I was supposed to run D&D last night but for various reasons (mostly related to insomnia) I hadn't had time to finish prepping. My game is at a particularly lore-intensive moment right now, and while monster encounters and action scenes are fairly easy to run off the cuff, getting the world right requires a little thinking ahead.
Luckily inkblitz stepped in with a fun little side-trip adventure for his game. Following last week's goblin-and-dragon-hunting jaunt, the party was in Greenfork, flush with cash. Kihai, raised in the desert by his semi-nomadic Tabaxi kinfolk and now a wandering monk, had never had as much as a hundred and thirty REAL gold pieces and immediately bought himself a fancy hat, a statue of the Cat Lord (actually just a cat-motif doorstop), and a bunch of other useless junk... most of which his Aunt Graycape immediately forced him to return, although she did insist he keep a platinum earring. (Little did he know that she was using the earring as part of a warding bond spell.)
( The otherwise-placid morning was interrupted by... )
It was a fun session! Kihai is such a lovable little doofus that he's just as much fun when he fails at things as when he succeeds, although I still get frustrated at the way the dice tend to hobble things I should be good at. (Kihai has a high Dex and Wis, but rarely rolls higher than 6 or 8 on checks involving those. On the other hand, when asked for Investigation checks, at which he has -1, he rolls 18s. Go fig.) Blitzy has a good eye for a fun scenario, and the group did a little better at working together instead of at cross-purposes this time. The detail of the apprentice recognizing the bear's cloak, which I was just going on about for RP silliness, was a nice touch.
So, good game. :) And, as Blitzy has officially set his campaign in Orbis Leonis, it gave me some fodder for next week's session as well. I'll be back in the DM saddle then, by hook or by crook.
 Immediately mangled to "Sheepbright," because Kihai seems to have difficulty getting people's names right.
 "It goes with the hat!"
 Kihai, being an elemental monk, can create small flame/air/water/earthy effects, but he has no idea what he's talking about when it comes to arcana, so he just made up a bunch of nonsensical junk. He's also a very bad bluffer. "I am the Great and Powerful Kihai! Kamazotz! Yakka-maraca!" But they never really expected the deception to last. They made it past the guards and got the door open, and that was a success.
 Which she actually managed to roll almost the minimum damage on (4d6 for 1, 1, 1, 2), but it was still enough!
Last night was the second session of inkblitz's D&D "off-game." Set in an out-of-the-way village named Greenfork, the adventure was a fairly straightforward campaign-starter type. Goblins have raided the village and kidnapped the miller's daughter, so a band of off-kilter newbie heroes head off to rescue her. The party consists of:
- Qiphina, a halfling wizard specializing in divination (but who didn't get the chance to do much divining)
- Lindhardt McGimm, a dwarf fighter with an axe in one hand and a hammer in the other
- Kihai, a tabaxi monk made of cheerful
- Graycape, a tabaxi cleric who is made of the opposite of cheerful and is Kihai's aunt and reluctant guardian angel
- Sequoia, an unreasonably tall human druid (gonna guess he's played by Liam Neeson), and
- Ixy the Fantabulous, a gnome bard who loves to strum his lute (not a euphemism) talk about his family
The first session took us to the goblin lair. On the way we did battle with an ill-tempered water snake and encountered a high-level wizard named Thorn, who entreated us, if we were going to go poking around the goblin hole, to look for a "round stone artifact."
( The goblin hole itself... )
That ended the first session, with everyone gaining enough XP to hit second level. A very nice +1 Wisdom helmet recovered from the goblin leader was given to Sequoia, as it bumped his Wis bonus up.
The party followed the old forest trail west, heading for the ruins to which the dragon had relocated. Suddenly Thorn popped up out of the trees to check in. The party informed him that his "round artifact" was not recoverable because it had hatched, to which he replied that he'd suspected it would. When they demanded to know why he hadn't mentioned that it was a dragon egg, he replied that he wasn't sure at the time.
They gave him the egg fragments (and the side-eye) and carried on. ( Further into the woods... ) The party wished the
Loose Ends for Future Tying
There are many questions to be answered, of course. Where is Scintillax from? He's clearly not a normal dragon. Is he a mutation? An experiment? His egg was acquired by the goblins after they wiped out the kobolds who initially occupied the cave, right? Since many kobolds worship dragons, could it be part of some larger kobold plan? Or the Cult of the Dragon? Scintillax's multi-colored nature points towards Tiamat.
Who were the glowy magic guys, and how did they come into existence? They referred to Scintillax as "the master" and were perusing high-level magics. One assumes that they were also the ones leaving notes around and complaining about goblins making off with the mask fragments. What's their deal?
Who the heck is Thorn? We gambled on the hope that he's basically good and that he and Scintillax will happily geek out over each other for the next hundred years, but we don't actually know anything about him except that he isn't exactly the bravest of wizards. He could be a Dragon Cultist himself for all we know.
