Difficulty finding the right fantasy RPG art (especially females)

Trying to find good art to represent a character can be such a difficult time-sink. I have two major NPCs that I will be introducing to one of my campaigns (luckily, not for a year, so I have time). My challenge is finding art for a human male monk, and an elven female dragonslayer (she’s actually three classes, but dragonslayer dominates). Here’s what I face with my requirements.

Human Male Monk:
– My monks are not the eastern ki-energy martial artists. Mine are the medieval fighting monks from the crusades, much more like medieval friars, although some also take classes in cleric, paladin, or knight to fit into a Templar Knight mold. I wish we had more practical medieval friar style crusading monk art.

Female Elven Dragonslayer:
– No chainmail bikini/boobplate armor.
– No armor in high heels.
– No cutesy anime.
– No over-sized MMORPG-type weapons or armor that are impossible for any person to wear or wield.

This Elven Knight by Alexandra Valentine approaches what I am looking for, although there should still be more protective armor on her.

My C&C games are located in a High Middle Ages timeframe (c. mid-12th century), so only dwarves have the ability to make plate armor (they are a couple centuries ahead of humans in armor making), only elves make or use rapiers, firearms do not exist, and magic is difficult and can’t be cast constantly.

By contrast, so much current D&D 5E-inspired art looks really cool, but it is Renaissance-era in how it represents clothes, weapons, and armor. Firearms are available. And everyone can casts spells that never run out and they are very flashy. So the art looks good, but it doesn’t relate to the look and feel of my game at all.

Is it possible to get any female fantasy RPG representation that is not over-sexed, overly cute, or turned into some superhero/MMORPG exaggeration? I’m glad I don’t need this NPC art until next year, since I suspect I’ll need that much time to find it! But as I scour the web for other general art from week to week for my games, this is a daily challenge, since most of the art is the current D&D 5E-inspired art. The old school art from the 70’s-90’s is a bit more rational, although this was also the heyday of chainmail bikinis. As a result I frequently end up with the more limited options found in history magazine/book art, such as Osprey Publishing.

Reducing Future RPG Purchases.

I do enjoy RPG’s! When I quit running D&D 5E in 2018 and began looking for a game that would allow me to borrow the best from previous versions of the game (emphasizing the earlier editions), as well as other, non-D&D RPG’s, it was Castles & Crusades that I switched to because of it’s flexibility to draw from other systems and emulate the feel I want for the game.

If you look at my previous post (which shows just my Castles & Crusades collection), I’ve got everything I would ever need for C&C gaming (for myself and my players).

I am about to complete my second month of unemployment (due to a Covid-related workforce reduction). While unemployed I am only spending money on my home, utilities, and food. Any and all RPG purchasing are on hold. Unemployment has really caused me to look carefully at what I think I want and what I actually need (in fact, it was back in February/March when things began to spiral down during the early days of Covid, that I began to back away from larger gaming purchases). In my previous blog post you can see my C&C collection. The other parts of my RPG collection substantially expands my gaming materials. If I am honest. I have enough gaming products to last me the rest of my life, and this is including the fact that I run nearly two games a week. Now, to be sure, once I find a new job I know I will want to go back to supporting game stores and gaming companies, but two things have become quite obvious to me:

1) I own more diverse game products than most people and as mentioned above, its enough to last me the rest of my life.

2) I bought my new house in 2019 and my gaming products already take up my dining room (which is my gaming room for in-person and online gaming) and living room. That is enough space to allocate to this pursuit. I keep the upper level of my house devoted to my academic library, home office, a guest bedroom (which also expands my academic library), and my bedroom. So to purchase more gaming books means expanding into those areas upstairs, reducing them of the space they deserve. I don’t want that. The lower floor is fun and games, the upper level is for academics, study, work, and sleep. I like to have clearly demarcated areas.

For me, if there is one good thing that has come of what Covid has done in reducing the economy, requiring social distancing, and causing me to lose my job, its that I’ve had half a year to reflect on what is necessary and needed in my life, and where my money and how my home space should be allocated to meet this.

