Tag: Conjunction of Planes

Fiction: A Plague Upon Kingsport

Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing, Bloodmoon is waning, Darkmoon is waning)

My name is Kasia. I was born in the year of the winter mare in the voivodeship of Żubrówka, on the western plains of Silesia. When life was good, father drove cattle and mother taught letters and numbers. They always spoke about leaving the plains and moving to the lands of evergreen. Father would rear horses or mind cattle for a lord, while mother would be a handmaid to a lady, and we would never have to follow the herd again.

Misfortune struck when the blood rain began to fall; my mother and sister were taken by a plague, as were many others. We were all afraid and everyone prayed. The elders said an old evil had awoken. When the ground was soaked scarlet the dead began to rise from their barrows at night, so father made sure to bury mamuśka and Lena extra deep and to put heavy stones upon their graves.

The situation grew worse. Father said he could not face another day on the plains while they were shrouded in darkness. The snow was upon us but we packed up and left. It was not the way I had imagined coming to Lyria. We were tired and hungry, and we had to sell the few things we managed to strap to Bucefałus’ harness.

We made it across the Lyrian range only to find that the lords of Farcorner were rebelling against the throne, and as a result, were weary of strangers. We travelled further west, passing grim-faced soldiers dressed in crimson cloaks, travelling east along the Silesian road, ready to confront the Farcorner rebels. Father held me close, making sure none of the men stepped out of line.

After days of travelling west, past small towns and hamlets, we reached an enormous tree. The largest tree I had ever seen. There were woods in Silesia, but there was mostly grasslands. In the summer, the Earthmother blessed the plains with wild flowers of all the colours of the rainbow. But nothing had been as impressive as that tree standing but a short distance from the road.

The tree’s warden, a burly man with a large beard and a pleasant accent, offered us a place to rest under the bough of the tree. Other travellers had gathered around the fire. There were Lyrians who were travelling home before the winter, knights in armour decorated with red, merchants ending the trading season, and the Szygani who followed their strange gods. There were even other Silesians who were fleeing the blood rain. It was the first time we felt welcomed.

Father had struck up a conversation with one of the guards belonging to the retinue of lord Jerod Brightmantle, a nobleman who was returning to his estate from preparing his lands for the winter and picking up his daughter from boarding school. The guard introduced father to lord Jerod, and lord Jerod introduced me to lady Grace, his daughter.

Father was offered to drive the lord’s cattle over the winter in return for an honest pay. It helped that father had his own horse and that he was as a more talented rider than anyone else in lord Jerod’s employ. I would wait on lady Grace and help work the stables.

Father departed the estate several days after our arrival, taking Bucefałus and riding north with the other drivers. He had calmed considerably once he found he got along with the others and he started smiling more. He made sure that I would be okay in his absence and I assured him I would be. I tended to lady Grace, which was made easy because she seemed fond of me. I waited on her in the morning and evening, and I worked the stables in the afternoon, while she was studying.

Life was good. Too good. I could almost forget what we had left behind in Silesia. Almost.

It was the second ride of my stay at Dawnlight Hall and lord Jerod was set to travel south, to Kingsport. He was to prepare the Brightmantle manse in the city for their stay during the winter, and he bade lady Grace to join him. Where she went, I was told to go. I was very excited.

It was a day’s travel to the river. There we boarded a boat which took us downstream. It was very exciting, but that excitement paled in comparison to the excitement I felt when the city came into view. Lady Grace pointed out the castle, the spires of the house of Paladine, and the dark peak of the house of the Raven Queen. She could also name all of the gates and bastions which made up the ramparts around the city. I was so mesmerised I did not even notice the gentle flurries of the first snow until one landed directly on my nose.

The boat took us right into the city through the river gate. I have never felt so small in my life. Lady Grace was much more accustomed to it, since her eyes were not on the city, but rather on the sky. She lamented that there were no griffon patrols. I remember my heart skipped a beat; griffons were a danger to the herd and no Silesion would dare or even consider riding the vicious beasts. Yet in Kingsport, the city guard patrolled them across the skies.

We disembarked and were met by Brightmantle guards. Lord Jerod and lady Grace boarded a carriage and I got to sit with the driver. One of the Brightmantle men wanted to inform the lord of important matters about the manse, its stores, and a foreign delegation coming to the city from the west, but lord Jerod first wanted to visit the cathedral to pay his respects to the Platinum Father.

The building was overwhelming in its splendour, and the square it sat on was larger than the village father and I had left behind not so long before. The Brightmantles went up to the great doors and were met by priests and clergymen. It was cold and I wanted to keep warm, so once the Brightmantles disappeared inside the cathedral I left the carriage to wander around. I was told to stay close, so I decided to walk around the square, which the driver told me was called “Steward’s Square”, or “Independence Square”, since the last steward of Kingsport died only two rides before. That fact seemed to hold great significance to the driver, though I didn’t quite understand why.

I walked around the square, always within eyesight of the carriage and house guards. I saw the temple of light, where brothers and sisters of Pholtus patiently tended to the sick and injured. I saw the fertile gardens of the Earthmother, and the placid silent sisters of the Raven Queen.

