Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Chapter XVII

Brandon looked around at the cargo hold of Wild Abandon. It was a dank, musty place, smelling like an odd mixture of mothballs, sweat, and rotten banannas. Even compared to the rest of the ship (which mostly smelled like monkeys) it was a very strong odor. Brandon held his breath.
Besides picking up Brandon, the Wild Abandon had taken on several crates of supplies to last them on the journey to Errilliance. These contained assorted foodstuffs, medicines, a little clothing, and of course, barrels of rum. Any good pirate likes his rum, and the simian nature of the crew did nothing to combat this. Next to the rum was a large crate and six small ones, containing Brandon's personal effects. Two small boxes were stacked on top of the large one. It was one of these that Brandon had come down here to claim. The strange thing was, he only remembered packing the six small ones.
The large box began to shake.
Brandon regarded the box suspiciously. This was a magic ship - a moving box could mean a lot of things, not all of them pleasant. He looked around for something he could use as a weapon. Surveying the crowded hold, he noticed a broken mop leaning against a wall. He grabbed the mop handle and held it out in front of him like a quarterstaff. Slowly he approached the box.
Finally, the box shook hard enough to knock the two boxes on top of it onto the floor. Then it lurched forward, towards Brandon.
"Hold it!" said Brandon in heavily accented Human. "I'm armed,"
"Mmpph mrr?" went the box. It stopped shaking.
"Who or what are you?" asked Brandon, "And what are you doing here?"
"Mmphh mrr!" went the box, rattling again, "Mmphh mrr mrrpp mrrp mrrrr!"
As Brandon listened more closely, he realized that what he was hearing was a muffled voice from inside the box. Slowly we walked up to the box and kicked it. It let out a yelp.
Brandon bent down and knocked on the box.
"Mmrrt rmrrr rrt ff hrr!" insisted the voice. It was still too muffled to hear.
Brandon knocked on the box again until he found a spot that sounded hollow. Then, being careful not to let it go any farther in then was neccesary, he jabbed it into the top of the box. It poked through the wood.
"Oww!" went a voice from inside the box. It's whiny, feminine pitch was instantly familiar.
"Jiuni?" asked Brandon, throwing the mop handle aside and peering into the hole.
"You hit me!" cried his half-sister, in Xarnippi.
"You're in a box," Brandon pointed out, as if the fact were not obvious.
"I'm hiding," said Jiuni. "I was going to hide here until the box was unloaded in Errilliance. I brought food with me and everything,"
"What happened?" asked Brandon.
"I had to pee," she answered.
Brandon rolled his eyes.
"Can you make a bigger hole?" asked Jiuni.
Brandon sighed again, and went to pick up the mop handle. Just then he heard the door of the hold open.
"You okay down there?" asked Clayton. "Finding everything okay?"
"Just fine!" Brandon replied, "Just had a little trouble with a box,"
Technically true, he thought. He really wasn't sure how his father would react to their little stow away.
"Need help?" asked Clayton.
"No, I'm fine now!" he answered. He heard the door shut again. He picked up the mop handle and went back over to the box. The he leaned in and whispered into the hole.
"Scoot all the way over," he said. The box lurched slightly to the side as she followed his instructions. He jabbed the handle into the box again widening the hole. Then he stepped to the side.
Jiuni's head popped out of the hole. A few seconds later, the rest of her followed, leaving the top of the box in splinters.
"Ow!" she said as she unfolded herself. Jiuni was fourteen, but small for her age (a wonder considering her parentage.) Her limbs were very thin and her bust just starting to develop. Even so, the box had obviously been quite cramped. She looked around at the musty hold, then down at her erstwhile prison.
"What now?" asked Brandon after a moment.
"I have to go," said his sister.
"Go where?" asked Brandon. "We're on a ship in the middle of the ocean. There's no where to run!"
"No," said Jiuni, urgently, grabbing herself and dancing up and down a bit "I have to go,"
"Oh," said her half-brother comprehendingly. "I have a chamber pot in my cabin, I'll go get it. Just - try and stay out of site, okay?"
He ran out of the hold.
"Hurry!" she called back after him. The ship rocked back and forth on the sea.

