Blog for Stephanie Bryant, a writer with too many hobbies and not enough time.

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Cutting Words

4 years after measuring and starting a sweater for him, and John’s body has changed. He moved some of his waist into his chest– looks great, except now the sweater which I just finished, is tight across the chest.

The pattern is Andy, from Knitty. As you can see in the pattern, the body is knit in one piece.

John found this tutorial on Techknitting, which suggests making underarm gussets to accommodate a larger chest. I’m 90% convinced that this will work, except….

The sides don’t have seams. I’ll have to cut my knitting. Worse, I’ll have to cut vertically, which means I can’t just snip and unweave stitches (like I did for my recent afterthought sleeves)– I’ll need some steek magic in here.

This realization yesterday required a glass of wine. I may be able to start tackling it this week. The temps yesterday were in the 80’s, so I’m not too worried about him needing this sweater just yet. Soon, though. Winter is, after all, coming.

How He Dies

This is a side-story in the Moving Forward RPG campaign, from the point of view of Emilien, our NPC rogue/fighter. He died in our last session, effectively shutting up Gwenn’s voice for a bit.

Emilien shook his head as the rest of the Harriers ran off to delve further into the mines. Guard the rear and secure the exit. The orders were deceptively simple– working alone had never been a problem for him, but these mines were riddled with portcullises and gates. Finding the mechanisms for each would be a challenge, to say the least. He already knew one of them was in the side room– the other couldn’t be that far off.

He slid into the side room easily and started on the portcullis crank. As he did so, he bit back the curse that rose to his lips, unbidden. Something about uppity rich girl ordering him around and sending him off on an errand instead of–

The room shook violently, and he grabbed the mechanism to brace himself. The entire complex shuddered and Emilien heard the distant roaring shriek of some great beast.

As he stood shakily, he looked around for a locking mechanism for the portcullis. A brake, mounted to the wall beside it. He flipped it, just as the door burst open and two guards stepped in, weapons readied.

Damn, Emilien swore under his breath, waiting for them to come closer. He side-stepped into a position he could defend.

“What, looking for me?” he called out to them. Buy time. Secure the exit.

The men moved forward, growling. “Fiend– you killed them!”

“I did no such thing– Well, maybe I did,” he replied, just as the men moved in for the strike. He dodged, parried with his sword, and shot wildly at the second man.

Two on one is not great odds for most men… but most aren’t Emilien of the Harriers. He dispatched the first easily, which left him fighting close and fierce with the second. Ducking quickly, he barely avoided a cleaving stroke from the armored guard’s weapon, which clashed into the wall behind his head. A darting blow from Emilien’s sword slid neatly under the man’s breastplate, and Emilien felt it sink deeply into the man’s gut. Warm blood flowed over his hand, and he smelled viscera, dank and filthy.

When it was done, he wiped his sword on the man’s tabard and looked back at the mechanism.

The brake was broken, shattered by the guard’s sword.

Damn. Double damn.

Emilien realized, by glancing into the hallway, that this mechanism operated the exterior portcullis. No sense in securing that one if they couldn’t get the inside one done.

He backed out of the room, slowly heading down one of the corridors. Just as he was on the stairs heading up, he heard grating metal and pounding feet. Almost as quickly as they’d come, they were running further out, and Emilien ran down the stairs, making it to the bottom just in time to see Gwenn’s dark brown ponytail disappearing around the corner…. and on the other side of the outer portcullis.

Damn.

Now, it was a matter of securing his exit– and he was nowhere close to strong enough to merely lift the gate upwards. He needed stealth and smarts– fortunately, he had both in spades.

He retreated to one of the side rooms, cloaking himself in the shadows to consider his options.

A few hours later, he had the remaining guards’ patrols figured out– they had convened in one of the central chambers and were engaged in a heightened patrol schedule.

He’d also been listening to what they considered important enough to guard. The inner portcullis release, for example, which must be upstairs, given the attention they were giving it.

He stole up the stairs, listening. The patrols were close together– he had minutes to work, if he was going to pull this off. But even if he didn’t, there were only four of them, and they patrolled in pairs.

He found the mechanism for the inner portcullis. His hands were barely on it before it gave a screaming, grinding complaint.

Damn.

Bootsteps on the stairs. Emilien stepped away from the mechanism and drew his weapons. He was gratified to see that the portcullis remained up, if only a few inches. At least this one had a working brake.

The fight was swift– they always were, weren’t they? And at first, it was going well– one guard and an archer stumbled in from the stairs. He dispatched the archer swiftly, while the armored guard closed in on him.

And then, as bad luck would have it, the other guard and archer pair burst in through the second door.

Now, Emilien was outnumbered. He could bring down their artillery quickly, but these two fellows in armor flanked him readily. For all his dodging and dancing, he couldn’t get away from them.

Just as his sword slipped across the neck of one, dropping him, he felt a shiver down his spine. He barely turned in time to avoid having that very spine severed by a lucky cut. A cut which, in the end, slid across his own gut, spilling his blood everywhere.

