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Bradley Lansaw

Tabletop RPG's

A comparison of Pathfinder and D&D – Part 2


Last time I began by looking specifically at Pathfinder. This time we’ll take a look at Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edition which, having released in 2014, has in many ways revitalized the tabletop roleplaying genre. More people are playing tabletop RPG’s for the first time, largely in part because of this fantastic new edition of the most classic RPG.

However, before I move onto 5th edition I feel I have to address what might be a fairly obvious question to the uninitiated: thus far in the article I have mentioned the 3rd, 3.5, and 5th editions of Dungeons and Dragons, so some people might be wondering “what about the 4th edition?” Admittedly 4th edition was part of the reason I was nervous about 5th edition. If you ask most roleplayers the unwritten, or perhaps unspoken, rule of D&D is don’t talk about 4th edition. To put it simply, 4th edition did not go over well with a vast majority of the community, there were attempts made to streamline the system that a lot of hardcore gamers felt undermined the history and abandoned their player base.

Bearing all that in mind, 5th edition is not 4th edition. With 5th edition Wizards of the Coast managed to do what they failed to do in 4th edition, streamline the process and make it more approachable to newer players without alienating those that were already invested in the game’s rich history. Those same 6 stats listed above remain, but even more than before those stats and the modifications they provide are vital to a character.

The most important change I believe is adjusting the concept of proficiency. In 5th edition proficiency isn’t just for combat and doesn’t just determine if you have any benefits or penalties, instead proficiency replaces entire concepts like skill points, the base attack bonus, and the class based bonuses to your saving throws. In short, the notion of proficiency and what it means as a game mechanic has become the defining difference of the format. They also added a new concept called your background, this is a way to customize your character’s history and give it an impact on the game your playing, plus each background comes with a minor feature that distinguishes it from the others and makes it useful to the game.

To replace the skill points instead your class has a list of skills from which you may choose a certain number to gain proficiency in, and then your background will either tell you a few or will give you another list from which you might choose one or two. After you’ve determined what skills you’re proficient in, you take your proficiency bonus (determined by your class and level) and add it to the ability modifier relevant to each skill. What this means is you don’t have to worry so much about where to spend all those points you had before, after you’ve chosen your proficiencies, for the most part they don’t change, making it easier for a GM to scale the DC (Difficulty Class, which is often used to determine success or failure of the applied skill) to the group because you won’t have the ability to wildly accrue skill proficiency. What this means in game terms is that while you might never have a +15 to disable device (the skill used to pick locks or disarm traps), you also won’t need a +15 to disable device because you won’t run into a lock with a challenge rating of 33. It also means that you won’t have characters who feel somewhat broken in certain areas for the GM. Simplifying it for players also simplifies things for the GM.

Saving Throws work the exact same way as Skills in 5E, which is still fairly similar to 3E with a few notable differences, mostly that EACH ability now has its own saving throw attached, which leads most people away from developing the concept of a “dump stat” (which is an ability that seems unnecessary to a character prompting players building a character of that type to sacrifice points in that ability to buff what is ostensibly a more important ability, for instance fighters don’t often care for charisma so they’d sacrifice lower numbers to it to increase maybe strength). Now EVERY ability matters to EVERY character to some degree or another. Now instead of just having those 3 ability modifiers along with the listed modifications granted by your class and level; you simply add your proficiency bonus (where applicable) to your ability modifier and that is your saving throw.

Base attack bonus is gone now. Instead they simplified (and shortened) the weapons list, the concept of Exotic weapons was completely abandoned, you can still use, say, a katana if you want to, it just won’t have it’s own individual statistics, instead it might fall under longsword. So now you look at the type of weapon you have and see if it’s from a category you’re proficient with, if you are add the relevant ability modifier (either strength or dexterity) to your proficiency modifier and that is you attack bonus. For the most part other bonuses to attack modifiers are fewer and farther between, which helps to keep ease of tracking these adjustments within reason. Like skills above, this also helps the GM scale adventures to the party for the same reason, the numbers and math don’t get out of hand quite as quickly as they did before, this also means that updating armor to compete with players or enemies attack bonuses isn’t as important or needed as often as it has been in the past. Having an attack bonus go beyond +10 before 5th level is fairly difficult. This change to attack and also means that when a caster doesn’t have any spells left at their disposal they don’t see so large a drop-off in the viability, instead of making it easier to deal damage, the warrior classes’ advantages come more from how hard it is for them to take damage.

At the same time, armor has also changed, now instead the armor’s category has basically replaced the maximum dexterity bonus, with Light armor having no restrictions, Medium armor allows of a Dexterity bonus of +2 at best, and heavy armor has 0 dexterity modifications. Also, each individual suit of armor lists what your AC is before any dexterity modifiers if applicable, which means ACs don’t climb as high as quickly.

These two changes have created a new paradigm in combat. In Pathfinder, the battles are usually fairly calm endeavors with brief moments of extreme anxiety (either from dealing 37 damage or from having only 7 hit points of left). 5th edition however, presents combat in general as a more nerve wracking affair, keeping a higher degree of background tension in general, but controlling the extremes to a greater degree. The changes has made the concept of defense more appealing, without making it more powerful than offense, something that previous versions struggled with, as either an attack was almost a given or it was nearly impossible. In this version of combat, no player is ever just rolling the die to avoid the shame of a natural 1 (an automatic miss) or because they need a natural 20 (an automatic hit) to make the attack succeed, each roll matters.

Finally we come to ability score changes, and I saved the biggest changes for last. Before you might have noticed that I grouped feats and ability scores together, and at the time it might not have made sense, but it does here. At every 4th level up to 16 and then again at 19th level, each character is presented with an ability score increase. While this might be listed as such, it’s really a choice: increase any one ability score by 2, increase each of up to 2 ability scores by 1, or acquire a feat. In this version the feats are less common, but they are more impressive, most of them either have multiple applications in different scenarios or they allow you to still upgrade an ability score by 1.

The idea behind all of these changes seems fairly straight forward, they’re trying to simplify this system to make it more friendly to newer players, without alienating returning players, and I think they did a fairly successful job, however there are some areas that were hurt by these changes. For starters it seems like most of the important decisions a player has to make about their characters are made in the first 3 levels, this doesn’t mean there isn’t room for customization, but to make character planning easier it can feel like a lot of the choices were taken out of your hands. Admittedly I haven’t reached the later levels yet, but it appears to me that the further your character progresses the fewer decisions you truly have to make. An apt comparison I feel to illustrate my point is that character creation in Pathfinder is a constant and ever changing notion where the path you’re taking can change at any moment, for my metaphor it’s an FPS game like Halo. Character creation in 5th edition is more like a rail shooter such as Time Crisis, you pick the path you want (the level) and the game takes you where it’s going from there with only a minimal number of choices to be made along the way. This means that a player might have to look at how the character will play at later levels while there character is still somewhat nascent.

While this apparent lack of freedom and customization might appear as a drawback to a more experienced player, I feel like the simplicity and streamlined nature of the 5th edition system after all might make it more appealing to a newer player. Again, more experienced players aren’t guaranteed to disapprove of 5th edition, it just might take some time for them to realize that while you’re giving up some aspects of control over your character, it’s also made it so much easier to optimize each character’s build, by limiting the amount of material you have to remember and keep track of as you advance.

To summarize I would recommend Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition for newer players so that they can take advantage of the streamlined system while they familiarize themselves with how the game is played, and Pathfinder for the more experienced players who want more control over their characters and intend to dive right into all the little complicated little details that make the mechanics more complex.

Tabletop RPG's

A Comparison of Pathfinder and Dungeons & Dragons – Part 1

Over the course of the last year I’ve become a part of 2 bi-weekly gaming groups at the Village Geek in McPherson, first I joined the Pathfinder group led by Adam Brown that meets every other Friday. Before that first session I’d never actually played using the Pathfinder system, but I had experience with D&D 3rd edition and 3.5 so he told me it should be highly transferable, then about a month or two later I joined a group that meets on Saturdays playing the 5th edition of Dungeons and Dragons led by Adam Stewart. Initially, I was a little nervous about this being the 5th edition, mostly because I’d never tried it and I feared that my previous experience wouldn’t be transferable, it does transfer but it did take a bit more adjusting to the new climate.

After time playing these two games, naturally I began to compare them to one another. Not the groups, the actual games and their mechanics. Never at any point have I ever felt or asked myself if one game was better than the other, the fact is I’m just ecstatic that I get to play in not one but TWO ongoing campaigns.

Since it came out first, and plays similar to an older version of the other game, I’ll talk about Pathfinder first. Paizo did an amazing job of taking all the best parts of 3.5 and simplifying them without making it unrecognizable. I honestly believe that any player with 3.0 or 3.5 experience could pick up Pathfinder and integrate almost seamlessly. For starters you still have the same 6 base abilities (Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Intelligence, Wisdom, and Charisma), and those 6 abilities based on the modifiers they offer help to shape the character you create.

The acquisition and use of feats along with those of ability increases remains almost unchanged, with most characters gaining feats at every odd character level and some classes gaining bonus feats from a limited list at various intervening levels, and each class getting an ability increase at every 4th level. Each feat is fairly specific in its intentions and interactions, and for each ability increase you can change 1 score by 1 point each time.

