Saturday, March 26, 2011

March Contest: Minions Encountered

I wanted to start 2011 off with some contests and hopefully we can continue to run various contests each month here on the Wastex Games website. I now present the March Contest...

Minions Encountered

The bigger (and more sentient) baddies we come across in Dungeons & Dragons are usually surrounded by those lesser of them - either controlled in some way, following them out of loyalty or there for profit. Create a beginning encounter set in an underground cave system that will introduce a party to the main villain and show him using the minions in an interesting way.

There is no minimum or maximum word count required and it is open to anywhere will ship.

Submit your entry below and tweet the following on Twitter:
I just entered the March Contest at @WastexGames! #dnd #rpg

If you wish to include any images (encounter map, monster stat blocks, etc.), include a link to them in the form below. If you do not have a file sharing service, I highly recommend DropBox. It is free and if you use my referral link (here), both our accounts will receive an extra 250 MBs of storage.

The winner will get their choice of one of the two following items:

Lords of Madness - Miniatures 6-pc Booster Pack


Monster Manual: Dangerous Delves: A D&D Miniatures Booster Expansion

Use the form below to submit your entry, submissions will be accepted until Thursday, March 31st at 11:59 PM EST. If you have any questions or comments, ask away here in the comments! Good luck!

Contest is closed.

Monday, March 21, 2011

Army of One: Garrett The Amazing

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by Simon Matthews. He can also be found on twitter under @symatt.

The warm yellow firelight reflected golden off the weak beer up onto Garrett's neck. The soles of his damp boots steamed gently as they face the open fire.
Smoke from countless pipes meandered about the shadow laden room. Maidens with dirty aprons and dirty hands negotiated bags, boots and reaching hands as they went about their business serving warm beer and pale meats. A mix of Local farmers, out of town traders, quiet solitary types and loud half naked warriors with weapons placed at their feet, yet always ready for a fight if the opportunity arose.
The stale taste of sweat and dirt is only just covered by garlic and smoke.
The cacophony of voices is broken from time to time with a burst of laughter or cheer from some other table or corner.

Being a Halfling didn't stop Garrett from mixing with every race and creed, he managed it so well. His clothes, of Noble make, well kept but showed their age, his boots had holes that had been repaired so many times that there wasn't an original piece left. His hair was unkempt, dark and hung in his eyes but he thought it gave him a mysterious look.
A sword, well he says it's a sword, no more than a long dagger really lay in the side grove of the high back chair he managed to acquire when an aged local left to relieve himself. Leaning against the back of that chair was a shield, way to big for one so small but it seemed to attract light like a candle attracts moths. A pattern of wind tossed leaves carved into the metal gave the feeling of motion where there was none.

"There I was, standing alone on the south end side of the bridge of Vakcher"
Raising his voice one more level.
"The entire city of Tyndall was behind me" garrett took a breath. "Women, children and the old stood trembling in fear, only I stood between them and certain death"
The halfling leaned forward to give more drama to his tail. Spilling beer on his leg which he failed to notice or just didn't want others to notice.
"The hordes of VAK stood before me with teeth gnashing and weapons bashing"
He demonstrated this by bringing his small hand hard down onto the arm of the wooden chair and bearing his teeth.
An audience of three had gathered about him now with a couple more peering over their shoulders.
"what did you do, what did you do?
A young adventurer of no more than twenty summers questioned, he sat against the hearth, an untouched drink in hand, questioning him again and again at every scene Garrett described.
"Shut up will you I'm coming to that bit" the flash in Garrett's eyes faded momentarily as the creative juices had been broken.
"Well as I said, I was standing......" garrett stopped looked at the lads goblet and looked back at the lad.
"Are you drinking that?"
Pointing a grubby finger with a broken nail at the young mans drink.
" can have it if you want" he passed it to Garrett, who then poured it into his own flagon.

The wood upon the fire crackled sending a delicate cinder spark drifting into the haze of smoke to then come to rest in Garrett's drink with a soft fizzle. Garrett took several loud gulps of beer and then continued his Story.
"The first wave of Vak charged, I held my ground. They clambered and clawed over each other on mass to get at me".
He looked about, now more had leaned in to listen to his Amazing story. A hidden smile crossed his face. Once again the young fighter interrupted.
"What's a VAK?"
Several of the Audience agreed and looked puzzled.
"Well when you have travelled the many lands and worlds as I have then you may come across the vicious and deadly VAK, but I'd hope for your sakes you never do". Garrett scanned the ever increasing crowd.
"Who will fill my cup so I can continue and maybe a little meat too"?

