Dragons are horribly misused in fantasy adventure stories and RPGs. There are a few good writers out there who use them sensibly, but a lot of writers basically ignore what a dragon really is, and just shoehorn it into a story in a way that makes no ecological sense. Continue reading
So yesterday was pretty busy. D&D prep, some painting, patching LotRO for Riders of Rohan, D&D playing, final research and fact-checking for the review. Hence, no post yesterday. I hope no one was holding their breath – I don’t want dead bodies on my conscience.
D&D session went well. Level 10 party – human Fighter (Scholl), Russian Ranger (Luke), halfling Rogue (Moir), half-orc Druid (Thom) – in a large city, based very, very loosely on Paris and Kutna Hora, plagued by a disastrous zombie/undead outbreak. The idea was to simply throw wave after wave after wave of low-level zombies at them. Last night’s session included a mere two waves, but a lot more interesting character exploration than I was expecting. Most of the group is Chaotic Neutral, Thom’s character is True Neutral.
The group escaped from a group of zombies by breaking into a closed notary office. The notary lived in the apartment upstairs, and they barged into the apartment to find a means of escape through the back, but the poor halfling notary was overcome with shock and passed out. The druid flung an oil-filled lantern on the zombies in the street below, and the burning zombies kept trying to smash their way into the wood-fronted building, catching it on fire. The druid took care to rescue the unconscious notary, dragging him along and keeping him safe from harm, much to the surprise and chagrin of his teammates.
The question arose: is this Neutral behaviour? To the rogue, the situation is a “him or me” thing, and he would have left the notary behind to burn to death or be eaten by the zombies. That’s more or less a neutral reaction to the situation. It’s the darker side of neutral – he’s not actively seeking to harm a person, which would be evil, but he’s not out to do good deeds either.
For the druid, keeping the innocent notary safe from harm was not an act of “good.” The harm that would have befallen the notary would have been a direct consequence of his actions, and protecting him from these ills is an act of balance. That’s one way to look at it.
Another way to look at it: a Neutral character isn’t just going to let a stranger die for no reason, particularly if saving that person requires very little effort. The rescue was not an act of purposeful Good, but leaving the innocent man behind knowing full well that he would die because of it could be considered an act of Evil. The druid simply picked up the halfling with the intention of setting him down somewhere where he wouldn’t be eaten by zombies or burned to death from the house fire. Eventually, he shape-shifted to a giant bat and flew the halfling off into the forest to leave him with his bear companion.
Picture relevant: D&D characters could encounter orcs or elves or something on this hill and fight.
Actually the campaign I have planned involves a zombie apocalypse. Not just zombies, but skeletons, too. And an ossuary that comes to a hellish semblance of life. Should be a hoot. Level 10 campaign, and the giant bone-golem animated church is going to be CR 12 or so, I think. I’ll figure something out to make it as epic as it needs to be. Basically, the idea of the campaign is that it takes place in a city like Paris – thousands of plague victims are entombed in the catacombs beneath the city streets. Somewhere in the city is a temple like that one near Prague, which is decorated with 40,000 human bones from all the plague victims that got piled up there. There were too many to bury, so some crazy priest started taking the bones and making chandeliers and family crests and like furniture and shit out of them.
Anyway, in this city, some noob necromancer stumbles across an ancient dusty tome containing a single spell. He critically fails his Spellcraft check and thinks it’s just an elaborate Raise Dead ritual written by someone who didn’t know the common spell. He casts the spell, hoping to raise up a few skeletons and zombies to do his bidding. Instead, it’s a doomsday spell that raises all the dead from their resting places. All the victims of a terrible plague hundreds of years ago, who are entombed beneath the city… all the recently-buried dead in the local cemetery… all the amalgamated bones in the ossuary… they all rise up to smite the living. Anyone killed by a zombie or skeleton becomes a zombie, thus quickening the apocalypse.
The painting is a work in progress. Started with the wet-on-wet technique to build a base, then building out from that with finer brushes for detail work. Will eventually add layers of oily glazes to give it a dreamy, warm, fuzzy look and add visual depth. Right now it kinda looks like bad perspective, but the trees are growing on a rising hill. The one at top right is farther away from the others, and I’m going to layer a thick bluish haze on top of it to make it look more distant. Also, I think the stream needs to be brighter. Anyway, it’s going to look pretty sexy when it’s finished.