to call on some of them to stop Barristen.”

“What about recruiting?” I queried.

She shook her head.  “We need to bring him to ground first.”

“We do have this map we found.  We don’t know what it means.”

“This spot,” she said pointing at the edge of the map.  “Could be the Gallesian Fields.  There is no way to know if this takes us to Barristen though. I have never been that far west.  There is a symbol showing a lake, but I was unaware of an inland sea in that direction.”

“We have to stop Barristen, on this all depends.  I understand his feelings towards the Church.  I have been accused myself of having a need for revenge.  I do not seek vengeance, only justice.”

A young girl emerged from the camp, wearing a habit, bringing us bowls of warm soup.  “This is Sister Highstall.  She is an adept in my order.”  She bowed her head and backed away from us.

We told her about Bentblade and then remembered we had a pardon for her. Arius presented it to her and she drank it in carefully.  “This is remarkable – especially from Bentblade.  It tells me he knows how grave the situation is.”

All of us talked at once, telling her about our being part of a tribe of Minotaurs, and about Blackshear, who she apparently had heard of.  “Your being a friend of his says a great deal.  He’s friends of no one.”

“We saved his granddaughter,” I said with pride.

“Anyone that can win over that tough old nut is impressive.”

She seemed to focus her gaze on Arius.  “What is that on your back?”

He pulled out the shield.  “We found it in an armory in Tempora.”

“This is from my order…it belongs to the Sisterhood.  I would ask you nicely to give this to me rather than make me take it by force.”  It wasn’t quite a threat, but as a close as anyone could get to it.  It’s a sacred relic. Three of them were forged. This one is the shield of the searing son – it is called Temper.  It is forged of star metal, iron that rained from the sky.  I am surprised Bentblade didn’t try and keep it.  We can get much more use out of this than you can.”

She put it on her arm and the center of it shone like a brilliant sun. I averted my eyes.

“What happened to that skull you got from us?” I asked.

“What is it with you and skulls?” she countered. “I destroyed it of course.  I am not that evil.”

“They are neat, and I like them.”

“I do not have a skull,” Theren pointed out.

“I have one that is a devil’s skull – it has silver arrowheads stuck in it.”

“Is it possible to use this as a weapon?” Arius asked.

“I would urge you to get rid of this,” Lexa warned.

“Sometimes the dark knowledge is the best knowledge,” I replied.

“We need to strategize on how we take down Barristen.”

“We have the map,” Arius said.

“But we don’t know that is where he is.  It is just a document.”

She seemed to pause and think for a moment.  “Viktor was created in the Temple of Durst in V’sarin, the dragon’s graveyard.  He enlisted a great necromancer to create the spell that brought him back to life.  That spell is likely the key to undoing him permanently.  Unfortunately no one has been there in centuries.  The Dragonborn there protect their lands from any that might trespass.”

Lyoncroft continued, “The dragon’s graveyard is a thing of legend.  Hidden in a dense hot forest, it is said that when a dragon knows they are about to die, they go there.  The Dragonborn there tend to them, ease them into the afterlife.  They build burial mounds over the dead and protect those lands.

“There are other rumors.  Some say that within that realm, there are places where the dragons go and lay their eggs – that they are somehow infused with the souls of the dead of their kind when they are born.  Such places are said to be very sacred and well protected.

“There was a legendary city there once, a Dragonborn city.  The vines and forest have consumed most of it.  In there is the Temple of Durst, a ziggurat that had once been devoted the worship of dragons – taken over centuries ago by a cult of necromancers and used as their own base.  Durst was their greatest leader, living, some say, for over five centuries.

“Viktor Barristen went there as a mortal, near death.  He wanted revenge on the church.  It is said that he enlisted the aid of Durst who wove the magic that gave him perpetual life.  Durst was said to have been killed during the last great war, here, in these fields.  His spellbook, if it even still exists, may hold the key to beating Barristen or even undoing him.”

“We should find it,” Theren said.

“We are legendary in finding lost cities,” Brandon added.

Lexa nodded.  “There are different tribes of them there.  They are friendly as long as you do not try and violate their sacred places.  Some tribes, like the Glu-ess, ride dragons into battle.  Some are nomadic, like the Vissseri.  Others, like the ebony Krudak, are hostile to even their own people.”

Her jaw set firmly as she spoke.  “The church likes to think of me as their enemy…it plays well with the ignorant masses.  I am still loyal to God.  I know my order was set up.  I seek redemption.  Once I have that, my geas is done.”

