Monthly Wessex

Gone in a Firey Blaze
Wat Sacrficies an Innocent Life

A normal day. Summer heat is intense. I scavenge for food. Then I was chosen from above. The hands of a god pluck me from the field. I'm brought into darkness. Then there was fire. Then there was nothing.

 

-told from the perspective of the field mouse that Wat sacrificed to a fire trap-

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Sure! Let the grumpy elf lead!
Why Wat is always grumpy

Wat scowled as he sulked in The Tavern. What a rotten place. What a rotten life. It was almost enough to make him start drinking again. Almost. No, Wat couldn’t start drinking again. Reyna had always complained about his drinking. Then again, his estranged wife always had something to complain about. She hated him. She hated their life. So much so that she took their boy and left him. 

Wat missed them both dearly. Their absence had nearly destroyed him. At first, he tried to drink to numb the pain. To forget. Then he got robbed while he was drunk. He was left with nothing. That’s how he ended up on the edge of the empire in a little shit hole called Wessex. 

It’d been several years since Wat had last seen his family. After several months in Wessex with everyone else who had no where to go and nothing to live for, Wat was tired. He was tired of living like this. He wanted to see his boy. He wanted to see his wife. 

Wat wanted to change.

Reluctantly, Wat had traded in drinking for looting. If he was going to make it out of Wessex and back to his family, he’d need gold and supplies. 

Somehow, he’d ended up with a group that regularly went out looting shit. They met regularly in The Tavern and picked up whatever sorry broke bastards were willing to risk their lives for gold and glory. 

On the day they were to meet, Wat waited impatiently in The Tavern. 

‘Where the blazes are Sgt Lieutenant and the annoying bard?’ Wat wondered to himself as he waited with Thorngage and Greycastle. The halfling and the human looked to him for guidance. Why? Wat could only wonder. The two were fairly new in Wessex, but had gone down to The Well with Wat, Sgt Lieutenant, and the annoying bard. 

Wat couldn’t lead the two down to The Well by himself. That place was too unpredictable. Too dangerous. Honestly, he didn’t want to go down there without Sgt Lieutenant. Wat’s life might be sad and pathetic, but he didn’t feel like dying just yet. He had to get back to his wife and his boy. 

Wat, Greycastle, and Thorngage were joined by three others. A halfling named Milly who had a bad limp. A human called Tulrath. And an elf called Audris. They turned to Wat for guidance, since he’d been in Wessex the longest. 

“Oh how the gods must laugh at my existence!” Wat thought bitterly. “These morons want a quest and that damn paladin isn’t anywhere to be found! Sure! Let the grumpy elf lead!”

Wat swore to take the paladin’s head for leaving him with these morons. And the bard’s too. 

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An Adventurer's Life for Me...
How I became a wizard.

From the diary of Prudence Goodfaith, Adventuring Wizard

It happened! The time has come! Last night I awoke in a cold sweat with my mind reeling. I was at once both puzzled and enlightened. I became aware of a whispered chanting as my eyes darted in terror across the dark corners of my room. Then I recognized the voice as… my own! My body, unresponsive to my mind's commands, became animated and furiously scribbled arcane words on paper. Then suddenly as it had come, the feeling passed, like a fever breaking.

It has been said that sometimes the dreaming soul can grasp truths too powerful for the waking mind to comprehend. Despite all my studies, I never dreamed that one day I would become a wizard myself! I defensively clutched my newly created spellbook to my chest. Apparently I was destined to a life of adventure after all…

 

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"The Well"
How Birdie the Bard saved the day

From the diary of Prudence Goodfaith, History Scholar and Adventurer

Despite my impeccable memory, I cannot honestly say how it was that I stumbled upon the rag tag group of adventurers I accompanied through the Hell they simply refer to as "the well." I just one day found myself seated at table discussing the places we could explore for glory and riches (and of course, most importantly, knowledge). I should have known something was amiss when the war-hardened halfling Sgt. Lieutenant said, "the well" and a look of fear played across the face of the otherwise fierce elf fighter Wat Chman. The human bard Birdie also let out a nervous giggle. "Why the well?" They half groaned.

