She looked at the pair, not saying any more. Eva stared back. After a few minutes of silence Elter was almost running in circles. Eva looked at him for a moment amazed that he had been quiet for the time he had. Finally he spurted. “So what do you want us to do?”
The dragon laughed. Leave it to a kender, with their inability to keep quiet to get to the point. Eva gave Elter a dirty look. He had a moment to look upset before his excitement returned as the dragon stopped laughing.
“Why don’t we start with introductions? You first,” she said looking at the kender.
“Who me? My name is Elter. Elter Haltworth. Pleased to meet you.”
She smiled, at least it appeared to be a smile, and looked at the elf. “Now you.”
“Eva Luna,” she simply stated.
The dragon chuckled at her uneasiness.
“I am called Storm Blaze, but Blaze will be sufficient. I see you are not comfortable in my presence. I assure you I mean you no harm.”
“You are searching for a way into this building, aye?”
“We’re on a mission for Malin and we have to report everything we find.” Elter cut in before Eva had a chance to say anything.
Blaze’s eyes narrowed as she bared her teeth.
“Who is this Malin? Why does he want to know what is out here?”
Elter giggled. “No, Malin is a town not a person. We work for the town government. We go out and see what’s out here. It’s not a very old town and the government wants to know what it faces, enemies, friends, that sort of thing.”
The dragon relaxed and laughed as well.
“A kender that WORKS for the government? I did not think any place would want that.”
“Yes, it’s strange but he can get into many places that no one else can. And many do not notice when he is around, unless something comes up missing, of course.”
Blaze laughed at the simplicity of the idea.
“Aye, that is true. Well now that we are all acquainted I suppose I should tell you why I let you see me. And what I want you to help me with.”
“Yes, yes yes,” Elter was screaming as he bounced up and down. Eva stared at him until he saw her look and stopped bouncing.
“Uh sorry,” but a smile still played on his face.
Eva looked back at Blaze and saw the serious expression the dragon now had. She was staring off into the distance, claws scraping holes into the ground with her tail thumping and tongue flickering in and out.
“In that barn lies the greatest treasure any dragon ever wished for.”
“Wow! Treasure! Are there heaps and heaps of gold? Gems? Statues? What? Why are you both looking at me like that?”
“Elter, be quiet and let Blaze finish. This is obviously more important than that.”
Elter managed to look sheepish for about a minute and then was smiling again, waiting to hear what could be “more important” to a dragon than treasure.
Blaze continued. “There have been some creatures roaming about here for the last few weeks. They have been scouting around looking for a weakness. Soon they shall attack. I need your help to defend this barn.”
“What kind of creatures are you speaking of and how many?” Eva asked a little baffled that a dragon would need help from anyone.
“Bugbears and hobgoblins. Two of each”
Eva frowned. It was unusual for the two humanoid creatures to work together; both hated any creature unlike themselves.
“It has to be an evil dragon.”
“Oh boy another dragon to meet.” Elter jumped up and down.
“An evil dragon?” A strange look crossed Eva’s face. She couldn’t stand any creature that did not follow good ways. “Isn’t the dragon worried they will keep the treasure for themselves?”
“No. It is not a treasure the creatures are interested in.”
Eva’s eyes narrowed at Blaze suspiciously. No dragon shared its treasure with any creature.
“I don’t know of any treasure a dragon could have that any other creature wouldn’t be interested in. What kind of treasure are we talking about?”
What about situation world hooks to pique the interest of your players? Even the most mundane seeming situation can be turned into something new with one small twist. Some famous books not only did that in the beginning, but also changed the situation during and thus changed the whole world that was being written and read. It gave the books a fresh new appeal.
You could have a class dominance situation where one type of the character has an unusual role in the world. Something like the thieves guilds could rule the major towns or magicians are so rare they are revered almost above the gods of your world. Or you could have a world that centers around the politics, intrigues, and rivalries of court and different kingdoms. Even those that have the same kind of court system could be enemies or disagree on whom to be friendly with. Here you could find various court systems throughout history and weave them into your kingdoms, even mixing different cultures court systems. Your world could revolve around chivalry and all that goes with it. Knights, nobility, and other facets would be the ruling class. This is similar to actual medieval history but again on twist can change it. The nobles might not be able to just pass it down to the sons but the daughters or knights might have to study under a squire of another knight before being able to actually become one.
