Thursday, April 28, 2011

A Tale Long in the Making

As you may have noticed, our first graphic novel: Wayfarer’s Moon: The Road from Southfield is now available. It has been a long, arduous trek getting it here, so I thought I would share with you just what exactly went into the making of this book.

It began long, long ago, when Thor, God of Lightning, wiped out the dinosaurs. He squished them all with his great hammer Mjolnir, which is why they’re now oil. No one’s sure why Thor did this, but it probably had something to do with getting drunk and having a really big hammer.

Regardless, the Earth was now safe for humanity. Fast forward a lot and eventually you come to the Egyptians. They built some pyramids and invented papyrus. Papyrus is important because it was the first form of writing surface that didn’t require a chisel. Also, it could be used as toilet paper, an oft-overlooked advantage.

Jumping ahead a bit more, we get to Guttenburg, who invented the printing press. This allowed for the mass production of reading materials and was initially used to print Bibles. I’m assuming porn was the second thing it was used to print, but I might be wrong about that (it could be the third thing after fanfics).

Lots of things happened. Stuff was built, some of it was blown up, new stuff was built on top of the old stuff, things were blown up some more, and viola, it was the Age of Information.

NOTE: Yes, I wrote ‘viola’ intentionally. I always use that instead of ‘voila .’ I think it’s funny.

This brings us to just a couple years ago, when a pair of nerds in Redmond, Washington decided to make a comic.

In short, it’s all Leigh’s fault.

One night, Leigh turned to me and said “Hey, we should make a comic.” We both laughed hearty, manly laughs and went back to felling trees with other trees. Later that night, however, I went home and began to think about what kind of comic I wanted to make. What would the characters be like? What would they do? Would making a comic get me girls?

I thought and thought and thought and eventually, came up with a comic concept. I jotted down some notes and left it at that.

A year or so later, as we were catching great whites with our bare hands, Leigh once again said “Hey, I think we should do a comic.”

At which point I said “You mean, like this?” and revealed the notes I’d jotted down.
Leigh read the notes and we had several discussions, often while doing amazingly manly things like scaling El Capitan while blindfolded and wearing scuba gear.

And now, a few years later, we have our first trade paperback.

Now, in all seriousness, that is pretty much how it happened, minus the silly parts. Leigh and I decided to make a comic. A comic we would want to read. Happily, it also turned out to be a comic that other people wanted to read as well. And hopefully, this summer, Wayfarer’s Moon: The Road from Southfield will be in comic stores across the country.

So, not too bad for “Hey, we should make a comic.”


Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Hygiene Fairy

I happened to be at NorWesCon this weekend. For those of you not in the know, it’s a large fantasy/sci-fi/steampunk/art/fetish/gaming/costume/panel-y sort of convention. It’s more or less an ‘anything goes’ kind of affair, with the exceptions of live ammunition and public nudity.

NOTE: I’m quite sure there was a lot of private nudity. No, I didn’t actually see any, but I heard stories. Maybe next year.

On Friday afternoon at NorWesCon, I was idly standing in artist alley, looking through my schedule, when something tapped my leg. I looked down and saw a young girl of about 5 or 6 dressed in a fairy costume. She then handed me a small item and dashed off to (presumably) her mother, who was also dressed as a fairy. They then walked away.

Upon closer inspection, the item turned out to be a travel-sized bottle of mouthwash with a small sticker affixed that read ‘A Gift from the Hygiene Fairy’ on it. I thought it was rather cute until I realized that some woman had thought it necessary, nay imperative, that I use mouthwash.

I hadn’t even been breathing in her direction, so there must have been some sort of miasma of halitosis around me, a suffocating fog of vapor that forced all passersby to make a save versus breath weapon at -2.

So, despite my almost daily, semi-rigorous, bathing habits, I still managed to have breath that compared unfavorably with week-old road kill.

