Archive for the 'background' Category

Diary Entry – 1373 DR – Summer

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

ELVENTREE – The weather is unbelievable – summer in Elventree is ridiculously hot.  I know that sounds dumb given I just
spent a year camped on the shores of the Lake of Frickin’ Steam, but seriously, I think summer in Elventree is even worse than
summer at that spa.  I’d try to record the name of the town where
the spa is located, but the name changed eight times in one week during the winter and that’s the slow season in the coup d’etat leagues down there.  The Lake of Steam is certainly an exciting place!

In happier news, we’ve gotten word from Berol that he needs the
assistance of the TTC.  Admittedly, it’s just me and Rock these
days, but we’re nothing to sneeze at and it’s a chance to go try
(again) to spruce up his temple.  Every time we talk I try to get
him to adopt a more colorful scheme – maybe with a little red in it,
you know, just a nod to old friends and their goddesses – but I guess
he really does have more important things to think about. 

Gah – I’m all scatter-brained and making zero sense at the
moment.  Adventure!  Adventure is upon us!  We’ve gotten
a summons!  Sure, it’s to Sessuadra, but at least it’s to somewhere!

I have to go get Rock to pack.  We have to leave right
away.  I’m pretty sure there’s a nice, big rock about a half mile
from the eastern gate to the city where we used to camp on our way in
and our way out and I can probably just jump us straight there. 
If we pack a basket, we could be eating lunch in Sessuadra with Berol
and talking about old times today. (more…)

Diary Entry – 1373 DR – Spring

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

ELVENTREE – I’ve finally returned for good to Elventree.  I do confess that I
zapped back to Phlan first, just in case I’m still the mayor, and they
were all rather surprised to see me there.  One of my juniors –
oh, what’s-his-name, the one with the weak chin and the yappy dog – is
now the mayor, and more power to him.

I am quite sad, however, to find that none of our songs are still being
sung up here.  It’s only been five years, but I guess memories are
short when it comes to heroism.  Oh, Zhentil Keep is rebuilding,
they say, maybe it’s not nice to sing that clever song by that bard
fellow
.  Bah.  Zhentil Keep should be routinely flattened on
general principle.

Oh my.  I do believe I channeled Donth for just a moment.

At any rate, I’ve been hanging out in Elventree.  The heat around
the Lake of Steam seems to have triggered something in terms of
Greebo’s development, as he is newly winged.  At first I was
certain something was wrong, and he didn’t want to talk about it, and
everything was a little awkward, but then one day there they were. 
Wings.  Just like that.

I suspect this is something akin to human teenagers and zits, but honestly, I doubt he’d ever admit that. (more…)

Travel Journal – 1372 DR – Summer

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

LAKE OF STEAM – My time among the Durbari is done for now.  I finally was there
long enough to feel fairly certain I could return at a moment’s notice,
so I summoned up my will and went back to Elventree to check in. 
My prediction of G’dam’s fate has not been far off, as she is with a
traveling circus that tours the outer planes.  She says she
entertains djinn and stranger things for a living.  I assumed at
first, as Rock told me of her letter, that she was simply trashed when
she wrote it but the handwriting is steady and, well… it is what we all expected, isn’t it?  Sounds like she’s having the time of her life, to be honest.

Getting away from the Durbari has reminded me that this was supposed to
be a vacation, so on my return to their town – it has a remarkably
complicated name I simply haven’t the faintest idea how to spell – I
was off on the road again.  I did pay up on my apartment, though,
two full years of rent in advance with a promise that it be left
exactly where and as it was.  The landlady did arch an eyebrow at
the where part of that request, but honestly, teleporting around is hard enough without having to explain it to people.

I have since come here, to the Lake of Steam.  It is a corrupt and
barbarous place, chopped up into a dozen dozen tiny nation-states,
city-states, village-states – there are probably three competing kings
fighting to the death over each and every barn.  It makes the Moonsea look downright neighborly in comparison.  However, a kindly old priest has retired here to operate a spa and I have found it very relaxing. 

The water is very pleasant, despite the steam, but what lives in it is not:  giant leaches
the size of elephants that can squidge up the beaches and onto land on
rainy nights.  Let me tell you, you haven’t lived until you’ve run
from giant leaches in pitch dark.  The sound they make just walking is enough to give me the willies even now.

