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Monday, 14th March, 2005, 05:24 PM #1
Defender (Lvl 8)
A Lonely Path: a Shackled City Story Hour (the old version, see last post)
Hello, all, and welcome to my first Story Hour.
This Story Hour, however, may not be like the ones you have read before. I am not playing with a group and recording our tales of adventure and woe. Unfortunately, I do not have such a group that I can meet with regularly. However, I love to read the books, I love to create characters, and I love the Dungeon adventure path.
And so I decided to create a 1st-level character and run her through the Path. I will be DM, PC, and narrator. All battle outcomes will be determined by the fall of the dice. If my main character dies, another will come to take her place.
Since I am trying to remain as true as possible to the Adventure Path, some of the text I use will be straight from the magazine, iincluding all of the boxed text. Anything that I lift from the magazine I will portray in white text in my story hour posts.
By the way, I welcome all comments, critiques and praise! Feel free to post!
Like I said, it's hard to find a group at home. So I present to you, for your critique and hopeful enjoyment . . .
Last edited by hbarsquared; Sunday, 25th June, 2006 at 10:32 AM.
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Monday, 14th March, 2005, 05:28 PM #2
Defender (Lvl 8)
The following will be descriptions of any campaign-specific details that might deviate from the common mold. For answers to any questions, this will most likely be the place to go.
The Pantheon (Updated 5-2-2005)
Dragon Magazine #329 is actually responsible for spurring this little thread. Specifically, the article Mesopotamian Mythos: From the Cradle of Civilization to Your Game Table by David Schwartz. This pantheon of ancient dieties, straight from the Epic of Gilgamesh, was so well-descibed, so well-representative, that I had to use it.
For those of you who do not have access to the article, the following are brief descriptions of the deities mentioned, so far, in the game.
Ea (Enki, Master Crafter, Keeper of the Ocean Below)
Portfolio: Crafts, fresh water, skills, wisdom.
Domains: Good, Knowledge, Law, Water.
Ninurta (Lord Plough)
Portfolio: agriculture, youth, athletics, hunting, messages.
Domains: Good, Plant, Strength, Travel.
Portfolio: air, law, order, retribution, truth.
Domains: Air, Animal, Law, Protection.
Last edited by hbarsquared; Monday, 2nd May, 2005 at 06:10 PM.
Monday, 14th March, 2005, 05:36 PM #3
Defender (Lvl 8)
Last edited by hbarsquared; Tuesday, 20th December, 2005 at 11:51 PM.
Monday, 14th March, 2005, 05:50 PM #4
Defender (Lvl 8)
Prologue, Part One
Abrina rehearsed her morning routine with practiced steps and whispered counts in the dusty courtyard as the dawning sun rose above the temples wall behind her. She cast a long shadow, the outline of her figure a blur. Her mind fully concentrated on the movements of her legs, her hands, her spear, she destroyed foe after imaginary foe.
In mid-attack, Abrina froze. Wisps of her hair fell over her eyes, beading sweat just beginning to roll down her temples. Her muscles bulged, her hands tightened around the shaft of her weapon, and her chest expanded with deep, though controlled, breaths. Another shadow strode across the courtyard.
Relaxing her stance, Abrina lowered her spear, point directed to the ground, and turned to face her elder.
His hair was gray, his weathered face etched with wrinkles, but his intense emerald eyes were sharp, his back straight. He wore the clerical vestments of their order, the leather armor beneath his cloak dyed several shades darker than his eyes. She reached out to him, and he took her hand, enveloping her in a tight hug of greeting. They pulled back and she smiled.
“Why, good morning, Elder Kevur,” she said, wiping her brow with the back of a dusty arm. “What brings you to the training grounds?”
Kevur smiled in return and motioned her to follow him. “I came to see you. Let’s go inside and talk. I imagine you could use a glass of water?” He walked to the edge of the courtyard, into the shade, and held the door open for her.
She followed, puzzled.
Abrina drained the glass and set it carefully back on the table. Elder Kevur had invited her into his office, one of the rooms in their temple that she had not visited in years. The last time she had sat in this chair was when she had tripped that boy in practice. She had been older than he, but he had the gall to insult her style in the middle of the lesson. He deserved it, but she wasn’t sure it had been worth the disappointment of Elder Kevur. She fidgeted in the chair as Kevur set a scroll case on his desk and began to unstopper it.
