Cimmerian Timeline Part 7

Cimmerian Timeline Part 6

Working on the prelude to the Dragon War has been tough. Each post ends up being far longer than I usually aim to make my posts, resulting in me often missing my target of having a new D&D related post ready every Monday. Thankfully, I’ve finished the short descriptions of lives of the heroes of the Dragon War before the war itself. I’ve been working those into the Timeline as I go. The only ones that remain to be included are Shratalanda, Tracy, Bigby, and Gorwinua. After this I have a few gaps to fill in for events prior to the Dragon War as my next goal with occasional diversions as needed.

1002BCE: Tracy the Halfling was born in Phoenix.

996BCE: Shratalanda murdered Tracy’s parents. She never discovered who killed them. The orphaned Tracy turned to burglary and pickpocketing to support herself.

990BCE: Anti-Halfling feelings in the Conclave increased. Halflings left Conclave cities in a slow trickle.

986BCE: Shratalanda delivered Bigarius to his Elven parents in the Dry Woods. He quickly took on the nickname of Bigby.

983BCE: The Humans of the Conclave blamed all the organization’s shortcomings on the other races. A few demagogues whipped the people into a fury and a pogrom broke out in Phoenix against Halflings. Businesses and homes of the little people were looted and burned.

982BCE: Halflings leave the Conclave cities en masse to found two new settlements, Crafterton for the Halflings of Western Cimmeria and Nomingburg for those of the east.

980BCE: Continuing their paranoid racism, the Conclave sent an army composed of Humans to march on Nomingburg. The Halflings fought back with hit and run ambushes as the army approached. When the army reached Nomingburg, the Halflings armed themselves and prepared for a set piece battle. On the morning of the battle, both sides found all their weapons missing. Tracy had stolen them. She vowed to return the weapons if both sides agreed to a lasting peace and to only use their weapons for good. The peace was accepted and the Humans went home.

979BCE: Tracy became the matron of the Halfling race, guiding the major cities of Nomingburg and Crafteron on their paths as well as the villages and caravans sprinkled throughout Cimmeria. Her guidance shaped Crafterton into the technomaturgical wonder it is today. Sadly, her desire for Nomingburg to become a haven for trained survivalists backfired as it became a den of assassins, killers, and thieves after her death.

977BCE: Bigby began his apprenticeship to a magical tutor.

970BCE: Bigby rapidly learned all his tutor could teach him and moved on to another tutor. He invented his own style of casting spells, incorporating the particular techniques of each of his mentors into his own as he saw fit.

927BCE: Gorwinua was born in a small Orc village north of the Shacklack Desert.

926BCE: Bigby decided he was down apprenticeships. At a startingly young age he began defending the Dry Woods. Using his hand magic he fended off an incursion of Orcs into the woods.

924BCE: Bigby defeated a group of Gnolls that attacked the Dry Woods.

921BCE: A group of Human loggers from the Conclave cut too deep into the Dry Woods. Bigby drove them off.

919BCE: The loggers returned to the Dry Woods. Instead of driving them off Bigby cast a spell with Shratalanda’s help that caused the Dry Woods to grow beyond the loggers ability to cut it. The forest advanced southward at a slow and steady pace despite a large logging industry owned by the Humans of the Conclave. Due to this spell the Dry Woods would eventually be renamed Bigby’s Forest.

912BCE: Gorwinua turned 15, the age of adulthood for Orcs. Shratalanda, disguised as the storyteller of Gorwinua’s tribe, trained the young Orc in the art of inflaming people’s passions and spirits. Gorwinua left her village to go questing with other Orc warriors in the Shacklack.

910BCE: Gorwinua had a string of successful quests into the desert.

909BCE: Gorwinua broke her leg. Her questing group brought her home, but died when they returned to the desert without her.

908BCE: Gorwinua gathered warriors from many different Orc tribes and returned to the cave where her companions had died. The large band succeeded in slaying the cave troll only thanks to Gorwinua’s magical song which focused and unified their efforts against the huge troll.

907BCE: Gorwinua’s desert raiding band grew in size as more and more Orcs joined her rather than quest on their own. Questing glory was shared among the whole Orc race.

906BCE: Bavastatner saw the large Orc band that looked suspiciously like the armies that the dragons had forbidden. Bavastatner told Gorwinua to disband the army, but she refused. Bavastatner burnt and scattered the Orcs and Gorwinua escaped.

905BCE: Gorwinua organizes a true Orc army in secret with commanders, discipline, and battle formations. She planned to use the army against the dragons themselves when the time came.

904BCE: Bavastatner and the other blue dragons chased Gorwinua and her army down, but she evaded them at every turn as her army grew.

900BCE: Tentineh called the heroes of the land together and the Dragon War began.

-GoCorral

Cimmerian Timeline Part 8

Characters of Cimmeria: Shratalanda

shratalanda

Shratalanda was a masterful elvish psion and the hidden guide of the Dragon War’s heroes. She foresaw the injustices the dragons’ law would create and set in motion events leading to the Dragon War. Many of the heroes of the Dragon War were unknowingly touched by Shratalanda at some point in their lives. For her own part in the Dragon War, Shratalanda favored magically transforming her body into a weapon in its own right and going toe to toe with her opponent.

