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February 20, 2017Posted by on
So What Can I see From Here?
Usually, the limit to how far characters can see will be some obstruction, such as a building, a forest, or some hills. Mist and darkness also limit vision. Sometimes, however, the characters will be on flat plains on a clear day and the only limit to their vision will be their perception and the horizon. Once something goes below the horizon, it can’t be seen. But where is the horizon?
|Height in feet||Miles away|
This table has been simplified for gaming use. On an earth-sized planet, the horizon for a six-foot tall person standing at sea level or on flat plains will be about 3 miles. This means that they can see features that are at ground level for up to three miles (depending, of course, on the quality of their vision and the size of the object). Features that are higher than ground level can be seen further.
To determine how far away you can see something, just add together all of the heights. For example, if a 6 foot man is on a 4 foot horse standing on a 30 foot hill, how close would you have to be to a 60 foot tall tower to see it? First add all the heights together 6 + 4 + 30 + 60 = 100 feet. Look at the table under “height in feet” and find 100 feet. Then look across under “miles away” to find 13 miles. So the tower could be spotted if it was no farther away than 13 miles.
You could see a 14,000 foot mountain a little more than 100 miles away.
This is good for seeing features on a map, such as lakes, forests, mountains, towns, etc. but knowing how far you can see is often not what your Player Characters need to know. Just because you can see 3 miles doesn’t mean that you can see a monster on the horizon. For that we need another table.
Perception Distance Table
|Creature – Fine||6” or less||30 ft. or less||5 ft. or less|
|Creature – Diminutive||6” – 1 ft.||30 ft. – 60 ft.||5 ft. – 10 ft.|
|Creature – Tiny||1 ft. – 2 ft.||60 ft. – 120 ft.||10 ft. – 25 ft.|
|Creature – Small||2 ft. – 4 ft.||120 ft. – 240 ft.||25 ft. – 50ft.|
|Creature – Medium||4 ft. – 8 ft.||240 ft. – 480 ft.||50 ft. – 100 ft.|
|Creature – Large||8 ft. – 16 ft.||480 ft. – 960 ft.||100 ft. – 200 ft.|
|Creature – Huge||16 ft. – 32 ft.||960 ft. – 1,920 ft.||200 ft. – 400 ft.|
|Creature – Gargantuan||32 ft. – 64 ft.||1,920 ft. – 3,840 ft.||400 ft. – 800 ft.|
|Creature – Colossal||64 ft. or more||3,840 ft. or more||800 ft. or more|
In this table “perceive” means that you can see it and may notice it with a perception check. If you do notice it you will recognize the creature type if you have seen one before. If you don’t know what type of creature it is you will be able to tell the creature’s coloration, size, shape, number of limbs, wings, etc. If the creature is moving, you will also be able to tell which direction it is traveling and about how fast.
“Identify” means that you can see details and may recognize an individual that you have met before.
Here is a simple rule of thumb that is accurate enough for gaming use:
Distance away (in feet) that you can perceive an item is its size (in feet) times 60.
Distance away (in feet) that you can identify an item is its size (in feet) times 12.
Round fractions down to the nearest 5 ft.
The item’s size is its longest dimension (height or width).
One more thing.
You can perceive a burning candle 1 1/2 mile away.
January 16, 2017Posted by on
Looking for Inspiration?
I ran across this Facebook site. Whenever you, as a DM, are trying to think of an original location for your next adventure, just browse through the photos on this “Abandoned World” site.
December 30, 2016Posted by on
Classes with Class
In 2004 and 2005 Skip Williams (co-creator of Dungeons & Dragons 3rd Edition) put a series of articles on the Wizards website with tips on playing each of the various character types. Wizards of the Coast has moved them to their D&D Archives, but you can still find them there if you are diligent in your search.
These are an excellent reference. They were written for D&D 3.5 but even if you are running a fifth edition game you will find then a useful reference.
Here are direct links to them:
And here is a link to the 3.5 D&D Archives page:
November 14, 2016Posted by on
The Alabaster Portal
I thought you might like to see the website I am using to manage my tabletop game. I call it the Alabaster Portal. It is a free, private, google site that I set up for my players and me to use for our game. I looked at the popular Obsidian Portal and decided that I wanted a little more control over my site that that allowed.
I set up a WIKI ten years ago and never used it much. I liked the idea, but it wasn’t very “pretty”. Google sites allows me to set page level access permissions, so I can set the permissions for each player to modify and add to his character’s information and also edit pages such as the adventure log. It has been popular with my players so far.
