Tales of Troven (part 1)

Arkala sits at the northernmost edge of the civilized world. A city of both trade and innovation. It is not without its own corruption. Many factions fight for power. The mages of the University, the thieves guild, and the corrupt mayor. Each owning their own price of the city in constant conflict for more.

The streets are crowded with both merchants, and plenty of victims for Troven to get his next meal. He eyes a particularly large purse dangling from the belt of a well dressed man. Troven stalks his prey for a while. Getting a feel for his subtle movements and posture. He slips behind the man. With Troven’s small knife in hand he slits a hole that quietly dispenses the contents of the purse into his own.

Troven slithers away with his prize into a quiet alley off Merchant Street. The same alley Troven often sleeps in. The contents now emptied into his worn gloves hands. There is enough to get a nice meal a few jugs of ale and a place to bath and sleep. This and there is enough to spare on some companionship tonight.

“Perhaps we celebrate tonight. It’s been awhile since I’ve laid with a woman.” he mutters to himself. “It’s about time Arkala has treated me well.”

Merchant Street is located in north Arkala, Troven spent most of his time here, the market has its ups and downs and those caught stealing without guild affiliation are often dealt with by the thieves guild and not the local law. Troven knows this and is very careful about not being caught.

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Npc’s

This will probably be a short post about Npc’s and how I handle them.

Regardless of the system you use most npc’s dont need to be full fleshed out going into a game. Just the basic idea of them and the important part is that they do not steal the show.

I always bring a notebook to write down anything that comes up with npc’s such as brief background or motivation and if something comes up during the session I jot it down so that their story is consistent.

It never fails that you spend hours developing npc’s to only have them never used to the potential you planned for and on the other hand a random npc’s get more attention than you expected. Just go along with it. Some of the best and most memorable npc’s come from these events.

For stat blocks I tend to just make them up as I go. If for some random reason the group decides that its important to battle a random npc’s or if that npc’s is brought in to combat for whatever reason you can alway use the monster manual and pull some generic stat blocks or you can have fun with it and just make it up on the fly.

There is no right or wrong way to do this but for continuity take notes. This will create a more believable world for you and your players.

Hooks and getting the quest together

Hooks

An important part of starting any adventure or quest is giving a reason to even go. The motivation behind the adventure. Something to get the party hooked.

This greatly depends upon the people you are trying to motivate. Are they seeking treasures to increase their wealth, glory and renown or maybe it’s something personal.

Knowing the characters and what motivates them will help hook them in without railroading them towards a goal you want them to.

Let’s look at the background stories I have developed for a future adventure. Cole has become lost after attempting to steal an artifact. Now I could easily just state that the group knew him and has personal intrest in bringing him home to his now orphaned children. Perhaps a member of the group was orphaned as well and doesn’t want this to happen to anyone else. Maybe the children or a family member pooled together a reward for finding their father/family member.

Let’s say the group are complete strangers and they each need motivation and a reason to come together. With this and not knowing my future members I will develop a blanket hook and then cater it to the group as I find out what they would motivate them to search for Cole.

Our current blanket hook

We will start with the idea that the group is all in Arkala, our fictional city. Cole is now missing and Bhomin, our villain, is devising another plan to get the artifact.

Bhomin will create some chaos to ensure the town is not ready for his next attempt. The dream I gave Hartwell about the oncoming dust storm will be just that. A dust storm comes in bringing all the outlying areas of farmers and smaller villages to seek refuge in the Arkala. This will create a need to pool resources for the refugees.

This gives a few options for where our group comes from. Are they a refugee? A guard in the city? Maybe a student at the University?

When the city’s resources are spread thin Bhomin will stage an attack on the town, this can bring a group together by making them survive together.

Where to go from here

Now that we brought the party together with an event its about how to get them to want to pursue our villain and continue the story. This gives us options based on the events of the attack. Did the group succeed in preventing the attack and thwart Bhomin in his attempt to get the artifact. Then maybe now Bhomin plans for another attack or if money is a motivation maybe Bhomin’s identity is hidden and he offers the group riches to acquire the artifact. Maybe the group, through investigations finds out what is happening and works to prevent it from happening again.

