Sunday, December 8, 2013

Angry DM: Balin's Point of View

So, we started a new campaign with a new DM; Spiker, formerly Kalen the Devious. Spiker played a great character, very believable the whole way through. Now its his turn to run things and there's a new sheriff in town.....

See, Spiker gets off on pain, inflicting pain. Ever since we started, he has announced how much harder his game would be. Saves vs. Death would be commonplace. New characters? Bring plenty of blank sheets. In the first session I experienced that firsthand. My first character, Fjori, was bitten by a rabid "zombie" and infected. There was no cure. Spiker liked that, he knew it. He knew, no matter what we tried, there would be no cure. He wanted to make a point. People were going to die. Well, at least I didn't paint Fjori.

Now, for the last two weeks, Lord Spiker has been gearing up, ramping up the violence level, since we slaughtered his "murder mystery" game a few weeks ago. Don't want to play cerebral? Ok, how about I just pound you? Funny thing is, every time he pulls something out of his bag of tricks, we do something retarrrrrrrdedly stupid that he didn't expect. That throws him for a loop. This week was to be a turning point. We had pissed of the "cleric" (Spiker) because we had been irritatingly effective in the dungeon so far. "She" was going to put a stop to that once and for all.

After reading a few posts full of bravado, I decided that I didn't want ANOTHER character death, especially since I had just painted Nigel, Balin's torchbearer apprentice. My two characters were going to survive the night, that was their goal. So, after being trapped in a large room, formerly full of Kobolds, the night begins with a frontal assault....

"NIGEL! Get over here!" Balin dragged Nigel into the far corner of the room, behind a wall, sheltered from any immediate danger. The room had just been cleared of Kobolds, and Tharkquin had just muttered a prayer that raised the Kobolds once again, this time under his command. Balin tried shouting at one, but no use, they were unresponsive.

"We are going to get through this alive, just do what I say!" Balin growled under his beard. Their plan was to find a relatively safe spot and hunker down. Hopefully the rest of these maniacs wouldn't draw TOO much attention to themselves and commit a mass suicide. These guys were the most undisciplined adventurers that he had ever come across, no common sense. It was a miracle that any of them were still alive, well, all except the elf, he seemed to have a knack for guarding the rear. But, they had a lucky streak. They seemed blessed by their Gods because when things got incredibly hairy and stupidity took over, they always seemed to come out on top. Balin didn't want to risk it though, he was going to let the fools lead the way and he would clean up from behind.

Sure enough, from beyond the room, Balin could hear the yips and barks of more Kobolds. They were shouting canine taunts and things like "FOR THE LADY!" He could do without anymore vile spider kissers. This didn't feel right to Balin. There was something darker behind the welps. At that moment, the elf swung the door open to take a shot and was greeted by a handful of darts. He quickly slammed the door and contemplated. The monk, Odo, another foolish one, whispered a plan to the elf and the paladin, then the elf swung the door open again. Arrows and darts flew. The monk and paladin took off down the hallway, and Tharkquin, the half elf chanted a spell. Balin wasn't sure what was going on, but he was going to hold the fort, right here behind trusty Nigel, who was shaking like a leaf.

From out in the hallway, Balin could hear Kobold whimpers and coughing. Something nasty was going on out there. Thats fine thought Balin, thin them out and we'll wait for the survivors.....Nigel turned to Balin and asked, "Is that normal?"

"What?", replied Balin, as he turned the direction that Nigel was pointing.

From the empty back corner of the room came a shimmering, like the walls were made of water. Then all of the sudden a hole opened in the room and out of it shuffled dead men, zombies, followed by two wicked looking elves. From beyond the portal, Balin could see another elf, a beautiful, slender elven woman, twisting her fingers and whispering something from her dark lips. She smiled demurely as the portal closed and the zombies rushed at them.

Nigel screamed. Balin grumbled, "What in the name of Dumathoin is this Rothe' shit? So much for our plan" The others in the room caught on and turned to face the new danger. Balin and Nigel braced themselves for the oncoming assault. His grip tightened on his axe as he eyed the first zombie coming his way. Instantly the back corner of the room erupted in a tangle of snow webs. The figures inside the webs struggled and tangled themselves within. "You don't see that everyday," thought Balin, just as the first zombie made its clumsy attack on them. Balin couldn't quite get the angle on the walking corpse, while Nigel flailed away with his sword, hacking chunks off the living dead.