I had a request to make my site available as a template. If you want to create your own, similar to mine – you can use this template :
What do you think? Do you use a WIKI or Obsidian Portal, or something else, or is this all too much work for something not very useful?
April 16, 2016Posted by on
Pitchlight spent all morning going from cartwright to weaponsmith to armorer and to several others in an attempt to re-provision the dragon hunt. In every case they required gold coin on the barrelhead. He was unable to get any of them to accept a share in the dragon treasure for more than face value. The gold pieces struck specifically to be exchanged for a share in Abraxas’ treasure could not be exchanged for more than the value of the gold that they contained. Some even refused to accept them at all. A rumor was spreading that Abraxas would single out anyone that possessed such a coin and that they would be the first to die on his next attack.
He couldn’t blame the citizens of Rockport. They were frightened. He had already spent all that the church of Heironeous had provided for the hunt, and quite a bit of his own personal funds as well. As it now stood, the poorly provisioned campaign could be ready in about a week. It would take that long to build or repair the wagons and assemble the meager provisions.
He left the merchant district and walked through the crowded streets of Rockport to the temple district and to the temple dedicated to his deity. As he walked he passed children playing in the streets and he found himself thinking back on the days of his childhood. Both of his parents died when he was young, leaving him and his three older sisters to be raised in an orphanage ran by the Heironeous church. Their days there were divided into 4 equal parts; rest, study of holy texts, meditation and weapon training. This left little time for play. His teachers were impressed with his understanding of the Heironean Code and tried to persuade him to take an active role in the church, but at that time he was more interested in swords than in holy script. When he came of age, he joined the king’s guard and quickly advanced in rank. One day, when leading his squad against a marauding group of goblins, something happened that changed the course of his life. After bringing down the last goblin with his own sword, he was struck by lightning.
The holy symbol of Heironeous is a fist holding a lightning bolt. Lightning has special meaning to his worshipers. Anyone killed by lightning must deserve his fate. Anyone that is struck by lightning and survives is deemed blessed by Heironeous. Pitchlight remained unconscious for 14 days. When he awoke he found himself in the temple of Heironeous on the isle of wonder being measured for a custom suit of plate mail. From that day forward he has traveled the world as a cleric of Heironeous seeking out and destroying evil.
As he approached the temple of Heironeous he was wondering if the key to defeating Abraxas was in understanding him better. He would ask Heironeous himself for help. He passed quickly through the main entrance of the worship area and arraigned with the head of the church here to have the clerics prepare the inner sanctum for a major ritual. The High Priest that ruled this temple out ranked Pitchlight in the church hierarchy but adventuring clerics were considered “the tip of the spear” in the battle against evil. While the room was being prepared, Pitchlight bathed and dressed himself in his finest suit of plate mail.
All Heironean temples are built on the same basic ideas of presenting a façade of strength and power and providing a strong and easily defensible fortress. Each individual temple varies in design to reflect the specific taste of its priest and the perceived threats that it must defend against. Each temple size is also limited by the funds available for construction. The temple at Rockport was typical for a town of this size. One thing that all these temples have in common is a room near the center that is reserved for meditation, prayer and casting of spells. The room is sanctified and blessed. Anyone not dedicated to Heironeous is forbidden entrance. At this temple, the inner sanctum was a round room 20 feet in diameter with a flat ceiling 10 feet overhead. The room was windowless and contained no furniture other than tall iron candelabrum spaced 5 feet apart around the perimeter of the room, each with four burning candles, and a brazier in the center of the room. When Pitchlight entered he was met with the sweet smell of shagbark smoke, the embers of which were glowing in the brazier. He placed a handful of the most expensive incense onto the coals and began slowly walking around the room sprinkling holy water as he strode and began the incantation to invoke a commune spell, but at the point where the spell requires the asking of questions he fell to his knees and offered up a diamond valued at 1,000 gold pieces if Heironeous would but appear to hear his questions directly.
After an hour of praying and burning of over 500 gold pieces worth of incense, his meditation and prayers were interrupted by the sound of the creaking hinge on the room’s only door as it opened. He turned and saw a priest entering the room. Angrily, he shouted, “I left express instructions that I was not to be interrupted!”