Related to this, I’ve also begun to have my fill of Kickstarter. Too many companies – even before we had Covid-related delays in production and shipping – were not delivering products as they were advertised, and more frequently, they delivered their projects many months too late. I no longer want to support that behavior. I now have economic and home-space reasons for reducing my support (obviously I can still support PDF options for some products, which will cost less money and will take up no physical space).

So as I re-evaluate my priorities, I now can shift focus and make better use of my space and money.

Just a portion of my full RPG gaming collection

My Castles & Crusades Collection

As readers of this blog know, I run two Castles & Crusades campaigns. You might ask: “How committed am I to the game?” Well, here are photos of my C&C collection that might interest you!

Photo no.1: shows the major box sets, core rulebooks, Aihrde books, Gygax Worldbuilding books, and Codex books.
Photo no.2: provides a better look at the bottom shelf of photo 1.
Photo no.3: shows independent modules, digest-sized box sets (2 sets of digest sized books are inside the box sets), and the Tainted Lands and Umbrage Saga box sets.
Photo no. 4: These are extra books that players can use at the table in my home if they don’t own them (and in the case of the extra Player’s Handbook, buy one if they are won over by the experience).
Photo no.5: These are extra copies of books for myself that I keep in my library (where I sometimes do campaign design).

Photo no.6: C&C merchandise such as various mugs, a dice cup, and a promotional sign I use to promote the public games I run at game stores.

My Codex Egyptium/Celtarum Kickstarter arrived today!

As you can see, there is a lot in it! 🙂 Those who game with me know the Codex books make up a core and vital component of my games. I want the players who game at my house or the game stores to have access to all the Codex classes so that they can really delve into the folklore I wish to bring to life in my games. Thus, I get a copy of the codex books for myself, and I have player copies for those that don’t own the books but want to reference them for making characters.

However, you might notice that I got two of the Codex Celtarum 2nd editions, but only one of the Codex Egyptium, and that is because for some reason I don’t understand, the Codex Egyptium has no character classes in it!?😕

Although I have a couple of players who enjoy reading the lore that Brian Young puts into these wonderful codex books, the real draw for the players are the character classes. If there are no character classes, most of my players are not interested. Case in point: the Codex Celtarum 1st edition only had 1.25 character classes – the Wildbeing/Woodwose, and the Wolf Charmer (the latter of which was just a single ability that you would add to a rogue or ranger). When my players discovered the lack of character classes while browsing through that book they shrugged and never looked at the book again. For the new Codex Celtarum 2nd edition, Brian dropped the previous 1.25 character classes (why?), but did add a Celtic Bard, Celtic Druid, and a Celtic Seer (although for the Seer they just tell you to go to the Codex Classicum and use the Oracle class, which is fine for me since I have several copies of that book, but I am sure this will be annoying for players who want to run a Celtic Seer but don’t have or want the Classicum book).

So I guess the good news is that my players might finally make some Celtic characters once they see the Codex Celtarum 2nd edition classes. The bad news, though, is that they’ll probably completely skip over the Egyptium book, and it will only be used by me for reference (thus why I only bought one copy). I do, however, want Egyptium character classes, and for that reason I purchased books that Green Ronin made during the d20 era – a box set called Hamunaptra-Egyptian Adventures, a book in their Mystic Vistas series called Testament (which covers Old Testament cultures), and a Frog God Games book named Necropolis (written by Gary Gygax). Indeed, I’ve already made rough conversions of those 3E/d20 classes/prestige classes for Castles & Crusades.

It’s really a shame Brian left Egyptian classes out of the Egyptium book. At several points in the book he describes an Egyptian priest and the unique Egyptian wizard/priest along with their unique names, but then says there isn’t enough historical information on them to make a proper RPG conversion. This is puzzling. I love Brian’s work on these due to the great academic rigor he brings into his design of these books. As an academic myself (well, former academic), that is a huge draw for me. But these codex books are not academic treatises, they have to be a usable game product, and in this case it falls short for the player, I think. Funny enough, if you look through the Green Ronin books I mentioned above, they have almost identical names for Egyptian priests and wizard/priests and reference much the same abilities that Brian does, but then they provide playable character classes to use in a game! So the Codex Egyptium falls short with this lack of support for the player. I will reference the Egyptium book as a GM, however, since I have the Green Ronin books for the classes and the background for those classes, I’ll probably find myself using those books more often, since they provide a complete GM/Player system all-in-one.