“We need that sword.  To get it, we need the right tools to defeat Barristen. If we rush in blindly, he will take us out.”

“We should go to the ziggurat,” Theren said.

“I will take a party of my adepts and use your map to find out what is out there.  You can head south and east, through the jungles.”

“Did you run into Pot Head’s brother?  His name is Barrel Chest.”

“No,” I said.

“If you do, tell him you are working with me.  For you all, you need to rest up.  I will heal your injuries.”

Brandon stepped forward.  “I recovered this amulet from Cyrilla Drex.  What is it?”

“It turns a person to stone if you use the right power word.  I would be careful of using it.”  Brandon seemed content with the answer and pocketed the amulet.

“We are allies now, united against a common foe,” Lyoncroft said.  “To the bitter end if need be.”

 

The following are the previous installments. I hope you enjoy the campaign so far. Be sure to follow my blog if you do. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Part 21

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Part 25

Part 26

Part 27

Part 28

Part 29

Part 30

Part 31

Part 32

Part 33

Character Background Material

My New Campaign

#dungeonsanddragons

#DandD

#DnD

BattleTech Storyline Meeting

IMG_0357
Jason is embarassed to be sitting with us.  Totally understandable.

We got together this weekend in Seattle to map out where we are taking the BattleTech storyline.  First off, it was mentally (and sometimes emotionally) exhausting.  We started at 8am and went well into the night. I have to admit, I had fun despite the changes I need to do refine the work. The reason I had fun is that I think most of the changes are for the better…so that the fans of BattleTech will like it and so it can better feed future products. I appreciate your patience.

IMG_0360
Randall:  “We only took this much off his leg at the knee…” 

I had a lot of fun with Mike Stackpole getting caught up and brainstorming some very cool ideas that you will get to see at some point. It was fun to see Ray, John, and Brent too.  Ray wore a different house or unit hat every day which, I have to admit, made me jealous and roused my competitive nature. Loren and Randall were in their element, though it was akin to herding cats. For some folks it was their first time in such an esteemed (albeit mad) gathering.  For some of us old veterans, it was a trip down memory lane.

IMG_0358
Brent:  “Peace of Blake Be With You.” 

Our debates were lively, frustrating, and hilarious. I know you fans would love to see all of my notes – and that is never happening.  Here’s the fun teasing stuff I feel safe sharing:

  • (At breakfast).  Blaine:  “Hey Randall, I see a press release that you guys are re-releasing the Succession Wars boxed set.  Pretty aggressive given the Kickstarter isn’t it?”  Randal:  “What are you talking about?”  Everyone went to their phones in unison…hilarity followed…
  • Two in-depth discussion and debates about technologies that do not exist. Loren:  “We have to understand how it works so we never use it again.”  Only in that room does that sentence have any real meaning.
  • “Life is cheap – BattleMechs aren’t.”
  • “Remember, we’re a little cash-strapped right now.”  (Yes, the sarcasm was heavy in the meeting.) This was running joke #1.
  • “While you guys were having a sidebar, we added a few things to the list…” This actually qualifies as a running joke (see below).
  • Blaine:  “As the only person in this room that has taught at a US military academy, twice, let me say…”
  • Brent breaking out the miniatures in the middle of our debate.  I thought we were going to draw a Circle of Equals on the table and dice it out.
  • Blaine:  “So we are setting in stone the list of novels, correct?”  Everyone:  “Yes.”  Blaine:  “Good, because I stuck on a Clan Wolverine novel on there and you just approved it.” (Followed with a shit-eating grin) Randall – with Sharpee in hand, “I can fix that!”
  • Loren:  “So what do we call the new magazine?”  Mike:  “War Porn Quarterly.”  John:  “That will sell copies…”
  • (Everyone at one point or another)  “Where is House Arano on the map?”  Running joke #2.  You needed to be there, but it was funny.
  • Blaine impersonating Edgar G. Robinson from a 20’s gangster film.
  • Randall:  “Let’s face it, Katherine was our favorite person to hate.” A room of nods in unison followed.
  • Loren:  “So, does X have any kids?  They must have had kids, I mean the guy is like 45 now.”  I cannot tell you the number of times we were reconstructing famous house genetic trees.
  • All (at one point or another):  “WWJWD?”
  • The older guys, repeatedly, “Well, back in the FASA days…” We wore those words as a badge of honor with a dash of shame.
  • Randall:  “I think I can make a ‘Mech summersault in terms of the physics, but I’m not sure we should have done it in fiction…”
  • Loren:  “I think it would be great to capture one of these sessions entirely on film, but then I’m glad we don’t.  No one really needs to see how the sausage is made.”