The steam is very good for my complexion, though, and the waters are so mineral-rich that this is the place in the whole world for a mud-wrap. 

I intend to stay at least until Hogswatch and then it’s back to
Elventree for roast duck with Rock.  I’ll invite Berol, of course,
but he seems so stern these days that I don’t want to make him
uncomfortable by putting him in a situation that demands
small-talk.  It’s not like we can discuss work over dinner,
anyway.  Can’t you just imagine it?

Me:  So, the Lake of Steam was nice, what did you do this past year, Rock?
Rock:  Oh, you know, guarded the trees, tended the forests, defended the town.
Me:  How nice!  And you, Berol?
Berol:  I shepherded the souls of the dead into the land of
the dead where my grim master oversaw their disposal with the gods of
their choice or, lacking a faith, deposited them in the timeless land
of the wailing dead.  Also, I’m going to say The Dead a few more times.
Me:  …Be a dear and pass the dressing, would you?

I love him like a brother, but he’s really not the sort to sit around a roaring fire and sing old dwarf songs for New Year’s. (more…)

Travel Journal – 1371 DR – Two Weeks Later

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

GOLDEN BAY, DOLPHIN COAST – Shocking!  The Halruaans have a highly civilized society – they
have formal, public education for all! – and yet they have silly rules
against the use of magic by other than certified, book-carrying wizards.

I tried to explain that perhaps they should have invested in a sign to let the rest of us know  – nothing major, nothing expensive, perhaps something as simple as a pamphlet – and they did not like that at all.

Bribes – especially the ones made in escape – always seem so dirty in
hindsight no matter how necessary at the time of their execution. (more…)

Travel Journal – 1371 DR – Autumn

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

GOLDEN BAY, DOLPHIN COAST – I find myself in the south, among a very friendly people called the
Durpari.  I actually am given to understand that some small number
of them live in Mulhorand, of all places.  Apparently there would
be more of them if Mulhorand didn’t occasionally wipe out whole
communities of them there as a sort of ongoing policy of assholish behavior.  I knew it was a good idea to take our
business elsewhere.

The Durpari are master traders and diplomats and welcome foreigners –
and foreign religions – with open arms and, most especially, open
stores.  They are thrilled to lighten the pockets of anyone who
wanders by, but they have the odd distinction of doing so as fairly as
possible.  I have secured a small apartment at a reasonable rate
and have set about offering my services as a bard, a wizard, an
adventurer and an advisor.  I’ve tried to spread the word of Sune,
but they have an oddly… egalitarian outlook on religion here. 
They told me they are familiar with Sune and worship her already
I was quite astounded to hear so, given the utter absence of shrines,
temples, priests, holy symbols, beauty contests, foppish “knights”
lounging around the pools, all the usual signs of the goddess, but they
assured me in the genuinely friendliest manner that they are quite in
her favor.  So, I’ve stayed for a few weeks.

Next month it’s off to Halruaa, a neighboring land ruled by formal
magicians, for a tour by ship and what should be a frighteningly easy
gig.  A Durpari trader here
wants someone who can speak the language there and I have assured him, most
honestly, that I can do so for at least several short periods of time a day. (more…)

Travel Journal – 1371 DR – Summer

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

PHLAN – Well, I’ve had it with Phlan.  It’s just… oh, I hate to say it,
diary, but it’s dull.  The frippery and the Official Gloves of
Office and everything, they’re neat, but so dull.  Dull, dull,
dull.  I cannot contain myself in this wretched little
place.  The people are lovely but I’d give anything for a little
excitement.  Gerhard’s gone off to do whatever dwarves do to have
fun and Rock is all tied up helping oversee the defensive duties of
Elventree and such, so I’m off on a vacation of my own.  Greebo is
extremely glad to get out of the city and so am I.  Yikes! 
Phlan might need to get flattened a time or two every century just to keep it from dying of boredom.

