Rise of the Runelords

This is a page of reference material for Michael’s Fourth Edition Dungeons and Dragons campaign, “Rise of the Runelords”.

Player Characters

Alberic (Ben):

Alberic is an eladrin ranger.

Frawd (Brian):

Frawd is a dwarven paladin of Abadar.
Follow Frawd’s Twitter feed to hear about what he’s thinking.

Keyna Dearuse (Katie):

Keyna Dearuse is a halfling warlock.
Follow Keyna’s Twitter feed to hear about what she’s thinking.
Keyna’s Book – Stories for Timin

Shoat (Joe):

Shoat is a goblin druid/shaman.
Follow Shoat’s Twitter feed to hear about what he’s thinking.

Zuri al-Yatim (Kathleen):

Zuri al-Yatim is a human cleric of Sarenrae.
Follow Zuri’s Twitter feed to hear about what she’s thinking.
Zuri’s Prayers – Daily Prayers to Sarenrae


Michael gives us email homework each week. I’m going to post the questions with public answers here (this means that questions about things like magic item wish lists won’t be posted, since those answers get sent just to Michael). If not everyone has an answer to every question, it doesn’t necessarily mean they didn’t answer it, they may just not have answered it publicly. Answers are posted in the order I recieve them.

Tell me about your favorite weapon/item. Where did you get it? What does it look like? Who gave it to you / made it for you?

Katie: Keyna’s best friend from childhood was a neighbor boy named Timin. While she was obsessed with knowledge and information, Timin loved stories. When she left home he gave her a book which he requested that she fill with the stories she heard on her journey and bring back to him. He made her promise to bring the book back and said that this would ensure that she’d return safely as long as she still had it. It is her most treasured possession. It has scenes pressed into the leather on the front and the back covers telling the history of the settlement from the days before the settlement even existed through the whole history of its creation and development all the way to two figures holding hands in the last panel surrounded by a bustling settlement. The figures look like Keyna and Timin as children. One of Timin’s brother-in-laws was a leatherworker who created the beautiful art on the book for Timin to give to Keyna as a parting gift. She promised faithfully to fill the book with the best stories she could find and return it to Timin.

Joe: Shoat wasn’t left with much when he was banished from the tribe. He does have his shillelagh, which he uses as his magic implement, but he’s very fond of his drooding hat. It’s a doe-leather and cloth tricorn cap that has been modified with a socket to hold a fresh branch. Shoat usually cuts a fresh rowan branch for his hat every few days as a symbol as his status as a drood. He also uses the hat to aid in camouflage, even though he can hide more easily be turning into an animule.

Brian: Warhammer. Dwarfland. Worn, not overly shiny or ornate, but well made. Some weaponsmith, I bought it.

Ben: Alberic’s longbow, made by his father from the wood of a tree planted on the day of his birth and carved with ornamentation and Eladrin script identifying its owner, creator, origin, and date of bequeathal, is the most important object he carries. Though it is expected that a ranger will use many bows throughout his life, the bow given to mark his transition to manhood must always be kept safe.

Name one thing that your character fears (be it a creature, a type of creature, or a more traditional phobia), and why they have that fear.

Ben: Constructs! They are an abomination, a perversion of the natural cycles of birth and death, and must be destroyed. Plus, Gollum ate my baby. Ok, so no soulful tale of past golem encounters, but the forest people are taught to love the trees, beware the cities, and to keep clear of the necromantic arts which bring a semblance of life to hide and stone.

What quality or character trait in your character’s background is most like you? What of you is there in your character?

Katie: I guess that Keyna’s insistence that she not be treated patronizingly is what she gets from me. I didn’t really intend that to be one of her traits, but it’s been coming out as we play. Not wanting to be treated as a child or underestimated just because she is small is definitely something she got from me! I considered saying that her intellectual curiosity is from me, and perhaps it is somewhat, but she is interested in far different things than I would be (her friend back home is more like me in that way than she is).

Joe: Shoat is a goblin in a hu-man town. People super don’t like goblins
right now because they dress weird and are green and occasionally
invade and kill people.

I went to Edgewood.

Brian: Frawd is stubborn like me (but hopefully I’m not as surly as him). He is
as blunt as me I think.

I’d like everyone to pick a Players Handbook 2 Background, and tell me quickly why you chose that.

