Monday, October 31, 2016

Pray That The Woods Forgive, Part 3

Please keep in mind that the stories I post here are considered "rough drafts"  and will be different from the "finised product" but I like to post them here to share what I am working on and to show how I "interpet the AD&D 1E/OSRIC gamme world.

Viktor walked at the rear of the group as they headed up the road back towards Kerren's Landing where they had been robbed, cheated and forced to leave just the day before.  The unusually large half-Orc was often subject to fits of reason and philosophical reflection, from an Orcish point of view.  His size was a matter of contention no matter where he went. Both Orc and Human society tended to shy away from him for a variety of reasons.  One of his relatives on the Orc side frequently boasted that he had to have some Uruk-kai in him to be so large and so capable at battle.  Viktor wasn't so sure about the Uruk-kai, and even if there was some of that line in his veins, he didn't think it was necessarily something to be proud of.  Uruk-kai didn't care who or what they killed and that included Orcs.

His disdain for Uruk-kai was also in their fighting style.  They were essentially beserkers.  They observed little to nothing in the way of strategy and tactics.  He was proud of his Orc lineage that allowed him to be such a capable warrior.  He was equally proud of the human lineage that allowed him to out think most enemies he came across.  His Human family was steeped in military traditon with several of them having been high ranking soldiers in various well known and successful armies.

This odd pairing of Orc physiology and Human mental discipline had come together to make an ideal killing machine.  What most people didn't know, and that included his current companions, was that he was a voracious reader.  Being literate was not common anywhere and being half-Orc and literate only brought more scorn and suspicion if people ever found out.  Because he liked to know things, being especially fond of military history, he had perhaps a little more information on Druids than his companions.  His learning told him that the Druid they had agreed to help defend these Kindred Woods from the town of Kerren's Landing wasn't as simple as he seemed to be.

He had been carefully watching the small Druid since they left his "meadery".  In the roughly two hours they had been walking up the road, at a seemingly casual pace set by the Druid due to his small stature or perhaps intentionally, There had been an almost alarming amount of activity with all sorts of small to medium sized animals, birds and even insects coming and leaving from the Druid's presence.  Occasionally  the Druid would wander off the road and head into the trees, telling the group to keep going and that he would catch up.  Sure enough anywhere from ten to twenty minutes later they would see the Druid walking back from the woods to the road where they were walking from a point ahead of the group.  Never from behind where you would expect someone to be "catching up".

From his readings on past battles where armies had met up with Druids, things generally never ended well for the armies.  In some accounts, Merely having a Druid show up in between two warring armies was enough to prevent the battle entirely,  Usually in some notable ecologically important place like a forest or woods, even a swamp in one story.  Other stories were told by a handful of survivors who defied a Druid and crossed said Druid's line in the sand.  Every story was one of terror and tragedy.  This seemingly amiable little fellow that they were following indicated no real threat.  He liked to make a show of having a 'dark side' but they had really seen was a temper tantrum or two in his opinion.

At the same time, there was something he couldn't quite put his finger on about the little Druid.   A few times he was sure he had glimpsed large, menacing looking creatures at the inner periphery of the woods and the Druid would walk over to their spot and seemed to be talking with them in a language of what sounded like grunts, growls, hoots and piping, depending on the creature.  Each time the monstrous sized beasts would leave at his bidding.  None ever accosted the group on it's way.  On another occasion he swore that the miniature Druid walked straight into a large Maple tree.  He walked directly at the tree and then seemed to just...disappear... into the tree.  He came out ahead of the group a short time later looking very pleased about something.

It was on those occasions that Viktor suspected that the Druid's jovial and friendly demeanor was just an act for their benefit.  He could smell that their Druid wasn't just human.  There was another scent to him that he couldn't quite make out.  All said and done, he was reminded of an old saying in Orc tradition,  "With friends like these, who needs enemies?"

His current adventuring companions seemed to have taken well to him.  He was treated fairly by them, even the Elf, half- Elf, Elsa.    They all seemed curious about the Druids activities but also a bit awestruck by him at the same time.  Once, the soldier Mikal fell back alongside him and talked with him about how things were going.  "Viktor," Mikal said questioningly. "I notice you prefer to always take up the rear in a group.  Have you observed anything notable so far?"  "Only that the Druid is very well connected to his woods." Victor replied in a low and deep, rumbling voice.  "There are things in these woods that none of us ever noticed on the way down here yesterday."  He continued.   Mikal looked around thoughtfully.  "Well, we were in a hurry and in the middle of a thunderstorm.  I'm sure there were many things we did not notice along the way."  He added.

Viktor looked Mikal directly in the eyes.  He wanted to see if his eyes were glossy or clouded as if under a spell or enchantment.  "You are aware that Druids are supposed to be able to influence the weather, if not control it outright."  He stated a bit more quietly.  "Are you suggesting that Behr deliberately caused the storm to send us to his waiting arms?"  Mikal asked him quizzically, eyebrows raised as he realized what Viktor was implying.  "I don't know." Viktor grunted.  "I can't say at this point that I would be surprised though."  Mikal frowned slightly at that, then his face lightened up again.  "Thank you for taking the rear on this trip.  I am going to move up and take point I think.  Maybe I will see some of these larger creatures you have observed."  he reached up and clapped his hand on Viktor's much larger shoulder then winked and he started to move up into the main group again.  He stopped and chatted briefly then moved up ahead of everyone, leading them by about thirty paces.

Suddenly, Viktor heard a loud crashing in the woods, just to his right.  He stopped and looked around, his hands instinctively going to his sword strapped at his back.  The crash happened again and this time the rest of the group stopped walking and began looking around as well.  Viktor was about to head toward the sound when seeming to appear out of nowhere, Behr the Druid was right next to him.  He reached out and placed his small hand on Viktor's armored side.  "Ssshhh, don't make any sudden moves or you'll frighten him." Behr said in a hushed voice.  'Me frighten him?' Viktor thought.  Something huge is out there in those woods.  Something gigantic and the Druid was worried that Viktor would frighten it?  He was torn in the moment.  Part of him insisted that he had to go see what it was.  Another part of him, deep inside of him, absolutely insisted that he didn't want to know what it was.

The group stopped and waited as the little man went ut into the thick tree line and disappeared from view.  A few more crashes were heard and felt as they shook the very ground they stood on.  No one moved the entire time.  It seemed as if no one even dared to breathe.  Then, straining to hear, the voice of the Druid came to the road.  It sounded as if he were singing or maybe chanting aloud.  The singing, it definitely sounded more like singing than chanting, continued unabated for nearly thirty minutes and no one moved the entire time.  They were nearly as motion-less as statues as the song seemed to ensnare their minds.  But to what purpose?  Viktor couldn't help but to think this wasn't targeted to them, this was only a side effect of something meant for whatever huge creature it was that was just out of their sight.

The singing tapered off slowly and soon nothing could be heard again.  After a few more minutes, the crashing steps started again, heading away from them abut moving ahead of them.  Behr came back to the road casually, as if he had only stopped for a chat with an old acquaintance and heard pleasant news.  "Everything's fine everyone."  Behr said loudly to everyone.  "Things are shaping up splendidly."  The look on the Druid's face was both devious and satisfied at the same time.

