Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Calidar Moving Ahead

Calidar John Dollar
Concept work from John Dollar
It's been almost a year since my most-viewed-ever blog post "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" went online.  Since then, a lot has been accomplished.  The Kickstarter succeeded, and the Calidar project is now nearly complete.  I had started with the idea of adopting much of the feel and general themes from Mystara and, more specifically, the Voyages of Princess Ark published in Dragon Magazine back in the 80s and 90s.  I think I have accomplished this goal, without running roughshod over WotC's IPs . . . and then some.  It's very hard to tackle something as deeply ingrained and as much beloved as Mystara, which has benefited over the years from a wide array of published material and fan work.  Where did I start, you might wonder.  Many supporters of the popular game world may look at Calidar with a certain amount of doubt, if not indifference.  However, this new fantasy setting has now developed into something that clearly goes beyond what Mystara accomplished, at least regarding the initial themes and the general scope of the first book, "In Stranger Skies."  The present work certainly exceeds the boundaries reached by the Princess Ark.

So where are we at, as of today?

Sunday, March 30, 2014


Gary Con VI
Janet and I had the pleasure of attending this yearly event these past few days. Gary Con is special to me because, of course, it connects directly with Gary Gygax and it is just outside Lake Geneva, but also because many of my friends and colleagues are present as well.  Though it is growing every year, this event has retained a certain friendliness and personality that much larger venues can no longer hope to offer. Where else would you be able to encounter this many former TSR folk without actually trying? The cocktail party Saturday night was a success and new familiar faces were there as well. The high point for me was spending some good time with an old friend whom I hadn't seen for thirty years: Merle Rasmussen, the designer of the original Top Secret game. Merle left TSR in 1984, about a year after I started there. Although he enjoyed a long and fruitful career in his native Iowa (and still does), he connected recently with Jayson Elliott at (new) TSR/Gygax Magazine and Luke Gygax. I was also very pleased to chat with Betty Elmore whom I hadn't seen for almost as long. Many other friendly faces haunted the halls of Geneva Ridge that cold, crisp evening. Sorry I didn't get everybody.  All good times must come to an end, so I'll post my pictures here for your enjoyment . . . and get back to work on my current project.

Gary Con
Dungeoncrawl meets SF

Friday, March 7, 2014

March Update

Ahoy!  Backers of the Star Phoenix!

As of early March, the Calidar project is proceeding apace.

Since last February, the first 63 pages have already gone through the editing process with Karen S. Conlin. This includes the main story, "In Stranger Skies," the overview of Calidar's universe (the planets, the moons, the races, and the gods), and the world of Calidar (the continents, the world soul, the Dread Lands, the Great Caldera, an overview of the realms, and a detailed historical timeline).

Meanwhile, writing continued for the Kingdom of Meryath gazetteer: its history, geography, economy, diplomacy, armies, internal politics, the culture of heroes, calendar, holidays, the NPC section (Heroes of the Star Phoenix and Heroes of Meryath), and the Guilds and Brotherhoods section.

Sunday, March 2, 2014

System-Neutral Character Rankings

Intended to be adaptable to leading fantasy role-playing games, Calidar does not feature a specific set of mechanics. Storytelling, flavor, and background information are the main goals. Guidelines presented here should nonetheless help referees make decisions on how best to render heroes and monsters in their game systems. Though a rating system is provided below, the intended game system’s mechanics should take precedence. Game masters should use their best judgement as regards style vs. accuracy.

This preview is posted here ostensibly to garner important feedback as to what you feel is missing, impractical, or unclear from a gaming standpoint. As promised in Calidar’s Kickstarter, a section in the final product will provide actual stats and mechanics for Pathfinder to better translate NPCs, monsters, equipment, and spells.