    IMG_0366
    Randall:  “So, for the Succession Wars Boxed Set Re-Release, we are going to need some new art…”  

No one was killed during the session, though I will say we plotted the deaths and births of many characters.  I can’t speak for the others, but we all seemed to have good time…I know I did.  Please don’t press for more details.  It is my job to simply be a tease…

The Chronicling of our D&D Campaign Part 33 – Bats in the Belfry

Vampire1

Welcome to the novelization of my current D&D campaign, told through the perspective of the characters. For me, it lets me do a little creative writing between more serious projects. Links to the previous posts are at the bottom of this one. Enjoy!

Brandon…

Theren returned to the Great Gash and Arius caught him up on the turn of events and our mission to try and find Lexa Lyoncroft.  Theren wisely requested a letter of mark from the church to assure her they would not prosecute her.  I was doubtful that a letter alone would convince her, but it couldn’t hurt to have it. I had a companion wolf that I had adopted and found it oddly comforting to sit and pet it.

The last place Lyoncroft had been seen was my village, Buchola.  I was the last of our party to have seen her.  For me, this was joyous.  I would be returning home, wiser and stronger than before.  No doubt they would view me as a hero. I wasn’t expecting a parade or anything, but possibly someone picking up the first round.

Of course, I had been secretly summoned to the High Council of Rangers.  Somehow I needed to make sure that I honored that request.  Such summons were rare and I was a little concerned about the implications.

We were all shocked when Dimitrious came before us on the morning of our departure and said he would be leaving.  The fact he spoke at all stunned me.  “My part in these is done, for now.  I have set you on your path.  I will see you near the end.”  When Athalus asked, “How will we know where to find you?” the normally mute monk smiled. “Look to the blue light.  When you see it, you will know it is me.”  We all thanked him.  “I owe you my life,” Athalus commented.  “I know,” he replied.

I informed my comrades of my summons to the Rangersmeet at Villineau and we agreed, since it was on the way, we would go there first.  There were a lot of questions as to why I had been summoned, none of which I could answer. With a late fall chill in the air we set out.

The second night out, an old friend of mine, Drake, stumbled into the camp.  Drake was a miller from my home town, though I honestly did not recognize him.  Althalus used his magic to light up the night.  Drake told us that everyone had fled Buchola.  Someone came to town and the locals left. The mysterious man was tall with black hair.  When locals disappeared and “bad things happened,” Drake and the others had started to leave.  He spoke of nightmares and terrors that forced people to leave.  This sounded fairly dire.  What could have invaded my home?  The stranger, we learned, had been asking about Lexa Lyoncroft as well.

Drake bedded in our camp that night and went on his way.  The next day we noticed that there were some bats that were hovering over us. That was disturbing.  Bats in the daylight were a rarity.  I could not help but get the sense that they were following us.  But for who?

Four more days out I came across an unusual number of wolf tracks in our path. Pack wolves usually do not leave this number of tracks.  That night, we were approached by the very pack of wolves we had seen the tracks of.  Theren spoke to them and they only knew one word – “dinner.”  That did not bear well for us.  We could hear them snarling all around our camp.  Althalus cast a ball of fire, just to light the area up.  We were facing a large number of them.

Theren transformed into a dire wolf and pounced on their alpha before the pack could strike – unleashing the fury of the wolves around us.  A melee broke out, both magical and with cold steel.  Magical blasts flashed in the night and the stench of burned fur mingled with the sting of sweat as I sprung into the chaos of the battle.  One clung onto Arius’s throat, splattering blood into the night as he tried to shake it off.  When another leapt at him, Skullringer ripped its head off, hitting Theren with it from behind with a dull thud.  Somehow, on his backswing with the magic weapon, he let go of the warhammer, losing it in the thick grass of the plains.

A swirling cloud of magical daggers began to julienne two of the wolves, throwing fur and blood into the air with wild abandon.  Theren killed the alpha, devouring its flesh in the process.  My own magic sword, Nightstalker, cut two of the beasts deeply.  Arius threw his razor-edged shield, burying it deep in the hide of one of our foes.