“This,” he said, pulling the parchment from the case, “is a missive from the Master Crafter.”
Abrina’s eyes widened. “From Ea Himself?”
Kevur paused and his eyebrow raised. There was a smile behind the crinkling of his eyes. She sunk back into the chair, her face flushed with embarrassment. Abrina wondered if he remembered the last time she had been in this spot. She figured her did; those eyes saw into her soul.
“No,” he said, “From the temple. From Helena, their head cleric, actually.” He unfurled the scroll and flattened it with his aged hand. “We are to deliver a message. Immediately.”
Kevur scanned the contents once more and sighed. He turned the parchment around for Abrina to see. She leaned forward and began to read.
Esteemed Elder Kevur, head cleric of Ninurta in our city of Haven,
A matter of grave importance is upon us, and the following information must fly with the grace of your patron. . . .
Last edited by hbarsquared; Monday, 14th March, 2005 at 09:40 PM.
Monday, 14th March, 2005, 09:08 PM #5
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
I look forward to reading this, although I'd prefer if it was set in Greyhawk.
Monday, 14th March, 2005, 09:32 PM #6
Magsman (Lvl 14)
Pulls up a seat, sits down with popcorn and a coke and looking forward to more. This is an interesting exercise you're doing so keep it up. Look forward to reading more of your writing style, it's good.
Herremann the Wise
Imagination is a quality given a man to compensate him for what he is not,
and a sense of humor was provided to console him for what he is.
He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.
Wednesday, 16th March, 2005, 05:09 PM #7
Defender (Lvl 8)
Prologue, Part Two
Abrina leaned back, exhausted, stretching her arms out in front of her to lay her palms upon the darkwood of the Elder’s desk. The letter was a bit much to take in. Then it slowly began to dawn on her, even as the sun arced into the sky. She was to be the messenger.
“But, Elder!” she exclaimed, sitting up. “The games! They’re next week. I won’t be back for at least . . .” She paused to count the days of travel it would take to reach this frontier city of Cauldron.
“Two weeks, Abrina, maybe more.”
Kevur shot her a wilting glance.
Abrina nodded, slumping back into her chair. “Yes, Elder. I understand. No more whining.” She would miss the games for the first time in twenty years. She looked forward to besting the other students of Ninurta every year, not to mention the arrogant storm clerics. She could do more damage with a stick than they could with their warhammers. Every year she participated and heard the crowds roar her name, smelled the exotic meats and spices from the vendors outside the arena, saw the magnificent banners waving in the welcoming breeze. She would miss it all.
“Thank you, Abrina,” Kevur replied. “The games are to keep us ready for the times Ninurta requires us the most. This is one of those times. This is where our faith has led us. You will be guided by Ninurta on your journey. I would rather you be here for the games, as well. I don’t know what we will do without your help, not to mention your arm, at the festival. But Ninurta has called on us, and it seems he has other plans for you.”
Abrina stood and grasped the spear she had laid against the wall when she arrived. “I will not fail you, Elder.”
Kevur smiled, rolling the letter back up and sliding it into its case. “I don’t think you will.”
Tuesday, 22nd March, 2005, 12:24 AM #8
Defender (Lvl 8)
Prologue, Part Three
The following day Abrina stood in front of the temple entrance, surrounded by a small circle of her closest friends, and wished her home of the past thirty years goodbye. Beams of sunlight dodged through the gauntlet of tree leaves dancing in the warm breeze, creating dancing figures on the stonework of the temple. Shadows played across faces of athletes, laughing in exultation and straining with effort, carved in relief into the marble. Some concentrated intently as they took aim with bows at targets, others swam through waters populated with any number of sea creatures, and still others bull-jumped. That last one was Abrina’s favorite. No one at this temple had put together a bull-jumping competition in years. It was her goal to be the first.
Abrina sighed again, forcing her gaze away from the temple walls and back to her friends. Otec tried his best to catch her eye and keep his focus on her, but the sunlight forced him to squint and blink away tears. Shani, with her long deep brown hair braided down her back, stood at Abrina’s side, clutching her hand as she tried to blink back tears, albeit not from the piercing morning rays. Elder Kevur stood to her right, and several others in a larger circle around them. This was to be her farewell, the likes of which no one could recall for their small temple, in the reclusive town of Haven.