His cup and plate filled Garrett yet again started to retell his amazing adventure.
"There I was, my trusty sword in one hand and my life protecting shield in the other".
"The Vak, reached me within several heartbeats and all I could do was keep my two horse span width of the bridge. They slammed into my shield skidding me backwards. I dug my heals in harder until I came to a stop." Garrett took a bite of his remaining meat, chewing with mouth open and spitting pieces of food as he became more animated in his telling.

"I stabbed and slashed with my sword, Vak were dying with every stroke of my blade. My arms ached with the force of my blows and the strain it was taking to hold these evil monsters back from the innocent I was protecting".
Garrett's breathing became faster as though he was living the moment again or was it the first time?

The tale continued, drawing more and more people about him, all enthralled in the heroics of this small but mighty Halfling. Garrett carried the story and his spectators farther into the spectacle that must have taken place upon that bridge so far from this small travellers inn.
"The Vak bodies lay about me" Garrett continued. "My feet, ankle deep in their green fetid blood. Took me days to clear the stench from the soles" he pointed at his boots, everyone looked at them and as if in a choir, Oooooed and aaahhhed in unison.
"What about the Vak, surely there was to greater number for you alone"?
A voice from the back shouted across the tables. A human of many years and by the looks of him many a battle. Clambered onto a table and again repeated what he had said, now to the whole room which lay in silence, looking at Garrett for an answer.
Garret looked about him. Stumbled for words a couple of times then spoke clearly as if recalling a memory.
"You are right to ask my friend for there was a horde of Vak. Even though I had killed more than I have fingers and toes there was still more beyond." Garrett's eyes wondered across the faces of the crowed. Sweat trickled down his brow like hot oil running from the skin of a roasting chicken. Had he faltered, had he been discovered?
"yes I had to think fast."
Now standing upon his chair and holding his hands outstretched, holding the attention of his audience.
"I jumped backwards and landed a full ladders length away from the drooling Vak" Garrett touched his lower lip in thought. "I looked about and studied the bridge in total detail. It took but a thoughts moment and then I saw how to beat the Vak."
The whole crowd seemed to move to the edge of their seats even if they were not seated.
"There was a crack, only slight, but it ran the whole width of the marble white bridge." Garrett waited, giving the tension time to increase.
"The Vak charged again, I paused, I had to surprise them with my plan. The sound of so many Vak in one location was the sound of the underdark come alive upon this land. Hell itself was bearing down upon me. I drew my sword high above my head". Garrett demonstrated by raising his sword from the chair and with a great leap. As great as this halfling could manage, landed hard on the inn floor striking the hearth.
"My sword penetrated the marble bridge, like a mole beneath the dirt, moved from the point of my sword to the left and right of me, the crack crumbled and broke before the Vak, their side of the bridge became hidden in a cloud of dust and in their charge they could not stop and like a waterfall of evil flesh they tumbled and fell to their doom one after another until all was gone, down screaming to their end".

The crowd cheered with excitement and clapped, several bought Garrett fresh drinks and coins clattered like heavy rain against the wooden floor.
once again the hubbub in the Inn returned as patrons resumed their own stories and life tale. Not as dramatic and not as world shaking.

Garrett slumped back into his chair exhausted from the sheer drama of the whole evening. Wiped the sweat from his face with a maidens apron as she delivered a tray laden with drinks.

"Is that True?"
The young warrior made his final question. Some hidden disappointment lay upon his face.
"Is that True"?
Garrett leaned forward close to the young lads face, with a voice close to a whisper.
"What do you think?"
"For I am ...."
And as if on cue the two together still in a whisper spoke with a smile upon their bright faces.
"........Garrett the Amazing"

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Army of One: The Ballad of Torin

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by R.E. Davis, aka "Rev. Lazaro". He can also be found on twitter under @revlazaro.