As the man entered, Pitchlight tried to place him. He was sure that he had not seen this particular priest before. He was much taller than any he had seen here in Rockport. As the priest came closer it became clear that the short robe that he was wearing under his cloak was not of cloth as he had first thought, but was indeed made of the finest chainmail. He wore no holy symbol and carried no shield. His only weapon a great battleaxe. He wore no helm. His reddish-brown hair was short and rather unkempt. His face was clean shaven and his skin was the color of burnished copper.
The stranger stopped a few paces in front of Pitchlight. The door closed of its own accord. He spoke in a very calm voice saying, “Have you forgotten how to cast a commune spell, or have you gone completely mad?”
Pitchlight felt the blood drain from his face and his anger was replaced by awe as he realized he was in the presence of his god. He fell to his knees. “Pease forgive me, but my need is great and the commune spell is so limited. This one time, I need more than riddles or cryptic answers to my three questions.”
“Have I not always answered your questions truthfully?”
“Of course, and I am more than grateful, but if you could, just this one time, answer me more fully, so that I might understand. I seek answers regarding the dragon hunt we are about to commence.”
The tall man was indeed an avatar of Heironeous. He was silent for a few moments, studying the pleading face of his cleric. “You have been good and faithful. Rise to your feet and ask your three questions. My answers will be as full and complete as possible. However, you must understand that I do not take this lightly. You must not presume that I will come to your call at your every whim. I am not your servant. You are mine.”
Pitchlight nodded his head in acceptance and paused to think for a moment before he asked his first question, “Will we succeed in defeating Abraxas?”
“You will have the resources, but to succeed you must have the wisdom to use them.”
Pitchlight wasn’t completely satisfied with that answer, but he continued on to his second, “What is this gem he seeks and why is it so important to him?”
Heironeous smiled and replied, “I will be tolerant with you, but you must not break the rules. You must ask that as two separate questions, or rephrase the question.”
Pitchlight thought for a moment. Perhaps he could get the answer he was seeking if he asked it another way, “How was the gem stolen?”
The room became dark and Pitchlight thought for a moment that he had angered Heironeous in some way. Then the darkness lifted and he found himself standing outside in what was obviously the main square of a small village. The square was empty of people and horses, which was unusual for any village in the middle of the day. The only thing in the square was a large open chest that appeared to be about half full of bags, boxes, gilded armor, mirrors, and other items that may have represented the entire wealth of the village.
Then what he thought was a small child darted past him to the chest. Pitchlight quickly recognized that this was not a child, but rather a gnome who climbed into the chest and concealed himself under the treasure as fast as he could. Then a shadow passed over him as a gigantic red dragon landed in the square and dropped a small pouch into the chest. He started to draw his sword when he realized that the dragon could not see him there. It took only a moment to realize that this was only an image being shown to him by Heironeous. The dragon turned his massive head slowly in all directions, looking at all there was to see. He must have decided that this was all the treasure this village had to offer so he closed the lid on the chest, uttered some magical words, and it vanished, leaving only a print in the dust where it had been resting.
Darkness descended upon Pitchlight once again. This time when it lifted, he found himself in a huge underground cavern. The air was hot and damp. There was a lake of molten lava that provided the only light, bathing the rocky walls and stalactite covered ceiling in a pulsating reddish light. He was on the broad shore of the magma lake and standing near a large pile of coins. There was also many treasures of every description. As he was looking at what must have been a dragon’s horde accumulated over the centuries, the chest that he had seen earlier appeared on a patch of clear ground near the treasure. A few moments later the lid began to open, slowly at first, only an inch. The gnome then lifted it the rest of the way open and crawled cautiously out. Once the gnome was confident that he was alone, he closed the chest and began to examine the great volume of treasure. He was very cautious not to move or disturb any of the treasure in any way. After nearly an hour of examining the pile of coins, the many gilded and enameled armors, the fancy dress weapons, the piles of jewels, royal coaches and other valuable items too numerous to quickly tally, a single gem mounted in a simple silver medallion began to shine with a reddish glow. The gnome made his way over to the medallion which was hanging by a simple silver chain on a rocky outcropping on the cavern wall. Pitchlight moved closer for a better view and as they were looking at the gem it began to glow more brightly. As its brightness approached that of a burning torch he heard the unmistakable sound of leather dragon wings echoing off the cavern walls. The gnome quickly dashed into a deep crevice, wedging himself as far back out of site as he could.
