Tuesday, January 16, 2018

2018

Good evening, gentle readers! And a belated Happy New Year to you all!
So, let's be honest. 2017 was a pretty shit year for a lot of people. There were political upheavals, wars, terrorist incidents, etc. Sometimes, it felt like whoever's supposed to be in charge of the world just walked away from the controls to have a drink and came back sort of drunk.
Yeah, 2017 was not a great year.
So, what's in the cards for 2018? Something better? Something different?
I'm damned if I know. All I know for certain is that, now that the holiday season is over, I'm finally starting to feel a bit Christmassy.
I know.
Awful.
Right?
Right.
But it's the truth.  I'm wandering around my house humming Christmas carols and we're halfway through January. Someone told me I should convert to the Russian Orthodox faith as they celebrate Christmas after December.
Sadly, I'm not sure I can do anything orthodox.
So far, though, 2018 hasn't been bad. Just cold. Too cold. I live in the South, I don't want to hear the word 'snowfall.'  If I wanted that, I'd still be living in Alaska. I wouldn't have come back home.
Also, I'm now a year older. I went walkabout on my birthday. Just got in my car and drove. I had planned to go visit a monastery near me, but that didn't happen. Instead, it turned into an extended car trip which included encounters with people who should probably never ever contemplate having children.  Seriously.
And I'm looking for someone to rent a room in my house. Do I even have to tell you what a freak parade that's turning out to be?  I have very little patience with applicants who don't read my ad on Craigslist. I don't respond to people who send me a one line text from their phone asking for more info from me.
Fuck 'em.
They don't even have the brains to read and comprehend an advertisement then I'm not even going to bother replying to them. Idiots.
Honestly, I don't even want to rent the room out. I'm thinking of putting my place on the market this spring and seeing what I can get for it. That would be harder to do with a renter, cluttering up the joint.
But that's the future, the "undiscovered country." I'm not worrying about the future.
And then there's the writing. Last year, my D&D stuff pretty much devoured this blog. I enjoyed it as it was a steady creative outlet, but it was, literally, all the fucking writing I did. So, this year, I'm trying to branch out a bit and get back into writing an actual story.
We'll see how that goes.
And that's pretty much it for me.
What next?
Your guess is as good as mine.

Thursday, December 28, 2017

The Problem Child

Good evening, gentle readers.
Over the last few months, D&D has pretty much devoured this blog. Mainly because it's my primary creative outlet.
But tonight, I'm going to talk about something different.
Tonight, gentle readers, I'm going to talk about my Problem Child.
The Problem Child is the laptop I am currently using. She wasn't always a Problem Child. Once upon a time, not that long ago, she was my 'baby.'  I would lie in bed with her, attempt to write, promote things on Twitter, watch the occasional Netflix show.
Then, in October, the problems began.
She began to lose her connection to the wifi at my house. Just at the house. Not anywhere else. I could even connecting using the POS network at my local bookstore, when I was there.
I thought the problem might have been physical. Perhaps my wifi card was going bad? Perhaps my network adapter was on the fritz? I had them checked and, no, everything appeared to be fine.
It was just at home that my problems persisted.
I tested my home system. Every other device I used had no trouble connecting and maintaining a stable wifi connection.
So, the problem must be with this computer. This laptop. This Problem Child of mine.
Having eliminated network issues and environmental issues, I started poking around on the Internet, seeing if anyone else had similar issues.
I found that I was not alone.
A lot of folks were having similar, or worse, issues.
The culprit seemed to be the Windows 10 operating system.  Windows 10 is a bit of a Nazi program. You can't tell it what to do, it does what it wants. It downloads updates without you having any real control over the downloads.
Since their Fall Creators Update, which included such marvelous things as a 3D paint studio(WTF?), a lot of people have had their wifi screwed up. And Microsoft, after their fashion, has refused to accept any culpability in the matter. Even though their forums are flooded with people, complaining about the issue and looking for help.  They tend to regurgitate the same 'solution' to every problem, none of which seem to work for everyone.
After two months of dealing with this horseshit from Microsoft, I've pretty much given up using my laptop as I would like. No more languishing in bed, taking my ease as I flit between writing and the Internet. Oh no.
Now, like a caveman, I have to go downstairs and physically connect my laptop to my router. I sit, crosslegged, on the carpeted floor, and go about my business.  It feels like I've been transported back to 1995, only not in a good way.
To say I'm a bit pissed at Microsoft regarding this matter would be an understatement.  My anger with them and their piss-all service and support has gone beyond the boiling point.  It has even gone beyond the cold icy hatred normally reserved for certain individuals. My anger with Microsoft has entered hitherto unknown regions for me, a sort of void where I lie in bed and smile as I think of their programmers developing some horrible wasting disease that consumes their lives, slowly and methodically.
Now, this is very atypical for me. I am not normally given to thoughts of vengeance and retribution. So if Microsoft and their crappy Windows 10 can produce such a response in me? Well, I shudder to think what some other people out there are going through.
And I cannot help but wonder if Microsoft invests any of their billions in fortifying their buildings with shatterproof glass and reinforced security doors? Because, honestly, ladies and gentlemen, if I were them, that would be something I would be doing.
As for the Problem Child? As long as I'm not trying to use the wifi at home, she seems okay. But if the problem spreads? Well, I might have to start looking for a new laptop. Maybe one that doesn't have a Windows OS. Only time will tell.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Papa Spark

