kicking a ball, dropping a drink, falling down

Haven’t worked on “BASE2” for a while. I enjoyed being distracted by it – I really needed the distraction – but it’s on the back burner for now. It did not represent my best work but I think it still is a good idea.

The need for distraction came from needing to get my mind off work. Every day felt like a Greek tragedy.

Some days I felt like Prometheus, chained to my rock of a desk and having my liver torn out only to go home eviscerated, heal overnight, to be forced do it all over again the next day.

Others, I felt like Sisyphus, pushing a boulder uphill only to have to tumble back down and I’d have to start all over again. Towards the end, I did not enjoy myself at all.

I feel no ill will towards anyone. I’m just happy it’s over and I can start to go back to being myself.

And last night, it came to me to write something. Anything.

The idea came late at night. I didn’t indulge the temptation. So I saved it for today and literally rolled the dice to see what could happen. What you see above is the result.

I took the time to write what I’m calling “Three Falls”. It’s not a whole story, just the start to one.

Three Falls

“Simon!” Trish yelled from the sidelines. “Terry is open!”

Simon looked over to see her cupping her hands to her mouth, yelling at him to pass the ball to Terry. “He’s open, for fuck’s sake.”

Caught between taking the ball and running with it and listening to his girlfriend – also the coach of their little pick-up soccer league – he tripped over his own two feet. He saw himself as if in a tv show, floating majestically through the air in slow motion, maybe some classical music playing, before the world became all too real when his face mashed into the grass.

The opposing team lunged for the ball and took it back down the field. It was several seconds – felt like hours – before the referee blew the whistle. The twelve year old came jogging over and bent down to check on Simon.

“You doing okay, sir?” The boy asked. They’d hired him from the town – apparently the recreation department rents out their referees for all kinds of sporting events.

He got himself to a sitting position, and cleared his face of loose grass, dirt and debris. “Did you just call me sir?”

“Uh, yeah. You okay? You came down pretty hard.”

“That would be about right,” Simon said, grunting as he got up on one foot. He could feel the warmth in his left ankle, which told him for sure it was twisted if not sprained.

“Let me help you, sir,” the kid said, putting Simon’s arm across is shoulder and reaching around his waist for support as Simon limped off the field.

Trish didn’t seem to notice. She had the rest of the team on the sidelines for some last minute strategy. Only as he approached the bench did she see him and start a half-hearted clap. “Good try, good try. Walk it off, Simon. Walk it off. You’re good. We got this.”

He glanced at his watch. About five minutes left in the game. He was not going to walk off anything to go back on the field. When he took his seat on the bench, he took a chug of water then scrolled through the fitness stats on his watch, smiling to himself.

“What are you so happy about?” Trish said. She alternated between watching the game and checking on him. “You should have passed to Terry.”

“Yeah. Sorry about that.”

She clapped him on the shoulder. “No worries. No worries. Want some ice for your ankle? What the fuck?”

“Excuse me?”

Trish’s attention went from him to the game. Apparently someone’s mutt ran out on the field to chase the ball. The opposing team laughed and chuckled as the dog ran around and tried to play.

“Get that fucking dog off the ruddy field!” Trish screamed, stopping the whole soccer game cold.

So much for our friendly game.

more on base2

First of all, not sure why I’m calling it Base 2. But we can work with that.

I think I have a decent system for racial abilities. It might need some tweaking, but I think I have it.

The thought process I have is that any humans who chose to take on a life of adventure are heroic by definition. Any non-human race already have extraordinary abiltiies and simply chose a life of adventure. I considered using the term “Human Races” – meaning that every other fantasy race is all based on humans to begin with, and the closer they came to the Powers of Gremyr (ostensibly the deities of Gremyr), the more gifts they received.

Yeah, the logic is kinda sketchy, but let’s go with it.

I accidentally cut off the last bit of the “goblin” scores

I made another adjustment. With the exception of dwarfs (more on that later) humans can mate with any of the other non-human races. And it’s not based on “half” but degrees. So, if you are a full elf, you get all the elfin abilities but are merely “common”. If you give up the innate ability of teleportation, you are bumped up to ‘uncommon’ and have the ability scores to go along with it (there’s another chart for base scores for each class). If they give up both laying of hands (healing) and light 10′ radius, then they get the rare class of ability scores. And so on.

Now, dwarfs are a non-human race but they cannot mate with any other race. They are hermaphrodites. They get the best of 3d10 score option + 5 points to distribute among any 3 of the physical scores and another +5 points to distribute among any mental score.