These types of activities continued for the next three hours as they walked on toward Kerren's Landing.  They had to be only abut twenty minutes away from the edge of town, even at their painfully slow pace, at least, that's how Viktor felt about it,   Behr called for a halt and everyone came to a pause in a circle around him, waiting to hear what he obviously he had to say to them.

"I appreciate everyone's patience and tolerance of all the things I'm sure you thought were a bit strange."  he began.  "We are going to move off the road at this point and make a camp just a bit to the West and inside the woods.  Please have no fear.  Anything you have seen, or think you might have seen is your friend here."  The Druid paused at that and then he corrected himself. "Well, they are MY friends here but they mean you no harm as you are with me.  After we make camp which will be sort of a base of operations for this effort, we will discuss my plans and I will ask for your input and inform you of what I would like for you to do as a part of this.  Any questions?"  Behr paused, listening and peering at each member of the group meaningfully as he looked around the group.

"Do you plan to attack the town then?"  Brother Thelonius, who had been silent and watchful for the entire trip asked.  "Good Brother," Behr started in reply.  "The entire reason you young people are here is to prevent the need for any attacks on anyone.  If you are successful, this will end well for everyone involved.  However, if you are not able to accomplish your tasks in this endeavor, well then, let us just say the I am prepared to end it quickly and decisively."  Everyone except for Viktor was a bit wide-eyed at that statement.  Viktor had expected that, or something like it for some time now.  He wasn't surprised in the least.

"Good then."  Behr pronounced.  "Let's get camp set up and we can enjoy a good meal and lay out our plans to make this a win-win for everyone."  At that, he turned abruptly to the right and headed into the tree-line.  He paused only for a moment to look back once at the group and motioned for them to follow him.  As the group began to set off into the woods, Viktor wondered if the 'Kindred Woods' were really the peaceful place the name suggested.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

Druidic Obligations

In the last post I made about the Druidic Rites of Ascension, I talked about how important it was that druids are roleplayed true to character and especially in regard to meeting druidic obligations.

Someone emailed me to ask, "What exactly are 'druidic obligations' ".  Great question!

For the purposes of AD&D/OSRIC, we base our expectations mostly on the spells available and a little bit on the mythical and historical background of Druids.

Historically, Druids were seen as important and respected leaders.  They were known as philosophers and counselors.  People looked to them for advice and even kings took their words as representative of divine law.

Mythically, Druids were priests of the will of a Creator or God.  That will was represented by nature and it's observed laws and indications.  Druids were suspected of being able to prophesize and make predictions as well.  Many people believe that the prophesies made by Druids were actually founded on observations of animals, insects and plants and their behaviors in response to natural occurrences.

They were also seen as the protectors and defenders of the natural world, seeing it as harming Nature was harming God.

These historical and mythical references bring us to the observations we can draw from looking over the druid spells tables in the AD&D and OSRIC resources.

The spells are heavily focused on natural forces and influences.  They refer to collaborating with animals and trees for mostly defensive but some offensive actions.  They infer much about having the privilege of resisting the awesome forces of nature such as protection from lightening.

Talking with plants and animals, summoning and befriending animals and insects, conjuration of Elementals,   They also have spells directly related to helping people such as curing wounds. charm, cure disease, and purify water.

What can we take away from all of this contextual information to give us a "checklist" of druidic responsibilities or obligations?

  1. First and foremost, defend the Natural world and the ways of nature against un-natural means and attacks to the natural world and the natural order of things. Bear in mind, this doesn't necessarily mean anti-technology or new and different ways of doing things necessarily. It refers more to directly protecting the lives of naturally occurring creatures as opposed to magically or non-naturally created living creatures, (ie.... magically or artificially created).  Defending vast areas of natural ecologies from "urban creep"  such as forests, swamps, lakes, etc... Fighting de-forestation, pollution.  They look favorably on pursuing activities and sustainment based on natural processes such as natural selection, ecological and biologically organic adaptation.
  2. Help People in need of aid and providing direction (spiritual, philosophical, even geographical)
  3. Naturally are looked upon and assume the role of judges because of their general neutrality and adherence to the laws of Nature and the Will of Deity.  (This could generally be taken to mean that while druids don't go out looking to exert influence and control over people, people often come to them for aid and see them as arbiters and representatives of God's Will (or whatever Deity you use for Druids in your game)
That pretty much sums up the Druids obligations.  If Druids are not doing these things and are not responsive to requests by people for aid and whatnot then they are not fulfilling their avowed purpose.  The more they pay attention to the details of those things during gameplay, the more the DM can say they are fulfilling or meeting their druidic obligations.  The less they describe their intent to do these things and the less they respond to in game situations requiring or in need of such response then they can be seen by the DM as not fulfilling their druidic obligations.

Downfall, Part 3 Holy Avengers Assemble

Please keep in mind that the stories I post here are considered "rough drafts"  and will be different from the "finised product" but I like to post them here to share what I am working on and to show how I "interpet the AD&D 1E/OSRIC gamme world.

Abbe Micheal stood at his window taking the homing pigeon that had landed just moments ago into his hands to remove the message attached to it's foot.  He gently placed the pigeon inside the cage with her mate to rest and unrolled the slip of paper.  He paced absently to his desk in his modest room to decipher the abbreviated code.

He knew this code, it was one he used with contacts outside of the church.  Ah, he looked at the end of the message and saw the signature initials as that of the First House Magic User he had made acquaintance of about six months prior.  That would be his new friend Jolly, who was decidedly not so jolly.

It took him just a couple of minutes to decipher the message and a dire message it was indeed.  Jolly was calling for immediate help in the town of Aldisburgh.  He claimed there was a zombie breakout at the cemetery that was spreading rapidly and the zombies were...eating people?  That couldn't be right.  Micheal got up immediately and turned to gather a pack that was already prepared.  He picked up a second pack that had some gear for a few days of travel and left directly from his room and headed toward the Monsignor's suite.

"Your grace, I do believe this message is sincere and not likely to be a hoax or in error."  Abbe Micheal replied to Monsignor Denali who wanted to know if he felt the message from his young Abbe's association, the Magic User Jolly, might be in error.  "If this report is accurate Micheal, then there is a grave situation indeed, please pardon my unfortunate pun." The Monsignor stated.  He was worried by the very idea that undead were not only reproducing so rapidly.  He was terrified at the notion that they were cannibalistic and apparently autonomous,

"I agree your Grace."  Micheal spoke quietly.  "I would like to go to investigate and assist in quelling the evil by your leave."  "I suspected you would Micheal."  The Monsignor sighed.  "You are still young and while more experienced in facing undead than many others in the same station, It would seem more appropriate to send someone of a higher standing in the Church to get this outbreak under control."  The Monsignor sighed deeply.  "Unfortunately, the priests I would prefer to send are already out on important assignments.  Much as I worry, it seems you are the next most experienced that we have to send."  He turned his back to the young Abbot and reached into a dark glossily polished dark wooden closet.  He pulled out two sacks and turned back to face Micheal.  "I want you to take these with you, I have a feeling they will be needed more than we would like them to be."