Ranks and Toughness: There are four general career paths in the World of Calidar which are independent from races—warriors (W), priors (P), mages (M), and rogues (R). Though uncommon, heroes with multiple professions are allowable. How far heroes progress along their career paths is measured in Ranks ranging from 1 to 100—one being a novice and 100 the highest that can be achieved. For example: for a Rank 50 hero of Calidar (Rk50) in a game where 30 is considered the top end, 15 would be the resulting career experience. Monsters unique to Calidar are treated in the same manner. Profession and rank abbreviations can be combined; for example W10 designates a rank 10 warrior.

Creatures and objects (such as ships and structures) have an innate capacity to sustain damage, which is labeled here as Toughness (Tn). Since they are often connected with heroes’ or monsters’ Ranks, Tn scores only address any randomness involved in the intended game’s mechanics. For example: Tn50 refers to an average score.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Aaron Allston

I'm very sad to learn about Aaron Allton's passing, yesterday, February 27th.  Aaron was a long-time and trusted contributor to the Mystara product line as well as the author of many other works.  I'd like to take a moment to salute his achievements.

Game Titles

Hero Games
     Blood and Dr. McQuark, The
     Champions (5th Edition)

Monday, February 10, 2014

Calidar Status Check

Story "In Stranger Skies" is with the editor.  She says she's enjoying Mama Goo's linguistic peculiarities.

"Mama Goo, she speaka like de fellfolk.  Mama Goo, she cut off de chicken 'ead an' read de blood.  Now she know de Great Spirit put Mama Goo on de big canoe in de sky. But de Great Spirit, she no' say why.  An' Mama Goo, now she like de lilla' cap'n.  Him great warrior."    

Done writing the world and races overview.  Honestly, it would help if the book were at least twice the intended size.  So much to say, so little space. . .

Almost done with Gods, Gate Keeper, and World Soul.  Don't ask.  I'm not telling what this really is until the book comes out.  Patience, grasshopper.

Art Order for internal illos is with John Dollar
Ben Wootten is working on cover art sketches
Ed Greenwood is working on the City of Glorathon

Thorfinn Tait is plugging ahead on cartography (I'm jumping up and down until he sends me new updates).

Tomorrow: Lego Game movie break (though I'll be still working from 06:00 until noon)

Day After: start with Chapter 3 -- Planet Calidar Overview (History, Geography, Secrets of Calidar such as Seitha, Dread Lands, etc.)  All this stuff is probably headed to the editor ahead of schedule.

Proceeding at about 1,500 to 2,000 words a day.  It's crazy cold outside.  Maybe that's a good thing.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Preview: The Soltan Ephemeris

The World of Calidar as presented in the first book, "In Stranger Skies", depicts a star system somewhat similar to our Solar System. The sun is called Soltan. The heroes' planet is Calidar, which possesses three moons, two orbiting on the same path (Alorea and Kragdûr), on opposite sides of Calidar, and the third further out (Manaan).

Two other planets exist nearby—Draconia, closest to Soltan, and a red world, Lao Kwei. The latter has a moon called Kumoshima. Based on their names, I’m sure you can figure out the general nature of these settings. Beyond Lao Kwei lies the Fringe, a ring shaped collection of dwarf planets and asteroids. It is a cosmic frontier with all sorts of hidden worlds gravitating alone or in clusters. An extra planet, Ghüle, also orbits through the Soltan Ephemeris. My previous post describes this most peculiar world.

Having listed these asters, the issue of travel time quickly comes up in a world where space-faring skyships are the norm. I’ll skip the "how" because this is a chapter of its own which will be featured in the upcoming book. This preview provides a few other things, such as the illustrations above and below and a calculator to plot the positions of planets based on a calendar date. I decided to tackle this topic since the Star Phoenix’s story lists dated log entries, which means I can’t just "fudge" travel times.

The diagram above shows the approximate orbits of planets. The diagram on the left shows the relative sizes of the worlds.  The hex grid helps estimate travel times. Using the various magical techniques available in that universe, the fastest travel speed between planets amounts to five days per hex. From a mother world to a nearby moon takes approximately 15 hours, or in the case of Manaan 20 hours.