Now on the other hand say they fail, and Bhomin is able to retrieve the artifact. Motivation could be saving the world or retrieving it for the groups own nefarious reasons. The options are endless and when it comes to this its about being flexible and working with the group you have.

Let’s say they still don’t care enough to stop him and go off doing something else. What would happen if Bhomin succeeded in awakening Y’thcal is it really that bad?

Having an idea of all the possible outcomes or even just coming up with them on the fly is a way to making an excellent story and a fun experience for the players as well as the DM. Trying to force a specific path generally means a blah story.

Happy questing!

A wizard and a box

So now for another peice of the puzzle. Perhaps the last. We have a thief, a cult leader of sorts and now the person who was robbed.


Professor Hartwell was a long time resident and professor at Arkala University. He taught the art of medicine and healing. His heart was alway in the study of occult. When he wasn’t teaching he was in the library.

In his personal studies he found a small ornate box that contained an item that was thought to belong to a cult that worshipped old long forgotten deities. Hartwell did not know the importance of this item only that it was used in some sort of ritual.

There is very little writing about these old gods and what they were about. Hartwell found the little remaining extremely fascinating but also terrifying. Ties between these gods and creatures like the illithids have been found but no real evidence.

Some believe that this is where the warlocks get their power from. The “old ones”. Hartwell could neither prove or deny any of this but in his studies the name Y’thcal is often referred.

He knew this item may be sought after so he placed a powerful enchantment on the box containing the relic.

Hartwell’s dreams have been plagued by visions of a dust storm that engulfs all of Arkala.


Thank you.

Trying to tie things together

As for the last post this one is less of a short story and more ramblings of a mad man who stays up to late reading. I wanted to leave it up to the story tellers in all of us to find the fate of “Cole”.

Here is just me messing around with some ideas like before names and titles are not as important as the story itself being able to life ones own fantasy within the story.

The next little part is more or less derived from my obsession with horror and fantasy. Taking ideas from Lovecraft and adding them to flesh out a universe in which I can dream of the unimaginable or whatever. I give you

How to summon the old gods.


Bhomin, after finally gathering the final artifact to awaken Y’thcal, arranged the peices to form a large shrine. Bhomin has prepared for this ritual for a long time.

Y’thcal was one of the oldest beings, certainly the most powerful. But his children did not agree with his methods. His children have long since been forgotten in most realms and their children now reside in the under realms.

It started with subtle dreams for Bhomin. The dreams became more frequent and intense with each passing night. Soon he became obsessed with Y’thcal. He could no longer tell what was dream or reality. When Bhomin got his hands on the vile Tome of Ulcostic. Everything became clear.

The Tome of Ulcostic was a book full of essays, ramblings, crude sketches and letters involving creatures not of our known universe. Many of these articles signed by someone named Bilefikch. The name Y’thcal can be found in many articles of the tome.

Bhomin was unsuccessful with his ritual because one artifact was missing. It can be found in the town of Arkala. A professor at the Arkala University is said to have it.

Bhomin enlists a desperate father to enter this professor’s home and retrieve the artifact. He offers Cole a life where his children will want for nothing ever again.


The idea here was to be able to give the adventures something to question. Who is the villain? Is there even one? Is Y’thcal a benevolent being or the bringer of end times?

There is room for improv here. The adventure of discovery awaits…

Happy adventures!

Finding Cole

Before the tale, I just wanted to give some information about it. I have been brainstorming ideas for possible d&d campaigns. Some of them being more horror based. The following peice of work was just an idea that could lead to an adventure.


Cole nervously turned the handle to the back door. It was locked as he expected. The answer was a simple object he had in his pocket, a key that could open up many possibilities. He realised the handle and reached in his pocket; hesitant to pluck the key and try it.

This will never work, he thought. He slid to the ground softly crying.

