After being a bit critical previously about The Lost Mine of Phandelver as an adventure (and being criticized for that!), I thought I would redress the balance by sharing one of the best moments that I had running the adventure for my players.
So before you read any further – SPOILER ALERT – don’t read if you’re about to take part in this adventure.
The best moment we had running the adventure was after the party had rescued Gundrun from Cragmaw Castle. Our Folk Hero Fighter – named Kosef Raban – asked that the party make a detour to Thundertree so that he could fulfill his goal of restoring the village to its former glory. The party a bit reluctantly agreed – especially as Gundrun was keen to look for his brothers. On reaching Thundertree they met the hermit and started clearing the buildings of Giant Spiders and Twig Blights, and then they reached the lair of the dragon!
I think it’s awesome that Wizards included a dragon in their starter set – although a young one – as it gives a great sense of the potential epic scale of the game and also is an iconic monster – you got to have dungeons and dragons in Dungeons & Dragons after all don’t you!
The PCs managed to get into the building where the dragon dwelt without waking it and attack it while it slept. The combat was dangerous and the PCs were losing hit points, but then Kosef came into attack – he rolled a critical and did maximum damage to the already wounded dragon. Enough damage to kill it with one blow! As Kosef had dreamed of returning Thundertree to its former glory this was a great moment as he was the one to actually destroy the biggest threat to the village – the Young Green Dragon. As DM I decided that the killing blow decapitated the dragon and that its head was chopped off with a great sweep from Kosef’s longsword.
We all enjoyed that session immensely. Killing a dragon is such an iconic moment for D&D. Even though this was a side quest it actually felt like the most climactic part of the adventure as a whole.
If you’ve played the adventure – what was your favourite moment and why?
Only a few words since Saturday. Definitely seem to have a problem picking up the writing at the moment. I think it’s because with Dragon’s Above it is very much a blank canvas. I know where the first chapter is going to end, but that’s it.
Well I have finished the first chapter now, so that leaves the rest of the book. Rather than just wade into the next chapter, I decided I might be better motivated if I do a little bit of planning. Not a lot – just get to know something about the characters I am going to write about – or at least the main character of the next chapter. What I am trying to avoid is doing loads of outlining. Dragons Above is the short novel that I am writing to keep myself writing every day while I more thoroughly plan the next installment of Stonehearted, which as its a historical novel I need to do research on (to some extent at least).
So I have made some notes this morning and feel pretty happy that they give me some basis to keep moving forward, and what’s more I am quite excited with the ideas for the characters and setting that I came up. I don’t think they’re groundbreaking, but they’re of enough interest to me to keep writing.
First a little update on words. 109 since Saturday – that’s it!
Here’s the stuff I came up with for Dragons Above.
Dragons Above – Main Characters – their conflicts.
Injured in dragon bombing attack
Wants to get back home to Throfunar to marry his betrothed, Frea
Do his duty for the dwarves – but not sure as to the point of the war.
Technical interest in defeating the dragoneers
After his injury he becomes obsessed in engineering and how to come up with a weapon to defeat the dragoneers bombing.
He is crippled by the attack – wheelchair and partially deaf.
He thinks Frea won’t want him. Throws his energies into weapon design.
He’s a love-smitten technie nerd.
Field Marshall of the Alliance. Currently appointed field commander of the Army of the North.
Responsible for protecting the borders of the Locked Kingdom and has been charged by the Garland Council with the ultimate defeat of the Lord of Despair and his armies.
Maximilian is a famous general, who in his prime was an undefeated leader of men – during the Wars of the Hundred Cities and the War of the Intercession, he never lost a battle. Called out of retirement by an Alliance sick of defeat after defeat, Maximilian has struggled to rediscover his lost successes. He is old, and his memory is not as good as it was. He wants to rediscover his lost powers of leadership and generalship, but he knows that he can’t.
Against the effects of old age – he is proud and can’t let go and admit himself incapable. He is too hard on himself – he has something to offer, but the pressures of leadership are too great for him.
To hold the Alliance of men, dwarves and elves together.
To defeat the Hosts of Despair.
To protect his son who is anxious for a field command.
Hosts of Despair
Religiously motivated, end-of-days militants who believe that the peoples of Midgard must pay for the offences to the gods with blood.
Armies consist of human, dwarves and elves who have lost hope or that are just cruel enough to love killing.
Lead by the Lord of Despair, an unseen warlock of unknown provenance – at least by his enemies. The Alliance spy services are intent on finding out more about the Lord of Despair and have attempted to capture high-ranking Host generals to question them and also to infiltrate into the Lord of Despair’s Headquarters, but without any success so far.
The Lord of Despair supplements his followers from the three main races of Midgard (humans, dwarves and elves), with other creatures – dragons and various other monsters of the northern mountains where his fastness is located. He also works in uneasy alliance with the enemies of the free people of Midgard – orcs and goblins, who now invest much of the Locked Kingdom. He sees these creatures as a punishment from the gods and sees no harm in encouraging them, although they are opposed to any alliance or control by him – as yet.
