On Saturday I started a game of D&D 5e with some interesting TTRPG industry folk. Ian Price and Stephen Mattson are both developers who are working on the new and improved Honour: The Awakening, Rachel Lapidow is a talented and RPG savvy editor (a rare find) who is currently working on Flintlock the Roleplaying Game, Nathan Ainsworth hosts, along with Alex Dufault, of the well-respected Delve Podcast and Andi Watson works at FASA, doing clever things!
Me? I try to create RPGs and RPG content while assisting my wonderful wife, Jane, in raising our four kids and teaching full time.
Maena Silverhair, a Moon Elf Cleric. (Ian)
The Silverhairs are an odd family among the merchant-lords of Waterdeep: they are Moon Elves who hold aristocratic title in the largely human city. Maena disappointed her parents by showing no interest in maintaining the family's standing. Her interest was held instead by the spiritual heritage of her race, and she became a devotee of the God of Elves, Corellon Larethian. Because this worship would be embarrassing in the human-dominated Waterdeep, her parents sent her to live in Circlestone to pursue her interest in the arts of Elven culture in a place further away from the politics that would make a mockery of them. They don't actually disapprove, and have fond feelings towards their daughter, but her pursuits would damage their standing were she to stay. So they called on a favor from the eccentric Dragonborn family who founded Circlestone to give their daughter a place.
Maena now lives in a house devoted as a shrine to the Elven pantheon, especially the primary God of Elves. She opens her shrine to the other elves of Circlestone (and half-elves, and rare others) who want to worship or study these gods and their philosophies. She focuses on the music, the dance, the poetry, and the other arts of the culture and spirituality of the elves of Faerun. She is happy to demonstrate and perform these arts for non-elves in the Circlestone community, as well, having a very cosmopolitan attitude after growing up in Waterdeep.
J'Wi, a Yuan-Ti pureblood Sorceress (Andi)
Her parents, Ko’Beula (father) and Pai’Seon (mother), own a herbal and alchemical potions shop in Circlestone, The Clever Vial. J’Wi keeps the shop's books and mostly stays in the back, helping manage inventory as well as accounts. She’s seen as too shy to work with customers. In the evenings, she spends a lot of her free time making small metal sculptures. Most notable are the delicate flowers which can be bought in her parents shop.
J’Wi has occasionally taken in minor armor repairs to help fund her art. She has studied under some of the local Sorcerers and still does. She also helps out with new Sorcerer training when asked or there is need of the assistance.
Witnessing J'Wi smile openly, or indeed show anything but the tiniest of emotions, is unusual. She's typically dresses in muted greens and browns and almost always keeps the hood up on her cloak when she is traveling outside of Circlestone. There are three obvious signs that she is Yuan-Ti, her ophidian eyes, the green and white scales, almost like freckles, under those eyes and her bifurcated tongue. On more than one occasion the combination of these three features has caused discomfort in less cosmopolitan denizens of Faerun.
Jonathan Walker, a human Ranger (Stephen)
Before coming to Circlestone, Jonathan lived in the sparsely-populated wastes of the North. It's important to note that "wasteland" doesn't only mean barren places, but literally "wasted land" from a "civilized" standpoint: the forests there, while old, are too far away or otherwise unsuitable for logging, the game is too ordinary for the area to make the travel worth it, the climate too severe for settling, the land too rough for easy farming. Perhaps several decades down the line, someone will settle and develop out there, but at the moment anything more than trappers' outposts or the occasional surveyor's fort or military fort is a "waste". Jonathan survived and thrived on his own, but how did he get that way?
There was an incident in his youth that ultimately led to him being asked to leave the border scout-patrol he was part of. Although he tries hard not to be bitter about this, he was basically left for dead by his fellow rangers. Obviously, he didn't die, but as far as he is concerned, his past might as well be dead.
Jonathan has some serious woods-wise and with that comes skill in hunting and trapping, and in using the fruits of their labors to thrive. He puts some effort put into living a low-impact life, not disrupting the ecosystem, but he's not a druid - over-hunting and over-preparing does happen. Several years back, a terrible frost hit. Fortunately, Jonathan was over-prepared, and packed up most of his belongings, heading out and staying ahead of the wintry, and potentially lethal, cold front. In due time, this led him to a settlement in the mountains, the small town of Circlestone, where he was met with surprisingly less suspicion than he had come to expect. After weathering the cold, he had planned to set off again, but kept delaying for one reason or another (it was pleasant here, one more week wouldn't hurt, Mrs. Kettlefoot needs new furs for her robe, Mr. Bronzescale would like help finding ironwood trees for his latest project...)