Torin, Born of the Mountains.
His people, his culture, they believe in her. The Stone mother who gave to them, who provided shelter from the wild beasts of the jungles below. Who provided outlook over the lush, green terraces. Torin ensured the mountains were kept safe for him and the other children of Earth. The Stonemen like himself, the bearded sages who understand the runes.

But the Jungles have been screaming with the war drums of the savages. "Elven" is what they call themselves. They have been ambushing the hunting parties of Torin and his people, killing their prey and even setting fires to the land that surrounds their hearth.

Torin called out to the others of his village, and chose the 3 proudest youths of their hunting bands to escort him. He was setting out to return the fire to the savages.

As they traveled into the depths of the Jungle, they were unaware of the savages that waited in the trees and watched. They patiently stood by, until the moment was right to ambush Torin and his crew.

The arrows flew out. One lad was taken down immediately, another one critically injured as the missiles pierced into him. The third child, horrified by what had become of his friends, turned and fled into the brush.

Torin tried to immediately rush to the aid of the youths; he tried to call out a warning to the third. But in a moment's notice he was surrounded by his attackers. Arrows knocked, blades drawn, Torin screamed out in anguish and drew his Hammer crafted by the beardmen, and raised his shield.

The arrows flew. His Goliath skin stung as the points pierced in, but few actually penetrated his rock-speckled hide. He engaged on the nearest foe, swinging wildly his hammer to the back of the Elf's legs....and as he fell he curved back around to drive the hammer into his face.

Two more engaged, blades drawn. He met one blade with his shield, but was taken in the sides by the other. He raised out his hammer and screamed out the name of his Goddess, pleading for her aid as he smashed his weapon into the Elf who caught him off guard. The Earth shook around his foes, grasping at him as he tried to struggle back to his feet. The claws of Earth, however, tore him asunder.

The elves were taken back by the brutality of their target, and a few archers turned to flee much like the third youth. Torin's eyes connected with the other bladesman, and he snarled as he swiped repeated blows his Warhammer, catching him off his guard. The second youth, still alive, took advantage of this moment to lash up behind the Bladesman and drive his own daggers into his sides.

As he dropped the bladesman to the ground, the Youth gazed up to behold a fierce some the Elf leading the ambush emerged from the treetops. He was leaner, stronger than the rest, and brandishing some frightful blades. A few of the Archers also re-appeared, once again knocked and standing guard.

Torin had nothing of it. Though hurt, it appeared that not only did the damage hardly phase him, but he seemed to regain his strength with every crushing blow.

But what the Elves weren't ready for was when Torin, raising his hammer for one last cry, began kicking out the ground, snorting, as two stones lodged in his forehead began to grow out like Ram's Horns. The archers began to shake in Fear, and were shocked as thunder cracked in the skies above as Torin charged towards their leader.

The Youth had not witnessed the events afterward; blinded by the crashes of lightening and deafened by the sounds of thunder. All he knew was that when he came to, the Elves -- including their leader -- laid bloodied and defeated on the ground.

It's unknown what has happened to Torin, but the Elven war drums haven't beaten since. The fires no longer burn at the edge of the Mountains. And according to some, the Storms that blow through the Jungles below are Torin, maintaining vigil for Mother Mountain.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Army of One: The Trials of Torment

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by Christopher Brind. He can also be found on twitter under @brindy.

A dark and sombre mood came up on me. As I looked down at the decapitated head of my foe lying at my feet, and the sea of bones and necrotic flesh from the army of skeletal and zombie undead he had raised to face me, I wondered how it could come to this, but more desperately, I wondered what I would do next now that it was all over.

The adrenaline was starting to wear off and Tardak’s eyes were still glaring at me. I kicked the head and as it rolled I away I slumped backwards collapsing in to a heap on the floor. My own wounds were severe, but unlike Tardak, I knew I would survive. Once I got my breath back I would call upon my lord Pelor’s gracious healing and leave this field of horror.

I suppose the journey to this point started many years ago. I was lucky enough to be brought up in a monastery by some wise old clerics who were able to see through my Tiefling heritage and bring out the good buried in me, deep within. As I grew, they taught me about their god Pelor, how to defend myself, and how to defend others. Looking back it was inevitable that I would eventually become a paladin, a force for good in Pelor’s name, though I won’t deny that below the surface the battle against my inherited nature struggles on.