This leads to my next question: is it possible to die from eating too many breath mints? ‘Cause I’ve been eating them like candy since then and I’m getting a little light headed. I mean, it’s theoretically possible that I might talk to a girl at some point, so I have to be prepared. Maybe a mint every three minutes is too much.

Maybe every five?


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

The Rescue of What's-Her-Name: The Finale

“Pardon?” Melkor said, unable to take his eyes off What’s-her-name.

“That outfit, it’s ridiculous.” She turned to Coryn, who was trying not to stare too much. “You said she was kidnapped while out riding. Who’d go riding dressed like that? Do you know how much that would chafe?” She walked over and examined the prisoner more closely. “She’s the lord’s daughter, for god’s sake. I can accept that she looks like Cindy Crawford, but can’t she afford clothes?”

There was much shuffling of feet and averting of eyes. Bobbin tried to Hide and failed.

“Uhhh . .. it’s the orcs,” Coryn suddenly said.

Everyone, including What’s-her-name, turned to look at him.

“They, uh, made her dress like that.” He turned to the other men for support. “Right?”

“Oh, yeah,” Rallis said. “They always do that. It’s standard procedure, really.”

“They’re a big buncha pervs,” Lars added.

“Right.” Tamra’s gaze went to each of the men in turn, her arms folded. “Whatever, let’s get her free.”

Lars and Melkor rushed forward, knocking over Bobbin in the process.

As the two eagerly untied What’s-her-name, Tamra sidled up to Coryn. “This better be standard procedure for orcs,” she muttered under her breath.

Coryn assumed his most innocent expression. “Would I lie?”

“Would you?”

There was a pause, as the cleric surreptitiously rolled a die. “According to that roll, no.” He smiled wanly down at her.

“Oh thank you!” the lord’s daughter exclaimed in a very masculine voice that was deeper than Lars’. “I was out riding when those horrid orcs ambushed us.”

“Yeah,” Bobbin interrupted. “We know.”

“But it was so frightening,” What’s-her-name continued, in a voice you’d expect on a linebacker. “They dragged me back here and, uh, made me dress like this.”

“See!” Lars said, nodding. “Told ya they’re a big buncha pervs.”

“What’s your name?” Rallis asked. “And spell it, so they can get it right when they WRITE IT DOWN.”

There was an immediate scramble for pencils and paper.

“Oh, it’s . . .”

There was a sudden crash, as half a dozen orcs smashed through a nearby wall. More orcs appeared at the entrance, their weapons held at the ready. From outside the hut, a voice rose above the tumult
“Prepare to die, outlanders!” The voice sounded strangely like What’s-her-name, as if she had a long-lost orc twin.

With a roar, the orcs sprang forward, even as the adventurers formed a circle around the lord’s daughter. Tamra needed no coaching this time. She threw up her shield and waved her sword at the oncoming horde. “C’mon, ya sexist pigs!” she said, failing to notice the look that passed between the guys. Then the orcs were upon them, a volley of spears and axes coming over the heads of the lead orcs as they ran at the party, faces twisted with bestial rage. Above it all, a deep voice began chanting in a language of venom and malice, which promised nothing but pain for the adventurers.

“Whoa, one sec,” Melkor suddenly said, as his companions readied themselves to face the onslaught. “I hate to do this, but tomorrow’s a work day. I need to get up early.”

“But it’s just getting good!” Lars said. The orcs, scant feet from the adventurers, their weapons inches from the interlopers, nodded their assent, as did What’s-her-name.

“Hey, it’s better to stop now than in the middle of combat.”

“Oh, all right,” Bobbin said. He sheathed his sword. “Let’s clean up.” He started helping the orcs tidy up the hut.

“Did you have fun?” Melkor asked Tamra, as he collected soda cans.

She smiled. “Yeah, it wasn’t what I expected.”

“Told ya,” Coryn said, as he was collecting his dice.

“I’m still not too sure about the whole chain-mail bikini thing, though.”

Rallis glanced up from putting his books back into his backpack. “Hey, what can you expect from Minions of Evil?”