Several points are marked on the first diagram, as follows:
A: Ghüle has now thawed enough for orcs to be able to reach the surface of their world. No raiding happens as of yet.
B: Ghülean orcs may begin raiding if Lao Kwei is in range
C: Ghülean orcs may begin raiding if Calidar is in range
D: Window of opportunity to raid Calidar ends
E: Window of opportunity to raid Lao Kwei ends, however the Fringe is now within raiding range
F: Window of opportunity to raid the Fringe ends
G: Ghüle has frozen over and will remain locked beneath ice for the remainder of its orbit
Because of the difference in orbital speeds, Ghüle’s raiding season on Lao Kwei can only last at most 24 days. Raiding season for Calidar can last, however, as much as 45 days!

The trick is that planets move while skyships travel. Likewise, the actual position of a world on its orbit path at a given date makes a huge difference. I posted a calculator to help figure out where planets are.  It is located at the end of this article because of formatting issues I've been unable to solve.  All you need to do is enter an actual date. The calculator is set up with the 3rd of Loreath 1512 (the fall equinox in Calidar’s northern hemisphere) as its default "start date." Entering a different date will show where the planets move to. Positions are expressed in hours and minutes, as if Soltan were the center of a clock, twelve o’clock being "north" on the diagram, six o’clock "south." This provides a quick and simple way to locate the planets and measure the distances between them.

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Sneak Preview: the Orcs of Ghüle

Like any heroic fantasy setting worth its salt, Calidar is host to many bogeymen of its own. The orcs clearly stand among them. Although they exist on this world, orcs, goblins, trolls, ogres and many other related creatures aren’t natives of Calidar’s universe. Neither are they true space-faring races. Instead, these creatures hail from another reality, one ruled by evil, voracious gods whom they serve. Though orc flesh occasionally furnishes adequate sustenance, these alien divinities crave another. Man flesh is sweeter and far more pleasing, while elves and gnomes provide the greatest of delicacies. Curiously and inexplicably, fellfolk lie on the opposite end of the edible spectrum, those of Calidar’s Dread Lands tasting the vilest. Though marginally more palatable than orcs, dwarves are favored as working slaves. Epic heroes, mighty monarchs, demigods, and legendary creatures of goodness are all highly sought-after prizes, well worth the terrible cost of capturing alive.

With this in mind, these gods have built several worlds over the course of millennia, planet-sized spheres of rock imbued with air, water, and self-sustaining life, engineered as colossal dungeons. Anywhere from hundreds of thousands to millions of their servants now live within these worlds, which are intended to travel other universes and return to their home plane periodically. Their purpose is to fetch all that their gods demand, live food, slaves, treasures, and magic. Success enables these wayward humanoid realms to escape their gods’ voracity, thereby conferring them the morbid determination to continually seek out and pillage other planets.

Friday, January 10, 2014

Calidar Fireworks!

Wow!  We did good with The World of Calidar's Kickstarter.  We topped $19,000 funding or more than 300% of the initial goal.  What a thrill.  There are still a couple of hours before the official end of the crowd funding session (10:00 am US Central time) to adjust your pledges and secure that extra Gazetteer map, or jump in if you haven't yet.  Contact me if you missed the boat but would still like to be involved.  Happy cheers & thanks to all!

Click here for the Kickstarter event

Thursday, January 9, 2014

World Souls


"Khalis!" Melchia whispered. "Where are you?"

Her companion didn’t respond. With the strange noises all around the crash site, the gnome knew the Alorean feline would remain hidden. She felt like doing the same, the shadow of fear already looming. Yet, the mix of sorrow and anger inside her demanded a moment to meditate at Dhûrinia’s grave despite what lurked nearby in the jungle’s nocturnal dimness. Melchia retrieved the late engineer’s book and spoke a spell to shed light upon its pages. She’d seen a prayer earlier, somewhere toward the end, probably one used for burials in the Great Vault. It would have to do. She found it, then kneeled and whispered the hallowed words, hoping they would put her former captor at peace amid this lost and forsaken place.