The idea being is that humans lack the natural abilities of other non-human races but they are classed higher, which gives them a better chance against them.

My next steps are 1/ details on innate abilities (What does infravision do? What can an Aylvan do when they fly? What is Cyclopean Berserker Rage? How many kinds of breath weapons does a Wyrmkin have) and 2/ skills (which I think will start with combat, espionage, study, and devotion).

base 2 combat sample

Created two characters. The most basic of basic. I didn’t assign innate abilities or skills. I did assign bonuses based on the race they chose. In this instance, the fantasy world of mine – Gremyr – doesn’t have orcs. But it does have goblins. So I used those. And, for reference, I have wyrmkin. Which are humanoid dragons. But not in the way you think. I’m going to use that as a variant. Think of the mutations that are allowed in the old Palladium/T.M.N.T. universe. You can have a very dragon looking humanoid or a very humanoid looking dragon. I’m kinda thinking that every race on Gremyr can be a hybrid.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

For now we have the human, Grail Talonstar, facing off against the goblin, Tnozax. I gave them both the same weapon set – as if they are in a cage, fighting for my entertainment.

Tnozax

The human is medium sized. The goblin is large sized.

Being medium against the large, there is an advantage when it comes to dodging but not to defending. But when you dodge, you sacrifice your initiative and hope you win the next round. If you defend and you are successful, then you can return the attack.

When large is against medium, there is a size advantage that increases your chance to hit and the damage you inflict.

The weapon of choice for these two is 2d10. I really badly want to incorporate more dice but these ones seem to work with what I have going on.

Grail and Tzonax roll for initiative. Adding size modifier to ability modifiers shows that Tzonax wins initiative.

Tzonax rolls to attack and gets a 27. Grail elects to dodge, forfeiting his chance to defend and then fight back, mostly because he’s afraid of the goblin. Because he’s smaller, he can’t get out the way fast enough – but I’m thinking now that won’t be true. Either way, even if we did the +1, he would not have dodged.

Roll a 2 for damage on a d10. Because Tzonax is bigger, there is a +1 damage. And because of the strength modifier of +9, Tzonax does 12 damage.

….On second thought, I’m wondering about damage for weapons. It can’t be based on size – because a bullet can do a tonne of damage. but maybe it can? Because maybe on a 10+ natural roll, you do a critical hit and multiply the damage by 3. But then I have to create classes for weapons that falls in the same area of the class of characters – a bullet would be a heroic weapon.

Because Grail elected not to defend, he lost the initiative and we have to roll again. He wins the initiative, but his attack roll is equal to Tzonax’s defend roll – and I decided as I rolled it that the tie always goes to the defender.

This is a good start. I’m having fun.

base 2 scope and sizes

I’ve decided to make it so attack and defence rolls based on a 2d10 roll instead of d100.

d100, every required roll is a 1% chance. That doesn’t really match real life. Although, RPGs are never about real life.

When you roll 2d10, your odds change.

RollOdds
21.0%
32.0%
41.0%
54.1%
65.1%
76.1%
87.1%
98.2%
109.2%
1110.2%
129.2%
138.2%
147.1%
156.1%
165.1%
174.1%
183.1%
192.0%
201.0%
Made this table myself….

The higher rolls have the same odds as the lower rolls. You almost want to game the system to keep it so your roll stays around the 10 – 12 requirement.

So, I’ve crafted 1 table for 2 different character qualities – level and size. It can also be used when performing feats.

These are the traits and sizes

TraitSize
CommonTiny
UncommonVery Small
RareSmall
Very RareMedium
HeroicLarge
LegendaryVery Large
MythicalGargantuan
SupernaturalLeviathan
Base 2 is a silly name, but I’m going with it….

And this table can have the size substituted for the quality. The modifier is the same.

ModifersActor
ChallengeCommonUncommonRareVery RareHeroicLegendaryMythicalSupernatural
Common12345678
Uncommon-11234567
Rare-2-1123456
Very Rare-3-2-112345
Heroic-4-3-2-11234
Legendary-5-4-3-2-1123
Mythical-6-5-4-3-2-112
Supernatural-7-6-5-4-3-2-11
It’s a watered down THAC0 table, really

And characters are built the same way as any classic RPG. Physical traits (Strength, Agility, Health) and Mental transit (Intelligence, Wisdom, Character). And the basis of those scores is on their level (Common, Uncommon, Rare, Very Rare, Heroic, Legendary, Mythical, Supernatural).