Blitzy the DM, and Inter-Player Dynamics
For a first-time DM dealing with six particularly headstrong players, Blitzy did a great job! As a long-time DM myself there were spots where I would have handled things differently, but I did my best to keep my mouth shut and not cramp his style. Right now he's leaning quite a bit on the written adventure, but that's to be expected from someone learning the ropes. Given that our plan of "throw Thorn at the dragon" was completely from left field and apparently not addressed in the adventure, he did a good job of taking the narrative ball and running with it instead of just shutting it down because it wasn't "the right answer."
In terms of not cramping someone's style, however, I do need to be better about that in re: laurie_robey's wizard. Out of a desire to do something other than spam ray of frost there were a few times when she wanted to pull out burning hands or something else and Jamie and I both were like, "Save that for the dragon or multiple targets!" I was trying to be helpful, but really I shoulda just shut up and let her play the character the way she wanted. So, I apologize for that. Wizards aren't really her bag, but she ended up the wizard in this game because nobody else had claimed the role.
This particular party hasn't really pulled into a cohesive shape yet. Ixy wants to just go off and do his thing, Graycape wants to go off and do her thing in the opposite direction, Kihai wants to talk to all the things, Lindhardt wants to fight all the things. Qiphina and Sequoia don't seem to have an agenda other than "try to find some way to be useful," but that leads to them being overshadowed by the more aggressive players.
Every group goes through this, and every campaign even within the same group goes through this. It's a normal process, but it can be bumpy.
But the game was a lot of fun, and I am really eager to continue! I'll be back in the DM chair for the next session either way, tho. The characters are rich, and at one of the major dwarven cities of the world. Time for shopping! And backstory-revealing!
The problem was that it was 130K and I still had a good chunk left to go.
Now, I write fairly short books, as you guys know. 65K is about my perfect length. This thing was monstrous. I plan to self-pub the ebook but the idea of a print version was...well, you guys remember how I threw my back out lugging copies of Digger?
My buddy Mur, queen of podcasting, listened to my woes at coffee and said "Make it two books."
I gaped at her. "I can DO that?"
"Do we have to have the economics talk? Have you on Ditch Diggers (that's her podcast, go listen to it) so we can yell at you?"
This blew my mind.
It also solved a lot of problems for an author who prefers to keep their ebooks cheap and their books not requiring death cement to keep the bindings together.
So! Clockwork Boys, Book One of the Clocktaur War, has been sent to my editor and will be out hopefully this year. (Patrons, you get the ebook for free, of course!)
None of this is the point. The point is that, having split it into two books, suddenly I am working on Book Two (tentatively titled The Wonder Engine) and I am having to do all the stuff that you do at the beginning of a second book, where you re-describe all the characters and do very brief info dumps about how your heroine got that tattoo and why she's still pissed at the paladin after rescuing his armored ass from a bunch of murderous deer people. And re-foreshadow stuff and re-establish that your thief sneezes constantly and the assassin smokes cigarettes and the paladin takes hot baths at every opportunity and all the stuff that you do when you're writing a second book.
Which honestly, is sort of useful for the writer as well as the reader, gives me a chance to re-center myself in the story, but it adds even more words.
The second book is already longer than the first one, and there's still so much more to get through. How do epic fantasy people DO this!?
Anyway. Clockwork Boys, hopefully this year, Wonder Engine hopefully early next year. My brain hurts.
The first day, I simply forgot. I mean, I knew I had to take them, but filling out the pill caddy on Sunday is something I just hate doing. And, after doing other stuff before doing that, I simply forgot.
It got even easier to forget, today.
I still hadn't filled the caddy and I changed my routine. Instead of grabbing a quick sausage biscuit at McDonalds, I made some oatmeal at home. I stared at my little, empty pill caddy while I ate and, well, I don't remember even thinking about my pills. I think I realized I hadn't taken them while driving to work. (Normally, I take them with my biscuit.)
I got home, cooked dinner, and watched TV.
Saw my empty pill caddy again.
Fuck it, I thought, its too late. I'll just take 'em tomorrow. I'll be fine.
I stood up. The room spun.
I didn't fall, but I went to take my pills. I have the bottles lined up in front of me, now.
I hate taking medications. I've taken meds all my life. Earliest, it was for asthma and allergies. Then I got a prescription for glasses. These days, they're bifocals. And now I take meds that I inhale and snort. I have to take my diabetes meds with food. The rest, for high-blood pressure and cholesterol and low Vitamin-D and low-dose aspirin, I can take at will. I have to keep my dosage of anti-depressants at an even level or there can be pretty serious side-effects I'm told.
I hate all these prescriptions. I hate them so much I can sometimes understand why people just stop taking them. They may help keep you alive and on an even keel but they're also hand-cuffs.
They both free and enslave. My C-PAP machine keeps me breathing at night.
But I still hate it.
I took my full amount, didn't take "extra". But tomorrow morning, I'll take my normal dosage.
Grudgingly, yeah, but I'll take them.
The worst part, I think, is that I know that this will happen again. I think it will happen with growing regularity if I'm not careful. It's easy to only think of the medications as shackles. I have to keep reminding myself that they make me freer than I would be on my own. I have to keep repeating this mantra:
Everyone thinks, sooner or later, they don't need 'em. Or, maybe, they wish they didn't.
But you do.
Take your meds.
That's how it works.
Even sitting here, I'm still dizzy. I guess that's today's price for stupid.