I stood in front of a small tower on the edge of the square which I later learned was called the carceratum. It had a ramp leading down into a dungeon below. Guards with scarlet cloaks and monks with red robes stood around and looked at me with weariness. It was unnerving, and it reminded me of the soldiers I saw marching east before we came to Northshire. Just as their looks turned to one of horror, I noticed a strange smell of thunder in the air.

The details of what happened next slowly returned to me over the next few years. Even now there are things that my mind refuses to recall. The chaplains of the order tell me that it is my mind protecting me from the hardships of that day. They say it is a testament to my resilience and willpower that I survived it without my mind in shatters in the first place.

There was a sound of rushing air which filled my ears as I turned around to face what had shocked the guards and monks so. Initially I had a difficult time understanding what it was that I was looking at. For years afterwards I continued to search for the words to describe it. Only when I had been witness to a full eclipse of the sun when I was in my sixth year at the order did I discover how to put it into words; a large oval disc, with a golden corona bordering it, just like an eclipse. It was as if someone had erected an enormous mirror in the middle of the square which reflected an absolute darkness, and whose frame was made of a warm, radiant light which was drawn into that darkness, unable to escape its pull.

I looked back to see the monks feverishly putting their hands together to form the sign of the holy triangle of Paladine. The guards raised their arms and shields in trepidation. I did not understand their fear and circled the black disc and tried to peer into its depths. For long seconds nothing happened until I saw something appear, as if emerging from beneath the surface of a dark ink. With every moment more revealed itself until I could make out two lanterns, suspended from chains, swinging from side to side, emitting a curious, yellow vapour.

I remember that my instincts warned me that I was in danger. I have since learned that had I not heeded the urge to hide, I would have suffered a horrible fate.

As I continued to back away, I saw the two figures who were swinging those noxious censers emerge from that dark surface; two hooded ratmen, which I know now to be the insidious skaven. Quickly, more skaven followed, wearing crude armour and wicked weapons; more than a dozen. Their cacophony of snarls and screeches joined the constant sound of rushing air coming from the rift.

The two hooded skaven stood to either side of the rift, while the others spread out defensively, making space for something else to emerge. It took a long moment before it did, the air tense with malicious potential in the meanwhile. The tension finally broke upon the rumbling sound of a deep grunt, resembling the mating call of a Silesian bison bull.

First I saw the beast.

It was enormous and dense, built somewhat like a bison, but ten times the weight. It’s body was covered in a thick, brown leather and a mane of shaggy, reddish fur. A set of chitinous plates ran along its spine from its forehead to its thick tail. It stood on short, powerful legs ending in hard, cleft hooves. Its torso was so muscled that its belly almost dragged along the ground, making its skin calloused from chest to tail. Crude, metal barding was added to its head, shoulder and hips, and it wore a harness which held a saddle on its arched back.

It had deep, sunken eyes and a broad, plated forehead from which a blunt, curved horn protruded. Long tusks jutted outward from either side of its jaw like the handles of a wheelbarrow, sweeping low along the ground. The tips of its tusks were fitted with sharp metal and a barbed chain ran between them.

It was clear that this beast was bred for war. What was equally clear was that the beast suffered from a terrible malady.

A sickly yellow foam was leaking from its muzzle. The skin around its eyes was thick and enflamed and puss had crusted in the fur around its eyes. Its flesh was riddled with bloated pustules teeming with the undulating eggs of parasites that seemed like they were about to burst open.

Saddled on the beast’s back was a different calibre of nightmare.

Nausea and dizziness overtook me as I beheld the rider; a tall figure dressed in elaborate armour that must have once been splendorous but now was scarred and battered. The armour was missing the chest piece and exposed skin so drained of colour it had the tone of sour milk. Despite its body being strong and lean, its belly was swollen, like that of a pregnant heifer. There was a jagged gut wound in the swelling and some of the rider’s intestines spilled from the wound like coils of sausage links. Dense clusters of large, puss-filled blisters surrounded the wound.

The rider’s head was bald and its face was the same pallid colour as its torso. Its thin skin was stretched tight along its deep brow and hooked nose. So tight, that it seemed that it didn’t quite fit, and looked like it was a flimsy mask that it was wearing. Around the mouth and eyes it looked as if the skin had started to peel away, exposing a dark, chapped skin underneath. There was not a hair on its deformed head, but instead it had row of small horns pierce through the skin where hair should be. The back of its head was a mess of strange growth the colour of spoilt meat.

Bony branches grew from somewhere behind its head and the pauldrons of its armour. They looked like the antlers of a stag, but more twisted and gnarled. They were adorned with trinkets, talismans and animal bones, which reminded me of the items carried by plainstrider healers back home.

I was awoken from my fright by the stench coming from the invaders and realised that there was shouting and screaming all around me. In my horror I had not noticed that the guards and monks had foolishly engaged the group. They were overwhelmed by the skaven before they could mount an organised defence. I bolted down the ramp of the carceratum and looked on.

The rider observed the dead from atop its mount and wrote something with a filthy, black quill in a large, leather-bound book that it had chained to a girdle. There were several other items attached to its waist, though I can only recall a large hourglass, and something that looked like an abacus.

When it was done writing in its book it stood up in its stirrups and put the quill and book away. It spoke with a booming voice the sound of a rockslide and my mind filled with buzzing, as if my head was invaded by a thousand insects. Both sounds seemed intent on conveying meaning, as if I heard two voices at the same time, though neither made any sense to me.