The clerics educated me in many things, but always gave particular attention to Tardak, the necromancer I have just slain. It was only recently I discovered what they had neglected to tell me, but I do not resent them for keeping that secret, it would have made my journey all the more difficult.

About a week ago, my colleagues and I received word of a town being overwhelmed by undead activity. The story had all the hallmarks of Tardak’s dirty work, so we set off post-haste. When we arrived our worst fears were confirmed. The local watch were fighting a losing battle against a horde of undead skeletons, but their controller was no-where to be seen. The sky was an unholy grimness of grey cloud, the hair of the elven ranger Glar was blown almost horizontal wind. Jardin, my dwarven warrior friend made some comment, hoping not to have to fight in the rain... again.

We joined the thick of the battle hoping to take the pressure off the watch. The skeletons had flooded in to the town, but we fought them back, bones shattering under our holy righteousness. Jardin and Glar soon got bogged down, but I pushed forward towards the general direction that the skeletons seemed to be reinforcing from. Through the town and up in to the hills, as I pushed forward the skeletons began to thin out. I breached the top of the hill and there he was, Tardak. Face to face for the first time, my inner rage started bubble over as I thought of all the evil Tardak had done over the years.

My life’s work, tracking down this mad necromantic Tiefling, an irony that did not escape me, was close to completion. I bellowed his name as a group of skeletons assaulted me, but they fell like water as my shield crushed them and my sword shattered their skulls.

I saw his eyes flair and on the wind I began to hear the necromantic mumbling of a spell being cast. I fought through another group of skeletons and behind them an army of zombies rose from beneath the ground. Tardak must have been bring the bodies of the dead here for decades, but why? What was so special about this town?

Groups of skeletons and zombies flooded past me, and continued the assault on my friends and the watch in the town below, but yet more were rising from the ground. I pushed forward destroying the undead filth as I went, Tardak mere meters away from me, and yet more skeletons and zombies raised from the ground. The onslaught was becoming over-bearing and I felt my gut drop as I began to realise that I was being over-powered. But just as I was about to lose hope, a ray of sun shone through the dirty grey skies above and reminded me of an ancient angel, who also fought a battle under similar circumstances. I yelled the angel’s name and stood straight and to full height. The sound of the name destroyed some of the skeletons and zombies nearby, their bones collapsing or rotten fleshing exploding.

It was the break I needed and I thanked Pelor for the inspriation, breaking through the throng I reached Tardak and he had nowhere to go surrounded by his own army of death with no way to escape. Our eyes locked,

“Son, we could have been a force this world had never before se...”

I brought my sword down from a high attack angle and sliced through the neck and shoulder, decapitating him before any more of his lies could escape his lips. Around me the army of undead warriors disintegrated, returning to the ground, to their natural state of death. The sky began to clear and the wind dropped off almost instantly, in the distance I could hear the cheers of the watch and my friends. I knew our work was done.

I’ve had many trials in my life, but no trial is more taxing than having to face and defeat your own father. My name is Torment and this is the end of my trials... I hope.

(Torment, Level 5 Tiefling Paladin)

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Army of One: Jakorla

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by Alex Melchor who has also contributed the art for the contest entries here on the website. He can also be found on twitter under @Alex_Melchor. Alex also asked me to include the following message:

It's a couple of days late, but here's a little D&D homage to International Women's Day; dedicated to all women worldwide who take on the mantle of "One" in "Army of One" in their respective metaphorical and literal battlefields.

The Story
Jakorla was nodding off in the narrow ledge she had found the day before. Leading the villagers through the roads had been taxing, used as she was to move on her own, or in the company of seasoned warriors or adventurers. Now she had to deal with their excruciatingly slow pace, inexperience and complete uselessness in batle.
But she couldn't abandon them either. The push and shove that marked the conflict between Karrnath and Cyre had left many homeless, and the ultimate shove came the day before yesterday, when a white mist covered the land, killing everything in its path. The villagers she was leading were survivors who'd received the warning and fled.

She was actually a Karrnathi officer, a special agent sent to suicide missions because death was not only her trade, it was part of her life. She was born death-touched, or shadar-kai, in some ancient tongue or another, and she was good with both blade and spell.

