Battle of Thermopylae
The battle was fought in the year 480 BC between an alliance of Greek city-states (lead by Leonidas) and an invading Persian army at the mountain Pass of Thermopylae. Though vastly outnumbered, the Greeks held back the Persian advance until a defector informed the Persians of an alternate route during the night. Rather than sacrifice the entire Greek fighting force by allowing it to be surrounded, the Spartan King Leonides ordered all of the other allied Greek armies to flee before daybreak and raise new armies in the rest of Greece, while he and only 300 Spartans held off the advancing Persians for as long as they could.
The 300 Greeks held the pass against the Persian army of a quarter of a million men for three days before finally being killed to the last man. In the process, they killed over 10,000 Persians. By the time the Persians reached and sacked the city of Athens, it was a hollow victory: thanks to the sacrifice at Thermopylae, the Athenians had enough time to evacuate the entire city of Athens and hide most of their strong navy amongst nearby coastal islands. The forces of Greece would then rally and destroy the Persian invasion army.
It is due to Themistokles' powers of persuasion that the Athenians suffered no loss of life when the Persians marched into Athens and burned it to the ground. The Oracle of Delphi had warned that everything Athenian would be burned to the ground except for what lay behind a wooden wall: some thought that meant that the populace should huddle within the walls of the Acropolis and try to outlast a Persian siege. But Themistokles rightly concluded that the "wooden wall" referred to the battleline of the great Athenian warships. So when the Persians did march into Athens and burn down the city, the women and children had already been transported safely to the nearby city of Troezen (birthplace of Theseus), the old men were taken to the nearby island of Salamis, and only those few who remained behind the walls lost their lives. Go to Comment
#6 - The Bridge
Reply #6 on: December 02, 2004, 10:01:29 PM
(All right already. Too much pressure ;) )
The bridge still sits as a symbol of times past. Neither the country of Trelen nor the country of Loist, of which the bridge connects, would ever touch the bridge. Not because of law or threat, but only for an unspoken feeling that, if anything was to ever happen to the bridge, hope of peace between their countries would be forever lost. The bridge has never been given a name; its location and importance were once insignificant. It is now only called The Bridge and everybody knows of what is spoken when mentioned. Not a soul has stepped on The Bridge since the war and very few living have even seen it due to its complicated and remote location. The river leading to it is shallow and in between the shoals are many rapids that are difficult to traverse. On either side of the bridge are miles of difficult terrain and mountainous territory not worth the difficulty of travel anymore. The towns that once made the bridge necessary have long since been abandoned and few ever adventure this way anymore. Cut throats and brigands rarely even take the trouble to pass that way as there are many easier ways to cross between the warring nations. Even when they do venture that far, not even they dare put foot on the bridge and instead cross at a shallows down river. For all the neglect, The Bridge is far from forgotten.
At one time bridges such as this had dotted the Normas River. Beautiful expansive bridges were decorated with lovingly carved wooden rails showing off the craftsmanship of the builders and the deep wallets of the sponsors. Some so large and arching to allow full masted ships to flow beneath and some, like this one, were built right through the river with underground openings allowing the now tamed water to travel freely. Trade and travel through the two countries over the Normas River was as common as going to market. The world was once at peace and the people prospered.
There are not many that know the root cause War of the Seven Swords but, then again, to few it really matters. Most know that it had to do with the seven Princely offspring of the two countries and conflict between them and that knowledge was enough. History has little meaning to those that must struggle to survive. The only thing of consequence is that Trelen and Loist have been in the grapples of conflict for more then three generations. There are now very few that are still around who personally remember those times of peace. The War of the Seven Swords saw the destruction of all connections between the two countries, of which first and foremost were the bridges. Those that do remember the peace and the freedom they had lament over what they have lost but still hold hope for their children. The hope of peace for them, and most others, lies in the continued existence of The Bridge.
The Bridge will remain now as it has for decades, remembered but neglected. Through time, there will be more visitors that make the pilgrimage to set their eyes on The Bridge. They will continue to propagate the legend and confirmation of its existence. The seed of hope will continue to be nurtured. It is still a vivid hope amongst many that one day the rulers of the two lands will meet on that bridge in friendship. Until that day comes, The Bridge will remain a legend in most people's thoughts. Go to Comment
That last bit of advice is perfect for any size campaign. What is the fun of playing the hero if he can't do some heroic stuff. Swing froma chandelier and make it fall on a group of baddies, cause an explosion and ride the shockwave on a table, or have two people run a rope into a group of baddies sending them all to the ground.
