Monday, June 19, 2017

Falling into Wonderland

Standing in the crowd,
listening to the band,
this is youth, this is life,
this is wonderland.

Sliding down the rabbit hole,
riding crystal trails,
wondering where we’ll end up,
and whether we will fail.

Falling into Wonderland,
searching for the Queen of Hearts,
wondering if this is life,
or just another false start.

The crystal cracks,
we all go splat,
the world so gigantic,
now seems small.

So take a hit
from the hookah pipe,
and rest beneath a mushroom sky,
and watch your life become a lie.

Falling into Wonderland,
searching for the Queen of Hearts,
wondering if this is life,
or just another false start.

The smoke clears, we prick our ears,
we wait and watch and learn,
this life’s a dream, or so it seems,
a lesson we never learn.

The white rabbit runs,
our end’s begun,
the world returns again.

Falling into Wonderland,
searching for the Queen of Hearts,
wondering if this is life,
or just another false start.

The crowd is gone.
The band is done.
We stand still,
while the rabbit runs.

We never found the Queen of Hearts,
just a lot of bitter tarts,
and youth is gone, spent and torn,
and from the ruins a man is born.

Falling into Wonderland,
searching for the Queen of Hearts,
wondering if this is life,
or just another false start.

Sunday, June 18, 2017

I'M NOT TAKING IT ANYMORE

You thought that you knew me,
you didn’t  know me at all.
You’ve got a mouth full of lies, dear,
get ready to fall.

There’s no one to hear you,
there’s no one to call.
It’s just you and your lies, babe,
and that’ll be all!

Cause I’m not takin’ it anymore!
I’m not takin’ it anymore!
You just keep talking’ shit,
I’ll see you regret it!
I’m not takin’ it anymore!

Did you think that you fooled me,
with the lies from your lips?
Did you think you seduced me,
with the sway of your hips?

Well, you better think again,
cause it’s the same old thing,
just the same old in and out!
And you’re out!

Cause I’m not takin’ it anymore!
I’m not takin’ it anymore!
You just keep talking’ shit,
I’ll see you regret it!
I’m not takin’ it anymore!

Now it’s the end of the game,
I’ve swept your piece of the board.
Don’t go calling’ my name,
there ain’t no point anymore!

This was our final moment!
You can crawl off and die!
I don’t care if you morn it,
I’m just sick of your lies!

Cause I’m not takin’ it anymore!
I’m not takin’ it anymore!
You just keep talking’ shit,
I’ll see you regret it!
I’m not takin’ it anymore!

You just keep talking’ shit,
I’ll see  you regret it!
I’m not takin’ it anymore!

FINIS

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Mummy (2017) - A Review

The Mummy (2017)

The Mummy is a deeply flawed movie. 
Intended as the first in a shared monster universe, The Mummy  stars Tom Cruise and Sofia Boutella. Cruise plays a self-involved soldier-of-fortune, while Boutella plays the title character.  Cruise walks through his role, while Boutella sinks her teeth into her's.  Despite this, despite the presence of Russell Crowe as Doctor Jekyll, this movie is bland and unoriginal.
The biggest problem with the movie, in my opinion, is that there's no one to route for. Cruise's character is just too unlikable, while Boutella is clearly the villain.
On a scale of 1 to 5, I would give The Mummy a 2; wait for this one to come out on DVD or On-Demand. Give the theater a pass.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Comic Rec

The Misfits #5

I can honestly say that I didn't expect much from The Misfits when I picked up that first issue a few months back. So the fact that the comic actually gave the characters some depth and interesting backstories came as a pleasant surprise.
This week's issue wraps up the mini-series and switches the spotlight to Jetta. I found that Jetta's story resonated with me in unexpected ways.
I'm sad to see this miniseries wrap up so quickly, but I'm pleased that it ended on such a strong note. If you're a fan of the old television show, or if you're still trying to wash the taste of the atrocious Jem movie out of your mouth, you could do a lot worse than reading The Misfits.
At the very least, their songs are better.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

POTC: Dead Men Tell No Tales - A Review

Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales opened this past weekend to a massive $324 million opening. So it's a real pity that the movie is such a clunker. None of the performances are particularly good, the story is a rehash of the same old, same old and the villain of the piece is completely two-dimensional.
Johnny Depp returns to familiar territory with Captain Jack Sparrow, but his performance in DMTNT is completely lacking in interest or the zest that the character had in previous installments.
Javier Bardem's Captain Salazar had the potential to be genuinely creepy, but his performance was so ham-fisted and blunt that any menace was removed by the slightly constipated expression the character maintained throughout the production.  And honestly, considering what he had to work with, constipation may have been preferable to other reactions.
Brenton Thwaites is one of the newcomers to the franchise. He plays Henry Turner, the son of Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann.  He's certainly good looking, but he brings absolutely nothing to the role besides pouty lips and puppy-dog eyes. The role of Henry could have been played by any other vaguely hot blonde actor working in Hollywood. Yes, his character is that bland.
The other newcomer to the cast is Kaya Scodelario, who plays Carina Smyth. There's actually some interesting things about her character, and she does play a linchpin role in the movie. However, the character is never really utilized as anything more than a nag and a piece of set dressing.
And finally, we have the return and exit of Geoffrey Rush as Captain Hector Barbossa. I'll admit, I have an enormous affection for Barbossa's character. I was secretly hoping that he might get a spin-off movie, but chances seem slim that it will happen now.  Rush does what he can with the character, but even Barbossa feels stilted and ineffectual in this movie. Mores the pity, considering it's probably his last appearance in the franchise.
As for the plot? Its a paint-by-numbers plot that feels squashed, as if they were trying to cram three movies worth of ideas into a single film.  It doesn't drag. Quiet the opposite. DMTNT rushes from one scene to the next with a sort of spiritless energy that's more tiring than exhilarating.
There were some nice special effects, but the movie didn't even have the benefit of gorgeous scenery. If you're filming in Australia and New Zealand, why not take advantage of the scenery?
So, is Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales worth seeing?
In my humble opinion, I would say 'No.' I would skip going to see this in the movie, and maybe catch it on DVD or on-demand.  On a scale of 1 to 5, I'd probably give this film a 2.
And, in all honesty, at this point they should either kill the franchise (unlikely given the cash it's made so far), or spin it in a new direction.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Computer Woes

Hello, gentle readers.
Well, I was wondering if I should continue writing up more stuff for Lux Tenebris and then, this afternoon my computer decides to die on me.
The stupid fucking piece of shit.
Thank God I backed up most everything on a flashdrive. Take this as friendly advice, ladies and gentlemen: always back up your stuff. Always.
The only thing I lost that I'm sort of pissed about is a short story I was working on. I was a few pages in and really hitting my stride. Now, alas, that story has sailed off to the Land of Ghosts & Winds.
I think I can reproduce most of it, from memory, but it won't have the same flavor. Thinking about it, though, I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
If I sound calm and chill about this, I'm really not.
I'm actually kind of pissed this happened. That computer was barely a year old and now it's kaput and I had to go out and get a new one. Which means loading all my software on yet another system and hoping its backwards compatible.
Damn.
I miss my old computer. :(

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Grey Volesor

GRAY VOLESOR, GUARDIAN OF THE EASTERN GATE (L12 Fighter/L7 Ranger)