“Let it be known that plague and pestilence shall take this city,” the two hooded skaven said in a shrill voice, translating for their master, “if the Liber Bubonicus is not returned to me.” Slowly the mount started to move at a slow gait, heading directly towards the carceratum where I was hiding. The hooded skaven preceded it while the others formed a skirmish at the flanks and the rear.

I retreated down the ramp as much as I could and soon found myself with my back against the doors leading into the dungeon, unable to retreat any further. All I could see as I looked up the ramp were the silhouettes of the rider and its mount, flanked on each side by the hooded skaven against the grey sky. The buzzing in my head got louder, and the rider spoke again with a voice like shale rock while raising hand to point a finger at me.

“Tell your queen to root out the one they call the upright man and return to me the Book of Woe,” the hooded skaven said in unison while also pointing at me. Everything they said and did was an echo of what the rider said and did. I remember the rider turning its head to look at something happening in the square and the buzzing subsided a bit. Someone was confronting them again and the group moved away from the carceratum.

I steadied my breath and crept up the ramp only to witness the priests of Paladine, together with Brightmantle guards and several guards in scarlet cloaks which had arrived, confront the skaven and the rider. Lord Jerod was among them, having drawn his sword after ordering his carriage away, carrying lady Grace to safety, though I did not know of her fate at the time.

Again, the buzzing returned as the rider spoke out, its words translated into shrill voices by the hooded skavens. “Your precious good health shall be forfeit until the book is submitted to me, Epidemius the Cataloguer, Lord of Decay,” the skavens shrieked in unison with the rider’s awful voice. “I shall return with each cycle of Nasul and your wounds will continue to fester,” they warned.

The only good thing about the fight was that it was short. I do not remember many details to this day, despite the sessions with the chaplains of the order. What I do remember was that this time the rider got involved. I remember his mount trampling the priests and him twisting lord Jerod into an broken state, both physically as well as mentally. I remember screaming at Epidemius until my voice was raw, begging for him to let lord Jerod die.

Afterwards, when lord Jerod had ceased moving, there was a moment of stillness on the square. The only thing I heard was a snort from the beast. Epidemius wrote something in the book at his belt, snapped the book shut and took the reigns to reel the mount around. The skaven followed, their beady eyes casting furtive glances in all directions.

As the mount continued to walk, Epidemius unfurled a scroll, read aloud from it in his grating voice, and a torrent of ruinous energy projected from him. It ripped into the fabric of our reality and tearing open another black rift, identical to the one through which they arrived. As soon as the last of the skirmishing skaven was through, the rift closed itself and the square fell back into peaceful silence, with snow gently falling from above.

People had dared to come back into the square by the time I stopped shaking. The two large, bloodstained circles in the snow that signalled the two massacres were quickly surrounded by onlookers. Where the first few people that arrived paid attention to me, wondering how a young girl was able to survive what had happened, I was quickly forgotten once the commotion started. More guards with scarlet cloaks arrived who tried to disperse the crowd, with little success.

People were asking what happened, who was responsible, where the attackers had gone. Wild stories began to circulate, each of them carrying a bit of the truth, most had a lot of speculation, and none could captured the horror that I witnessed. It was said that the silent sisters of the Raven Queen had started wailing at the time of the attack and had not ceased since. I also heard that the gardens at the temple of the Earthmother had withered, which I had later verified to be true.

I remember the next couple of days to be very difficult. The curfew was tightened and there were more patrols on the streets, making it difficult to travel through the city. It made it impossible for me to find out where the Brightmantle estate was and it forced me to sleep outside and scavenge for food. All while it snowed.

On the third day after the invasion, while I was scavenging for food in a pig enclosure, I was found by a kindly man in simple, fur-lined robes, carrying a leather case. He introduced himself as father Devon, a priest devoted to Pholtus. He took me to the Temple of Light for some food and water. It appeared that just like the other houses of worship, the followers of Pholtus had also been affected by Epidemius’ appearance for they had been flooded by people seeking healing and care.

With father Devon’s aid, I was reunited with lady Grace a day later. She had been made lady of Dawnlight Hall in the wake of her father’s death and it was clear that she was struggling. I supported her as she mourned the loss of her father and came to terms with the position she had been put in. In turn, she held me whenever I woke up screaming in the night and counselled me on how to reclaim my courage. Which I did.

And still, after all these years, having learned all the things that I’ve learned, I still wonder whether it was not me who brought the plague from the plains of Silesia to the lands of evergreen.

The Heroes of the White Eye: A Character Study


The Heroes of the White Eye is a remarkable group of individuals, brought together by fate, who have overcome incredible challenges together against all odds. Initially the disparate individuals were thrown together to resolve a simple matter of a disrupted water supply on the estate of an enigmatic noble family, they went on to discover signs and portents of a new time of high magic, and with it a new start of a Conjunction of Planes.

The last conjunction was so long ago that only the very oldest surviving members of the longest living races could recall it. It was a time in which the fabric between realms became thin and demonic creatures spilled over to wreak havoc on the lands of men, elves and dwarves. It was called the Age of Fear, and it brought humanity on the brink of extinction before they harnessed the power of magic, allowing them to mount a defence against the hordes of demons. The Silver Crusade, a collaboration of the knightly orders of the Lance, Shield and Gryphon, counselled by the mysterious Senhadrim, a loose knit group of wizards and priests, defended humanity long enough for the conjunction come to an end and the last of the demons be defeated.