Characters gain skill points, which represent their capability in a diverse fields, that they can assign to any number of skills on a list, instead of starting out with skill points equal to 4X+ (4 x your intelligence bonus) at level one and then gaining X + your intelligence bonus points at each additional level and then adding in your ability modifier which was specific to each skill (as in 3.0), you have X+ Int bonus per level, and get a +3 bonus in a list of skills specific to each class. The math was simplified, but not entirely gone.

There are still your 3 basic saving throws Will, Reflex, and Fortitude (based on bonuses derived from your class + Wisdom, Dexterity, or Constitution respectively) that your characters can use to either negate effects (such as damage or conditions) or at least minimize them.

Finally, there’s the is the notion of the Base Attack Bonus (or BAB), this is dependent on your class and used to explain why warrior classes focus on fighting with weapons and spellcasters usually don’t, to put it bluntly at later levels a spellcaster has a heck of a time hitting with a sword because their class isn’t intended to use it, which is how it would be in reality, soldiers tend to hit their targets more often than lawyers because they are trained to. The idea of the BAB could really suck for caster type characters because they have a certain number of spells they can cast a day and when they aren’t casting they really don’t feel all that useful to the party

Armor Class (or AC) and defense remain pretty much unchanged. Each character picks out a type of armor they’d like to wear that gives bonuses to AC and what is called a maximum dexterity modifier which stipulates that in determining armor class you can only add so much of your Dexterity modifier to your AC. The reason your Dexterity modifier is added to your AC is because it represents just how agile your character is and thus tells other players how likely you are to dodge, so it stands to reason that in a set of heavy armor such as Plate Mail, you would have a much more difficult time dodging an opponent than in say, Leather Armor, based on how restricted your range of motion would be. There are other ways to increase your AC but those are the most common adjustments used. In the end your AC usually equals 10+ the AC bonus of your armor+ your Dexterity modifier up to the number allowed by your armor’s maximum Dexterity bonus feature. The categories for armor here seem almost arbitrary with no overall connecting features besides being listed as proficient if a character is trained in the use of that particular category.

The downside of having it be so similar to 3rd edition or 3.5 is that it can have the same drawbacks; it can take a lot of books to get the “best” or “right” character. Personally, I don’t mind buying the books because I want to see what the new rules and feats are, but I can understand if a newer player looks at the volume of content and becomes intimidated. It can also take almost constant planning to maximize your character or to be sure you’re taking it in the direction you want, again this isn’t a concern for me, I have entirely too much free time on my hands so I don’t mind sitting around digging through books trying to get an outline as to what I’m doing with my character and what I might change or make it better. Both my characters Etrigan (R.I.P.) and Russell have been planned to what I felt was initially my own personal perfection, and eventually circumstances changed and they evolved. I don’t mind spending all this time adjusting my plans, but to a more casual or inexperienced player I can understand if this is daunting.

In my opinion, I think Pathfinder is a great system for more experienced or more detailed gamers simply because there is a lot to know and a lot to remember, I mean, just look at my 3rd paragraph here. I like how complex the game is because it does bring in the nostalgia of my early days playing, but being more complex means it’s also more complicated. It can be taxing to newer players to remember all their bonuses and penalties, where they come from, and in some cases how long they last. Having said that, if newer players can get past just that initial confusion and the sheer weight of what is basically just pure math, I have every confidence that they would absolutely enjoy the system. Many of the players in my group were brand-new, not just to Pathfinder, but to tabletop RPGs in general and after those beginning awkward moments of figuring everything out they have come to flourish within the game and from what I can tell they love the experiences the game offers them. Honestly most of the complexity of this game is in the creation of a character so if you have somebody who doesn’t want to do quite so much work the rulebooks do a decent job of helping to create a “basic” starting character, sure they might be the beige or vanilla of the game to the more experienced players, but to people who want to PLAY the game, like throw dice and be the hero, and not just bury themselves in preparing to play the game this works just fine.

I should note here that earlier this month Paizo announced that this summer they will begin playtesting Pathfinder 2nd Edition, which is expected to make the rules similar to their other RPG, the Sci-fi based Starfinder system, I myself haven’t had the time to study Starfinder or play it, but many of the people who look at the upcoming adjustments to the system believe that this is their intent. Either way I’m sure I’ll write another segment about Pathfinder 2nd Edition to clear up any confusion and hopefully give an better understanding of all the changes they’ve implemented.

Next time, I’ll talk more specifically about Dungeons & Dragons 5th Edtion, and how it’s unique from Pathfinder. If this article interests you, and you live relatively close to McPherson, KS, I highly recommend attending the Game Master’s Workshop at The Village Geek. For more information about the next instance of this reoccurring event, go here.


Tabletop RPG's

Etigan’s Journal, 2nd Entry

A/N: This time I’m going to start combining sessions to help catch up to where we are now faster, at least as best I can. Unfortunately I had to miss the second session so this one will be filled in with information from our Game Master, Adam Brown. The way we do things when a player misses a session is like their character isn’t there, so even with some of the info there are a lot of things we’ll miss from the first part of this entry, I’ll definitely stop to make note of when I rejoin the group, though it should be obvious as Etrigan will be LITERALLY joining with the rest of the group. Rachel and Elisha continue playing Shiri and Drogo respectively, along with Ryan who runs Jetstone, a Dwarven Fighter, and Bailey plays Wharen (spelling is questionable on that one),a Half-Elf Druid, that said, her name doesn’t get used much here because I play Etrigan as dismissive of druids in general, and slightly bothered by this druid in particular for reasons I’ll get into below. ~


Day 31.


I have to hand it to brother Rothsby, when he’s right, he’s right.Though even he couldn’t have foreseen just how “exciting” life was going to get. As fortune would have it our arrival and the eclipse came just one day before a monthly town meeting. As if to foreshadow the wretched turn they day was bound to see, it was drizzling.

There was a good deal to be said about me in this meeting, evidently “elves” are returning to the valley. They are right of course, but it’s not just about me. There’s another of us half-elves, a girl, or perhaps a woman, I remember seeing her around in the caravan, she must have decided to stay when they left this morning. She was wearing her hood up all through the meeting, ostensibly to keep the rain away, but I’m sure she’ll be none too fond of the sun if she’s still around in the coming days, but pointed ears aren’t the only markers of elven blood. Humans wouldn’t see it, not right away at least, but her features are too similar to my own, the half formed lines, the blunted angles, and prominent but rounded cheeks, to humans she’s just an uncommon beauty, they do always call the elves “the fair folk” I suppose. Still, she wears a hood everywhere and gets to be considered “delightful”, meanwhile I’m helping introduce new forms of racial slurs to Elvenkind, the most common being “leaf-ear”. By the way her cloak is ripped and tattered at the hem, I’d say she’s a druid, if that’s the case I suppose I should understand her reluctance. If a person is willing to seduce people from the true faith and bid them make offerings to squirrels, then why should she stand in the face of her own personal truth. Honestly, the only surprise here is that filthy tree worshipper is only committing to lies of omission. The very concept of simply “communing with nature” as worship is preposterous. Perhaps, given time I will be able to lead her down the path of repentance and redemption, until that day comes I must strive to convince her to “commune” with a bar of soap.

Anyway, I’ve become distracted and nearly lost the vein of my thoughts. Just as Brother Rothsby was in the middle of once again reminding the people (for perhaps the tenth time in the span of an hour) that “the leaf-ear” was in fact in the room and capable of hearing them, the door burst open.  A ragged looking woman and her 3 children ran in from the rain, she was shivering and they were all soaked to the bone, they must have been traveling for hours by the look of them. Instinctively, I rose to meet them, intending to help with any treatment Brother Rothsby might intend to administer, however the woman, whose name I’m given to understand is Kerna, recoiled from my approach, shielding her children behind her.

She told a tale that is harrowing in its implications. Apparently, she, her children, and her husband Otto lived on one of the outlying farms, she told us how her home was raided by Goblins who pilfered livestock and food stuffs. She recounted how she gathered her children and was forced to watch, devastated, from a nearby hill as her husband was struck down. The last thing she saw as she began the trek to town was her home, burning in the distance.

Brother Rothsby took a moment to adjourn the meeting and summon Sir Derrick, the local Reeve. In the meantime I was tasked with readying a room at the temple for them. Kerna and her children sat in the pews in the next room, huddled together in prayers for her fallen husband as I readied the room for them. When I was finished I tried to reassure her that she and her children would be safe now, though I don’t think she was convinced.

When I returned to the Inn, Sir Derrick was in the process of readying the town’s defenses, ordering the Captain of the Watch to put the town on alert, doubling watches, ordering lookouts, and sending armed men to patrol the town perimeter. He even commanded a Sergeant to summon the town militia.

Shiri, along with another traveler from our caravan, a dwarf, suggested that somebody be sent immediately to dispatch the goblin raiding party at Otto’s farmstead. The Reeve however convinced them to delay their departure until the morning.