Core Score710131619222528
AbilityCommonUncommonRareVery RareHeroicLegendaryMythicalSupernatural
Strength345678910
Agility23456789
Health23456789
Score710131619222528
Intelligence345678910
Wisdom23456789
Character23456789
Score710131619222528

The difference between your highest trait in a category cannot be greater than 5 of the lowest. Your lowest score cannot be less than half of the average score listed (rounded down). So, if you have 19 points for Physical you can have a 3 Agility, 8 Strength, 8 Health.

You can then take from your Mental score and bump to 8 Agility leaving 14 points to be allotted for the remaining scores. So, you could have 5 Intelligence, 6 Wisdom and 3 character.

All of this leaves aside any racial adjustments (which come later).

Nothing might come of this, but I am having a good time.

I think for my next post, I’ll mock up a duel between two characters.

Base2 System

2nd Posting of this image but it’s relevant

I’ve been thinking about my system for the past few days. I’m calling it Base2 for now.

The levels are name based – common, uncommon, rare, very rare, heroic, legendary, mythical, supernatural. Those levels apply to player character, game master characters, and monsters. Their innate abilities and skills and spells are all based on those classes. When you “punch up”, you’re at a disadvantage. When you “punch down”, you have the advantage. When you “punch up” and win, you score big. When you “punch down”, not so much. Punch too far down and you will actually set yourself back.

Combat is a combination of size – tiny, very small, small, medium, large, very large, monstrous and gargantuan – power level. And the same conditions apply for “punching up” and “punching down”.

Spells are in progress. But I expect to steal shamelessly from other systems.

Skills, innate abilities, and monsters are all in progress as well, but I shall steal with abandon.

Porting from real life should be simple enough – determine it’s level (common, etc…) then classify its size.

Magical weapons would be something else – I would have to incorporate crafting into the system as well. So a heroic magical weapon would have certain pre-requisites before it could be enchanted in addition to the degree of enchantment. And it would effect combat as well – a heroic character wielding a legendary weapon would be fighting at a legendary level. And so forth.

I’m really having fun with this.

Official Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook (by Gary Gygax)

1st Edition and far from mint condition

I collected all my role playing books and paraphernalia and put them on a shelf for no good reason at all. I remembered playing these at around the same age my son is now. I remembered how many hours, days and weeks of fun I had inventing things for me and my friends to do. Couldn’t find my Players Handbook, though. I figured at one point or another I had loaned it out to someone or it got lost in the shuffle. At one panicked point I thought I got really drunk one night and sold them to my friend’s brother.

Last night, I found it on the floor of my son’s room. He’d been reading it. I guess he lost interest. He enjoys other role playing games. Mostly battle based games like Warhammer 40K. But apparently not AD&D.

I’ve gone through a phase of researching the best game for him to play. I’ve already written about that. I couldn’t land on which one to use. There are so many. I went back and forth with the idea to write my own but it’s so much work. But it’s not the worst idea. And besides – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – I like my polyhedral dice. They’re pretty.

So I got to thinking about some game systems use the probability of polyhedral dice to influence actions in a game.

There are 36 possible outcomes from rolling two six sided dice (2d6). For example, 9 can happen 4 times from rolling two dice. You can get it by rolling 3+6, 4+5, 5+4, or 6+3. So, 4/36 is 0.1111… or about 11%.

The number 3, on the other hand, can only be rolled two ways 1 + 2 and 2 + 1. Which is a probability of .0556 or 5.56%.

For all the years I’ve played, never have I ever put this math into consideration or asked myself if there was hard gaming math behind any of the games I played.

As I lay in bed this morning, nursing a headache that probably was created by my first doses of Sertraline (Zoloft is what it’s generally called – who comes up with these names? Is there a system for that?) I started to wonder about all of these things and came up with a table of abilities for a character not much different than the one Gygax set out in his Player’s Handbook.

You have physical (Strength, Agility and Health) and mental (Intelligence, Wisdom, Character). There are 3 categories it applies to – Attack, Defence, and Feats. Based on your score you have ability modifiers for each. The skills you can acquire are based on the combined mental score. The acts you can perform are based on your combined physical score (say, a gymnastics move) or the individual score. I’m not breaking new ground here – all games systems do that.

But I’ve never seen one with a single table to define them all.

I think what I’ll do now and just keep on whittling away at it and see what I come up with.