The heroes discovered powerful, ancient artifacts from the Age of Fear, each of which contained the long dormant spirit of one of the Senhadrim. They encountered strange servitor creatures called the skaven, a fierce, rat-like people whose purpose was to find these artifacts and bring them to their as of yet unknown masters.

The heroes travelled the kingdom of Lyria, finding clues about the conjunction, the crusade and the Senhadrim. They met interesting people and dangerous adversaries; Vadoma, the treacherous gypsy, Falka, the helpful scholar, Ulrikke, the Daerland noble, Ridley, the endearing deckswab, Syldarael, the tolerant healer, Martha, the jealous bigot, Strickland, the love-struck Magister, Cendelius, the vengeful terrorist, Liliana, the seductive instigator, and many, many more.

They travelled to a different realm and found a small army of crusaders, betrayed by a Senhadrim mage named Atilesceon, who had been corrupted by evil. Atilesceon’s cruelty lead him to curse the crusaders to replay a doomed battle scenario against a horde of demons over and over, leading to their eternal suffering. When the heroes found a way to break the curse, they ended up confronting and defeating Atilesceon and bringing the crusaders back from that realm, instantly gaining them the status of heroes.

In liberating these ancient crusaders and bringing them to the modern time, they managed to gain an understanding of the Age of Fear and learned that the conjunction occurred due to the waxing and waning of magic, which influenced the Seal of Divine Animus, which protected the realms of the ethereal mist from the realms of the elemental chaos and the astral sea. The seal was placed there by Tharizdun, a long lost god with a complicated mythology.

Throughout all of this, the heroes have remained unlikely companions. As they’ve learned more about what’s at stake, uncovering the legends, and separating fact from fiction, they’ve tried to discover possible ways of preventing another Age of Fear, or at least mobilising a defence against the coming conjunction before it is too late. Each has their own reasons for dedicating themselves, and their methods, motivations and styles differ wildly, but for now they continue to be bound to one another.


It’s not easy to come to a clear understanding of Astrid’s personality, goals and motives. At the best of times she comes across as aloof or frivolous as her pendulum swings from long periods of silence, having few outspoken opinions or strong desires, and moments of extreme exuberance, often fuelled by alcohol. In the quiet moments she is as calm, quiet and reserved as she is loud, boisterous and borderline obnoxious in the moments where she’s not.

The two extremes of her mood seems to serve one thing particularly well; she is never requested or expected to talk about herself. As a result, it’s not clear why Astrid is in Lyria, why she has chosen to attach herself to the other heroes or why she eagerly sacrifices her own safety in order to step between the group and the danger which is heading their direction.

Even when she woke up one day to find that her eyes had turned bright golden, she never seemed to invite the other heroes to dare question or comment on that physical transformation; her aloof response making it seemingly difficult to bring up the subject. She is well-respected for her physical abilities, but is rarely asked for her opinion, which may reinforce a pre-existing notion she may have held that she would never be valued for her ideas, should she have any.

Her goals seem simple; she wants to be able to purchase a ship of her own. What she wants to do with that ship, or why she wants a ship, is not something her companions have ever asked her. She seems happy enough hiding behind the tired stereotype of a reaving Hellmarker in an attempt to convince any of her companions that there’s nothing more to her goals than that.


The priestess has defied expectations since she was a young girl and continued that tradition from the moment she went into the service of Lord Marcus together with the rest of the heroes. She chose a more thoughtful, less action-prone approach to problem solving which often clashed with others, especially James. That was not to say that she could not be forced into action, however, as she was quick to display against the Procyon when Cendelius lead them in his attack on the village of Allenham. She showed that she would not shy away from violence in order to stand up for what she believed in.

Thoughtful and observant, she was often very capable of quickly getting to the core of a person; sometimes so fast that the person under scrutiny had a hard time catching up, or even realise their façade had been breached. I believe that this lead to the frequent conflicts Emma had with James, who tried very hard to reinforce the cool exterior he had developed growing up on the Kingsport streets. Emma seemed frustrated and genuinely perplexed each time she was confronted with social subterfuge or obfuscation. It seemed to run counter to the truth she wanted to live by. Either that, or despite her keen insight into the people around her, she never truly understood people and found their idiosyncrasies foreign and alien.

She found comfort in the variety of ways in which Sedna touched life around her. The hopeful rebirth of spring, the growth it provided in summer, the way autumn brought the cycle to a close with a great cleansing and the way in which winter became harsh, cold and unforgiving. And it was this variability in the Goddess which made her naturally distrustful of Muirgheal when she started to explore her connection to the trident; it was extreme, unyielding and dogmatic and it ran completely counter to Emma’s own personality and who she understood Sedna to be.

There were other forces surrounding the trident which she found invasive and had difficulty understanding, again frustrating her ability to quickly get to the heart of a person or situation that she was so accustomed to. While evocative, the trident came with too many strings attached and she soon decided to disinvest her from the weapon and the spirit within.