“The night is their ally and we will not be drawn out into a fight in their element. Otto lies slain,” the Reeve cautioned, “there is nothing we can do for him now. But the horn will summon the homesteaders within our walls so all others may be safe until the dawn. You will serve Otto best defending our homes tonight. There will be time enough in the dark days to come in which to avenge him. We cannot sacrifice our forces chasing fleeing foes into the darkness.” After his words the people, while visibly distressed, returned to their homes and families.

Not everyone was free to go, however. Brother Rothsby, Shiri, Drogo, the Druid (Wharen she says her name is, I just assumed it was barking dog or some other nonsense), and the dwarf, Jetstone, and myself were asked to stay as the Captain of the Watch and a Sergeant in the Local Militia both returned for a meeting in private. While the message he’d offered the people was one of reassurance, his words for us were much more dire. He informed us that it would take time to strike a posture of immediate defense, and beyond that a few days more to get the village militia assembled and ready for offensive action.

In the meantime he needed to know what exactly happened at Otto’s farmstead, and seeing as how those of us from the caravan weren’t yet involved in preparing the defenses of the village he wanted us to investigate the happenings. Jetstone and Shiri in particular displayed an intense interest in removing the goblins, however Drogo was less immediately accommodating and decided to negotiate the terms of the agreement, or more specifically her reward, and once mention of coin was brought up, everybody else was going to have theirs. Personally I wanted nothing to do with filthy, disgusting goblins, so it came as a great relief when Brother Rothsby asked me to remain behind with him to help ready space for the new arrivals to the village and prepare medical aids for the days to come. The Reeve wanted the lot of us to go, but in the end he understood that I would do more good in helping the preparations than venturing out.

Tonight, after I finished helping settle the last of those seeking refuge within the temple, I decided it would a good idea to tend to my armor and my blade, I figured I’d be wearing my sword around for the foreseeable future, and when the fighting did break out, I’d want my weapons and armor ready. Brother Rothsby noticed me putting my blade to the stone as he walked past my quarters that night, honing the edge for the battles to come. “Good idea, looks like you’re probably going to need it soon,” he told me as he peeked his head in, leaning forward resting his shoulder on the doorway.

“WHY?! Why would you say that?! It’s just inviting trouble!” I answered him. For his part he just shrugged and chuckled as he shoved off the doorframe. “In the future, maybe don’t leave after these little portents of doom. YOU’RE JUST BEGGING TO BE RIGHT!” I called after him. ~

A/N: All of what you just read, at least the important parts about the town meeting and things getting interrupted and basically everything going south in the span of a day was information that Adam gave me to help with the story as far as what happened when I was gone, it always sucks when you miss a session of an RPG like this, but what sucks even harder for me now is knowing that all this awesome stuff was only half of the session, so of course I’m going to miss out on a lot of the action, but after seeing the build-up, that’s just salting the wound. Luckily there was plenty of adventuring to be had in the future.

To be fair to Bailey, she didn’t know about the whole stigma to Elves here either, it’s just her character wears a hood while Etrigan doesn’t, so she wasn’t hiding anything intentionally it just never came up, but I decided Etrigan was a little bitter that he was treated, not necessarily poorly, but he wasn’t exactly welcomed either.

For the rest of the session that I missed I decided that Etrigan would be sort of hunting for the party and I would relate to you some events that I was told of by the rest of the group, There is one scene I’m going to relate that is almost entirely made up, not just by myself, but as the party was going through the scenario they were convinced that it was what would happen. I’ll tell you when I come back to you exactly what was false, as Etrigan doesn’t know what was wrong and the party never corrected the narrative he formed. Also the story is just funny, and to me personally having these funny stories to share is part of the feel of tabletop gaming, something you just don’t get over videogames, or really even Skyping into sessions IMO. ~


Day 32.


Today the other’s from the caravan left to go and reclaim Otto’s Farmstead and investigate what happened, Brother Rothsby asked me to stay behind and aid in preparations for any goblin incursions. It turns out these preparations are numerous, from helping refugees find room and get settled at the local inns, to clearing pews in the sanctuary to and setting it up as an aid station, and we even helped fortify some of the buildings around town or moving carts and wagons between the buildings to confine any sizeable attack force to engage on the main streets, this was a busy day. There’s a sense of urgency about Goblin’s Tooth that was missing these last 2 days, a palpable undercurrent of tension that wasn’t present before, and yet doesn’t seem entirely unprecedented, many of the people seemed to have some sort of experience in making these arrangements. I’d noticed a statue in the town square yesterday, though I didn’t see any identification as to the man depicted, I’d assumed he was some local saint of some sort, and I suppose I’m not far off, for the man is Shedhrig, the potter, and within this tiny town of Goblin’s Tooth he is a legend bordering on myth.

It seems some 22 years ago, the town experienced what they called the Goblin Wars, which has left vivid memories in all who survived them. In the conflict many lost loved ones to the battles and several of its veterans still live within the town to this day. It seems that during the final confrontation, Goblin forces assembled under the banner of the Goblin King Usok One-Fang had laid siege to the southern side of the town, closest to Dimshadow Woode. The village’s scouts indicated that all known goblin forces were amassed at the siege, however, Derrick of Ander’s Fen had grave misgivings about a pass steep in the hills in the north of the village. Derrick had weathered Usok’s strategies in the past and had come to expect an attack from more than one direction, he deduced that the most likely avenue for the second approach would be through this northern pass, which would allow goblin forces to advance harrowingly close to the town proper and force them to defend on two fronts.

After much consideration and careful deliberation, Derrick dispatched Shedhrig, head of the local skirmishers, and his men to the far side of the pass with a signal horn and the instructions that should the goblins approach from that lane he was to sound the horn and halt their advance.

Unbeknownst to the people of Goblin’s Tooth, another goblin tribe had come under Usok’s banner, bolstering his forces and nearly doubling his numbers. An army of goblins descended on Shedhrig and his 20 skirmishers. Dutifully his men fulfilled their charge and sounded the horn, Derrick dispatched his cavalry, a mere ten riders armed with simple spears and leather, but mounted forces nonetheless, to support Shedhrig and his beleaguered skirmishers. After a savage confrontation, the goblins in the pass were routed, but at a heavy cost, of the 30 men sent to hold the pass, only one, a man named Edward though gravely wounded, survived the attack. He rode to town and, half-delirious with blood loss, fell from the saddle at the feet of Derrick. Before fading into unconsciousness, he managed to inform the commander of the village forces to the events of the battle.

Derrick realized that the goblins outside the town must even now be waiting for a signal from their shattered forces to launch their own offensive. Emboldened by the courage and sacrifice of Shedhrig and his men, Derrick personally lead a counteroffensive deep into the heart of the besieging forces. The story goes that Derrick and the goblin king engaged each other personally for a time, but that sensing his own demise, Usok ordered his warriors to focus their strikes on Derrick while he retreated to safety. The way the people tell it, Derrick single-handedly chased Usok across the battlefield killing scores of goblins that got in his way as he advanced with a single-minded relentlessness, before he finally caught the craven king and by his own hand delivered the coup de grace.

Demoralized by the loss of their leader, and thoroughly routed by their enemy, the goblins withdrew into the forest, with Derrick and his men giving chase for a time. Since that day they said the goblins hadn’t dared venture out of their forest less they face the villagers wrath. Their sudden reappearance at Otto’s farmstead has opened old wounds for the town.

As for the heroes of the Goblin Wars, each had been rewarded in his own way. The pass which the town skirmishers had held was renamed Shedhrig’s pass, in honor of the man who paid such a final price to hold it, and a statue had been erected in the town square in his honor. The people talk of him as a symbol of the resilience, courage, and fortitude of both the man and the people who called their town home. Across the river, his grave has a place of honor within the small cemetery, where the whole of the community tends to his grave as a way to honor his sacrifice, and the people of the village visit his final resting place in times of quiet reflection to take solace in the presence of their fallen hero. Brother Rothsby held a small service at the site himself this morning in an attempt to comfort many of the villagers and join them as they offered up prayers for sanctuary to the gods. I noticed as well this morning that a number of people were approaching a beaten and battered set of armor and chipped and scratched blade one of the acolytes had placed out on display, which I later learned had been Shedhrig’s in the battle, his helmet was absent, however I remembered seeing a helmet at the meeting yesterday, from the massive dent I’d wager it was his.

For his part in the affair, Derrick of Anders Fen earned himself a knighthood, and the title of Reeve. To this day the villagers still look to him for safety and leadership, a burden he does not balk at, and though grave of countenance, he handles his responsibilities with grace and honor. Even now, in a time of great uncertainty he answers their worries with resolute confidence and practiced patience.