STR     20
DEX    18
CON   20
INT     12
WIS     14
CHA   09
HP       213
AC      19 (Mithril Plat + FS: Defense)

Traits:
Size. Gray Volesor is eighteen feet tall. His size is Huge.
Speed. Gray Volesor’s base walking speed is 45 feet.
Darkvision.
Fey Ancestry.
Trance.
Mask of the Wild.
Languages: Common, Elvish, Sylvan, Giant, Draconic

Proficiencies: +6
Armor: All armor, shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Herbalism kit
Saves: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Athletics, Medicine, Religion, Stealth, Survival

Feats:
Discovery.
* * *
FS: Defense  (+1 AC in Armor)
Second Wind
Action Surge
Martial Archetype: Champion
- Improved Critial
- Remarkable Athlete
Extra Attack (+2)
Indomitable
* * *
Favored Enemy: Giants, Dragons
Natural Explorer: Mountain, Forest
FS: Archery (+2 Attack w/Ranged Weapons)
Ranger Archetype: Hunter
- Hunter’s Prey: Giant Killer
- Defensive Tactics: Steel Will
Primeval Awareness
Alert*

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 5
Spell DC: 16
Atk Mod: +8
L1(4): Detect Magic, Hail of Thorns, Hunter’s Mark
L2(3): Lesser Restoration, Pass Without a Trace

Equipment:
Sharpshooter’s Bow.  Magic Longbow, very rare, gives +3 to attack rolls. Ranged, 150/600 ft. +9 to hit; deals 1d8 +4 piercing; heavy, 2-handed.

Giant-slayer. Magic longsword, rare, gives +1 to attack and damage rolls. When it strikes a giant, the giant takes an extra 2d6 slashing and must succeed on a DC 15 Strength saving throw or fall prone. The longsword affects all creatures of the giant type, including etins and trolls. +12 to hit; deals 1d8 +6 slashing; versatiles (1d10).

Mace of Smiting. Magic mage, rare. You gain +1 to attack and damage rolls made with this magic weapon. The bonus increases to +3 when you use the mace to attack a construct. When you roll a 20 on an attack made with the mace, the target takes an extra 7 bludgeoning damage, or an extra 14 bludgeoning damage if it’s a construct. If a construct has 25 hit points or less after taking this damage, it is destroyed. +12 to hit; deals 1d6 + 6 bludgeoning.

Mithril Plate. Magic armor. Uncommon. AC 18.

An explorer’s pack, a scroll case stuffed full of notes from your observations, a winter blanket, a set of common clothes, an herbalism kit.

There is a rugged path that zigzags through the Goblinteats, a path only the nimblest of mountain goats could traverse. Nevertheless, it is the one accessible path into Arinshrae from the east and set to guard it is Grey Volesor.
Eighteen feet tall with ebon hair and gray-white skin, Grey Volesor bears a superficial resemblance to a stone giant. However, despite his size, his features are elven, almost delicate. All except for his eyes. Grey Volesor’s eyes are like two pits of shadow, black upon black, with neither white nor iris to mark that ebon perfection.
Known as the Guardian of the Eastern Gate, Grey Volesor has protected his path for centuries. None pass him and live, without his queen’s approval.  He is a formidable opponent. Strong and tough, armored from neck to feet in mithril plate and armed with magic weapons. He is a deadly shot with his bow, and a true dragonslayer, having slain the blue dragon, Behirta, in single combat with that same bow.
No one knows how long Grey Volesor has manned his post. Some say he was exiled here for some sin or crime beyond the pale. Others say he vollunteered, seeking an escape from the queen’s court, and the lonely solace of mountain and sky. Nothing is known for certain about Grey Volesor’s past except for one thing: he is one of the Nightshade Queen’s children. 

Monday, May 22, 2017

In The End There Was Light

There was noise and light.
Thunderous. Confusing.
Then gentle silence.

A hand lifted you
out of your bloody body,
out of this poor world.

You wept for your friend,
your family, all those things
which would not happen.

The world wept with you,
even as you drifted away,
and your tears soon stopped.

The world turns to light,
your fears and tears fade away,
and you are at peace.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Alinshrae

ALINSHRAE
Ah! Alinshrae! ‘The Land of Shadows.’ A knife-like region running along the western borders of Alindor, Alindema and Hylondek. Rising above Alinshrae are the mountains known commonly as the Goblinteats. Between the mountains, the dense forest canopies and the almost perpetual cloud cover affecting the region, Alinshrae is well named. Sunny days are rare in Alinshrae, which is just fine with the residents.
Alinshrae has always been an independent region. Even when the Kings of the South ruled from Goldcastle, Alinshrae never fell under the power of the Phoenix Throne. The woodlands were flooded with fayblood creatures, there were hags and giants in the mountains and far too many goblins to ever accurately count. And as frightening as these creatures were, standing head and shoulders above them all was the ruler of Alinshrae, the Nightshade Queen.

Artists Interpretation of the Nightshade Queen 

Rumors abound about the Nightshade Queen. Some say she’s an immortal sorceress of vast power, who survived the Dissolution of Vorfel and found sanctuary in Nur. Others say that she’s one of the archfey, exiled from both the Summer and Winter Courts for her excesses. No one knows for sure and Her Majesty isn’t inclined to answer questions regarding her origins.
Everyone who has seen her, however, agrees that she is breathtakingly beautiful. Described as having chalk-white skin, ruby red lips, hair like ebony and eyes like dark green glass, more than one admirer has lost his heart and his sanity for love of the queen.  Infamy and glamor cling to the Nightshade Queen the way flower sticks to a baker’s fingers.
They say she was there when King Rochard, the last King of the South, was struck down by his bastard half-brother, Athen Blackmantle, at the Battle of Gray Hill.  They say she flung the poison dart that killed Blackmantle and ended the Phoenix Kingdom. That was four hundred years ago. Her reputation has only grown.
Is it any wonder that her neighbors regard Alinshrae and its queen with a wary gaze. Most of the other nations gave up trying to annex parts of Alinshrae centuries ago. The only one that has persisted has been Alindema, so that a bitter enmity exists between the two countries. Or, at least, it exists on the part of Alindema and its High Magisters.
Although Alinshrae has little contact with the outside world, there is some trade across the borders. And the Nightshade Queen has been known to extend invitations to scholars, sages and entertainers to visit her court. 
When the Draconic Empire turned its legions toward the south, there was some concern over how Alinshrae would react. However, when a company of Draconic soldiers marched into Alinshrae, they vanished and have not been seen since.  Intelligence acquired from the Draconic Legions suggest that their armies were ordered to avoid Alinshrae after similar disappearances began to undermine morale.
Today, Alinshrae remains complete unto itself. In the aftermath of the war, Alindema has repositioned its troops along the border they share with the Land of Shadows, but whether this is a precursor to an attack or saber-rattling on their part remains unknown. If Alindema were to attack Alinshrae, it is doubtful they would find allies among their neighbors. Indeed, certain factions in Hylondek might actually ally with the Nightshade Queen to further their own goals.




Thursday, May 18, 2017

Comic Recs for 5/17/2017

Astro City #44
It's no secret that I'm a big fan of Kurt Busiek's Astro City.  Part of its appeal is the fact that is an uncomplicated universe, not bogged down by longwinded stories that have no longterm effects. Another reason is that even after twentysomething years, Astro City still manages to charm and surprise. This issue is a perfect example of that. 