All *really* unrealistic, but all somewhat creative and used in fun adventure movies all the time. I agree, explain it is stupid BUT the logic behind it is sound even though it would never really work. Let it happen, gets them to be more creative then just frontal attacks all the time.
All your tips are pretty much dead on Manfred and it is a great article. The comfort thoughts are *very* important because it can quickly get awkward if you aren't 100% comfortable with the person, character, or how they plan on playing it. It is much more intimate so things that happen in a group go right out the window.
I have only done this a few times, most of the time we are so pressed for time that we simply do a small background paper on each character, but even in the middle of a campaign some quick solo adventuring is required to move a certain point or give a certain character some necessary freedom from the group persuasion. Go to Comment
Are the Dream Nector addicts on the side of the order and their attacks are coordinated or are their attacks something that just happen and the Order plays them up? From the sound of it the Order incites these addict riots.
These poor Dream Cultists sure do get a pretty bad rap just for supplying 'drugs.' Can't just sell them on a street corner so they must have some sort of underground distribution network or something. I keep looking for more of a reason for everybody to hate the cult so much. Go to Comment
I think fear is a slightly generic answer though. If they know it is the drug that makes the people crazy, not the Cult (yes, they provide it the drug dealers and suppliers are bad), but it is a choice made by the people that get addicted to the drug. They want what the drug provides.
Equate it to the theive's guild. People know they are there, they rob people, cause hardship in the city, but do the people attack and fire bomb them? You must admit that theives are much more active then these cultists which all they want to do is sleep. There is a logic hump that I can't get over. I need to justify everything and this just doesn't get me all the way there.
Now, if you tell me that the Dream Cult addicts people on purpose, break into homes to drug people, kidnaps, maybe just spreading the drug over a crowd by a Cultist...now that would go a long way to justify to me why people hate and fear them so much. But just believing some wierdness and selling some drugs to people that want them (addicted or not, they want them, just like current times) doesn't make me want to burn them.
It would also make more sense that, once addicted, the users would be 'inducted' into the dream cult and not have to pay for the stuff anymore. More cult members is good I would guess? Go to Comment
All in all I like it. The poetic prose had its difficulties as descriptions are somewhat glossed over and left to us to figure out which probably caused me more mental power than I have available at the moment, but it is a solid idea and very interesting too. Fun irony that he was taught by a falcon and then through misfortune had his hands and feet gnarled into bird shapes.
The mentioning of "Wyldlings" without any description of them caused me to stall as did the reference to the capitolized "Teacher." While both can be inferred by the reading, I don't think it is obvious enough.
From another end of the bar two guards that just got off watch are talking to each other and like the attention they are getting from their discussion.
"I tell you, the Edmanciums are a bigger threat than everyone thinks."
"Ahhhh, you are overreacting. The Edmanciums are just another rebel group that thinks they can make a fortune through fear and hijacking. They will be soon enough shown who has the true power. Lord Foxrin will not stand for any brigands near his home and will aid any of the Four Cities if they call for it."
The first soldier shakes his head as he sips his ale, "I fear we will learn too late. You heard of the latest caravan that was robbed on its way to Solar. The Solar roads are the best defended roads in all of Aros. Why then are they having trouble with a few brigands" He smuggly smiles and waits for an answer.
"I cannot say what troubles Solar that they cannot keep their roads clear. The rumors of the caravan were probably exaggerated by those that brought them to sound like they were heroes for the telling of it. I guarantee they got a few drinks from the telling of those tales." He laughs heartily.
The other soldier nods his head, "Yes, I suppose you are right. But Lord Foxrin is worried enough to post double guard duty and has called his militia to scout the country side. His prudence is well founded I would wager."
Their conversation wanders towards the young girl that came through their gate earlier that afternoon and the small crowd that was listening in slowly dissipates. Go to Comment
Grothar leans over the counter as he pours you a mug of ale. "You best stay for the show tonight. I got myself a new entertainer. She goes by the name of Amber...Amber....something or other. Never did catch her name. In and out with her companions like they were into something urgent. Got themselves involved with the seawolves that be plaquing our streets."