Your deities could be very active in your world and make sure certain things do happen like they wish. It might take away some fun for those PC’s who want to defy the deity or don’t think they actually are making any decisions in your world. However it can also spawn some great adventures, such as how to bring the deity down so he or she is not more powerful than the rest of them. You could draw your players in with a dying world. Circumstances have brought the world to this terrible state and the PC’s must find a way to stop it and save mankind. Doing so will create a new situation for you to play so if your players get bored with this one you can easily change it when they save the world.
There could be a specific enemy that inhabits your world. They may not be one that wants to rule it, but others are frightened by them due to how they look, act, or plain ignorance. Along the same concept, you could have a world where civilization stops at a certain point and anything after that is enemy territory where monsters rule the land. All kinds of heroes might flock to this spot to make themselves known by getting rid of the monsters further into the region, which would make the monsters want to keep their own land.
There could be vast areas that have not been discovered yet in your world. Here exploration would be the primary goal of many. This does not have to be a young world either. It could just be that a great mountain pass has kept everyone out or those that have made it over have never returned. Or the world could just be new. Magic and monsters are not plentiful and the PC’s may uncover many things about the world to make them famous.
Magic could be in your world but not as you normally think. There could be spots it does not work right or at all. Or it could be that everyone has magical abilities and only those who really dedicate their lives to it excel with anything other than simple spells. On the same note, psionics could be dominate in the world. Here the mental powers of one could make them a god to those who do not have the ability.
Religion or technology could rule in the world. Here the PC’s might need to find a way to bring down the ruling class or change something so everyone can benefit from what those in power have discovered first. Slavery could even be a factor where one culture is using another to do their work. War could break out all the time from those close and far away who do not like slavery or want it to continue. And warfare itself could be what rules your world. War has been going on for so long that no one knows what started it. Some cultures could switch sides on a whim and your players must find a way to stop it before it destroys the world or a certain culture.
Any of these situations overlap easily. This is probably one area where history can provide all kinds of hints of what you can play with and mix. You can always start with one and change it later if you don’t like where it is going. Who says that the thieves can’t have a battle within their own ranks and suddenly war breaks out everywhere?
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While Sherwood Forest and King Richard are real, Robin Hood and his Merry Men have long been thought to be fiction. Some things are believed to be impossible to have happened, which is where the speculation comes in about Robin Hood. But researched in England have just found something that proves at the very least the Sheriff of Nottingham existed. Beneath the Galleries of Justice Museum there are caves that have been unearthed which were used as a prison by the infamous Sheriff in medieval times.
The prison caves are where the “shire reeve”, or sheriff, resided at the Shire Hall and County Gaol, which is a medieval terms for jail. They are part of an underground labyrinth of more than 400 man-made sandstone caves and chambers. These caves and chambers date to Saxton times. They have also had many uses over the years, which include cellars, storage areas, secret passageways, and escape routes.
Apparently there was a court on the museum’s site since at least 1375 but the prison was not established until 1449. Locally the caves underneath the museum have been known as the “Sheriff’s Dungeon” but prior to this discovery, there was no proof. Researchers also could only document the caves for their use as a chapel for the Georgian prison that was on the same site after 1780. It is by the documents that were recently discovered by the museum staff that we learn this monumental fact. Finding out that the Sheriff of Nottingham really did exist and used the caves as his prison is a very big find for history.
Of course after a find like this the whole Robin Hood world is in a frenzy. Something that was thought to have been fiction has been proven to be fact. What exactly happened in those prison cells is still unknown. And it may never be known since some facts can be lost to history. But just the fact that the Sheriff was around gives some hope that Robin Hood himself might have existed, even if he was not the hero he has been made out to be.
However it may be that the world will know what happened in those caves. The caves are being excavated along with the adjacent area. And there is an ancient staircase that leads down to the cells which is also being excavated to learn all that historians can about the Sheriff of Nottingham and what he did to his prisoners during his time.
I admit I am a Harry Potter fan. I am not a fanatic like some people I know but I do own all the books and movies that are out. I have seen the last three films in the theaters on opening day and plan to for the next installment, Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince. However this past weekend while at the bookstore I geeked out and bought a magazine that is mostly dedicated to the new movie. In fact according to the magazine, they are going to do a countdown which could mean more magazines out later.
I for the most part avoid the fan sites; avoid the fan fiction, and all that. I have not gotten caught up in too much Harry Potter mania, although I did buy the last book on opening day and read it in four days. Part of that was wanting to get through it because it just pulled you to the end and part was wanting to finish it so no one ruined it for me. I avoided anything Harry Potter related online and on the radio and in the magazines during the months up to the books release. But this time I am not. I wanted to read some of the tidbits the magazine was going to reveal.