My pet wolf tore into one of the wild ones attacking us, making it yip in pain.  From where Arius swung the shield, his thunderous smite blew up one of the wolves – raining blood and a bit of intestines all over Althalus who scowled back at the paladin for the gore he was drenched in. It was Theren that ended the fight, savaging the last wolf in his bloody jaws.

We were exhausted and collapsed for the night.  The next day we came to the edge of the forest with a structure poised at the edge of the growth.  While I had never been to Villineau, I somehow was sure this was it.  The building was three stories tall, smooth, almost polished wood, to the point where it blended in with the surrounding forest.  There were shapes in the wood that you could only see as you got closer, animals and other creatures of the forest preserved in the wood – not carved, almost as if the wood itself had grown in those shapes.

We were approached by the guards from the balcony over the front doors.  “It is I, Brandon Winderford. I was summoned to the Rangersmet.”  After a moment of muttering, the two massive doors opened.

The interior was incredible, almost like a plush inn of some sort.  Other carved shapes seemed to be part of the walls.  I was greeted and my friends were shown rooms while I was ushered before the High Council of Rangers on the second floor.

I was brought into a massive circular room.  I knew the man sitting in the high seat, Sylvester of Bold.  There were six other rangers, men and women, human and elf, seated above me.

“We’ve heard some disturbing reports. Word is that you have found Tempora.  Is that true?”

“It is.”

“Do you have a map of how to reach it?”

“My friend do.”

“Do you have instructions on how to reach the interior?  We have sent parties there before and have never had any luck in finding the city.”

“I do,” I replied in confidence.

“That information is useful to us.  We have heard disturbing reports to the south, that the dead have risen out of the Great Gash.”

“That is true.  And we have encountered Viktor Barristen as well.”

That stirred them.  They asked me about how I ended up there, and I told them about Lexa Lyoncroft.  That got a lot of looks from the other rangers.

“We’ve heard a number of disturbing reports about this Lyoncroft woman.  She is said to be rekindling the Sisterhood of the Swords – training new adepts.  If that is true, it represents a new faction in the realm.”

That of course was news to me, useful news I might add.  “Barristen had another sister with him – Cyrilla Drex.  I killed her in Tempora.”

Sylvester’s eyes narrowed.  “You – a fledgling ranger killed one of the Mother Superiors of the Sisterhood of the Sword?”

“I did,” I said proudly.  “With my friends.”  I told them how I plunged my sword into her heart.  There were nods from the gathered rangers.

“What happened to her sword?”

I told them that Barristen had paladins trapped in the sword and that he had taken it back from us.  That made Sylvester’s brow furrow in deep thought.

“We had heard rumors that he was in the Cloud Lands – perhaps raising an army.  This is most troubling.  You, Brandon, are to be our eyes and ears.  Remember, rangers do not take part in setting the affairs of men.  We are guides, not shapers of our world.  We bring harmony between nature and the footfalls of mortals.”

“With all due respect, we cannot sit by.  We need to call the rangers, assemble, address this matter, assist the realms,” I stated firmly.

“Assist in what?” Sylvester asked. “We do not know where Barristen is.  We don’t know where Lyoncroft is or where her loyalties lie.”

“My companions and I seek her out.”

“Where?”

“My village.  We heard it has been taken over by a man.  It was the last place we saw her.”

“Very well.  It is risky – but we will allow it.  You will need to keep us abreast of your progress.  These men you travel with, some seem, dare I say, shady?  Keep these words secret between us.  You are bound by the Ranger’s Code, remember that.”

I was dismissed to our bed chambers.  I made a copy of our map and filled in my compatriots with what I could.  It was odd sleeping indoors in nice quarters.  As much as I wanted to tell them the truth…I could not.  As much as possible I simply avoided their question.

Althalus moved his hands in front of his eyes, staring at me.  Curse his magic! I felt him probing my thoughts.  That accursed warlock was toying with my mind. I managed to block his attempt to probe me and did not appreciate the attempt.

It took hours to copy the materials and after that I collapsed into a much-needed sleep.  The next day we rose and set off for Buchola, my home town.  We traveled a day and night with nothing out of the ordinary.  The next day, just after midday, we saw dust rising on the trail ahead of us.  We saw a wagon drawn by two horses, laden with goods.  Riding atop the buckboard was an older man and woman.  Arius approached them and they said they were from Buchola.