"Yep, regular demons running around causing a ruckus. Bad for business I'll tell ya. I hear that they caught a couple of them already and they be holding 'em at the Temple of Sails. Having trouble finding 'em but they say they take to the sea. No chance of rounding them up out there. Not without the help of the mermen anyway and no one seems to know where they disappeared to."
He takes out a towel and wipes down the counter with loving care. "People around here are spooked and are ready for the end of it all. Don't want to leave their homes for fear of running into one of the beasts. Lord Foxrin is in an uproar I hear. Sent out the guard to be patrolling round the clock. Enlisting common folk to help hunt them down. Only problem is nobody knows how many of the devil-kin there are."
Grothar shakes his head with unease. "I best be tending the rest of the bar. Be sure to give a holler as soon as your mug runs dry. Remember, show starts at 8:00...well, usually anyway."
"Ach welcome, welcome. We are under new management now. I am Brawn Hammerstein an adventurer of many years, I could tell you a tale or two, the things I could do with a donkey and a carrot.. ach those were the days.
Mind that table, yes you can seen that we are still under con..
Morgan watch where you throw those blasted til.. don't give that boy or i'll ^%#&^^$ come up there and beat the *&^% out of that small head of yours.
Apologies it's hard to find good help these days. Where was I oh yes - under construction, dusty here ain't it.
Last stop you get though before you reach the mountains to the East, There's the woods to the South and the port nearby, Although between you and me sailors always smell of fish and I don't trust people who call floating on blasted bit's of wood a living. Yes there's been quite a bit trouble with the woods lately, wolves mostly, getting a bit daring these days.
I have to leave you now, I haven't recieved the barrels from Isocarta yet, blasted expensive the Taverns down there. And the barmen,.. wouldn't trust em as far as I could throw em, and believe me that's some distance. Now where have those blasted monks got to.. MORGAN!? blasted quite
they are.... when I find th...... MORGAN?!" Go to Comment
Hugghhh der still be much grumbling from dem people on the plains, more sightings of flying things, and now sandstorms too, come out of nowhere rage for hours and den vanish at the blink of an eye. As if dat should be bad der been funny business about dat Talan puddle too, been more
sightings of dem water things, creatures made of water, rising and sinking, it not be right I tell you, it was enough to have a few sightings now and den, but every body that pass dis way from the Lake tell of sightings. Me bones a creakin at der thought of it, something bad is a coming." Go to Comment
"Ah me friends welcome, here ave a draught on the house. You've come at blasted bad time. There's been nuttin but bad omens around for weeks, first dem blasted raids by those so called Edmanciums and now..
By Ventors beard had I been there..
A guest has died in der house of old Hospis, der lord, he's been a raging for day's I pity der blood stained hand of him who killed him. Blast his eyes I do not, I would hunt him myself if I we're not tied to this place.
Hospis has called out the guard, too stubbon he is to call for help from Foxrin and dem other Lords. It be a slur to his name, a guest dyin under his protection.
But what be reason I say, the Edmanciums are bringing themselves up for the wrath of four lords if this carries on.
Achh it be bad times, ders also been rumours from the steadings to der west, strange sightings they says. Strange looking birds over the plains and fires in the night, goats missing and the like. Although in dem plains it be no rare thing. Dey be soft and moan like women but with the recent happenings...
Go south if I was you, find the Last Stand Tavern in Isocarta, me old friend Grothar might know more. Tell him from me dat business here be flowing freer then his watered beer, AH HAAAAA ahha ha" Go to Comment
"It has been a long time my friends, no doubts you been out saving the Land of Aros and such, hehe.
It has been quiet, I thinks dat der king has those Edmanciums hiding for now, blasted cowards. Goblins be better, dey at least will fight in der open, not run and hide.
It be der forest, too many places to hide, dem lords should hire more rangers to patrol dem, adventurers to clear it. Ahh if only I wear a young lad again, there'd be nowhere to hide. It seems that the trade from Isocarta be slower then it twas too, probably fear of dem bandits.