The orc shaman walked by, headdress under an arm. Without it, he appeared to be little more than a balding, thirty-something guy with a paunch. “It’s a living,” he said with a shrug.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The Rescue of What's-Her-Name: Part 5

The halfling slipped off towards the village, his movement silent and swift, save for the occasional thud and ensuing obscenities. The rest of the party waited patiently, munching on tortilla chips and playing with the miniatures. Eventually, with much breaking of twigs, Bobbin reappeared.

“Found her,” he said. “They got her tied up in the big hut on the far side.”

“Did she happen to have a name tag?” Rallis asked.

“I don’t remember. Should I go back and check?”

“Let’s not,” Coryn interjected, before the ranger could reply. “What about the orcs? How many, what kind of weapons, etcetera, etcetera.”

“Well, that’s the funny bit. There’s no one there.”

“So What’s-her-name is tied up, all alone, in the middle of an orc camp?” Tamra asked.

“Yep,” said the halfling.

“Trap,” the entire group said in unison.

“Well,” Melkor said cheerfully. “At least we know where we stand. Come on, let’s get it over with.”

The party strolled into the deserted orc village. A light breeze sprang up, doing little to remove the stench that hung around the huts. The trappings of everyday life lay scattered around, a half-mended blanket here, a cooking fire there, embers still glowing red. It was if the entire community had simply walked away. The adventurers wandered along, poking idly at the scattered belongings. Bobbin surreptitiously pocketed a few small items, while Lars kicked over anything in his path. Out of the whole party, only Rallis moved cautiously, pausing every now and again to inspect tracks.

“Their tracks go every which way,” he finally said, as they neared the largest hut. “They’re definitely up to something.”

“Well, duh,” Lars said.

Without any word, they gathered at the hut’s entrance, readying for battle. Lars stood at the front, with Coryn and Tamra flanking him. Melkor and Bobbin backed them up, with Rallis at the rear, bow at the ready. Lars held up three fingers, and then silently counted down: three, two, one.

At one, Lars roared his battle cry and kicked the door open, rushing in with the rest of the party on his heels. The hut was quite large, capable of easily accommodating forty or so people. Furs were rolled up and stacked against the walls, along with numerous chests and barrels, many bearing human and elven marks. Unsurprisingly, there were no orcs to be seen.

“There she is,” Bobbin said.

The lord’s daughter was gagged and tied upright to a supporting pillar in the middle of the hut. She was quite beautiful, with long black hair, a fantastic figure, and a light tan. They could tell all this at a glance because all she wearing a chain-mail bikini that was a good two sizes two small, along with strappy 4" heels, and a few silk ribbons.

Lars let out a whoop. “Now that’s what I call an outfit!”

There were nods from the rest of the men, as well as a “hot damn!”

“Why is she wearing that?” Tamra suddenly asked.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Nails & Stumptown

My nails were getting rather long and seeing as how I didn't want to injure myself the next time I went to pi . . . scratch my nose, I trimmed them.

This is obviously nothing special. I sit down with a pair of clippers and cut them, making a neat little pile. It's just that I always end up with one less nail than finger. I have ten fingers (very nearly nine, due to an accident as a kid), so one would think that I'd have ten freshly cut fingernails.

But no. Everytime I cut them, I always have nine fingernails. And it's not like I find them later, stuck in a wall or in my soup. They just disappear. I figure that at some point a gigantic fingernail golem will suddenly rise up from behind the recliner and attack me with his giant, scratchy hands.

And in all honesty, I don't have clippers big enough for that.

Anyway, this weekend is the Stumptown Comics Fest! Leigh and I will be there both days, so please come by and say 'hello.' And remember, if you ask me what 'M'Kott' means, I'll actually tell you. And I might give you a piece of candy (Reese's Miniature Peanut Buttercups).