Perhaps most heartbreaking in this tale of heroes and bravery is the fate of poor Edward, the lone survivor of Shedhrig’s pass. It seems he lost a brother, Davis, to the contest, though his body was never recovered, the way I understand it he had been assigned to as a scout or some such, last he had been heard from, his unit had been sent to survey a nearby bog and report on any forces or troop movements he noticed. His unit failed to report in. Distraught by the loss of his brother, and perhaps haunted by what he had witnessed at the pass, his life began a long depressing spiral. They say his soul fell into a cask and he has yet to crawl out of it nearly a year ago with the loss of his beloved wife, still he has earned the respect of those around him for the deeds of his past. After hearing of his fate, I went to personally see to his state of mind, which I now understand was a mistake. He was obviously still in his cups when I approached his grocery, he seemed to know the purpose of my visit. He managed to garble his way through asking if I’d come to administer communion, adding a drunken, obnoxious chuckle. From there he quickly devolved into abrasiveness, and then outright disdain, though the last part didn’t seem directed at me personally so much as the town in general. I heard him muttering a number of racial slurs as he began… shall we say “encouraging” me toward the door. I’ll admit to having an improved opinion as to the character of the townsfolk for being able to see beyond his current demeanor to his past deeds and their continued insistence that he might find his way once more in the future, Gods know I wouldn’t have been so forgiving.

On another note, perhaps my reputation within the village is shifting, as dinner arrived and I was taking my meal in my quarters, I was approached by Kerna, the wife of the farmsteader slain yesterday, she came to make amends for her reaction yesterday, though she seemed a touch out of sorts. I asked how she was and she informed me that she wasn’t quite sure what to do with herself, she claimed she felt a deep unabating guilt at taking her time to grieve at such a dire moment. I attempted to comfort her, and in so doing have perhaps made a promise I am unable to keep. After reminding her of the great trauma she’s just experienced and reminding her that grief was an important part of her own personal health of mind, I may have accidentally promised her vengeance in telling her that our allies were out getting justice for her husband. I don’t doubt that they’ll live up to my vow… assuming they survive the encounter.


Day 34.

Last night Brother Rothsby approached me with a concerned look on his face. Evidently the company dispatched to reclaim the farm hadn’t reported in yet. The Reeve was sending a small group of four men to secure the farm, along with a scout to report back when they had, and asked Brother Rothsby’s permission to allocate a healer to accompany them. Rothsby made it plain to me that the ONLY mission was to be securing the farm, that they might examine any evidence of what had happened to our friends present at the farmhouse, but that beyond that would be a matter for a later time. Rothsby had to refuse the Reeve, he claimed he needed his people here in the village to help with preparations, however at that time he remembered that despite being stationed here, until he receives a dispatch with my transfer I have no true station and am thus, technically, a wandering parishioner, meaning I remain outside his authority to command, any “orders” he offers me are in effect suggestions to be headed or discarded at my leisure… for the time being at least. He also reminded me that we were approached, my fellow “travelers” and I, because we were not beholden to the Sir Derrick’s orders and free do as we saw fit, so if I decided to accompany the guards securing the farm and from there decide to… have a look around, perhaps take a walk, I would be well within my rights.

In the future, whenever I’m well within my rights to do something by my lonesome and miles away from a city, I shall at that time decide to do otherwise. We left at dawn heading west-southwest and it took us half the morning to reach Otto’s farmstead, along the way it was almost impossible to tell that it had been raining just 3 days ago, the sun was out and day was balmy.

As we approached the farmstead however my escort was quick to take up a defensive formation around me, for my part my hand jumped to the hilt of my blade and a thousand prayers made their way into my mind. From that moment forward my attention felt as though it needed to be everywhere at all times, that if I turned away from one bush, certainly it would sprout legs and I would be left lying in a pool of my own blood. Suddenly, the leader of our little troop motioned us to a stop with a closed fist (brother Rothsby made sure some of the local militia took time to coach me on their hand signs), he crouched in place as he examined something on the ground, silently and without rising he motioned us over to it. It appeared to be a strip of cloth, that perhaps once had been close to white, but now settled itself into a shade of brown, or if I’m being charitable it was the color of butter fat. At first we didn’t know what to make of it, though it struck me as something familiar or important, then I realized I was holding a piece of wool, this kind of wool was heavy, it would have been uncomfortably warm in the area these last few days, but as I bent to pick it up, having accidentally dropped it as I turned it over in my hands, the hem of my pants rose to reveal the top of my socks. Seeing my own socks prompted me to remember that during our journey to Goblin’s Tooth, Drogo had a few different random socks strewn out of her pack, as if that weren’t strange enough, each had a pair of buttons sewn onto what would have been the bottom, right around the pads of a foot, she claimed these were “sock puppets” that she had invented, made, and used as aids in her performing. As if to illustrate their intention she put one (overly ripe) sock over her hand, with the buttons on top to simulate eyes, she moved her hand as she spoke in an odd voice she claimed was for children.

I shared the pertinent details of my understanding with the group, we decided that Drogo had probably gone forward alone at this point, to scout out the farm and probably close off any potential escape routes from the other side. Cautiously, we followed the road forward, as we approached we caught sight of a small barn and corral, a part of the roof had been burned away but it was in fact still standing, which was good to see, across from that was a small shed with a built-in chicken coop, the chickens appeared to be sunning themselves as though they expected to be let out in short order. Along the side of the house we found a small garden with a waist high fence, inside however the garden itself was ruined as a poorly groomed milk cow and a few goats had wandered inside and begun eating any vegetation they could find. The road we were walking on ended at the small house itself. The front door was closed so instead of immediately moving inside, we sent two of the men to the back of the house that we might flank whoever we found inside. When the other group gave the signal (one of the militiamen gave an impressive approximation of an owl’s hoot) we called back shortly before throwing open the doors and breaching in an orderly fashion. Inside the main room we saw found Otto’s body, complete with the associated reek of a corpse 3 days passed.

While the rest of our group moved to clear each room of the small home I was left to look over the body and administer some brief rites in preparation for a proper burial. After the house was determined to be clear, the two that had gone around behind the house mentioned they had something we needed to see. Once behind the building what we found was a mess. Someone had overturned the outhouse, leaving it sitting on it’s side, and of course swarms of rodents had crawled down into, and eventually back out of, the exposed pit. There was excrement of one form or another absolutely EVERYWHERE.

Beyond that mess though there were signs that somebody had been drug from the back yard into the house, while smaller footprints lead up to the very edge of the sanitary nightmare. We decided that our group must have finished in the house as we had and moved back to keep looking when they stumbled on Otto’s corpse, and perhaps a goblin sentry in the outhouse. Outnumbered we deduced that our company had grabbed the fallen Otto and pulled him back into the house to take cover, as the surprised goblin surely rose the alarm to his cohorts. In their hurry the goblins probably uprooted the outhouse to form their own crude cover, gods knows they wouldn’t be bothered by the smell. I’m sure after a few minutes of engaging the enemy in a ranged skirmish somebody, probably Shiri, though perhaps the dwarf, grew tired of the exchange and thus bound out of cover after the enemy, this more than likely frightened the goblins who made to retreat. Sure enough, after a few moments investigating the orchard beyond we noticed what appeared to be goblin-sized tracks heading off into the forest, along with those of my compatriots and a small area where foliage was bent down, that combined with a missing bushel of apples lead me to believe that one of the two parties had stolen it, though I’m not entirely certain which.

At this point I reconvened with my escort to discuss our options. Their duty done, the militiamen sent the scout back as they began setting up an outpost within the house, for my part I informed them that I was continuing on into the forest to track down our missing party. ~

A/N: Ok I didn’t go into close detail as far as the fake battle is concerned. When I came back the party told me that they had found the tracks leading INTO the outhouse, but none coming out, so they assumed that there was a goblin inside the outhouse. Instead of opening the door to fight the SINGLE goblin they suspected was inside, instead they decided to turn it over… and of course it was empty, presumably they didn’t see tracks leading out because they didn’t roll high enough on the survival check, but they didn’t know that. Anyway, that was the ONE part of the event that I know of that was incorrect. On a side note I expect Elisha to be impressed that I managed to work her characters “Craft: Sock Puppets” skill into the storyline, it’s the small touches that build the world. ~


Day 35.

Brother Rothsby has obviously never been into Dimshadow Woode, because I was made to believe, by him, that it would be a simple affair, something like this: walk in, look for tracks, follow my friends, and eventually find them, then perhaps we’d arrive in town just in time for afternoon tea. It has not. I have been wandering in these godsforsaken woods all day, and I’m fairly certain that somehow or another I’ve been traveling in a circle. TWICE I noticed this one tree, that when viewed from a certain angle resembles an Elven rune the meaning of which I can’t quite place. I have been bitten by every form of insect I care to name, fallen into what I’m quite sure was a strand of poison sumac shrubs, and to cap it off, I’ve been taken captive by a small coven of half-dead goblins, they’re bodies are sunburnt and peeling, turning them an unsightly shade of brown, they look emaciated even by goblin standards, and their shoulders droop as though they are mentally and physically exhausted.

As I sit here, in this cramped little wooden cage they’re sitting there mumbling in their garbled grunts as they look at some scrap of paper, I’ve noticed that they’ll look down to the paper, then look up and point to me, and then there will be some debate between them. They only managed to capture me because one of their number grew lazy during the day. I stumbled onto him by himself and was preparing to… “handle” him personally, when I heard a sound behind me, half a dozen of them approached me with small spears drawn, for a moment I considered fighting, but it would only take a slight bit of misfortune for even these pathetic creatures to kill me, and then I would be no good to my allies. I raised my hands in surrender and at first it looked as though they might attack me anyway, when the one who had been carrying the paper suddenly cried out in that animalistic slur they use, he held up the paper to his compatriots and the first argument began. Eventually I surmised that they had decided to take me captive and await some greater authority. So here I sit, crammed into a cage as if I were some feral dog. Sometimes one of them will look at me with it’s horrid little face, a tiny, savage little grin will play it’s way across its crooked teeth, and then it’ll start to drool and lick its lips as though I’m some calf awaiting slaughter.

