Brother Ryn

I play Brother Ryn in Miniwargaming’s Heroes of Harinburg D&D campaign. The game is streamed Tuesdays from 1230pm – 430pm EST on their Twitch channel. The game is also posted to their YouTube channel a few days later.

Brother Ryn is a cleric of the Grave and follows Kallina, the Goddess of the Dead. You can check out Brother Ryn’s character sheet on DnD Beyond

The Tale of Brother Ryn

In my youth I was a simple man, a tanner and leatherworker in the town of Tarrington. I was by no means a master of my craft, but I made enough to keep food in my belly and rain off my head. I had a wife who was plain to others and beautiful to me. My youth was wasted looking to the stars and wishing for more. Putting little worth in what I had. I was fool hardy and I felt invulnerable… maybe even immortal.

My wife (Gwendyl) soon became pregnant and for perhaps the first time in my life I felt blessed. It was winter when the babe came and the stars that I had wished upon had not heard my prayers. My wife languished in labour and the midwife warned that if something were not to change I would lose both my wife and child. I pleaded ignorantly to the dark skies that night, asking for things I felt I deserved. Something heard my pleas and my daughter Taya was born. But she would only ever know her father..

I raised Taya as best I could. There was wonder and magic in her eyes. She taught me to value what I have and dare I say how blessed I was. Time is a funny thing though and Taya did not stay young forever. Neither did I, my hands now looked like the leather I worked with for so many years. Taya would soon find a husband and I her father would be left alone. A prospect I found terrifying.

A “Stranger” came calling to the village, in a great black carriage.  The stranger would stay in Tarrington for many days and during that time Taya would become his obsession. Again, cruel youth would not alert her to any danger and she fell under the control of the Stranger’s charms. There were many unusual occurrences during the Stranger’s stay and the superstitious people of Tarrington, including myself would raise torches against the stranger. It was too late… my lovely Taya had become an unholy creature and servant of the Stranger. My daughter would leave me with many scars… the least of which are the ones that people can see.

That thing, which was once my daughter left with the Stranger. I would nurse my wounds with ale and rye for many moons after. I lost my shop and with it my livelihood. I would travel to the nearby city of Harinburg where I would beg in the streets. When I was at my lowest I would be lifted by the kindness of a priest, a woman I would come to know as Sister Zarrisa took pity on me. I had looked to stars and pleaded to gods for so many years and now when I wanted to die and leave it all behind, life intervened. Sister Zarissa saved me in more ways than she’d ever know.

Some might find it humourous to know that I was born again within the temple of Kallina, the Goddess of the Dead. This cruel joke is not lost on me and still to this day it makes me smile. I found great comfort in the many scrolls and teachings of Kallina, until at last I took solemn vows to be in her service. I am no longer a young man, but I now live by her three commandments:

  1. Death is not to be feared, so celebrate life and live each day without hesitation.
  2. Death is natural, one should not avoid going to meet Kallina at the river. All things must end.
  3. Death is permanent, the dead must remain dead.

Although I’m a simple brother of her teachings, I now strive to join the Order of the Shroud. These crusaders, stand by Kallina’s 3rd commandment. Death is permanent and creatures like the Stranger and whatever became of my Taya are an abomination. I must gain more competency with my abilities and face the undead on my own before petitioning the Order of the Shroud for membership.

It is time for me to live and be grateful for the things I have. The past cannot be undone. I can no longer hide in ale or in beggar’s garbs. Doing so would waste my days and Kallina’s teachings tell us to live full, so that we may leave this world without regret. There are others that life has tripped or beaten and I would extend my hand to them as Sister Zarrisa did for me. As a boy I may have thought I was immortal, now I know such thoughts are sinful. I have a limited amount of time here. I’ll make a difference before meeting my Goddess.