I don’t want to end on a down note, though. As you can see, from this kickstarter I got lots of Egyptian maps, laminated Egyptian symbols, the Book of the Dead, several Egyptian adventures, Egyptian minis, the new Codex Celtarum, and a new Celtic adventure. And the Celtic material is going to get a great deal of use from me, since the Norse and Celtic cultures play a large role in my games!

Castles & Crusades Diary: The Dragonclaw Barony Campaign. Hobgoblins, Orcs, Oozes.

Castles & Crusades Diary: The Dragonclaw Barony Campaign.

Hobgoblins, Orcs, Oozes, Crab Spiders, Fire Beetles, and an unconscious dwarf – a busy day of gaming!

Yesterday a new player joined my group, a player I hadn’t gamed with in 17 years (I ran my D&D 3E campaign in his garage on a 10′ x 4′ table which he covered in green felt, and to which I added my supply of tree and rock outcropping terrain and dwarven forge dungeon sets – I went through a terrain phase back in 3E). But thanks to new online gaming opportunities like Discord, he has rejoined my game after many years, now, of course, playing C&C.

This group left off in a simple and rather below average underground complex located beneath an old ruined fortress. The underground complex, like the fortress above it, was hastily put together, which the characters are discovering as they wander through the corridors (the dwarves are almost constantly shaking their heads at the uneven stonework. They can also see that on some of the walls a new corridor was begun and then abandoned).

But why is the group here? They are seeking out a gnome sage named Fonkin. He went missing, and the last people heard was that he was exploring this ruin. In previous game sessions the group encountered goblins seeking a place in the eastern portions of the underground area, and kobolds attacked them from the south. They left off last time with hobgoblins attacking them from the north. They decided to continue their explorations north.

The first room they explored was an apparently empty 40′ x 40′ room that had some dust and rubble around the edges, but was clear in the middle. While some remained in the corridor, others entered through the north door and headed south down the east wall of the room examining the wall. Unbeknownst to them, a couple clear oozes moved in and cornered them in the south east corner, and when they turned to head north again they stepped in the oozes and the acid began eating through their footwear! Hurled flasks of oil and fire took care of them within a few rounds, but not before two characters nearly went down!

After getting healed they continued north and found a locked room. Unlocking it they discovered why it had been locked – it had two large crab spiders within! During the fight the paladin critically failed and the blade of his bastard sword snapped in half, and a barbarian then critically failed and got his two-handed sword lodged between the door and the wall beneath the top hinge). The noise this caused attracted the attention of eight pig-faced orcs! A sleep spell took care of six of them and the rest were dealt with more easily. Exploring the spider room afterward they learned that the orcs had been ambushed by the spiders (some of them lied dead within) and they had closed and locked the door to keep the spiders in and retreated to a different location.

David Sutherland from the AD&D Monster Manual, TSR, 1977

The group continued north. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they encountered more of the military precision and two weapon fighting style of the hobgoblins that were situating themselves in this portion of the complex. The adventurers did succeed in fighting them, but in just exploring four rooms characters had fallen unconscious and weapons had been broken. The clerics were all out of healing spells. They decided to barricade themselves in the hobgoblin room to rest up (the hobgoblins had recently brought in fresh deer and rabbit meat from the surface, so the group had some fresh food to eat).

The next morning they headed into a small room in a dead-end passage just south and encountered four fire beetles. They killed them, but when the nature-oriented barbarian tried – and repeatedly failed – to successfully remove the glands above their eyes that produce a glowing red light in a 10′ area, only one of the glands was successfully removed.