If they don’t release me on the morrow, I will channel my goddess’s fury, and by FIRE THEY WILL BE PURGED! Perhaps when they are ash, I will simply continue and burn a swath through this whole accursed forest.


Day 36.

This morning around dawn, I discovered who they had been waiting for. His name is Thrask Three-Teeth, and he’s this clan’s leader. I also learned the scrap of paper they had been arguing over was contained a sketch, one of the little doodles I saw Drogo working on, it depicted my holy symbol. Thrask informed me that his group had been the ones to attack Otto’s farm, and that my allies had in fact encountered them, though for some incomprehensible reason had decided to deal with them instead of simply putting them out of their misery. The way Thrask tells it some creature had forced them out of their home so they’d come to be in this sorry state after the farmstead because they had no place else to stay. It seems that was when they encountered the party from town and came to an agreement, they would clear out whatever had displaced the goblin’s and in return the goblin’s would return to their home and leave the town be.

First I asked Thrask to send me on my way, to allow me to find my friends and let me pass in peace, instead the wretched creature decided that he and his people would accompany me to their lair and we would see together that they had succeeded, or else they would offer me as a sacrificial tribute to whatever this monster was.

I suspect that during the few hours of hiking that followed we got turned around more than once as again I spotted trees that resemble that strange Elven rune, I made mention of this to Thrask but he tried to reassure me that there were several trees like that, supposedly they formed some sort of path that criss-crossed the whole forest.

Around mid-morning we finally caught up with the others, and were they ever in a sorry state. It appears that Thrask and his people had been driven from their “lair” (it was cave… why they tried to put on airs, I’ll never know, but it was literally just a hole in the side of a rock) not by some great monster, but by a bear and its cub. They’d finished off the mother but for some reason as I pulled my blade to show the young one mercy, they insisted that the cub be allowed to live. I guess the tree worshipper had taken it on as her new deity or maybe it was some form of pet or some such nonsense (do nature lovers take pets? Wouldn’t that be akin to slavery in their eyes?).

Evidently, tree-worshipers aren’t taught proper healing techniques, though I’ve heard some of them claim knowledge of an herbal remedy that when cured and smoked would banish all pain, though rumor also has it that one of the risks was addiction. Fortunately our group now had one who was properly trained in the healing arts, taught with a tender patience under the watchful eyes of a REAL goddess. I made short work of their wounds and tried not to show my pity for the “druid” too openly.

Jetstone managed to swallow his contempt for goblins long enough to see to it that the bargain with Thrask and his tribe stood. After a few tense moments while the goblin chieftain considered his options, he removed his necklace as a sign of the pact we’d struck and allowed us to go on our way. As we walked the others began discussing how they would report the situation to the people, it was then that the dwarf informed me that they had been ambushed by another tribe of goblins whilst wandering the forest and that somehow or another he’d gotten the crazy notion to behead one of them. After careful consideration (and more than one lecture on my part), they decided that they would tell the Reeve the truth of the matter and let the situation play out as it should.

By the time we got back to Otto’s farm, the body had been cleared and buried and a new outhouse was erected where the old one had fallen. We met up with the men stationed there and a few were assigned to act as our escorts in our return to Goblin’s Tooth. Once there we reported immediately to the Reeve to apprise him of the situation as it stood and presented him with Thrask’s token of peace. He seemed a bit anxious at the notion, but ultimately he accepted the accord we had brokered and began sending out dispatches to alert his men, it seems Sir Derrick is familiar with Thrask, he knew their clan’s insignia already, when I asked him about this peculiar knowledge he informed me that Thrask Three-teeth is in fact Usok, One-Fang’s descendant, a grandson if I don’t miss my guess. With that settled I had assumed the town would go back to its previous lazy pace, however the Reeve informed us that goblins in the region had been massing in uncommon sizes in the region to the East. It seems that the excitement in Goblin’s Tooth is not yet finished. ~


A/N: I know I’ve done a lot of these this entry but honestly a lot has happened so far, this last day was the start of the next session, when I rejoined the rest of the party. This next part won’t be too long seeing as most of the session was about a small encounter we had with a spider and then of course catching me up with the previous session. ~


Day 40.

It’d been a quiet couple of days, now that the town had assumed a state of full readiness there wasn’t much in the way of preparations to be made, in fact the constant state of vigilance has started to slacken slightly. The day after we returned I checked in at the local smithy with Jetstone to be sure he was healing properly, he was entirely too excited to begin working on a new set of banded mail. Then the next day in typical dwarf fashion he was all about a new crossbow he’d decided to make instead (how banded mail and a crossbow are similar I don’t fully comprehend).

Shiri has returned to her place in the fighting pits and has become something of a local champion, to look at her you wouldn’t tell that she was nearly mauled to death by a bear three short days ago. However, with the town guard and militia being prohibited from fighting, she is finding her contenders fewer and farther between each day and without proper fights to occupy some of her time she’s begun draining their casks of wine at what is, frankly, an alarming rate even for a being with orcish blood.

Drogo spends her days running about town creating all sorts of havoc with her pranks and sticky fingers, though for some reason people still think she’s a child. Lord help her when they figure her game out.

The tree-worshiper has been busy about town, on the second day back she asked me about that same peculiar Elven rune in the forest, evidently she’d seen it a few times too, and then she told me that she also found one fairly similar on the hedge surrounding the town. I was perhaps a little bit too prickly when I told her that I didn’t pray to bushes and that I hadn’t the faintest clue what it meant either.

As a point of fact I did not know what it was, but it’s appearance in town convinced me that I should look into it back at the temple where, like a truly civilized religion, and not some crazy nature cult, they would have records relating to the town’s history. I searched for two and a half days and found nothing whatsoever on the subject, though as far back as the records went there was mention of the hedge, which led me to believe that perhaps the town had been built inside an existing hedge row.

I was getting ready to abandon my search of the local records tonight when I noticed a troubling sound. Faintly, off in the distance, I could just make out the rhythmic sound of a drum, I recognized the tempo almost immediately, it was a war drum set to announce a marching pace. No sooner had I noticed the sound when the town’s guard bell rang loudly, somehow I doubted this was Tavion’s doing this time. I stood up hastily to investigate what was happening, but as I did my candle fell over onto a document which quickly caught alight, hurriedly I stamped it out and set it back on the table as I took the candle and went back upstairs into the sanctuary.

The drums were some way off still, but brother Rothsby was helping his acolytes into their armor in case a battle was to be fought. Hastily I donned my own armor and grabbed my sword from my quarters as I ran out to the small gathering. Rothsby and the Reeve were there already along with a small contingent of soldiers and those of us that had returned from the forest.

“Scouts confirm they’re wearing the bleeding dagger as their sigil,” Sir Derrick told us in a hushed tone.

Before anybody else could get a word in Jetstone turned, his face a shade of purple as he began swearing into the night. “YOU DARE SHOW YOUR FACE HERE?! WE HAD A DEAL, THRASK! WE’LL SLAUGHTER YOU ALL! YOU HEAR ME? YOU’LL ALL DIE FOR THIS.  THE WOMEN! YOUR CHILDREN! THERE WILL BE NO SURVIVORS! I’LL KILL YOU  MYSELF YOU FILTHY, STINKING GOBLIN  DOG-HUMPER!” he screamed into the darkness, the veins in his neck bulging as his entire body was wracked with tremors of rage, he shouted loud enough that it carried through the valley and echoed off the hills miles away, I suspect he only paused to draw another breath before he would begin again.

Sir Derrick was watching them approach through a spyglass. A moment later a small pinprick of light flickered to life. “HOLD!” Sir Derrick shouted the order to his men. “Darned fools must have forgotten we humans can’t see in the dark, they’re flying a peace banner, it seems they wish to parley,” the Reeve told us softly as he turned to those of us gathered nearby. For her part Shiri seemed to deflate a bit when she realized they weren’t looking for a fight.

“Even they can’t see that far in darkness, they knew!” Jetstone responded in a bit of a pout as his muscles slackened slightly, though his face was still a deep shade of burgundy.

“You think? I mean, goblins aren’t all that smart,” Drogo added.

“She has a point, though I worry what the town will think of you allowing your ‘daughter’ to be present tonight,” Sir Derrick nodded to me.

Before I could answer him a contingent of goblins detached from the bulk of their forces. While their main host was well beyond the range of our archers, this small delegation rode to the middle of the no-man’s land, a far shot but not beyond the reach of skilled archer. “Thrask is out there with them,” Derrick said after glancing through his spyglass again, he put his spyglass away as he turned to one of his men, but before he could speak I interrupted him.

“You can’t go out there! Without you the town’s defense will be leaderless,” I told him quickly. He turned to me and I could tell part of him was irked that I had deigned to tell him what he could do, but the other part seemed to recognize I was correct.