Now, several years down the line, Jonathan is a fixture in the settlement. He is still perpetually "setting off soon", but now it's said with a laugh and a round of drinks at the Gay Gorgon tavern, because everyone knows that he won't be leaving his new home except to roam the perimeter, check traps, and return with a fresh harvest of skins, meat, and other trade goods and staples.
Rembrant "Remy", Tortle Shadow Monk (Nathan)
A Shadow Monk Tortle who just wants to be a stealthy ninja, Remy was infected and mutated by a strange, luminescent ooze as a young Tortle. This ooze led to his prolific growth and rather unfortunate (if one is determined to be a stealthy shade, slipping unnoticed through the shadows) glow! Now 15 years old, trained by Monks of the Temple in the Mountians and living in Cirlclestone, Remy weighs in at an impressive and often awkward, one-thousand and one pounds (that's 454 kilograms for those of us who operate in the 21st century ...).
Anahita Naqi, Water Genasi Ranger (Rachel)
As water stagnates if it stays in place too long, so too does , Anahita and she didn't care much for being a farmer like her parents, though she loved animals and was able to help with calving, lambing, and healing injured or sick animals.
When a force was raised to stand against an Orc Warlord and his army , Anahita and her brother joined up. Anahita, who had used a bow to keep foxes, wolves, and other predators away from her family's livestock, became an archer. Her brother was a skirmisher. She ended up saving his life after he was badly wounded and nearly killed by orcs who had him surrounded, the wounds he suffered bother him to this day and there are times when he is unable to work. The siblings returned home to find that their family home had been burned to the ground and their parents killed. At this point, I don't know if the fire was deliberately set by the enemy or if it was an accident and the townspeople weren't able to put it out in time. Anahita was distraught at not having been there to put the fire out.
The siblings moved to Circlestone where their grandmother had been living for a few years. Her brother met a local girl, married, and had children.
Anahita makes a living acting as a vet and traveling around Circlestone and nearby areas to treat animals. In her travels, she rescued a dog who follows her faithfully. The farmer was going to drown the puppy because it had a mark on its head that is considered bad luck. Anahita declared she would take the puppy as payment for helping the farmer's cow with a difficult birth. When they have some free time, she and the dog hunt for truffles and mushrooms in the forest to supplement her income. Anahita helps support her grandmother, brother, sister-in-law, and nieces and nephews. Her brother can't always work due to his injuries and trauma. Shortly before she left on the assignment to Neverwinter, Anahita's hound found an interesting tree stump which contained not only some mushrooms but also a cache of gold! Now Anahita can travel a bit knowing her family has enough money to live on for almost a year. Her sister-in-law is a midwife and her brother knows a bit about animal husbandry, so her practice will be taken care of while she broadens her horizons!
The Savage Frontier and Circlestone, a town founded some two-hundred years ago by an unconventional Dragonborn family, and their acquaintances, who wanted somewhere that they and other open-minded, creative types could live together without having to put up with daily judgement and prejudice. They were unusual in that they felt that their own family unit was more important than the clan to which they belonged, something which conventional Dragonborn society found difficult to reconcile. Furthermore, there was an element of verbotene Liebe in that one of the older children in this brood was in love with, and living with, a non-Dragonborn, something that was, and still is, almost unheard of in Dragonborn society. The patriarch of this unusual unit was also different in that he wished to step away from a life of military service to spend time with his lover and their children.The whole founding of the town was supported by the Temple in the Mountains, a Dragonborn monastery and temple to Kelemvor. The Temple gave financial and logistical support to the nascent Circlestone, and now, over two hundred years later, there is still a strong bond between the town and temple, with one acolyte-trainee being selected and sent to the Temple every year.
Now (1494 DR) the town is a vibrant and eclectic hub of activity. Mixed-race families live alongside artists and artisans of all creeds, colours and configurations. The town council works hard to keep the community as open-minded and inclusive as it can be by organising festivals and events to celebrate individuals and their achievements and also to highlight communal successes and traditions.