PAPA SPARK

STR     14 (+2)
DEX    16 (+3)
CON   20 (+5)
INT     14 (+2)
WIS     20 (+5)
CHA   18 (+4)
HP       367
AC      14 (Leather armor)

Traits:
Languages: Common, Druidic, Elvish, Thieves’ cant

Proficiencies: +11
Armor: Light, Medium, Shields
Weapons: Clubs, Daggers, Darts, Javelins, Maces, Quarterstaffs, Scimitars, Sickles, Slings, Spears
Tools: Woodcarvers tools, Land vehicles, Herbalism kit, Thieves’ tools
Saves: Intelligence +13, Wisdom +16
Skills: Animal handling +16, Insight +27, Medicine +27, Stealth +25, Survival +27

Feats:
Rustic Hospitality
* * *
Wildshape
Druid Circle: Circle of the Land
- Bonus Cantrip
- Natural Recovery
- Circle Spells
- Land’s Stride
- Nature’s Ward
- Nature’s Sanctuary
Timeless Body
Beast Spells
Archdruid
* * *
Expertise
Sneak Attack (10d6)
Cunning Action
Roguish Archetype: Thief
- Fast Hands
- Second Story Work
- Supreme Sneak
- Use Magic Device
- Thief’s Reflexes
Uncanny Dodge
Evasion
Reliable Talent
Blindsense
Slippery Mind
Elusive
Stroke of Luck

Spellcasting:
Spells Known: 25
Spell DC: 24
Atk Mod: +16
At-Will (6): Druidcraft, Guidance, Mending, Produce flame, Resistance, Shillelagh
L1(6): Animal friendship, Cure wounds, Detect magic, Entangle, Jump, Speak w/animals
L2(5): Hold person, Spike growth, Darkvision, Find traps, Pass w/out a trace
L3(5): Sleet storm, Slow, Call lightening, Dispel magic, Wind wall
L4(5): Freedom of movement, Ice storm, Confusion, Polymorph, Stoneskin
L5(5): Commune w/nature, Cone of cold, Awaken, Greater restoration
L6(4): Find the path, Heal
L7(4): Mirage arcane, Regenerate
L8(3): Animal shapes, Control weather
L9(3): Foresight, Shapechange

Equipment:
Bag of Wondrous Gifts. Unique, magic item.  The Bag of Wondrous Gifts produces a single item for a deserving person. The nature of the gift depends entirely on the recipient. The bag functions only on Winterfest and works only for Papa Spark.
Sickle. Melee. +13 to hit; deals 1d4 +2 slashing. Light.
Quarterstaff. Melee. +13 to hit; deals 1d6 +2 bludgeoning. Versatile.
Leather armor. Light armor. AC 11 + Dex.
A druid focus, a set of woodcarver’s tools, an herbalism kit, a set of thieves tools, a set of traveler’s clothes.

Centuries ago, darkness covered the land and the gods seemed to have turned their backs upon the mortal races. Despair fell heavily upon the hearts of all and the light of hope began to flicker and fade. During this grim age, a mysterious figure appeared who fought the darkness. He did not battle it with sword and spell, but with acts of kindness and generosity. Eventually, the small sparks of hope this man struck ignited a blazing fire within the breasts of mortal folk. They pushed the darkness back, overthrew the tyrants who ruled the land and sent a quiver of fear through the very heart of hell itself. Eventually, the Dark Times ended and the gods returned, but the mortal races have never forgotten the man who reignited the spark of hope.
Today, the man is known as Papa Spark.  They say that he still lives, blessed by the gods he helped to save. They say he exists on a demiplane where time moves much slower and that he leaves his home once a year, on the night of Winterfest to search the world for worthy souls. To these individuals, Papa Spark bestows special presents from his Bag of Wondrous Gifts. He then returns to his home, to rest and prepare for his next sojourn around the world.

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Lux Tenebris: The Iron Rose

THE IRON ROSE,  L12 Drow (L9 Champion/L3 Swashbuckler)

STR     09 (-1)
DEX    20 (+5)
CON   16 (+3)
INT     14 (+2)
WIS     13 (+1)
CHA   14 (+2)
HP       99
AC      19 (Studded leather armor w/shield)

Traits:
Superior Darkvision (120 ft)
Sunlight Sensitivity
Fey Ancestry
Trance
Drow Magic (Spell DC
- At Will: Dancing lights
- 1/Day: Faerie fire, Darkness
Languages: Common, Elvish, Thieves’ cant, Undercommon

Proficiencies: +4
Armor: All armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Dice, Thieves’ tools
Saves: Strength +3, Constitution +7
Skills: Acrobatics +9, Arcana +6, Intimidation +6, Stealth +13, Survival +9

Feats:
Inheritance
* * *
Fighting Style: Dueling
Second Wind
Action Surge
Martial Archetype: Champion
- Improved Critical (19/20)
- Remarkable Athlete
Extra Attack
Indomitable
* * *
Expertise
Sneak Attack
Cunning Action
Roguish Archetype: Swashbuckler
- Fancy Footwork
- Rakish Audacity

Equipment:
Shortword. Melee. +9 to hit; deals 1d6 +5 piercing; Finesse, Light.
Daggers(2). Melee. +9 to hit; deals 1d4 +5 piercing; Finesse, Light, Thrown (20/60 ft).
Studded leather. Light armor. AC 12 + Dex Mod.
Shield. AC +2.