The dragon landed more gently than one would expect possible from a creature so massive. He smelled the air and closely examined his treasure. Once satisfied that all was as he had left it, he opened the chest and began the process of lovingly emptying it of its contents, placing each item in its proper place according to some sorting process that only the dragon could fathom. When he was finally satisfied with the distribution of his latest take, he curled himself a tight ball perched on top of the pile of coins. With a contented breath he closed his eyes, and with a final snort of sulfurous smoke he appeared to fall asleep. A couple of minutes passed before the gnome again appeared. Keeping one eye on the dragon he creeped cautiously from his hiding place and made his way over to the shining gem. He tucked it under his shirt and began to make his way quietly along the cavern wall.
Everything went dark and the cleric found himself back at the inner sanctum standing again before an avatar of his deity. Heironeous spoke, “And what is your third question?”
Still dizzy from his view into the past, Pitchlight took a few seconds to remember that everything he had just seen was an answer to his last question. He braced himself for whatever he might be shown next and asked “What is Abraxas’ greatest weakness?”
Heironeous smiled and said, “Arrogance”. Then he turned and disappeared as he walked away.
July 18, 2015Posted by on
Sir Gleamheart and the governor had been discussing the status of the dragon hunt. The other guests were being ignored by their host and had begun half a dozen quiet conversations at their various tables around the hall. Everything fell silent when a wizard suddenly appeared in the center of the room. Sir Gleamheart drew his sword and the guards all readied their weapons. The governor calmed their fears when he stood and addressed the intruder. “Qewaxon, welcome. Your entrances are always shocking.” Turning to the others he said, “Put your weapons away. This is my friend, Qewaxon. He is King Athyert Veray’s court wizard and occasional emissary.”
Only after the paladin slowly sheathed his sword did the guards relax their positions. All eyes remained fixed on this small framed human. In the dim light of the candles, his ashen complexion and deeply wrinkled skin gave him an undead appearance. His head was almost completely devoid of hair making the light gray hair that fell to his shoulders and a thin beard that hung past his knees that more striking. He was wearing a tattered black wool robe tied at the waste with a broad leather belt with brass buckles from which hung a variety of pouches and odd metal hooks and rings along with what appeared to be a leather scroll case and small wire cage. A thin maroon scarf and faded blue gown could be seen where the robe parted down past his belt. His gown was as tattered around the bottom as his robe. He had tall soft leather boots on his feet. His forearms and hands were bare. He held a large crooked wooden staff in his right hand and a rolled-up parchment in his left.
After looking around for a moment, he stepped over to the head table. Ignoring the governor and the paladin, he addressed Gauwalt Byne, the old wizard who was sitting to the governor’s right. “I received your missive. I have been following the activities of your dragon with great interest.” Turning to the governor, he continued, “I ask your forgiveness in not passing the document immediately to the king. He is quite busy but if you or Sir Gleamheart would consent to returning to the palace with me, I could get you an audience with his highness almost immediately and you could make your plea in person.”
“Take me,” Sir Gleamheart said. Realizing his breach of etiquette in interrupting their conversation when he had not yet been addressed he stepped back and said, “I apologize but if the king is as wise and compassionate as they say, I am sure he will find a way to provide a number of fighters who would be eager to join in this holy quest.”
Qewaxon didn’t respond right away. First he looked the paladin over closely, from the top of his naturally curly hair and perfect teeth to his highly polished armor and proud posture down to the polish on his pointed sabatons. “You Sir Gleamheart are exactly as I expected you to be.” The paladin started to smile and thank him when he continued, “You are brash and compulsive. You are too eager to use your sword when your words would serve you better. It is my opinion that this dragon hunt you are contemplating is doomed to failure. I have followed your exploits from time to time and I must say that I am not impressed. However, I am only an advisor to the king and he seldom heeds my advice. If you are ready we can leave now.”
Gleamheart turned to the governor, “By your leave sir, I will go with the king’s wizard and hopefully return with enough men to defeat Abraxas.”
The governor replied, “Go then, and good luck.” Then to the wizard he said, “It was good to see you again, however briefly.”
Qewaxon handed him the rolled parchment that he had been holding. “This message is from the king. I believe it to be a tax matter.” Then without further ado he recited a few magical words and both he and the paladin disappeared.