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Black Goat Campaign 13

Aboard the Succubus they reached Khateefi Reef quickly. Using water breathing spells the heroes descend into the depths in search of Sahuagin. The sea devils were known to lair in the many sea caves found among the living reef. After some searching they discovered a likely cave and swam into its shadows. Within they fought victims of the sahuagin, now undead thralls. They would reach a deep sea grotto and fight a sea devil matron and her brood of warriors and sharks. However, they were no match for our heroes and they were soon questioning the matron through the use of a tongues spell.

The sahuagin leader told them of the Galathea Trench, named for the marid (genie) that dwelt in its depths. She is the keeper of the elemental node the heroes were looking for. The matron of the sea devils surrendered her magic conch shell of teleportation and the party returned to the Succubus. Knowing that marids are vain creatures, the heroes brainstormed for gifts they could bring her. Lord Rayan’s bard, Aleya volunteered to join the party and composed a beautiful song to serenade the marid.

The Starfall Islands, Map by DMjeremy

Blowing into the conch the heroes were teleported to the depths of the Galathea trench where an ancient temple laid silent in the dark waters. The temple appeared to venerate a long forgot kraken. Within the ruined temple they found Galathea and negotiated for access to her node. Aleya performed her song perfectly, perhaps to well in fact. Galathea took the bard as her gift (slave) and offered access to the node if the heroes could capture a young dragon turtle named Riptide for her. They protested the abduction of Aleya, but were too intimidated by the marid and her water elemental allies to fight for her. They agreed to capture Riptide and departed.

The young dragon turtle’s lair was in a tidal cave on Moonshade Island. They had been given an enchanted bit and bridle to capture the beast with. The heroes tried to negotiate with Riptide, attempting to persuade the beast to come peacefully. The dragon’s hatred of Galathea ran deep though. The marid had enslaved his sister as a mount and he would not come peacefully. A battle ensued and the dragon turtle was pacified, then harnessed with the enchanted yoke.

Using the conch they returned to Galathea with an unconscious Riptide. Galathea allowed Brona to cleanse the darkwood acorn in the frigid waters of the elemental node. The heroes departed hesitantly, unsure of Aleya’s fate. Once clear of Galathea’s lair they rested in Pt Malkin and called upon the token that would summon the cloud giantess Lady Wind. Time was running out for Darkwood Abbey, they hoped the cloud giant’s flying tower would hasten their return.

Black Goat Campaign 12

The heroes rode straight through days and nights, until they reached the city of Riverwatch. They wasted little time and began searching for a captain with a fast ship. They would eventually come to find Captain Calypso and her ship the Succubus. Before departing for the Starfall Isles Wyleros had a clandestine meeting with a mysterious figure known as the Alabaster Assassin before rejoining his friends.

The Succubus grabbed the wind and it was not long before they sailed clear of Riverwatch and out into the Khrullion Sea. The ship cut across the surface of the water like a blade and Captain Calypso knew how to get every bit of wind. They would no doubt arrive in Port Cog and the Starfall Isles in less than a week.

The heroes woke one evening to find the Captain arguing with a trio of scrags, they must have climbed aboard the Succubus. They were arguing in an unknown language over a small trunk on the deck. It lay open and the scrags seemed to be unhappy with the contents. The scrags would eventually depart with the trunk. The heroes discovered that Captain Calypso had made a dark pact with something beneath beneath the sea, the scrags were agents of that entity. The contents of the trunk were disturbing to say the least and the character of Captain Calypso was called into question.

The Succubus would reach Port Cog on schedule. They had crossed the Khrullion Sea quicker than any other ship could have. The heroes were anxious to part ways with Calypso, but first they felt they needed to search about below deck. They discovered a smuggler’s hold and two passengers, a bard named Aleya and her companion, a sick man wrapped in linens. They would soon come to learn that the man was Rayan Wyvernmoor (a lord wanted by the Red Queen). Calypso had agreed to get Rayan out of Khrullion and then onto the shores of Gaelengard.