"May the moons rise to meet you,
May the wind blow softly at your back.
May Soltan shine bright upon your face.
May the stars lead you safely to your fate until we meet again,
And may Thaleera hold you always in the hollow of her hand."

Melchia completed her farewell, with screeches and howls all around her seeming to echo her words. Oddly, the ground bulged before her when she uttered her last sentence. A viscous, blood-like substance oozed at the top and flowed down the small mound. As the forest grew even more restless, the gnome doused her magical light and retreated on top of a piece of wreckage that might have once been part of a large boiler.

Monday, January 6, 2014

The Anger Within

Episode 14

"What? How?" Still groggy from her slumber, Melchia jumped off the cot.

Dhûrinia grabbed the gnome by a shoulder and pulled her out into the corridor. "It matters not. Come, we must get you off the Iron Maiden at once. A quarrel between ships is no place for an uneducated klimfera."

A squad of dwarves in their strange leather outfits, masks unstrapped and dangling beside their faces, grimly ran past with battle axes and flared fire-tubes in their hands. The steam whistle blaring and the red light flooding the passage felt surreal to Melchia. Thunder from somewhere above shook the ironclad.

"It has started. Hurry," Dhûrinia urged as she headed toward the ship’s aft.

"Can’t you drop back into the netherworld?"

"No, not so soon after emerging. The Aloreans were waiting for us, and their ship is much faster than ours. Battle is unavoidable." The matron pushed Melchia past a hatch, into another chamber.

Friday, January 3, 2014

The Unexpected Pact

Episode 13

"I shall do no such thing, Madam!" The gnome wasn’t about to remove her clothes.

The hefty dwarven matron placed grapefruit-sized fists on her hips, blocking the cell’s exit. "As you wish, foolish girl. I’ll let the crew strip search you instead. They haven’t been ashore for weeks. A fine-looking klimfera will suit them just fine."

Melchia opened her mouth for a heartfelt response when she decided those consequences would be far worse. Reluctantly she complied, glancing warily at the porthole in the brig’s hatch. As the gnome removed her clothes, the matron grabbed them, searched them thoroughly, and tossed them aside.

"The boots too," she insisted. "Now."

Embarrassed and trying to shield herself, the gnome slipped off her house boots. The dwarf inspected them and, as Melchia feared, noticed the small folded parchment inside. She removed it, dropped the boots, and flipped the document in her pudgy hands a few times with an air of disgust.

"What’s this?" she demanded.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Pathfinder Connection

Last Minute Calidar Updates

Poster Maps: Since we've reached Stretch Goal #2, which gives Calidar a second poster map, many of you may now want to consider the poster map add-on.  The basic pledges at First Mate and above only provide backers with one poster map.  To get the other, which is the hex map depicting the Kingdom of Meryath, you need an add-on poster map.  Those are explained further down the project's description if you've missed them.  You can manually update your original pledges to reflect add-ons and any needed postage outside the US.

Your RPG Character Add-On: so far as of this morning 01/01/14, only six of these add-ons have been spoken for, out of a maximum twenty.  These will be crucial if we want to reach the fourth stretch-goal, the one calling for five color plates with ship profiles.  There's only a week left before the end of this kickstarter campaign.  If you were tempted, now's the time.  As with poster maps, you can manually include add-ons to your pledges from the "Manage Your Pledge" button.

Pathfinder Extension: at last, I wanted to update all of you on Stretch Goal #3, which calls for extra text content.  As part of this, we plan to include a set of guidelines to help adapt the Calidar setting to Pathfinder game mechanics.  Details are still being worked out, but Thomas Reid, former TSR designer and editor, will be the author of that section.

Thanks for your enthusiasm and support,

Happy New Year!   

Happy New Year 2014

Monday, December 30, 2013

In the Belly of the Beast

Episode 12

As her skiff slowly crumbled away, Melchia made a quick count of the few spells she could still use. None could solve her predicament. Clutching Khalis in her arms, the gnome pulled up her knees as if it gave her more time before the surrounding bubble of life faded completely. Worse, the dwarven ramship suddenly veered and sped up, her boar’s head pointing ominously in Melchia’s direction.