Joe: Yep okay. I picked the “Geography: Forest” background for Shoat. Shoat grew up in the forest and he’s even more specifically tied to the forest because of his Druid training. The extra druid training is reflected in the +2 to Nature (vs the +2 perception, which would have been more appropriate if Shoat were a hunter)

I also considered the “nobility” one. It doesn’t quite fit because there’s no real nobility in the Facestabber tribe, but Shoat was involved in tribal politics and that might have made him better at diplomacy.

Katie: I picked Occupation: Scholar. Keyna is somewhat obsessed with information and reads everything she can get her hands on. She asks lots of questions and really does want to know about just about everything. One of the reasons she decided to leave home was actually because she had read through every book she had access to in her hometown and the caravans of traders never came frequently enough or brought enough information to satisfy her curiosity. The +2 Arcana bonus I attributed not just to her constant search for knowledge, but specifically to her targeted search for how to become a warlock. In researching it, she would have learned a lot about various forms of magic and about the nature of magic itself.

Kathleen: Primary background: Occupation: Criminal (thievery skill +2)
Secondary background: Occupation: Military

As an orphan on the streets of Osirion, Zuri did anything she needed to do to survive. She could con, filch, misdirect, dodge, pick pockets, run, and was even starting to learn how to pick locks when she was scooped up by the Zulmat Esaba. This former street gang was now working as a mercenary army of thugs for one of the region’s bitter factions and had begun training child soldiers for their maneuvers. Under the threat of pain, hunger and death, she learned military discipline and hand-to-hand combat, though her missions still sometimes involved her thievery skills. She was not trained with a scimitar until years later when she ran away and was taken in by the Order of Sarenrae.

Brian: Occupation- Artisan, merchant.

Frawd is a skilled paper pusher. While his parents would have preferred that he become a metal worker (a traditional dwarf trade). He originally shied away from the more physical trades as he was a bit undersized for his age (he is still short, but is no way a runt anymore). His parents were happy that he didn’t accept the offer to become a forensic accountant and instead just went to Sand Point to do book keeping.

Ben: Actually, none of the professions seem to fit particularly well. Many of them apply a bit but each is far too expansive. There’s a forest background (or whatever they called that section on location) which fits well, but it too is fairly broad, primarily owing to 4e’s dramatic reduction in skills. I was specifically thinking tracking, but I suppose the +2 perception would cover a childhood spent navigating through the forest, following game trails, watching the seasonal migrations of the wee critters, etc.

What about your character is heroic? Characters in D&D are those that ‘rise above the norm’, that excel in their myriad ways. Aside from the spells and techniques and whatnot, what makes your character the kind of person that will stand up in the face of great evil?

Joe: From a mythic or storytelling perspective, Shoat is a person who has been forced to be heroic by tragic circumstances. His people have been turned against him or killed. As a druid, shoat was entrusted with the protection of his tribe and tribal lands, since he failed at that task, he has to do everything he can to get get his tribe back.

Katie: I don’t like this question and I have to say that I don’t think Keyna would define herself as a hero based on your definition as given here, and I’m not sure that I would either.

Keyna does go beyond the norm through her drive, persistence and dedication to figuring things out. She’s already shown that through becoming a warlock at all. She can not, however, be really relied upon to stand up to evil. I’m not sure she’d even necessarily recognize evil when she saw it. She fights when she feels it’s necessary, whether that be to protect what she cares about (including herself) or to learn something new or even just because something is annoying her and fighting it will stop it. She does not, however, see herself as any sort of hero who is going to go out and stop great evil. If she happens to, that’s good. If she doesn’t, well, that just means that the great evil probably never drew her interest or tried to bother her. She is what she is and not more. She would be baffled to be called a hero.

That said, she would fight the great evil if given cause (as listed above), and that in and of itself may be enough to make her a hero. Be warned, however, and she may feel the need to fight a force of great good for any or all of the exact same reasons. She really doesn’t make such distinctions most of the time because she’s usually too busy working on some new theory or spell. Intellectuals make bad judges of alignment (ooh! a new book full of fascinating new spells! what? it was written by a demon? so? it’s still probably full of fascinating and potentially useful things!).

Brian: Frawd did not set out to be heroic. He became a paladin of Abadar as that was a good and noble thing for a dwarf to do for Abadar. As part of that, he got training in being a fighter, and turned out to be reasonably good at it, but he was still focused at doing the work asked of him by the merchant

Until Sandpoint, he had never really considered anything he did assisting the town guard or defending caravans to be heroic deeds. With all the hoopla that has been made around the group and the deeds we have done here, he is beginning to think that perhaps he could be heroic instead of just being a paper pusher who occasionally helped out as a fighter type.