The heroes left Rayan, Calypso and Aleya in the docks of Pt Cog. The large town was widely regarded as a strange layover Port. The gnomes who lived there had a talent for invention and illusions. Taryelle had told them the water node was somewhere in the Starfall Isles, but its exact location was unknown. The heroes searched for a well known cartographer named Dezoris, who they hoped would know the location of the elemental node.

Upon reaching the gnome’s home they discovered his workshop was being held hostage by a number of clockwork automatons he had built. The heroes outsmarted the dimwitted clockworks and managed to liberate Dezoris’ collection of maps. Unfortunately, none of the maps marked an elemental node.

The gnomish cartographer directed the heroes to Khateefi Reef. Dezoris knew the reef was home to the Sea Devils (aka Sahuagin). Chances are if there was an elemental node in the isles, they’d know where it was. The heroes found themselves in need of a ship again. They reluctantly returned to the Succubus and Captain Calypso. Lord Rayan was interested in their quest and he agreed to delay his trip if the heroes would assist him in the future.

More Brother Ryn

I play Brother Ryn in Miniwargaming’s Heroes of Harinburg D&D campaign. The game is streamed Tuesdays from 1230pm – 430pm EST on their Twitch channel. The game is also posted to their YouTube channel a few days later.

Brother Ryn is a cleric of the Grave and follows Kallina, the Goddess of the Dead. You can check out Brother Ryn’s character sheet on DnD Beyond

Below is what I submitted to the DM. It was meant to be a description of where Ryn lives. He liked it enough that we played it out during session 2 of our campaign.

Home Life

Brother Ryn walked through the muddy narrow avenues of the stacks. Things always seemed colder here in the bottom of the stacks. Water dripped from the narrow wooden over passes and the smell of humanity and filth were always evident. There is no wealth to be found here. Sister Zarissa once described the stacks as “one step above beggars”.

Ryn climbed a narrow set of stairs that groaned ever so slightly under his weight. When he reached the top he squeezed against the wall to let a few children playing tag run past him. He then crossed one of the many catwalks that zigged and zagged over the streets below. At last he ducked under a clothesline and came to his door.

There were no locks on the doors here in the stacks, not proper ones at least. Ryn opened his door which hung unsquare and entered his home. It was barely worth the rent he paid for it, but it was home. A worn bed in one corner and a small iron stove in the other. Fire was a constant concern in the stacks, but so was freezing in the cooler months. A wooden dummy stood just inside the door and Ryn hung his armour there. His mace and shield, he leaned in the corner behind the dummy.

In a concealed cubby beneath his bed were his valuables. It was tricky to open and he was sure on more than one occasion it had foiled a looter. Inside was a prayer rug, a few short candles and a prayer book. Prayers were always given to Kallina at the end of the day and he never missed them. He sat on the bed quietly in thought when there was a knock at the door. “Brother? Are you in there?

Ryn opened the door to find the very elderly woman Jada there. Beside her leaning into her like a frightened animal was a boy. He was covered in filth, but Ryn recognized him as one of the children that had been playing tag. “Sorry for the bother.” Jada smiled. “But the young lad here took a tumble from the catwalk down the way there. I think he’s hurt his arm.

Ryn smiled and knelt to have a look at the boy. “I’m not much of a doctor.” He lifted the boys sleeve to see a badly swollen arm. The child winced as Ryn inspected him and the old priest frowned. “But, lets see if The Lady can’t offer some help in mending that arm.” Ryn took the child’s arm and closed his eyes whispering to Kallina. He felt the warm divine energy pass from his fingertips into the boy’s arm.

Ryn opened his eye and the little boy had an expression of absolute astonishment over his face. He pulled his arm away and wiggled his fingers and opened and closed his hand. He looked back to Ryn, “Thank you sir.

I told you we’d get you fixed up!” chuckled Jada. “Brother Ryn watches out for us. Many thanks to Kallina.” The two shuffled away from the door and Ryn stood there looking down into the muddy avenue. Life in the stacks wasn’t luxury, but it was honest and he could make a difference here.