After a few minutes he pulled the key out and stood up. Cole forced the key into the lock and twisted it equally as hard. It worked. It actually worked. He was unsure if he had made the key correctly of if he was going to be able to use it. The lock released and the door was ready to be opened.

Cole pulled his dark hood farther over his face. His hand shakes as he grasped the handle to open the door. The hinges had made a faint creaking sound but to cole it had been deafening. The door opened to such darkness and it seemed to absorb the light from outside into its empty void. He had stepped inside and closed the door quietly behind him.

The room was dark but he could make out the shapes of a coat rack and a few empty cupboards. The floorboards moaned as Cole stepped forward. I’ve made it this far, he thought. Two more doors and a staircase were the only thing left that stood in his way. That and well leaving. He opened the next door that opened up into a dining room.

The room was empty, well if empty meant that nobody who would wish Cole ill intent was in there. There was a empty table and a few chairs but nothing dangerous. He quietly worked his way around the table where he could see the staircase. He paused at the bottom of the stairs. This will be the hardest part I believe.

The stairs seemed loud enough to wake the neighbors as he took one step up. After each step Cole paused and listened. Not a sound but his own heavy breathing. Those stairs seemed to be longer and higher than any mountain as he climbed. His breathing got more labored as if he had been climbing for hours. The stairs led to a hallway with three doors. His target was I  the door to his right.

The door was already open and the roo. Was bright with moon light. It was a study of some sort, he thought. Large bookshelves full of strange books lined the walls and near the window was a ornate wooden desk littered with papers. Also on the desk was Coles target. Coles salvation. Coles redemption was footsteps away. A fist sized box with symbols carved on it. It was a dark stained jewelry box. His quest was completed he retrieved the box and placed it into his coat.

The door he entered was not the same one he walked out of from that study. The hall appeared longer and the stairs, well where were the stairs?


Now the idea behind this was that this man, his name doesn’t have to be Cole but that was just what I came up with at the time, is a novice thief. Perhaps not a thief at all but was put in a situation where he felt that he needed to do this.

He obviously has no idea what he stole, or maybe he did? He stole it from someone or thing that obviously did not want this item getting into the wrong hands. Now for the adventure.

What was this item? Who was the owner? Where is “Cole”? The adventurers will have quite the mystery ahead of them.

I will add to this later. I just wanted to keep this brief.

Happy questing!

Isabel – A working title

Only in my wildest dreams could I have ever imagined such a horrifying outcome to such a wonderful blessing. The results have brought me here, a pen in hand paper on my desk and a revolver next to that. With what I have done, no brought on, I deserve far worse than this cowardly way out. The chemicals don’t even dull the pain anymore.  I have tried to rectify the terror I have unleashed, completely fruitless. What could possibly be so bad? Have you been living under a rock? Look outside, you see that? That was all my doing, my curse upon the world.

I am assuming that you still don’t get it. What I have done. Okay well let me start from the beginning, then maybe I can feel justified. Perhaps you would have made a similar mistake given similar circumstances? I don’t think the choice was something anyone else would not make in my situation but knowing now the results I can’t say I wouldn’t have made it. Love makes us do such crazy things, this is such an understatement.

In college I was not the most interesting person, hell I was basically a leper. It was my junior year, I’d been lost. I had been extremely lost. To be honest, because why not, I didn’t think I’d survive another year. Every year, I felt closer to my own self destruction. To be blunt, I had planned on suck starting a shotgun in my room.

I was, per usual, in a bar trying to drown out my demons. This  however, never worked, those damn things know how to swim. That is unimportant but it may help reveal something that may help. Who knows? This night was the night that started this whole mess. Don’t get me wrong though. I wouldn’t change it.

I wasn’t intentionally staring at her, but I mean she was breathtaking. A slender woman, long dark hair, blue eyes and a presence of confidence, stood near the jukebox. What should have been a short glance turned into a stare. She looked over at me and of course my eyes did not stray. I awkwardly continued to stare but I was not mentally there. My imagination took my far away. She had snapped me back into reality when she tapped me.