Star Trek: The Next Generation
Mirror Broken #1
Okay, who doesn't love an Evil Universe? Star Trek set up the premise for the Mirror Universe, where the good guys are bad and the bad guys good, way back in the original series.  We saw more of it, strangely enough, during Deep Space 9's run, but we've never really gotten a look at the setting using the Next Generation cast.  So, ST: TNG Broken Mirror is an interesting little book. The story pulls you in pretty quickly and the art is surprisingly lovely.  Also, there is humor in this book, which surprised me. 

Friday, May 12, 2017

Re Lux Tenebris

I just realized that with the writeup of Countess Leona Tierce I have written one hundred pages of background data for the Lux Tenebris campaign world.
Um.
How did that happen?
Lux Tenebris started as a one-off, a riff off of Critical Role's Vox Machina. Somehow, it grew into something bigger and stranger.
Better?
I don't know. You be the judge.
I'm just shocked it's gotten this big!

Lux Tenebris: Countess Leona Tierce

COUNTESS LEONA TRIECE, L8 Noble Human Mastermind


STR     14 (+2)
DEX    16 (+3)
CON   14 (+2)
INT     20 (+5)
WIS     15 (+2)
CHA   16 (+3)
HP       59
AC      14 (Leather armor)

Languages: Common, Dwarvish, Elvish, Halfling, Sylvan, Thieves’ Cant,

Proficiencies: +3
Armor: Light
Weapons: Simple, Hand x-bows, Longswords, Rapiers, Shortswords
Tools: Cards, Chess, Thieves’ tools, Disguise kit, Forgery kit
Saves: Dexterity +6, Intelligence +8
Skills: Deception +9, History +11, Insight +7, Intimidation +6, Investigation +8, Persuasion +9

Feats:
Position of Privilege
* * *
Expertise
Sneak Attack
Cunning Action
Roguish Archetype: Mastermind
- Master of Intrigue
- Master of Tactics
Uncanny Dodge
Evasion

Equipment:
Rapier. Melee. +6 to hit; deals 1d6 +3 slashing. Finesse.
Shortsword. Melee. +6 to hit; deals 1d6 +3 piercing. Finesse, Light.
Daggers (2). Melee. +6 to hit; deals 1d4 +3 piercing. Ranged, 20/60. Finesse, Light, Thrown.
Leather armor. Light armor. AC 11 + Dex Mod.
An explorer’s pack, thieves tools, a set of fine clothes, a scroll of pedigree, a signet ring and a purse with 25 gp.

Countess Leona Tierce has not had an easy life. The youngest of four children, her father was killed during the Crucible Regime. Her mother went mad and her idiot brothers got themselves killed in the most appalling manners possible, leaving Leona with the title and the obligation to recover Hylondek. It’s not a responsibility that she ever wanted, but it turns out that Leona is quite good at ruling. She’s created a stable region within the country, and has established a network of spies and assassins that she uses with care and precision. Although she has her own personal guard, the countess has also employed reputable mercenary companies to protect and expand her interests.
There are rumors the countess has extended feelers to the neighboring countries, to Alindema and Alindrast and even sent an emissary to Alinshrae, looking to forge alliances. She doesn’t bother reaching out to any of the petty warlords who have torn Hylondek apart, she knows they can’t be trusted.  It is said that the countess has even met with agents of the Veils and the Black Glove, drawing them into the byzantine politics of the region.
Her detractors claim that Tierce has met, clandestinely, with ambassadors from the Draconic Empire, that she would ally with them in exchange for their military support. Whether this is true or not remains unclear.
More alarming to many are the whispers that the Countess Tierce has sought an alliance with Alinshrae’s Nightshade Queen. Although this could be a ploy, to draw the High Magister of Alindema into her camp, any sort of diplomacy with Alinshrae is frought with danger.
Of course, most of these stories are just rumors. There’s no proof to any of them. However, if even one of them was true, it could tilt the balance of power throughout the Southern Palatines. Which, in the end, may be just what the countess is after.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Orax Half-Blood

ORAX HALF-BLOOD, L9 Half-Orc Barbarin Soldier

STR     18 (+4)
DEX    10 (+0)
CON   14 (+2)
INT     12 (+1)
WIS     11 (+0)
CHA   08 (-1)
HP       79
AC      12 (Unarmored Defense)

Traits:
Darkvision
Relentless Endurance
Savage Attacks
Languages: Common, Orc

Proficiencies: +4
Armor: Light, Medium, Shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Dice, Vehicles: Land
Saves: Strength +8, Constitution +6
Skills: Athletics +8, Intimidation +3, Perception +4, Survival +4

Feats:
Military rank
* * *
Rage (4/+3)
Unarmored Defense
Reckless Attack
Danger Sense
Primal Path: Path of the Berserker
- Frenzy
- Mindless Rage
Extra Attack
Fast Movement (40 ft)
Feral Instinct
Brutal Critical

Equipment:
Greataxe. Melee; +8 to hit; deals 1d12 +4 slashing. Heavy, 2-handed.
Handaxes(2). Melee; +8 to hit; deals 1d6 +4 slashing. Ranged, 20/60 ft. +4 to hit.
Javelins(4). Ranged, 30/120. +4 to hit; deals 1d6 piercing.
An explorer’s pack, a rank insignia, a polished silver spoon, a set of bone dice, a set of common clothes, a belt pouch w/10 gp.

Hylondek’s turbulent history has attracted all manner of people to the small country. Some come to help, others come to take advantage of the chaos, and some come to fight. Orax Half-Blood came to Hylondek as part of a mercenary troup contracted by one of the local factions. The rest of the troup is pretty much dead and/or scattered now, but Orax remains.  Actually, the half-orc has thrived in Hylondek’s tumultuous atmosphere.  In fact, he is now the commander of his own mercenary team, a group called Rax’s Wreckers. When the Draconic Empire attempted to invade the South, Orax traveled north to fight them, under the command of Alexander Iltorwen III. He didn’t do it for free, of course, but he didn’t charge as much as he could have either.
Orax has since returned to Hylondek, where he has begun to consider carving out his own patch. He’s currently working for the Countess Leona Triece, the last surviving heir to the county. The half-orc thinks that if he were to marry the countess, then he could have a legitimate claim to Hylondek.  Orax hasn’t acted on his thoughts, but they are foremost in his mind.

Comic Recs for 5/10/2017


FUTURE QUEST #12
This is the final issue of Future Quest and it's been a helluva ride. Part of the appeal of this series has been nostalgia, at least for me, but the book should be easily accessible to most people. Even if your only exposure to Space Ghost is reruns of his 'talk show' on Cartoon Network.  The characters are nicely developed, the story is engaging and this final issue ties things up nicely. There's even talk of more FutureQuest, down the road.  If that happens, I'll definitely be there.