Black Goat Campaign 11

The council gathered at Darkwood Abbey. It consisted of representatives from the kingdom of Khrullion and from the wood elves of Syla Thalor. Brother Jacob, Sister Faye and Councillor Ashlyn sat across from High Druid Taryelle and the Guardian of the South, Ry’ll. This council was a rare example of men and elves working together. The heroes were also present to listen and lend support.

What came from the council’s discussion was grim. The Guardian of the East had been slain and most of the Eastern wood had been lost to the goblins. The Goat had gained control of the second Pool which resided in a place called the Burnt Glade. The only Pool that remained outside of her control was the one beneath Darkwood Abbey. Things seemed very grim indeed.

Previously (in ages past), the elves had broken the power of the Burnt Glade Pool by planting a Darkwood tree in it’s base. When the goblins re-activated the Pool they would have destroyed it. Taryelle proposed that a Darkwood acorn be delivered to the Pool and planted there to ensure that it stay dormant. A Darkwood tree could not grow in the caves beneath the Abbey, nor could it grow in the caves that the first Pool was found in. It had to be the Burnt Glade Pool.

However, the only acorn Taryelle knew of was in Brona’s possession. Brona warned that her acorn was corrupt. Taryelle smiled and told the council: “All Darkwood acorns are corrupt. The elves have always cleansed their acorns at an elemental water node in the North of Syla Thalor. However, the ancient green dragon known as Corpsegrinder took control of that node many years ago.

The council began to whisper about the impossibility of facing off against the ancient wyrm. Taryelle interrupted: “There is another water node, somewhere in the Starfall Isles. It belongs to a marid, but perhaps she can be reasoned with.” It was soon decided that the heroes would travel south and try to barter with the marid, for the privilege to use her node. They were urged to make haste. The goblins would soon mass for a final assault against the Abbey. It would not take long for this attack to overwhelm the Abbey’s weakened defenses.

The heroes were quick to prepare. That night they rode the fastest horses they could find for the city of Riverwatch. There they would hope to find a captain with ship that could ferry them to the Starfall Islands.

Black Goat Campaign 10

Following the loss of the library and the majority of the Abbey’s clerics, Brother Jacob urged the heroes to return to the caves and confirm that one of the Black Goat’s dark pools actually lay hidden there. “The death of my brothers and sisters must have purpose.” The heroes obliged the wounded Brother and returned to the deep vaults and caverns. The Waywatcher Spear (wielded by the ranger Vale) opened the final gate and the heroes descended into the deepest reaches of the hill.

They came upon a massive cavern, filled with corpses of humans, elves and barbarians. The bodies should have decayed away long ago, but the cavern was damp and the bodies looked fresh. The dead rose and dozens upon dozens of zombies began to encircle the party. The cleric Bjorndar was in his element beneath the hill and called upon Ulaa the Earthmother. His divine wrath devastated the ranks of walking corpses that were surrounding them. The heroes made short work of the rest.

They took a moment to rest following this encounter with the undead. They were joined by Dao-Khan and a dozen Black Sun mercenaries from the surface. The demon lieutenant informed the heroes he was here to confirm the Queen’s suspicions and concerns. He also made it clear that the Queen no longer had faith or favour in the heroes. A fact that mattered little to the heroes themselves.

Beyond the cavern of the dead, the heroes and Dao-Khan’s force came upon a maze like set of tunnels and caverns. They spread out to cover as much ground as possible, but soon found themselves divided and isolated in small groups. They were not alone something moved about this maze with them. Dao-Khan’s mercenaries could be heard screaming and then being cut-off short. Clarion was the first to find one of their bodies. The man was dead, his brain removed from the skull through a massive opening.