To Gleamheart, all the world went momentarily cold and black. He became somewhat dizzy with the feeling of falling from a great height while still standing firmly on the ground. Then, suddenly, the room where he had been standing was gone and in its place was a large, brightly lit room filled with many people and bright colors. It took a few moments for his eyes to adjust to the bright sunlight that was streaming in from the huge open doors at both ends of what he soon realized was a very wide and quite long corridor. Only he and the wizard that was standing before him remained, all the rest had changed. If the people that were milling about had noticed them appear it must have been a commonplace occurrence for no one seemed startled, or even curious.
Qewaxon said for Gleamheart to wait here for a moment while he arraigned for them to be announced. He explained that the hall was full because the king was hosting a tournament that was to start in a few days. Today he was receiving each of the participating knights. With that he hurried across the hall to a pair of 20 foot tall gilded doors and slipped inside.
Sir Gleamheart stood there in awe. He had often heard tales of the golden palace but this was more wondrous than anything that he could have imagined. The walls were of a white marble through which ran strands of gold in all directions forming intricate webs of abstract design. Everywhere catching rays of sunlight from the many tall windows reflecting light in all directions giving the entire place a golden glow. Then he began to take note of the throng of people. What at first he mistook for chaos he could now see was a hectic but rather orderly crowd with many small groups, each group wearing different livery colors, most of which he recognized. There was the green and gold of the Southern Forest Duchy, the red and black of the Imstul Empire, the gold and blue of Marietland. The colors continued on down the hall – yellow and blue, white and green, pink and grey, orange and white, brown and blue. Gleamheart had spent many an evening studying the many and varied livery’s of all of the known lands as well as their various ranks and titles. But never had he seen so many different liveries in one place.
In most of the groups he could see one or two knights in their finest armor surrounded by several squires, nobles and attendants. Most groups were human or elf but there were a few dwarven groups and he saw a few half-orks and tieflings. He even thought he saw a dragonborn in a group at the far end of the hall, when suddenly a knight rushed over to him and grabbed him by the arm. “Olorry! My old friend. Is it really you? When did you arrive? Are you in the list?”
Not recognizing this stranger at first, Sir Gleamheart replied, “No, I am not in the list. I didn’t come to participate in your games.” It took him a few more seconds to recognize his old sparring buddy. “Neil Cutroy! The last time I saw you you were wearing the tan and brown of Marshwood and your beard was several inches shorter.”
“They call me Nel the Courageous now.” His friend replied. “I went adventuring for a while and ended up in the Ephoura Empire, where I swore my allegiance and took to wearing their gold and red livery.” He gave him a solid pat on the shoulder, “It is a wonderment to see you again.”
Gleamheart replied, “It is quite an unexpected pleasure to see you here as well. I am glad to see you are well.”
Neil stepped back a pace and asked, “If you are not here for the jousting tournament what business brings you the palace?”
“A very grave matter indeed, I am afraid. I have come to partition the king to provide me with as many volunteers as he can muster to fight a red dragon from the Black Mountains that is on a rampage of destruction.”
“The Black Mountains? Aren’t they over a thousand miles from here?”
“Over two thousand to be more precise and you must cross two other mountain ranges and a desert to get there from here.”
“You came all that way?”
“The king’s wizard teleported me here. I was standing in Rockport only moments ago. I am hoping the king will allow him to use his magic to deliver fighters to join my group to hunt down and destroy this dragon that is causing so much pain there.”
“I hope the king grants you your partition,” Neil said. “After your audience with him you should stay here a few days and participate in the jousting. You could represent Rockport. I have many lances and a good warhorse you can use.”
“I am afraid that I must decline your gracious invitation,” said Gleamheart. “I must return to Rockport as soon as possible. The dragon may attack again at any time.”
“Of course,” said Neil. “But if you were teleported into the palace you haven’t seen the list. Never before has a list had such a find field and grandstands. It is just outside the castle wall and the colorful pavilions have been popping up for the last couple of weeks as knights have arrived from all over the kingdom, and a few from other realms as well. The vespers tourney starts tomorrow. I have a young squire that expects to do well there. The jousting tournament will be on the following day. We are all here today to receive our formal welcome to the games from the king. After that we will be assigned our order in the formal procession to start the tourney. I am looking forward to riding in along with all of the other knights and judges. This will be my first Invocation.”
Gleamheart responded, “It sounds like it will be quite an event.”
Neil continued, “Everyone says that this will be the largest jousting tournament ever held. They have even erected a low wall to separate the horses and riders.”
“I remember when we once used a rope divider,” said Gleamheart.