Her real name is Malora, but these days most people know her as the Iron Rose. She was born in the Underdark.  When the mindflayers seized power, her mother fled with her to the surface. Malora’s mother entrusted her to a Temple of Abasha, where Malora was raised along with other foundlings. The fate of her mother remains unknown.
Being drow on the surface meant Malora grew up dealing with fear, suspicion and hatred on a daily basis. She found an escape in martial training, studying with the temple’s armsmaster until she had surpassed him.
At sixteen, Malora left the Temple of Abasha and ventured into the world. The world was not exactly welcoming. Nevertheless, she persevered. She traveled, met other drow refugees and, by blind luck, discovered the meaning of the curious tattoos she bore on her skin.
Malora left Nur. Sailing across the Gulf of Promises to the continent of V’Resh, she survived any way she could. She lived as a pirate, a gladiator, a courtesan and a revolutionary.  Eventually, she became known as the Iron Rose, named so for her fragile beauty and deadly skill with a blade. Her reputation attracted an offer from a mercenary group, the Company of the Bloody Red Banner, and she returned to Nur with them.  Hired by the Duke of Alindrast, the Bloody Red Banner was sent north to support the Count of Alindor as he stood against the Draconic Legions. 
After their contract with the Duke ended, the Bloody Red Banners decided to return to V’Resh. The Iron Rose chose to remain in Nur and rode north and west, eventually arriving in the city of Fallen Baramir.
Although she has set herself up as an adventuress-for-hire, in reality, the Iron Rose spends most of her time at the Adamantine Archive. She is researching the history of the drow and has become a common sight in the Archive.  When not at the Archive, the Iron Rose can be found among the labarynthine streets of Trews, where she has taken quarters.
The Iron Rose’s presence in the city has not gone unnoticed or unremarked. The watch keeps a close eye on her, but so far her behavior has been beyond reproach. More disturbing to many people is the fact that other drow have begun arriving in Fallen Baramir, seeking out the Iron Rose. The Iron Rose has met with several drow over the last few weeks, but to what ends no one can say.
Recently, after an informal meeting with the Chief Archivist of the Adamantine Archive, Regent Swann invited the Iron Rose to meet with him at Regent’s House.  The purpose of the meeting remains unknown, but the fact that it happened at all has sparked a great deal of interest and some alarm within the city.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Neava Sinaia

NEAVA SINAIA, L9 Forrest Gnome Sage Wizard

STR 07 (-2)
DEX 11 (+0)
CON 11 (+0)
INT 16 (+3)
WIS 10 (+0)
CHA 12 (+1)
HP 38
AC 13 (Mage Armor)

Traits:
Speed: 25 ft.
Darkvision
Gnome Cunning
Natural Illusionist
Speak w/Small Beasts
Languages: Common, Draconic, Elvish, Gnomish

Proficiencies: +4
Armor: None
Weapons: Daggers, Darts, Slings, Quarterstaffs, Light x-bows
Tools: None
Saves: Intelligence +7, Wisdom +4
Skills: Arcana +7, History +7, Investigation +7, Religion +7

Feats:
Researcher
* * *
Arcane Recovery
Arcane Tradition: Abjuration
- Abjuration Savant
- Arcane Ward
- Projected Ward

 Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 12
Spell DC: 15
Atk Mod: +7
At-Will(4): Blade ward, Mage hand, Poison spray, Shocking grasp
L1(4): Detect magic, Mage armor, Magic missile
L2(3): Invisibility, Shatter, Web
L3(3): Dispel magic, Fly, Slow
L4(3): Blight, Polymrph
L5(1): Wall of Force

Equipment:
Quarterstaff. Melee. +2 to hit; deals 1d6 bludgeoning; Versatile (1d8).
An arcane focus, a scholar’s pack, a spellbook, a bottle of black ink, a small knife, a letter from a dead colleague, a set of common clothes, a belt pouch w/10g.

Neava Sinaia is a respected scholar and an authority upon the history of Fallen Baramir and the surrounding region.  Ironically, in a city that his chock-a-block with experts and sages attached to the Adamantine Archive, Mistress Sinaia is not affiliated with the Archive. Indeed, she is quite critical of the Archive, feeling that its reputation as a place of study and educational advancement is not warranted. As you can imagine, this opinion has not made Mistress Sinaia very popular among Fallen Baramir’s academics. Mistress Sinaia doesn’t particularly care. She is the official historian of Fallen Baramir, a position that she relishes, and has recently been tasked by Regent Swann to construct a historical museum to educate the city’s residents.  Mistress Sinaia has thrown herself wholeheartedly into this new project.