The horror struck heroes eventually regrouped with Dao-Khan and discovered a chamber beyond the maze. Within lay a great pool surrounded by dilapidated pillars, strange markings, maybe of an eldritch language were scattered over most surfaces. They had found the Black Goat’s pool, but it was not unguarded. An olive coloured aberration assaulted the heroes with strange magics and upon its back carried in orange pustules were the brains of Dao-Khan’s men.

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Together with Dao-Khan, they defeated the terrifying creature. Following the battle a vision of St. Cuthbert came to the heroes and they were each granted a boon for defeating the evil beneath his Abbey. The vision also said that a new guardian would need to be chosen and that this should be done immediately. The heroes returned to the surface with Dao-Khan who seemed less critical of them. They told Brother Jacob what had been found and began planning their next step.

Halloween Roleplaying – Dread

I am the storyteller of an annual Halloween one-shot at our local gaming store. This will be our second year using the roleplaying game Dread. I’m a big fan of this little independent roleplaying game. I have not found a better game to create suspense and tension at the gaming table.

So, this year I took the Dread scenario, “Beneath a Full Moon” and then tweaked it to better suit our purpose. In the original scenario players take on the role of college students, rafting in the Grand Canyon for spring break. They are soon attacked, chased and hunted by a monster. For our Halloween game we dress up in costumes and for this reason I thought college students were a little mundane. I set our story in the Weird West, combining elements of  Western, steampunk and the occult genres. The characters survive an airship crash in the mountains and have to escape from a monster that relentlessly hunts them. I renamed the scenario “Beneath a Clockwork Moon”.

Again this year my players did a great job with their costumes and a few even took on accents for their role. As always our story is told by candle light. Which really adds something to the spooky aura. I find it liberating to role-play by candle light. You can really step out of you comfort zone and go all in on the acting. There is no need to feel silly or shy when the shadows partially hide you.

My silent storyteller was Alex. He listens to the game and then cues sound effects. I describe things and then the players really hear the wolves howl, the wind blowing, the rain pouring and the thunder booming. It adds an immeasurable amount of verisimilitude while we play.

I recently subscribed to the free trial offer over at Project Alpha. I have been watching  @Hydra_Lord masterfully storytelling his Sagas of Sundry. His Dread games are really something to behold. He adds a number of physical challenges to the Dread RPG and I borrowed some of them for our Halloween game. For example, I asked a player to balance a stack of large wooden blocks on their outstretched hand, while the other players made pulls from the tower. I taped a prop (journal) to the bottom of the table before the players arrived for the game. Then when they went reaching under some floor boards, I had them literally reach beneath the table blindly to find the journal.

It was another great Halloween game of Dread and I can’t wait for next year’s story! Check out some pictures of the game below.

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Black Goat Campaign 09

The heroes breached the burning library and spilled out into the courtyard under a smoke filled sky. Darkwood Abbey’s library was entirely engulfed in flames, as was its small chapel. The great keep showed signs of smaller fires, but nothing like the inferno that was devouring the library. Looking for others to help fight the fire they saw the horrific display of dead guardsman draped over the towers and battlements. It was as if they were standing in bowels of hell, surrounded by the dead and flames.

The great doors of the abbey swung open belching more smoke into the courtyard. The great shape of a giant woman emerged, back lit by the interior flames of the keep. She loomed to a height of ten feet as she descended the abbey’s steps. Her skin was as grey as ash and wrinkled with age. Her black matted hair hung wildly over her disfigured face. Her black claws were long curved blades that gripped the viscera of a victim in one palm and dragged Brother Jacob by the head in her other.

The great hag tossed the limp, wounded body of Jacob to the feet of the heroes. She grinned a sinister smile, revealing shark like teeth and beneath her tangled hair they could see familiar grey-blue eyes…

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Following their opening/destruction of the seals, the heroes explored the caverns beneath the Abbey. Within these caves they would encounter many things. They confronted half-starved fomorians, who had remained alive these many years eating fungus and cannibalizing their own kind. They found a cache of strange alchemical ingredients preserved through arcane means. They would discover the ancient remains of an elven guardian and his Waywatcher Spear (Elf Relic). They found a great door sealed shut with a strange lock, a lock that they suspected could be opened by the spear they had found.