They ended the adventure entering the furthest north room in this complex and discovered an unconscious and manacled dwarven cleric/fighter of Thor. He had been a teamster leading a supply wagon from the town of Heatherleigh to Dale when Hobgoblins had ambushed them and taken their supplies. The room also provided a stairway to the surface, so the group now has another access point. In the next game session (two weeks from now) they will continue to look for the missing gnome, Fonkin, only now they have another person capable of fighting and healing.

Castles & Crusades Diary: The Barrowmaze Campaign. Scattered throughout the dungeon, the players work to reunite.

19/08/2020

When we left off 10 characters had entered an ancient burial chamber of the great Norse ruler King Osric. After exploring the chamber and climbing onto the viking galley that sat in the middle of the chamber filled with thousands of silver and gold, the dwarven berserker of Odin and the rune master in the group spoke with a figure shrouded in yellow robes (covering his face) wearing a crown who declared himself to be King Osric. The dwarf said they were all in this together and were here for his loot. He chuckled and then one-by-one they all got teleported individually to various parts of the dungeon.

Now, normally trying to conduct an adventure with 5 players running a total of 10 characters split up throughout a dungeon would be a nightmare. But I think it worked out. One player couldn’t make the session, which meant I only had to deal with 8 characters, and those 8 characters ended up being in roughly 3 locations, sometimes within corridor from another player.

There was one character – a seeker – who was teleported into a 40×40 ft room with two doors, and when he stepped on a pressure plate a massive cage fell from the ceiling covering all four walls, trapping him inside. The sound of this huge iron cage impacting the stone made an explosive sound which other characters (and monsters) heard in the surrounding corridors. Within a few passageways of each other the paladin, arcane thief, and wizard were to be found. Being stuck in rooms of their own with their own challenges (one appeared in a burial chamber surrounded by yellow mold, another found himself surrounded by carnivorous flies the size of a rugby ball, and another found a group of mongrelfolk working to overcome their necromancer oppressors), they overcame their challenges and found themselves at the room of the caged seeker. As they worked to bend the bars of the cage to free their friend, a group of necromancers of Nergal slayed the mongrelfolk and animated them as zombies to attack the PC’s. The necromancers knew about the paladin with the Saints Mace destroying their undead over the past year, so they focused on him with their death gazes, rays of enfeeblement, and shocking grasps, but they were taken down. The seeker was freed, and they made their way back to the viking chamber.

Elsewhere the barbarian and berserker found each other, as well as a stairway that took them into a sacred barrow mound of a warrior-priest of the lord of the higher realm – Hyperion (I have Norse and Celtic gods, but I also have higher entities that represent the cosmic alignments of law, chaos, neutrality, and moral alignments of good and evil, Hyperion represents pure law). They dug themselves out of the barrow mound and left to retrieve Dhekeon the fallen skeletal paladin seeking redemption from his sins. He prays underneath a willow tree near the edge of the Barrowmoor, and usually travels with the group on his road to redemption. Retrieving Dhekeon, they headed back to the Barrowmaze entrance closest to the viking burial chamber.

Finally, a warrior-priest and a monk found each other and then ran into the Vargjägare (Wolf Hunters), a group of Vikings led by a skald name Thorgrímr, and made up of other skalds, bards, rune marks, clerics, a gladiator, and a prophet of the dead. Hearing about how the other adventurers got here, Thorgrímr, who is also looking for the burial chamber of King Osric, had them lead the way back to the burial chamber, and then together they then made their way through a heavily trap filled hallway (everything had apparently re-set since the group had previously passed through).

The adventure ended with the burial chamber being re-opened and Thorgrímr praising the All-Father (Odin), while the other two groups of adventures were entering the viking burial area roughly one and two corridors behind.

Next Tuesday everyone will be entering the burial chamber to claim their reward. But who will get it? The adventurers? The Wolf Hunters? Are there any more challenges? Why is the figure that calls himself King Osric covering his face with the large, yellow hooded robe? The player that role-plays the dwarven berserker was annoyed that the Wolf Hunters might take “his” treasure and speculated about killing them all over it. But he seems to forget that his group is completely out of spells, whereas the Wolf Hunters appear to still have nearly all their resources. Will there be battle or compromise? Tune in next week to see what happens!