Saturday, January 27, 2007

City of Mages - Primer

I'm just gonna say it: City of Mages is essentially a soap opera set in a fantasy world of my own devising. Here's what you need to know:
The world of City of Mages, currently nameless, consists of one large continent, referred simply as "the continent" an numerous small islands. As far as these characters are concerned, that is the world.
There are two kinds of magic in this world - stargem magic and elemental magic. Stargem magic is big and flashy and practiced by Wizards and Sorcerers. Elemental magic is more quiet and reserved, and practiced by Witches and Druids.
All Stargem magic comes from an actual object called the Star gem. The closer you are to the Star gem, the more powerful your magic is. The Star gem is located in the Tower of Doom in the City of Errilliance. That's where most of the story is set.
As mentioned earlier, four kinds of magicians live in Erriliance (magician being a catch-all term for any magic user.) They are:
Sorcerers: Sorcerers are those rare individuals with a natural talent for Stargem magic. Most have one or two natural abilities which they can use pretty much at will, and of course some are more powerful then others. They are organized into the Sorcerers' Guild. Though non-guild sorcerers do exist (Clayton Darkwood, for one) they are treated as criminals and hunted down by the guild. Female sorcerers are called Sorceresses, and are quite common.
Wizards: Wizards have no inborn talent - they manipulate Stargem magic through rituals and ceremonies. Wizards are basically incapable of doing magic on the fly, but given a few hours, some candles and a book of magic runes, they can do things a sorcerer can only dream of. The Wizards are loosely organized by a group called the College of Wizardry, but they don't force all Wizards to join. Still, unrestricted access to the Colleges libraries is usually enough of an enticement. Female Wizards are called Wizardesses, and are very rare.
Druids: Druids cast nature magic by communing with the elements. Nature magic can be very powerful, but is usually not obvious. Some Druids are capable of communing with all four elements, whereas some only really have power over two or three. Druidism is taught by a master-apprentice system, and has no official organization, although Thurigen has professed himself their leader, and no one has questioned him yet. Male and female Druids occur with equal frequency.
Witches: Witches are by far the most subtle of the spellcasters. Most of their power comes from making potions with they brew in strange rituals using bizzare ingredients. They also can, and often do, cast complex spells similar to those used by wizards, but employing the power of the elements, not of the stargem. As these often require three or more witches to perform, and witchcraft is taught in a manner similar to Druidism, witches have a complex social network but no official organization beyond the coven (a group of three witches of varying ages.) Male witches, even rarer then female Wizards, are called Warlocks.

Everything else you need to know comes from the relationships among the many characters. Here is an updated version of a brief "Guide to Characters" I wrote some time ago:

Lady Cecilia:
Race: Human. Leader of the Witches (mostly by virtue of no one else wanting the job.) Small elderly woman, usually very friendly and motherly, but can have some bite. Incredibly clairvoyant.

The Archmage:
Race: Dwarf. Portly Leader of Erilliance's Wizards. Middle aged, friendly and cheerful.

Race: High Elf of the Citadel. Thurigen, Leader of the Druids, has transcended his corporeal form and now exists as an almost Demigod. Ancient, powerful, enigmatic and a bit tempermental. His assistant is Simile.

Xindor the Incredible:
Race: High Elf of the Citadel. Leader of the Sorcerers' Guild. One of the most powerful and popular sorcerors of all time (Also one of the most Arrogant and self-centered.) Pushing 450, due to die in less than three years (According to Lady Cecilia's prophecy.) His Niece is Amora of Tiesan. He harbors a grudge against Clayton Darkwood.

Race: Hill Gnome. Halyn is a Bard. He cares for his younger brother Erdyn and his younger sister Tiryn. He once wrote a very catchy song about Xindor the Incredible.

Race: Hill Gnome. Erdyn wants to be a sorceror, but has thus far displayed only minimal powers. His sister is Tiryn. His brother is Halyn.

Race: Hill Gnome. Tiryn is an insatiably curious and energetic young gnome. Sister to Halyn and Erdyn.

Clayton Darkwood: Race: Human. The Notorious Sorceror Pirate has been banished from both Xarnip and Erilliance. He currently commands the Simian scallywags of the Pirate Ship Abandon. He is old friends with Lady Cecilia. He hates Xindor the Incredible. He was once married to The Queen of Xarnip. His son is Brandon Darkwood.

Race: Doom Pixie. Sorceress, currently adjunct to Thurigen.

Dukalb Argoldson of Viiri: Race: Dwelf (Half Dwarf, half Elf.) Rejected by both his peoples, Dukalb sought out life as a Druid. Due to his mixed heritage, he has an affinity for trees and rocks. He's not a very good Druid, mostly due to a total lack of training. His master is Grosk.

Brandon Darkwood: Race: Half-Xarnipi Human. The Prince of Xarnip, often ostracized for his light skin, has recently begun accidentily turning people into animals. His father is Clayton Darkwood. His mother is The Queen of Xarnip. His half-sister is Jiuni.