“I assume you’d like to lead the delegation?” he asked me pointedly.

“Well… no sir. I don’t speak goblin, sir,” I told him abashedly.

“I’ll go,” Shiri volunteered eagerly.

“If you send her alone it’s guaranteed to start a war,” Jetstone advised him almost immediately.

“I’ve got nothing better to do,” Drogo shrugged as if she were committing out of boredom.

“This is no situation for jokes or pranks, the danger here is real, this is no laughing matter,” I tried to lecture her to be sure she was giving the situation proper consideration, for her part she simply shrugged.

“Doesn’t mean it can’t be fun,” she answered in a pout.

“I speak their primitive tongue, and if this IS a trap they’ll think before springing it on me,” the dwarf volunteered tersely, he’d stepped away to pace off some of his anger.

“Sir Derrick, if it would put your mind at ease, then I shall assist in mediating the others, I’ll keep them in line against their baser instincts,” Wharen offered softly.

“I suppose I’ll have to go then, wouldn’t want our delegation dying because we left their wounds in the care of a tree-hugger would we?” I bit out before I could stop myself. Why would I do that? I wanted no part in this madness, if this is a trap whoever’s out there is all but dead the minute things go south, and with this group, how else could they go?

“It seems we have our delegates then,” Sir Derrick told us with a nod. “Go, then, see what this madness is all about,” he said as he mounted his steed and rejoined his men standing at the ready on the bridge.

“We’re all going to die,” I said sheepishly to myself once we stepped past the outer guard.

“Not ALL of us, I plan on hiding behind you the minute the swords are out,” Drogo told me with a laugh.

I could feel the tension building with each step we took, my nerves became like a tightly wound spring just waiting for release. “Etrigan, Wharen, you two stay here, have your magicks at the ready in case they attack,” Jetstone ordered us sternly when we were roughly 30 feet away.

“Sure you can handle it?” I asked Wharen in what I hoped was an antagonistic tone, but at that moment I couldn’t even muster the proper amount of derision for her druidic arts. She didn’t deign to respond, choosing instead to focus on what was happening as the others drew closer to the determined meeting spot.

As my attention moved to the gathering in front of us, my nerves were all a wire, the hand clasping the hilt of my blade was white at the knuckles, every little movement the goblins made looked as if they were reaching for a weapon. “Wish we could hear what they’re saying,” I muttered as I gazed unflinchingly at the proceedings.

“I thought you didn’t speak goblin?” she asked me dryly as she turned to smirk at me. The only answer I could offer at the moment was a scowl. It irritates me to no end that she got the better of me in that exchange.

From where we stood everything was a mumble, but after a few tense minutes the two delegations began to move away from one another. While most of our party half-turned in our retreat, Jetstone walked backwards, his eyes never leaving the ridge where the goblins had gathered until we were nearly halfway back to the town.

By the time we reached the hedge, the goblins had all but disappeared from view as they moved back toward their forest. Sir Derrick ordered his guards on duty to remain at attention but gave the others leave to go about their business, with the warning to remain ready in case of an attack, then he escorted us to the Temple where we convened another war council in private. “Situation report,” he demanded of our party as soon as everyone had gathered.

“Our deal must have meant more to him than we knew, he actually came here to warn us. It seems somebody the goblins are calling ‘Brak-Ni’, that means-,” Jet started to explain.

“Giant goblin,” the Reeve interrupted him sharply.

“You know him?” Shiri asked quickly.

“Never heard of him, but you kill enough of them you start to pick up bits of their language, continue,” Sir Derrick dismissed her quickly before getting back to the topic at hand.

“If y’ask me, the term ‘giant goblin’ seems like an oxymoron,” Drogo snorted to one side.

“Drogo!” I snapped as I shook my head to her. She just rolled her eyes at me, and muttered under her breath ‘just sayin’.

“ANYWAY, this Brak-Ni is amassing an army of goblins to the east, evidently his agents reached out to Thrask to join them, instead he promised to remain neutral, this warning is all the support he’ll offer us in this, it sounds like he sent one of his scouting parties to spy on them and they never reported back, he estimates Brak-Ni has a legion of almost 100 goblins and their ilk under his banner, with more joining his cause every day,” Jet said to get our attention back to the matter before us.

The Reeve seemed lost in thought for a moment, perhaps he was remembering the war 22 years ago. “Reinforcements are still a few days out, if this Brak-Ni decides to strike in the meantime it might mean trouble. We need more information, an exact count on his numbers. For now we’ll double our patrols on the eastern flank of the town,” he ordered his men present to carry the orders. As we started to leave he stopped our party, once Rothsby and the others left he turned to us in a grave tone. “If Brak-Ni attacks while we’re waiting on reinforcements to arrive, we’ll be overrun, forget everything you just heard me say, I have a job for you,” he confided to us softly.

Those of us assembled look to one another to show we were paying attention. I knew what he was going to ask, and gods help me, I was ready. “We’re listening,” I answered him soberly as I realized what I was about to hear. What he was going to ask was the type of thing that was impossible to come away from with a clear conscience.

“You’re going to find this Brak-Ni wherever he is and bring me his head,” he told us commandingly.

“Let’s talk price,” Shiri said after a moments pause.

“Two hundred a piece, take it or leave it,” he answered without even pausing to consider the figure.

“As we are now, we won’t survive, we’ll need supplies… equipment, if we’re going to make this work,” Jet spoke up.

“And a guide to the area,” Wharen added as she set her expression.

“I’ve got just the man for the job, as far as equipment goes, the cost will come out of your payment,” the answer came shortly. Jet and Drogo nodded as Shiri grinned eagerly and Wharen shook his hand to offer their agreement. “Get me a list of everything you need and I’ll see to it that it’s made ready for you,” He added once it was agreed. Then he turned to me. “Etrigan?” he said my name in a questioning tone as he turned to me.

“I’m no assassin,” I told him somberly, I could feel the fire of my conviction blazing in my eyes, even as I hung my head in defeat.

“Does that mean you won’t help?” The Reeve asked, doubt and disappointment mingling in his voice.

“It means you can keep your blood money, if I’m going to do this I won’t compromise who I am, my soul isn’t for sale,” I answered him in despair. “If we’re done here I’d like to return to my quarters, I have to offer up some prayers and hope I can square this with my goddess, if not with my conscience,” I added bitterly as I pushed away from the table. I didn’t wait for his answer, now that I was committed to this course of action all I could do was move forward in the hopes that however this shook out I would still recognize the man in the mirror when the dust settled.

“Get some rest, you leave at dawn,” I heard him tell me as the others set about building a list of supplies they’d need for the mission.

After my nightly prayers I found I wasn’t yet ready to sleep, I figured it would probably be a long night on that front, so I went downstairs to tidy up my research station in the basement. While I was cleaning up I found something I’d missed before, not about the rune-shaped trees, but the sheet that had caught fire when the goblins had approached (gods, that was perhaps only 2 hours gone now) mentioned a Dwarven stronghold at the end of one of the rivers. It was the account of a delirious survivor they’d found bleeding and half-starved wandering the foothills some ten years before. I couldn’t see which river it was referencing, or even the man’s name as it had been consumed by the fire, what I did see however suggested that the town thought perhaps he was mad or had been seeing things, according to the report he’d died inside of a week, succumbed to the combination of his wounds and exposure. I’d have to remember to tell Jetstone of this the next chance I got.

On my way to quarters, I ran into brother Rothsby, who followed me to my room before inviting himself in and closing the door. “What did the Reeve wish to speak with the lot of you about so secretly?” he asked me after making certain nobody was listening.

“He had a job for us,” I told him plainly.

“And?” he pressed me for details.

“I have a job to do, the less you know about it the better,” I answered him bluntly.

“Acts committed in service to a greater good, even terrible, unspeakable acts, carry a certain nobility to them, however those same acts can wear on a person. Justify doing what you have to, but if you have to justify everything you do, you’ve lost yourself. Be careful, Etrigan,” he cautioned me before he took his leave of me.

“I see he hasn’t taken my advice about forboding pronouncements to heart,” I told myself dryly as I lay myself down for what was sure to be a sleepless night. ~


A/N: There you have it folks, the beginning of the quest in earnest. This is what this entire module was heading toward, exciting isn’t it? ~

Magic the Gathering

My Pet Card: Blade of Selves

So I had this idea a few weeks back while looking through my commander decks to try and create a series of posts by everyone here at Minis and Meeples who plays magic to have each of us write an article about a pet card. For those of you who are unfamiliar with a the term, a pet card is a card that a player uses quite often, or almost every time it is applicable, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a good card. We’re not talking about like Reliquary Tower which is good in almost everything, although it can be a player’s pet card. A pet card, played often enough or to great enough effect can become almost synonymous with a deck, or even a specific player within a play group.

For the most part I only play commander, I have dabbled in modern a bit but mostly that was to kill free time on tuesday nights in McPherson. The idea actually came to me because while looking through my commander decks I kept finding one specific card in each deck no matter the archetype from burn, to spellslinger, to a tribal deck, since it has come out it has made it into every deck, and even every build I’ve done, (you know, like where you try to build a deck out, look at it’s interaction, get it all down on paper, and then never bother actually playing the deck or even buying the cards? No? Just me? Darn).