“Abrina,” Kevur began, motioning her to turn toward him. She did, straightening her back and looking the man in his eyes, and did not turn away.
“Abrina, you go forth this day on a quest for your god. He who brings tidings for good and ill. For good, so that we may celebrate with festivals and games, food and drink, friends and family. For ill, so that we may be warned and prepared for the trials to come. Your journey begins this day to take ill tidings to our far neighbors in the city of Cauldron. May your return journey bring tidings that give us reason to celebrate.”
Behind Kevur, an acolyte pulled back the string of his bow and loosed an arrow. It arced overhead, held aloft in mid-air as if Ninurta Himself sought to grasp it and fling it across the land. Finally, it fell among a riotous garden of colorful flowers, a martial sentinel standing guard over its wards.
Everyone’s attention returned to Abrina and Kevur. Around his neck he wore an amulet, one Abrina had not seen him wear before, or had even seen anyone at the temple wear. A bright red stone that seemed to glow with an inner fire dangled from a golden chain, like a bead of blood still clinging to the smallest of cuts. It was this amulet that Kevur slowly removed from his head and placed it over Abrina’s own. As it descended, the light chain falling upon her shoulders and the stone falling upon her breast, she felt a warmth spread through her body and a sense of calm and safety fell over her heart.
Friday, 25th March, 2005, 04:31 PM #9
Defender (Lvl 8)
Prologue, Part Four
“It will protect you at your weakest, in your greatest need, Abrina. The Periapt of the Fallen was worn by the founder of our temple, the Great Elder Sanotay. He had been charged with a message to deliver, a note that rejoiced in the birth of a prince. He was to deliver it to a noble that lived in this very city. But, as he traveled through the barren lands, all manner of beasts fell upon him, barring his way. He fought them off, but without suffering from many wounds that refused to stop bleeding.
“Near death, he found a small stream, and started to drink what he thought would be the last water to ever pass his parched lips. As he knelt, praying for forgiveness from Ninurta for failing his mission, his hand found purchase in the wet mud along the bank, and his fist clenched around a small, red stone. As his wounds overwhelmed him, and his sight went dark, he clutched it to his breast.”
Kevur paused, the only sound was the rustling of leaves, the creaking of tree branches, and the whistle of the wind through the grass. His audience stood rapt, and Abrina had, unconsciously it seemed, brought her hand to the stone around her neck. Kevur smiled and continued his tale.
“He awoke, many days later, his wounds closed, his energy renewed. Sanotay had not failed, for he had strove to continue, to the limits his strength could take him. When his strength could carry him no more, Ninurta blessed him with a gift that enabled him to succeed.”
“The Periapt of the Fallen is our greatest treasure, and we give it to you for your journey.”
Kevur reached out and embraced her as she felt her own tears swell. “May Ninurta guide your path,” he whispered.
“And strengthen my arm,” Abrina returned, her head buried in his shoulder.
“Oh, I don’t know about that,” Kevur replied, chuckling. “You have no need of His help to retain your strength.”
“Elder! Blasphemy!” Abrina pulled back, incredulous. He simply laughed again, his green eyes crinkling.
It took the rest of the morning for her to embrace and say good-bye to each member of her family here at the temple. Each had parting words for her, some gave her small gives to remember her by.
“It will be only two weeks,” she would say.
“The longest you have been away,” they would reply. “The longest any of our own have been away. Be careful.”
And she would nod, hold back a tear, and say good-bye again to the next.
Friday, 8th April, 2005, 10:02 PM #10
Defender (Lvl 8)
Prologue, Part Five
She left her town of Haven by the north gate, little more than a small and decorative arch of stone with not even a wall attached. No one stood guard except for one elderly woman tearing out weeds from her garden. Abrina sat high upon a muscled and energetic young colt, his reigns handed to her by Kevur after the time for tearful good-byes had come to a close. Eager for the journey, her mount nearly pranced through the arch, and the two left behind the only home either of them had really known.