The old man knew me as I stepped out.  Anger flashed across his face, painting it crimson.  The barkeep of the Winged Pegasus, the tavern in town.  He jabbed his bony finger in my direction.

“This is all your fault Brandon.  He came two fortnights ago, said his name was Savitar.  Of course we invited him in.  He was looking for that woman you spoke to, the one that paid you.

“We told him she had sent you with a message and that she had disappeared.  He wanted to know when you would return.  We told him we didn’t know.

“It all seemed innocent enough.  He was invited in at the keep, said he’d pay gold for a room there.  It made sense.  But Armix and his daughter Vella haven’t been seen since.  Others went missing later.  After that the clouds seemed to blot out the sun.  Then came those dogs, those two-headed beasts.  Some of our friends went missing.  Everything around the keep seemed to die off after he took up residence there.  I closed up the Winged Pegasus and left…as did most of the village. It just didn’t feel safe there any longer.

“This is your fault!  If you had not become friendly with that woman, none of this would have happened. Our entire village has been abandoned.”  His daughter looked as if she were prepared to spit on me.

“This is awesome,” muttered Althalus.  “It’s not me this time.”

I sneered at him.  “I’m sorry.  I didn’t mean for anything bad to happy.”

“If you hadn’t been messing with that witch with a sword, none of this would have happened.”

“I promise you that we will—“

“We don’t want your promises.  You caused this.  The entire town blames you for this.”  So evaporated my thoughts of a parade upon my return.

Arius stepped up, chest puffed up in perfect paladin form.  “We are going to the village and set these matters right.”

Disgusted with us, he slapped the reins on the horses and took off.

“That went well,” Althalus said.  “Bad things happen to people all of the time.”

Theren nodded.  “I’m a druid.  You don’t have to tell me.”

“We need to right this wrong,” I said, trying to get them focused on the problem.  “I’ll go in alone. He wants me.  I will size him up.”

“I think this is a great plan,” Althalus said.

“No, it’s not,” Arius said.  “We all go.”

 

The next morning we arrived at my home town.  It was eerily silent…not even birds were chirping.  It was cloudy, but the center of town seemed even darker.  The trees rustled in the wind, but that was all we heard.  No smokes from hearths rose in the air.

Buchola had a low wall for defense that surrounded the town.  It had not been used for centuries and was moss covered.  The keep, in the center of the town, had always been covered with moss and vines.  Buchola was a town of peace…until now.

We entered town cautiously.  Everything we saw made us nervous…especially me, this was my home. There were some strange tracks, dog-like, but heavier than even a dire wolf.  It did not help ease our fears.

As we got near the keep we could see that this was the epicenter of strangeness.  The vines and moss that covered it were dead and withered.  The trees around it were dead, withered, their dead leaves littering the brown grass.  The cloud cover over the keep was complete, it was almost a twilight appearance. There was a low fog over the dips in the ground, even mid-morning. Everything that had life was dead around the structure.

“This seems uncomfortable,” Althalus said, always the master of understatement.

Arius walked up to the door of the keep opened the door, the paladin rarely showed fear when he should. I was surprised, I thought he might knock.  Arrogance is clearly a paladin’s strength.

A black haired man in nobles clothing stood in the doorway.  “Hello, what are you doing here?” Oddly enough, he seemed friendly.

“We are passing through.  Things seem…out of sorts.  What happened here?  Why are you here?”

The man flashed a grin and ignored one of our queries.  “I am here…waiting for someone.  Why don’t you come in?  We can have some wine and talk.”

I knew this was a bad idea, even my wolf companion seemed to sense it. “Who are you looking for?”

“Lexa Lyoncroft,” he said. “Have you heard of her?”

“Yes,” Arius replied.  “We know she had been here.  Why don’t you come out here?”

“I am not well,” he said.  “It is best I stay here.”

Arius suddenly grappled with him, tossing him on the ground.  “What are you doing?  Why are you showing me such disrespect?”  He rose and returned to the doorway, brushing off his shoulders.

“We seek Lexa Lyoncroft as well,” the paladin said.

The man, unshaken, grinned again.  “If you do not wish to come in, I wish you well out here tonight. Otherwise, come in and talk.  My invitation remained.”  I didn’t like the sound of that either.

Arius led us in.  The keep’s window shutters were closed and the interior was dimly lit by sconces on the walls.  A carpet covered the floor.  We saw a desk, but walls obscured the other rooms.  Althalus surprised us all with his next words, “I would like to apologize for our behavior.  We were wrong to have attacked you.”