The card I’m talking about is Blade of selves. It isn’t as flashy like Cyclonic Rift or as potentially game

breaking as say Deadeye Navigator, but it just has so much potential and appeal to my eye. Worst case scenario to me, is you equip it to a 1/1 chump and swing out, at least you’re getting even damage to each player, working on each of them. I understand people who question why I might try it in a spellslinger deck and the answer is twofold: 1. I am not one of those players who tries to super optimize their decks, which to many players will be code for “I am bad”, and 2. Guttersnipe. Most of my spell-based decks run a LOT of instants, so the idea is I go to combat and swing with snipe and trigger myriad, then before it moves beyond declare attackers step I’d dump whatever instants I have in my hand. In the average 4 player game that would make 8 damage to each opponent per spell, which in my opinion means you only have to have one instant to cast to make it worth the slot you’re giving up (because honestly if you’re a spell-based deck in red, you’re bringing guttersnipe even without the blade).

Some players might say I’m dreaming, being entirely too optimistic, that I’m dreaming to look at it like that, but honestly Guttersnipe isn’t the only card in those decks I could use it with. Young Pyromancer. Faultgrinder. Firebrand Archer. Do I really need to go on? The point is even in non-creature decks there are a lot of fun ways you can use this card and get some milage out of it.

Let it begin!

If you REALLY want to see me dream, we’re looking in the wrong colors and archetype, for a real dream/nightmare scenario we need to go over to Selesnya tokens, because there were two cards when this was released that I was almost immediately afraid of seeing it with, they’re in one color, and they were even both in standard at the same time, back in the glorious days of Innistrad and Return to Ravnica. First, and definitely more situational of those two cards is Craterhoof Behemoth. Just… just look at it. I mean, normally, you do have to have a bit of a board state but if we look into perhaps one of the best token commanders out there, Rhys the Redeemed getting to that board state isn’t all that hard. Assume we drop Craterhoof and equip the first turn It’s out in a game with 3 opponents, he already has +2/+2, then Myriad hits, each of those behemoth’s add another +5/+5, bringing his total so far up to +17/+17, then, you could tap Rhys, to create 3 MORE Craterhoof tokens, which would each give him +8/+8, for a grand total of +41/+41 making him a 46/46 WITH TRAMPLE, plus each of the 3 tokens from the blade itself are attacking, granted those 3 are only at 44/44 … from a starting board state of 2 creatures and an artifact. Then you can add in the flavor, lets go for a complete dream. Add to that if you have Doubling Season, Primal vigor,Parallel Lives, and Anointed Procession. 48 Craterhoof drop from the attack, the first
Craterhoof is now at 2306 . Activating Rhys would make this ramp insane, I could have done my math wrong, but his total attack would be 2,361,602! That’s my kind of dream!

The other card I was afraid of, and probably more so than Craterhoof, has

God, I hate this card!

been my bane since I first saw it played. Thragtusk. Luckily Thragtusk doesn’t have haste so you get a turn to kill it with fire. Again just Rhys and Thragtusk, when you go to attack you gain 5 life per tusk for 15 life, then Rhys can tap to make it 15 more life by doubling your tokens… and then at the end of combat you exile the copies of Thrag and get 6 3/3 tokens, and yes, I am going to expand on it just like I did for Craterhoof, because at this point you have come to expect it. Thrag attacks with all the same nasty token doublers that I mentioned before, 48 tokens gaining 240 life, Rhys taps and all that other stuff triggers for 1536 Thragtusk tokens, gaining 7680 more life, at this point you’ve gained 8020 life this turn, also you deal 80 to 3 opponents. Then because Thragtusk takes advantage of EVERY part of Blade of Selves, when the tokens begin exiling you get more tokens. For each of those 1536 tokens you get 48 3/3 beast tokens, leaving you with 24,576 tokens for NEXT turn… you know if you friends haven’t just given up yet. Of course for the 3rd time I might have set up the equation wrong, and my math might be off, but I’m willing to bet it’s near fatal.

Even in the last 2 paragraphs I’ve been handicapping just how high my dream can climb with one basic assumption, that they’d only have 1 blade of selves. Granted this is where we’re going full on Alice in wonder land, but if they’d played this deck with Mirrorworks. They would have 17 blade of selves to equip to something as soon as they had enough mana, which since it was a dream anyway we could have done more math, but all the math I’ve done already has tired me out so if you want to go for it.

Suddenly trying to get 8 damage per spell with a Guttersnipe isn’t such a pipe dream is it. Perhaps the real reason I love this card is because it prompts me to ask “what if?”, which honestly, isn’t that the real purpose of playing Commander, to challenge you to reach for the stars in your building?

Now I’m sure some folks who comment are going to be cheeky and point to cards like Magister Sphinx or Fog or something that could bring any of my situations crumbling down, yes those cards exist, but I can’t keep going just to list all the ways this combo could fall apart, there are many of them, more than many probably.

Is Blade of Selves a good card? Maybe. Is it a fun card? Abso-FREAKING-lutely! Thanks for joining me in what I hope will be an ongoing series of all of us here at Minis & Meeples gush about our most beloved cards from this wonderful game, Magic the Gathering.

Tabletop RPG's

Etrigan’s Journal- 1st Entry

Author’s Note: Before and maybe sometimes after every entry I like to make these little notes to give some background on the events and maybe discuss how the group was feeling, since this is my first entry I figured I should give anybody reading some background information.The story will be told from the first person perspective of Etrigan himself, as he is my own character within the campaign. Etrigan’s Journal is intended as, hopefully, an interesting way to record the adventures of my pathfinder group to both entertain ourselves and others, but also to help catch up any new players on what’s going on, or inform players that may have missed sessions. If anybody is interested in joining in our sessions we try to meet every other Friday (Next session is Friday, September 29th) at 7 P.M. at the Village Geek in McPherson. Our amazing Game Master is Adam Brown, who does a wonderful job of both keeping the casual feel to the game and yet keeping us on task, he’s willing to work with new and experienced players as needed.


This first module we played (the one we begin here) was called “Goblins Tooth 1: Moonless Night- The Defense of Goblins Tooth”. It can be found online at It was originally written by Lorne Marshall for the 1st edition of Advanced Dungeons and Dragons, but adapted for Pathfinder by Adam Brown. If in the future I fail to give this information and anybody wants to know, feel free to ask me so I can give credit where it’s due. For the next few entries I’ll probably put multiple sessions into each post, just to get us caught up, but since this one was pretty packed with a lot of opening campaign stuff it’s going to be just one session. I will also make note of any new players at the table and their characters.


For this first session we had myself playing Etrigan, a half-elf cleric; Elisha playing Drogo, a halfling rogue; and Rachel created Shiri, the half-orc barbarian, as well of course as Adam Brown who shouldered the difficult task of shepherding a brand new group through the world of Pathfinder. So I guess without further ado, it’s time for me to get to work.~


Author’s Note: That “~” is how I’ll indicate I’m changing voice for future reference. ~


Day 27.


I still don’t understand the purpose of this accursed journal, but I was instructed to keep a record of my thoughts and experiences by the rector. It’s been over three weeks since they banished me from the safety and civilization of the cloister, they claimed it was for my own good, that I lack the presence to inspire belief in those around me, but it seems obvious I’m being punished, perhaps I asked too many questions for their liking. Whatever the reason, here I sit at the godsforsaken edge of society, traveling the frontier toward a congregation of uncultivated bumpkins. Even here, among the caravan, I can tell I’m making the rest of them uncomfortable, Elves can do that to humans, though they don’t seem to understand when I tell them I’m only part Elf. Just how far has my lot in life fallen? There’s an orc in our caravan, and yet STILL most of them seem more skittish around me than any other companion.

I’ve never encountered an orc before, but I’m given to understand they have a difficult time forging new relationships with other societies. Judging by my one example, her name is Shiri, I can’t imagine why, though that could be because she’s informed me she is only part orc. She doesn’t seem to exhibit any of the tendencies her blood may have bestowed onto her. I mean, sure, she’s boisterous and enjoys drinking and fighting, but no more than any other species I’ve ever encountered, though perhaps she isn’t entirely aware of her own strength, at least not in relation to those around her.

If the others in the caravan were clever they wouldn’t be watching either myself or Shiri so closely, at least not while traveling with a halfling. Her name is Drogo, and it’s because of her that I have to check my bedroll every night, on the third night of our excursion she snuck some leaves into my pack… I had a rash for six days and she just kept whispering to the others and giggling every time she looked at me. I’ve noticed the rest of the caravan talking to her differently than the rest of us, almost as if they believe she’s a child. I can’t figure why she tolerates this behavior, other than perhaps she enjoys the mischief.