Like myself, the other two new recruits were confused but willing to go wherever the adventure may lead us. The halfling footpad who insists on being called only Thorngage (whether that be a first or surname, I know not) gets quite unruly if pressed for further explanation on the origin of their moniker. Their friend Anders dreams of one day becoming a bard, though with their lack of intellect I do not know if they shall survive that long…

So there I sat, bright young student Prudence Goodfaith, in the company of seasoned heroes. Seeing the characters from the tales I have heard and read present in the flesh I suddenly was overwhelmed with a feeling of… disappointment. Are these truly the heroes of the tales told around town? I thought they would be more… Impressive?

As I contemplated the numerous ways in which we would likely meet our untimely demise, they debated the other possibilities. They ended up settling on "the well" and we set off.

We descended into the dark well that was obviously not a well at all, but as I would soon learn, a stronghold of viscous hobgoblins! No hobgoblins accosted us while we explored, though we would soon encounter monstrosities equally dangerous. We retraced their steps from a previous adventure. Though I am skilled in cartography, I was unable to create a serviceable map due to the twists and turns and loosing my notes in a scuffle with some undead.

I cannot recount all the details of the adventure, but here are some excerpts that stand out in my memory.

1. The Library: When they mentioned that there was a library down there, I insisted we visit it. As I was reaching for a book, Sgt. Lieutenant recalled "the fisherman." I suppose I should count myself lucky that I am no fisherman. The way they talk of the last poor fisherman (or two…three?), I can only assume I would have actually died instead of merely being severely injured in "the well." Back to the point, the books had a powerful ward on them and any attempt to remove one would result in injury (or death, if one is foolish enough to continue to take books in spite of the damage inflicted).

2. The Moldy Pile: As we continued to explore, we came across a room with a moldy pile of fabric. Thorngage and I insisted we burn the pile. Fear was my main motivation, though I had heard of great treasures buried beneath repugnant piles of filth. As we enjoyed the flames, we were suddenly caught unawares by a giant centipede hanging from the ceiling. Though I was in a state of shock (terror), I believe I recall correctly that the valiant Wat Chman saved us from certain death by slaying the beast. It would later come to pass that there was a large sum of treasure in the ashes. I truly am an adventurer at heart!

3. The Tomb: We spent some time poking around this room. In the back was a lovely woman, quite well preserved, in a glass coffin on a raised pedastal. I still cannot be certain she was indeed dead. We threw a few items in the room in hopes of springing any traps (none were found), and moved in to collect the assorted treasures at the base of the pedestal. We then spent a little (too much) time searching for hidden doors and the like. While searching, we were attacked by a group of undead! The first to fall was Thorngage. Their dear foolish friend Anders ran to their side and lifted Thorngage over their shoulder in an attempt to move their friend from harm. Anders soon accompanied his friend to the floor. Overconfidence almost marked the end for Sgt. Lieutenant and Wat Chman. They valiantly fell while attempting to defend us. The last thing I remember before passing out was Birdie screaming "Hey gutless!" at one of the skeletons.

As I would come to find out (if the bard can be trusted), Birdie truly saved the day! Finishing off the monsters and stabilizing us all, the bard is certainly one of the most successful warriors (though definitely not the bravest). Not one of us was lost to death's cold grasp. We even managed to bring quite a bit of treasure!

As I await our next adventure, I cannot help but wonder if I will share the fate of so many fishermen before me. I am certain my frail frame is not nearly as strong as that of a fisherman. The only advantage I have over them is my superior intellect, which will hopefully keep me from harm. Perhaps…just maybe I may live long enough to choose a true adventurer's profession.

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Adventurers Most Generous

(As penned by player Noah Young.)

Reverend Thomias,
Shepard of Hillcrest Commons
The 850th year of Our Holy Luminous Matriarch’s First Grace

Bishop of Umbridge, counted most gracious among all Our Holy Luminous Matriarch's servants to all who hear of your works, it is my pleasure to send you this letter of good news.

I hope the Matriarch's light shines upon you even greater than it has our humble province, for we all hear tales of your saintly works and miracles. Surely you will someday be anointed High Priest of the Land, Our lady willing. 

I write to you to dutifully report on our diocese's finances, which you will find enclosed. Please note ever so briefly that donations have increased markedly from my last letter, it is my pleasure to include the heralding tale behind this outpouring of faith.

