Dirwin, Born to be Wild: Episode 2

Below is the continuation of the adventures of Dirwin, my 13th level Druid, who has been around since the end of 2014 in various guises. It has been nine months between the first half of this episode and the second half! But I am so relieved to be back to journaling Dirwin’s story. Next week or so I will work on recategorising this site so it is easier to navigate to all the different sections: Devblog, Dragonlance, different D&D character diaries, and all the other things we’ve done over the years!

Coming out of Seshall’s case, I look at the word ‘Sign’ on the scrap of a diary entry. Could it mean Sign of One? Their faction hall is rumoured to hold a gate to the Beastlands. We go to find our tout Kaiakos again to follow-up on the three names listed on that paper too.

At an intersection on the way back, we see crows pecking at a corpse on a gibbet. Then they start attacking the crowd! I try to speak with them in raven form and calm them but it fails. So instead I open my decanter of endless water and control it, splashing them to douse their wings. The people are grateful to be safe now but many are injured, and one is even dead. I offer to reincarnate him, to the tiefling crying over the body of the half-elf, but it turns out he was a petitioner visiting from Arborea, so his soul is gone forever! How frightening.

But for the other people I am able to give small amounts of healing out, and regenerate one person’s lost eye. One guy doesn’t want healing, and his suspicion seems to be related to his alignment with the Revolutionary League and not trusting authority. A little old lady panics, saying she has no way of paying her. I tell her no worries, it’s free. She is grateful then, asks my name, gives me her talisman of Thor’s Hammer, and tells me to run along in case the Harmonium don’t take too kindly to my unlicensed healing.

We flee, and take Kaiakos out to lunch with us. He helps us with two of the things listed on the paper. The Planar Trade Consortium is a huge web of capitalist transaction, and has a branch here on the planes. The Cup of Freedom is a landmark in Sigil – a free library run by the Revolutionary League. Knowledge is the key to throwing off the shackles of oppression, or so they say. Kaiakos says he’ll follow up on Parts and Pieces, as he doesn’t know this one, but his other tout friends might.

On the way to the library, we see a halfling preaching on two soapboxes, saying that it is good that people are acting on instinct. Obviously from the Transcendent Order. Not sure how I could explain to him how unnatural this whole chaos is.

Arriving at the library, the bauriur librarian, Firey Polk, greets me as comrade. The library is chaotic, and Polk, good-humoured and intense, seems to want a donation before he’ll help me. I’m happy to contribute to the cause. He remembers Seshall coming here, and what books he was reading, so he pulls me out ‘The Dark World of Dreams’, ‘Turt’s Guide to Planar Cats’, and ‘The Big Book of Evil’. Books go sliding and flying everywhere during his chaotic search.

It’s hard to understand why he wanted these books. The first does mention dreamhunters from Bast’s realm on Ysgard who chase down nightmares. And yet Bast lives on Arborea, I hear. Polk mentions to me that people are blaming the Revolutionary League for the current unrest, which makes him unhappy, since it is unfounded.

Returning to Kaiakos, he has found the info we needed about P&P. It stands for Parts and Pieces, a shop in the Great Bazaar, which is through a gate whose key was rats’ teeth. The proprietor is Seamusxanthuszenus (I really did not know what to expect with a name like that) and yes, the Parts and Pieces were what I feared – body parts.

The Great Bazaar is, as always, a treat for all the senses. I see efreet unpacking literal lava lamps at a stall; a sign above a food cart made of sparrows flying and forming the word ‘EATZ’; a beautiful feathered woman protesting against the Harmonium; ancient children; a Beholder with a judge’s wig on each eyestalk borne on a palanquin carried by the eye beams of two other beholders, the rider on which shoots tiny lasers at the feet of any who get too close; bottles of colourful smoke, and much more. 

We find the sign by the archway of the gate, and to my relief, there is already a bowl full of rat teeth by the gate. Through the portal, we enter a dimly lit and reeking corridor. An amateur sign written by an unhinged mind proclaims Seamusxanthuszenus as the purveyor of death, and lists his stock, which counts among other not-so-savoury offerings stuffed naga, a nightmare’s head, and other gore.