“That’s right. I had almost forgotten that. That was in Glosharmos, if I remember correctly. Wasn’t that where your opponent was shamed for directing his attack at your horse?”
“Yes. That was Galter the Swift, and I won the contest despite his un-chivalrous conduct. I still have his silver buckler.”
“He became Galter the Earnest after that. You know that the looser no longer forfeits his armor to the victor? On the last day of the tournament the ceremony for awarding the prizes will be conducted. The king is awarding 200 gold coins as a grand prize to the ultimate victor.”
Then they noticed Qewaxon. Clanking his staff on the tiled floor with each hurried step he quickly approached and when Gleamheart looked in his direction he motioned for him to follow and said, “Come quickly, the king will see you now.”
As Gleamheart turned to go, Neil said, “Come back for me before you teleport back to Rockport.I will go with you. I can’t let you have all of the glory!”
“I will,” said Gleamheart. “Thank you.”
“There is no time for that,” interrupted Qewaxon. “We must go now!”
They crossed over to the gilded doors which opened for them as they approached.
July 1, 2015Posted by on
It’s no secret that pretty much every parent who plays any kind of tabletop game wants their kids to join in on the fun as well. Besides everyone using their imaginations to play, D&D helps to develop your kiddo’s cognitive skills such as reading, problem-solving, and creative thinking.
Wizards has released 2 kid friendly D&D adventures: Monster Slayers: The Heroes of Hesiod and Monster Slayers: The Champions of the Elements, both by Susan J. Morris. Parents can use this simplified rule-set as a stepping stone to introduce new players, young and old, to the world of D&D. Once you’ve finished these quick adventures you can move on to bigger campaigns and hopefully have the time of your life introducing the little ones to a game that they could be playing for years to come.
June 13, 2015Posted by on
It was nearing noon. The large pendant on its silver chain rattled against the paladin’s polished breastplate as his warhorse reared to a stop. The pendant was in the form of a silver hand holding a silver lightning bolt, the holy symbol of Heironeous, the deity to whom Sir Olorry Gleamheart had dedicated his life and sacred honor. It flashed brightly in the sun as the he dismounted at the gate to the governor’s residence.
As he removed his helmet and gantlets he addressed the guards, “I must see the Governor at once!”
The guards looked at each other. The first one said, “Of course, Sir Gleamheart, sir. But, you see, he wasn’t expecting you and, well, perhaps if I have someone announce you he will grant you an audience when he is free.” It was not surprising that he knew who this knight in shining armor was. Everyone in town knew of this man.
A young man, a squire from his clothing and demeanor, ran up from the stables to take the paladin’s horse and see to any of his other needs. Gleamheart handed him this helmet and gauntlets and turned for him to assist in removing his cape. “Tell Governor Patrick that his godson seeks his counsel in regard to this dragon business.”
Just then there arose a commotion in the street. A man in a torn and battered city guard uniform and a crazed expression on his face was running toward them. “You must die!” he exclaimed as he ran directly toward Sir Gleamheart and raised his sword to attack. With a swiftness born from years of practice, the paladin drew his sword and in that same motion swung it into his attackers weapon with a force that nearly knocked it from his hand and, ducking and spinning, he pivoted on one sabaton covered foot, turned a full circle and struck the man in his chest with the other, sending the attacker to the ground. The two guards were just now drawing their swords. Before they could approach, Sir Gleamheart stopped them with a raised hand saying, “This man is obviously under some kind of spell.” Reaching the man before he could get back to his feet, the paladin spoke some ancient and mysterious words as he placed a hand on the man’s forehead. Almost instantly, the man dropped his sword and looked around as if seeing his surroundings clearly for the first time.
Seeing the sword still in the paladin’s hand, the man dropped onto both knees and said, “Sir Gleamheart, please spare me! It wasn’t I who meant you harm, it was Abraxas! The dragon! He hexed me! I swear it!”
“Of course,” Gleamheart said as he sheathed his sword. “You are injured,” he said as he offered him his hand. “Can you stand?” With Gleamheart’s help he stood uneasily. “Let me heal you.” Then, with a magical incantation he had recited many times before, he invoked Heironeous’ divine mercy to heal the man’s wounds. The man acted as many before him when first receiving magical healing. First disbelief in the sudden and compete healing of all his wounds and restoration of his health and vigor. Then extreme happiness at his good fortune. “How do you feel?” Gleamheart asked.