“I accept your words,” the man said.

I reached down and pulled my sword out slightly.  It shimmered brilliant blue.  Undead. Arius saw it too and nodded once.

“I am Brandon,” he said.

“I am Savitar.  So you are Brandon,” he took a step closer.  “I understand you worked for Lyoncroft.  Where is she?”  His eyes fell into my own.  I could feel his thoughts.  I found him oddly appealing, friendly.  I was no longer in control of my words.  “These men had met Lyoncroft before.  They never said where they met her.” I felt like I was in a daze, surprised that I was sharing that information with him.

“Some wine perhaps?” the man offered.  I found myself accepting.

“I have an offer for her,” he said as he poured.  “A warrior of her prowess would be of use to the man I work for?”

“Who is that?” Theren asked.

“His name isn’t important – he goes by so many.  What is important is that I find this Lyoncroft woman.  Perhaps if you stay here, she will return.  You could be my guests.”

“What makes you think she will come back here?” the druid pushed.

“A hunch,” he replied, not sipping his own wine.  “You should stay here.  Sooner or later she is bound to show up.”

“Um, no thanks,” Arius said. “We will go to the Winged Pegasus for the night.”

I found myself talking, not controlling my own words.  “I think we should stay here with him.” Why did I say that?

“Very well, Brandon can stay here with us for the night.”

Arius glared at me.  “We changed our minds, we will stay here tonight as well.”

The man clapped his hands and a girl emerged from one of the rooms.  Her skin was waxen, her eyes seemed wide open, unblinking.  “Why don’t you take our guests to the second floor?  They can bed there for the night.”

She led us up the central staircases to the second floor of the keep.  There were barrels there, stores of some sort.  There was a rug on the floor in one spot, some old broken furniture, most of it broken.  Two old rope beds were there as well, covered in dust.

“I don’t like this,” Althalus said.  I felt oddly calm about the situation.  The man didn’t seem at all like a threat, in fact, he seemed to be more like a trusted friend to me.  Theren looked at me and waved his hands in front of me.  It was as if I had awakened and the last few minutes had been a dream, one I had been living. “What happened?”

“You were under a spell, probably a charm,” Althalus said. “Instagramus Influencus…fairly common.”  I hated that feeling.  It made me betray my friends.

We moved about to settle down for the night, knowing that the man on the floor below us was devious.  I went over by the barrels to check and another figure rose, springing at me.  His teeth flashed with fangs and his skin was pale.  I recognized him, Armix. “Armix – it’s me, Brandon.”

He didn’t respond other than springing at me.  I drew Nightstalker and the room lit up blue-white.  I turned the blade to hit him with the flat edge of the sword.  I struck him and he hissed at me in response.

“Oh crap,” Althalus said, “It’s vampire spawn.  I’ve read about them!”  He dropped to a battle stance.

The rest of my friends converged on Armix to help me. The battle broke out around me – I cut him with Nightstalker, but despite the cut, he came at me viciously.  Flames roared around him as Theren cast a spell.  It did not seem to daze Armix as he dropped his blade and lunged me with fangs and clawed hands.  This was not my friend, this was a creature from hell.

Armix shook his head, as if voices were there, and tried to put distance from us for a few moments.

I swung Bonebreaker and Nightstalker at the creature, barely scratching him.  Out of the corner of my eyes the man from the floor below, Savitar, came out of the staircase, now with pointed fangs flashing.  Theren swung his quarterstaff, burying it into the face of Savitar.  It only seemed to make him madder.

The battle became a blur.  Our weapons and spells tore into the pair of undead, yet they seemed to recover from each attack. My wolf sprung at Armix, biting him, tearing at his pale flesh, but it tore into it with its claws and bit it in the throat.  My companion animal was tossed aside like a doll discarded by a mad child, leaving a bloody smear on the floor.

Theren shapeshifted into a bear, savaging one of the spawn.  Althalus blasted away with his eldritch blasts, emerald green energy knocking Savitar back, only to ensnare him in a tangle of thorns that Arius had cast.  The vampire tore through the vines as if they were not there at all. The girl we had seen below came up the stairs, pouncing on Theren.  The bloody bear grappled with Savitar, though it only bought us a few moments.

Althalus produced the wand that fired lightning bolts we had discovered and unleashed it one of the spawn.  The brilliant blast of white energy cracked across the keep, blasting into the spawn, leaving a smoking hole where its clothing had been charred by the assault.