His actions toward “fighting evil” are decided by what he thinks is good for society. Clearly, attacks on a town that disrupt normal city life are not good and thus need to be stopped.

Ben: It’s clear the standards for heroism are pretty low when a handful of out-of-towners can waltz into the place, dispatch a few malcontents the local constabulary should have long since hounded out of town, and be acclaimed as saviors. If one of the forest folk can clearly see the deficiencies in your political and social structure in under a week, not to mention military organization, you’re obviously operating at a deficit of heroism. So what would make Alberic stand up to ‘great evil’? How about a lifetime of being surrounded by dullards and fools? It doesn’t require a deep and abiding commitment to unicorns and kittens to fight evil. All it really requires is an enjoyment of the way things are. Alberic /likes/ wandering around in
the forest. He likes being new places and seeing new things. He enjoys the fact that people are willing to donate to his wine, women, and song fund for the pleasure of his company in a caravan.

And if he has to kill some goblins along the way so that there will continue to be new places to see, then so be it.

Who is the one person in the world your character is closest to? This could be a family member, a friend, a lover, a pet, anyone. Everybody cares for somebody, and so does your character.

Katie: If you put this question to Keyna she’d stop and think for a minute. Then she’d say “Well, I’m very close to my family, but probably the person that I really closest to is my best friend, Timin. My mother is gone on business more often than not and there are things you just don’t talk about with brothers or your dad. So, yeah, I’d say I’m closest to Timin.”

Brian: My dad Keggo.

Keggo, we were on a first name basis, was a good dad. He did not have lofty ambitions, he just wished to make a comfortable living for his family. He provided a good role model of how to be “good” in society.

Joe: Shoat is completely cut off from everyone he used to know. And even before getting kicked out of him tribe, he’d begun to feel isolated by his druidic duties, which required him to spend a lot of time alone in the woods in various animal forms to learn the ancient primal truths. (Like where to find mushrooms that get you totally high).

When he was with the tribe, he would spend leisure time with Yellowtusk, the young shaman whose spirit companion has attached itself for Shoat (leading shoat to believe that he’s probably dead) and also shoat’s sister, Waxberry who was being trained as a Hexer by their mother Ilexa. (That’s ilexa, who looks similar to this http://images.wikia.com/muppet/images/0/02/Junklady.png)

Kathleen: After Assan, Zuri has been very leery of letting anyone close to her again, for fear that she would hurt them too. She is closed-off and wary, never making overtures of friendship to anyone, but that doesn’t mean others don’t try to befriend HER. At the temple of Sarenrae where she was trained as a cleric, Malik watched over her with concern, for he was the one that had prevented her from killing herself and brought her to the temple in the first place. Fazima, the Head Priestess also kept a motherly eye on Zuri’s progress and well-being. And Ara, who was also a trainee at that time, was unfazed by Zuri’s reticence and happily adopted her as a bosom friend from the first day. Zuri, of course, feels undeserving of their affection but loves and appreciates them nonetheless.

Ben: Alberic’s closest to his younger sister Zula (pronounced with a fricative z, like the ‘ss’ in fission). Like all the best girls, she was a tomboy growing up, and the two of them got into all manner of trouble in the forests. Though their lives have diverged in purpose and geography – she’s studying to be a historian – they’ve remained close.

Each of you is out of your normal comfort zone, but each of you at one point had a home to return to. Describe for me what your room was like. You don’t have to get all interior decorator on me, but hit the highlights.
- What kind of bed did you sleep in?
- Did you have a lot of personal knicknacks? What were they? If your space was sparse, what prompted the decision to keep things that way?
- Did you have a private room? A nook off the main family area? If you shared your space with anyone, who was it?

Kathleen: Home… that’s a somewhat foreign concept for a nomad/homeless orphan/mercenary
gang member/wandering cleric.

When she was still living with her tribe, she slept in the family tent with her parents, baby sister, aunt, and two older cousins. Children slept on mats on the floor. As an orphan on the city streets, she slept in doorways, alone except for the occasional cat, until she met Assan. Together they found a corner in an alley behind a bakery that was always warm at night, though sometimes they still needed to huddle together to keep from shivering. After their conscription to the Esaba, they slept with the rest of the members, usually outdoors around a campfire. The Temple of Sarenrae where she was later trained as a cleric, like most buildings in the desert had its sleeping quarters on the roof where it is cool and breezy. This she shared with the other trainees, Ara in particular.