I think a big part this time is I’ve read the books, twice, and basically know what is going to happen. I will even end up reading them again before the release of Half-Blood Prince. So reading these things are not like being told secrets. I am just curious what they will cut and what they won’t. Plus there were some things about the final two movies in it. Yes they are definitely splitting the final book into two movies because even the director doesn’t feel anything can really be cut this time. The biggest hurdle they are facing is where to end the first film and then begin the second.
What I don’t like is that they are releasing the movies a full year apart. Ok that’s not too bad because all the other movies have been 1 ½ years apart but fans of the books and movies will not like waiting a full two years after the release of Half-Blood Prince for the first installment of Deathly Hallows. Yes I said two full years. So this November we get the sixth book and then we have to wait until November 2010 for the first part of the last movie. Now in defense of the makers of the film, they are filming both of them back to back so the production time will start later than when doing a single film. But waiting two years is going to be hard.
After reading the magazine I can not wait to see the cave scene. It was described so cool in the book that seeing how they interrupted it in person will be mind blowing. Most of it is computer generated but they took ideas from several different types of caves to create the CG and the actual part. Also the Inferi are supposed to be completely different from what people think of as zombies, even though that’s what they basically are.
And the part that really got me was who is going to play young Tom Riddle in the movie. If you don’t think that Voldemort’s power extends beyond the Harry Potter films you are mistaken. Eleven year old Tom Riddle will be played by Hero Fiennes Tiffin, who is the nephew of Ralph Fiennes, Lord Voldemort himself! It only seems fitting for that to be, although I am sure the boy had to try out to get the part.
All in all though I am highly anticipating this Harry Potter installment. Becoming a fan after the first film was released, and the second book is a little interesting but at least I didn’t wait until almost the end of the series. And as I said I am not a total fanatic like a friend of mine. But know that on November 21st I will have pre-bought tickets to see the movie that night.
Eva watched him disappear and soon he was at the corner again. This side had woods farther back, leaving a big open space, somewhat isolating the barn. About halfway down Eva heard a squeak. Elter popped his head out.
“I found a door Eva. Well actually two. Double doors. We can get in now and see what’s inside. This will be so much fun!”
Eva just shook her head at him and smiled, lowering her sword. She was relieved that the door had presented itself. Something about this place made her very nervous.
“First we have to see if the doors are locked. Then we can get in.”
“Well let’s see,” Elter said and disappeared again. Eva could hear him working on the handle.
“Well it’s locked Eva but it doesn’t look rusted. It is old. Let me see if I can open it.” Eva heard him rummaging through his pouches.
“Now I know I have that lock picking kit in here somewhere. Hey I didn’t know I had this. I wonder where it came from?”
“The door Elter.”
“What? Oh yay.”
He began looking for the lock pick again. “Aha. Here it is.”
Eva heard the locking jingling as Elter worked with it. She suddenly had the feeling of being watched. Turning as she raised her sword again, Eva looked around but could see no one. She scanned the treeline but nothing seemed out of place. Then she heard a click and Elter squealed in delight. Eva moved toward the spot where Elter had just unlocked the door.
“Eva, I got it. We can go in,” he popped his head out and stopped staring.
“Elter? What’s wrong? Are you going to let me in?”
“Eva… wh… wh…”
“Elter what’s wrong?”
“Eva behind you,” he pointed past her head.
Eva turned around and stared. She blinked and looked again. Could it be true? She should have been terrified but wasn’t.
“Wow! A dragon!” Elter came out from the brush and stood next to her, taking his hoopak from her hand. Eva looked at him.
“Yes it’s a dragon. But what I want to know is how it got here without us seeing it fly over.”
“Magic. You know dragons are magical creatures.”
“Thank you Elter. I was not aware of that.”
Elter frowned, slightly hurt. The dragon chuckled. The pair turned back to the dragon. Both had been unaware it had been listening but thought since it had made no move it did not care about them. The dragon filled the area between the barn and the forest behind. It was about forty-five feet long. Silver scales gleamed in the bright afternoon light and its claws made small divots in the ground. The dragon’s wings were folded close to its body with the tail wrapped around it, close to the front paws. Its head was bigger than a buffalo, with ears that ended in pointed tips and a long snout that held extremely sharp teeth.