The proprietor turns out to be a dust mephit, which is somehow still surprising to me even after all the surprises I’ve had today. After A LOT of preamble, I slide multiple generous garnishes over to him to fish for information about Sashell and why he came here. It turns out he was interested in some of Seamus’s suppliers, specifically a group of them who carried the same triangular symbol as I have found, who wear red and green furs, and most recently brought in the tentacles of a Varth, the wings of a varguyle, and liquified farastu – all of which, I realise, hail from Carceri. Seashell had also been asking for something to protect himself from cats. Seamus tried to swindle him with the fangs of a hydra or some such, saying they were the fangs of the Lord of Cats.

I end up buying the nightmare’s head, since it is still alive (for a given value, sentient is perhaps a better way of putting it). Seamus throws in three quills and a feather, and opens the way out for us – which I suppose would not have opened had we not made a purchase! After listening to the skull berate us, and try to sell us off as “two used idiots” as soon as we returned to the Bazaar, Toledo and I made the executive decision to stick him on top of a post in the marketplace where he could become something of an annoying landmark. I guess I can’t save them all!

Seamusxanthuszenus from the pages of Uncaged: Faces of Sigil

Dev blog #37 – Nothing doing

Hey all, so not much news on my front this week. Starting my new job has kept me super busy. The European and Japanese translation team are working hard away. The Chinese team are waiting on me to hurry up, but I have been so busy. I feel really bad about that, but I am barely doing anything outside of working and mothering. There just isn’t enough time in the day! Is this the end for Claire’s development career? Well, I hope not, and I will tell you more later but I am hoping to program some web games to do with my new job! But more on that when I have something concrete to talk about.

James meanwhile has met the challenging goal of 90,000 words on the Dragons of Tirenia. As you can see in posts before this one, he continues on his mad quest to work through all of the Dragonlance canon. He’s getting his game on tonight with a bunch of friends playing a D&D session set in Auromia, the counterpart to Rome in Tirenia. I’d say that plot is squarely in Act Three territory now, and hopefully one day he’ll turn it into an adventure module.

Anyway, the show I am in is almost over! So hopefully I get more time to wrap up the translation builds in good time for my translation partners. We banked an episode on Dark Sun last month and just released it, but we’re back to fresh recordings next week, with another session with the Bundle Buddies (this time for their podcast, not ours) and the first new episode of ours in over a month. We were thinking about doing an episode on Magic the Gathering since we play it all the time, but there has been new Ravenloft news as well! And uh…. yeah, I am super excited about that!! So we’ll see what we come up with next recording sesh. James also reckons its time for me to finally do a video game spotlight episode. I guess I should, but I have a bit of impostor syndrome, because honestly it comes so naturally to me to just let James talk and talk, since he holds onto information much better than I do. Well, we’ll see!

Catch ya later!

Podcast Episode 11: Spotlight on the Forgotten Realms

https://www.spreaker.com/episode/41997510

Today we cover the ubiquitous Forgotten Realms. Often considered the generic kitchen sink of settings, we go into why it isn’t just that, covering its history, recommending some books and games to get into, and doing a retrospective of our most Forgotten Realms campaign experience, Storm King’s Thunder.

Dev blog #19 – White Rabbit’s Diary Released!

Hi all. What a week! Let’s start with an announcement…

Wonderland Nights is now re-released with full voice acting, new art, and quality updates. Check out our instagram and facebook as we profile each of the actors in the game.

WHAT ELSE…

New podcast episode out – just a short one, about our favourite games, here: https://www.spreaker.com/episode/41519578 . This weekend at Armageddon we’ll see what the sound quality is like in the hall, but we’re thinking of recording some content there. It also depends on how busy we are and if we run into any interesting people there (certainly, we’ll be sitting with one, our board game publisher Julia from Cheeky Parrot Games! We’ll see if she wants to talk 🙂 )

Our third episode of Apprentices of Tirenia went well, you can check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLv-uX03VmexJxjHebLgo-tCNDKtGX3vuQ

How is the Armageddon prep going? Well… it’s actually almost done! After freaking out at how large the list still was one week ago, it turns out there were a lot of little tasks, and doing them was faster than I thought! James is still perfecting his characters and adventures that he’s running on the four days, but he said to me this morning he could run it now if he had to. So there we go. Besides a bit of shopping and picking stuff up tomorrow… we’re actually ready!