But, it was the old elven woman that concerns us now. She told them a tale, of a great battle between the elves and the forces of Shub-niggurath. The battle took place here beneath the Abbey, a place known to her as High Hill. In order to contain the evil, the elves and their allies sealed the caves in haste, trapping many of their own within. Taking pity on the old elf, they led her out of the caves to the Abbey and continued their exploration.

When they at last returned to the Abbey to rest, they found it ablaze! The great hag tossed the limp body of Jacob at the feet of the heroes. She grinned a sinister smile, revealing shark like teeth and beneath her tangled hair they could see the old elf’s familiar grey-blue eyes.

The heroes had made a tragic error… the hag with the assistance of a demon (that had also been released from the caves) had slain the night guards, set fire to the great library and had then begun to murder the Abbey’s clergy in their sleep. The heroes would make their stand in the burning courtyard of Darkwood Abbey. They would slay the deceitful hag and drive off it’s demon ally, but at a terrible cost. Many lives were lost to the infernal duo,  including Captain Artur and Archdeacon Torel.

Black Goat Campaign 08

Brother Jacob returned to the heroes after an exhaustive use of the Abbey’s resources. His findings supported their assumptions, the vaults beneath the Abbey most likely contained the second pool of The Black Goat. Meeting with the heroes to discuss his findings, Jacob stressed a certain level of trust needs to be reached in their relationship. He went on to explain that in order to confirm the pool is hidden beneath the Abbey there are a number of protective seals that need to be unlocked/broken. “You will be entering a place that has been locked away for hundreds of years. It was sealed for a reason… we need to keep whatever is in there… down there, but I too feel we need to know if the pool is there and if it is active.

The Seals of High Hill

Here upon the High Hill we bind the darkness behind three seals.
Only the devout wear the symbols of religion. A reverent follower of the cudgel may use the key of the faithful to open the first seal.
Radiant flame cleanses absolutely. Only conflagration of the second seal’s guardians will produce a sacred ember to light the way.
Two must stand for an ancient alliance of race. Bless the torchbearers, so they might create a marriage of light to pass the final seal.

The above is all the information that Brother Jacob could find to unlock the vault’s three seals. The heroes interpreted the first seal to need a cleric of St Cuthbert (the cudgel). Jacob again urged the heroes to tread carefully, but he cautiously agreed to help them.

They passed through the Abbey’s catacombs to a great stone door marked with protective glyphs. Here Jacob knelt and began to channel the divine power of St Cuthbert. He finally placed his hand upon the door and its glyphed surface glowed with a clean white light. The great door opened and the heroes descended into the darkest places beneath the Abbey.

The second seal would come in the form of two fire elemental guardians. The heroes defeated the burning warriors only to see their flames flicker and spark them back to life. The guardians were finally overcome with radiant attacks of divine light. Leaving only an ember of white flame on the floor.

The heroes took ceremonial torches from the walls and lit them with the sacred ember. In an adjacent chamber they found an ornate hammer resting between two statues, one an elf, the other a human. The torchbearers, Zetvosk (human) and Brona (elf), placed the torches into the empty hands of the statues which resulted in the hammer being charged with arcane power.

Exploring beyond the chambers and into the ancient caves they discovered a wall of force blocking their progress. Bjorndar stepped forward with the charged hammer and struck a mighty blow against the magical wall. In a thunderous boom the wall shattered, the hill shook as if it were about to collapse. The darkness in the ancient cave stirred and like a swarm of insects it flew past the heroes. They felt cold and as the dark wave flew past they heard distant cries and screams. The twisting darkness then made its way up towards Darkwood Abbey and the surface! The heroes stood silent exchanging glances of guilt… what did they unleash?

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