* * *
The journey had been thankfully uneventful. Towns dotted the countryside, none rarely more than a single day’s travel from each other with small, lonely inns spaced between to insure a place to stay for travelers. Redgorge, a small town nestled in the slopes of a large volcano that housed the city of Cauldron far above would be the last town where Abrina would find a place to rest before ascending.
The gray and dreary day was just turning into a dark and dreary evening when she led her horse through the lanes of Redgorge. There had been no rain, but enough moisture in the air soaked the ground to prove troublesome. Clods of mud fell from her mount’s hooves with every step, streaks of mud stained her cloak and vestments. As she grumbled to herself, attempting to brush off the larger pieces of wet dirt that slowly ground themselves into her clothes, she passed beneath a faded, gently swinging wooden sign.
With what must have once been bright colors, a stylized monkey had been painted on the square piece of wood. Long arms nearly twice the length of the creature’s body formed a rough “S” shape, each paw grasping what looked like a six-sided die. Above the animal, in letters not out of place at a carnival, were the words, “The Lucky Monkey.” The sign brought a chuckle from Abrina, and she found herself ducking into the inn.
The meal had been fair, the proprietor kind. She paid the innkeeper for a comfortable room for the night and ascended the stairs to rest for her difficult hike up the mountain the following morning. She locked the door behind her as she set down her travelling pack and the scroll case by the writing desk, her moneybelt on top. She removed her armor and her vestments, untied the bandana that held her hair back to allow it to fall to her bare shoulders, and brought her fingers to the pendant hanging from her neck. She had not removed it, nor her holy symbol of Ninurta which she had herself made as a little girl, since her first day on the road, since Kevur had presented it to her.
Abrina sighed and leaned down to remove her blanket from her pack before resigning herself to the straw-filled mattress and a full night of blissful, uninterrupted sleep.
That sleep was not meant to be. As she ruffled through her pack something rammed into her back, sending her sprawling across the floor, her breath knocked out of her. Abrina struggled to rise from the floor, only to find a booted foot come down on her stomach. Nausea nearly overwhelmed her, but she managed to remain conscious and look up into her attacker’s face.
The face was painted, half black and half white, obscuring the woman’s features but not the intent. Her dark brown eyes were narrowed, boring into Abrina through to the rough planks beneath her. She was dressed in tight-fitting black clothes, with a dark cloak that billowed behind her. The attacker moved gracefully, skillfully, as if she was at one with the shadows.
“What are you doing here, cleric?” the woman sneered, grinding her boot deeper into Abrina’s abdomen. Abrina gasped for air, nearly told the woman all she knew about the message, who it was to, where she was from. She opened her mouth to describe everything that happened, then paused. Instead she reached up with one hand and grasped her symbol for strength.
“That is none of your concern, filth,” Abrina responded with uncharacterisitc temerity.
The woman laughed. “Who are you to deny me?” she asked, her boot remaining in place and pressing deeper. Abrina twisted beneath the foot, her hands searching behind her for something to grab, something to pull herself from underneath the woman in black, and found nothing.
“I am no one,” Abrina said between gasps, “A traveller, no more.”
“Liar,” said the woman, finally removing her boot, but Abrina had little chance to recover before that same boot kicked in her side. “Listen to me, weakling, and listen well, for I will not repeat myself. You are not to speak with Urikas or that blasted Tercival. We know who you are, we know what you are here for, and we are going to give you a chance to turn around and not come back. If you don’t . . .” The woman gave Abrina another kick.
“Then we will have the last laugh.” She threw back her head and cackled, as if she alone understood the punchline to her inside joke. Abrina cringed, backing into the corner, nursing her side.
The woman passed by the desk, sweeping up her moneybelt. “I’ll just relieve you of this heavy burden, since you won’t be needing it in Cauldron.” She turned to the window, open, Abrina noticed for the first time, and leapt into the night. Abrina heard the soft thump of the woman hitting the soft ground outside, then, nothing.
Bruised and scared, Abrina slowly walked to the window and without glancing outside she shut the window and returned to the bed. She lay down, her blanket forgotten, and replayed the words of the woman in black in her mind. She grasped her symbol, now, not for strength, but out of fear.
No, her sleep would not be restful this night.
Last edited by hbarsquared; Wednesday, 26th October, 2005 at 07:58 PM.