DRAGON AGE: KNIGHT ERRANT #1
Being a fan of D&D, I feel a bit guilty saying that the Dragon Age comics put out by Dark Horse have been blowing their D&D counterparts out of the freakin' water.  Truth hurts.
Dragon Age: Knight Errant is no exception to that experience. In this first issue, we are introduced to an itinerant knight and his elf squire, as they arrive in the city of Kirkwall. And while Ser Hawthorne regales a dinner party with tales of daring do, unknown to him, his elf squire, Vaea, slips out to pursue her sideline as a thief.
This first issue sets things up quite nicely. We get a good intro to Ser Hawthorne and Vaea, as well as their motivations for what they do, and it ends with enough of a cliffhanger that I'll probably pick up the second issue.

Honorable mentions this week go to Scooby Apocalypse #13, where the Mystery Machine gang has an unpleasant encounter with Velma's brother, Rufus, and someone new joins them on their quest to save the world. Also, the monsters hold their own version of the Burning Man Festival.

Also getting a mention this week is Rock Candy Mountain #2. Things remain intriguing. We meet some new characters: FBI Agent Babs Bardoux, the Black Orchid, a fighter called Hundred Cats and the King of Humblebrechdt County, who just happens to be a chicken. Our protagonist, Jackson, kicks ass in an underground fight club, while the Devil remains hot on his heels and Slim just tries to make sense of everything.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Rose & Thorn

Rose and her brother, Thorn, are twins, although this is not obvious to the casual observer. Rose is a beautiful human girl, with flowing red-gold hair, dark eyes and a peaches-n-cream complexion. Thorn is a red-skinned tiefling, with ebon goat’s horns emerging from his brow, black eyes, pronounced canine teeth and ears that taper to knife-points.
The twins were born in Hylondek to a ragtag family of merchants, bards and adventurers. Their early childhood was idyllic and the twins were inseperable. But their fortunes took a harsh turn after their thirteenth birthday, when revolution swept Hylondek and the Crucible, a brutal, human-centric regime, took over the country. The twins’ family tried to flee to Alindrast but were stopped and imprisoned by the new regime. Rose and Thorn watched as their parents were crucified. Afterwards, the twins were separated. Rose was sent to a Crucible convent-school where the sisters attempted to scourge her family’s sins with frequent beatings. Thorn was sold into slavery, forced to fight in the arena for the amusement of the regime’s leaders.
After a year in the convent, Rose was approached by a devil with a bargain. She accepted, agreeing to perform a certain number of services for him, in exchange for power. Using her new abilities, she fled the convent and found Thorn. Rescuing him from the arena, the two joined a resistance movement and were instrumental in bringing down the Crucible regime.
Afterwards, the twins left Hylondek, to hunt down and execute the Crucible leaders who had managed to escape. When the Draconic Invasion threatened the Southern Palatines, Rose and Thorn offered their services to Count Orziri as assassins and spies. The count accepted their offer and it was Rose and Thorn who brought him news of the tarrasque summoning ceremony.
Since the Draconic Legions have retreated from the South, the twins have resumed hunting for the Crucible leaders. They have received reliable information that some have fled to Shrike, which is now held by the Draconic Empire. The twins are making plans to infiltrate Shrike, and have made tentative contact with the resistance movement within the city. Their experiences liberating Hylondek would be a boon to the Shrike resistance, and the resources of the resistance would assist the twins enormously in hunting down their targets.

* * * * *

Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Starblood

ELZAR STARBLOOD, L16 High Elf Hermit (L3 Fighter/L13 Paladin)

STR     16 (+3)
DEX    10 (+0)
CON   13 (+1)
INT     10 (+0)
WIS     15 (+2)
CHA   18 (+4)
HP       116
AC      20 (Plate armor w/shield)

Traits:
Darkvision
Fey Ancestry
Languages: Common, Elvish, +2

Proficiencies: +5
Armor: All armor, shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Herbalism kit
Saves: Strength +8, Constitution +6
Skills: Arcana +5, Athletics +5, Intimidation +9, Medicine +5, Persuasion +9, Religion +5

Feats:
Discovery
* * *
Fighting Style: Protection
Second Wind
Action Surge
Martial Archetype: Champion
- Improved Critical
* * *
Divine Sense
Lay on Hands
Fighting Style: Dueling
Divine Smite
Divine Health
Sacred Oath: Oath of Devotion
- Oath Spells
- Channel Divinity: Sacred Weapon, Turn the Unholy
- Aura of Devotion
Extra Attack
Aura of Protection
Aura of Courage
Improved Divine Smite

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 10
L1(4): protection from good and evil, sanctuary, bless, command, detect magic, divine favor
L2(3): lesser restoration, zone of truth, find steed, magic weapon
L3(3): beacon of hope, dispel magic, crusader’s mantle, dispel magic, remove curse
L4(1): freedom of movement, guardian of faith, death ward

Equipment:
Longsword. Melee. +8 to hit; deals 1d8 +5 slashing. Versatile (1d10).
Handaxes (2). Melee; +8 to hit; deals 1d6 +3 slashing. Ranged; 20/60 ft. +5 to hit; deals 1d6 slashing.
Plate Armor. Heavy armor. AC 18. Min STR 15. Disadvantage on Stealth.
Shield. AC +2.
An explorer’s pack, a scroll case, a winter blanket, a set of common clothes, an herbalism kit, 5gp

Elzar Starblood, Paladin-General of the Iornean Church, is something of a mystery. He arrived at the House of Wonders years ago, answering the call of the Goddess of Magic herself. Since his investiture as Paladin-General, Starblood has served well and faithfully, defending the faith and Alindema from various aggressors. Still, rumors about Starblood’s history abound. Some say he lived as a hermit or monk or mercenary. Some say he’s one of the Nightshade Queen’s sons. Others, that he’s the exiled bastard of a Goldsun noble elf and a forgotten daughter of the Mornae family.
A taciturn man, Starblood isn’t the sort to invite questions or waist breath on idle chit-chat. Since the Draconic invasion, he has been busy, ensuring the safety and security of Alindema. He was part of the group that infiltrated the Draconic lines and disrupted the tarrasque summoning. Afterwards, he slaughtered the Draconic mages and returned to Alindema.

Recently, the High Magister dispatched Starblood westward, to Alinshrae, on a secret mission. No one knows why but previous rumors and current circumstances have led many to speculate that Alindema may be going to war with Alinshrae.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Lux Tenebris: High Magister Osre

HIGH MAGISTER OSRE (L20 Human Cleric)

STR     12 (+1)
DEX    15 (+2)
CON   16 (+3)
INT     16 (+3)
WIS     20 (+5)
CHA   18 (+4)
HP       130
AC      18 (Scale Male & Shield)

Proficiencies: +6
Armor: Light, Medium, Shields
Weapons: Simple
Tools: None
Saves: Wisdom +11, Charisma +10
Skills: Insight +11, Religion +9

Feats:
Divine Domain: Arcana
- Arcane Initiate
- Spell Breaker
- Potent Spellcasting
- Arcane Mastery
Channel Divinity: Turn Undead, Arcane Abjuration
Destroy Undead (Undead CR 4 or lower)
Divine Intervention

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 25
Spell DC: 19
Atk Mod: +11
At-Will (5/2): Guidance, Prestidigitation, Ray of Frost, Resistance, Thaumaturgy
L1(4): detect magic, magic missile, bane, healing word, protection from evil & good
L2(3): magic weapon, Nystul’s magic aura, enhance ability, lesser restoration, spiritual weapon
L3(3): dispel magic, magic circle, protection from energy, remove curse, spirit guardians
L4(3): arcane eye, Leomund’s secret chest, banishment, death ward, guardian of faith
L5(3): planar binding, teleportation circle, greater restoration, hallow, raise dead
L6(2): true seeing, blade barrier, forbiddance, heal
L7(2): teleport, conjure celestial, divine word, plane shift
L8(1): demiplane, antimagic field, holy aura,
L9(1): gate, true resurrection

Equipment:
Mace. Melee. +7 to hit; deals 1d6 +1 bludgeoning.
Light x-bow. Ranged, 80/320. +8 to hit; deals 1d8 +2 piercing. Loading. 2-Handed.
Scale mail. Medium armor. AC 14 + Dex Mod (Max 2). Disadv on Stealth
Shield. Defense. AC +2.
A holy symbol, a prayer book, 5 sticks of incense, vestments, a set of common clothes, an explorer’s pack, a belt pouch w/15 gp.