MORGAAAANNNN bring me a tray of ales ya lazy oaf!! Ventors beard.. he's been a mooning after that lass at the bakery again. She be after the blacksmiths apprentice.. hehe dat las knows how to sweet talk men, humans I will never understand. I was a talkin to Landra a while ago, now that be a woman. Break your arm with a finger she could, ahaha, not bad for a human she agreed to take him into der guard to train im. That be the women to talk to about troubles in der city.
The loud noises of warriors returning form a long hunt fill the air. The timberwolf hunt was a success and the town should be free of their constant aggravation until next spring.
The shouts of men buying drinks for each other fills the Tavern. Screaming and shouting about the kills each had drowns out all but the loudest of guests. A constant roar fills the place.
As the noise continues a man slams open the door and enters the room with fear and sorrow in his eyes. He yells at the top of his lungs, "THEY ARE DEAD...ALL OF THEM!"
A hush falls over the Tavern as these words are announced.
"They are dead," he repeats with tears starting to sting his eyes. "The Toral family has been murdered!"
"The Torals," a man shouts, "I just saw them this morning. They were going to come in late from the hunt. Alin Toral wanted to show his son where the timberwolves main lair was. We killed all those timberwolves. Who murdered him?"
"It was no animal that killed them. It was bandits."
Shouts and calls are made at this. Solar prides itself on keeping there land free of danger. The town is centralized around an organized militia. It is insane to say that brigands have infiltrated the protected forests of Solar. Many men remark in this way all jumbled together.
"It was bandits," the man repeats. "Alin killed three 'fore they took him and his family. The slimy bandits had a nasty tatoo on there back. It was of a wierd dragon shape or something. The council gathers now to discuss the situation. If only our king were alive. 'Tis a shame he met his fate at the hands of an accident."
The group leaves the bar and makes there way to outside of the castle to find out what exactly has transpired. Go to Comment
The bar is filled with the celebrating of the good people of Solar. A celebration like none have ever heard of in Solar is taking place. Wenches scurry from table to table not moving fast enough for all the orders called at them. The entire place is filled with excitement.
Someone near the back stands on a table and motions for silence. Quickly the entire place calms down as everyone directs there attention to the man standing on the table. Whispers heard tell that it is Glendor Grimdor, the head of the militia in Solar.
Glendor puts his hands over his head and announces to the gathered. "Today we have met a great victory. We have overcome the Edmancium in this great battle."
He is interrupted by mighty cheers and hollers from the bar and it takes several minutes for them to calm down.
"But this is only one battle. We cannot hope that we have rid the Four Cities of this foul clan. We must continue our vigil till every caravan and traveler feel safe to walk our roads. We must remember our losses also. The ones that gave their lives to provide us with the security we expect. Let us give a moment of silence in honor of the few who fell in battle. The greatest honor
to be given to a warrior of Solar."
The place falls silent and is broken a few moments later by Glendor.
"In your celebrating keep in your minds those that have fallen, and remember the ones who have taken them. The coward mage who hid during battle only to attack with cowards magic and then run away. He knows the might of Solar and ran from it. But we will chase him my friends," he continues yelling over the calls for revenge. "He will find no solace in his travels. Not until he rests, buried in the earth."
Glendor picks up his cup and raises it to the air, "To revenge. All the sweeter for the chase."
Yelling loud enough to deafen errupts in the bar. Not one person is left in their chair as they all call on the death of their enemy. Vows to not rest until the land is free are heard intermixed with calls of death to all that oppose Solar. The look of madness is in many eyes. The wenches hide behind the bar, scared of what has turned from a joyous celebration to a call for revenge.
Glendor lets out a mighty yell and jumps from the table and walks swiftly out the door. The bar quiets down and returns to what it was at the beginning. Go to Comment
As you enter the smoky bar the smell of meat and ale assail you from all sides, it is still early evening but already the Tavern is bustling with activity. The Barkeep is busy filling tankards while the serving maids run from table to table, giving an adept slap of the hand now and again.
The place seems very reserved, the crowds not yet drunk from an excess of beer, mostly patrons there for a meal.
As you stride towards a seat snatches of conversation drift to your ear.