Continue reading

Dr. Strange Movie Review

dr-strange

I had reservations going into Dr. Strange. As a Marvel hero he always felt a little out of place to me.

That’s for more than one reason as well. Most Marvel heroes have some pseudo-scientific explanation for the origin of their power; Dr. Strange is pure magic. doesn’t quite fit with the rest of the world.

But the problems don’t stop there. Dr. Strange’s powers, with their magical origin, don’t have clear limits. Continue reading

D&D: The Tiers of Play for DMs

I made a post about the different tiers of play in Dungeons and Dragons. I mentioned that as the PCs progress in power, so do the monsters.

Today, I want to talk about how the tiers of play affect the Dungeon Master.

Contrary to what some people might think, the DM’s goal is not to kill the PCs.

The goal is to almost kill them.

Remember that scene in the Return of the Jedi where the Death Star is operational, the deflector shield is still up, Han and Leia are captured, and Luke is with the Emperor? The Emperor taunts Luke describing how deeply the Rebels’ plan has failed.

That’s the point the DM wants to get to with their players. Where all seems lost and only a sliver of hope remains. And then the PCs are miraculously delivered from their despair, defeat the villain and save the day.

The perfect encounter in D&D will incapacitate about half the players before the foe is defeated.

Designing challenges at the low and middle tiers is easy enough. A bunch of Orcs, a Troll or an Ogre. There’s plenty of simple bad guys that provide credible threats to the party.

With multiple enemies it’s easy enough to modify an encounter to get just the right challenge. If the PCs are having an easy time of it, reinforcements arrive. If the encounter looks as if it may overwhelm them, perhaps the enemies retreat. After all, the PCs have surely slain a few of their foes and those who remain may not be willing to die for their cause.

At the high tiers, encounters become a little more difficult to design. Most anything in the books can be thrown at the PCS, dragons, devils, giants,you name it. But it’s difficult to gauge exactly how challenging a monster will be.

At any tier it’s okay if an encounter is too easy, but the advantage of high tier play is that it’s okay if an encounter is too hard as well.

The monster kills two of the PCs and they have to retreat? That’s okay, they can just bring the PCs back from the dead, research the monster’s weakness, and return two days later to slay it.

Epic tier challenges have even more problems as the players can often just wish the encounter away. The DM needs to be firm about what can and cannot be wished away to prevent all future challenges from being trivialized.

As powerful as the wish and miracle spells are, they usually won’t entirely invalidate playing D&D beyond 17th level.

The DM’s job is to limit the scope of what the wish and miracle spells can do through careful interpretation. Additionally, the in game mechanics give severe consequences to using the spells. Finally, the players may limit their usage themselves as they don’t want to take the fun and challenge out of the game either.

Regardless, epic level challenges still need to feel different than the previous tiers. I’ve been DMing at the epic tier for awhile and have designed a few encounters that should hopefully prove useful for others in the future.

But I’ve reached the end of this blog post so I’ll talk about the design of those encounters another time!

-GoCorral

Bike Accident

I got into a bike accident last week. No serious damage to myself, but the same can’t be said for the bike.

totalled-bike
Taco wheels make me hungry for Mexican food.

Someone left a shopping cart in the bike path. I was biking along on my way home from the lab and was thinking in my own head. I didn’t see the shopping cart until it was too late so I slammed into it.

The effect on my bike is quite obvious. Front wheel is wrecked.

I skinned my palms, skinned my knee, got a hole in the knee of my pants, sprained my left wrist, and got a few bruises. Nothing that didn’t fix itself in a few days.

There were some people walking on the bike path that asked if I was alright and helped me pick up my things (my keys had fallen out of my pocket and my shoe had flown off).

One of the bystanders offered to give me and the bike a ride to my house in his truck. I declined, not wanting to inconvenience him and thinking that walking my bike home would be easy enough.

This turned out to be the wrong decision for two reasons.

First, allowing him to help probably would’ve made his day better. Most people enjoy helping others and he wouldn’t have offered if it was going to severely inconvenience him.

Second, my bike turned out to be a little more messed up than it looked at first.

I’d intended to pick up the front of the bike and easily wheel it home on the back wheel. Turns out the back wheel was also screwed up and wouldn’t turn.

I ended up walking half a mile with the bike hoisted up on my shoulders.

I took the bike to the repair shop. The front wheel is obviously not salvageable, but the back will most likely be delicately coaxed back into shape.

And while my physical injuries will heal my dignity will be forever scarred.

-GoCorral

California Election 2016

The Presidential Election for the United States of America is tomorrow so it’s about time I do some sort of post about it.

I usually don’t like talking about politics with people who aren’t my friends. It’s pretty much guaranteed to be divisive, but I suppose I should use my teeny soapbox of the GoCorral website for what it’s worth.

I’ve got two categories I want to go over for the election, who should be President and California’s propositions. I’ll start with the propositions. Continue reading

Cimmerian Timeline Part 6

Cimmerian Timeline Part 5

Continuing to include more events from the Characters of Cimmeria in the timeline. In this post I’ll be adding dates detailing the events in the lives of Delain, Amalgami the Hero, Toffoun, and new events in Cecilia’s life. A few events from previous timeline posts are included here as well to provide context for the new material.