Have a safe and pleasant weekend.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

The Rescue of What's-Her-Name: Part 4

Coryn quickly ran to Bobbin’s side, dropping to his knees beside the prostrate halfling. Gripping his holy symbol with his left hand and laying his right on his friend’s chest, he began chanting a prayer of healing, which sounded suspiciously like “Woolly Bully.” As his chant neared its end, he pulled a die from his pouch and rolled it.

“A six, you got lucky,” he said, as the halfling’s eyes fluttered open. “How many HPs does everyone have left?” he asked the group.

“Twenty-one,” Lars said, as he began rifling through the dead orcs’ pouches.

“Seven of twenty three,” Rallis said.

“Two,” Bobbin groaned.

“I’m good,” Melkor said, stepping out from where he’d been hiding.

“Pansy,” Lars said. “You always run and hide.”

“Hey, you try living with fourteen hit points and see how much melee you get into,” said the mage.

Tamra was looking at a piece of paper she’d pulled from her backpack. “Where’re hit points written again?”

“I’ll show her,” Melkor volunteered.

Rallis glanced up from where he was sitting. “Why don’t you two help Lars search the bodies while everyone else gets healed.”


Tamra made a face. “Ewww.”

“It’s easy,” Melkor said. “Just grab any nice jewelry or weapons and go through their pouches.”

“Dibs on any magic weapons,” Lars said.

“Oh, shut up,” Coryn said, as he launched into “Woolly Bully” again.

So, in short order, bodies were searched, party members were healed, spells were memorized, Lars got a soda, and Bobbin went to the bathroom. Once he returned, everyone got back up and shouldered their packs.

“They ran off that way,” Rallis said, pointing to the south. “Their village is probably over there. Let’s cut through the forest.”

“Good idea,” Melkor said. “By-the-by, did the shaman do anything during the fight?”

Everyone glanced at each other.

“Don’t think so,” Bobbin said.

“Hmmm, he’s probably setting a trap at the village. We should be careful.”

“Right, everyone keep their eyes open,” Rallis said. “Put the magazine down, Bobbin.”

After getting everyone into marching order, the ranger led the way through the forest, pausing every so often to check for tracks. Each party member crept carefully along, eyes intent on the surrounding woods. No orcs were seen, though Lars had to be prevented from attacking a squirrel, which he claimed was ‘eyeing’ him. Oddly enough, after that, no more squirrels or wildlife of any kind were seen.

After a good twenty minutes, Rallis rolled well enough to notice a thin thread of smoke in the distance. They advanced even more cautiously now, ready to pounce on any bush large enough to hide an orc. They soon found signs of habitation, broken twigs, trees that had been felled for firewood, obvious tracks, and the occasional candy wrapper.

Everyone could now easily see the tops of huts only a couple dozen yards away, just outside the tree line, but there was no movement at all.

“I don’t like it,” Coryn whispered. “This is definitely a trap.”

The ranger nodded. “Agreed. What does everyone want to do? No, Lars,” he quickly added. “We’re not just rushing in there.”

Lars said something under his breath.

“Lemme scout a bit,” Bobbin said. “Maybe I can find where they’re keeping what’s-her-name.”

“What is her name?” Tamra asked.

All the men looked at one another.

“I don’t remember,” Coryn said.

“Me neither,” Melkor and Bobbin said simultaneously.

“Who cares?” said Lars.

“Jeez, guys,” Rallis said. “Didn’t anybody write it down?”

There was a great deal of paper shuffling and digging into backpacks.

“Uhh . . . I got the magic word that activates that elevator thingy in that undead guy’s tower,” Bobbin said.

The ranger rubbed his temples. “Great, thanks. Did anybody write down her name?”

“Why didn’t you?” Lars said.

Rallis held up a piece of graph paper. “I map, remember?”

Eventually, it was determined that no one knew the name of the lord’s daughter they were hired to rescue on the promise of five hundred gold pieces, but they had written down several other helpful things, including the phone number of the pizza place that delivered.

“Fine,” Melkor finally said. “We’ll just call her ‘What’s-her-name’ for now. She can tell us when we’ve rescued her.”