My favorite shirt, too, he thought, bringing the crossbow up to bear. One shot, point blank, through the eye, and his assailant went down.

Unfortunately, so did Emilien. The blood wouldn’t stop, and he felt his legs fold beneath him.

In the end, he lay on the floor, cursing his wretched luck, the guard who’d taken that lucky hit, and the fact that, for whatever reason, he had a potion of oil in his pack and nothing to heal himself.

And… he was alone. He wasn’t supposed to die alone, and certainly not from some half-wit guard. He should have had his head taken off after a trial for treason, or shot while covering a daring escape.

Well, perhaps that’s what he was doing. And yet…

He didn’t feel like one of the Harriers. Not yet, and not ever. They had trusted him with information– more than he’d wanted to know, perhaps. They said there were no secrets.

She trusted him with words, but not with actions. Guarding the rear was not the act of a hero.

He resolved to speak to her about that, just as soon as he woke up….

 

When he finally woke, he felt so awful, so drained, so tired, he forgot to berate the lieutenant. Gwenn leaned over him, gently putting one hand on his shoulder.

“Don’t get up just yet– you’ve had… quite a day.”

“Where am I?” He tilted his head up, but his vision swam dangerously, so he leaned back. Better.

She was still leaning over him. “We’re safe, in the cabin. You’re going to be fine. You were wounded pretty badly….” She looked away and he heard Firiel’s soft drawl. “I’ll be back in a bit,” she finally said, standing.

He leaned back, letting Firiel, Tristram, and Ordune take over his care for a while. Everything hurt, even parts that hadn’t been hurt originally. It was simply easier to let them change his bandages, feed him, help him sit up– than it was to do these things for himself, or think about it, or even want to.

His gut hurt, but more than the wound, it hurt deeper inside, a sick place of worry that he thought he’d long ago quashed.

Gwenn had lied to him. To his face, she had lied. About his wound. He hadn’t been wounded. He’d been killed, and his lieutenant had seen fit to hide it from him.

It was going to be a hell of a long day.

The Family that Games Together

I visited my sister in Missouri this weekend for her wedding. In addition to some knitting, a library book, and some board games, I brought my Nook, loaded up with books and RPGs.
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Thursday night, my niece (age 11) wanted to “play D&D.” Well, I didn’t have D&D with me, but Niece doesn’t really know the difference between D&D, KidsRPG (the first RPG I introduced her to, when she was about 7), and Dungeon World. Fortunately, I had Dungeon World on my Nook.

My new brother-in-law is a Warhammer player and all-around geeky gamer as well. He’s been wanting to get into D&D, but “the books are so expensive!” In fact, “D&D books” were item #3 on their wedding registry, right after a microwave and blender.

Continue reading The Family that Games Together

Cliches and Icons, Part 2

So, there we were, knee-deep (waist deep for halflings) in gelatinous cube! And suddenly, as we tried to run away, it shlooped up itself into a cube and started advancing on us!

In the distance, we saw another cube form– two of them! We attacked one of the cubes, slowing it down, but we were sure to be devoured in no time!

I tell you, friends, this was not a good situation for us to be in! I leapt on the shoulders of Brother Wesley, yelling at him to run! Mush! Move it!

Fortunately, our quick-thinking dwarven warrior smashed his hammer into the floor, shattering a hole which we could easily escape through.

Unfortunately, the party was split on whether we should climb down the hole and run away down another tunnel of the aquaducts, or let the cubes fall into them.

I didn’t think the cubes would fall in. They’re not smart, of course, but they also don’t need to be smart to be able to ooze right over a hole in the floor.

I had previously treated a half-loaf of bread with poison, so I used my sling to throw it into a cube. It devoured the morsel… and immediately fell asleep.

Success! Now, to make it out of this terrible place–!

In the end, Wesley and I dropped into the hole, with Vorrak and Torendil following. The second cube followed as well, but by then we had a bit of a lead on the monster. Which was good, since the tunnels we dropped into also had cubes, far in the distance.

We ran away and kept running. We ran until we were confronted by another cube, at which point we smashed through the sides of the aquaduct– Wesley and me through the floor, and Vorrak nad Torendil with more “control” over their fates. Wesley and I fell down and down, landing hard in the catch basin beneath the aquaducts.

We slogged around until we met back with our friends. Eventually, we all came to a set of stairs leading up.

These stairs led to a strange necropolis beneath Brighton. Inhabited only by the dead, the city was a concentration of dead men, women, and children– all walking around as if they were alive. Very polite folk, too– aside from the problems we had when I whacked one in the head with my sling (er… Vorrak told me to do it!), they were quite nice to us.

Wesley charmed one of the undead, and I talked to a kid who told us the mayor knew the way out, back to the surface. After a failed attempt to convince some skeletal guards to let us through, I did some makeup and pretended to be one of the dead, and therefore requested an audience as a citizen of the town.

I spoke with the mayor and eventually convinced him to show us to the passageway out. Vorrak tore down the wall, revealing a pair of ravenous ghoulish hounds… who of course attacked us! Vorrak focused on the hounds while the rest of us piled onto the mayor (who seemed to want us all dead anyway). The passageway was brittle, however, and it finally caved in, leaving us in the darkness beyond, and the mayor on the side of the town.