It was writ to my our Father Saban, priest of our Wessex parish, an uncouth town in the furthest, most impoverished corner of the diocese, that his flock had unexpectedly produced a very small but no less generous donation of 25 gold pieces by a small group of believers.

He recounts that ragtag a band of citizens took it upon themselves to cleanse a local farmers well of unmentionable magic and unbelievers. As he tells the tale, the farmer saw tainted light erupt from his dry well during the night. A captain, doctor, alchemist, and a fisherman ventured below, finding evidence of a vacated hobgoblin dwelling they came across an unholy band of miscreants,  whom they dispatched. After their confrontation they encountered an ancient chest, and within it, a hoard of gold. Sadly, the fisherman died to a trap in the cavern. His fellows, instead of wasting their newfound coin on drink as is common here, gave nigh all of their earnings to the church and town in act of grace in accordance with Brightest Blossom's teachings. 

I took Father Saban's tale, and after much prayer to She Who Shines Eternal, blessed be her light, decided to tell it to my flock, save some alterations. I of course spared mention of such unholy creatures. Instead I praised the charity and righteous motivation of these citizens who venture into the well and unselfishly gave. As you can see, after my sermon was disseminated to the other parish priests we saw offerings increase in a proportion of two and a half hundredths of the whole across the diocese.

I hope this news finds you well and mayhap you can even use this tale from the farthest town in the empire to show the uncoverable power and grace of Our Holy Luminous Matriarch’s ever shining light.

Your brother in her grace,
Reverend Thomias

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Mission Log 001
Submitted by Sgt. Lieutenant

 Mission Log 001

Sgt. Lieutenant

 

Over my many years helping the militia faithfully protect our Wessex, I got to know the citizens we serve quite well. In particular, I found a like-mindedness in five others: Mr. Caruthers, an astute scholar; Bear Grills, a hunter with a notable brother; Rock, a headstrong mason; a smuggler whom I immediately did not trust and elected to not learn his name; and Jack Perch, an honorable fisherman with a face no man could lie to. Like me, the five of them had a passion for adventure and a thirst for gold, inspiring us to ask around town for rumors about where we could seek our fortunes.

 

The day after we created our little band of treasure seekers, we paired off to investigate various leads. Rock and the smuggler interrogated the local drunk, learning that the man had narrowly escaped a spider cave with his life. Bear and Jack talked to Bear’s brother, a young man I’d gotten to know quite well over the years. His brother told a tale about his encounter with goblins hiding out in some ruins a few years back, which I was hesitant to believe but I knew no one would ever lie to a fisherman. Mr. Caruthers and I went to the Church of the Light Bringer, hearing from the priest that there were suspicious payments for a “secret door” in the ledger books from many years ago.

 

Armed with our various rumors, we all met up again in The Tavern to compare them. After much discussion and weighing of pros and cons, we decided that the priest’s mission was both the least dangerous and the closest to us, which made it easy to investigate first.

 

First thing in the morning, we went up to the cemetery where the ledger claimed the secret door was built. Upon finding the proper crypt, we were discouraged to discover that the door was locked quite securely. Securely, that is, unless you’re a headstrong dwarf. Before we could do much to stop him, Rock had kicked down the crypt door, managing to injure himself a bit in the process. After my compulsory lecture about being careful with and respectful of the final resting place of strangers, we investigated inside.

 

After looking around the first floor, we headed down into the basement – an odd thing to have in a crypt – which seemed to hold the remains of the less-well-liked members of the family. After a couple hours of investigating, I discovered a pressure-plate type mechanism that allowed us to push deeper into the crypt. That part of the crypt was more cave-like, and we elected to follow one of the winding paths south.

 

In a larger cave room, we discovered hundreds of body-shaped sacks stored in crevices along the walls. Ever the optimist, Rock ripped them open hoping for treasure. Instead, he found old bones dressed in ancient Light Bringer regalia, leading us to believe that this area was some kind of convent or church many years ago. I, as a devout follower of the Light Bringer, was of course delighted to find this promising piece of history and made note to tell the priest about it upon our return.