Castles & Crusades Diary: The Dragonclaw Barony Campaign. Hobgoblins and wolves, Kobold illusionists, trap room!

16/08/2020

The Dragonclaw Barony campaign is the second C&C campaign I run on alternating Saturday:

The adventurers have entered an old ruin in the search for a beloved gnome sage named Fonkin. They entered the ruin in the previous session and found a secret room with a forge, an empty sentry room, and a room where goblins have holed up and set gas traps (which rendered people unconscious).

For this adventure the group continued wandering through the underground complex and found a room which had served as kennels. The smell of the animals that drifted out of the room attracted two giant bluebottle flies (twice the size of an America football) which the characters fought and dealt with.

The players then found a very well locked up room. When the rogue and assassin couldn’t successfully unlock it, the fighter and dwarven barbarian/cleric began bashing it down. This attracted the attention of two hobgoblins and their 6 trained wolf companions from the northern passage. This could’ve gone very wrong, but there were two wizards that cast sleep spells that took care of 4 of the 6 wolves, and as the rogue, assassin, wizard, and cleric/wizard took care of the remaining two wolves, the dwarven barbarian/cleric and fighter rushed forth and dealt with the hobgoblins. The group explored the nearby room where the hobgoblins were rooming, as well as their holding cell. Then it was back to to the door they were breaking down.

The group returned to the door that had been bashed through and explored a 20×20 foot room that had long abandoned arrow-slit traps, and murder holes on the ceiling. After activating a loud sonic boom trap on the chest another group of wanderers from the southern passage arrived to learn what caused that sound – masterful kobold illusionists! Kobolds in my game are the dog-like creatures from early D&D with the twist that they are a corrupted form of the gnomes. Thus, just like their distant connection with the gnomes, they are accomplished illusionists. Before the characters even knew what they were dealing with, the dwarf, assassin, and fighter, saw angry duplicates of themselves round the corner and they charged forth to fight themselves. The wizard and cleric/wizard passed their intelligence saving throws and simply saw the duplicates as beige silhouettes, but were unable to convince the others of the illusions (they had rolled 1’s and 2’s on their saves). Then 8 kobold’s rounded a corner in the southern corridor and performing “jazz hands” as the somatic component to cast daze on the spell-casters, with half passing their saving throw. The spell-casters also were able to partially see through a mirror image spell, revealing that there were only 4 kobolds, not 8. It was a tough battle as characters fighting their illusionary duplicates fell unconscious from the blows they thought they were being dealt. Eventually, however, the kobolds were dispatched and the illusions disappeared.

Finally able to return to the trap room, the rogue opened the chest and found gold and platinum coins, and a gem that could produce various forms of practical and blinding light based on a command word engraved on one facet of it. We ended the adventure there, but the spell-casters are out of spells and need some rest, so let us hope they can get it when we reconvene in two weeks!

Castles & Crusades Diary: The Barrowmaze Campaign. A Viking Burial Chamber is Discovered!


13/08/2020

I’ve chosen to begin posting my Castles & Crusades game diaries here. I run a C&C game on Tuesdays which has been going on for a year and half, using the Barrowmaze setting (made for Labyrinth Lord game system), and on alternating Saturdays I began running a C&C game in April using the Dragonclaw Barony (made for the Basic Fantasy RPG system). Here is where we left off on the 13 August.

After dealing with Jötun Giants last session on behalf of Ironguard Motte, the players returned to the small village of Helix and prepared to return to the Barrowmaze. There are a lot of aspiring adventuring companies wishing to seek fame and fortune in the Barrowmaze, and one such group is the Vargjägare (Wolf Hunters), a group led by a skald name Thorgrímr, and made up of other skalds, bards, rune marks, clerics, a gladiator, and a prophet of the dead that worship the Norse pantheon. They had heard of a great Norse king buried in the Barrowmaze – King Osric, and they were determined to find this place and have the glory of King Osric live again.

