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Buried Treasure – Dungeons & Dragons Endless Quest Books

We’re in the process of changing rooms around in our house.  One of the joys (and pains) of this process is going through every… single… nook… and… cranny.

Now, in doing that, one is bound to find some long-lost items.  These (practically) literally-buried treasures are unearthed after years of being forgotten.  Once you find them, though, the rush of memories is so awesome.

Take, for instance, these beauties, which I uncovered in the back of a bookcase.

D&D Endless Quest Books

D&D Endless Quest Books

These are my incomplete collection of the Endless Quest series, the Dungeons & Dragons version of Choose Your Own Adventure books.  I was a fan of the latter, and when I saw the first book in Toys ‘R’ Us, I snagged it immediately.  I had been playing Dungeons & Dragons for over a year at the time.

I loved Dungeon of Dread, and couldn’t wait to get my hands on the rest of the books in the series.  I missed a few, but I’m happy with the ones I have.  I’m especially happy to have them still.

One thing that confuses me is that I have two copies of Dungeon of Dread.  I have no recollection of buying two, or of receiving a second as a gift.  The first memory I have of it is when my parents gave me a whole box of books from my old room in their house, after I had graduated college.  It was a mystery back then, too.

Have you read any of the Endless Quest books?  Do you still have them?  And, most importantly, would you be willing to, ahem, donate any to round out my collection? :-D

 
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Posted by on Monday, 22 July 2013 in Gaming, Personal

 

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Bokû And Ailikií – Gods Of The Islands

In the days before time, when U’o, the Sky-Mother, was birthing the world, all was empty.  In her laboring, she cried out in pain, and from her howls was born Bokû, the War God of Fire.  The fire of his anger burned slowly, yet perceptibly.

The world broke forth from U’o’s womb.  Bokû’s anger erupted, and he stabbed at it with longspear.  The piercings became the first volcanos of the newly-born world.  Like their father, they erupted in anger, burning the islands and mountains and plains in their vicinity.  The peoples in their vicinity cowered in fear, for what else can mortals do in the face of an angry god?

But, something unforeseen occurred.  From the afterbirth of the world sprung Ailikií, the Trickster.  The waters of his birth settled in the low lands of the world, and became the swamps.

Seeing his brother, Bokû became enraged.  He thrust his longspear at Ailikií, piercing him on the left side of his chest.  Ailikií let loose a scream of agony, which came from the wound.  His breath swirled around Bokû, confusing him as the image of a great serpent circled around his neck.  Bokû grabbed at his throat, intending to yank the serpent off of him before he passed out.  But when he did, the serpent disappeared, and Bokû knew he had been deceived.

But it was enough to distract Bokû.  Ailikií charged forward, raised his fist, and struck Bokû on the jaw.  Bokû dropped to the ground, and Ailikií withdrew to the swamps.  Bokû awoke, his anger again burning deeply, but slowly.  He plotted his revenge against Ailikií from within his volcanoes.

Bokû’s Worshipers

Worshipers of Bokû live in the surroundings of active and dormant volcanoes.  Fearful of their god, they live to appease his anger.  Bokû demands his followers wage ritual war on one another.  The defeated tribe must supply their most powerful warrior as the sacrifice to Bokû.  The victorious tribe wins the honor of performing the ritual sacrifice.  If Bokû is pleased by the sacrifice, his anger will abate.  If he is unhappy with it, woe be to the tribes, as Bokû’s anger will explode, raining ash and lava down upon all the tribes of the land.

Clerics of Bokû tend to be the leaders of the tribal war-parties.  Like their god, they usually command by fear, and punishment is usually harsh.  Bokû teaches that strength and anger are virtues to extoll, and mastery of them are key to personal perfection.  Bokû is most pleased when his followers hunt down and destroy worshipers of his brother, Ailikií.

Bokû, God of Volcanoes, is also known as the Lord of Anger, the Volcano King, and the War God of Fire.  He is Chaotic Evil, and provides the domains of Evil, Fire, Strength, and War to his clerics.  His favored weapon is the Longspear, and his holy symbol is an erupting volcano, usually carved upon a disk of igneous rock.

Ailikií’s Worshipers

Worshipers of Ailikií live in and around low-lying swamps.  Ailikií teaches his worshipers that to be unseen or unconsidered are the keys to living a good life.  An enemy who can not find you can not harm you.  If you must fight, then appearance is more important than reality.  Appear strong when you are weak, or appear numerous when you are few; strike when the enemy is confused, and withdraw to build up your strength.

Clerics of Ailikií tend to be shamans of the tribes and councilors to the chieftains.  They perform the rituals marking important holidays, births, deaths and weddings.  Like their god, they tend to be quiet and unassuming.  The death ritual usually consists of piercing the deceased’s eyes with a snake’s fang, and dumping the body into slow-running or stagnant water.  Ailiki’i claims the body in his own time.