According to the head of the caravan we’ll be making Goblins Tooth in the next few days, from there they will continue onto the next stop before following a road that will take them back to civilization. “You’re in for quite the welcome,” he told me, then he began chuckling, I wonder what he meant. Whatever it is, I’m sure it won’t matter, I won’t be in Goblins Tooth long, I’m fairly confident that my faith in Sarenrae will see to that, afterall I can’t believe that the Goddess of Redemption would ever allow her faithful servant to wallow in exile for too long. No, I will find atonement for whatever slight I have inflicted and be allowed to return to the cloister. A few months in Goblins Tooth, working with this Brother Rothsby, then I’m certain I will be homeward bound once more.


Day 30.


Goddess forgive me! Whatever my transgressions may have been they must be greater than I realized, for around midday, the sun itself fell dark, and for the life of me I cannot imagine a more calamitous omen. This has left me wondering if perhaps even sweet, merciful Sarenrae has turned her sight from me, for what surer meaning could there be to this portent than that I have in some thought, word, or deed affronted the Goddess of the Sun?

To top it off this devastating prophecy heralded my arrival to Goblins Tooth by less than an hour. I know now what the head of the caravan had meant when he mentioned my welcome, the people here, they look at me with glances varying between concern and abject terror. On my arrival one woman fell to her knees uttering a prayer for divine protection, though this reaction was definitely the most extreme, I get the feeling that I make the rest of the township… uneasy, to say the least. At first I thought perhaps I bore some mark of affliction, that I carried with me some curse-mark, a warning for all to see.

To cap it off neither Brother Rothsby nor one of his understudies were awaiting my arrival at the town square as I had hoped. I was left to my own to wander the village in search of the temple. At first I decided that I should stay near to Shiri and Drogo, it would be good to have familiar, if not necessarily friendly, faces near should anything befall me. The three of us made our way to the Shady Oak Inn, mostly because it was the closest tavern.

Along the way we encountered a peculiar fellow named Tavion. “Tavion, the forlorn,” he introduced himself. I suppose he was forlorn because in a drunken gambit to win the affections of a local maid he’d climbed the guard tower to ring the bell, which earned him a stay in the stocks. Given that there was a rather crude scratching of his name in the grains of the oak, I would wager this wasn’t his first such incarceration. He begged us to free him of his confinement. With an impish smile Drogo dangled a set of lockpicks in front of him, the act seemed petty and a little cruel to me, though it did support my theory that she was a trickster at heart, along with the stereotypical halfling proclivity toward thievery.

Things were quiet in the tavern, at least when we arrived, even, here among the travelers people stared at me, or maybe it was all of us, I suppose we are a rather motley assortment. Shiri hardly seemed to notice the attention, she was too intent on her mead… or perhaps that time it was ale, one thing’s for sure, the woman loves her fermented drinks. Drogo on the other hand busied herself with earning coin rather than spending it, she may have been cursed with a devilish grin, but she was also gifted with the voice of an angel.

The combination of Drogo’s song and a touch of the Holy Sacrament helped me to muster my courage before I ventured out on my own to find the temple. When I arrived I introduced myself to Brother Rothsby, who welcomed me politely into the sanctum. Things took a confusing turn however when he mentioned that I must be what all the talk was about, and that I clearly wasn’t from the area. I was a bit relieved to discover that the townsfolk unease around me could not be attributed to some curse, but rather to my ears. It seems there hasn’t been an Elf in Goblins Tooth in generations… in fact there is no record in the archives of any elves in modern times, the last mention was a few hundred years ago. My arrival when combined with the eclipsing of the sun had lead some to believe that something dire was about to befall the small town.

Almost as soon as he cleared that up for me however, another confusion arose. While I had been told that Brother Rothsby was eagerly anticipating my arrival, I would have preferred if somebody had told him I would be coming in the first place. That’s right, after weeks on the road, I arrived in town to discover that nobody here had ever been made aware that I was in transit! Brother Rothsby then assured me that I could stay in the temple until more permanent arrangements could be made for my lodging. At this point my spirit was as broken as it could get. I’d journeyed from far away not only to find a place that I did not wish to be, but that seemed for all intents and purposes to not want me there either.

Since it seemed my stay in Goblins Tooth would be lengthy, if not permanent, I decided it would be prudent to familiarize myself with the town a bit, so I decided to go for a walk and hopefully figure a way out of this mess I’d wandered into. While I was out I noticed Shiri accompany an elderly woman home, and when they arrived she was invited in. Shiri, the same Shiri that would have had trouble getting a table at any reputable tavern in the city, was being kindly invited into people’s homes here, while the rest of the village watched me with nervous eyes and crossed the street whenever our paths seemed destined to intersect.

My wandering took me to a small park near the defensive hedge that marked the edge of the town, where I found a bench to sit upon while I pondered my predicament. Even here, among the eyes of the children I was under intense scrutiny. I was deep in thought when I felt something momentarily pin the tip of my ear to my temple. I turned in time to see a child drop a stick and go running back to his peers, I looked down at the rough ground back the way he’d fled, there were lines drawn in the ground, the last one was about the same distance away as the length of the stick that had poked at me. They’d taken turns proving their bravery by seeing who would come closest to me, they were… afraid of me?

At the park I met up with Drogo who was out exploring the town herself, no doubt marking those with the best valuables to pilfer later. I decided to accompany her to grease her sticky fingers. Some in the town got the idea in their heads that she was my daughter, I guess they hadn’t seen a halfling in some time either, and of course she felt no need to correct them. Embarrassing as it may be, Drogo seemed to be in better standing within the town than I, so to my shame, I also allowed this notion to persist.

I was in the process of returning her to the inn for the night when we noticed people gathering in front of a crudely built cabin. The two of us decided to investigate the situation. We waited for the line to clear, it seemed each person had to pay fifteen copper pieces to enter the building, from within we could hear cheers and applause mixed with booing and jeers. The orcs at the door let Drogo pass, but they turned me away, it seems even with my coin I wasn’t welcome there. Just as I was turning to leave Brother Rothsby approached. He had words with the bouncers, I believe he mentioned I was with him, and the decided to grant me entrance. What I found inside was a fighting pit lined wall to wall with spectators. Along one wall there was a cask of some cheap liquor and several glasses that looked as though they hadn’t been properly cleaned in weeks. I didn’t even bother glancing around for the others, Drogo was probably somewhere offering odds and taking bets on the next round, and I was certain Shiri was just awaiting her turn.

A nice ring of about five feet formed around me almost as soon as I entered, an impressive feet considering how tight space seemed to be in the shack, except for the pit itself. After a few moments I heard Shiri offering a boisterous salutation as she swayed over to me. She wasn’t exactly drunk, I’d hate to wager just how much of ANY drink that feat would require, but she wasn’t entirely stable in her speech or her steps either. She tried valiantly to assuage their discomfort at my presence, though her efforts were in vain, and soon enough her turn in the pit did arrive.

Almost from the moment she entered the “arena” her senses cleared like clouds dissipating before the sun. Her opponent looked unsure as he entered the ring with her, perhaps he was concerned with the unchivalrous nature of what was about to unfold. If he’d known what was coming he would have felt more concern for his dignity than his honor. It was over before it ever really began. They advanced on one another, the young lad tried to outmaneuver Shiri by drawing her into a battle on his terms and Shiri played along dutifully, only the battle would end on her terms. She hefted her great blade with both hands and brought down in a great arc, the poor fool attempted to parry the blow but Sherri’s overwhelming might pushed through his pitiful defense and came crashing down where the boy’s neck met his shoulder.

Gods be good, if the blade had had an edge she’d have cleaved him clean in half! As it was she shattered his collar bone, though the way he’d collapsed in a heap I feared for a moment that she might have broken his neck. Shiri just let out a disappointed sigh as he crumpled to the ground, while the crowd had been loud a moment before, now it was silent. The way I gather it, the odds had not been on my companion, Shiri didn’t care about the odds or the crowd, she was there to drink and fight, and if the fight was over it was time to drink again. As she poured herself fresh round and took a long draw from it, however, the crowd broke into a round of cheers, Shiri just shrugged as she drank and sat down into the nearest vacant seat to await the next bout.

Over the roar of the spectators I heard Brother Rothsby calling for me, which snapped me out the stupor Shiri’s display had left me in. I rushed forward to help him tend to the wounded party. After we determined the severity of his injuries, Brother Rothsby was forced to put an end to the festivities, the man was going to need extensive care.

Once his wounds were properly tended Brother Rothsby excused himself for the night, though not before bidding me to get some sleep. “Rest up, it’s going to be an exciting day tomorrow,” he instructed me. By the gods, I hope not. ~


A/N: Rachel’s character, Shiri, was a little stronger than we had expected, Adam had designed the fighting pit to be a first glimpse of combat, however, she won initiative and she crit on the opening hit. No planning for that, and since we’d all had to create our characters that night we called it after that little bit.

I sure hope I didn’t bog you all down too much in Etrigan’s backstory, the truth is that we spent much of the first session exploring the town on our own, we weren’t a party yet, not our characters at least, and since we weren’t all in one place my character didn’t experience much, though to be fair I don’t think there was too much excitement for the others either, aside from an old woman trying to set Shiri up with one of her half-orc grandsons. Anyway I hope this was an enjoyable enough distraction for the rest of you, and I promise there will be much plot development (and combat) in the next session, I missed this one personally but Adam has provided me with some great notes, plus we get a few new players next session.