Race: Xarnipi Human. Half sister to Brandon Darkwood. Last we saw her, she was trying to talk her mother into letting her come to Errilliance.

The Queen of Xarnip: Race: Xarnipi Human. Large, wealthy, and Powerful. Formerly married to Clayton Darkwood. Mother of numerous children, including Brandon Darkwood and Jiuni.

Vivacia Brown:
Race: Human. Thin, mousy witch with a mess of brown hair. Resident of the prestigous Tiesan Hall. Shy, but friendly. Very close friends with Amora of Tiesan. Has a huge crush on Bogue. Trained by Lady Cecilia.

Race: Human. Erilliance's leading Rune Master, Bogue is slightly disconnected to reality, due to spending so much time in the theoretical world of Runes. Something of a prodigy.

Amora of Tiesan:
Race: High Elf of the Citadel. Amora is a powerful budding sorceress. She has been spoiled both by her family's wealth and prestige and by her own great power, that of creating projectiles that alter people's emotions. She is controlling and manipulative, but essentially a decent person. Her best friend is Vivacia Brown. Her uncle is Xindor the Incredible.

Race: Hobgoblin. An experienced druid, Grosk is the only hobgoblin in the city of Errilliance. He is a trusted lieutenant of Thurigen. Currently training Dukalb.

Durner Rockfendursteen:
Race: Dwarf. Owner and operator of Durney's Dwarven Diner, the only dwarven restaraunt in the city, and a popular hangout for Wizards and sorcerors alike.

The Story so Far:
Chapter 1:
Our story begins when Lady Cecilia has a vision. In this vision, she learns that Xindor will die in three years time and if something is not done soon, there will be no one to take his place as leader of the sorcerers guild. Xindor objects to this - he does not believe he's going to die, and even if he does, he's confident someone will step up to take over. Unable to convince the council, Lady Cecilia decides to take matters into her own hands...

Chapter 2:
Three gnomes, Halyn, Erdyn, and Tirdyn, approach Errilliance. Haylyn once wrote a very popular ballad about Xindor, and now Xindor has summoned him back to the city. His younger brother has some powers and wishes to become a sorcerer.

Chapter 3:
Clayton Darkwood, the infamous sorcerer pirate, is returning to the mainland after years of exile when he is contacted by Lady Cecilia. Lady Cecilia asks Clayton to retrieve his son from the custody of his mother, the Queen of Xarnip, despite the fact that she said she'd kill him if he ever set foot in her country again, and bring him to Errilliance to study. She promises that if Brandon comes to Errilliance, he could be leader of the sorcerers guild in as little as three years.

Chapter 4:
Xindor tries to contact his niece, Amora, but fails. Lady Cecilia finds him and informs him that Clayton is coming to Errilliance. Xindor is furious, but eventually agrees not to harm Clayton while he is in the city.

Chapter 5:
Dukald, a druid in the forest outside Errilliance, is summoned to the druidic leader Thurigen and made an offer - accept training from a new teacher or be exiled from the city. He takes the training.

Chapter 6:
Meanwhile, in Xarnip, Brandon Darkwood, Clayton's son, has been accidentally and inexplicably turning people into animals. Fortunately, these transformations have all been temporary. His mother the Queen of Xarnip, reveals that he is in fact a sorcerer, and the his father will be arriving soon to take him to Errilliance to be trained. Then she turns into a hippopotamaus.

Chapter 7:
The Gnomes arrive in Errilliance. Xindor sends a Wizard named Bogue to escort Erdyn and Tirdyn to their rooms, and summons Haylyn to his office. He admits that he, in fact, believes Lady Cecilia about his upcoming death, and is concerned about his legacy - he wants Halyn to write another ballad about his final adventure. Unfortunately, to do this, Halyn will have to live in Errilliance. The Gnome says he needs time to think about the offer.

Chapter 8:
Xindor's niece Amora and her best friend and roommate Vivacia are standing out on the roof of their building when they see Bogue and the two Gnomes walking by. Vivacia, infatuated with Bogue, talks Amora into shooting a bolt of pure love at him (Amora can fire blasts which manipulate emotions.) Amora fires, but misses and hits Erdyn, who immediately becomes infatuated with everyone. She goes down to try and reverse the spell and ends up nearly getting in a duel with Bogue. Fortunately Xindor interferes just before it starts and teleports Amora to his office.

Chapter 9:
Xindor chastises Amora for the attack, and reveals Lady Cecilia's prophecy, stating that he hopes she will be ready to succeed him should anything happen to him. Unbeknowest to him, she has already been planning to take over the guild for years.