As she divorced herself from the trident she also found that she struggled with many of the things that she and the other Heroes of the White Eye uncovered; about the nature of the world, the coming Age of Fear and her position therein. She decided to divorce herself from the group, focus herself on her faith and evaluate what her position within the grand order of things was going to be moving forward.


Either Emrys is the most complex character in our group of heroes, or he is the simplest. At the risk of overthinking things, I will assume the former, rather than the latter. It is going to be difficult to start the analysis, either way.

Born into a tribe of aen adhar, or People of the Moon, who are notoriously religious, both his father, Fingir, an aen adhar, as well as his mother, Catriona, a human who had estranged from her family, had fallen in with a type of religious zealotry that could consume a person. They followed the teachings of Mohiam, a Sehanine Moonbow prophet and believed that their tribe had an important role to play in the future of the Verdant Kingdoms.

In fact, both parents believed that Emrys was to be a child of prophecy, which would explain his name. In the elder speech, Emrys means “immortal one”; a name not given frivolously, I imagine. When Catriona died right after giving birth, against all expectation, Fingir was struck with enormous grief leading him to defer the rearing of Emrys to the rest of the tribe.

Subjected to the tribe’s zealotry, Emrys proved to be a less than ideal student. He was subjected to hours of training which he described as arduous. The spiritual leader of the tribe, an elf named Voriel, disappeared without a trace during a training session and the tribe was thrown in disarray. It wasn’t the first time that strange things happened around Emrys and he was quickly asked to leave as the tribe had given up believing that he was going to be the promised child that they were awaiting.

I tell you that in order to conclude the following; considering Emrys’ background and upbringing, which I think was likely to be considerably harder than he has ever shared with anyone, it is surprising that he has maintained such a happy-go-lucky, laissez-faire attitude to most things. He has either leveraged what must undoubtedly have been a very traumatic upbringing into an amazing psychological bedrock, or he is possibly the most ruthless case of psychopathy that I’ve ever witnessed.

He has womanised his way through most of the Riverlands and has been keen to continue that habit while in Kingsport. He has developed a penchant for the young daughters of nobility and has left quite a bit of carnage in his wake. One wonders whether he doesn’t find some perverse pleasure in using the station of these women for his own ends only to compromise them to the point of reputational ruin. His involvement with these women has assured that they will never ascend to the position that was expected of them at birth.

Does that sound familiar?

He has now been able to infect the heart and mind of one of the most influential young noble women in the kingdom. Gods give her the strength to withstand him.

When confronted with some of the origins of his tribe by meeting Lauriel Skycaller, the Senhadrim priestess, Mohiam cultist and self-confessed mother of the zealotry that has ruled his tribe for millennia, he seemed detached and distant from her. Even as he inhabited the body of her lover and soon-to-be husband, Benedict McAllister, he did not hesitate to send Lauriel into the woods to slow down the onslaught of demons portalling onto the battlefield and ultimately sending her to her death.

Of course, I might be completely misreading him. One thing that suggests that I might be wrong is the relationship he has built up with Toruviel, the Senhadrim who is inhabiting the moonblade he carries. Legends say that moonblades only graces the hands of those who stand for noble elven virtues; love, life, creation and the arts. Perhaps he has been able to fool Toruviel as he has fooled lady Annabella, who knows?


To most people looking in from the outside it would seem that James wears his membership to one of the Heroes of the White Eye with the least amount of pride. I find myself wondering whether that’s because he thinks that what he did isn’t worthy of hero worship, or whether he is uncomfortable with the idea that he’s becoming one of them.

To most people looking in from the outside it would seem like James had a pretty tough childhood growing up on the streets of Kingsport. The frail, half-elf bastard to an immigrant who sold her body for silver stags, raised among whores and ruffians. But once you get to know him you’ll realise that despite his environment, his upbringing in no way held him back from having a happy childhood. He cares deeply for a mother who probably hasn’t always had the time to properly care for him; he’s developed relationships with several men in his life that could be described as father/son or teacher/student relationships; and despite his slight stature and elven heritage, he’s managed to carve out a place among his community.

And yet, he seems to be having trouble accepting the relationships that he’s forged with the rest of the heroes. I’d wager he thinks Luca is deranged, Quentin is misguided and Emrys is unfocused. Astrid seems to be the only one he genuinely cares for, but mostly as a drinking buddy who doesn’t ask too many questions. He purposefully keeps himself from investing in his relationships with the others, either because he doesn’t think they’re worth it, or he thinks they won’t last.

The proposition of him not thinking the relationships with the others aren’t worth it seems flawed considering all that they’ve accomplished together. It is clear that his continued involvement with the rest of the Heroes of the White Eye is benefiting him and that they have a lot to offer him. So it must be that he feels that the relationships won’t last. He’s unwilling to commit because he knows that all of them are regularly engaging in very dangerous work which will likely get one or all of them killed. Does he want to keep his relationships “professional” so that he won’t have to deal with the likelihood of losing them?

It would explain James’ caution at accepting the Arms of the Senhadrim. He has seen that the weapons have subtly changed their wielders and he doesn’t like the idea of giving up control, even if the potential power gain is significant. This, in turn, would explain his disdain for Emma and her dedication to a higher power; arbitrary rules of a divine kind which promise an undisclosed reward after death just mean you’re a pawn in a celestial army, controlled by a deity that sets the rules. Equally, Quentin is hostage to the trappings and expectations of nobility and chivalry, which might even be worse. And Luca is the pawn of… who knows what, but practically no different than Emma and her goddess, though likely much less benevolent.