Nightstalker shimmered in my sweaty grip as we pressed our assault, my hunter’s mark guiding every swing I made.  Savitar disappeared into a floating gas cloud while the girl bit Theren’s bear in the shoulder.  Everything was a jumble arms, legs, weapons and blood as our party flailed away at the undead creatures. Althalus unleashed thunderous smite on Armix – rending flesh from him and leaving him as dead…as dead as any vampire can be. Althalus missed with an eldritch blast, hitting Theren instead.  The bear snapped its head around and growled, understandably.

Savitar rematerialized from a gaseous form, seemingly just as strong as ever. I remembered stories that vampires could regenerate, now I was living it!  Arius’ smite threw the girl into Theren, knocking her prone for a few seconds. Bonebreaker and Nightstalker shimmered bright as I tore into Savitar, but no matter how much I hit him, it did not seem to take him down. In the fury of my attack, I hit myself with Bonebreaker in the head. Everything went dark and I barely remember hitting the floor.

I came to with my head throbbing, staggering to my feet as if I had been drinking. We were still in the fight! Theren was in human form, swinging his shillelagh at Savitar, furrowing his chin with a blow. The girl spawn was badly battered – smoke rising from some attack I had not seen. I don’t know what Althalus was doing, but Savitar seemed to struggle with something in his head, snarling, showing his pointy fangs. Arius hit her in the gut with Skullringer. Savitar struggled with the spell that our warlock was unleashing…which we were all thankful for.  He collided with the wall, seeming to injure himself.

Arius hit himself with Skullringer, doing what I had done with Bonebreaker – leaving the paladin sprawled on the wooden floor, moaning into unconsciousness.  The girl spawn dropped under our assault, sprawled dead on the floor.  We all concentrated on Savitar.  I swung Bonebreaker and again hit myself in the head.  I sort of remember hitting the floor with my face before I blacked out…again.

I have no idea how long I was out…but when I rose, Athalus was on the floor, but seeming to still cast magic from there. Sweat stung at my eyes as I lumbered towards the fight.  Arius was up, swinging his magical warhammer again, blood smearing his face and beard. I staggered forward…barely alive, but still in the battle.  Theren’s attack made Savitar hiss loudly, turn into a gas, and seep downward through the cracks in the floor.

“We won!” Theren said joyfully.

Althalus rose to his feet.  “Not so fast.  I have some knowledge of these creatures.  He must have a coffin filled with dirt somewhere nearby.  If he gets into that, he can regenerate.  We might have to face all of this all over again.  Worse yet, we only have about an hour to find it.” Those words were ominous.

Arius used his javelins, spiking the hearts of the two dead spawn – making them explode as he pierced their un-beating hearts. We immediately searched for the coffin and found it in the basement of the keep. His body was there, resting, already regenerating.

“Spike him,” Althalus said. Our paladin did it without remorse.

“Not good enough,” the warlock said.  “Cut off his head and take it out into the daylight. We don’t want him to have any chance of regenerating.”  Theren undertook the decapitation, leaving his head out in the open.

We were weary, but searched the rooms for any other threats. We discovered a map, of lands we had not seen, and three strange metal symbols.  Small, the size of a small horseshoe, they were clearly magical.  “I’ve seen those before,” Althalus said.  “Siva Runes.  You attach them to your weapons and they infuse the weapon with some magical abilities.”

“What kind of magic?”

Althalus shrugged.  “I don’t know that.”

I pocketed them.  For a moment we looked at each other, exhausted from the battle.  “You’re from here, right?” Arius asked.

I nodded in response.

“Where’s that Winged Pegasus tavern…I think we could all use a drink.”  Coming from our paladin, we all knew it was a good idea.

 

 

The following are the previous installments. I hope you enjoy the campaign so far. Be sure to follow my blog if you do. 

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

Part 8

Part 9

Part 10

Part 11

Part 12

Part 13

Part 14

Part 15

Part 16

Part 17

Part 18

Part 19

Part 20

Part 21

Part 22

Part 23

Part 24

Part 25

Part 26

Part 27

Part 28

Part 29

Part 30

Part 31

Part 32

Character Background Material

My New Campaign

#dungeonsanddragons

#DandD

#DnD

My Thoughts on the BattleTech Kickstarter

ROE
The Year is 3050.  The time is, “Blow-shit-up o’clock”  Let’s rock! 