“Whatever. Yes, Bobbin, go scout,” Rallis said.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Rescue of What's-Her-Name: Part 3

The orcs came on, in a frenzy of bloodlust. The ranger dropped several more with his bow, but was forced to draw his long sword as the orcs looped around the group. He parried the first orc’s thrust, and then ran him through with an expert riposte. Even as the orc dropped, another leaped over him, hacking with an axe. The elf was slashed across the left arm and staggered back, wildly parrying. “I need some help!” he shouted.

The halfling looked up from petting the cat. “Oh, we’re going again.” He shoved the cat off his lap, and then ran back to the battle. Drawing his short sword, he darted from tree to tree, before spotting the beleaguered ranger. He stepped out, moving noiselessly towards the orc that was hammering away at the ranger’s defenses. As the halfling neared, he stepped on a twig, which cracked loudly. Freezing, he waited for the orc to turn, but it failed to notice. “Damn, I blew that roll!” the thief muttered, then continued his cautious advance. Rallis took another blow, which knocked him to the turf. The orc, with a cry of victory, swept his axe down in tremendous two-handed blow, even as the halfling leapt at his back, short sword raised.

“Hey?” the halfling suddenly asked, poised in mid-air. “Is this a simultaneous attack or should we roll Dex?” He looked at the orc in front of him, who’d turned around. “I think it’d be a Dex roll.” The orc shrugged. Bobbin looked over at the orc shaman, who gave a thumbs-up. “Okay, Dex it is.” He pulled out a 20-sided die and rolled. “A seven, I made it.” Lowering his axe, the orc waited, rolling his eyes and checking his wristwatch. He got back into position, though he did not begin his swing. Bobbin dropped to the ground, backed up several feet, and then ran once again at the orc, who was waiting patiently. The halfling jumped again, short sword held high, aiming a terrific blow at the orc’s back. With a ‘thunk,’ the short sword sunk into the orc’s garish leather armor, though only a small trickle of blood could be seen running down.

“A one!” said the halfling, pulling at his hair. “I can’t believe it! I’m dead. I am completely and utterly dead!” He turned back to the orc, who was calmly waiting for him to finish. “Fine, just make it quick!” Ripping open his shirt, he bared his chest, face screwed up. “Go ahead, do it!”

With a shrug, the orc slashed Bobbin across the chest with his axe. The halfling fell, though he managed to make a rude gesture as he did. The battle resumed. Lars, now covered head to toe in blood, killed another orc, decapitating it with a single mighty stroke, though another orc sank a spear deep into his thigh. Rallis had regained his feet, but it was obvious that another hit would probably finish him. The cleric, Coryn, hard pressed by several orcs, had his back to a tree and was grimly fighting on. Of all the fighters, only Tamra appeared unhurt, as she slew orcs left and right, shouting “Hi-yaaaa!” at every stroke. The mage, Melkor, stood calmly in the center of the chaos, unperturbed by the spears that flew by, barely missing, as he chanted softly to himself. As he raised his right hand with a flourish, three balls of bluish energy appeared, each leaping away to unerringly strike an orc. “That’s it for me, guys!” he said. “I’m all tapped out!” He then promptly disappeared.

Even as the mage vanished, Tamra slew the last orc opposing her. She glanced around. “Uh, who should I help?”

“Me!” bellowed Lars, even as he slew another orc.

“Shut up, Lars,” Bobbin managed to say, even though he was unconscious. “You’re only down half.”

“Help Coryn,” Rallis said, as he blocked a barbed spear that almost found his head. “He can heal.”

“Pretty please!” said the cleric. He landed a mighty blow with his mace, striking an opponent flat across the shoulder. Despite the resounding ‘thud,’ the orc hardly appeared to notice. “Dammit!” Coryn said. “How come maces do such crappy damage?” He held the weapon up, letting the sunlight glisten off the flanges. “Look at this thing! I should be able to crush skulls with this. Shouldn’t this do more damage?” he demanded, brandishing it at the nearest orc, who glanced around sheepishly, then shrugged. “Jeez, I’d give my left arm to be able to use a decent edged weapon.” He got back into his fighting stance. “Sorry,” he said to the orc. “Just had to vent for a second.”