"Wake up, Jaks." A cold voice whispered in her ear and she snapped her eyes open.

"What is it, Arise?" She whispered as she scanned her surroundings. She knew they were very close to Karrnathi patrol routes, and she didn't trust their undead commanders to have any pity for the Cyrean refugees.

"You know. Patrol." The ghost of her sister faded into view; during their respective initiations into the arcane, Arise had suffered a fatal accident, just as Jakorla was succeeding in bonding with her blade as was the swordmage tradition, and during the process she had actually bonded her sister's spirit to her.

"Skeletons." The disembodied voice said. "But something's wrong with their officer."

"Damn it." Jakorla muttered. She had wanted to walk the inhospitable lands away from the road, but the children and the old people couldn't hope to navigate the unforgiving terrain. The patrol would find them, and any warning Jakorla could give would be nigh useless.

"Be careful. I am not eager to welcome you into the underworld, Jaks." The ghost vanished slowly, sensing her sister's resolve forming.

"Bugger." The arcane swordswoman whispered to no one but herself. She hid as best she could, but stealth was not exactly her forte. Fortunately, undead were rather single-minded (or null-minded) and she wasn't spotted when the small regiment marched by her hiding place. The skeletons bore the reinforcements of the Karrnathi army, and they weren't alone. There was a sizeable zombie detail, and Jakorla confirmed Arise's suspicions when she saw the officer. He appeared human, but there was something definitely wrong with him.

"Vampire..." Jakorla whispered. This wasn't an official Karrnathi regiment, the vampire must have wrested control of the undead cannon-fodder from their rightful commander, and they were marching inexorably towards the refugees. "Damn it all. Arise, let's go!"

The twins, one half-living, the other fully dead, charged.

The undead army was not prepared to be ambushed, let alone by a lone attacker. Jakorla whispered arcane words of enchantment, making her sword glow green. She slashed horizontally at the air before them, and the green light splashed in a wide arc, turning into acid that dissolved the first rank of skeletons between her an their vampiric commander.

She didn't waste time. Another battle spell later made the air shimmer with soft, glowing runes that made the air solidify around her, just before she hurled the enchanted sword at the vampire.

The steel transformed midway into a powerful bolt of lightning that hit the creature dead-on, knocking him off his horse before it double backed and returned to her hand.

"Arise! Take him!" She shouted, and the ghost of her sister flew effortlessly through the remaining ranks of undead.

"Minions! Destroy her!" The vampire managed to articulate as he jumped to his feet, and the undead swarmed around Jakorla.

To no avail. The swordmage danced through the crushing horde, and the air around her ocassionaly burst into light as an attack impacted her magical barrier.

The vampire lord unsheathed and slashed at Arise, but years of fighting together with her still-living sister had granted the spectre with uncanny battle prowess and she dodged easily. The attack triggered a small lightning nimbus around the vampire, for Jakorla's blade bolt had imposed of him the rune of Aegis. The shadar-kai disappeared from among the throng of skeletons, suddenly materializing behind the vampire and impaling him with her sword.

"Foolish... mortal..." The man bared his fangs in a wicked smile. "It will take more to defeat me."

"Don't worry, I do have more." Jakorla returned the grin and struck true again.

Any onlooker would have regarded the ensuing battle with great confusion. The vampire turned into mist and flew off between attacks, but Jakorla blinked in and out of existance in magical pursuit, relentlessly slashing at the commander as she flickered in and out of view to whittle down his undead troops.

Terrible curses flew at her, only to slide off her half-dead soul. She invoked this power more than once to join her sister's ephemeral state so that the blades of the skeletal legion simply passed through her. Any other warrior would have succumbed now from a dozen of small wounds that Jakorla simply evaded, blocked, or made irrelevant.

The vampire grew desperate and tried flying off once, only to be snagged by an arc of lighning that pulled him back to the terrifying warrior's side.

"M-mercy!" He cried, but already he was planning one last-ditch escape.

"No mercy." Jakorla muttered.

The vampire turned into a cloud of fog, but Jakorla was ready for this. She had one last spell prepared for this: a line of runes danced across her blade as she slammed it down where the vampire's chest would have been, slicing through the veil between worlds that she was so familiar with, for she spent har her life skirting it.