Chapter 10:
Brandon's half-sister, Juini, tries to talk her mother into letting her come with Brandon to Errilliance, but the Queen says no. Clayton arrives in Xarnip with much fanfare.

Chapter 11:
Erdyn wakes up, thinking he's still in love with Amora. He and Halyn head off to breakfast before Erdyn's appointment.

Chapter 12:
Dukalb meets his new teacher, and is surprised to discover that he is a hobgoblin.

Chapter 13:
Erdyn and Halyn go to Durney's Dwarven Diner for breakfast. Erdyn tells Haylyn he loves Amora, but Halyn explains this is just an after effect of her magic. Erdyn prepares for his test.

Chapter 14:
Clayton and Brandon start to catch up. Clayton gives his son a gift - a chunk of oblivium which can nullify all magic in an area.

Chapter 15:
Grosk explains to Dukalb (and the readers) how Druidic powers work.

Chapter 16:
After a long wait in the lobby, Erdyn goes before the Sorcerer's Guild council to be tested. He demonstrates his abilities - the manipulation of small beads of light and the ability to slightly morph his facial features. The council seems impressed.

That's it so far. Next up: The story continues!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Sonnet for Global Warming

Winter is come too late this year, and meek
With fearsome flurries falling in the night
Only to melt away when daylight peeks
Out over the horizon – tis’ not right
For it should be a wild, untamed beast
With fierce and biting cold none can resist
But cold has not been fearsome in the least,
And no strong winds have offered to assist.
Since no white blanket covers these fair hills,
And nothing, save a jacket is required,
To keep us from these weak, ill-tempered chills,
This song, invoking winter, is inspired,
Therefore, keep we our greenhouse gasses low,
If e’er again we wish to see the snow.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

New Blog, continued

Ok, here's how my update schedule is going to work. Every Saturday, I wil post story content - either a new segment of one of my three major stories, or a stand-alone story. Every wednesday, if at least one person has commented on my Saturday post, I will post something else - perhaps a story, but more likely a poem, picture, or piece of Dungeons and Dragons game content. The first three story posts will be synopses of the three major stories on this blog, so no back-reading will be required to get future updates. If people actually read this, it will be a lot easier for me to convince myself to keep updating. My success or failure in this effort depends on you!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

New Year, New Blog!

Seeing my brother's success taking advantage of Blogger Beta's label feature, I've decided to do the same. In doing this, I had to look at more than three years of blog posts, and it made me think about a lot of things. I may be starting a weekly update schedule soon. Either way, here's a brief description of each of those lovely labels in the side-bar.

Dragon Story (42)
The major story of the blog, despite that it hasn't been updated in almost a year. I will return to it eventually though. Its about a boy who can turn into a dragon. The plot is complex and convoluted, with way too many characters. An exciting ride, even if it does stop rather abruptly.

Meta-blog (28)
Here are gathered all of the posts which refer to the blog itself. These range from technical issues to continuity fixes to insights into my writing style. My favorite part is when I pledge to finish the Dragon Story by June 2005.

City of Mages (20)
The second longest story of the blog, City of Mages is a political fantasy story centering around a group of loosely connected characters in a world where magic is geographically distributed. Kind of hard to explain.

Emo Rants (17)
Pretty self explanatory. The vast majority of this stuff is from my break-up with Ashley Junior year. I'd appreciate it if this was never read by anyone, ever again. I have no idea why I archived it.

Pictures (12)
This includes photographs of me, illustrations for my stories done by Amy, and stuff I did in paint.

X-men (10)
This series of posts chronicles my attempt to construct a Nightcrawler costume in ten days.

Telepsis (9)
The latest addition to my stories, Telepsis was my failed NaNoWriMo story. It's about a girl with a telepathic energy creature inside her, and global warming. Really hard to explain. Will likely be updated again soon.

Doom Pixies (8)
My first attempt at a story. It sucked. Wait a minute, why did I use past tense there? It sucks.

Stand Alone (8)
All the stories I've written that only lasted one post. With most of them, that was intentional.

Other (5)
Everything that somehow fails to fit into my exhausting list of categories.

Dungeons and Dragons (4)
Game elements I designed for the most popular RPG of all time. Expect frequent updates if I start a weekly schedule.

Idea file (4)
New ideas that I don't feel like writing on at the moment. This will also likely grow quite a bit.

Poems (4)
Sometimes I write poetry, but not very often. Clearly.

Tournament (4)
Something I strated, then stopped because it was way more trouble then it was worth.

Funny Rants (3)
Rants that are not Emo.

Harry Potter (3)
For all Harry Potter related things. All of these are also tagged under some other category.