The fight continued. Tamra, oblivious to the entreaties of the embattled Lars, sped to her love’s aid. With a yell, she cut down the nearest orc, even as the cleric finally dropped one. The sole remaining orc attacking Coryn glanced around, did some quick math, rolled a die, and then promptly fled. At that, the rest of the orcs also turned tail, leaving the party victorious.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

A Whirlwind

So much stuff is going on right now, I can hardly keep my head on straight. I'm working on two other comic projects, plus my usual writing, blogging, working out, and ninja fighting. I'm looking forward to this weekend, when my buddy Sean will be DMing a D&D game and I'll get to sit back and try to kill things with dice.

By rolling them, obviously. Though, I imagine if you had enough dice, you could theoretically beat someone to death with them. Or if you just had one, really large, heavy die, you could do it as well. Maybe a D20-Flail . . .

Dang it, now I want one.

In other news, several people have asked about Art the Wanderer. Currently, I'm still submitting the manuscript to agents. It is, unfortunately, a long process, but I will keep trying. Needless to say, if any of you happen to be a literary agent or have one in your family or have serious dirt on one and want to do me a favor, please, shoot me an email.

I do appreciate the inquiries. It's great to know that so many of you enjoyed Art and want to see more of him. I am honestly touched, metaphorically speaking.

And with that, please have a fun and safe weekend. I'll be killin' orcs and stuff :)


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

The Rescue of What's-Her-Name: Part 2

Rallis fired twice more, missing once, but wounding another orc. From behind him, Melkor, who’d been chanting softly, suddenly raised his arms, eldritch energy playing around his hands. A ball of fire formed in front of him, and with a shout, he hurled it forward into the oncoming orcs. Just before detonation, Melkor glanced around. “Uh, did we ever come to an agreement on spell components? Just so we’re working on the same page?”

With a groan, the orcs slowed and stopped. A few orcs accidentally knocked their fellows over, and others took nasty cuts from being poked with weapons. The fireball sat in the midst of several orcs, who stared at it nervously as it hissed and sputtered in mid-air. The orc shaman elbowed his way to the front and began a conversation with the mage.

Everybody waited as Melkor and the orc shaman continued their talk. Lars glanced around and then started inching forward.

“Lars! Get back where you were!” Rallis shouted, pointing a nocked arrow at him. Lars grumbled, but went back. The orcs jeered at him, with many a rude gesture and raspberries.

“Oh yeah?” Lars said. “Just come on over here.” He dropped his axe and began making rude gestures back.

“Okay,” finished Melkor, as he and the shaman walked back to their places. “If that’s the way you want to play it. I guess I better stock up on guano.”

The fireball exploded, incinerating the nearest orcs, though several more were set afire to die more slowly, smoldering on the green grass. The remaining orcs came on, heedless of their losses. A sling bullet stretched another orc senseless, to be trampled by his brethren. The front ranks reached the adventurers as the ranger pulled back, firing arrows with amazing speed. A massive orc, its arms and chest covered in the scars of dozens of battles, ran straight at Tamra, his scimitar in a two-handed grip, screaming a guttural war-cry. Just as he was about to swing, the orc skidded to a stop. The orc and half-elf stared at one another for a second, and then the young half-elven woman glanced over at Coryn.

“Do I go now?”


She looked back at the orc, who was waiting patiently. She shrugged, smiling. “I’ve never done this before. Eri . . . Coryn’s my boyfriend and he really wanted me to play.” Tamra brought her shield up, and then peering over the rim, jabbed tentatively at the orc with her long sword. The orc shook his head. He walked over to stand beside her, then mimed holding up a shield with his left hand, while pulling back with his scimitar. He stamped forward, bellowing, swinging the scimitar in a vicious arc. Then he motioned to her. Tamra imitated his pose, and then swung her sword. He nodded, and then moved back to his original position.