Ailikií encourages his followers to take chances, for he rewards such audacity, much as happened in his first battle with Boku.  His clerics meditate for days in the swamps.  The gases in the area produce intense hallucinations, through which Ailikií sometimes will reveal his will in these visions.

Undead are of little concern to Ailikií.  The spirits of mortals go on to their final reward, and the bodies will be claimed by Ailikií.  Undead are tools, and his clerics may do with them as they see fit.

Ailikií, God of the Swamps, is also known as the Trickster, the Body-Eater, and the Illusion-Maker.  He is Chaotic Neutral, and claims the domains of Air, Death, Luck, and Trickery.  His favored weapon is the Unarmed Strike, and his holy symbol is a serpent’s skull.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 7 February 2012 in Gaming

 

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Cross-Gender Role Playing

Another question from Reverb Gamers:

REVERB GAMERS 2012, #9: Have you ever played a character of the opposite sex. Why or why not? If yes, how did the other players react?

I have played several female characters in my Dungeons & Dragons games throughout the years.  It has always been because the character introduced herself to me that way.  I know, if you are not a tabletop, pencil-and-paper role-playing gamer, you probably won’t understand that.  If you are a writer or other creative type, then you probably can relate.  The character comes forth in my mind, and makes herself known, sometimes in small steps, other times nearly-complete.  Either way, it is I who get to know the character, rather than tell her who she is.

Typically, other players didn’t think anything of the cross-gender role-playing.  They’d just accept it and move forward.  There were times, however, where it caused some consternation.

One time was while I was running a game at a friend’s house.  His friends joined us, and started laughing when my NPC, a female druid named Daphne, was introduced to the party.  Granted, this was a table of young teenage boys, so immaturity was rampant.

She took it in stride at first.  While annoyed, she let it pass, hoping the group would settle down as the adventure got underway.  However, the sexual comments, both implied and specific, kept coming.  She got angrier at each one, and warned the party that she was not to be trifled with.  The first battle showed her to be a capable combatant and spellcaster.  Thinking she finally earned their respect, she relaxed a little.

But, it was short-lived.  Another joke was made at her expense, and she issued an ultimatum, “These jokes will stop!  One more, and the prankster will be taught a lesson!”  They became quiet, honestly afraid of what may happen, but she could tell they would push her one more time… but only one more time.

As expected, a joke came again.  She turned to the person, and angrily whispered, “That is it.  Joke about seeing me without clothes, do you?  Oh,no – you will SEE NO MORE!

She cast a Blindness spell on the fool.  “Make a save vs. spells,” I told him.  “What?  Are you serious,” he asked.  “Oh, yes.  Daphne is pissed, and she warned you.  Now, roll,” I answered.

He rolled.  He failed.  “Your sight fades into grey, then black.  You see nothing, and stumble around, afraid that you will never see the sun again.”  “WHAT?  But, why did she do that?!?”

“I warned you, dolt,” Daphne said.  “Perhaps now you will learn respect for women.”

The player’s eyes started tearing up.  “What the heck can I do now?!?  I’m blind!  He was my favorite character!”  He grabbed his dice and character sheet and left.  He didn’t wait around long enough for me to tell him that the spell would end when Daphne willed it.

I felt a little guilty, personally, about it.  I never saw them again, other than my friend.  I remember him saying that his friend had torn his character sheet up when he got home and threw it away in anger.  Maybe, though, he learned a little lesson about treating women properly.

One can always hope.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 10 January 2012 in Gaming

 

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Of My Favorite Characters – Turg-Hath

Reverb Gamers asks:

Describe your all-time favorite character to play. What was it about him/her/it that you enjoyed so much?

Wow – where can I begin?  I have so many “favorite character(s)” that I can’t possibly choose one.  In fact, I may have a follow-up post or six to this.

Let me focus this post on one character that sticks out in my mind: Turg-Hath.  At the time, we were playing 2nd Edition Advanced Dungeons & Dragons, using the Player’s Option: Spells & Magic book.  Andy, our DM, allowed me to use The Complete Book of Humanoids for this character.

Turg-Hath was a goblin shaman who could see and speak with the spirits of the dead.  His life began in a goblin tribe, of course.  From his earliest childhood, he was always an outsider.  The superstitious goblins feared his “visions of the dead,” and, in typical goblin fashion, chose to bully and ostracize him.  The goblin chieftain, however, saw the value in Turg-Hath’s spirit-sight, and protected him just enough to keep him alive.  Then, one vision so angered the chieftain that he banished Turg-Hath from the tribe’s lands.  The fact that the goblin word for “banish” is the same as “narrowly escape death by the enraged chieftain’s spear” never came up in his future conversations.