 

As we continued deeper into the cave, we found a room with decorative swords, a chest, and a large suit of armor. As soon as we started exploring the room, the armor suddenly became animated – and we found ourselves in combat. I valiantly took command, as any good sergeant would, and directed my companions to begin attacking the armor. The smuggler attempted to throw his bedroll on the armor in hopes of blinding it, but to no avail. I’m not sure what sort of military tactician taught him that, but then again I’m not exactly versed in how things are run on smuggler ships. Our hunter, Bear, finally managed to knock the head off the armor with an arrow, but sadly not before our good fisherman friend Jack Perch lost his life to the monster.

 

While my companions looted the passage for gems and other valuables, I gathered Jack’s belongings and attempted to give him his last rites in the name of the Light Bringer. I got it mostly right, but you know how that last part is… who remembers that part anyway? It’s not that important. What matters is that you tried. The Light Bringer understands.

 

Unfortunately, I also had the delightful task of explaining to Rock what death is. It was rough, but it’s an important part of life he needed to understand.

 

Once my companions had secured all the items from the room that they wanted, I carried Jack’s body and belongings out of the crypt for a proper burial back in town.

 

Upon returning to town, we informed the priest of what we found in the crypt and asked him to give Jack his (full) last rites. The priest was very distraught to learn that someone had died during our investigation, and encouraged us to rest. While my companions rested, I took Jack’s belongings to his next of kin and delivered the bad news. It’s something I’ve done countless times in the militia, but it never gets easier. His family took it well, but it was clear they were in shock. Hopefully they’ll take Jack out to be buried at sea, as he would have wanted.

 

After a good rest, we picked up another adventurer in the tavern – a man named Jack Danger. I had a great feeling about this guy, he seemed like he really meant business.

 

With our new Jack in tow, we returned to the crypt that evening to explore more. After a few respectful moments of silence with Jack Perch’s bloodstain, we continued investigating the area. We found an odd altar room with carvings that had been scraped off with some force, a large library with books about the Light Bringer religion, and a strange warding glyph that was clearly some kind of trap.

 

Hoping to avoid the trap, we explored another passage, only to find that it was full of mushrooms and strange mushroom creatures. The creatures seemed pretty harmless, but my companions were intent on fighting them. I refused to loan the others my flask of oil to set flame to the mushrooms, so they had to be content with shooting them from afar. After crossing to the other side of the room, it became clear that the passage just looped around to the entrance we had already explored.

 

Still wanting to avoid the trap, we explored the library more. In one of the books, we found the symbol on the warding glyph, but couldn’t decipher what it meant or how we could disengage it. Ever practical, we decided to just start doing things that might activate the glyph. We tried a few methods from afar, not wanting to be caught by any effect it would activate, but nothing seemed to happen. Eventually, we felt we were pushing our luck and shouldn’t mess with the glyph anymore, so we gathered some of the books and headed back to town. We returned late in the evening and slept the night.

 

In the morning, we talked to the priest about what we’d seen and he was very excited about the books in the library. Always happy to help out the church of the Light Bringer and return any important artifacts to those that can protect them, I volunteered to carry back all the books myself. Inspired by my resolve, my companions purchased sacks from the priest and all five of us spent some time carrying books back and forth from the crypt. With all of us working together, the task was finished quite quickly. I’m intrigued about what the library and altar were for, but until we find a way to deactivate the warding glyph we won’t be able to investigate further.

 

End mission report.

 

 

 

 

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Here in Wessex
Officially the Middle of Nowhere

Wessex is a tiny little town at the very edge of the Empire.  There is absolutely nothing to do around here except watch the grass grow.  The most exciting events are bad weather and the occasional news of goblins causing havoc on some farmer who dared to homestead too close to the Flowering Hills.

This is a good (if hard-working) life for a couple hundred citizens of the Empire.  Farming is the main occupation.  A few fishermen pull a decent haul out of the nearby lake.  A paltry, but lode-bearing mine employs a couple dozen workers.  The town itself is a cluster of support services and the families that staff them.  A single tavern—literally just called "The Tavern"—sits in the middle of all of this.

You are bored to tears, and fed up with the daily grind of rural poverty.  You've heard stories of ancient ruins out there in the wilderness just brimming with treasure.  Sure, those stories also involve monsters, but that sounds way more interesting than having to feed the chickens one more day.

As they say:  Get rich, or die trying.

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