South of Alindor, is the Theocratic State of Alindema. Flanked on the east by Alinshrae, on the west by Alindrast and to the south by Hylondek, Alindema is the smallest of the Southern Palatine states, but also, arguably, the most powerful.
A theocracy, ruled by the Iornean Church, the Church is led by High Magister Hoben Osre. Within Alindema, High Magister Osre’s word is absolute law. During his tenure as High Magister he has transformed Alindema into a stronghold for magic-users. Indeed, in Alindema, only those gifted with magic may own property or vote. All non-mages are second-class citizens, who serve the Iornean Church and its members. Merchants and travelers who wish to pass through Alindema, must first demonstrate some magical ability. Those who cannot are denied entry into the country.
Intelligent and charismatic, Osre has observed the Draconic Empire’s invasion of the west with a cold, calculating eye. When the Draconic Legions turned south and threatened the Southern Palatines, Osre was one of the first to offer assistance to Count Orziri of Alindor. The Count accepted the High Magister’s assistance with guarded suspicion, but dared not rebuff it.
The High Magister’s alliance with Alindor did not go unnoticed by the leaders of the other Southern Palatines.  They quickly followed Osre’s example, allying with Alindor against the Draconic invaders.
Many people expected Osre and Alindema’s role in the war to be supportive, perhaps providing intelligence or material support. Everyone was surprised when the High Magister deployed Paladin-General Starblood and his Arcane Legion to the front lines. They decimated the Draconic Legion’s military spellcasters, and cleared a path for the operatives who sabotaged the tarrasque summoning ceremony. Afterwards, the Arcane Legion returned to Alindema and the High Magister’s support for the alliance became predominantly advisory.
Nevertheless, it is widely suspected that the High Magister’s actions during the invasion were carefully calculated. That he deployed the Arcane Legion to remind his neighbors and allies of the power Alindema could deploy if threatened. 

There are rumors the Draconic Empire dispatched secret envoys to Alindema, seeking an alliance, but that the offer was rebuffed.  More alarming to many are the whispers that the High Magister receives celestial messengers from the goddess Iorne herself, instructing him to keep Alindema on a war-footing. There are reports the Arcane Legion has been repositioned on the country’s western border and that the High Magister is preparing for war with Alinshrae.

Saturday, April 8, 2017

Comic Recs


Kill Shakespeare - Past is Prologue: Juliet is a prequel to the excellent Kill Shakespeare series. Set a few months after the events in Romeo & Juliet, we are introduced to a troubled Juliet, still mourning the loss of her Romeo and at odds with the world around her. The first issue ends in a typical Shakespearean manner, with a blood-soaked tragedy, and opens the door on a couple of mysteries.


Rock Candy Mountain is one of those books that defines Image Comics as a risk-taking publisher. The first issue opens in 1948 with the Devil beating a bunch of hobos to death, and our mysterious protagonist, Jackson, jumping onto a train.  Jackson, it seems, is searching for the legendary Rock Candy Mountain. Most folks think he's crazy. But if the Devil's after you, how crazy can you be? In this first issue, Jackson befriends a hard luck case nicknamed Pomona and tussles with the Hobo Mafia. Yes, you read that right. Hobo. Mafia. The story is intriguing enough for me to want to pick up the second issue, even though I think the art could be a little tighter. Overall, though, it was a pretty good read.

I liked America Chavez. When she showed up in Young Avengers, she was a breath of fresh air. I still want her line, "The laws of physics can kiss my ass!" on a t-shirt. I even liked her in The Ultimates.
Her own series however? Not so much.
Last month, America #1 left me lukewarm at best regarding the character. She didn't come across as strong or independent, she just came across as bitchy and controlling. With this second issue of her book, I am officially done.
This book was just shitty. It's as if someone took a bunch of disparate ideas, mixed them in a blender, chugged them down, then vomited them back up on the page. The cover art leaves me feeling 'Meh' but the internals just make me sigh wistfully for art that actually looks finished.
Overall, this book was just a toxic mess. Avoid it like the plague.

Thursday, April 6, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Count Orziri

COUNT BARTIMUS ORZIRI, L19 Human Noble(Rogue 16/Bard 03)

STR     13 (+1)
DEX    20 (+5)
CON   13 (+1)
INT     15 (+2)
WIS     14 (+2)
CHA   14 (+2)
HP       155
AC       16 (Breastplate)

Languages: Common, Giant, Goblin, Thieves’ Cant

Proficiencies: +6
Armor: Light, Medium, Shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Disguise kit, Poisoners’ kit, Thieves’ tools, Lute, Chess
Saves: Dexterity +11, Intelligence +8
Skills: Acrobatics +17, History +14, Intimidation +14, Persuasion +14, Sleight of Hand +17, Stealth +17

Feats:
Position of Privilege
* * *
Expertise
Sneak Attack
Cunning Action
Roguish Archetype: Assassin
- Bonus Proficiencies
- Assassinate
- Infiltration Expertise
- Imposter
Uncanny Dodge
Evasion
Reliable Talent
Blindsense
Slippery Mind
* * *
Bardic Inspiration (d6)
Jack of All Trades
Song of Rest (d6)
Expertise
Bard College: College of Valor
- Bonus Proficiencies
- Combat Inspiration

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 06
Spell DC: 16
Atk Mod: +8
At-Will(2): Blade ward, Message, True Strike
L1(4): Bane, Cure Wounds, Disguise Self, Thunderwave
L2(2): Invisibility, Phantasmal Force

Equipment:
Daggers (2). Melee. +11 to hit; deals 1d4 +5 piercing. Ranged, 20/60 ft.
Rapier. Melee. +11 to hit; deals 1d8 +5 piercing. Finesse.
Shortsword. Melee. +11 to hit; deals 1d6 +5 piercing. Finesse, Light.
Breastplate. Defense. AC 14 + Dex Mod (max 2).
A burglar’s pack, Thieves’ tools, a set of fine clothes, a signet ring, a scroll of pedigree, a purse w/25 gp.