“I feel great!” he answered as he turned himself around with outstretched arms, examining his arms and chest where seconds before there had been multiple scratches and bruising. “Thank you! Thank you so much!”
“Thank Heironeous,” Gleamheart replied. “I am only his servant.” Then, turning to the squire he said “Bring this man some water. He looks thirsty.”
“Yes, now that you mention it. I guess that I haven’t had anything to eat or drink for nearly two days. Ever since the dragon snatched me from the ballista tower.”
“It is important that you tell me of your ordeal. All of it, in so far as you can remember.”
“Yes, of course. And I can remember it all clearly.”
“But wait, you must tell it all in front the governor, so it won’t lose anything in its retailing.” He grabbed the man by the arm and took him quickly to the large doors of the white granite building. Ignoring the startled guards at the door he cast a spell which pushed the doors open with a slam that could be heard in the street. Without breaking stride he continued into the large foyer. He turned and started to toward the assembly hall when a guard stepped in front of him. Before the paladin could push him aside, the guard pointed to the descending staircase to his left. “He is in the dining hall,” he said with a grin. Sir Gleamheart smiled in return and turned to proceed down the wide stairs and then along a short corridor with doors to either side to arrive in front of another pair of ornately carved doors. He had ran and played in the corridors of this mansion as a child and knew every alcove and secret passageway. From beyond the doors to the dining hall he could hear music playing. It was a song he remembered from his youth. He stopped and waited for the song to end. The sweet sound of a child singing to the strings of a high strung lute.
He opened the doors to see that the lute player was a young boy astride a pure white buck which was being led by a fair hared girl. She led the buck out a near side door as all eyes turned to the intruders.
As soon as he recognized who it was, the Governor called out to him from the far end of the room, “Olorry!” Then with a wave for him to come on in he corrected himself, “Sir Gleamheart! You and your guest come join us. We were just finishing our meal, but I’ll have them return with soup and mead.”
Governor Tamas Patrick had bright turquoise eyes that could be seen clearly from across the large room. His complexion seemed somewhat paler than the paladin remembered but his wavy brown hair was pinned back as was his custom from as far back as Olorry Gleamheart could remember. He was a tall man, but was now somewhat stoop shouldered. His was wearing a suit of leather armor in gray and copper. The great hall was lit only by clusters of candle chandeliers rendering it rather dark. All of the main rooms of the mansion were built underground for fear of dragon attacks. This was a rectangular room three times as long as it was wide. The governor sat at the head table. There were tables to the left and to the right. With the central area for entertainment and for the servants to access the tables. Although the room could easily seat 50 or more guests, there were less than 20 seated here now. There were various land owners, money lenders, high ranking military men, guild masters, the harbor master, and other nobles and knights. Many of the faces were familiar to Glemheart, but none more familiar than Gauwalt Byne, the old wizard sitting to the mayor’s right.
Pushing the suddenly timid guard forward, Gleamheart said, “Governor Patrick, I came to discuss the dragon hunt, but first this man has some valuable information to share.”
The room grew quiet and the guard looked nervously around. He then stood tall and straight. “My name is Quaintus Northant, second paviser, third armored company, blue division of the city watch. On the night of the dragon attack I was stationed on the ballista tower on the corner of Rosemont Street and the Warfe Road.” Looking back at the paladin seamed to give him courage to continue. “The fog was so thick we couldn’t see even as far as the next tower over. The first notion we had that the city was under attack was the screaming. And then we saw a flash of fire in the distance. We manned the ballista but couldn’t see no target. Then there was a dark shape coming down and the dragon grabbed me up. His scaly foot, it was like a crow’s claw, only big, you know? It was near as big as me and it crushed the breath out of me. It flew away with me. I tell you, I have never been so scared. I don’t know if I was more scared of being crushed to death, or of being dropped. I had no way of knowing where we were, or how high we were flying because of the fog.”
Looking around at all the eyes watching him, he swallowed hard and continued, “Finally he flew far enough away that he was out of the fog and I could see how high in the air we were. I held on tight and closed my eyes. A couple of minutes later he landed. I could see that we were near the coast, many miles north of here. He must have cast some kind of spell on me because all of a sudden I wasn’t afraid any more. It was like he was the greatest creature in the world and I was his best friend. I mean, he isn’t really my friend. I was under a spell and I just thought he was. You have to understand that I wouldn’t do anything to help Abraxas. I swore an oath to defend Rockport from dragon attack and I take that oath seriously.”