I’m off to the lands of the south and what I understand is called the
Dolphin Coast.  I figure with a name like that it’s almost
certainly lovely to look at and I understand they speak good, normal
Chondathan there. (more…)

Mayoral Records – 1370 DR – Hogswatch

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

PHLAN – Still no orc hordes.  I tried to send a messanger up there with
Hogswatch greetings from the city of Phlan – even when an old friend of
yours finds himself King of the Orc Tribes, it pays to send a fruit
basket once in a while, perhaps especially in such
circumstances – but no one would take the job.  I tried explaining
that no, really, the leader of the tribes is a good and faithful Sunite
and an old friend, but everyone I asked to do it just quaked in their
boots and muttered about the last time they saw an orc and how far
their campfires reached into the dark night around the edges of the
city as they waited to seige it at dawn, et cetera, et cetera. 

I think these people find it very difficult to change with the
times.  I hope the new year finds Haktor well.  I bet he’s
bouncing a couple of little… orclings, or whatever they’re called, on
his knees even as we speak.

Word is that Tel has disappeared from Elventree after flipping a coin
and seeing it land on its side.  I can only assume this is some
sort of Tymoran tradition, some sort of spirit quest sort of
thing.  Or he got bored of watching Elventree fail to build
casinos.  Your call’s as good as anyone else’s on that score.

G’dam apparently went down into the larder for a jar of preserves one
morning, touched a portal, and disappeared.  She’ll doubtless turn
up a few months from now wearing foreign clothes and talking about a
visit to Faery.

Keth has announced his departure to go and unite the barbarians in his
mountain home.  Perhaps he’s gone to teach them the exotic ways of
pants.  He is to be commended for his earnest attempt at
civilization in his time among us, and given all his talk of “making
sons,” I do hope he makes more than a few.

The interns have finally gone their way from Elventree as well. 
It is my hope that they will return after they have attained some
measure of glory of their own…

…but perhaps not more than we have.

Berol, of course, keeps vigil over his new temple in Sessuadra. 
That dark knight, his holy book chained(!) to his revived chest… it’s
enough to make a Sunite blush.  I do wish a brighter god had seen
fit to inspire such heroism, but anything beats Cyric and the Zhentarim
and all the rest of the entourages of the old god of death.  Berol
(as Kelemvor’s voice) has certainly attracted followers and faithful, and
to live in such a place, so surrounded by the whispers of dead things,
dead people, dead peoples, dead religions and powers and all the many
manner of things antiquity can manage to abandon in the path it walks on
its way to the grave. 

Ugh.  It’s hard to even think about for long.

A dead city, a wild magic zone, its only inhabitants the gargoyles and the giants and whatever else hid behind doors even we left unopened…

Phlan may be dull, but it’s remarkably safe when compared to at least a few of the alternatives.

At any rate, I’m teleporting down to Elventree tomorrow to spend
Hogswatch with Rock and Gerhard.  I’ve been invited to be the
honorary host of a banquet for the city staff, but begged off. 
Hogswatch is for family. (more…)

Diary Entry – 1370 DR – Spring

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

PHLAN

Dear Diary,

I’m afraid your predecessor got dropped over the side of the boat
somewhere outside Mulmaster.  I guess I won’t be headed there
anytime soon to look for it!  Perhaps it’s busy keeping Umberlie someone else amused, somewhere.

Anyway.

Things are remarkably quiet here in Phlan.  For one thing, the
city’s been standing for two years without a horde of some weird-ass
critters with too many teeth flattening it for lack of anything better
to do.  Mayoral elections are next week, and so far I think I have
a pretty good shot at winning.  (To be honest, I’m the only
candidate.)  The only real question in anyone’s mind is whether
the city will be stormed by orcs or undead or gods-know-what in the
eight days between now and then.  Around here, I’ve discovered,
the population considers it a pretty good day if you wake up and manage
to avoid an invasion between the lavatory and breakfast. 

Here’s my mayoral platform & ultimate plan for Phlan:

  • Flood sewers every 3rd Monday
  • Preferably with holy water
  • Get Gerhard to invent a truck or cart that can be used to fight fire by dispensing water
  • Equip it for holy water
  • Expand the sewers so wandering zombies & whatnot have better odds
    of getting lost down there, or at least take longer enough finding a
    convenient exit that they’re still there on the 3rd Monday of any given
    month
  • Hose down the graveyards with holy water
  • Build army of adventurers to protect the city
  • Pay them excessively well!