As it happened, the adventurers had an idea of where this Norse burial chamber might be located and set their sights on reaching it first. They successfully passed through old corridors without problem (nothing new had moved into this portion of the dungeon). However, once they got to the new unexplored section, the rogue was the first to notice that the traps and locks on the doors had been constructed by skilled rogues, and although several times he was able to detect what trap was located, he was unable to disarm it, so the heartier members of the group had to trigger those (these included falling blocks, and a 20 foot long stairway that flattened out to a ramp that ejected people into a 40 foot pit trap). Many doors also could not get unlocked, so the barbarians and berskerkers pounded and broke down the doors. All this took a lot of time. Traps and doors that could be disarmed and unlocked in seconds or a minute or two took 10-20 minutes instead. This also attracted a variety of wandering undead – ravenous zombies, ghouls, and shadows.

After systematically making their way through a long corridor that had burial chambers dedicated to Aegir, the Norse god of the sea, they finally arrived at an immense burial chamber with a Norse Galley filled with thousands of gold and silver pieces, with a figure sitting on a throne in the middle wearing a crown, shrouded in a yellow robe with the hood covering his face. There were huge statues in the corners of the chamber dedicated to Odin, Aegir, Heimdal, and Thor, and the dwarven berserker of Odin said a prayer to Odin, a rune master took some time to read runes on the six pillars that held up the 40 foot tall ceiling under which the ship was found. Other characters explored the periphery of the chamber.

All this time a seeker in the group noticed that the head of the shrouded figure was subtly following some people around (mostly those that had an eye on the material riches). Eventually the characters made their way onto the ship and the Norse characters addressed the figure, who identified himself as King Osric. A couple of the Norse characters seemed to be making a positive impression, but when it was expressed that they wanted King Osric’s riches and that they were “all in this together”, the shrouded figure chuckled and replied “if only that were true”, and then one by one the characters began to disappear. Each player had to roll a d6 divided by two and percentile dice. It conveniently was the appropriate time in the evening for the adventure to come to an end, so I said to them, “you all look around and each of you appear to be alone in rooms that appear to be in the Barrowmaze.” One player surmised that the percentile dice represents what room they were teleported into, and the d6 divided by two determined whether the rooms were in the range of: <100, 100-199, 200-299. Is this player correct? What has happened to them? Where are they? Are they truly alone? They find out next Tuesday!

Campaign World Design and Dungeon Drawings

The popularity of digitally designing and drawing up campaign material for whatever RPG we are running is very popular, and the resources out there are amazing and always fun to discover. However, I’ve recently wanted to get back to hand drawing dungeons. It is much more time-consuming, but much more satisfying, in my view. I haven’t drawn much recently, and am mostly in the imitation phase of material I find online (the drawings I show below represent that), but using resources (such as the great work of Dyson Logos), I am rebuilding my confidence in independent design (I used to be a CAD drafter a couple decades ago, so I do have experience in designing engineering drawings, I just need to freshen up my skills).

World building is exciting. There are two Castles & Crusades games I am running online on Discord, and they are giant sandboxes to play-test the different C&C classes (from the Players Handbook, Codex Germania/Slavorum etc., Adventurer’s Backpack), and other game systems within my pantheon of gods and home-brew rules. Some of my younger players are excited about the nearly three dozen unique classes available, but also asked about other races (they’re used to playing monsters in D&D 5E). There I did put my foot down – humans, elves, dwarves, gnomes, hobbits, and half-elves/half-orcs only, monsters remain monsters in my game. I am only showing the cover of my world campaign book and nothing inside, since what is inside is for GM eyes only, and I never know who might join my online games and those players need a few surprises (for example, I am taking the Scottish city of Edinburgh – a city where I lived, worked, and roamed for 6 years – and turning it into one big open medieval sandbox for my players to roam and adventure in!).

Running Castles and Crusades RPG on Google Hangouts

20/4/20

With COVID-19 and social distancing preventing me from running the six C&C games I typically run each month, I have begun moving my games onto Google Hangouts. I prefer to run my games theatre of mind if I can, so there isn’t a need (at the moment) to use a VTT like Fantasy Grounds. I ran a game on Saturday (the 18th). Here is a gaming diary of that experience.