989BCE: Delain was born to a young milk maid. She claimed his father was Ares the Battle Rager.

966BCE: Baelund’s Wolf attacked the outskirts of Phoenix, sending the city into chaos for years.

964BCE: Delain killed Baelund’s Wolf. He was proclaimed King of Phoenix as reward for this deed.

963BCE: King Delain set about fixing the civic problems of Phoenix and reforming the city’s legal code to recognize the power of the guilds. Delain ruled well for many years.

961BCE: King Delain took the Halfling, Stofara, as his mistress.

960BCE: Toffoun was born as the fourth son of the Firebeard family.

933BCE: Zeus mates with and impregnates Brina, a priestess of Hera. The Queen of the Gods curses Brina, stating that she will not give birth on dry land.

932BCE: Brina wanders the land unable to give birth like Leto, the mother of Apollo and Artemis. She entered labor but could not deliver. Traveling from place to place she collapsed in the Jenarild River. The river’s god allowed her to give birth for the riverbed was not “dry land.” The child was named Amalgami. Jenarild married Brina and raised Amalgami as his adopted son.

930BCE: Toffoun takes his vows as a priest of the Olympic Pantheon, swearing to serve all the gods as a holy man. He left his family to live in a temple with the other priests.

925BCE: Toffoun became enamored with the rites and rituals of Ares. He devoted more and more time to practicing with weapons and armor. He began to challenge every armed visitor to the temple, wishing to practice his skills in duels.

920BCE: Pressure was put upon old King Delain to produce an heir. He married Stasia, the daughter of the Fighter’s Guildmaster. His new wife was ignored as Delain continued to spend most of his time with Stofara.

914BCE: Amalgami turned 18 and left home to travel the world and gain fame as a hero. He went downriver, slaying gnolls and bandits on the way. He stopped in Phoenix, where he fell in love with King Delain’s wife, Queen Stasia. Amalgami and Stasia fell in love and the son of Zeus stayed a long time in the city.

913BCE: Jovy and Cecilia began their voyage on the Mira Miro. They sailed the ship into the Caspian Sea where they slew many sea monsters.
Amalgami impregnated Queen Stasia of Phoenix and fled the city towards the south.

912BCE: Amalgami joined up with Jovy and Cecilia, serving on the Mira Miro and slaying the occasional monster alongside the captain and the first mate.

910BCE: After having his fill of the inner sea, Amalgami left the Mira Miro. He consulted an oracle who told him to climb Doom Peak. He fought and killed a handful of white dragons as he ascended the mountain. At the top he was struck by lightning and blacked out. He awoke with the power to fly and summon lightning.
Delain grew too old and unfit to rule Phoenix. Power transitioned into the hands of the Guildmasters.

909BCE: Amalgami traveled east to visit his family. While stopped at Greshendale, the city was attacked by a modest band of trolls. Amalgami fought them using his electric powers alongside the wizard, Tentineh. The two became friends before Amalgami left town to continue into the east.

908BCE: Jovy and Cecilia removed the greatest threats to sailors on the Caspian. Cecilia retired to her hometown, now named after her.
Greshendale is attacked by trolls. Tentineh summoned the inferno slaad to kill them, but lost control of the demon. Tentineh spent months researching a way to contain the slaad.
Delain died. The parentage of his heir uncertain. The guilds of Phoenix ruled on.

907BCE: Tentineh bound the slaad in a prison. Fearing a similar attack by trolls or some other threat in the future, Tentineh decided to secretly break the dragon’s edict prohibiting humanoid armies. He began teaching the people of Greshendale how to use magic in tactical formations.
Amalgami arrived at the temple where Toffoun served as a priest. The two dueled to a stand-still and Toffoun agreed to adventure with Amalgami. The pair traveled around the Aral Sea, defeating monsters and bandits as they went.

905BCE: Hargath the Orc warlock attacked the town of Cecilia. Cecilia the Salt Champion defended her eponymous birthplace along with her childhood friends. The warlock was defeated, but his sorcerous eye forced Cecilia’s friends to attack her. Left with no choice she slew them. Cecilia fell into a state of severe depression.

903BCE: Rounding the southeastern edge of the Aral Sea, Amalgami and Toffoun saw a massive Goblin army led by a monstrous half-dragon. The army was moving towards the peaceful villages in Zeus’s Canvas. The Lightning Knight and his Dwarf friend led the people of the Canvas to the Dirt Plateau. At this defensive location they defeated the army and slew it’s half-dragon leader. Knowing a counterattack from the dragons was coming, Amalgami left to get help from Tentineh.

901BCE: A horde of giants attacked Greshendale as Amalgami arrived. Left with no other choice, Tentineh revealed his army in open violation of the dragons’ laws. The giants were defeated, but greater dangers would come as a result.

900BCE: Tentineh called the heroes of the land together and the Dragon War began.

-GoCorral

Cimmerian Timeline Part 7