What’s inspiring me is the thought of sitting with my son and rolling up a character and running a one-off adventure. We’ve played short games for a couple of hours each but like the Player’s Handbook on the floor of his room, he lost interest. My goal is a one-page gaming system that inspires him to want to play more.

a beer, a deity, a pig roast

I actually thought the one in the middle was holding a trident….

The people of Gremyr don’t worship gods. They revere the idea of virtue. Or the embodiment of a thing. Here are just a few examples. And one notable one.

Adherents who wish to receive The Blessings of Zyvtar need only open their heart and mind to them. Once they do, and they accept that life is a gift and everything that happens is for a reason, realizes that Zyvtar’s blessing are everywhere. From the tsunami that submerged two thirds of Benour under the Tarwyrian sea, to the gold piece you found while walking the streets of Skiplewen.

Or you can think of Penitents who seek the Wisdom of Arin pour over curious pour over their mysteries like this one – A battle-hardened dwarf general in Ancient Almahrrak travelled across Gremyr to seek the Wisdom of Arin. He found a Penitent of Arin meditating alone on a mountain. When the Penitent didn’t acknowledge him, he roared. “Don’t you know that I am the kind of dwarf who can run you through without blinking an eye?” To which is Penitent replied, “Don’t you know I am a human who can be run through without blinking an eye?” Deeply impressed, the general sheathed his sword and became a student of the the Penitent’s for the rest of his life.

Or the gamblers and risk takers who rely on The Chances of Meies provided to them. Or the nagini who lay flat to feel the word of Yslin from the heat in the ground. Or even Kan’s “thunder stick” and flute – which were both instruments of Thyztris’s vengeance. Kan never came to know, but the flute he crafted was called Thyztris’s Woodwinds among the gods. And how the gods themselves laughed when Azrush’s Lament managed kill what they thought never could be killed.

How is it that an idea can laugh at something? That’s a question worthy of one of Arin’s Penitents. But it does have an answer. The Powers of Gremyr do find the need to take possession of an Aught – most often a humanoid (elf, dwarf, human, orc, nagini, aylvan, cyclops). Sometimes they enter a tree, or a rock, or a fish, just to know what it feels like and perhaps imbue some of their virtue into that item. More often than not, another creature will happen upon that and take it for themselves to be a good luck charm – a gift from the gods.

And there was no Power of Greymr who had taken to an Aught than Thoher’s Thirst. They almost always become one with a humanoid, with no particular preference. But whatever form they took, it’s anatomy had to appreciate the taste of beer. They would be born and grow and live among them, with the sole purpose of making a home in a part of Gremyr where they could cultivate barley in order to make beer. And the rest of The Powers of Gremyr would lie and wait for the first batch to be brewed. Then they would come in droves. And they did. They slaughtered rams from the hills and roasted them over the blast furnace heat of a fire made from the logs of a Viking Oak tree.

When the Azruth’s Lament was sung, the Aughts of Qaotl of The Afterlife, of Mozmis’s Good Fortune, of Neneyar’s Beauty, Iarin’s Bough of Fertility, Cinmis’s Breath of Summer, Vutar’s Sense of Governance, Voren’s Bellows of Winter, Eteus’s Bond of Marriage, and Enphin, the antithesis of Mozmis, found themselves high on Mount Valour, looking across their Broad Pool of Seeing at the men fall asleep one by one, never to wake again. From where they were, they could hear the words, but were unaffected by the song.

Thoher roared with laughter. They did so because Aldaesan’s Grandfather, the father of the Scekahian Golem, Rudhos Of The Mountains was not invited to the First Night of Thoher’s batch. Rudhos preferred to be born into humans who have a family history of strength. Thoher, in this incarnation of his Aught, chose an elf – who ultimately was kicked out of Tarwyria and blocked from ever returning.

“Rudhos, you old fool,” Thoher joked. “You can never make anything indestructible. You merely eliminate what can destroy it. You never would have thought your grandson could be defeated by a song.”

“Oh?” Came a voice from the pool. From within came a large, eight foot tall human wielding a mace made from the polished stone of the Khagalahni mountains. He always stashed it as he sense his Aught was about to expire and found it again when he returned. How he came to be at the bottom of the pool was something Thoher would make it their mission to find out. “Did you write that song? It sounds like the drunken ramblings of a fool in love.”

a boat, a crown, a harp

This one is going to be a toughie….

“Hey!” Cain said walking briskly through the people who were still boarding to approach this new boat. “Do you have room for passengers? Name your price for me and my squire.”

