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Prepared!: Clouds Come Down

John Constable 1814 Stour ValleyWe started there, a mote from the heavens; we’ll return there—if the sky will have us.
—Archdruid Naqua of Tellwood

A bit of intrigue is just what your party’s stroll through the wilds requires. Today, Prepared! brings you a bit of the sky with this elementally imbued scene.

Clouds Come Down

The road vanishes now and again, but, for the most part, guides you onward. It is not a bad day for travel, but it is also not a bad day to be a gnat—gathered swarms of biting dots surround you. The clouds are thin and wispy; they seem a god’s afterthought.

After you turn a bend in your mostly reliable road, you bear witness to a strange sight a hundred feet ahead: a cloud is falling heavily from the sky. It lands on the soft grass—such that the air from its descent flutters your clothing and hair. A cloud has come down in front of you.

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Real Steel: Fantasy Metals

IridiumRecently, Wolfgang and I were exchanging emails, chasing down a few ideas for some Real Steel. One of the things we discussed was fantasy metals, and then he said this: “Or maybe elven chain is really titanium?”

This is something I’ve often thought about, so I knew right away fantasy metals were going to find their way into Real Steel.

Could Mithril be Titanium?

Let’s start by talking about titanium. A question that is often asked at bladesmithing events, and usually by those with a new interest in the craft, is “why not make knives/swords/blades out of titanium, since it’s better than steel?”

The question is always answered by an accomplished smith with a solid background in blade metallurgy and/or blade history, and always goes something like this:

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Howling Tower: It’s All About Teamwork

Gustave Doré’s illustration of Lord Alfred Tennyson’s “Idylls of the King”, 1868.A group of RPG characters is like a U. S. Army Green Beret team or a Navy SEAL team. Every member of the squad has a specialty, and for the group to succeed, everyone needs to be on the job. That means cooperating with teammates and sticking to the plan when the world, in the guise of the GM, throws its full weight against the heroes and tries to cast them down in defeat.

The story (the adventure) has a villain, and he wants to win. His goal is not to provide the heroes with a heady challenge that fills their lives with excitement before they inevitably triumph over the villain’s ambition. That outcome is the exact opposite of the villain’s goal (unless your GM adheres to the idea that villains should have fatal personality flaws like those outlined in this i09 article on the 12 biggest blunders evil wizards make. A worthy villain will do everything in his power to prevent that outcome.

This doesn’t mean the GM is out to screw the players, but it does mean the challenges characters face won’t be easy. No one should expect to be allowed to skate through “for the sake of fun.” Before it’s all done, you should expect to be in a no-holds-barred fight to the death—meaning that if you lose, you die. In a situation like that, what could possibly be your motivation for working at cross-purposes to the team?

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Adorable Creatures: Otterling

OtterlingQuick-witted, devious, and ambitious, otterlings are a mischievous race that dwells in riverfront villages. They make natural craftsmen and nimble fighters on the battlefield. Meanwhile their grandiose ambitions often lead them to unlawfulness.

Otterlings are the second race in the Adorable Creatures series, following Garden Gnomes. As natural rogues and wizards, otterlings make powerful allies, often thinking outside the box and having a plan or at least the resources to get them out of any situation. However, their unethical practices and greed can put them at odds with more lawful party members.

For my campaigns, I wanted to create a culture of people who make their living off the black market or else are known for raising rogues and wizards. Though evil, otterling settlements see the value of good business and rarely attack good-doers on sight. This allows DMs to include otterling villages in good campaigns where party members can track down an enemy on the run, find new magical items, or find information on the shadier corners of the world.

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