After they dismembered the first zombie, they decided to leave their protected corner and position themselves for the upcoming fight. They set up right outside the web, behind a pillar, waiting for the next foul undead to exit the web. The rest of the party was busy it seemed, fighting off a frontal assault on the door. There was a big commotion from over there, but he and Nigel were too focused on the trapped intruders to really care. What a nasty situation they had gotten into. It was pretty clear by the odds they were given topside that they were walking into a lopsided proposition. They weren't expected to surface again. He could remember the sneers as they descended into this hellhole.

There, the next zombie popped out. Nigel and Balin made short work of it. From the doorway, they could hear shouting and screams, the Kobolds had broken in. Balin quickly took a look and what he saw shocked him. A terrifying looking Kobold stood in a mass of smaller dog men. They were slipping around in what looked like.....grease. Balin watched as the elf ran AWAY from the fight towards the other corner of the room. Were those TEARS?!? The huge fighter was running too. WHAT IN THE NAME OF ABBATHOR'S TWISTED BEARD IS GOING ON!!!??

Nigel was shouting, "They're moving!!" The zombies and elves trapped in the webs were struggling free. Balin thought he could handle it and sent Nigel towards the Kobolds. "Go see what the hell is going on over there!" he shouted as he shoved Nigel with his shield. Luckily someone had their wits about them. The cleric, the big headed one, waded into the webs, apparently unhindered. He started pulping zombies and elves as they snarled at him, helpless. The shifty little wizard, Spitz, had made his way to where Balin was standing and cast a spell on him, smiling devilishly as he did. Instantly Balin felt larger, stronger, he was seeing eye to eye with the shifty little bastard now. "What did you just do" Balin demanded. "ENLARGE!!" Spitz shouted, spittle flying from his greasy lips. Balin was dumbfounded for a second before a Kobold lashed out and smashed Spitz across the chin, knocking him unconscious.

The paladin and the monk had made their way back into the room too it seemed, as the Kobolds forced the attack. Spitz lay in a heap as the paladin shielded him from more attacks with his own body. Balin dealt with the Kobold as he again saw Ceric and Torn whimpering in the far corner. Odo, ever one to try the unthinkable, dashed into the webs..."By the balls of Orcus, what is he thinking????" Balin thought as Odo froze in mid air, suspended by cobwebs. Quickly, Odo was able to free himself, as someone set fire to the webs to clear a path.

As all of this was happening, the back wall shimmered again. Balin watched as more zombies piled out of the portal. He stared at the elven lady, who now stood with two incredibly sinister, yet wildly attractive companions. Balin had to admit, despite his intense dislike for the fair folk, he was strangely turned on by these three. He would have to investigate this attraction to pointy eared evil bitches later sometime. Gorson was chanting feverishly. Just as he finished, he sprinted towards the portal yelling "LATHANDER!!!" and jumped through. Luckily the portal didn't close right away, only shrunk. "What does that silly bastard think he's going to do now?" thought Balin. "Check that, make that TWO silly bastards," as Odo went flying into the portal right behind him. Shaking his head, Balin shouted, "NIGEL! Lets go!" and headed towards the opening. But before he could get there, it shrunk, closed, disappeared. In a flash, they were gone.

In a brief moment of clarity, Balin thought he had figured something out. He had a hunch. While the rest of the party stood with their jaws hanging open, Balin uncorked a vile of yellowish fizzing liquid and downed it. His human sized body began to buzz with energy. He felt clear man, fast, tingly. He started sweating lightly and began limbering up. Tharkquin mumbled something, touched his shoulder, and then blew something at him. Balin didn't understand until Nigel said, "Balin? Where did you go?"

"Just follow me Nigel, try to keep up! I know where they're at" and he sprinted at amazing speed through the door and down the hallway. He felt so good. So clean. His mouth was dry and his skin was itchy, but he liked this feeling man, it felt good.

Gettin tired......intermission.......

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Spitz and Elves....

 First of all, I am ecstatic because I can now blog from school. This gives me ample time and opportunity to update stuff.