Songs (3)
Songs I've written. Mostly silly. Will post more later (as more are written and simply waiting to be posted.)

Books (1)
This will be a place for book reviews, once I finish the first book on my list.

Dragon Story (2) (1)
This is for the second draft of the Dragon story, so as to avoid confusion.

Friday, January 05, 2007

This is my entry for the Giant In the Playground monthly monster creation competition. This month's theme is "The Darker Side of Winter"

Icicle beast

Huge Magical Beast (Cold)

Hit Dice: 8d10+19 (59)

Initiative: +3

Speed: 6 squares, climb 4 squares

Armor Class: 22 (+3 Dex, -2 size, +11 natural), Touch 11, Flat-footed 21

Base Attack/Grapple: +8/+23

Attack: Gore +15 melee (2d6 +7 +1d6 cold)

Full attack: 2 claws +15 melee (1d8+7) and Gore +10 melee (2d6+7 +1d6 cold)

Space/Reach: 10 ft.

Special Attacks: Improved Grab, Drain warmth, Icicle swarm

Special Qualities: Darkvision 60 ft., low-light vision, Tremorsense 60 ft., Cold subtype, Icy shell, Water walk

Saves: Fort +14, Ref +15, Will +8

Abilities: Str 24, Dex 17, Con 14, Int 5, Wis 10, Cha 4

Skills: Hide +6, Move Silently +6, Climb +8

Feats: Toughness, Ability Focus (Warmth Drain), Skill Focus (Climb)

Environment: Cold caves

Organization: Solitary or cluster (2 -5)

Challenge Rating: 8

Treasure: none

Alignment: Neutral
Advancement: 12 – 20HD (Gargantuan)

Level Adjustment: --

Five large icicles hang from the ceiling, each about a meter long. Suddenly, they drop to the ground, and it turns out they are the legs and proboscis of an insectoid-looking creature which seems to be almost entirely covered in a thick layer of ice, like armor. Icicle-like spikes protrude from all sides of the creature’s torso.

Icicle beasts are creatures the live in icy caverns beneath the frozen ground and feed on the warm feelings of others. They mold the ice around themselves to form their thick shell, and hide in the ceilings of caves waiting for animals to pass by so they can feed on them. Dictators in cold areas sometimes keep domesticated icicle beast to use for torture, as being fed on by one is extremely painful.

Icicle Swarm: As a standard action, an icicle beast can shake itself, dislodging small shards of ice from its carapace and sending them flying in all directions. All creatures within 20 ft of the beast must make a reflex save (DC 20) or take 2d4 points of cold damage. The beast takes a cumulative -1 penalty to AC each time it uses this attack, because the ice it shoots is no longer protecting it. The ice regenerates in 1d4 minutes, provided the temperature is below freezing.

Improved Grab: To use this ability, the Icicle must hit an opponent with its gore attack. It can then attempt to start a grapple as a free action without provoking an attack of opportunity. If it wins the grapple check, it establishes a hold and can try to drain warmth the following round.

Drain Warmth: If the icicle beast starts a round with a hold on a creature, it may drain warmth as a full round action. For every round that its warmth is being drained from its body, the creature takes 2d10 points of cold damage, half of which the icicle beast gains as temporary hit points, and 1d3 points of dexterity damage, as the warmth is drained from their fingers making them numb. A successful Fortitude save (DC 22) halves the cold damage and negates the dexterity damage.

Icy Shell: The icicle beast is not only immune to cold, but it uses any cold attacks that hit it to improve its carapace. For cold attack that deals at least ten points of damage, its Armor Class increases by one. It can gain up to four points of AC for this to a maximum of 26 (+15 natural armor). Likewise, every fire attack that deals at least ten points of damage decreases its AC by one, to a minimum of 11 (No natural armor.)

Water walk: The Icicle beast can walk on water by freezing patches of ice under each of its feet. The patches melt 1d4 rounds later.
CombatAn icicle beast will usually began a combat by dropping on an unsuspecting target. If it hits with it’s spike, it immediately begins to feed. If interrupted in this process by other creatures, its first response is to hit thme with an icicle swarm to try and deter them. If that doesn’t work, the creature will stop feeding and try to kill the other opponents with its claw and gore attacks.


Adventure hooks:

Adventurers must infiltrate an Ogre stronghold deep in the mountains by sneaking in through the caverns below. Unfortunately, a colony of icicle beasts makes their home there.

A pet icicle beast/Torture implement has escaped its prison and is hiding in the cellars ambushing loyal subjects of the king. Adventurers must hunt it down to secure an ally’s freedom.