Micheal accepted the sacks and looked into them.  The first held a large number of small silver holy symbols, in the form of a circle with two crossed bars in the center.  All blessed in special rites by the Monsignor himself.  The other sack contained a number of small vials of Holy Water, also blessed by the Monsignor in the same rituals.   Micheal had noticed there were several such small sacks taking up two of the large shelves in the closet.  The Monsignor must hold multiple blessing rituals each month to amass so many at a time.

"Micheal, when you get there, should you find that the situation is in any way too much for you and your friend to deal with, and sadly, I expect it will be, I want you to send a messenger pigeon to me immediately.  You may take one from the church tower before you leave."  Micheal was very grateful for the Monsignor's care and advice.  "Thank you Sir.  I will send notice immediately if it seems dire."

"And Micheal,"  the Monsignor looked up, into the young Abbot's deep green eyes.  "You will take a support team from the 'Special Forces' area of the Honor Guard Hall when you leave.  Take no fewer than four of the best they have on hand but do not delay waiting for others to return. I fear our neighbors in Aldisburgh don't have much time ahead of them."  Micheal took note of the concern in the older man's face, bowed and turned to leave.

Young Abbe Micheal, young to already be a Drei Priest and already permanently assigned to the Supernatural Forces arm of the Church of Yahweh.  Young Abbe Micheal stood in the doorway of the Special Teams hall, looking around the large room lined with benches along it's walls.  It had a small number of Special Forces members in it engaged in a variety of activities.  Some were sparring.  Others were cleaning, oiling and maintaining weapons and equipment.  Still others were engaged in conversation in small clusters with church abbots, undoubtedly being educated on various supernatural enemies and how to best counter them.  These were the best that the church could hire and train to support the priests in their efforts to defeat Evil in all it's forms.

Micheal entered the hall and made straight to a table where an officious young abbot was sitting with a number of books and papers spread out in front of him.  "Hello Abbe", Micheal spoke softly so as not to frighten the distracted abbot.  The abbot looked up at him and smiled widely. "Hello yourself Abbe, how can I be of service to you today?" and he put his quill and papers down to give Micheal his full attention.  "I am being sent on a special mission immediately and the Monsignor told me that I need to come here and get a team of four Special Forces guards to accompany me.

The middle aged looking abbot seated at the table listened attentively and nodded his head as he took mental note of Micheal's needs.  "May I ask the nature of the enemy you face Abbe or is it known?"  He asked Micheal.  Micheal replied to him, "The enemy appears to be a new kind of undead.  Specifically autonomous zombies."  He spoke the last in a whisper as if merely saying the words were too frightening to be heard aloud.

"Ah, how terrible, and dangerous indeed."  the Special Forces Abbot commented.  "I believe I have some guards here who should be very effective in a situation like this for you.  Let me get them assembled."

Pray That The Woods Forgive, Part 2

Please keep in mind that the stories I post here are considered "rough drafts"  and will be different from the "finised product" but I like to post them here to share what I am working on and to show how I "interpet the AD&D 1E/OSRIC gamme world.

Behr had been the Druid of the Kindred Woods for nearly eight years and except for not being more aggressive at keeping the incursions into the woods by the townspeople of Kerren's Landing down, he was proud of his work.  The woods had been in bad shape when he had arrived and had been dwindling pitifully with no Druid to care for it properly for over a century.

Becoming a sixth star Druid recently was one of his most pleasant life moments.  As a testament to his great affectations and attention to the woods, it had flourished and grown under his care.  As a result, his sixth Druidic Ritual of Ascension had only taken two out of a possible six days.  Behr understood that there was a Creator of all things, but like all Druids, he also realized and poured his energy into the Will and force of that Creator, that being Nature.  By serving Nature as a Druid rightly should fulfill their obligations, The Will of that Creator, Nature, had seen fit to reward him with a rapid understanding of his role as a six star Druid and the abilities that go with it.

Now the people of Kerren's Landing were essentially declaring war against his woods by not only cutting down the trees but now by proactively trying to kill the wild life that resided among the trees.  That could not be allowed to go on.  He would not allow it to continue.  The town had plenty of open land to the North and East of it to grow and expand for centuries to come.  There was no need or call to cause the kind of devastation to the woods that they were engaging in.

Behr had sat up talking things over with Jack for hours after the group of young adventurers had gone to rest in the rooms he offered them after hearing their story and they agreed to help him defend the woods and get their stolen money back.  He had no currency to reward them for their assistance, but he offered them the next best thing in kegs of mead and honey that they could sell or consume themselves.

On his own, Behr could make the trip to the edge of the woods in mere moments by moving through the trees, literally.  However, this task was going to require more hands than he had and he would need the adventurers assistance.  Consequently, he would have to take the "slow" way and travel with them back to the township.

He could summon a couple of large elk or moose to pull his wagon along, but a few hours travel time shouldn't leave enough time for much to get worse, especially with the storm just abating by the morning.  No, they would walk.  It would give him an opportunity to think out what he planned to do by the time he arrived.  It would also allow him to gather some information by sending some of the woods smaller animals and birds and get a sense of the activity before he got there.

Now as sunrise made it's rosy appearance, he made his regular morning offering to the day in the hopes of gaining favor in his endeavors.  He came back into the meadery in time to see the young people coming out from rooms behind the bar and make their way to one of the tables.  Jack, his longtime animal friend, sidled up to walk alongside him as he went to make them some oatmeal and honey at the fireplace.

He heard Jack telling him about his morning adventure only half paying attention.  He never stopped appreciating the ring of animal communication that had been given to him by an Arch-Druid three years before that had happened to be traveling and come through his woods.  the Arch-Druid had been so appreciative of his efforts with the Kindred Woods that he had offered Behr the simple, enchanted rosewood ring so that Behr wouldn't have to continually cast the spell in order to talk with Jack regularly.  The ring also allowed him to talk with pretty much any animal at any time but no monsters.  Not that he would want to talk with any monsters.

He set the tray with the pot of oatmeal, a jar of honey and several wooden bowls and spoons on the table for the adventurers to start their breakfast.  Pleasantries were exchanged but there were mostly just morning noises as they got right to enjoying a hot meal after a night in comfortable straw beds (clean beds, thank you very much, You'll be hard pressed to find any bedbugs, lice or other unhealthy insects within his home.)

While Behr looked to be like an unusually small human, the truth of the matter was that he was actually one fourth Gnome.  His father had been half Gnome.  Being only one fourth Gnomish meant that he really did not enjoy the special racial abilities of even half gnomes.  However, he was very small for a human and the one benefit that was left to him was the racial longevity.  He was much older than most people thought he was.  He appeared to be in his early twenties but was actually almost eighty years old.  If his grandfather was correct, and his Gnome grandfather was still alive and usually right about things Gnomish, he could expect to live to at least four hundred years of age.  Maybe a little more, maybe a little less.  When he referred to the adventurers as "kids" and "young people", he meant it.