I also really only just remembered in the last 48 hours that we’re selling stuff tomorrow. Like, I’ve been so head down in the work that I forgot about how we might be making back some of the literally hundreds of dollars we spent on this. Cross fingers… to be honest I don’t expect to make a profit, but breaking even or near about would be awesome. We’ve got my two PC games for sale together at $15, the Dragons of Tirenia Introductory Guide at $10 physical or $5 digital copy, and our board game Cat Capers at $25. All of this is cheaper than you’ll find anywhere else. Hopefully the pledge and get a sticker campaign is going to get a bit of buzz going around our stall.

Oh and by the way, you can check out our new website at www.skybeargames.com , designed by our niece Lauren, and also www.dragonsoftirenia.com which I just finished up today.

Finally, I expect to be wrapping up The Nine Lives of Nim by 12th November. Fingers crossed for me! I’m pretty sure I’ll get it done, after seeing how Wonderland Nights went.

All right… tomorrow, into the breach! Wish us luck! Next time I write you, it will all be in the past!!

Dev Blog #18 – Super busy!!!

Tomorrow it’s a week until Armageddon Expo. AHHHHHHHH! How much of the last week can I remember to write this blog entry…

Tonight is our third episode of our Apprentices of Tirenia livestream. It’s going really well. Last week was great. I ended up dropping way more of the metaplot than I thought I would. But that’s ok! I have plenty more of the metaplot to go. This campaign might last maybe 6 sessions in total. We’ll see. Join us over on www.twitch.tv/skybeargames at 7.30pm NZ time tonight!

We’ll record our podcast tonight too, and because we’re so busy it’s just going to be a short and easy topic this time. Hardly any research needed, because it is our personal all time greats!

DRAGONS OF TIRENIA – My work is mostly done on this for now, except for daily advertising on Instagram and preparing everything we physically need at our stall. Meanwhile, James is slaving away on the expo campaign and the pre-gen characters for it.

THE NINE LIVES OF NIM – So I am dropping a mini-update THIS WEEKEND. Why? I’m running out of time to implement the voice acting for this before the expo, so I am testing the art changes, additional content and the quality upgrades, and then releasing this update, with the promise that the voice acting update is coming in November.

WONDERLAND NIGHTS – I am halfway through importing the voice acting for this, and then I have to test it, but this is going to be fully updated in time for the expo. Yippee!!

What’s next? What’s the big thing I am not talking about? Well, there is something else HUGE in our gaming world right now that I don’t want to talk about in case it comes to nothing. Unless you are a Patron! In which case I will dish over on the Patreon page later today. So come on over if you want some secret gossip.

Next week will be go time… if there ever was any other kind of time!!

Dev blog #17 – New Bitsy, Livestream tonight!

Hi all!

Just a quick update between uploading the latest Bitsy episode (found here: https://skybeargames.itch.io/street-rat-ix ) and getting on camera for our livestream of Dragons of Tirenia ( https://www.twitch.tv/skybeargames/ , we start at 7.30pm NZ time tonight.)

It has been a busy busy week! So when I wrote to you last, I didn’t even know I would be doing our first Tirenia livestream that very night. But my Mum decided to babysit Arthur for us on a whim, so we took advantage of the opportunity and started our game. We had a lot of fun, and I hope you’ll find the time to check it out if you like D&D live plays: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g1uVMqMA548&t=9117s

In more exciting news, the booklets and posters have arrived, and they have printed perfectly. Cannot wait to start selling these beautiful booklets in just over two weeks!

James has started putting his ideas (that he’s had for months now) on paper for the weekend campaign, and drawing up the character sheets people can choose from at the expo.