From a table to your left a well muscled man with a long sword laid on the table is talking to a dwarf sitting opposite him, pausing only to drink from his pint. "I tell you there's a fortune to be made in the North, Solar is being over run by timberwolves at the moment, a job would be guaranteed. What do you think?"
The dwarf seemingly oblivious to any thoughts at all apart from the haunch of venison in front of him grunts through a mouthful of the meat.
Nearer to the bar a small man with a love of tasteless gold rings berates a young woman, his voice high pitched and nasal. "You know better then to think of seeing that woodcutters son, why, they say that the forest is crawling with all manner of creatures, werewolves no less and other strange creatures.."
You sigh in sympathy for the girl who sits with her head down avoiding the mans gaze.
Across from them an old woman complains to an old man who sits there nodding absently at the woman's ramblings as they whistle threw her teeth. "Ah it's not right I tell you, his daughter goes missing and what does he do? Nothing, he is the Lord Mayor he could have the town guard to look for her, and talking about him, his new taxes......"
As you reach your seat a serving girl approaches you. "What'll it be then?" Go to Comment
You walk towards your usual table, it has been a hard day and you are tired and in need of some food and drink. The bar is empty at this time of day and conversations and mutterings fly across the room.
A crash draws your attention before you can order. From across the room you see a two men facing each other, chairs and mugs lie on the floor. One has the look of a marked veteran, the other the touch of youth in his features.
The young one stands with his back straight and seems furious at the older man. "It twas not my fault I tell you, I was awake at my post and I heard nothing! They came out of nowhere, all those damned trees how could any one see anything, the roads within this forest are no longer safe to travel even for an armed escort."
The veteran seems taken aback at the vehemence in the young guards voice. "Then you failed at your job lad, we were hired to guard a caravan and failed." His voice rises as his own anger boils to the surface. "Do you know how hard it will be to find work now! We have been disgraced, and you then have the gaul to tell me that they ran away not on two feet but on four.
Do you know how that sounds, and they ran as fast as wild dogs. It is not even a full moon lad. Lucky for you that you had the sense to shout for help, we may all be dead now."
"They did run on four feet, I saw them." The youths shoulders slump, as he picks up a chair and sits again.
An elf walks over from a nearby table and pats the youth on the shoulder. "Do not be too disheartened young warrior, in the forest it is told of strange illnesses that can turn the minds of men into that of a raging beast. It is also extremely hard to see within the canopy of the forest. We elves too can feel the change in the forest, what with the threat of these Edmancium raiders and now strange sightings being reported in the forest, we are all a little uneasy." He reassures the young man before helping them pick up the strewn plates and mugs.
The attention of the crowd draws away from the scene as calm returns to the table. As you look round you can see that the unease is not limited to the three in the corner, all around people sit uneasy at their seats sipping at their drinks and eating slowly and grudgingly.
The table next to you seats two men, both merchants by the look of their gaudy clothing, one feral faced and the other with too much weight and beads of sweat on his brow.
"Times have become desperate." The thin man remarks to the other, glancing towards the scene of the incident. "It was a pity about Shad's caravan being raided like that, lucky he did not lose too much."
The other mops his brow and interjects. "But he lost four guards. We should be more careful, hire more guards. Perhaps we should travel in groups. No, no that would be too big a target wouldn't it. Should we ask the lord for.."
"Bahh, rubbish. Guards are two in a dozen, most you can hire today aren't worth the scraps under your feet. As to the lord, what would he do, send his own private guard as escorts, heh, no. We are the life blood of the four cities and we are becoming the targets of every bandit and thief in the forest, and what do the lords do, nothing! I tell you we should move from here, trade between the eastern lands and Solar. We are becoming isolated so far in the woods, blocked on all sides." The mans thin body shakes as he wheezes." The fat man nods energetically, between bites of food, at his every word.
Your attention is drawn away by the serving maid as she drifts over. Go to Comment
Rather than making a baddy impossible to hit, consider giving it mega-hit points.
Super hard to hit leads to great player frustration. Allowing them to do damage leads to a sense of accomplishment. another variation of this would be to give the bad guy a forcefield that shows damage.You could also give them a mastermind ability that sluffs the damage of to minions who should be easy to kill.Once in a while a super high to hit encounter is ok ,but it should be few and far between.