He sat down at the table with the group and served himself from the large pot.  Lot's of honey, thank you very much.  Too much honey would make his teeth feel "coated" but he kept his pointed teeth very clean normally.  Clean and sharp.  'The better to eat you with, my dear' he thought, chuckling to himself.  His grandfather had told him that his tastes were hereditary.  Their's was a lineage from an old clan of Gnomes that had preyed on humans and every other two- leggeds as well as animals, birds, fish, etc...  they could get their little hands on.

Not that he ate people regularly.  As a matter of fact, people were more of a snack to him.  Being mostly human, he was conscious that cannibalism was frowned upon.  He just couldn't help himself sometimes.  So, he really tried to confine his munchies to people who had been freshly killed in battle or in a natural catastrophe, things like that.  Mmm.  What he would do for a couple of meaty fingers right about now....

Not much of serious consequence was discussed over breakfast.  He didn't want to upset their digestion before the big trip North.  Now that the dishes were being cleared and cleaned, they could get ready to go.  "I would like to tell you a bit more of my plans to protect the woods before we go.  Partly to keep you in the loop and partly to prepare you for things you may see along the way." Behr explained.

"To begin with," he began. "I will be sending lookouts and spies ahead to see what those scoundrels in the town are up to.  What you will see is a flurry of small animals, birds and insects coming and going around me.  They are my scouts so I don't want you to do anything rash like trying to kill mice or squash insects.  That would make me most unhappy."  Viktor, the half-Orc, spoke up, a bit diffidently.  "I am used to eating small animals like rodents and such as a means of sustainment while travelling."  He continued, "Is that going to put me in a bad light with you and your scouts?"

Behr thought about that for a moment.  On the one hand, he didn't want any unnecessary stress on his scouts.  They tended to not be so cooperative if they thought they would only be rewarded by becoming something else's lunch.  On the other hand, he well understood that it was simply the nature of a being like an orc, or a half-Orc as the case may be, to sustain itself on the flesh of other creatures.  "I'll tell you what, my young cohort", Behr replied convivially, "If you can make an effort to wander off a bit to find your meals and not feast on those that are obviously trying to aid me, I can overlook it as simply meeting your natural tendencies.  Don't be lazy about it though.  If it isn't immediately nearby but seems to be coming toward me or departing me, let it be on it's way.  Agreed?"  Viktor shrugged and with an appraising look replied, "Agreed Sir."  "Excellent!" Said Behr.

"What else will we do besides sending scouts, Mr. Behr Sir?" asked Elsa, the fair half-elfin Illusionist.  "Please, just call me Behr.  The 'Sir' and other needless deference is unnecessary.  "  Behr stated flatly.  "Also, 'We' won't be doing much on the way there.  I however, aside from scouting, will be having a few traps laid for anyone unwise enough to wander into the woods for the purpose of killing animals for clearing or for terrorizing trees for clearing."  Mikal raised his hand, as though if in class.  "Traps of what sort Si.. uh, I mean Behr?"  Behr chuckled.  "The kind that don't leave people very capable of terrorizing woodlands ever again.  If they're lucky."  he deadpanned afterward.  "Don't worry though, Mikal, I shall be sure to not let you be caught in any of the traps I set.  Unless, of course, you switch sides on me."  He glowered menacingly at that but then winked at the young fighter and grinned at him.

"We can discuss things more as we are on our way."  The small Druid exclaimed loudly as he stepped away from the bar where he had been leaning during the conversation.  "Let's be on our way now."  At that, everyone moved to gather their items and packs and began to head outside too start on the road back to Kerren's Landing and defending the Kindred Woods.

Druidic Rites of Ascencion

Clerics, and subsequently Druids being a sub-class of Clerics, don't obtain the spells they use the same way that Magic Users do.  As opposed to using spell books and spell scrolls as well as any required materials for spell components such as a lump of iron, a feather, etc... for the casting.

Clerics and Druids however, cast their spells essentially through prayer and meditation.  In addition, they use "offerings or sacrifices the same way that Magic Users use spell components.  These offerings range from leaves or a holy symbol, etc...

So, we know how Clerics and Druids cast spells.  We also know that they are limited in the number of spells they can cast in a given period of time due to experience level limitations.  Another thing we need to know is how exactly do they get the spells they need to know.  The above answer of using prayer or meditation only answers it so far.

Do they just pray for something in general or perhaps specifically that they want to have happen and the powers that be interpret what they want into the identified spell and make it happen?  How do they know which spell they can use what they can do, at any particular level?  Are they given spells by other, senior, Clerics or Druids during training?

I have answered these questions for Druids in my gameworld by using Druidic Rites of Ascension.  Due to their typically solitary nature, it is unlikely that Druids go to Druid temples or training camps to get to the next level and learn the spells they need to know appropriate for their level or capability.

I have it so that when a Druid PC has reached enough XP to level up, they must go through the Druidic Rites of Ascension.  Essentially a complex ritual that lasts for days during which they are given by the powers that be the information they need to know to carry out their duties for their new level.

The Druidic Rites of Ascension procedure is as follows;

  • The ritual takes place in a sacred place outdoors.
  • The Druid fasts for the number of days of their new level during the ritual.
  • The Druid makes an offering or sacrifice of the size, or number of their new level at an outdoor alter.  (I allow for anything that was living but died of natural causes to be collected and worked into a special form or design such as carvings made from deadwood of fallen trees, figures made from cornhusks and other crop plants, etc... The point is they were living, they died naturally or as a matter of natural events and the Druid must use craftwork or some special preparation or presentation of the material prior to being considered a worthy offering or sacrifice.)
  • After the offering or sacrifice, the Druid sits in one place and prays/meditates on his/her duties and obligations as a druid, waiting for "Divine Inspiration" to be achieved proving them with what they need to know.  The knowledge will consist of:
    • The specific spells in the Players Manual for the level of Druid to be attained
    • The knowledge of how the spells work and what they do.
    • The knowledge of which, how much, etc... offerings (mistletoe, holly or oak leaves, etc...) that correspond to each spell.

The DM can do a lot of story-building with this ritual and it's purpose.  I like to run it as a solo mini-adventure for druid PC's because I also give a substantial number of XP just for going through the process.

I also like to punish/reward the Druid for how well they have taken their Druidic obligations through previous activity.  Have they been behaving/roleplayed ideally?  The more true to character they are roleplayed, the swifter they can be rewarded.  For example, if the character has been portrayed in a way that ideally reflects a Druid and honoring their druidic obligations, the wisdom they seek can be achieved after the first day of the ritual, minimizing time spent performing the ritual.  Depending on the number of days planned for the ritual Good roleplaying can be rewarded by ending it sooner.  Poor roleplay can be "punished" by making them go until the very last day.  Make them earn it, I say.  They work for Nature, the originator of "Natural Selection" which is the brutal and uncaring process of successful evolution and adaptation for progess and survival.  Nature won't let a Druid off easily unless they have demonstrated the necessary skills.  The DM should keep that in mind as they roleplay Nature's Will during the ritual.