There are a lot of stories about Count Bartimus Orziri, ruler of Alindor. People say he has giant blood flowing in his veins, because of his size and strength. They whisper about the affair he had with a Veil agent in in his youth, that it was she who taught him the skills he used as assassin and spy during the Nine Years War. They say that when Bartimus returned from the battlefield, and assumed his noble title, he didn’t smile for ten years. People say Orziri hasn’t smiled once since the Draconic Empire made a haphazard effort to invade the Southern Palatines, a year ago. Some people claim Orziri is the man who united the squabbling noble houses of the South against a common enemy, that he sits at the heart of a web of assassins who have been methodically eliminating key members of the Draconic Legions to destabilize their command structure. They say he employs wizards to harry the Legions and has armed bands of tiefling zealots intent on murdering the dragonborn invaders. No one knows if any of these stories are true, but there is one thing everyone accepts: Count Orziri will not let Alindor, or the rest of the Southern Palatines, fall to the Draconic Empire. He will do whatever he has to, to ensure that.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Landscape

Down, down, down, I go.
To secret, earthy places.
My lips blaze a trail,
my tongue follows.
Fingers come behind.
Clever, wicked fingers
that pluck and pinch and tweak.
You lay before me,
a landscape of hills and valleys,
and I feel small and nervous
as I explore.
As I wander.
As I go spelunking.
Your breath is wind,
your voice is thunder,
your climax like an earthquake.
I am washed away,
in a flood of pleasure,
left battered and gasping
and lost.
Utterly and completely,
lost.

Monday, March 27, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Alexander Iltorwen III

ALEXANDER ILTORWEN III, L20 Half-Elf  (10 Fighter/10 Ranger)

STR     20 (+5)
DEX    16 (+3)
CON   20 (+5)
INT     15 (+2)
WIS     15 (+2)
CHA   18 (+4)
HP       201
AC      20 (Breastplate & Shield w/FS: Defense)

Traits:
Darkvision.
Fey Ancestry.
Languages: Common, Draconic, Elvin, Giant

Proficiencies: +6
Armor: All armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Woodworking tools, Land vehicles
Saves: Strength +11, Constitution +11
Skills: Animal Handling +8, Athletics +11, Intimidation +10, Perception +8, Stealth +9, Survival +8

Feats:
Rustic Hospitality
* * *
Fighting Style: Archery
Second Wind
Action Surge
Martial Archetype: Champion
- Improved Critical
- Remarkable Athlete
- Additional Fighting Style: Defense
Extra Attack (+1)
Indomitable (1/rest)
* * *
Favored Enemy: Dragons, Giants
Natural Explorer: Arctic, Forest, Mountains
Fighting Style: Dueling
Ranger Archetype: Hunter
- Colossus Slayer
- Escape the Horde
Primeval Awareness
Extra Attack (+1)
Land’s Stride
Hide in Plain Sight

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 6
Spell Save: 16
Atk Mod: +8
L1(4): Cure Wounds, Ensnaring Strike, Hail of Thorns
L2(3): Lesser Restoration, Pass w/o Trace
L3(2): Conjure Barrage

Equipment:
Daggers(2). Melee. +11 to hit; deals 1d4 +7 piercing. Ranged, 20/60 ft. +13 to hit. Finesse, Light, Thrown.
Mace. Melee. +11 to hit; deals 1d6 +7 bludgeoning.
Longsword. Melee. +11 to hit; deals 1d8 +7 slashing. Versatile (1d10).
Longbow. Ranged, 150/600 ft. +11 to hit; deals 1d8 +3 piercing. Ammo, 2-handed, heavy.
Breastplate. Medium Armor. AC 14 + Dex Mod (max 2).
Shield. AC +2.

When the Draconic Empire invaded the westlands, they thought their conquest would be easy and swift.  They did not anticipate the presence and actions of heroes like Alexander Iltorwen III.
Alexander is the son of a half-elf family from Alindor, in the Southern Palatines. In his youth, he left Alindor to become an adventurer and see the world. He had many adventures and traveled all over Lore and even beyond it, to other planes of existence. However, there came a time when a comfy chair by the fire seemed more attractive than thwarting evil and saving the princess. After a long and successful career, Alexander retired from adventuring. He bought a vineyard in Alindor and enjoyed the life of a country squire. Occasionally, old friends would stop by and they would reminisce about ‘the good old days.’ Once or twice, Alex was asked to deal with a problem beyond the scope of the locals. When the green dragon, Elmordrel, fled south from Shrike and started raiding the countryside, Alexander put on his old fighting gear, marched into the woods and slew her. The locals are still grateful and have even commemorated Alexander’s victory with an annual celebration.
When the Draconic Empire marched on the west, the Southern Palatines prepared for war. Alexander was drafted to command the armies of Alindor. When the Draconic Legions turned south, they met fierce resistance from the local nation-states. Eventually, Alexander was placed in charge of the combined armies of the Southern Palatines as Grand General.
When Alexander learned that imperial wizards were preparing a ritual to summon the legendary tarasque, he personally led a small party that slipped past the imperial lines and disrupted the ritual. The wizards did manage to summon the tarasque, but they could not control the beast and it ravaged their forces before turning east and marching toward the empire.
Since then, Alexander’s reputation has only grown. There are rumors that the gentry and the common folk would submit to Alexander being crowned King of the South, a title that has not existed for almost a thousand years.
Alexander, however, has no interest in being a king. He wants to secure the South, then return to his vineyards and his humble life as a country squire. Whether fate would allow this to happen, however, is another question entirely.

Friday, March 24, 2017

Portents

Gray mist on the ground.
Willows weeping by the pond.
Something wicked comes.

Gray clouds gather now,
greasy raindrops fall to earth,
poisoning the land.

Can you hear that sound?
Heavy footfalls on wood steps.
The world holds its breath.

A knock on the door.
Sharp. Loud. Forceful. The frame shakes.
Something wicked waits.

Your heart skips a beat.
Your breath catches in your throat.
The knock comes again.

You approach the door.
Your skin feels hot and too tight.
Your hand grasps the handle.

You open the door,
onto black night and cold rain.
Death looks back at you.

Gray mist on the ground.
Something wicked leaves with you,
and the willows weep.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Comic Recs for 3/23/2017

Empowered is one of those books that is consistently good and also almost unheard of among the general population. That's a pity because it does a fine job of skewering super-type tropes in clever and humorous ways. The current story has Emp and gal-pal Ninjette facing off against the machinations of a magical girl gone rogue, using love as a weapon. This book is not for kids, but adults would love it. If I have a critique, it's that the art feels a bit inconsistent. 3 out of 4 stars.