Rothmir bristled under the weight of being called a “squire” but went with it for now. His lord was in a mood.

“Are you not listening to me?” Cain yelled. He walked up behind someone who was checking the lines and rigging. It looked to him like they were about to set sail. Which only made him all the more anxious to get their attention. Before Rothmir could stop him, Cain grabbed their shoulder and whipped them around.

“When a Gryphic Knight calls you, you turn around,” he commanded.

He expected a male pirate and was confronted with a female sailor. She had bandana tied around her head and her hair was tied in a pair of braids. She stared at Cain in anger, breaking his grasp on her shoulder and dropping her harp. Rothmir got in between the two of them to apologize.

“I apologize on behalf of my lord,” Rothmir said. As one of his duties when serving Cain, it required him to apologize on his behalf. “He is anxious and keen to get on his way.”

“And I want to know if you’re brave enough to cross the Ildritch Sea,” Cain demanded. “And I want to know now.”

The lady just smiled and pointed behind them. They turned to be faced with a eight foot tall nagini. Cain attempted to draw his sword but the nagini batted it aside then grabbed him by the throat. And before Rothmir could even think of anything the nagini’s serpentine tail wrapped around his legs, sending him sprawling to the ground.

“You have a problem with Tessa,” The nagini hissed. “You got a problem with me.”

“You alright captain?” Tessa nodded in reply.

“What do you want me to do with them?”

Tessa made a hand gesture neither Cain nor Rothmir could interpret.

“Tessa is going to let you off easy,” the nagini said. He dropped Cain and released Rothmir. “Gather up your things and get the hell off her boat.”

“We want to hire your boat,” Rothmir said, before Cain had the chance to say something noble and stupid. “Name your price.”

“Yslin’s Hate is not for hire,” the nagini said.

“Are you refusing a knight in the king’s service?” Cain demanded. “I can have your arrested.”

The nagini reared up to its full height, over nine feet tall, and loomed over Cain. “They’ll never find your body.”

Rothmir remembered tales of the giant snake humanoids, swallowing humans whole in the service of Yslin, their sacred water deity. Armour and all. And this one looked hungry.

“Good sir,” Rothmir said soothingly. “How may I address you?”

The nagini turned on Rothmir but his look softened, if only a little. “Address?”

“Your name, good sir,” Rothmir said, glancing over at Cain. His lord had the good sense to look grateful. He would have fought this nagini to the death to preserve his honour.

“Call me Balder,” the nagini said. “And it doesn’t change my mind.”

“And your captain? You said her name was Tessa?”

“I speak for her,” the nagini said. “I know her mind.”

Tessa ignored the two of them as she plucked away on the strings of her harp, satisfied that they seemed to be in good order. What struck Rothmir as odd was that for as much as the strummed the harp, he couldn’t hear a single note. Judging by the look on her face, it didn’t seem to matter.

“What if I told you a crown was at stake,” Rothmir said. “And that you can name any price?”

a chest, a dragon, a monster

I’m thinking that if I end up building a LARGER story, I have to include the “monster” cube with every roll.

Ervok’s mother kicked him out of her nest once he came of age.

Others would consider that a euphemism. In truth, Lindwyrms nest high in the Valor Mountains, even higher than the kens of hawk family Aylvans. They do this in order to keep themselves safe from predators. Lindwyrms have an overriding desire to mate every fifteen years. The desire builds more and more until it finally overcomes their natural instinct to protect themselves. Once a Lindwyrm lays their eggs, the female is abandoned by the male, left to fend a year for herself and provide for her brood. The exact moment their children’s wings moult, the mother kicks them out of the nest to fend for themselves.

“But mother!” Ervok protested. “You’re supposed to give me my first gold piece.”

Lindwyrms aren’t quite dragons but they could easily be mistaken for one. The source of their strength comes from the precious metals of their hordes. There is no limit to how large they can grow. But it all comes from that first gold piece granted by their mothers.

“Your father left me with nothing,” she countered, going nose to nose with him, brimstone smoking from her nostrils. “And now I need to build my own treasure chest again.”

And with that, she shoved him him and took to the skies.

But Ervok bounced off every nook and crag on the way down until he landed at the mouth of a cave. He spread his wings in an attempt to fly, but he couldn’t raise his right wing. He looked over to see it was broken. He knew instinctively how to heal himself – if only his mother gave him that gold piece. In the meantime, he would just have to wait.

