Tuesday, July 5, 2011, 6:09 AM
New character for D&D Encounters!
Harvis Visaldorf, Dwarf Knight, Unaligned, Male
Starting Ability Scores: Str 18, Con 16, Dex 10, Int 14, Wis 9, Cha 12
Skills: Athletics, Diplomacy, Endurance
Feat: Axe Expertise
Stances: Cleaving Assault, Defend the Line
Harvis Visaldorf is a stellar example of Clan Visaldorf's training, teaching and blood. Harvis is uncompromising in battle, stoic in the midst of pain and chaos, and pursues personal excellence with an iron will. He has left to test his mettle in the wider world.
Clan Visaldorf has a unique philosophy concerning the aim of a dwarf life and the pursuing of that aim. Dwarf life is necessarily communal, and is focused on the success of the clan over and above the success of the individual, but only once the dwarf has cleared himself of individualistic urges and has shown his mettle by committing himself to another group outside the family. Harvis has recently left his home to do just that, but he will not attach himself to just any cause; his personal honor depends upon attaching himself to an impressive cause and improving its state before he returns home.
The Visaldorf philosophy requires that Harvis build something, not just protect something, and certainly not destroy something. Given his obvious talents, Harvis finds this to be a somewhat daunting challenge...
Tuesday, July 5, 2011, 5:50 AM
I am starting a new campaign; information on it can be found here. So, y'know, if you're in the Boston area I am still looking for a player or two, or you're free to follow the setting as well! I think I've done a decent enough job with the day of world-building I've had to put into it.
It is essentially what Venice would be if Venice were a gate-town to the Shadowfell.
Saturday, December 5, 2009, 3:08 PM
Shadow, Warforged Assassin, Bleak Disciple, Unaligned, Identifies as Female
Background: Basilisk's Gaze (+2 to Perception)
Starting Ability Scores: 12 Str, 16 Con, 17 Dex, 10 Int, 14 Wis, 8 Cha
Skills: Acrobatics, Endurance, Insight, Perception, Stealth
Feat: Skill Focus (Insight)
Powers: Executioner's Noose, Leaping Shade, Gloom Thief, Grave Spike
Equipment: Leather Armor, Hand Crossbow, Khopesh
In the midst of the most terrifying years of Khorvaire's great war, Shadow was sold to House Medani. They rigorously trained her to uncover deception, to bring the dark into the light. There were moments when Taldor d'Medani himself sat in on her instruction sessions. She was taught to approach human interaction from unusual ways, to cut through its most vulnerable points to lay bare the truth. The result was that, though maddeningly blunt or subtle at inappropriate times, Shadow had a way of causing people to stumble over their own lies, and thus spill their most tightly held secrets at her feet. All she needed was a glimpse, and, like a well-trained dog, she'd not rest until she had the truth wriggling in her teeth.
Because most of Shadow's trainers were female, and because Shadow came to recognize that they were the cleverer sex, she came to identify herself as such. As she developed a true sense of self, the Day of Mourning all but ended the Last War. Medani accelerated her training, plunging her into strange situations, whole communities that were puzzles to be solved. And again, just like a trained hound, her scent for war criminals was unerring. The war came to a close, and Medani's profits were never higher. Nations could not help but pay the House's exorbitant prices for their captured war criminals; the alternative was to let them go free, and decisions like that tended to become matters of public spectacle ill-received by the war-weary people of Khorvaire. Shadow was a rising star in the Gaze, set to become legendary.
But the Treaty of Thronehold granted all warforged independance, and the Gaze did not desire a hound with a mind of its own, especially a hound that reminded so many of the horrors of the war. She was ejected from the organization as an experimental success, and was unceremoniously cut off from House Medani as a whole. Shadow is not quite certain what she will do know, but there are no doubt places to start in Sharn. It seems to be a pretty big puzzle, in fact, with lots and lots of pieces. So many that some of them could be removed and nobody would miss them. Some might even pay to see the city a little less cluttered.
Friday, December 4, 2009, 2:33 PM
I've decided to do something silly, and produce a character a day (or as close to one a day as I can manage) for as long as I can manage. I'll mostly be presenting the concept, but I'll post ability scores and basic build elements. I plan to post them here so that they can be stolen wholesale for your purposes. So, for our first:
Lam, Changeling Barbarian, Thaneborn Triumph, Good
Background: Sharn (Streetwise class skill)
Starting Ability Scores: 17 Str, 12 Con, 15 Dex, 10 Int, 8 Wis, 16 Cha
Feat: Bloody Triumph
Powers: Foe to Foe, Pressing Strike, Vault the Fallen, Swift Panther Rage
Equipment: Greatsword, Hide Armor
One month ago, Lam started hearing voices. Not voices, actually; there were no words. Not any that he could understand, anyway. But there were definitely sounds, and there was definitely meaning behind it. At first, he thought he'd lost hold of his mind. He'd heard of it happening to some changelings: you shift skins a bit too much, and your mind starts getting used to being in flux, and it slips into changing, too, and likes changing so much that it keeps on doing it. But it didn't seem to be that. Lam was still Lam, just plus something else.