Her voice was soft but deep, it seemed so far away. As I was coming back to the real world it became clear and as if it was the only sound in the room. That’s how we first met. From there we saw each other a few other times and well one thing led to another and we started seeing each other regularly. Her name was Isabel.

Isabel, hell she was my everything. We had dreams, plans, and a future. Had, that was until she got sick. The kind of sick you just never get better from. Everyday was worse than the last. The doctors gave her months when we finally found out what was going on. The cancer didn’t care about our plans. It had plans of its own that did not involve Isabel and I being together. That was about two years ago. Two years before I had unleashed the unimaginable terror.

    Grief can change a man. Well at least this man. I became obsessed, even after she gave up and was to tired I wouldn’t stop. I tried everything. Sometimes without her even knowing. Our future was gone so the savings meant nothing. I went to every witch doctor and whatever I could find to try and save her. In the end I lost everything including Isabel.

Need I continue? Have things clicked yet? Again look outside and tell me things aren’t making more sense now. Look at what I have done.

Even after the life drained from her body and there was no Isabel left, I didn’t give up. I tried to communicate with her through mediums and psychics. A bunch of bullshit if you ask me. I was not ready to give up.

Weeks before all the shit outside started I found someone special. I was finally close to having Isabel back. If you can call it that now. I mean really look at the mess. This woman, Gwendra, she gave me something that nobody else could. She gave me Isabel. Don’t believe me?

She was alive more or less, but most importantly I was with her again. I, no we, didn’t have much left but I had her. We had our future ahead of us. That was more than I could ask. If I had know what left of that future held I think I would do it again just to have her for as long as I did.

She was just as beautiful as the day we met. Albeit a little pale and cold but gorgeous nonetheless. Not only that but she was back to her old self, before the illness. Quick with a joke, sarcastic and all the wonderful things I love about her. That blinded me, I was unable to connect all the dots at first and when I figured it out it was too late. You will be there right with me in just a second.

It started with missing pet posters going up all over the place. That dog next door that used to harass us with his brain curdling screeches was the first to disappear. I felt bad yes but it was nice to have the silence. Oh how the silence is ghastly now. Larger things started to disappear after that, sons, daughters, brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, you name it. More and more frequent. The worst part was when they started coming back. Not all of them some to this day have still yet to be found. I don’t think there is anything left to be found but then I have seen some things. 

The ones that came back were like Isabel, you know, not as fresh i guess would be the word for it. Not dead, that was obvious. Just not really alive if you get my drift. It was spreading as well. This plague I started was spreading rapidly, I heard recently it has hit overseas in some foreign places I have never heard about.

It wasn’t until i stumbled upon Isabel eating. Oh god was she eating. I cringe thinking of this, this vomit inducing atrocity. She was eating a person, like a living, breathing, nine to five person. Just tearing away at his flesh. This was when I pictured the neighbors dog in her mouth. All those people, the ones that didn’t come back this was their fate as well.

Later that night when she was home and back to her usual self, well as normal as a cannibal could be, I knew I had to do something. What Gwendra gave me back was a Zombie I guess. She slept and seemed like a normal person just had a man snack every now and again. The others are they like her as well did they eat their neighbors dog?

I had to end it. All those movies you see where you take a zombie down with a head shot, yeah complete bullshit. She just looked at me after I emptied the first of five rounds into her skull. The kind of look you give your pet when he has an accident inside. I put four more bullets into her and nothing she just sat up and stared at me with astonishment. I had never ran so fast. Am I next? Is my fate that of all those ones that haven’t been found.

Now I am here, at this desk, writing my confession with the last round in that revolver. I can hear the pounding on the door outside the room. I don’t really know if it’s Isabel or who knows I don’t want to be some snack. Now do you get it. What I have done. I hope so. Thankfully I don’t think anyone will every have to make the same mistake as I have.

Sincerely,

……….