"Thaleera’s Goodness! They mean to run us over, my dear Khalis!"

While the dreadnought drifted forward, the gnome perceived a small light in the distance, well past the two dwarven vessels. It struck her as far too steady for the twinkle of a star before the vast pink and gold expanse of the Oortan Cloud gracing the farthest reaches of the Great Vault. Oddly curious in the face of certain death—perhaps a spy’s innate response—she couldn’t help but whisper another spell. Her vision focused on the strange glow and magnified it. The Kragdûras ships vanished from her sight, revealing the presence of another vessel, sailing away. As her sight became clearer, she made out one more, just ahead of the first. The Eternal Glory? Perhaps. These were neither elven nor dwarven. They were man-built, with masts and sails. At least one of them had banks of oars. Just as the two faded into the Great Vault’s netherworld, the gnome strained to read the name engraved on the trailing skyship’s stern—Star Phoenix.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

A Cold and Misty Place

Calidaran Kragduras Interpretation
Since blogspot was generous enough not to update the blogroll for my previous article, A Primer to Kragdûras, here’s an extra bit demonstrating the use of dwarven common and its pronunciation. Many of you will recognize a famous poem, interpreted here in fine Kragdûras for your enjoyment. I did have to add four or five new words which aren’t listed in the original article.  I'm sure you'll figure them out easily.

Without further ado, here’s the transcript, below, and if you aren’t naughty, I might post the translation someday:

Alâd altâd othu bhru b’Gosh Goru,
Zhum karku bahlu elt bharu sturu,
Em anhelt’ thal’dîn, ue kustur vornat
Zhum vue rîne orhûde zhlot sulkat.


. . .dwarvish spoken with a French accent: I’ll never hear the end of it.

I’d love to interpret the whole thing, but real work calls!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

A Primer to Kragdûras (v.03)

Calidar Runic Alphabet
Runic Alphabet
Dwarves of Calidar, as all races do in fantasy worlds, have their own language. Here are guidelines I established while I wrote short stories for Calidar. The rudiments given below depict simplified "common" dwarvish used for trade. Regional clan dialects are common as well as a more formal and grammatically sophisticated expression of dwarvenhood used in literature and poetry.

I Ei Me Kei My Vei Mine Vei’k
You Osh You Kosh Your Vosh Yours Vosh’k
He Eo Him Keo His Veo His Veo’k
She Ea Her Kea Her Vea Hers Vea’k
It Ek It Kek Its Vek Its Veke’k
We Ue Us Kue Our Vue Ours Vue’k
You Ush You Kush Your Vush Yours Vush’k
They Un Them Kun Their Vun Theirs Vun’k
Feminine form = "—a" ending (articles and nouns)
Plural = "—u" ending, regardless of gender (articles and nouns)
Simple Possessive = "—’k" ending

Genders: genders are only used in Kragdûras when obvious, except as follows: rocks and things of the earth (sand, dirt, gems, lava, iron, steel, coal, etc.) always are masculine; liquids (water, ale, rain, rivers, seas, blood, etc.) always are feminine. "A" and "the" revert to the masculine form when referring to a neutral gender (a shoe/ul klag, a boy/ul knor; a mother/ula khrâlia).

Articles and Pronouns
A Ul (ula feminine; plural ulu)
The Oth (singular; otha feminine; plural othu)
This Doth (dotha feminine)
That Dul (dula feminine)
These Uth
Those Udh
One Ish (isha feminine)
Few/some Ishu
Several Dishu

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Fire and Steel

Calidar --
Episode 11

Terrified, Melchia retreated from the general until she bumped against the wooden bulkhead behind her. Sardarre stared at his soiled boots, then slowly shifted his gaze to the eight-legged cat and the rodent’s appendage still twitching on the floor.