There is the possibility that the ritual will not be successful.  Mostly depending on how well they have been roleplayed.  This can be addressed by the DM making a determination ahead of time of "Grading" the way the PC has been portrayed as a Druid. (remember DM's, you don't have t like their PC's personality, methods and means of carrying out their druidic obligations.  The single important factor is determining how well they have been portrayed as a Druid and meeting their druidic obligations.)  I use a simple 1 to 4 method.  1=meets all obligations (90-100% of the time), 2-meets most obligations, (70 to 90% of the time) 3- meets some obligations (50 to 70% of the time) and 4= meets few obligations (anything less than 50% of the time).

Based on that score, the potential success of the ritual is 1= guaranteed to be successful,,, within first two days.  2= High probability of success 80% on second day or later (roll percentile dice for probability 20 to 100 on percentile dice).  3= average probability on third day or later (20 to 70 on percentile dice). 4=low probability on 4th day or later.  (20 to 40 on percentile dice.

If they are not guaranteed to be successful on the first day, then the percentile dice are rolled starting the day the probability begins.  If they are low level and their ritual is only say 3 days for 3rd level and they have a 4 score, they are guaranteed not to have a successful ritual this time.  Have them focus on living up to their druidic obligations and try again some time later.

The result afterward is having competent Druids who know what they need to know, when they need to know it.  At least in terms of abilities and spell-casting.  They might have an idea of what to expect by adventuring with and observing other, higher level Druids but those Druids would never overstep their bounds and interfere with Nature's methods in advancing other Druids.

I mentioned that I give XP for the ritual.  I base the XP out of a total of one fourth of the points needed to advance to the next level.  Then from that number, I give them up to a fourth of those points for how well they prepare for the ritual and for how fast they complete the ritual.  The shorter the time due to good roleplaying, the higher the XP.

In regards to preparation, since we have gone to the trouble of roleplaying the ritual out, then it behooves us to see the whole thing through.  If when they make their Druid at the beginning they are informed properly by the DM of the whole druidic ritual of ascension process, they should know what they need to do to prepare for it and describe each step of the process as they engage in it to the DM.  If they don't know or don't remember, the DM can coach them through it or have a "guide" appear to show them the way.

One other touch I add is that the force of Nature itself marks each successful ritual by leaving what appears to be a brand in the shape of a star or a crescent moon on the Druid's body.  I let the dice tell me where Nature puts the first mark (face, chest, arm, leg) and then the rest that are accumulated automatically are placed with it going forward.

That is the long way for the purpose of a solo adventure for the ritual.  The short way is that the DM just makes the determination of druid obligation roleplaying and scores it appropriately.  based on the score, roll for probability of success, if necessary and inform the Player of the results.  No XP should be given for going the fast way.  The Player should still be the one to initiate the process of the ritual, roleplayed or fast method.

Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pray That The Woods Forgive, Part 1

Please keep in mind that the stories I post here are considered "rough drafts"  and will be different from the "finised product" but I like to post them here to share what I am working on and to show how I "interpet the AD&D 1E/OSRIC gamme world.

The group rushed into the small building to get out of the downpour.  They were soaked and cold after walking for three hours through the Kindred Woods that the road meandered through coming South out of Kerren's Landing, the large town they had left only that morning.  Although "left" was putting it nicely.  "Run out" was much more to the fact.

As the four men and one woman found a table and began setting down their gear, they had a chance to look around the building's interior.  A very simple building that looked much like a tavern or Inn with tables and benches scattered about haphazardly.  A roaring fire in a large fireplace that took up the entire West wall and a polished wooden bar that one would usually only expect to see in the fancier taverns to sit at and drink imported liquors and spirits.

As they took their seats at one of the larger, circular tables they finished removing the assorted gear, packs and weapons that commonly accompanied wandering groups of travellers and adventurers.

Elsa, the sole woman in the group, was a relatively new Magic User of the type known as an Illusionist.  She wore the bronze amulet shaped like an eye inside a cloud shape that was commonly worn by Illusionists trained by a guild.  Her short, flaxen hair was still dripping and she wiped water from her elfish face without thinking about it.  Elsa was not "Full Elf" as her brothers were but had been born to a human mother in a dalliance with her Elf-Lord father.  While human society was more accepting of her, even considering the occasional racist or odd look, they were preferable to the outright snubbing she received from the Elven community.

Douglas was a human thief.  He preferred to call himself a "good hearted Rogue" but while he made it a point to not take from people he thought of as good, his practice still boiled down to thievery.  He was a slight young man with indescript features he worked hard to maintain.  "A Rogue that stands out is not a successful rogue at all." he was fond of saying.

Mikal was a human Fighter, First level, trained in the army of General Harcroft of Vaseria.  Once he had attained first level status, he was given a month's leave to attend his father's funeral and help his family re-establish themselves.  Being back home and finding out that his father had been murdered by the minions of an evil Cleric wandering the lands, he pledged he would not return home or to the army until he exacted vengence in his family's honor.  The army gave him one year of extended leave to meet his vow but told him that if he did not come back to the army by the designated time to inform them of his situation, he would be considered Absent Without Leave and hunted down as a traitor.  They would rather help him exact his revenge than lose their investment in training, boarding and supplying him entirely.

Viktor was an easy to spot half-orc.  A very large one at that and despite his general churlishness, due to being half-Orc, he was a good person all the same.  He hadn't been made an outcast like Elsa had by his Orc side but instead they insisted on forcing him to hate all humans.  After spending so much time with his human family, he simply could not bring himself to to hate them.  He had been a wanderer for nearly two years now, preferring to keep moving than to stay in one place around humans or orcs for too long.  Viktor was also a type of fighter but more of a general brawler.  He'd picked up some informal military fighting techniques but preferred what he referred to as "Guerilla Tactics" that he'd had much more training in and success with.

The last of the group was Brother Thelonius.  He was a Monk from the Temple of Truth.  He was the most experienced member of the troupe being of the third tier and his abilities at hand to hand combat and other mysterious tricks he had up his sleeve were nothing short of impressive to the rest of the group.  He had been sent out into the world to learn it's ways for a decade.  After his travels he would return and provide information and awareness about the world to the Masters within and take his place as a Master himself.

The group was intrigued by the simple and warm interior of the tavern, for they agreed it must be a tavern of some sort.  Yet in the entire five or ten minutes they had been noisily making themselves at home, they had seen no one to greet or serve them.  They were glad of the dryness and the warmth of the fire though and took to biding their time with idle chat and looking things over to make sure nothing had come to ruin from the storm.

After about a thirty minute wait, someone finally did make an appearance.   A small man, came waling into the main area from a room behind the bar, he was having a conversation with someone they couldn't see and he appeared not to notice them.

"I'm telling you for the last time Jack, you will not be going outside for the rest of the day so quit bugging me about it.  Look at the mess you made after you came back the last time."  The small man turned back to the door as if listening to someone but still focusing on something he was doing at the bar.  "Yes, I know you will 'have to go' at some point before the night is over Jack, but you can just use the outhouse like everyone else."   The little man went back to his task, it seemed he was cleaning off a large dish or a bowl and setting it on the bar and now was looking for something to put in it.  He also appeared to be halfway listening to the someone else they couldn't hear.  Yet what they did hear was nothing more than what sounded like the chirps and noises a squirrel might make.  "Oh do shut up." the man muttered partly under his breath.