We had a lovely time podcasting with our friend Ben last Friday! Check out the episode here https://www.spreaker.com/episode/41297436 , where we talk about Asian representation in gaming, and all about his podcast Dumplings and Dragons https://dumplingsndragons.podbean.com/

Meanwhile I have continued improving the PC games, and both Jade and Rose have finished all the art for the games! So it’s just voice acting to go, and that’s all coming along quick smart. There’s going to need to be a big testing effort in the next couple of weekends. Hoo boy! At least I still have my test plans from last time. Wow… I’m regression testing my own product, I never thought I’d be doing that!

Like I said, it’s been such a busy week, I’m trying to think what else there is to say. Well, I shouldn’t muck around, so I’ll just drop one more reveal. We’re going to announce on the stream tonight that we’re doing the Gaming for Charity event in November. Very excited to play some video games for once! https://gamingforcharity.nz/

Dev blog #14 – Playtests and updates and voiceovers, oh my!

DRAGONS OF TIRENIA

So the playtest! The playtest, that is, for the adventure that we are going to be selling in our Quick Start Guide at Armageddon (and online as a PDF thereafter, watch this space). Well, one half of it happened last week. The second half is tonight. We had LOTS of fun. I was the dungeon master, to give James a break for once. It has been a long time since I’ve GMed anything (except online text-based) and I realised pretty quickly that I had forgotten how much fun I have when I do it! So that was a happy revelation. The first session revealed to us a lot of minor bits of detail that might need to go in, but for the most part the structure and characters we have are very supportive to a GM, and allowed me plenty of freedom to go with the players, while at the same time always knowing the motivations of the NPCs and what would happen next logically with them.

I’m feeling very proud of this adventure James has written, and am really excited to be selling it in a month’s time. Also, we hashed out a system to run a chase scene in the climax the other night, after realising that D&D can’t really sustain a cinematic vehicular chase scene rules as written. So that part is getting tested out more fully tonight, we’ll see how it goes!

Art for the book and posters on the expo stand is all coming along nicely. Can’t wait to be able to share some of this stuff online closer to the time. There’s going to be a big print order going in next week for all the books and posters… it’s pretty daunting but still very exciting. Part of me just wants time to hurry up so I can see what our experience of the expo will be like. I hope we are popular. Not going to lie, I will be slightly devastated if we don’t find our audience there. We have contingency plans for if we fail there though, so at least there is that. It won’t end up being a big waste of money (I hope…)

PC GAMES

So voice acting carries on for Prince of Cats and White Rabbit. It’s a long process but we are getting there.

I did a lot of work on the code of Prince of Cats in the weekend. Mostly minor fixes, adjusting the positions of things to fit 16:9 ratio better, etc. But it just occurred to me this morning, there is a major feature I wanted once upon a time that I completely forgot about… and I think I know just how I can do it! I’m going to try and put in a visual depiction of the humours changing. Like a little gauge, with the humours’ colours and stuff. I think it’ll going to be easier than I think! But I reckon at the end of this weekend, I will have finally finished all the code updates to Prince of Cats, and I’ll just be waiting on the final pieces of reworked art and all the voice work to come in.

Speaking of art, Sean has actually finished all of Her Jentle Hiness, and caught me on the back foot! I am regretting not having the code for the game ready by now, otherwise who knows, I could have potentially released this year! Oh well… realistically, I don’t see how I could have fit it in with everything else. And I still have to get the music, voice acting, proofreading, and also I’m going to trial a testing firm for the first time (but Claire, you’re a tester, I hear you cry. Well, it’s always a good idea to get someone else to test, second set of eyes and all that). So I’m thinking vaguely in a February direction for the release of HJH. This will also be the first one I’m doing without a Kickstarter! I’m happy that means less admin for me, but I will miss the sense of community that it brings with it. Perhaps I can create that in some other way.

PODCAST

We’re recording this tomorrow, just a small interlude episode after our big political one last week… but also because the one after will likely be big and political again hahaha…

Well, here I was thinking this would be a small update. Oh well. Busy busy busy. Better get back to it!