We pressed onward, with Wesley’s light showing the way through the dark.

Eventually, we came upon a set of stairs leading up again. At the top landing, there was a door. I searched for traps and found that only the lock on the door was trapped– but it was magically trapped! Between Torendil and I, we figured out that smashing the lock sent us back to the bottom of the stairs, unlocking it sent us somewhere else, and picking it sent us somewhere else again.

Not having a key, I picked the lock, but had to break my dagger in the process. Bummer.

On the other side of the door was the store-room from the inn! We went right in, and the door disappeared as soon as it was closed. I commented that we were still missing a cat, and then one meowed at me! Huzzah!

The last bit of sleeping poison turned the cat into a purring, sleeping creature inside my backpack, and we scurried off. Through the inn’s common room, which we discovered was quite upscale and, it turned out, was inside Brighton, the city on the cliff above Ashcliff. Well, no matter! The innkeep appeared quite similar to our old pal, but we slipped right out and headed home. Tornedil said something about there being a weird spatial loop that meant every inn in all the worlds are connected and mirror each other, but… I don’t know much about that.

Turned in the cat for the reward (even though it might not actually be the same cat… this one’s a calico, and the other was a tabby). Went carousing and leveling up and shopping!

While we were out carousing, we picked up a rumor of a possible new adventure to explore, but… well, there’s quite a bit of ale to go around when you’re ‘rousing, and we woke up dangling from our ankles, suspended from the cliffs themselves.

I can’t wait to find out how we get out of this one!

This has been the game writeup of our Dungeon World side-adventure, Cliches and Stereotypes, Oh My! We return to the adventures of Gwenn, Firiel, Ordune, Tristram, and Emilien… next week, on Dungeons & Dragons!

Cliches and Icons, Part I

Last night, my Tuesday night game did a sidestep into Dungeon World. We decided a couple of weeks ago on our characters:

  • Vorrak, the dwarven fighter
  • Wesley, the human cleric
  • Torendil, the elven wizard
  • Mouse, the halfling thief

Our GM, Tyler, is running DW for the first time, but he was giggling madly over the rulebook while we were talking about it 2 weeks ago, so I knew he would do just fine.

We began last night with character bonds. I have to admit, I pushed quite a bit here and stepped on Tyler’s toes a bit (hopefully he didn’t mind). The GM’s role in Dungeon World is to basically sit back and help the players drive all the action forward, but he doesn’t actually have to do much besides bring in threats and decide on complications when appropriate.

In the course of our bond-creation, we determined that we were fairly new to each other’s company, but that my character Mouse had stolen Vorrak’s dignity– in the form of his beard– the previous night, which I had then sold to Torendril, who used it in creating his familiar. Meanwhile, Wesley knows this and hasn’t turned me in, because I’m kind of pathetic and downtrodden.

What I don’t know is that Vorrak also knows that I stole his beard, and he’s just biding his time before confronting me about it.

So, we began in an inn. Because it’s a cliche, you know. And as we’re wandering around, chatting and role-playing, we notice there are a lot of rats in this inn. And I overhear the innkeeper talking about how his cat has gone missing, and it’s expensive to replace (we later find out it’s an elven cat, rare and special). Meanwhile, I help myself and the dwarf to some beer, but not before spiking the dwarf’s beer with a dose of the sleeping poison I’ve mastered.

Oh, yeah. Sorry, Steve. I didn’t tell you that part yet.

So, the dwarf is already in his cups, but hasn’t drunk the tainted beer yet. I notice there are rat droppings in the peanuts, and go back over to my table, my half-pint in hand, to talk to the wizard and warn him about the food. Torbelin notices that the rats look… sickly.

 

Eventually, the wizard tells Wesley, who is alarmed.

At this point, Vorrak downs the ale, and his dwarven constitution rebels against the sleeping poison in it. He vomits profusely all over the table (score a second “stolen dignity” point for Mouse!). Vorrak and Mouse go outside to escape the tide of vomit.

Wesley stands on a table loudly announces to everyone in the bar that the beer is tainted with frothing rats, and for everyone to remain calm.

Everyone panics and flees. Vorrak and I return to an empty bar (great! more beer for me!) and a very angry innkeep.

This is when the adventure actually starts, as the innkeep demands we get rid of his rat problem, in restitution for the damages and lost custom to his bar.

I haggle him up to 400 gp if we find his cat, and half that if we just kill the rats for him.

We set off into the sewers, where we face rodents (of unusual size), then squeeze into a side alcove, which leads into an aquaduct. I disable a trap in the aquaduct, and we continue onward, forever. Eventually, we find a ladder up, which we take into another part of the aquaduct. Here, we continue onward, again for.ev.er, until Torendil realizes that the floor is sloping somewhat upwards, but the water… isn’t flowing down. In fact, the water is oddly viscous.

We’re knee-deep (waist-deep for the halfling!) in gelatinous cube.

Life is about to get very…. interesting, my friends.

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