Now they realized it had been listening, maybe even was interested in them. Elter got more excited at the noise, practically jumping up and down. Eva just looked at it waiting. After a few moments the dragon moved toward them. Eva, not wanting to be menacing, put her sword away. The dragon could have already killed them if it wanted to and if it changed its mind her sword would save neither of them.
“Greetings,” the dragon said. It had a deep resonating voice.
“Hello,” Eva decided to be cautious.
“Hey there. You know you are the first real live dragon I’ve ever met.” Elter told it.
The dragon chuckled again.
“I would imagine so. Not too many see a dragon unless one wants to be seen.”
“Wow, and you let us see you! Eva, don’t you think this is neat?”
Eva looked dubiously at Elter. “Well that probably means he wants something.” She looked at the dragon. “Doesn’t it?”
“As a matter of fact, yes I do. And I am a she.”
“Oh wow, a female dragon!” Elter was practically jumping up and down again.
Eva looked surprised. She studied the dragon for a moment and then said, “I am sorry if I offended you.”
“No offense taken. Many races assume dragons are male when they see one of my kind. While others get angry, I see no need.”
We begin with the gang running to a village. Into a barn they go and there is a surprise party for Robin Hood’s birthday. Munch had set it up. The people were supposed to be there as well, but the man who is roasting the pig tells them no one could make it and he must leave as well. He runs out and shuts the door to the barn to lock the gang in. They end up surrounded by soldiers. The leader says Happy Birthday to Robin Hood and more soldiers appear.
Djaq takes the head off the pig and uses some black powder to make the soldier’s think twice. She puts it in the head and throws it out the door. Even though they have no more, Robin tells them they have a ton and they back off.
Meanwhile in the castle, Gisborne goes to see Marion. He tells her it’s Robin’s birthday. She acts surprised. Gisborne asks her if there is anything else to tell him and she says no. Then he says he is going away for a while and when he returns things will be better for them both. Marion corners Alan to find out what Gisborne is up to. When he tells her they are going to Portsmouth, she thinks the King is going to land there and the Sheriff is going to try something. She tells Alan he can not go along with treason because that is what will happen. Alan tells her he can not do anything because he is just a pawn. Marion goes to see Robin at the secret hide out and finds him not there.
One of the soldiers goes to Nottingham castle to tell the Sheriff about the black powder. They want to burn down the barn to kill them but the Sheriff won’t let them because he wants Robin’s head on a stake outside the castle as a reminder to all who want to oppose him.
While being stuck in the barn, Munch watches everyone doing what they can to prepare to fight. He decides to attempt to negotiate and says while he distracts them, the rest are to make a run for it. When he walks out the door and says he is unarmed and wishes to negotiate, several arrows are shot around him and he ducks back inside.
Marion returns to the castle and begs Alan to help her since she can not find Robin. He tells her it can not be the king because it is him, Gisborne, and the Sheriff only going. That is what makes her believe it is the King. He refuses to help her and she punches him out, taking his sword to stop the Sheriff himself. She is even willing to kill the Sheriff if need be to stop him. She walks into his main room, where he is practicing a speech. Right before she stabs him, he sees her in the goblet and ducks. Marion is trapped by him with the sword and he tells her it was unwise.
Gisborne and Alan walk in to find out what Marion has done. The Sheriff shows them and wants to know if Alan knew she was going to do it. Alan slips and says that while she is good he is better, which lets the Sheriff know that Alan and Gisborne knew she was capable of this. Gisborne is forced to admit that Marion was the Night Watchman and he thought her days as that were over. The Sheriff decides to take Marion with them and reveals they are going to the Holy Land. As they walk out the door, Alan confronts Gisborne asking if this is what he thinks. Gisborne tells him to go with it because he will be richly rewarded with lands, title, and money.
Djaq is upset the soldiers do not attack. Robin says they are mercenaries and are only paid to fight. As the time wears on they grow more agitated and begin to fight amongst themselves. Robin stops it and says it is his birthday and they should eat to celebrate. He wants them all to calm down so they do not make any foolish moves.
Riding along, Marion asks if they are really going to the Holy Land. The Sheriff tells her that he hears the weather is nice but that Gisborne would know since he’s been there before. Marion finds out that it was true that Gisborne did try to assassinate the king.
The mercenaries get the gangs attention and when Robin sticks his head out, they shoot an apple at them. Robin bluffs they have enough food and water for a week and then retreats to the inside. They decide that at first light they will meet them. Djaq says they need to have a night of talking to prepare to die. Munch is not up for it so Djaq says she will begin.