The PCs have traveled from their small town of Circlestone, in the foothills of the Savage Frontier, to the city of Neverwinter. They are tasked with making an application to the Bank of Neverwinter, to raise funds for the construction of a new, modern, stone grain-store. Circlestone has suffered a serious loss of its wheat and barley crop in the last few years due to dampness and rodents!
Episode 1: A Quiet Night Inn
11 Elient, evening.
Flushed with success after a week of careful negotiation, the Circlestone delegation spends a relaxing last night in their home-away-from-home, The Errant Friend, Neverwinter's premier mid-range hostelry.
Dinner is a relaxed, shared affair that passes without incident, although Remy's impressive stature draws attention from a pair of fellow diners.
After the meal, Remy and Maena stroll through the city to Bluelake, Remy feeling the need for some aquatic "me time". Maena, sitting lake-side, draws an appreciative crowd while running through some numbers on her flute.
Meanwhile, back at The Errant Friend, Jonathan receives an unexpected visitor. She introduces herself as Kari, a recruiter for the Emerald Enclave. Kari wants Jonathan to act as an informal agent for the Enclave, specifically keeping an eye on the activities of the giants and trolls of the foothills and mountain lands to the North of Circlestone. Kari is very charismatic and Jonathan finds himself trusting her and agrees to meet her agent in Luskan, the proprietor of the hunting supplies store The Backwoods, Hariban.
J'Wi retires to her room. She has endured the time in Neverwinter rather than enjoyed it. She knows that the mission, to secure a loan which will pay for a new grain-store in Cirlcestone, is important, but she is looking forward to leaving the city and getting back to the relative privacy of the North. Perhaps it is these emotions that fuel the strange dream she slips into; a road that moves under her feet, but becomes stationary if she tries to walk; strange, exotic flora appearing in an otherwise typically rugged northern terrain. Perhaps most significantly, the dream ends with J'Wi approaching a precipice or boundary of some sort, just as she is about to cross this threshold, a figure appears in front of her. Indistinct, possibly female, possibly dressed in a cowl of some sort, it utters a single word: sifanti. It is then that J'Wi wakes, her heart racing and beads of sweat forming on her forehead. With her usual calm and control (one might say if one was feeling uncharitable, cold-bloodedness) J'Wi leaves her room to use the quill and pen in the corridor to write down the details of her dream before it slips away; she is left with a strange mix of incongruity and attraction. As she turns to go back to her room she witnesses a stranger leaving Jonathan's room.
Remy and Maena return from their stroll having seen the Halls of Justice bathed in torchlight and passed by the famous Neverwinter Cemetery. They retire to their respective sleeping spaces, Maena to her room on the upstairs of the inn and Remy to his converted stable. Eventually, everyone is asleep.
Everyone except Maena who has completed her meditation and is studying when she becomes aware of voices in the courtyard immediately below her bedroom window. Looking out she sees four individuals acting in a suspicious manner, appearing to interfere with the doors to Remy's stable. Using her magicks she contacts her friends and between them, they take on the four ruffians.
A combination of skillful archery from Jonathan, judicious and intelligent sorcery from J'Wi and Maena, good intentions and fists of stone from Remy and an astounding level of incompetence from the ne're-do-wells ends in two of the thugs fleeing into the alleyways of the Pauper District, another suffering significant facial rearrangement and the fourth apparently having a minor breakdown. For a brief moment, the moonlight makes an appearance.
Dvorial Dvorchek, owner and gracious host of The Errant Friend arrives with his staff and a runner is sent to rouse the City Guard.
The Cirlcestoners are safe and unhurt, but they are left with a bad feeling, the incident acting to remind them that not everywhere is as tolerant as their home, that people will always fear the unknown and that that fear can make people do horrible things. They begin to organise their thoughts and prepare for a chance to question the two apprehended ruffians.
The fifth 'Stoner, Anahita Naqi, was spared the drama of the final night as she had traveled ahead to Port Llast earlier in the day. Anahita had a personal matter to deal with and, not wanting to delay the group's eventual return to Circlestone, chose to pay for passage to Port Llast. She is expecting to rendezvous with her compatriots at the Gilded Lily Inn on the evening of 13th Elient.