He took a break from his enforcer gig to get to the bottom of it. He walked around Sharn, and whenever the voices got louder, he'd keep on going that way, just like in a game of Expedition. Travelling thus, he found his way to a crowded courtyard in the Lower City. It was cacophonic here, a bunch of voices drowning out the sounds of the dirty creatures that filled the courtyard. In a small corner of the courtyard, he found his answers.
In the shadows of Sharn's spires, he found the city's heart. He opened it there, and the newborn spirits filled him. In that instant, he was all of Sharn. His face, at the top of each tower, was warmed by the sun. His fingers, at the cliffs, felt the soft crashing of waves. But his belly was a maelstrom of pain and discomfort, awash in crime, greed, and discarded life. The spirits released him, granting him an element of their power. He knew what they wanted him to do. Lam cursed, but at least the voices had stopped.
Thursday, December 3, 2009, 5:09 PM
At its base, D&D is a small set of mechanics that arbitrates the outcomes of imaginary situations. Whether the situation be as simple as convincing a wary man-at-arms of your good intentions or as complex as firing an alchemically laden arrow between the plates of an umber hulk's stony carapace, D&D provides a resolution. But, of course, it does more than this. It builds the structures of race and class upon that base mechanic, and further hammers the system into ability scores, scores of feats, magic weapons, and abstract levels to describe a character's average level of skill. In the midst of all this, the game's creators weave in patterns and motifs, much the way a grandmother might weave the image of a bunny into her woolen socks. A base world begins to emerge from what was once just numbers. Before long, this hulking mass of ideas finds itself assembled, but is helpless and inert, waiting for life to be breathed into it. And, thankfully, the breath of life is given to it in basements, game shops and dining tables across the world. The system comes to life when it is played; otherwise, it is pretty, but useless.
Something unique happens at that stage, too. As that hulking mass encounters DMs, and, to a lesser extent, players, it is changed. The original idea, formed in an unholy union of minds at Wizards, has been transmitted as effectively as they know how to our homes, but, since we haven't developed telepathy yet, it comes out all muddled. This is a Good Thing. In this way, the game is modified, essentially born anew, at the beginning of each session of each game of each campaign. It is a constantly evolving creature, with a sort of hivemind transmitting the prime directive to each of its parts. That directive bears the clarion call of fun, yes, but also other things.
More important to the unified identity of Dungeons and Dragons than fun, or geekiness, or even Cheetos, is this: story. The system is designed to facilitate storytelling in a way that everyone, including the DM, is uncertain of the outcome of the simplest actions. Indeed, with a good DM, the game becomes an exercise in communal storytelling. In fact, D&D's most important role may be this: it inspires the telling of stories. It is in this aspect that D&D becomes something greater than your average game, connecting to the undercurrent of the human experience in a way that may be classified as art, or even as sacred.
Most everyone would agree that humanity is a disparate thing, and that the differences between individuals and cultures are sometimes greater than the similarities. But one of the few universals is this: everybody tells stories. Since the earliest myths of our ancestors, stories have been a part of the human experience, regardless of faith or location. It is a fundamental building block of human culture, and is the most powerful tool for imagining what we, as a race and as individuals, have been and can become. Stories are the girders of progress and the firmament of history. It is impossible to separate the human experience from stories.
What does it mean, then, that D&D is a facilitator of this fundamental human endeavor? It elevates it to a higher status, certainly. To an outsider, there may not seem to be a point in pretending to be an elf. But to us, it makes sense. In the midst of a story, we are weighing what it is to be someone else. Whether that person is a righteous hero, a miserable jerk, a sadistic madman or just a pretty normal guy, we are empathetic to that character, exulting in his or her successes and feeling frustration at the inevitable failures. It is the same thing that humanity has always done when it encounters a story. It makes us think beyond ourselves. It allows us to experience a new sort of existence. It is existentially healthy.
Because D&D fulfills this role, I feel safe in labeling what comes out of the system as art. It is, at the least, a facilitator of art. I would go so far as to call it facilitator of a sacred necessity. As long as D&D keeps on inspiring storytelling, it is doing the world a great service.