The vampire solidified again, along the ghostly blade in his body. He did not move anymore, and his demise made the remaining skeletons stop trying to attack Jakorla. All three of them, out of several dozen.

"I am Dame Jakorla Varsanath of the Phantom Legion." She stood straight and proud, even if the furious battle's toll began to weigh on her. "By the oaths that bind you to service, I command you to follow me."

The skeletons lined up behind her, following in mindless obedience.

"Jaks... you need rest." Arise whispered as she returned to the little pouch around Jakorla's neck, the one that held the pinch of ashes of her former body.

"I will rest when I'm dead." The shadar-kai swordmage replied, not bothering to hide the fatigue from her voice.

"You certainly keep trying..." Arise's words faded into the mist that began to rise from the ground.

Jakorla is a 11th level shadar-kai (Dragon #372) swordmage (Forgotten Realms Campaign Setting) with the Ghost Blade (Arcane Power) paragon path. Arise is her Specter familiar (Arcane Power, Dragon #382).

Level 11 Hero
Female Shadar-kai Swordmage (Arcane Defender)
HP 93; Bloodied 46; Surge 23
AC 28, Fortitude 22, Reflex 22, Will 21
Speed 6 Initiative +6
Low-light vision
At-will powers: Lightning Lure, Booming Blade; Aegis of Assault
Encounter powers: Crackling Burst, Vanishing Blade, Corrosive Ruin, Ghost Sword; Shadow Jaunt ; Dimensional Warp
Daily powers: Dimensional Bond, Evoker's Summoning, Blade Bolt; Impenetrable Warding, Spellseer Familiar
Skills: Acrobatics +8; Arcana +15; Athletics +11; Bluff +7; Diplomacy +7; Dungeoneering +5; Endurance +14; Heal +5; History +10; Insight +10; Nature +5; Perception +5; Religion +10; Stealth +8; Streetwise +7; Thievery +6
Feats: Arcane Familiar (Specter), Weapon Expertise (Heavy Blade), Intelligent Blademaster, Spellseer Familiar, Active Familiar, Ghostly Wind, Improved Swordmage Warding
Str 12 (+1) Dex 13 (+1) Wis 11 (+0)
Con 18 (+4) Int 21 (+5) Cha 14 (+2)
Alignment: Good Languages: Common, Deep Speech
Equipment: Farbond Spellblade +3; Ever-Fading Leather Armor +2; Cloak of Distortion +2

Monday, March 7, 2011

Army of One: Carlix

This entry into the Army of One contest was written by Jason Priesmeyer. He can also be found on twitter under @priesmeyer.

The Story
Carlix was a Bard who travelled about the lands. His first and greatest passion was the thrill of adventure. Finding new places, discovering new settings and uncovering new and mysterious things...

One day, his adventures led him to a place he had no right to be.

The land itself was beautiful and mysterious. Rich changing leaves and lush rolling hills spread out for miles and miles before him. But this one corner he rounded led him to a small vale nearby a lake and a burnt out village. He had to investigate further to see for himself what was going on. As he approached what he *thought* was an abandoned market field surrounded by several recently burnt out buildings and stalls turned out to be not-so-abandoned after all. Several large orcish creatures, who were going over the fruits of their dastardly labor, for they had raided the village, scared off most of its in habitants and burned every single building to the ground; they were still there looking through the rubble they'd created. And they didn't want any witnesses.

Carlix did his very best to talk his way out of the mess he'd discovered. The orcs encroached closer and closer until they practically blocked out the sun. Carlix was backed up into what appeared to be an inescabale position. Then he reached into his pack in a moment of desparation. And he pulled out a small deck of cards. "How would you guys like to settle this with a game of chance?"

The orcs seemed confused by this reaction. They were sure this measley creature was going to cave in and surrender at worst or fight back and die at best. But they took a moment to consider this. Carlix bent the deck of cards slightly in his hand and then flicked them into the air in an arcing manner. The cards shot upwards and scattered to the wind. They blew around in a haphazzard fashion and the orcs took their eyes off the prize for just long enough that Carlix, the young adventurer, was able to skirt away and explore another day.

He later wrote a song recounting the magic of the "Fortune Cards" and how they had saved him from certain disaster.