The group was starting to feel a little uncomfortable as if they were eavesdropping when suddenly, the man started talking again and seemed to be talking to them.  "You know, he's really not a bad fellow, my Jack, but he tends to get a bit high on his horse now and again if you ask me.  He won't be anything but pleasant with you folks though."  He had spoken apparently to them without ever looking up from his tasking of filling the dish.

He stopped, looking directly at them now and said, "Though he's always nice to the guests, I tell you,  he just can't be so pleasant when it's just us alone.", then he grinned at them and started to walk toward their table.  "Welcome to 'The Promised Land', perhaps the finest meadery of it's type in the world."  He stuck out his hand waiting for one of them to shake it.

Brother Thelonius took his hand and introduced himself.  He then hesitated for just a moment then said to the man, "If I'm correct, your name is Bar right?"  The little man grinned widely revealing pointed teeth and exclaimed loudly, "I am, at your service.  Might I say 'Bar' is a pretty good first try at it, most people completely slaughter my name, I pronounce it 'Behr' but that's close enough."

Mikal spoke up next, "I'm sorry if we interrupted you, is there another person we are interrupting?"  "Oh no", said Behr, "There's no other people here besides you and me."  The group looked at each other unsure how to proceed.  They know they had heard Behr having a two sided conversation. "Oh, OH, I know, you mean Jack"  Behr said as it occurred to him what they seemed confused.  "Jack, come out here, we have guests you know!" The little man exclaimed.  He looked back at them. "I don't normally get a lot of company so pardon my lack of societal manners."  As he said that, a rather large skunk wandered nonchalantly out of the doorway from the room behind the door and walked over to their table.

"Jack, meet everyone.   Everyone, meet Jack." and he stood there, looking pleased with himself that he made the introduction.  The members of the group nearly shrunk away from the skunk hoping their movement wouldn't cause it to spray them.  "Oh, don't worry about him, he won't stinkbomb any of you.  He's been trained out of that."  The skunk made a variety of grumbles and other sounds and the man looked a little cross at the skunk.  "Yes Jack, 'trained' is the right word to use in the company of humanoids.  You know that as well as I do so let's not get huffy." The little man looked back at the group and shrugged his shoulders, "He's always trying to correct my grammar.  I hate when he does that."

At that, Elsa broke up laughing and the rest of the group followed her.  The man stood there, looking perplexed with a slight, unsure smile on his face.  Thelonius began again, "Forgive me if I've been mis-informed sir, but if you are the Behr I've heard about, then you are a druid, are you not?"   Behr scowled at him suddenly.  "Who told you that?" he said harshly.  "Umm, I heard a tale or two about you over at the Gallup Inn up in Kerren's Landing,"  Thelonius replied.  "Ahh, I see." said Behr tersely.  "A bunch of gossips if there ever were up in that miserable town."

"So are you a druid Sir?" Elsa asked quietly, somewhat in awe as she had heard of druids but never actually met one nor knew anyone who had actually met a druid.  He looked as if to be sorely cross at the question, then Jack the skunk mewed something briefly.  Behr took it into consideration for a moment then sucked in air quickly and blew out his cheeks.  After the process, he looked as if his mood had changed.  "I suppose Jack's right.  There's no  point in not being honest, though I would rather have not had it brought up at all.  Usually I introduce us Heimdall and Petey, the striped cat."  Behr admitted.  Jack looked him up and down then mewed again.  "Yes, I know you hate that.  I don't look all that nordic either, do I?  Of course not. "

"Ok, here's the deal kids,"  Behr said, evenly, sitting down on the semi-circular bench among them.  "Yes, I am a druid. My responsibility is steward of the Kindred Woods.  They are my woods and I am their druid.  However, not many people live to talk about it for the most part because it's supposed to be unspoken.  Kind of like being involved in organized crime and having a wife and family.  If the wrong people find out, it just spells trouble sooner or later.  We'd rather just let people think of us as a couple of beekeeping, mead-making, tavern operators if you don't mind.  You seem like a good bunch so I'm really taking a chance here.  Though now I'm going to have to do something about those loudmouths who somehow managed to use those tiny minds of theirs to put two and two together."

"No problem at all Sir," said Douglas, speaking for the first time.  He too was awed at having met a real druid.  "So, what brings you folks down here in the middle of a thunderstorm?" queried Behr.  "well Sir, it's not a long story, but it's not a pleasant one either.", Thelonius spoke again.  "We had all met up responding to a 'Help Wanted' poster looking for adventurers.  We met with the Mayor of Kerren's Landing who is seeking people to kill a variety of dangerous animals in the nearby wooded areas so that the town can expand."  "He WHAT!?" Behr nearly shrieked as he bolted up straight, nearly knocking the table over at the same time.  "Why that dirty, no good pile of trash.  How dare he!"  Behr was stalking about the room now, seeming to be in a fine rage.  Ranting without pause.  "I'll give all of those imbeciles reason to hide under their mother's skirts for ages once I'm through with them!"  He stopped suddenly, turned to face them and becoming calm again as if nothing had happened, he said, "So, what happened then?"

"Well," Douglas started nervously. "Some other group of adventurers came into the Inn and apparently knew the mayor.  They came right up to our table and began negotiating as if we weren't even there.  The Mayor seemed to go along and pretty soon, not only did they have the deal we had been trying to make, they had taken the Mayor and went to another table."  "Mikal spoke up again, "at that, I approached them to let them know their behavior wasn't appreciated and a brawl began during which most of our money had been stolen from or packs and when it was all over, the Sheriff and his deputies told us to get out of town or they would toss us all in jail.  They essentially robbed us and then ran us out."  He looked ready to brawl all over again at the end of his comments.

"Oh ho my friends, we have a score to settle with the not-so-fine folks at Kerren's Landing.  They've pushed me too far this time.  If I get there and they've harmed those woods even a little bit, they're going to sorely wish they hadn't. Are you interested in going with me and getting your money back?"  Behr said quietly, with a devious grin as he asked them.

Downfall, Part 2 - Dem Tode Nahe

Please keep in mind that the stories I post here are considered "rough drafts"  and will be different from the "finised product" but I like to post them here to share what I am working on and to show how I "interpet the AD&D 1E/OSRIC gamme world.

Aldisburgh.  A busy little town in the midst of a bit of an economic boom.  It had started as a farm town like most do but recently some of the local business owners had made excellent trade with New Edinburgh just across the river.

Jolly had been staying in Aldisburgh for just over a year and had become thoroughly intrigued by the town, the cemetery and the city.  Jolly was a studious young man who, despite his name, was usually taken to be a grim and recalcitrant person.  He had come to follow up on a lead about a very nasty and evil cleric of a mysterious and dark god Uruk-Khan.  The lead had dried up but the cemetery and the city kept him there.  There was something about the area that called out to him to investigate it more thoroughly.

The grain mill had picked up several new clients in New Edinburgh as had the lumber mill and the transporter had increased business with the city as well.  It seemed the more business that was picked up, the more local businesses increased their businesses over there as well.