Governor Patrick assured him, “I understand, my boy. You are not in trouble. Please continue.”
“Well. He asked me a lot of questions about the expedition that was being organized to come after him.” Turning to Sir Gleamheart he said, “I am sorry, but I told him everything that I knew. After I told him where the wagons were being kept, he instructed me to return to town and slay you. Failing that I was to give you a message. Then he flew back towards Rockport. That was the last time I saw him. I started walking. I didn’t stop until I found you. You know the rest.”
Gleamheart asked, “The message, what was it?”
“Please don’t hold this against me. These are not my words, they are his …
“Abraxas, the largest, most fearsome, most deadly, and greatest dragon since Tiamat, supreme lord of all land over which he flies, issues this command to Sir Gleamheart. You shall abandon your ill-conceived expedition. You shall obtain the gem that I seek, and you shall return it to me personally. Do this and I will stop my assault on your towns and villages. Defy me and not only will your entire expedition be utterly destroyed, but I shall start a campaign of fire and destruction such as has never before been seen.”
Gleamheart said, “Did he say what the gem was that he wants me to bring him?”
Quaintus shook his head and said, “No. I got the impression that he thought you knew what gem he was talking about.”
Gleamheart said, “I only wish that I did, and that I had it. Perhaps I could end this whole bloody mess.” Then he pointed to the nearest table and said, “Sit. Eat. Thank you.”
Quaintus went around to the table and quickly set at the nearest spot. Halflings hurried to the table to bring him food and drink. Gleamheart walked up to the head table. “Governor,” he began, “the expedition is in dire need of volunteers.”
Tamas Patrick answered, “I have already encourage all city guards that wished to volunteer. I granted them leave and told them they could keep their share of the treasure. As I recall, you seemed pleased with the response.”
“The attack has changed all of that. Yesterday many of the volunteers withdrew their pledge and returned their shares. More left this morning. It has been reported that some were seen leaving the city and taking their shares with them. Taking into account those that were killed or wounded that we were not able to restore, we are left now with less than one in five of the original number of fighters.”
“I can order more men to volunteer,” the governor replied.
“No,” snapped Gleamheart. “I will not lead men who are forced to fight!”
From the governor’s right Gauwalt Byne spoke up, “Tamas, Olorry, have either of you asked King Veray for help?”
They both turned and stared at the old wizard. This small man in the black cloak and pointed hat that he always wore had been sitting and listening calmly until now.
“King Veray?” asked the governor. “He is sitting on his throne in the Golden City of Wheathorp, a thousand leagues and two mountain ranges away. He wouldn’t be able to get any troops here even if he could be persuaded to part with them.”
The wizard tapped his bony finger on the table, then turned to the governor, “You are always overlooking the power of magic. No, I don’t have the power to move large numbers of people a thousand leagues or more, but the King has more powerful wizards than me at his command, and may have other magical means of transport we are unaware of. All I am saying is that it could do no harm to ask.”
Governor Patrick looked at Sir Glramheart, then turned back to the wizard and said, “I don’t suppose it would do any harm to ask. Can you send him a missive?”
“I took the liberty of preparing this earlier. It needs only your seal,” the wizard said as he handed him a parchment.
The governor looked it over. It eloquently but briefly, described the entire situation. It ended in a formal request for any help in the form of willing fighters that the king could provide. After reading it, he held a stick of red wax in a candle flame to drip the wax onto the document and then pressed his signet ring into the hot wax. While he was doing this, his wizard was clearing the table in front of him and setting a small silver tray there. When the governor handed the document back to him, he placed it on the tray and cast his spell. The document disappeared with a sparkling flicker. “We must now wait for his reply.”
Gleamheart and the governor continued discussing the upcoming quest. Gleamheart said that he had been informed that the wagon makers and ballista maker are requiring coins on the barrelhead and will no longer accept the golden coins for a share of the treasure in payment, and furthermore that it will take at least a week to equip and provision even the small band of volunteers he now had available. The governor gave the paladin an account of the destruction from the attack and what emergency measures are now in place. While they talked the wizard noticed a small transparent globe appear near the center of the room. It floated just above head height and was as elusive as a whiff of pale smoke. No one else saw this magical apparition which the wizard recognized as the receiving eye of a scrying device. As he watched, it winked out of existence and a heartbeat later a black robed man with a long grey beard appeared.