FutureQuest is a great slice of nostalgia for fans of a certain age and a fun book for people who don't know anything about the Hannah-Barbera superhero universe. It brings together characters as diverse as Space Ghost, Frankenstein Jr., the Impossibles and the Herculoids as they battle a parasitic alien invader. Nice art. Great story. 4 out of 5 stars.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Belhar

BELHAR, L12 Dragonborn Cleric

STR     19 (+4)
DEX    14 (+2)
CON   14 (+2)
INT     12 (+1)
WIS     14 (+2)
CHA   11 (+0)
HP       87
AC      18 (Scale mail & Shield)

Traits:
Draconic Ancestry: Bronze
Breath Weapon: Lightening
Damage Resistance: Lightening
Languages: Celestial, Common, Draconic, Dwarvish

Proficiencies: +4
Armor: Light, Medium, Shields
Weapons: Simple
Tools: None
Saves: Wisdom, Charisma
Skills: History, Insight, Persuasion, Religion

Feats:
Shelter of the Faithful
* * *
Divine Domain: Light
- Warding Flare
- Improved Flare
- Potent Spellcasting
Channel Divinity: Turn Undead, Radiance of the Dawn
Destroy Undead
Divine Intervention

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 08
Spell DC: 14
Atk Mod: +6
At-Will(5): Light, Mending, Resistance, Sacred Flame, Spare the Dying, Thaumaturgy
L1(4): burning hands, faerie fire, Guiding bolt, Healing word
L2(3): flaming sphere, scorching ray, Blindness, Lesser Restoration
L3(3): daylight, fireball, Create Food and Water, Dispel Magic
L4(3): guardian of faith, wall of fire, Divination
L5(2): flame strike, scrying, Greater Restoration
L6(1):
L7(1):

Equipment:
Mace. Melee. +8 to hit; deals 1d6 +4 bludgeoning.
Javelins(4). Ranged, 30/120 ft. +6 to hit; deals 1d6 +2 piercing.
Scale mail. Defense. AC 14 + Dex Mod (Max 2). Disadvantage on Stealth.
Shield. Defense. AC +2
A holy symbol, a priest’s pack, a prayer book, 5 sticks of incense, vestments, a set of common clothes, a belt pouch with 15gp.

Faith is a curious thing among the Draconic Empire’s dragonborn citizens. Although they acknowledge the gods, they have little interest in most of them, with the exception of Meleh and Sumet. The God of Battle and the God of War are almost universally worshipped in the empire. So when a dragonborn chooses to serve a deity, and they don’t choose Meleh and Sumet, it is viewed as somewhat . . . odd.
Belhar has served Enla, Goddess of the Sun, for decades. With the collapse of the imperial invasion and rumors of prophecy being fulfilled in the capital, Belhar has been sent west by his goddess.  He arrived in Shrike several weeks ago and has taken up residence in the local Temple of Enla, much to the confusion of the local accolytes and priests.
His mission is twofold: to spread the light of the sun-goddess among the people and to observe the dragonborn legions and report back to his superiors in the empire. There has been a growing resurgence of faith among the common folk of the empire. Many of the temples have started taking a stance against the empire’s military expansion, citing tales of corruption and violent excess among the legionaires. Belhar has been sent to observe the legionaires and report on his findings.
The dragonborn cleric finds himself in an awkward position. The legionaires are mostly dismissive of Belhar. Some have heard rumors of his mission and are openly hostile, questioning his loyalty to the empire. The priests of Meleh and Sumet view the other temples’ actions as an attempt to supplant their traditional place in imperial culture, and have coldly banned Belhar from their temples. His presence in Shrike has become a political hot potato for Governor Darrix, one she would rather not have to juggle at all. So far, the only person in the current occupational government who has welcomed Belhar is Araven Logos, the aasimar paladin.
Among the populace of Shrike, Belhar stands out from the other dragonborn priests they’ve met. He’s staying in the Temple of Enla in Rosewell, and is more than willing to talk about his goddess with anyone who asks. He’s also been generous with the use of his clerical gifts. The resistance is watching Belhar, having fereted out his mission in Shrike. They aren’t sure how to use that information yet, but until they do they’ve ordered that the sun-priest be left alone. At this point, any violent action against Belhar could have thunderous consequences for Shrike and the Draconic Empire.

Monday, March 20, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Lady Ursera

LADY LOLA URSERA, L6 Human Noble Warlock

STR     09 (-1)
DEX    08 (-1)
CON   16 (+3)
INT     16 (+3)
WIS     14 (+2)
CHA   16 (+3)
HP       51
AC      12 (Armor of Shadows)

Languages: Common, Dwarvish, Elvish

Proficiencies: +3
Armor: Light
Weapons: Simple
Tools: Chess set
Saves: Wisdom +5, Charisma +6
Skills: Arcana +6, Deception +6, History +6, Persuasion +6

Feats:
Position of Privilege
* * *
Otherworldly Patron: The Fiend
- Dark One’s Blessing
- Dark One’s Own Luck
Eldritch Invocations: Armor of Shadows, Mask of Many Faces, Voice of the Chain Master
Pact Boon: Pact of the Chain

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 7
Spell DC: 14
Atk Mod: +6
At-Will(3): Eldritch blast, Friends, Prestidigitation
L1: Arms of Hadar, Command, Witch Bolt
L2: Crown of Madness, Misty Step
L3(2): Counterspell, Gaseous Form

Equipment:
Daggers(3). Melee. +2 to hit; deals 1d4-1 piercing. Finesse. Light. Ranged, 20/60 ft.
Quarterstaff. Melee. +2 to hit; deals 1d6-1 bludgeoning. Versatile(1d8).
An arcane focus., a scholar’s pack, a set of fine clothes, a signet ring, a scroll of pedigree, a purse with 25 gp.
Dagger of Venom. Magic. Melee. +3 to hit; deals 1d4 piercing. You can use an action to cause thick, black poison to coat the blade. The poison remains for 1 minute or until an attack using this weapon hits a creature.  That creature must succeed on a DC 15 Constitution saving throw or take 2d10 poison damage and become poison for 1 minute. The dagger can’t be used this way again until the next dawn.

Lady Lola Ursera is one of the most influential, reviled and feared noblewomen in the city of Shrike. Born the daughter of a wealthy merchant, her father bought a title from a desperate nobleman, and arranged his daughter’s marriage to a moderately wealthy lordling.
The newly minted Lady Ursera received a dismal welcome from the nobles of Shrike. Ostracised by society because of her origins, Lady Ursera began a careful pogram against her enemies. Her actions brought her to the attention of a fiend, Onorel. Onorel made a deal with Lady Ursera, empowering her as a warlock in exchange for her service.
Over the years, the pact between Lady Ursera and Onorel has benefited both of them. Lady Ursera’s enemies have fallen before her, like wheat before a scythe, and Onorel has risen in the hierarchy of Hell.
Of course, the pact has not gone without its consequences. Lady Ursera’s granddaughter, Taline, bears the mark of her grandmother’s infernal curse. And rumors abound that Lady Ursera’s hands are red with the blood of her enemies.
Strangely, since Shrike fell to the Draconic Empire, Lady Ursera has become a powerful patron of the resistance.  She funnels money and resources to them through her servants, oftentimes right under the noses of the Draconic Legionaires who patrol the North Quarter. Many in the resistance don’t trust Lady Ursera, but they can’t afford to be picky. They need the resources she provides if they are to have any hope of freeing the city.
As for Lady Ursera’s motives? Who can say? Perhaps her patron has instructed her to help the resistance for his own motives? Perhaps Lady Ursera considers herself a noble daughter of Shrike? It’s more likely, though, that she’s playing a long game, setting things up for her benefit, somewhere down the line.  Given the empire’s history of executing anyone hell-touched, Lady Ursera’s actions could just be enlightened self interest.  It isn’t likely anyone will find out her motivations, until the lady herself reveals them.

Lux Tenebris: Dicel Anerok

DICEL ANEROK, L8 Half Orc Fighter

STR     20 (+5)
DEX    10 (+0)
CON   14 (+2)
INT     09 (-1)
WIS     10 (+0)
CHA   14 (+2)
HP       56
AC      18 (Chain mail & Shield)

Traits:
Darkvision.
Relentless Endurance.
Savage Attacks.
Languages: Common, Orc.