James values his freedom. The Steady Hand gave him that freedom at the cost of the kickbacks he was paying to the day master. When his mother became an unwilling pawn of the Cult of the Dark Queen and was manipulated to turn against the Steady Hand, he found himself at odds with the guild. Despite finding a way out of the situation and saving his mother’s life in the process, he found that the Steady Hand was never again going to be the home for him it had been in years past. He also found that his mother required care, which had never happened before. She became a burden and perhaps even a liability, which eroded the freedom he valued so much. He quickly found another place that would take her off his hands, leaving him once again unburdened.

Perhaps that’s why he like Astrid as much as he does; there’s no burden there.

At the moment I think James is probably feeling a little unmoored. He has no clear goal, no clear direction. He can’t go back to burglary; he’s come too far and seen too much for that. But he also doesn’t necessarily want to make a habit out of going on quests and gathering more titles like the Hero of the White Eye. He’s stuck between longing for a simpler existence and a duty to act on those things that’s he’s learned.


Luca considers himself to be many things that he probably is not.

He grew up the son of pig farmers who was gifted with a great intellect, a strong personality but without the strength of willpower to persevere. I suspect he became profoundly lonely in the Elder Foothills, unable to connect to his family or his community and started admiring the scholars that would come through from civilised places, on their way to study the ancient ruins in the region. He probably had a conversation with one of them as an expedition passed through and realised he could connect with them on an intellectual level.

And so he started reading more books. He got obsessed with them. He started considering himself a scholar, and he could have become one if he had applied himself well, but he never did. As he read more he also became more frustrated with his modest origin. He changed the way he dressed, changed the way he spoke, changed the way he acted, all to be more in line with who he wanted to be.

Supposedly in order to get access to more books he was convinced to consume mushrooms which he claims to have given him visions. Those visions showed him a dreadful glimpse of the future, one that he could prevent from occurring. It lead him to the discovery of a book which taught him how to use magic. The circumstances are all a little vague, but afterwards he was no longer a scholar, instead he was a mage.

He finally worked up the nerve to leave the Elder Foothills and I think that cutting ties with that environment which reminded him of who he was allowed him the freedom to tell anyone that he was who he wanted to be. He has also started gathering and gaining more magical power, still maintaining this fantasy that he’s a studious mage. All the while, he’s been taking shortcuts and compromising himself (and possibly others) to gather that power, as is the tendency of those weak of will.

He’s been lying to others, but more importantly he’s been lying to himself; he’s convinced that he’s the only one who realises what is coming and the only one who can stop it. Another lie that he’s told himself is that the ends justify the means, and as such he has made some dangerous and questionable decisions lately. All for the greater good.

I’ve been surprised at the way that the rest of Luca’s companions have been willing to overlook the obvious problems and delusions he’s dealing with. Perhaps they realise but find that the power he wields useful, however ill-gained it may be, and are willing to put up with him.

Eventually, Luca will have to pay the price for what the choices he’s made, the things he’s done and the power he’s gained.


The most junior member of the Heroes of the White Eye, the easiest observation to make about Quentin is that his noble birth has afforded him a life of relative luxury and privilege. It makes him a bit out of touch with the rest of the heroes at times, but it also allows him a different perspective and avenue that the others may have missed.

Hailing from a small noble family without much political or financial influence, it seems the precarious position that House Morvrayne finds itself in has placed an extraordinary burden on the shoulders of its heir. Initially setting out to find a legendary sword of incalculable historical and cultural value which would earn him the right to marry the daughter of an influential noble and positioning his house in a much better spot in the Beauclair peerage.

When, against all odds, that seemingly impossible quest turned out favourably and he didn’t just retrieve the legendary sword, but also became one of the Heroes of the White Eye, gaining popularity and renown in Lyria, the young knight seemed eager to leverage that success into something more. He is keen on following in the footsteps of the legendary knights and cavaliers who joined the crusade to protect humanity during the Age of Fear.

Whether Quentin’s new goal of restarting a new crusade is born from opportunism or idealism are unclear to me at the moment. But for now it seems he has thrown his lot in with the rest of the companions.

He respects James, though is having a hard time relating to him due to the wildly different environs they grew up in. He has big plans that James doesn’t recognise his roll in, and probably wouldn’t approve of that roll even if he did. James disapproves of much of what Quentin does and thinks, and I suspect it won’t be long before Quentin falls prey to the same exhaustion that overwhelmed Emma.

Up until the moment that Emrys introduced Quentin to Andrew Selkirk, the troubadour who came to investigate the rumours of Fleur’s resurfacing, I don’t think Quentin had any strong opinions of Emrys, positive or negative. The two have never held a conversation that wasn’t about pleasantries or frivolities. Quentin has confessed his ambition of a new crusade to Emrys, and found that Emrys was keen on being there to support him. This will likely remain the basis for their friendship; whether Emrys is able and willing to further Quentin’s goals.

As for Luca; it won’t be long before Quentin will come to understand the full weight of Luca’s choices and the possible price that will need to be paid for them. It will be at that point where we’ll see whether Quentin’s opportunism will win out over his idealism; he will have to make a choice about what kind of man he is, and whether he’s made of ruthless ambition, or romantic ideals of chivalry and nobility.