Last night was our third? fourth session of our new campaign. I've got a good grip on Balin's personality now and I'm starting to get into the role more. He's not necessarily part of the "group" as he hooked up with them during an attack by infected non-dead in the village of Homily. His band of dwarves were all killed, so he joined the adventuring group as a way out. He'll decide later if he wants to stick it out with them. In the meantime he's got to deal with them. Two in particular, Spitz the sleazy mage, and Ceric, the fancy boy elf ranger thief. Neither of which he's too fond of.

As long as he's going to remain with the "Talons" ( a name decided on last night......not sure if I like it) Balin has decided that he is going to make the best of it and turn a profit. He definitely doesn't want to become infected by the nasty virus that seems to be everywhere. So he'll hang back, help if needed, but isn't rushing into danger to save anyone...especially the monk who seems to want to volunteer Balin for every combat encounter. Nuh uh. While the party was clearing the hospital last night, Balin noticed the elf wandering off and checking doors. Shady. So Balin followed. They didn't find much, but afterwards the elf caught Spitz pocketing some baubles that he had found in another room. Balin sat back and watched. Ceric, approached Spitz, made a bungled attempt at pickpocketing, and tried to look innocent. Spitz, all of the sudden aware, quick drew his wand and shouted YELLZAP! Firing off a few magic missiles at Ceric. Balin chuckled, this was good. The wizard was so weak.... The two argued while the rest of the party started to notice. The Paladin goody two-shoes, tried to calm their nerves and stop the in-fighting. The two made amends while everyone talked it over.
While the party was dealing with the elf, and listening to his excuse that he was trying to set things right by stealing the stolen items back, Balin wandered over to Spitz, who was checking his robes to see if anything else was missing. Balin rammed his razor sharp axe blade in between Spitz's legs and said in a very low voice, "Listen you sleazy sewer rat, from now on keep your filching to a minimum......". The rest of what was said remains between Balin and Spitz.

Later, when the town guard came to see what the commotion was about. Balin made sure to point an accusing finger at Ceric, who was obviously stealing from his own party members. Can't trust an elf....

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Balin Gemseeker

Meet Gemseeker, Balin Gemseeker, my new character for our next campaign. He is actually my second character. My first, Fjori Ulfsson, died in the very first outing because of a zombie like infection. Balin was rolled up on the fly and given a valid reason for being in the area. Now he's 4th level.......and safe? Safe enough for me to paint a mini for him I guess.

Balin is sort of a loner. Well, maybe more lost in his own cause really. He is a bit obsessive. Proficiencies in 2nd ed are new to me so I spent a lot of time deciding what he was going to "be". I decided to go the fluff route instead of min/maxing him. He is skilled in gem cutting, appraising, mining, mountaineering, and endurance I think. He is a rock hound.....

His weapon skills went the same way. Instead of going for the most damage and quickest initiative, I decided to focus him in a certain area.....the axe. His main weapon is a battle axe, which he specialized in. He is also skilled in the chopping/crushing weapons like hammers and maces. To help him out at range, instead of a crossbow or bow, I gave him another specialization in throwing axes. He carries two. He'll throw them first if he can, then charge in with the battle axe.

Balin's obsession with rocks and gems might lead him to trouble. He is a follower of Dumathoin, Keeper of Secrets Under the Mountain. Dumathoin is a good diety, one who hides treasures for dwarves to find. But, his brother, Abbathor is the dwarven god of greed. These two are connected in Balin's mind, and his sentimentality leads him to believe that the two will one day reunite. Towards this end, Balin secretly keeps a dagger hidden away, which is a symbol of Abbathor. He is constantly looking for precious gems to add to the dagger, in the hopes that one day it will become a valuable offering to the Gods. It will be interesting to see if Abbathor's greed gets the best of Balin...

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Back From the Dead

So, after almost a year of inactivity, I decided maybe it was time to renew my space in the blogosphere. A couple of things provoked this move; a little more time and a lot less stress this year, some comments from Dave who said that he still checks to see if I've written something, and the upcoming mega game culmination this week.

The game we've been playing has lasted for the better part of 3 years....or more. There have been some incredibly memorable moments and characters. Some of those characters have died, gone from the game. Knand was one of them. Actually my favorite. He appeared in the game by accident, befriended by Hanuman while they were trapped by the Deck of Many Things. Knand had character, not one that I created, he just sort of created himself. The best thing about Knand was that there wasn't a fear of his death. Actually, it was sort of expected that at some point, he was destined for the afterlife. But, on the way, Knand was living freely.