Proficiencies: +3
Armor: All armor, Shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Vehicles: Land, Dice
Saves: Strength, Constitution
Skills: Animal Handling, Athletics, Intimidation, Perception, Survival

Feats:
Alert
* * *
Fighting Style: Dueling
Second Wind
Action Surge
Martial Archetype: Champion
- Improved Critical
- Remarkable Athlete
Extra Attack

Equipment:
Longsword. Melee. +8 to hit; deals 1d8 +7 slashing. Versatile (1d10).
Light x-bow. Ranged, 80/320 ft. +3 to hit; deals 1d8 piercing. Loading, 2-handed.
Chain mail. Defense. AC 16. Min Str 13. Disadvantage on Stealth.
Shield. Defense. AC +2.
An explorer’s pack, a momento from an old love, a set of bone dice, a set of common clothes, a belt pouch with 10gp.

Dicel Anerok’s mother was the daughter of an outcast orc warrior. He sold Dicel’s mother into bondage to a caravan master as a child. Dicel’s father could have been anyone along the caravan route, her mother never said. Dicel grew up in the caravan, as a sort of mascot among the guards and merchants. When her mother died, Dicel’s freedom was purchased by several of those same guards and merchants. To repay them, Dicel became a guard herself, selling her services to the caravans running between Shrike and the Southern Palatines. After some years, Dicel had acquired a tidy sum of money, enough for her to invest in a merchant enterprise in Shrike. Over the years, Dicel has become a formidable presence within the Brightcoin District as a merchant and moneylender. She was briefly married, but it didn’t work out, and Dicel lives alone in a large house on the northern edge of the district.
When Shrike surrendered to the Draconic Empire, trade was briefly disrupted. Dicel portioned out her resources very carefully, taking payment only in hard currency and extending credit to no one. Now that trade has begun to flow again, albeit between Shrike and the empire, Dicel is once again accepting letters of credit from reputable merchant houses and banking institutions.
A pragmatist, Dicel’s willingness to do business with anyone who can pay her in coin has turned some city hardliners against her. The resistance considers her a sympathizer, which has put a large target on Dicel’s home and businesses.  Governor Darrix finds the half-orc woman’s bluntness refreshing. 
Dicel doesn’t care. She’s not political. It doesn’t matter to her who is running Shrike, as long as they don’t interfere too much with her business ventures.  She looks after herself, her employees and her friends and neighbors.  Anyone who targets Dicel or her friends, imperial or resistance, would make enemies throughout Shrike and beyond that could cost them dearly.
Dicel, herself, is no push-over. She’s kept in shape and is probably better now with a sword then she was when she guarded the caravans.  Plus, her household consists of several seasoned veterans and fighters who would rally to her aid.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Dell Irondrake

DELL IRONDRAKE, L3 Hill Dwarf  Urban Ranger

STR     10 (+0)
DEX    13 (+1)
CON   14 (+2)
INT     09 (-1)
WIS     12 (+1)
CHA   12 (+1)
HP       31
AC      12 (Leather armor)

Traits:
Darkvision.
Dwarven Resilience.
Dwarven Toughness.
Stonecunning.

Proficiencies: +2
Armor: Light, Medium, Shields
Weapons: Simple, Martial
Tools: Disguise kit, Mason’s tools, Thieves’ tools
Saves: Strength +2, Dexterity +3
Skills: Perception +3, Sleight of Hand +3, Stealth +3, Survival +3

Feats:
City Secrets
* * *
Favored Enemy: Dragons
Natural Explorer: Cities
Fighting Style: Archery
Ranger Archetype: Hunter
- Colossus Slayer
Primeval Awareness

Equipment:
Shortswords(2). Melee. +3 to hit; deals 1d6 +1 piercing. Finesse, Light.
Longbow. Ranged, 150/600 ft; +5 to hit; deals 1d8 +1 piercing. Heavy. 2-Handed.
Leather armor. Light armor. AC 11 + Dex Mod.
A dungeoneer’s pack, a small knife, a map of the Shrike, a pet mouse, an old divination card bearing your likness, a set of common clothes, a belt pouch w/10gp.

Dell Irondrake is a hill dwarf from Moarae. He came to Shrike as a mercenary, hired by the city to help eliminate a green dragon called Elmordrel. Afterwards, Irondrake stayed in Shrike, where he set up shop in Two Pennies as an adventurer-for-hire.
Since the occupation, Irondrake has been considering his future. He’s been approached by the resistance, but hasn’t commited to them. Also, the dragonborn pay better and a dwarf’s got to eat. Right?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Lux Tenebris: Chancellor Naeldor

CHANCELLOR NAELDOR, L11 Half-Elf Sage & Wizard


STR     11 (+0)
DEX    10 (+0)
CON   12 (+1)
INT     17 (+3)
WIS     10 (+0)
CHA   10 (+0)
HP       62
AC      13 (Mage Armor)

Traits:
Darkvision
Fey Ancestry
Languages: Celestial, Common, Elvish

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

Feats:
Arcane Recovery
Arcane Tradition: School of Abjuration
- Abjuration Savant
- Arcane Ward
- Projected Ward
- Improved Abjuration

Spellcasting:
# of Spells: 14
Spell DC: 15
Atk Mod: +7
At-Will(5): blade ward
L1(4): alarm, mage armor, protection from evil & good, shield
L2(3): arcane lock, Misty Step
L3(3): counterspell, dispell magic, nondetection
L4(3): banishment, Mordenkainen’s private sanctum, stoneskin
L5(2): planar binding
L6(1): globe of invulnerability

Equipment:
Quarterstaff. Melee; +4 to hit; deals 1d6 bludgeoning. Versatile (1d8).
A spellbook, a scholar’s pack,an arcane focus, a bottle of ink, a quill, a small knife, a letter from a dead colleague, a set of common clothes, a belt pouch with 10 gp.

Naeldor Greengrass, is the Chancellor of the University of Shrike. Naeldor’s father is a pureblooded elf from Goldsun. His mother was a human woman from the village of Greengate, outside of Shrike.  A frail child, Naeldor spent most of his youth indoors, escaping into books of history and lore.  He went on to become an academic, studying at the University of Shrike, Shadowhold and even the Adamantine Archive. During his studies, Naeldor discovered a talent for magic and became an abjurer wizard. He participated in a few adventures, in his youth, but preferred the quite life of academe.
Several years later, Naeldor returned to the University of Shrike as an instructor. Twenty years later, Naeldor became Chancellor.
When Shrike surrendered to the Draconic Empire, the University was shut down. After the first few weeks, Governor Darrix allowed the University to reopen, but under close supervision. Chancellor Naeldor has been drafted by the governor-general into becoming a part of her informal advisory committee. Initially reluctant to participate, his attitude changed after Darrix threatened to have the contents of the University library transported en mass back to the Draconic Empire.

The Chancellor cooperates with the governor-general for the sake of the University, its faculty and its students. However, that has not stopped him from providing quiet support to the Resistance. Chancellor Naeldor has contacts in unusual places, from the noble elf households of Goldsun and the master sages of the Adamantine Archive to the mercenary companies of Swordhold and Sallir. If the imperial governor ever carried out her threat, it is likely she and the forces occupying Shrike would discover Chancellor Naeldor is far more resourceful, and vengeful, than anyone imagined.