OK, the last two aren’t exactly in the public version of my platform.

Ultimately I think the real power in town lies with the Tyrians, and they’re all just concerned with the mayor doing his job – you know, the whole duty thing they’re so big on.  I think the mayor should be able to relax, maybe set a good example for the other cities
up here on the Moonsea.  With Zhentil Keep out of the picture and
Phlan secure, maybe we can all just take a deep breath and have a beer
and just, you know, chill out. (more…)

Travel Journal – 1369 DR – Early Autumn

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

THE SEA – Oh, dear diary, I’m afraid our time in Mulhorand came to a
surprisingly abrupt end.  Eventually we each figured out
independently that almost everyone in that poor, dry land is a slave.  As though the weather weren’t enough!  Once we’d universally realized and acknowledged that at least some of the markets in Skuld – their capitol – were slave markets,
we immediately beat a hasty path to the local constabulary to turn in
the scurrilous dogs who would sell their fellow sentients into
ownership by others. 

The people there apparently did not understand our indignation and thought we were asking directions, not demanding justice
They couldn’t seem to get around what, to them, seemed the obvious
explanation of our interest:  we wished to purchase slaves of our
own.  Gah!  I have rarely been so bothered by the laxity of
local authorities.  Sooner or later we sorted it all out, at least
in terms of understanding the situation in that place, and agreed we
could not in good conscience keep sitting by the river and drinking
dacquiris if they were made and served and cleaned up by slaves.  Disgusting.

I should note, diary, that I suggested we simply overthrow the
Pharoah and make with the emancipating.  I mean, honestly, we
managed to tear down Zhentil Keep on our own, more or less, and this place’s gods had already snuck out the back before we’d even arrived, so, in all honesty, just what kind of fight could they muster against the Tinker Trading Company?  The interns, I should note, were entirely in my corner on this idea, but everyone else coaxed me back onto the boat with an assurance that we’d come back to fight some other day.  That we are on vacation is the only reason I didn’t leave that place a smoldering (but liberated!) crater. (more…)

Travel Journal – 1369 DR – Summer

Tuesday, July 5th, 2005

MULHORAND – We have (finally) landed in Mulhorand.  We are frequently told, on asking – or not, as they are loath to
miss an opportunity to remind us – that Mulhorand may be the oldest of
all current governments.  The people here are a strange and
foreign lot, with a language that looks all like tiny pictures. 
Lovely, in a sort of abstract, two-dimensional way that may appeal to
those with impaired depth perception, but not the easiest to
read. 

They claim that their gods ruled this place in a rather direct fashion
until very recently, and I suppose they and my experience with Need
have managed to confirm one another.  God-kings!  Quite a
lofty title, and I confess I had chalked it up to the usual
aggrandizement of royalty.  I really did not expect that both
terms would be so literal.  Now they have a “Pharoah,” which we
are given to understand is Squiggle for “king,” most importantly one of
“divine lineage,” which I think is a polite way of saying “able
to be stabbed in the kidneys to deleterious effect should he get
uppity.”  I have tried to assure these people that they are better
off without unpredictable gods lounging around the joint being expected
to do dull things like set agricultural policies, but they seem quite
attached to the idea of their gods being right at hand, if you
will.  As you well know, my darling journal, being face-to-face
with a persnickity god is not exactly my preferred way to spend an
afternoon, but I am assured that it would be unwise to go around saying
things like, “Well, the last place I visited where a god was enthroned,
we tore down his infrastructure and fought him until he ran out of the
room crying for his mama.”  So I don’t.

They are utterly uninterested in the Beautiful Word, and they tell me
Sune is one of the funny, foreign gods of whom they’ve heard and in
whom they are disinterested.  Snobs.

This place is a desert, anyway, all crumbling temples and sand, and it
plays havoc on my hair.  They do a fine assortment of alcoholic
beverages, though, and the rates are entirely reasonable.  Keth,
poor ape, has never been more out of his element, though the weather
has finally gotten him to set aside his bear-skin attire.  The
rest of us
are relaxing nicely. (more…)