Other characters to develop later in the novel
Lord of Despair
A mother character – mid-30s? Which side? What’s her role? Minding the castle/farm while her husband is at war?
Apologies for not posting more regularly about my writing this week. Here’s a quick recap of what I’ve been doing. All words are for Dragon’s Above – chapter 1.
Tuesday, 3rd September – 299 words
Wednesday, 4th September – 371 words
Thursday, 5th September – none! I did do some stuff for the Alt Hist website instead – posting an interview with Priya Sharma, one of the contributors to Issue 5.
Friday, 6th September – 144 words
Saturday, 7th September – 76 words – we had someone over at the weekend, so pretty difficult to write!
What I am finding a bit disappointing this week is that my word count per day is going down. This seems to be partly because I am often only doing a single session a day and leaving it at that. Partly I think that’s explained by having a lot of work on at the moment, but also I think I need to be a bit tougher with myself and force myself to hit a target of at least 500 a day.
I promise to do better this week!
Finished How to Read a Novel. Not the book I was expecting, but a good read nevertheless and inspires one to read more novels! Still reading A Feast for Crows (which I have been calling Feast of Crows by mistake in previous blog posts!) I am not sure what to think of this book. The writing as ever with GRR Martin is great, but the characters don’t particularly seem to be going anywhere (I am half way through). There’s stuff that they are doing, but none of them are in particular danger as far as I can work out, and I am left thinking so what. I’m hoping it will pick up a bit soon.
I finished Trial by Dream on Friday – adding another 223 words to take the total word count to around 2,500 – about what I expected for this story. That means I now have a couple of stories – Time’s Arrow and Trial by Dream – to send out to pro magazines. My instinct is that Time’s Arrow might need a bit more work editorially first and that Trial by Dream is also a stronger story, but we’ll see. Perhaps they’re both rubbish.
Now turning my attention to the fantasy war story, Dragon’s Above. I’ll hope to make some good headway on it this week. Over the weekend had a lot of stuff going on – out a lot for social engagements and the rest of the time was spent catching up on housework and relaxing – which was mostly playing Napoleon Total War for me! Finally managed to get somewhere on the first Italian campaign, by putting it into Easy setting!
However, I did do a bit of work on building the source material for the next installment of Stonehearted – managed to find sources for Calendar of Close, Patent and Fine Rolls – yay! But nothing on the Exchequer accounts, which is disappointing. 🙁
Interesting to see that this is the fourth book in the series – usually Hobb does things in threes!
Years ago, the magnificent dragon queen Tintaglia forged a bargain with the inhabitants of the treacherous Rain Wilds. In exchange for her protection against enemy invaders, the humans promised to protect an unhatched brood of dragons. But when the dragons emerged as weak and misshapen hatchlings unable to fend for themselves, dragonkind seemed doomed to extinction. When even Tintaglia deserted the crippled young dragons, the Rain Wilders abandoned the burden of caring for the destructive and ravenous creatures. They were banished to a dangerous and grueling journey in search of their ancient dragon homeland, the lost city of Kelsingra, accompanied by a band of young and inexperienced human keepers, also deemed damaged and disposable.
Against all odds they have found the fabled city, yet myriad challenges remain.
I came across this on Twitter yesterday – Tobias Buckell tweeted about it. I recommend checking out the comments to his story A Game of Rats and Dragon in Lightspeed Magazine – they’re funny, sad an infuriating in equal measure. I do wonder who this Chris Fowler guy is and what his beef is – ostensibly the guy is complaining because he says Buckell is ripping off Cordwainer Smith’s story The Game of Rat and Dragon, whereas Buckell positions it as a homage to Cordwainer Smith’s story. However, the comments section gets out of hand and this chap Chris ends up insulting all and sundry!
Well now you can. I came across this amazing site the other day, Dragoart.com that shows you how to simply draw with step-by-step instructions a whole variety of different things, from cartoon characters to celebrities to fantastical creatures, such as a dragon!
If you have kids I heartily recommend this site, and also if you have a hankering to start drawing, but feel that you don’t have any skill or are put off by leaning drawing the proper way. The simple instructions on this site really get you drawing quite complex pictures quite fast.
Here’s an example of the sort of thing you could learn to draw:
I guess the publishers of The Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim didn’t want to miss out on this cool release date: 11/11/11. Who can blame them! I’ve played Elder Scrolls IV and thoroughly enjoyed it, so it’s great to hear that there is a new sequel on the way.
Here’s some footage from the demo featuring Dragon gameplay:
Saw a review of this anthology at Realms of Speculative Fiction – looks like a very interesting read. I’m especially interested in this one as it comes close to the theme of my own writing in my Ladmas/Arruld fantasy/SF world.