With a scream, he resumed his charge, scimitar above his head. Tamra raised her weapon, waited until the orc was almost upon her, and then shouted “Hi-yaaaaa!” and slashed downwards. The sword caught the orc warrior in the shoulder, cleaving downwards into his chest. Blood sprayed as he staggered and fell, almost twisting the weapon from her hand. The orc hit the ground, his weapon skittering away. As the feral light left his eyes, he managed to raise his right hand in a thumbs up, and then died.

“Hot damn! A 20!” shouted Coryn, as he ran over to kiss her. “Nice shot!” The rest of the orcs politely applauded, and then readied themselves as Coryn jogged back into place.

“Come on ya gutless wonders!” shouted Lars, as the orcs closed upon him. “I’ll give ya what for!” The first orc leapt at him, spear aimed at his throat. With a speed that belied his size, Lars sidestepped, his massive axe cutting the orc in half with one swipe. A thrown spear also missed, but a wiry orc with a saw-toothed short sword darted in, slashing the barbarian across the side. “Ow!” roared the northerner. “Hey, how could he hit me? Orcs ain’t that tough!”

Coryn, locked in mortal combat with an orc, their faces inches apart, each straining to push the other over and deliver the finishing blow, looked over. “Not again!” He turned back to the orc. “I can’t believe this; he does this every single time he takes damage.” The orc rolled his eyes and nodded. The orc shaman, obviously flustered, shouldered his way forward through his followers and began talking with the barbarian.

“Hey, what’s up?” asked the halfling, as he peeked out from behind a tree.

“Lars is whining again,” said Melkor.

“Oh, yeah!” Lars half-yelled at the shaman. “We’ll just see!” He dropped his axe and yanked off his backpack, then began rummaging through it. Pulling out a battered rulebook, he began flipping through the pages.

“Well, this’ll take a while.” Melkor pulled a pizza box out of nowhere and flipped it open. “I’m gonna eat the last Hawaiian.” Bobbin began playing with the cat, while Coryn wandered over to Tamra and they shared a Coke as he explained what goblins were. Rallis pulled out a hackeysack and he and several orcs formed a circle. After about ten minutes of intense conversation with the shaman, Lars finally shoved the manual back into his pack and picked up his axe.

“And?” asked Rallis.

“He said that all rules are only suggestions and that if he wanted to beef up the orcs then he could.” Lars kicked the pack out of the way and got back into a fighting stance as the orc shaman once again took up his position at the back of the horde. The orcs quickly reformed their charge, with much jostling and changing of places. The adventurers got back into their positions, and then the fight started again.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Rescue of What's-Her-Name: Part 1

This is a piece I wrote an embarrassingly long time ago. I recently ‘refound’ it in a corner of my hard drive and decided to share. So, for the next week or so, please enjoy ‘The Rescue of What’s-Her-Name.’



The sun was just reaching its zenith when the party found the edge of a large clearing. The group paused, as the wood-elven ranger knelt on the soft grass, studying the tracks before him. The others, all seasoned adventurers, fanned out in a defensive perimeter, save for a young half-elven woman who stood idly, twiddling with the hilt of her obviously brand-new sword.

“Tamra,” said a human, whose holy symbol marked him as a cleric. “Stand over there.” He gestured to a small clump of trees.


“Because there might be orcs about.”

“What’s an orc?”

To the left of the cleric, a colossal barbarian wrapped head to toe in furs and carrying an immense battle-axe sniggered. “She doesn’t know what an orc is!”

“Give her a break, Lars,” said a halfling from behind a bush. “It’s her first time.”

“Maybe I should give you a break, Bobbin? Like maybe your head?”

Everyone turned to glare at Lars.

“Calm down, Lars,” said another human, dressed in the robes of a wizard and spinning a wand between his fingers. “You were a noob once too.”