"You dirty, little. . ." gritted the elf between his teeth before he kicked the hapless ratter down the ship’s passageway. With an unholy caterwaul, the creature bounced off a bulkhead and raced down the companionway to the ship’s hold. In a huff, the general stepped back into the other room and slammed the door.

The gnome sighed with relief after realizing her spell still masked her appearance. At least she got the answer she’d been looking for. Wracked with nausea, she returned to the hold as the Wind Thorn pursued her flight through the raging storm. There was very little time left to complete her next task.

Hiding in the dimness behind a stack of barrels, Melchia removed one of her house boots and reached inside. She took out a small, raggedy piece of parchment. The gnome whispered the strange word that she knew would summon the object’s magic. Rustling softly, it unfurled into a scroll bathed in a golden glow. Despite Melchia’s long trek through muck and troubled waters, the parchment looked dry, though somewhat smudged. Satisfied, she pulled a small pencil from a pocket in her skirt and began writing.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Before the Storm

Illustration c/o Eight-Legged Cat Enterprises
Episode Ten

Of Tarkeen’s bowels, living sewers of Alorea’s capital city, the feeble green aura revealed only a little at a time. A dense tangle of roots arched over the gully of effluent that meandered beneath the ground. Bark, twig, and glowing fungus glistened under streams of slime spouting from the underworld’s organic sphincters. Melchia, dripping and redolent, soldiered on in soggy house boots through the slurping muck and gossamer veils of beard lichen until she reached an intersection.

Unsure of the direction, she stopped and laid a hand on a mossy bulge. The gnome sensed the plant’s lifeforce and the thoughts still racing through its veins. Her tapping into the flow created a mental ripple, which she quickly suppressed to avoid being detected by Tyrran’s watchful guard. She probed for an instant the vegetal self-awareness surrounding her.

"Mighty Roots of the Depth, show me the way I seek," she whispered.

The inner growth accepted her request and enabled the gnome to sense the right path.

"Vitality and longevity upon you," she gratefully wished.

Temptation crossed her mind to contact those among the elves who plotted against the Tòrr-Gàrraidh. The risk of compromising her accomplices was too great. Melchia quickly abandoned the idea, and moved on. Neither could she afford to slow down. Little time remained for her plan to succeed. There were others she could reach, but that would take time and a different sort of magic.

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Interview at

Calidar Kickstarter Bruce Heard
"Dragon's Fury" courtesy of Ben Wootten
In the wake of Calidar's Kickstarter launch, I received a request from the video game web site for an interview.  I'm pleased to announce their article's posting.  They'd originally sent me a questionnaire, but after  investigating my blog posts, they decided to write an article of their own, partly to explain my motivations and the concept behind Calidar.  Since I did answer their questions, I'm also posting them here.

1. First of all, thanks for answering our questions. For a start, can you tell us a few words about your project?

Calidar draws its roots from the very popular “Princess Ark Adventures” I originally wrote for Dragon Magazine in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Without a license or some agreement to write new episodes, I am launching instead a new series, with a new world, a new ship, and new heroes.  To avoid other IP issues, I also favored a system-less game design.  Calidar’s format is inspired from those original articles, providing both an ongoing story and development of the campaign setting, vastly expanded to fit a 100-page book plus at least one poster map.  “In Stranger Skies” is the first in a series of releases focusing on skyships.

Friday, December 20, 2013

Tyrran's Gambit

Episode Nine

It was a small place to hide, even for a gnome. Melchia, daughter of Siffa Bloodstone, quietly hunkered down behind the large plant that nearly filled the niche in the wall. Her brown and green hair, wood-hued skin, and natural-colored blouse, long skirt, and house boots blended well with the shrub and its stoneware pot. She’d surreptitiously learned the language of plants from her master, Lord Tyrran, making it spread its large leaves to mask her presence, yet allowing enough of a gap to look out.