As I sit here afternoon after the Kickstarter closed, writing the novella for the boxed set, I can’t help but be proud about the future prospects of BattleTech.  I’m sure my friends over at CGL are suffering from a collective Kickstarter hangover at this point.  Me, I’m just putting words down on a great little story and enjoying my inner geek immensely.

I have had fans asking me questions about the Kickstarter, including one from Russia.  For the record, I had nothing to do with the Kickstarter formally.  I don’t work for Catalyst – I’m a mercenary (he he he) that is paid for my words.  I cannot answer your queries. No, I don’t know when the story will be out for non-Kickstarter people (hey, you had your chance!)  No, I don’t know when it will be hard copy either.  My ignorance is a blessed defense at times.

Before the KS launched I tossed my name in the ring to do some writing for it because, well, it’s BattleTech; duh…  I was taken up on my offer with a call to get the first fiction done a few days before Gen Con.  Alright, game on!  That morphed into Randall saying, “Hey, make it a two-part story, with the second part to go into the boxed set.” Sure…why not?

What most people don’t ever fully understand is that we authors are fans of BattleTech too.  Loren, Randall, and myself have been contributing to the universe for decades.  We are friends as well.  There are stories to tell here, but as Loren said at Gen Con, “not until the statute of limitations has lapsed.”  Let’s just leave it at, we are friends and friends support each other.  I knew they were going to need to have some fiction, so I raised my hand.

A handful of fans have “nagged” over the years that CGL wasn’t giving love to the Ghost Bears in terms of fiction.  I wrote about them in Roar of Honor, but that had been a while ago.  Contrary to what most people think, I DO listen to the fan community.  So I thought, in the spirit of the Kickstarter, “Let’s give the fans what they want.”  So a Ghost Bear centric story was born.  Seyla!

Secretly, I have wanted to write about the Draconis Combine for decades.  Did I exploit this opportunity to do something I have secretly wanted to do for ages?  Hell yes!  You read the part where I called myself a mercenary didn’t you? I only hope I got it right.  You Combine fans, I am sure, will let me know.

Frankly, the hardest part so far was getting the names of backers for the story from Loren.  I know, I was pretty low in terms of priorities.  I finally squeezed him for a few and “improvised” on the others.

At Gen Con I got to meet with Adam Cunningham, who was in my story.  I told him about where his character would be going and he loved it.  Frankly, I was happy to meet one of the Kickstarter contributors who I would be crafting into the fiction.  I would really like to connect with those involved with this next piece, and let them know in advance where they ended up.  Maybe I can convince CGL to host a video-chat session for the handful of us…who knows?

Yesterday, the last day of the Kickstarter, in Warrenton, Virginia, in our local game store, I saw someone reading Jennifer’s Iron Dawn novel with a big pile of BattleTech stuff in front of him.  I introduced myself and the guy said that the Kickstarter was getting him back into BattleTech all over again.  He had convinced the store manager to buy in at Merchant Caste level too.  I don’t think he believed I was one of the writers…but that was okay.  He told me that BattleTech had been a big influence in his life and that it was very cool to see it coming back so strong.  It made me proud to be a part of the universe.  I never tire of hearing the story of how BattleTech impacted people’s lives.

My only concern with the Kickstarter was that it was going to consume BattleTech to the point where some of the really cool stuff we have planned would not be deployed.  I received assurances that is not going to be the case, which was a relief.  While all of you are looking to the Clan Invasion era, my gaze is forward to the future as well.

Bear (pun intended) in mind I could have mooched most of the stuff that comes with the Kickstarter…for “research” purposes.  Instead I got caught up in it all and bought in just like one of the fans…three hours before the end.  Besides, it was the best way to see the final product of Rules of Engagement.  You guys got to see it long before I did.  It’s always that way with the authors, we are at the back end of seeing final product.

The new fiction for the boxed set (working title, The Burdens of Honor) is, well, awesome – but my perspective is pretty narrow and self-absorbed.  Like many of you, I’m waiting to see the stuff starting to come in March.  I have some paint schemes picked out – Smoke Jaguars and Jade Falcons…go figure.

A lot of the success of this Kickstarter is going to hinge on artists and authors – which have been the heart and soul of BattleTech since the beginning.  These guys are more than up to the task.  My hand remains up, ready to do my part.  It’s bound to be a bumpy and totally enjoyable ride – one that has rekindled the spirit of BattleTech for the fan community.

Is it March yet?