He managed to avoid his kinsmen’s hunting party for the next two weeks until they finally lost interest and returned home.  Starving and afraid for his life, Turg-Hath wandered for another month.  The spirits around him changed.  No longer did he see only menacing goblinoids, orcs, and giants.  Now, he saw other races that had been mostly unfamiliar to him: humans, halflings, and elves.  The strange humanoid spirits were no less disdainful toward the goblin, but they were not as threatening.  Indeed, some directed him toward a human settlement.

Turg-Hath wandered onto the property of Prescott, a respected elder of the town.  Moved with pity, Prescott took him in and nursed him back to health.  Turg-Hath was confused by the old man’s kindness, for he had never known anyone to show compassion to him.  Intrigued, and out of a sense of indebtedness, he accepted Prescott’s offer to remain with him as his servant.  From Prescott Turg-Hath learned the common tongue, human customs, the ways of “civilized peoples,” and, eventually, the concept of friendship.

Prescott’s standing in the village earned Turg-Hath a modicum of respect, but not acceptance.  Other than Prescott, the humans kept him at arm’s length.  The mayor came to see Turg-Hath as a good soul, and began trusting his advice.

Prescott, unfortunately, fell ill.  Turg-Hath remained at his friend’s side, and used the power of the spirits to ease his pain during his final days.  However, as all mortals do, Prescott lost the battle, and died.  In his grief, Turg-Hath noticed something odd: Prescott was still with him.  Intuition had led Turg-Hath to bind Prescott as his very first spirit guide.

Days turned into weeks, which in turn became a couple of seasons.  While Turg-Hath knew he had a place to live, he was aware that he did not have a home.  The humans never welcomed him into their village, and with Prescott’s death, were becoming more cold toward him.

At the start of the campaign, he was a representative of the mayor of the small human village in which he lived.  The rest of the party came to the village, and were hired by the mayor, who sent his representative with them.  At first, they were not very accepting of him either, especially the female human ranger who just happened to have “goblinoids” as her favored enemy.

What fate will befall Turg-Hath?  Will his new companions ever get past the suspicion that the mayor placed his burden on their backs?  Will he ever find a place where he truly belongs?

And you, dear readers… do you wish to hear more of Turg-Hath’s story?

 
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Posted by on Friday, 6 January 2012 in Gaming

 

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Crown Of The Winter King

This is my entry for T.W. Wombat’s Winter Is Coming Festival.  Check out both his Winter Is Coming Festival page and his blog Wombat’s Gaming Den Of Iniquity.

Charyssil was a powerful tiefling warlock who lived during the height of the Empire of Bael Turath.  Unlike her brethren, who promised their very souls to devils in exchange for their power, Charyssil made a pact with a powerful archfey – The Winter King, who had dominion over the entire season in the Feywild, including all its snows, frozen fields, ice-covered forests, and other beautiful, serene landscapes.

Charyssil joined with a band of adventurers, and over time, her power grew.  Not coincidentally, she was drawn to locations and creatures of the cold northern lands, and the tall, frigid peaks.  She learned the secrets of elemental cold magic, and became a master crafter of enchanted items.

Seeking to earn a place in her patron’s court, Charyssil planned to create a tribute to the Winter King.  She was encouraged and assisted by her eladrin friend, the archmage Fervail.  He reasoned that imitation was the sincerest form of flattery; the Winter King, like all fey, would be more receptive if presented with a gift demonstrative of his power.  Charyssil agreed.  She forged a crown of ice from the heart of the Elemental Chaos, and imbued it with the power of the Winter King.

But the Winter King, like all fey, is a fickle being.  Rather than being flattered, the Winter King was offended that his essense was used to create a mockery and pale imitation of his own power.  Enraged, the Winter King slew Charyssil.  During the battle, Charyssil was betrayed by Fervail, who absconded with the Crown and fled back to Bael Turath.  In the centuries since, the Crown Of The Winter King has appeared and disappeared many times.  It is said that the Winter King hunts for it still, so that he may finally reclaim his shard of power.

Crown Of The Winter King Level 27
This translucent blue-crystal circlet feels cold to the touch.  When you don it, those around you get a chill, and your skin feels cold and clammy.
Item Slot: Head 1,625,000 gp
Property: Gain Resist 10 Cold
Property: Gain a +6 item bonus to Endurance checks to endure extreme cold weather
Property: Any enemy that hits you with a melee attack takes 1d10 cold damage
 
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Posted by on Thursday, 29 September 2011 in Gaming

 

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Mendrök – A Minotaur Potable

What?  Who’s there?  Come closer to the fire so Nachor can see you!  Oh, you’re the visitors Demnos told me about.  You shouldn’t sneak up on a minotaur like that – you’ll get your head crushed like a egg.  Now, just wait a moment for me to put my maul back over here.