In fact, Zuri never slept indoors until she came far north from her homeland. She reluctantly accepted the hospitality of local parishes and hotels when necessary, for although she acknowledges that it can get uncomfortably cold in these foreign lands, sleeping with four walls and a roof over her head seems dreadfully stifling and hot. She does not sleep well when confined. Keyna has probably woken to find their window open with her roommate either curled up on the floor below it or gone altogether. Zuri occasionally will seek the roof for solace, but due to the steep slant these northern buildings sport, she dares not
fall asleep up there.

As for knick-knacks, she has never owned more than she can carry on her person. That was a necessity as a nomad and an inevitability as a homeless orphan. In the Esaba, the leaders took everything of value from their conscripts, though she and Assan were able to exchange small tokens of friendship; an unusual colored rock, a pretty rag of ribbon, an old shard of green glass… Zuri kept those precious things with her at all times until she gave them up in the ritual in which she tattooed her palms. Now again as a wandering cleric, she can own no more than she can carry, but this is also a decision she has made, to eschew excess and indulgence in worldly things.

Ben: Low population density and abundant space means Eladrin children commonly have their own room growing up. Alberic decorated his with found objects: interesting rocks, odd bits of wood and bone, and the like. As he got older and progressed in his training, the trappings of rangerhood came to dominate his room. He kept piles of the best feathers and the straightest branches; small pots containing oiled sinews; bowls of razor-sharp arrowheads; a brace of knives; and of course his bow hanging proudly on the wall.

Katie: Keyna, being the only girl, had her own room (her two brothers had to share). This was often a point of contention when they were kids. Her furniture was beautiful and all made by her father, Merilier. He was a skilled furniture artisan and made exquisite pieces to sell (often on commission), but also made nearly every piece of furniture in their house. The stuff in their house was usually the pieces he made as experiements (he’d get an idea for a new design and make a test piece to see if it worked, a prototype, so that he could refine his methods before making any to sell, those prototypes were what furnished their house). The result was that Keyna had beautiful furniture in her bedroom that changed every few years and rarely actually matched. She always had a bed, a dresser or a wardrobe, a vanity table or desk, a chair or stool, and a standing mirror.

This sounds like it would make for a pretty girly looking room, except that Keyna wasn’t very girly. She left her clothes all over the floor and always had papers and whatever books she was currently borrowing everywhere. She also collected things that she wanted to learn more about (anything from trinkets to leaves and rocks) and those were left wherever she happened to put them as well. She always had pots of ink (of varrying colors, although most often black) and quills on her desk or vanity and sometimes on the floor as well. It was also not uncommon for her to get ink stains on everything from the furniture to her clothing to the floor. Her bed was piled high with pillows because then she could make a nest for reading in, but that also meant that pillows frequently escaped and scattered over the floor nearby.

What would your character’s iconic silhouette look like? You don’t have to draw it, obviously, I just want to know what it would look like. What stance would your character be in. What would be the obvious gear/items that would stand out from your basic body type to differentiate you from the rest of the team?

Joe: Shoat has the easiest answer to this question. He’s short, wears a robe, carries a staff as tall as he is. He has a crazy tricorn hat with a branch stuck in it. He also has little curly shoes. Depending on which way he’s facing, you’d see a long beard, long nose and/or long ears in his silhouette. There’s no way you’d mistake his silhouette for any other member of the party, or even a different goblin.

Kathleen: I feel a little bad for continuing to rely on this art that I used for my portrait, but it is just so perfect for Zuri! She stands belligerently, weight on both feet and face to the camera. One hand is on her scimitar and the other holds out the holy symbol of Sarenrae. Her body shape is shrouded in robes and around her head is a turban and hajib. Her silhouette tells you she is foreign, looking for a fight, and prepared to wield the power granted to her by her goddess.

Ben: When stationary, nothing special. Alberic is of average height and weight, and wears armor that from a distance is indistinguishable from normal hide. Closer observation reveals that his hands are never in his pockets and that he stands slightly forward, weight on the balls of his feet, not his heels. It is only when he moves that it becomes clear he’s a ranger. Walking or running, or even just swiveling in a chair to reach for another ale, Alberic’s movements are smooth and silent.

Katie: Keyna’s obviously a halfling, so I guess that would be the real dead-giveaway. Beyond that, she wears robes that fall to just below her knees and is usually holding either a rod or a book.

Brian: I can’t decide between a slightly angled view from the front showing his back elbow outstretched holding an axe/warhammer, or a front one flat view with the axe over a shoulder and him simply looking wide and menacing.