This week will be the "final battle" with Orcus, the final confrontation in the Castle of the Mad Arch Mage. I'm hoping for a miracle. I'm hoping for a vision; fat, sweaty, dirty, extremely hairy, bits of hummus still stuck in his beard......Knand deserves a chance to be there. Deserves a chance to die again, gloriously.  My other characters are prepared also, but Knand has a certain flair for......death.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Being Weird

This was almost the view I had Saturday night, minus the waterfall....I took a trip north, higher elevation, clearer skies, in order to watch the meteor shower. It was so much better than expected.

After driving a long ways, I found a spot, in the middle of the dark, under some tall pines with plenty of openings between them. I piled blankets in the back of my truck to stay warm, laid back, and waited. It wasn't long before the first one zoomed across the sky, orange and fiery. It left a trail. Many more streaked across the sky as I stayed warm under the covers, staring up. After each pause I told myself "one more, then I'll go to sleep", but I kept wanting to see more. I finally fell asleep, surrounded by warmth and tangled in blankets.

Honestly one of the best nights of my life. Very thankful and hopefully get more chances to do it again in the future.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Open Heart

Something I drew a long time ago. Some feelings stay with you a long time...

Wheatfield With Crows

This is one of my favorite paintings. I like Van Gogh as much as the next person, it becomes a little cliche' I guess, so maybe I avoid being a big fan and hanging Starry Night over my desk. But its the "other" paintings that make Van Gogh so interesting. The ones that most people don't consider. This is one of them, actually, this is THE one. It is supposed to be the last painting that Van Gogh made before his death. It's simple, but it's powerful. It's symbolic. It contains all of his emotion. This was Vincent's way of expressing himself and how he felt, problem is, no one got to see it until after he was gone.

I'm thankful for Molly. She's a piece of me and keeps me centered sometimes. For the last month, I've basically ignored her, which makes me feel really bad. I've been caught up in my own stuff and haven't been any good for anyone. Tonight she asked me about Vincent Van Gogh. Out of the blue, she wanted me to tell her the story about him cutting off his ear. Why? I don't have a clue. I told her that it was a long, complicated story. She wanted to know why he would cut his ear off for a girl. I explained that it wasn't 100% positive that he did, but, Vincent was a very passionate person, but always seemed a little off. There were a lot of reasons why he cut off his ear, but yes, one of them was that he cut it off and gave it to the girl he loved as a gift. "Who would want an ear?" Great question. It wasn't the ear, it was the fact that he wanted to give a part of himself to someone. But, being Vincent, he went a little overboard, actually a lot. Maybe he really thought he was doing something "good". Or maybe he felt like he had already lost and this was a last ditch effort, a final gesture, one that he knew would end badly, but he had to do anyway. No one knows.

Sometimes you get a feeling like nothing else matters. Like after all of the shielding and protecting, that it wasn't worth it and you give everything up to fate. What happens, happens, but hopefully things end up in a good way. The opening scene from the movie Dances With Wolves shows this perfectly. Costner's character has had enough. He's worn out, done fighting, he puts himself in the hands of Fate. In the scene he gets on his horse and rides out in front of the lines of soldiers, daring them to shoot him. Some people see this as giving up. I see it as a leap of faith. Instead of "trying"and forcing things, sometimes you just have to open it all up and see what happens. If you're accepted, then so be it. If not, then I suppose it wasn't meant to be. I am of the belief in greater good though, meaning that good things should happen or be. I believe in happy endings. It might take a while, and go through some questionable spots, but in the end, good things should remain. Costner's character goes on to better things, a life 100 times better than what he had. Because he gave himself up, things worked out miraculously. The movie would have sucked if he had gotten shot and killed in the first scene. Thats not the way things should work.

I'm working on opening things up, instead of forcing them. I want things to end up better than before. I have a lot of Van Gogh traits, which I hold on to. I admire him and his intensity. But, I don't want to end up with a Wheatfield With Crows feeling, even though I relate to the way he felt. Leaps of faith aren't easy, they're scary. But I suppose thats what makes faith such a powerful concept. Whether or not I get shot off my horse remains to be seen......