I wonder whether Quentin will ever seek out the crusaders he helped to rescue and have a true, honest and open discussion about what the crusade meant, and what it cost the crusaders and the people they protected. Was the crusade a benevolent organisation who protected the weak from the wickedness of the demonic hordes, or was the crusade enforced on those they protected, whether they asked for protection or not? What was the price the crusaders and those they protected had to pay in order to keep humanity safe, and will Quentin be willing to pay that price? Will he be able to make the hard choices which will pit his ambitions against his ideals? Is he simply the entitled noble who is playing hero until such a time that the hero’s role becomes too difficult a burden to shoulder?

Feedback on Leading Our Game

For the past two years I’ve been leading a game of D&D. I had been toying around with returning to D&D for a while and had been low-key thinking about a campaign premise for years. When Edwin wanted to do a D&D campaign and took over from me running Shadowrun, a game that I had fallen out of love with and whose campaign just wasting panning out the way I had wanted to, Edwin’s campaign came as a breath of fresh air. I had missed D&D and Edwin had put a great campaign together. He had raised the bar in all the ways that appealed to me.

For about six months I worked on the campaign premise, the theme, the continent that the campaign would take place in; kingdoms, cities, cultures, organisations, people. I got really into the world building aspect of the preparations. I may have taken it a bit too far, but I was enjoying it so much that I couldn’t stop. Didn’t want to stop.

Six months of that lead to us starting the campaign and it started off relatively well. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and it seemed like the world I’d created and the things I was exposing to the players was really well received. I got some great engagement and feedback.

Two years down the line, we’re still playing, I moved countries, pandemic happened, lost a player, picked up a player, and all the while I’ve been working away at the story, the campaign as well as the world it’s set in. I must have spent five hundred hours into it altogether. I have so much material prepared on all kinds of places, people and things that the players are unlikely to ever engage with. (Or maybe they will. Who knows!)

But I started to notice that the momentum was being lost a bit, especially around the times where decisions needed to be made.

There was a bit of analysis paralysis happening. The players were sometimes hesitant to make mistakes because they felt like a bad outcome would have detrimental consequences. This is likely due to some events during sessions in the past where they were punished for making mistakes, perhaps their best laid plans weren’t honoured with enough return on investment, or something else that lead to this dysfunction. I assured the players that they wouldn’t have to worry too much and that they could trust me not to fuck them over, and if they were to fail, they would always be presented with a narrative parachute. They understood, and it got a little better, but there was something more.

Recently, I sent all of them an e-mail and straight up asked them for feedback and criticism. It was surprising how unified the answers were. All of them loved the setting, the campaign and which direction it was headed in. But the one thing they would want to see changed was the amount of choice they were offered. They liked to have a clear goal and clear initial steps to work towards that goal. While they appreciated all the different side quests that they could do, and that there were several options in larger quests that would move the main story forward, they’d rather have a bit less choice and a bit more direction.

I did not see that coming.

One of the things which I have been asking for when running a game — and this is was something I wanted even before this D&D campaign — is that people’s characters wanted something; were inherently self-motivated by something. Not by something simple and banal as “treasure” or “adventure”, but that they had an internal motivation to find something, to answer a question or achieve an ambition. If during a session I were to say; “So, after a good night’s rest, after having returned the royal sceptre of dominion, you find that the day is yours. What would you like to do?” that they could be guided by ambitions beyond the just finished story arc and decide where to go next and what to do.

Side quests that would raise their standing within a particular organisation. Investigation into the lost library of a dead wizard I once mentioned. Researching the ancient catacombs that they rescued an injured ranger from to find out who built them. Finding out the identity of a mysterious benefactor. Shit like that.

It would then give me a way to seamlessly weave from one story into the next and start the next session presenting them with the next story, driven from an external source. It would also allow me to tie the story into the player character’s interests and motivations and make it all a little more appealing.

What I realise is that my mistake has been to assume that the players spend as much time thinking about and preparing the game as I am. I have created so much of the world and spend so much time thinking about the ever evolving world around the player characters, all of the consequences of their actions, their inactions, the history and the possible futures, that I have all these ideas kicking around in my head that I think would be fun if I was playing one of the characters.

I should be more respectful of my players, the time they offer up to play in the game, and what they want to put in, and get out of the game. I need to slim things down and make the story structure decision tree simpler. Non-trivial decisions need to be dramatic and have clear impact and consequences in order to make decision making less nebulous. Hopefully that way we’ll get more fun out of our games. More collaborative storytelling. Less indecision.

One thing is for sure, I should ask them for feedback more often.

Conjunction of Planes Recaps


Below is a list to each of the recaps written for the overarching Conjunction of Planes campaign. Sometimes they’re written from a particular character’s perspective, but most of the time they are a matter of record keeping by the Dungeon Master.