The chamber beyond brimmed with magic. The elves had long practiced the art of communing with plants and growing them to erect immense dwellings. Roots, thorns, and veins full of sap drew artful patterns on the walls and floors, yet they could change their shape to fulfill their masters’ desires. Glowing leaves and acorns embedded in the walls bathed the chamber in soft light. The occasional rumbles of roots settling deep beneath the structure, and the faint smell of earth and natural resins, made Melchia’s long nose and pointed ears twitch. But there was another sort of magic than that of the living abode.

Like a many-fingered hand, a pedestal of braided ivory roots in the middle of the circular chamber supported a large translucent sphere. Darkness prevailed within the smooth crystalline surface, broken only by a lifelike incarnation of Calidar’s ephemeris. Ghostly lines showed the tiny asters and the patterns of their journeys across the Great Vault, the Mighty Soltan blazing deeper inside.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Kickstarter Christmas Bonus

Greetings to all!

Holidays are fast approaching, and the Calidar Team is offering a special Christmas bonus to present Kickstarter backers and new ones.  

Until December 25th at midnight, all backers may purchase an extra add-on poster map for $5.00 instead of the listed value of $8.50.  This offer is valid for one such poster map, and all other conditions still apply (initial pledges of First Mate and above, plus any shipping outside the US).

The Calidar Team thanks everyone for their support and for forwarding this message to friends you know may be interested.

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a Good Flight!

Calidar Kickstarter

Monday, December 16, 2013

Eternal Glory

calidar Kickstarter Bruce Heard
Episode Eight

Teobram Phibbs felt the tip of the poisoned blade slowly dig into his chest. Mostly man but with subtle reptilian ancestry, his assailant seemed like a cold-hearted serpent about to defeat his prey. He grasped the old man’s wrist in his left hand, and inexorably pushed down on his sword’s hilt with his right, despite Teobram’s desperate efforts to delay the inevitable. Already, an insidious languor spread through his flesh, dulling the pain. Soon, he’d be unwilling or unable to deny his foe.

He sensed the assassins’ leader approach from behind. Inexplicably, she stopped and swiftly unsheathed her sword while uttering a few guttural words, part hiss and part human speech. Teobram’s killer, now more tense, pressed harder on the blade. Frustrated by the old man’s resistance, he opened his mouth, revealing a set of large viper fangs growing there. His lower jaw unhinged as he prepared his final strike.

Something large suddenly landed in the atrium, heavy enough to shake the floor. The unmistakable sound of crushed bones followed, along with the rasping of metal against stone. The old man’s assailant stared at the scene behind Teobram, his eyes wide, and his mouth gaping even more. As he hissed angrily, a golden javelin flew into his mouth, flinging him twenty feet against the column behind him. Twitching and gurgling, he hung helplessly from the weapon, its tip solidly wedged in between two stone blocks.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

The Oracle

Calidar Kickstarter Bruce Heard
Episode Seven

Teobram Phibbs was an old man. His decades of pillaging the hoards of mighty monsters and the lost tombs of fallen monarchs had left indelible scars in his psyche as well as on his body. There was nothing worse for a hero than to relive the exciting times of his younger life now hopelessly behind him, and the loss of good friends. He stirred on his bed, again unable to find peace or sleep.

Not more than the size of a human hand, a golden automaton chimed softly on the night stand, a gleaming warrior with a miniature sword striking the head of a dragon as it swung in and out of its tiny cavern. The grinding of gears imitated its roar while, like a metronome, the blade marked the hours with crystalline clarity. It would be six more hours before sunrise, four long and restless hours before his normal day started.

Teobram took a deep breath and sat up. The cool marble floor under his bare feet helped clear the last shreds of his restless slumber. A warm tropical breeze blew through the window’s veils, barely fresher than the day’s usual humid breath. Beyond the temple’s compound lay Glorathon, the royal capital of Meryath. All seemed calm. The night watch marched by, and the occasional screeches of gulls sounded above the nearby skyport. Faint beams of green and gold shone through the window, betraying the presence of Alorea and Manaan high in the sky. Perhaps just before daybreak would Kragdûr rise, chasing the elven moon past the horizon. And then the Great Soltan, resplendent in its fiery climb, would eclipse them all.