He folded his wings and walked into the cave to get a nice sleep. The rising sun heated the cave quite nicely, reminding him of his mother’s nest. He put the notion of his mother out of his head. She would travel across Gremyr, as far as possible to distance herself from her kin and to find a castle she could pillage or a town she could charge for protection.

He found sleep quite easily. The sound of the spring wings passing through the cave created a gentle, soothing sound that practically hypnotized him to sleep.

“You want gold?” a voice asked. He shot up immediately and prowled around the room looking for the source. It sounded like a human, but a deeper, more full voice. The words they chose were simple, but he suspected it had more to do with a language barrier than a lack of intelligence.

“Who’s there?” Ervok said in his most menacing voice. In truth, this was the first time he’d even spoke the common tongue. Between then and now, he spoke the language of Lindwyrms.

“I not here,” the voice said. “But I know gold.”

“You’re trying to confuse me,” Ervok complained. He wanted to unleash his fiery breath but knew his ignition bladder didn’t have enough fuel to fire. But he still had his fangs.

“I not here,” the voice said. “Does not mean I’m not here.”

Ervok roared and charged the back of the cave only to bump his head.

“Wind dying down,” the voice said. “Not much time. Once wind goes, I go. I know gold.”

a knight, a throne, a monster

I rolled this last night, actually

Rothmir knew his liege lord, Gryphic Knight Cain Amador did not like waiting, boats, or wasting time. And right now, they were standing on the dock of a passenger vessel set to sail from Noreria to Par-Shar. He could see his master tensing up beneath his armour.

I told him not to wear full armour to the docks.

When they booked passage, Cain had railed on about how he could not just charter a vessel to sail straight across the Ildritch Sea. Rothmir attempted to explain that staying along the coastlines and obeying the shipping routes was the safest way to travel.

“Thank you, sir knight,” a half-elf maiden said to him as she passed onto the boat. Many others offered the same show of thanks. Some offered a few coins, others offered food, one gentlemen offered his daughter. Cain took care to refuse all of their offers and waited for them all to board.

The truth of the matter was Rothmir booked a large suite in the middle of the boat – only one of 3 available (including the captain’s) – while most other passengers were travelling as steerage. Cain kept his temper in check only because he knew if he waited for every single person to board this vessel, he could still lock himself away in his stateroom and not have to get out until they landed in Par-Shar.

“How long will we be at sea?”

“No really at sea, my master,” Rothmir corrected. “The Ildritch Sea is called a Sea, but it’s not very big by Nemedian standards.”

“How long?” Cain sighed.

“About two weeks,” Rothmir answered. “About a fortnight. Depending on the wind.”

Cain stomped his foot in frustration.

“Aldaensan isn’t going anywhere, sire,” Rothmir assured him. “That beast has been hiding in the foothills of the Valor Range for hundreds of years. A few more days won’t matter at all. You will get your prize.”

Cain leaned in close to answer Rothmir. His voice was seething and he spoke through gritted teeth. “And that is what every other mercenary, rogue, wizard, and priest is thinking right now. And each one of those is doing everything they can to get to County Daran to defeat the lone remaining Scekahian Giant on the face of Gremyr and assume the throne of Daran. What are we doing? Going on a two week leisure cruise.”

“This is not a leisure cruise,” Rothmir corrected. “In that case is every book from Melcanth’s extensive bestiary. We will need to read that and study that. There may be hundreds – even thousands – of others who want to claim this prize. But only we will be victorious.”

“Bah!” Cain said, dismissing Rothmir. He’d been assigned by his mother after she assumed head of the household when his father was killed in battle five years ago (it could have been six or maybe seven – he didn’t see much of his father after he turned 9). Cain appreciated how Rothmir always looked out for him, but he had no sense of urgency. no sense of adventure. And he didn’t seem to grasp. If he was the Lord of Daran, he would finally have his own throne and be out from under the thumb of his mother. And if some scheming mercenary happened to sneak up on that giant and take it out with a single blow, that would mean the good people of Daran would have to exist under the bumbling graces of someone who had no idea what it was to be a Lord.

Then Cain looked over on the other side of the dock. A smaller boat with a crew of only 5. And it didn’t look like they were taking on any passengers.

“Hey!” Cain said, walking briskly through the people who were still boarding to approach this new boat. “Do you have room for passengers? Name your price for me and my squire.”

Rothmir bristled under the weight of being called a “squire” but went with it for now. His lord was in a mood.