Session Timeline Title
110 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Out of the Frying Pan
110 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Stumbling Upon Conflict
109 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Chaos in the Headquarters of the Night Master
108 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Infiltrating the Headquarters of the Night Master
107 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Finding the Headquarters of the Night Master
106 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Over a Fucking Fish!?
105 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Old Relationships
104 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Finding Stable Ground
103 Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Xarrombus
102 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 A Crown of Flesh
101 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 The Aberrant Lords
100 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Infiltrating the Dark Delirium Operation
99 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Grim, Soot and Dark Delirium
98 First Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Grimsdown Observation
97 First Day, First Ride, Autumn Twilight, 1262 Tracking Down Hamish Black
96 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Feather White and Black
95 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A New Course of Action
94 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Escape from Arkenward’s Sanctum
93 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Venoxxis
92 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Third Tablet of the Elemental Eye
91 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Ghastly Menagerie
90 Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Defeating the Sanctum Guardian
89 Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Entrance of Arkenward’s Sanctum
88 Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Abjuration and Divination
87 Ninth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Dreams and a New Direction
86 Eighth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Two Friends, One Lost and One Found
85 Eighth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Sacrifice and Forgotten Memories
84 Seventh Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Reviving a Friend
83 Seventh Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Gods and Monsters
82 Seventh Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Death of a Queen
81 Sixth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Cost of Breaking Curses
80 Sixth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Towed Back to Kingsport
79 Fifth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Down the River Ivel
78 Third Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Return to Rivermeet
77 Third Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Vault of the Senhadrim
76 Third Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Defeating Xamael the Dreadlord
75 Third Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Confronting Xamael the Defiler
74 Second Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Hall of the Senhadrim
73 Second Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Exploring the Senhadrim Quarters, The Final Stretch
72 Second Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Exploring the Senhadrim Quarters, Continued
71 First Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Exploring the Senhadrim Quarters
70 First Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Arrival at the Sunken Temple
69 Ninth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 To Wyrmblood Lake
68 Eighth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Good Sisters of the Grove
67 Seventh Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Blackbough Downtime
66 Sixth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Graveyard Consequences
65 Sixth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Blackbough and its Villagers
64 Fifth Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Arriving in Blackbough
63 Third Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Ignis Fatuus
62 First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Mud and Missed Opportunities
61 First Day, Second Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Arrival in Eastray
60 Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Curious Child
59 Tenth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Firebrand Sermon
58 Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Escape from the Carceratum
56 Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Rats!
55 Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Rebel Lords
54 Ninth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Preparing to Liberate the Rebel Lords
53 Eight Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Orchids, Flowers and Thorns
52 Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Investigating the Sick Queen
51 Eighth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Khazra Skull
50 Sixth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Mother and Son Separated
49 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Mother and Son Reunited
48 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Bringing in a Bounty
47 Fifth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Kalina’s Ladder
46 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Chase in the Dark
45 Fourth Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 The Reaverhaunt Caverns
44 Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Remembrance and Reward
43 Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Fierce Reminder of Old Friends
42 Third Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Hot Pursuit!
41 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 In Preparation for Departure
40 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 Meeting an Old Friend While Tracking Down an Enemy
39 Second Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 On the Silesian Trail
38 First Day, First Ride, Autumn Red, 1262 A Kingsport Homecoming
37 Highharvestide, 1262 A Swift Return to Kingsport
36 Highharvestide, 1262 Highharvestide Celebration
35 Highharvestide, 1262 New Beginnings
34 Third Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade A Great Sacrifice
33 Third Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Atilesceon the Artificer
32 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade An Inevitable Confrontation
31 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Broken Curses and Cycles
30 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Escaping the Madness
29 Second Day, Third Wik, Æftera Līþa (Pasture Mōnaþ), 736th Year of the Crusade Dreams of Dying
28 Third Day, Second Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Exploring the Crimson Tower
27 First Day, Second Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 The Tower At Last
26 Tenth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 A Simple Lock of Hair
25 Tenth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Welcome to Pinefall
Emma, Session 25
24 Eighth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Through the Silverpine Hills
Emma, Session 24
23 Sixth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Travel to Pinefall
Emma, Session 23
22 Sixth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Liliana the Instigator
21 Fifth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Battling the Procyon
Emma, Session 21
20 Fourth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Council and Consequences
Emma, Session 20
19 Fourth Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 A Time of Contempt
Emma, Session 19
18 Second Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 The Allenham Pogrom
Emma, Session 18
17 Second Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Egremont to Blackbridge
16 Second Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 The Old Queen
Emma, Session 16
15 First Day, First Ride, Summer Flame, 1262 Alfred Barnaby’s Pest Problem
Emma, Session 15
14 Tenth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Lyrium and Lore
Emma, Session 14
13 Ninth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Arrival in Bournemouth
Emma, Session 13
12 Eighth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Broken Faith
Emma, Session 12
11 Seventh Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Departing Kingsport
Emma, Session 11
10 Seventh Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Running Errands, Making Friends and Gaining Information in Kingsport
9 Sixth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 The Royal Ruse
Emma, Session 9
8 Sixth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Of Orcs and Men, Jail Break!
Emma, Session 8
7 Fifth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Of Orcs and Men
Emma, Session 7
6 Fourth Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Closing the Portal and Returning to the Estate
Emma, Session 6
5 Third Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Finding the Source of the Infestation
Emma, Session 5
4 Third Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 Return to the Catacombs
Emma, Session 4
3 Second Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 The Return to House Sheridan
Emma, Session 3
2 Second Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262 A Descent into Darkness
Emma, Session 2
1 First Day, Third Ride, Summer Light, 1262
Summer Solstice
In Service to a Mysterious Noble House
Emma, Session 1