So, Demnos wants me to put you up for a night, eh? Very well.  I guess, as a host, I should pour you some mendrök, eh?  Here, hold this drinking horn.  I’ll fetch a bottle from my tent.

Me?  Well, like I said, my name is Nachor.  I tend the herds of yaks that my clan owns.  It ain’t glory like a battlefield, but it gives me lots of time to think.

Here, have some mendrök. Heh – what’s the matter?  Is it the smell, or the way it looks?  Smells like sour milk, eh?  And looks like it, too, don’t it?  Well, guess what – that’s kinda what it is.

How do I make it?  Well, it’s not just me, y’see?  It’s simple enough that all us minotaurs make it.  See, up here in the mountains, we don’t get much time to build and take care of none of them fancy stills or breweries the soft peoples like you do, oh no.  Most of our time is spent hunting or raiding for food and other supplies.  So, like everything we do, we make it quick.

Now, to make mendrök, you start with yak’s milk.  Yeah, that’s right – yak’s milk.  Sometimes we use milk from mares or mountain goats, too, but I mostly like yak.  It sorta makes sense of what I do all day, too.

Now, the shaman blesses the yak herd about once every week, right at sunrise.  He says it infuses the herd with the spirits of the mountain.  The spirits, in their ways and wisdom, make the herd produce superior wool, meat, fat and milk.  That last thing is what we’re interested in.

Now, you get the milk, fresh, you see, and put about five gallons in a pot.  Then, you take a mugful of your last batch of mendrök and you pour it into the fresh milk.  That’s the key, you see?  That one mug makes the rest of the milk begin to ferment.  Without it, you just get sour milk.  Why?  I dunno – the shaman says it has to do with the spirits in the mendrök having to grow.  No spirits, no mendrök, get it?

So you let it sit in the pot for the next three days.  You gotta stir it up two or three times a day so the curds don’t settle and grow too much.  After that, I like to add about a gallon of honey.  Some other taurids like to use sugar they get from the south, but most of us use the honey.  Anyway, you stir it up, then pour it into the skins.

Now, here’s the part where it gets fun.  We take these skins and hang ‘em outside on our tents.  Now, you do that, and everyone knows what’s in ‘em.  So, it’s tradition, in just about every clan around here, that when you see one of them skins hanging on a tent, you punch it.  Not too hard, you see – you don’t want to waste it.  Punching the bag, like hitting a wasp nest, makes the spirits angry and stirs them up.  Doing that makes the mendrök ferment faster.  After about two weeks, it’s ready.  Take it down, strain out the curds, and store it in skins, bottles or whatever you got.

Go on, taste it.  Yeah, sweet, sour and thin like water, right?  That’s a good batch I gave you, there.  Now, you can drink a quart of that, and not feel too foggy from it.  But we don’t drink it straight too often.  Most times, we add it to whiskey, ale or barley wine that we get from down the mountain.  My favorite way, though, is with the blood of a particularly worthy foe.

I am a minotaur, after all.

 
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Posted by on Thursday, 8 September 2011 in Gaming

 

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Sidebar: Sudd Madarch – A Dwarven Liquor

In my first Racial Drink article, Sudd Madarch – A Dwarven Liquor, I described what I thought a typical dwarven-made liquor might be like.  I wanted to add a few things here.

I know most fantasy RPGs and fiction depict dwarves as master brewers (and consumers) of ale.  At face value, that’s not a problem.  However, the more I thought about it, the more dissatisfied I became with it. Water can be found underground.  Yeast, being a fungus, can live and reproduce underground.  However, the other major ingredients in ale – barley and hops – require sunlight to grow.  But where do dwarves live?  Underground – in mines and caves, which are pretty much sunless.  So, other than by trade or plunder, dwarves have no sustainable means to produce the ingredients to make ale.  Therefore, I can’t see ale being a core staple of their culture.

However, I can’t imagine a dwarven culture without alcohol of some kind.  Indeed, every real-world human culture has alcohol that is derived from its locally-available resources.  (Yes, I know – there are exceptions.)  So, what do dwarves grow in their underground environment?  My first thought, of course: mushrooms.

That was the basis for the article.

What would a mushroom liquor look like?  Smell like?  Taste like?  I immediately thought of whisky, but with a fungal twist, of course.

What would a subterranean race add for flavor?  My answer: minerals such as copper, or salt, or something else that would be mined.  Also, in the various editions of Dungeons and Dragons at least, dwarves have a resistance to poison – therefore, any dwarven drink would have to have a high alcohol content, as well as a strong, almost overwhelming flavor.

I could expand on the kinds of alcohol dwarves could make, but I think each kind would easily require an additional article on its own.  Also, I’d like to explore the dwarven twist on ales as well.

 
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Posted by on Tuesday, 6 September 2011 in Gaming

 

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