As a result of all the patronism of New Edinburgh, Aldisburgh was a boom town now.  Something else that had picked up in business was the old cemetery on the western outskirts of town.  "Dem Tode Nahe" had been there before Aldisburgh was started.  The old black iron gates and fence had stood weathered and old when the first settlers set up shop at the first intersection of common roads two miles east.

The legend was that "Dem Tode Nahe" had begun as a cemetery of folks from New Edinburgh nearly a century before Aldisburgh was started.  All of the writing on the gates and strange marble and granite mausoleums was in a strange tongue that none had yet to figure out.  There was no on-site caretaker or contact person that had ever been known or identified.  Historians investigating in New Edinburgh never found any direct connections to the cemetery.  There were always suggestions and whispers about dark doings and questionable travelers or underground sects that had built the cemetery so far from the city to keep curious eyes away.

New Edinburgh shared a similar strange history as Arkham had in the East.  Everything seemed normal at the surface, but strange currents eddied underneath and through the inhabitant's lives.  The closest researchers ever came to the strange writings and designs found at the cemetery were found in books at the college in the Ancient Studies department.  It seems the scrawlings were noted to resemble an ancient and derivative form of Sumerian.

Only one of the visages able to be clearly made out was also one of the most commonly found.  It had been identified by researchers called to investigate a house full of zealots in New Edinburgh well over a century before that.  They only had a name to go with the image and nothing more.  That name was "Imdugud".  The Occult Arts department in the college had been tasked to investigate as well but apparently had never had anything to add to the official record.

Jolly had spent quite a bit of time in New Edinburgh and at the college.  He had even taken a few classes in both the Ancient Studies and Occult Arts departments as he could to continue building his knowledge and capability as what he liked to think of himself as a "Wandering Mage".  Though, only being out of apprenticeship for a year and a magic user of the First House meant he had a very long way to go to be considered a true "Mage".

As he pondered yet again over the mysteries of the cemetery and what he had learned about the town and the city, a banging on the front door of the boarding house was stirring the landlord, Mr. Bothams into a surly and expected rant about "stupid people allowed to roam the streets unhindered."

He came out into the main hall as Mr. Bothams opened the door and an older man rushed in, hollering about an attack at the cemetery.  After shaking the man about for a minute, Mr. Bothams got the fellow to explain.  He told them that just in the past half hour, someone or a group of people began attacking the few people maintaining graves in the cemetery.  The attackers weren't just attacking the bereaved but were actively biting and eating them.

Upon hearing that, Jolly dashed back to his room and began putting spell scrolls and what few items he thought might be of use in a situation like that into his pack  and dashed out the front door, heading straight toward the cemetery.

It was fortunate that Jolly had been able to reside in study for the past year and take courses at the college in New Edinburgh.  He had amassed quite a useful collection of spell scrolls which made it much easier to cast spells for a less experienced magic user such as himself who was still limited in his capacity to fully memorize spells and cast from those memorized at a moments notice.  It takes a great deal of mental discipline and practice, practice, practice to master the skill of memorized spell casting.  He was good for his level of experience, but not yet that good.

So, he copied spells that he found at the college, from other, willing magic users and even cadging them from over the shoulders of other students and professors at the college.  Quick cadging had helped him not only expand his spell books but also gave him more practice at spell memorization and retention.  Sometimes he would quickly memorize a spell but not be able to transcribe it into his spell books or onto a scroll until much later.

The practice had paid off as he went into the night toward the ancient, mysterious cemetery and the calamity that awaited him there.

Jolly walked briskly toward the old cemetery.  He could hear unpleasant sounds coming from within it's fenced borders.  He did not hear screaming or shouting though.  No sounds that indicated emergency.  No, apparently, the emergency was over.  The sounds he was hearing sounded more like animals at prey.  There was growling and guttural, hoarse grunts.  He heard before he saw, the sounds of rending, chewing and consuming.

He entered a gate silently, walking on his toes so as to be quiet as possible.  He crept around gravestones, mausoleums and trees.  He was following the grisly sounds until he came upon a scene from a nightmare.

Two men kneeled on the ground, bent over the form of someone else.  All he could see of the someone else was the legs.  The men themselves were making the animal-like noises as they grabbed at parts of the victim in between them.  There was nothing much left of the torso.  The men were pale and had an almost yellowed, palsied appearance to their skin.

Though he had been unnaturally quiet for a man of his stature and size, the men sniffed at the air and turned their attention in his direction.  First one, then the other.  They straggled to their feet almost clumsily.  As though they might have been drugged or drunken.  The scene was one that was not unfamiliar to Jolly.  These were zombies.  However, these were not the types of zombies he had encountered before.  These zombies seemed autonomous.  There was no identifiable Cleric or Necromancer in the area that appeared to be controlling them.

Their behavior was decidedly animalistic.  Though engaged in cannibalistic behavior, they behaved more like predatory wolves or dogs.  At the same time, they also seemed lethargic and slowly responsive rather than anticipating and planning.  No, these were definitely not the type of zombies he had seen before.

During the few seconds he took to process all of that, the men had begun shambling in his direction.  Their arms outstretched and reaching out as if anticipating grabbing him.  He found that by staying nimble and putting only mild effort into it, he could easily avoid them and observe their behavior.  Their body cavities were ragged and looked as if they had been savaged themselves.

He moved carefully around the area, always cautious to stay out of their reach but they remained undaunted in their efforts to catch him.  Indeed, they seemed relentless in their pursuit of him once they had caught their attention.  After about ten minutes of observation, he heard another sound from where he had found the men and their victim.

Circling around, he saw the place where the victim had been left and was stunned to see the victim, a woman, staggering to her feet now.  She made an odd keening noise from her throat and turned her head in the direction of his activity.  She saw him and began to stagger in his direction as well.  She paid no attention to the other two and in return, they relatively ignored her.  All three walking corpses eyes were focused solely upon him.

Jolly was in trouble.

He rushed ahead of his pursuers to buy him some time, slung off his pack and began to pull through the scrolls inside.  Feather Fall?  No, of course not.  Comprehend Languages?  No, they weren't speaking any language and there were no glyphs or anything else written on them that he could see.  AHA!  Burning Hands. Everything he had ever seen about zombies showed they were susceptible to fire.  He clamored over to a nearby raised gravestone and laid the scroll on it.  Between looking down at the scroll and looking up to keep an eye on his aggressors, he raised his arms and held his hands together, thumb to thumb in a horizontal fan-like manner.  He scanned the scroll again, double checked and convinced that he had the words right, began to recite the spell as he looked at the ever closer zombies.  They were only ten feet away but he needed them to get closer.  Being a First House Magic User, he could only shoot the fire about three feet outward from his hands.