When the Sheriff and the rest stop for the night, Marion tells the Sheriff he better not sleep that night, that Robin will come and stop him. The Sheriff tells Marion that Robin is in a village surrounded by 100 mercenaries and will not come. Marion tries to get Alan to go back to Nottingham to help Robin so he can stop this. He tells her he can not and then gets called away by the Sheriff.
Back at the barn, Djaq is talking about how she likes them all and that she loves them all. She reveals that she loves one more than the others and then tells Will how she feels. He tells her that he feels the same. Munch thinks it is stupid and calls for an end, someone else’s turn. Little John is called on to talk. He is reluctant at first and then opens up. He is upset about letting Alice and his son go. He wants to go out right then to die because of his guilt.
Gisborne confronts Alan and wants to know if Robin and Marion are lovers. Alan skirts the question and says even if they are Robin is finished so why does it matter. The Sheriff walks out before they can continue the conversation. Alan can not sleep after the incident and then goes to see Marion. She is grateful to him and tells him to hurry to save the King.
Munch says he won’t talk and when Robin says it’s about time that he shuts up, he begins to rant. He tells Robin he hates him and loves him at the same time. Munch says when they were in the Holy Land things were better, they come home and they changed, that Robin does not treat him like a friend but a servant.
After a time they make a plan to attack. When Munch asks about after the attack, Will states the obvious that there won’t be an after. John tells Robin before they go it is his turn to talk. He doesn’t want to but then begins too. He reveals about being engaged to Marion and how he is afraid to face the horrors he saw in the Holy Land. He tells Munch that Munch is stronger than himself. And he did betray Munch’s friendship so he can lead the gang because the horrors would otherwise take over. This is why he does not try to kill anymore.
The Sheriff wakes Gisborne to let him know that Alan has left. As the gang is preparing to go out and fight, Alan arrives and tells the leader the Sheriff has changed his mind about what he wants with the gang. Alan walks up to the barn and demands to be let in. They take him and Alan reveals that they need to trust him because the Sheriff and Gisborne are going to the Holy Land to kill the king. When Alan and the gang come out, with Alan pretending to have them all tied up and going to the castle, the messenger who had told the Sheriff about the black powder has returned and revealed the truth. They begin fighting for their lives. They steal horses and escape to the forest. Here Alan tells Robin that the Sheriff also has Marion and they decide against going to the camp and head to the coast.
Cultures are a good world hook as well for a new D&D campaign. So much in history that can be used. Something different than what you are used to can cause some research on your part but it can be fun to learn about. And you never know a new kind of culture might just be what you need to get your players highly interested in a new game.
To start you could create an African culture. Arid land, nomadic people, lots of sun in your world. An Arabian culture might be fun on the other hand. Sand and sun so your PC’s must know how to survive in the heat of the day and the cold of night. Water could be a precious resource, even more than money. It could be modeled after 1001 Arabian Nights if you wanted.
If you are a fan of Conan, you could have a culture based off of Barbarians. Vikings are sometimes lumped into this group. They are similar but not identical. Although if you desire they could be warring sides that started out originally as the same group. Both groups worshipped multiple gods so for a standard D&D campaign it would be easy to create a pantheon. Ancient cultures such as Egyptians, Greek, or other well known cultures can bring interesting flavors to your campaign. In these kinds of worlds, the gods are already created so that part of the work is done. You just have to make the land and people. Tribal or savage people could make an odd world. Who is really the bad guy in something like that when what one group does for their gods, another thinks is against the gods? War might be constant and groups might be friends one day and enemies the next.
Feudal or Renaissance times from England are some standard cultures used in D&D campaigns, but there is nothing that says you can’t create one as well. If you know the history well enough you will not have to do much research to create everything you want. There is even Post-Renaissance where gun powder is in control and knights are no longer the ruling fighters.
An Oriental culture could go with several other cultures. You can have a Medieval China, Japan, or India. Or perhaps a combination of all three if you wanted to mix elements you liked from each one. Native American worlds would be another interesting culture to use. The people hunt to survive and don’t waste anything. There could be those who are trying to get out of this lifestyle or even those trying to exploit one aspect of the culture for their gain over everyone else.
And of course you could have a mercantile world where trade and commerce would rule the world. Or even a seafaring world where most of the people own or work on boats. It might actually be better to add this with another culture like Feudal for a different kind of world.
Any of these can be combined for a new flair. Even the most famous cultures can be changed slightly to make it more fun and really get your players wanting to play. You might even ask them for some input. They could come up with ideas you didn’t think of.