Lars looked around at his companions, and then folded his arms and began pouting. The cleric motioned Tamra over. “Okay,” he said. “Orcs are these big, dumb, ugly brutes with bad hygiene, not unlike Lars. There are generally lots of them, but they’re no real problem. Just follow everybody else’s lead and it’ll be fine.” He slipped his arm around her waist. “Having fun, honey?”

She shrugged. “It’s okay.”

“Are we ready?” asked the ranger, who was waiting by the edge of the clearing.

“Sure, Rallis. Sorry.” The cleric gave the half-elf a peck on the cheek and then everyone gathered around Rallis.

“Okay,” said the wood elf as he knelt and indicated the tracks before him. “Definitely orcs, a few days old, maybe twenty of them. They brought a cart through here, lightly loaded. These are probably the ones we’re looking for. Let’s skirt the west edge of the wood and see if we can find their village.”

“Sorry, but why are we out here again?” Tamra asked.

“Orcs ambushed and kidnapped the local lord’s daughter,” Rallis explained. “We’re supposed to get her back.”

Lars groaned. “I don’t wanna sneak around all day. Let’s just find them and kick their butts!”

“If it’s a whole village,” said the mage. “An entirely different set of butts is going to get kicked.”

“Maybe me an’ Rallis should scout or something?” said Bobbin.

“Eric - er, I mean Coryn,” Tamra said, tapping the cleric on the shoulder.

“Yes, dear?”

“Are those orcs?” she asked, pointing off into the clearing.

Everyone turned to see some thirty-odd orcs emerging from the opposite side of the clearing. The leader wore a resplendent headdress of gold and red feathers and carried a long, intricately carved staff with what looked like skulls dangling from it. He gestured and with a shout, the warriors began sprinting across the glade, their barbed spears and cruel, hooked swords glinting in the afternoon sun.

“Cool!” said Lars, as he threw off his fur cloak.

“Oh man!” the halfling said. “They’ve got a shaman.”

“All right,” said Rallis, as he nocked an arrow. “Defensive postures!” Lars immediately rushed to the front, almost knocking the elf over, just as the halfling rushed to the rear. “Hold it!” Rallis said. He stepped into the clearing. “Hey, give us a minute to get arranged!” he shouted to the orcs, who obligingly stopped about a third of the way across.

“Okay,” he said. “Lars, stand right there.” The barbarian stepped to the front of the path and began flexing his muscles at the waiting horde. “Tamra, over there on the left. Coryn, hold the right. Melkor, stick behind Lars.”

“Sure,” said the mage. “But if they get around him, I’m pulling a tactical retreat over to those trees.” He pointed to a copse about twenty yards away.

“Me too!” chimed in Bobbin.

Rallis sighed. “Fine, just as long as you make yourselves useful.” The elf went to stand beside Lars. “Once they get close, I’m gonna pull back and keep them from coming flanking us.” He took one more glance around, and then shouted back to the orcs. “Okay, we’re ready!”

Coryn looked over at Tamra. “You might want to draw your sword, honey.”

“Oh, yeah.” She drew her weapon, taking a few practice swipes in the air.

The orcs closed, their feet stamping a staccato rhythm that the entire party could feel through their ground. Rallis fired once, and then even before the first arrow could land, fired again. One of the lead orcs caught the first arrow in the throat, his coarse war cry cut off as he spun and thudded into the ground, his fellows leaping over him. The second arrow landed in a shoulder, though the orc did not fall. Rallis nocked another arrow, but paused. “Oh, hey, I forgot to add in my bonuses for the second shot.” The entire horde slowed, everyone looking at the orc that had taken the shoulder wound. After a second, the arrow disappeared, rematerializing in the orc’s chest. The orc gave a gurgling cry, frothy blood spewing from his mouth, and fell.

“Are we on inits yet?” asked the halfling.

“Yeah, Bobbin,” said Melkor, the wizard. “Quit playing with the dice and pay attention.”