His calm began to slip just a little as they began to not only get to within closing range but spreading out to encircle him as well.  "Just four more feet closer." he thought.  Three feet, two feet, FINALLY!  They were in range and as he finished the spell, a burst of flames shot outward from  the ends of his hands and extended approximately three feet outward.  At the same time, the scroll itself turned to ashes at the last word, as if the fire had scorched it the moment the last word was uttered.  He faced them each, one at a time and concentrated the fire on them until he could see they were actively burning before turning to another one.  He couldn't maintain this very long and as he was finishing setting the last man aflame, his fire started going out.  The flames rapidly receded back to his hands and then just stopped, with his hands no worse for the wear, except for being itchy.

He maneuvered his way away from the three stumbling bonfires and as he made his way back toward the gate entrance he had come in, he saw they had crumpled to the ground, burning like a pitch infused sack.

His reverie was interrupted by other sounds though.  More shamblers were coming in this direction.  First only a couple, then nearly a dozen.  Over just a span of five minutes, there were nearly twenty shamblers moving toward him and the flames.  He had to get out right now.

For the first time in a very long time, Jolly did not just walk.  He didn't quite run, but he moved at a joggers pace to the gate and toward his boarding house.  People needed to be warned.  He needed to find find help immediately.  If he could get to someone he had met in New Edinburgh, there might be a way to handle this.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Downfall, part 1

Please keep in mind that the stories I post here are considered "rough drafts"  and will be different from the "finised product" but I like to post them here to share what I am working on and to show how I "interpet the AD&D 1E/OSRIC gamme world.

Billy was powerful thirsty.  It had been at least three days since he had any money to buy some good hooch.  He stumbled around the old mausoleum he had been living in for about a week now.  It was moldy and smelled of humid age.  There was only one crypt in the center of the large chamber.  It was impossible to move and Billy had tried several times in the hopes there might be something worth selling for a few dollars on it's inhabitant.  Nothing doing.

After awhile, Billy shambled over to sit in one of the small alcoves on the South side of the crypt.  He stared almost blindly at the stuccoed wall.  He leaned forward and used his hand to wipe off the dust and cobwebs from the wall.  It seemed like there was something on the wall behind the muck that he could almost make out.

After a few grubby swipes, lettering became more clear against the background.  It stood out in crimson lettering.  It didn't look like any writing he recognized, not that he recognized much having only a fifth grade education.  It looked like Arabic or something like he used to see in the movies.  Still though, it was almost as if he could make it it.  He started to sound out the lettering.  It's like the words were trying to form themselves in his mind.

As a matter of fact, the more he tried, the faster it became clearer to him. Before he realized it, he began reading the words on the wall with near perfect pronunciation, though he never realized it. No sooner did the last syllables leave his mouth then he heard a heavy, scraping sound behind him.

Slowly he turned to face the crypt and watched in silent terror as the lid moved on it's own to reveal a dark opening beneath it.  He leaned forward carefully to see what was inside.  All he found was a crimson satin or silk, he could never tell the difference, a cushion that filled the entire space.  Setting on it, balanced gracefully, was an ornate, bronze chalice.  It was covered in graceful designs and engraved images.  There was some kind of lettering in places but he had no idea what they might be and nothing seemed to come to him like the words in the alcove did so easily.

The chalice was full of liquid.   It smelled like some kind of spiced drink.  It didn't smell bad.  Not bad at all.  It smelled really good as a matter of fact and it reminded him of how thirsty he was.  It smelled so good.  It couldn't hurt to take a drink from the chalice.  Just a sip.  Whoever put this here wouldn't miss a little sip.  Billy reached out to grasp the large chalice with both hands.

As he pulled the chalice closer to his mouth, he swore he could almost taste the drink and it was incredible.  "Holy Crap!", he thought. If it smelled this good now, imagine what it would be like actually going down.  He put the edge carefully against his lips and tipped the chalice up.  Just then, he thought he caught a whiff of something that smelled like an infected wound.  He's had enough to know how they could get so rank.

The faint odor seemed to drift away, like a bad memory.  Billy finished tipping the chalice and started drinking.  He drank a sip.  He drank more than a sip.  He started to chug it down.  Billy drank it all and almost instantly drunk, he dropped the chalice back down into the crypt and fell backwards to land on his backside with his palms splayed out to catch himself as he landed.

Billy laughed drunkenly.  He could see himself in his mind making such a clumsy, drunken fall and he laughed more.  He laughed  and laughed until he realized he was laughing uncontrollably.  He really couldn't stop laughing.  Then he did stop.  He stopped suddenly and with an icepick of fear penetrating him to his heart as he watched a shadowy, horned figure emerge from the shadows of the alcove on the North side of the crypt.

It came forward slowly, never quite being more than a shadow yet he could see enough to know that he didn't want to see more.  It stood like a man on two legs and had a man's body but it looked like it had the head of a dog.  No, not a dog, a jackal, like the ones he saw at the zoo when he could sneak through the gate.

As it stopped before him, regarding him silently, Billy began to feel cold, very, very cold and chills ran through him to his core.  He shuddered and suddenly felt nauseous.  He pitched forward with a sudden horrible cramped feeling in his stomach and began vomiting.  He could not stop.  It became dry heaves and he still vomited.  Blood began to cough up and still he vomited and still the figure watched silently.

Billy's body was wracked with pain and spasmed as he began to die.  The figure tilted it's head very slightly to one side as Billy became still and fell silent to the floor.  After a time that could have been a few minutes or a few years, Billy started to get up.  He shambled to his feet again and stood in front of the shadowed figure.  Not breathing but still standing.  His eyes open but bloodshot to the point of seeming incredible that he could see anything.  He made a sound from his chest that was not unlike a grunt and a groan at the same time.  He tipped his head down in a submissive movement as an inferior dog in a pack would in the presence of it's Alpha.

The hyena head cackled in an outburst that was startling and would have shredded Billy's sanity, had Billy had any sanity within him to be affected.  The figure glided back into the shadowy alcove quietly and shrouded in it's fog of shadows while Billy shambled out of the mausoleum in a much different way than drunk.

After what must be about thirty minutes from leaving the mausoleum,   A scream can be heard in the distance.  A long and pained scream that dwindles as the sounds of crunching and rending teeth can be heard just beneath it.  Billy isn't thirsty anymore.  Billy is hungry.  He will always be hungry.

Back in battle but where shall I go?

I've been out of the game for quite a while.  Things are slowing down again.  My kids have decided that AD&D is too boring for their righteous teenager-ness  and I stand bereft of companions with which to game in the 1E/OSRIC  wilderness.

I can do solo play which boils down to me, the dice and the DMG and just going on an entirely random encounter in which the dice determine absolutely everything my PC does.

I have been informed of Play-by-Post which I plan to check out if the forum in question ever approves my join request.

I have been informed on playing in an online chat place which I am also going to try out.

My biggest problem in trying to game with a group is scheduling.  I have a really crazy and erratic schedule as a self-employed professional apiarist.  I get free time where I find it but the need to pay bills means that appointments and jobs come first and foremost as I get them.

Going random solo is the easiest to engage in but lacks the quality I desire most.  The story and creative interaction.

The rest all share the same main problem of being difficult to fit in such a random schedule.  I would like to take a break from being a DM for awhile.  It would be nice to be a player and look at the game fresh from that perspective.

I also plan to create and write some more stories, hopefully improving my writing skills and having great fun at the same time.