Castles & Crusades Google Hangouts Game Diary: a memorable tavern, and discovering multi-faceted ways to die! 😮 😈

Today was a whole lot of fun! It was the first of what looks to be many future Hangout games with gamers who joined from my invitation on the Castles & Crusades MeWe page.

The adventure began in The Hammered Bull tavern on the outskirts of town. The barkeep, Garrik, operates a tavern with a hedonistic atmosphere that smells of vomit. The drinks are of suspicious origin, and one, called “Troll Sweat”, is rumored to be a mix of whatever remained from the unfinished contents of the previous days mugs. The most unique meal here is called “Snakes and Snails and Puppy dog tails in a Bearnaise sauce” (I wonder what that is?…). It was in this tavern on a stormy, lightning and thunder filled morning that an Elven knight, a Human cleric of Heimdall, a Dwarven cleric/fighter of Hansaya (dwarven goddess of community and beer), and an Elven bard/wizard, came together to find a respected old hunter who had gone missing named Timber Fallingoak, a 70+ year old human who had not been seen in a while, and a notice had gone up seeking an adventurous group to enter the Ashpine Forest, cross the Tassose Rope Bridge (which spans the Behir Whisper Gorge), and visit his abode to check on his health. Sound easy? It wasn’t!

The group set out as the thunderstorm gave way to rain, and then passed into a partly cloudy but windy afternoon, it was as the weather cleared that Haemovorids appeared – creatures that were part stirge (with their bat wings and bloody-sucking proboscis), and part pixie (with their faerie bodies and fey magic aura). They were dealt with swiftly enough by the adventurers, and they even traced them back to a lair in a hollowed tree, where they discovered over 4,000 sp and some simple gems. The adventurers confidently returned to the path and adventured on to find Timber.

They arrived at the bridge. But the rope bridge constructed by the Tassose Druid Circle had been previously cut by the Gut Ripper Orc mob and was hanging from the other side. How to get across? After puzzling through a variety of solutions, the group managed to get interconnected ropes across the gorge connected to two trees by tying the ropes to one tree on their side and using a grappling hook for the other side, but while doing so, the Gut Ripper Orcs returned and attacked the adventurers. The adventurers took down these pig-faced, great axe-wielding scum, but two of the group were rendered out of action or unconscious, and the dwarf cleric had to use all his healing to bring them back to proper health. The Dwarf cleric/fighter was especially disappointed in the Elven knight, who had rolled two critical fails during combat which ended up hitting two different allies on either side of him! For the dwarf, this was just another reason why you should stay away from these pointy-eared failed fighters!

The adventurers then tried to work their way across the gorge one-by-one, and this was where things really fell apart. The Elven knight made it across quite easily. The dwarf – Thrafrig Hammerjaw – thought that if this loser knight could get across, then surely he could, and then half way across he failed his check to cross the gorge and then failed his Dexterity save to try to desperately grab onto the rope to prevent his fall, so down he went 100 feet to his death. Then the Elven bard/wizard Evindal Ilimaer tried to make his way across – and succeeded! Finally the human cleric of Heimdall – Torsin Berghild – made his attempt, and like Thrafrig, he lost his grip and failed his Dex save to prevent his fall, and down he went 100 feet below.

With the two Elves across, a swarm of nine, 5 inch long dragonfly-type creatures swarmed and attacked them (they had been disturbed by the recent commotion). Their bite didn’t do any damage, but they had a poison that could put victims into a confused daze, and the bites stacked up, saving throws were failed, and with random dice rolls to see in which direction the Elves would wander in their dazed confusion, they sadly walked right off the side of the cliff into the gorge below to join their friends!

So the party is now all gone (and anyone who were to find their bodies at the bottom of the gorge will find over 4,000 sp and 100 gp in treasure). Next Saturday the players will have brand new characters, and the paid offer to find Timber Fallingoak still exists. Will there be an adventuring party that can succeed on this seemingly easy task? Who dares find out!