Thursday, 28 May 2015

Kampi's Edda: To be the Light or Embrace the Dark

Another bit of IC jounal this entry of Kampi's Edda. Enjoy! 

28th Day of Skerpa (the month of Mai)
Local year of 5315

Rune: Ingwaz 
Literal Meaning: the god Yngvi (an older name for Freyng)
Interpretations: Fertility, Potential, Virtue
  • Right-side up: Friendship, Inner Growth, Loyalty
  • Inverted: Futility, Inner Confusion, Spiritual Crisis

Again the Ingwaz rune shows its portents, both positive and negative; a week ago it was more so focused upon negative elements and I was in a dark place since that past laugardagr, until today: I met a traveller on the road to Dagger Deep that lifted my spirits and the events of the day restored my faith. I feel that I have taken the first steps to redeem my recent misdeeds.


The Lovely Avana
The traveller I mention was a Wood Elf by the name of Avana. She was travelling south from her home north of the Nani Wastes to discover prospective trading partners for her village. How such a delicate thing made it through the Wastes and the horrors within unarmed astounds me, but as she demonstrated during our wanderings through the wilds her deftness to move through the undergrowth unseen is peerless and her dress has practical design of being able to naturally blend in with foliage.

When we reached the town proper, I gave her to the best of my ability a tour of the layout. Whilst doing so I purchased a bone talisman from a local with the thrice-stacked Tiwaz rune of the God of Courage, Tyraz, carved upon it. Later that day, to praise the bounty of Freyng and the fortuity of his rune, I carved an Ingwaz on the obverse as a reminder of the memorable fortnight I had experienced as of late.

After a tour of the village grounds I retired to my private spot to commune, creating potions of healing and praying to the Æsir, whilst Avana gathered nearby edible berries for us to enjoy. Her knowledge of the uses of plants of this land is remarkable; I feel that she would be most beneficial to the folk of this land if she shared her knowledge with other like-minded healers versed in the herbal-arts.


Once we returned to town we enjoyed a late midday meal of fruit we gathered, come dried meat I had, and a bowl of stew a local shopkeeper was selling whilst we discussed things of a somewhat metaphysical nature: Avana and her people do not worship the divine nor believe in any sort of afterlife; they believe the departed soul returns to the earth. As a long-lived race, they pay respect to their venerable elven fore-bearers but do not beseech them for aid, nor do they receive any beyond what they consider magical boons from the vættir of the land.


I have heard similar things from my friend Tobias, though I believe he acknowledges that the gods do exist, or at least he is unable to explain the small miracles I am able to bring forth nor the larger ones of other, more gifted individuals.


Whilst I am writing upon the topic of faith, I will mention that this seemed to be a prevalent subject of this day for a large band of pilgrims (many armed) wandered into Dagger Deep soon after our arrival. Dressed in stark white vestments with azure features and the symbol of their deity, Om, they preached about the salvation and protection their god granted to their faithful, particularly from the dark lich figure that seems to plague this land.



They handed out pendants bearing this 'Ω' rune of Om and they claimed it protected the wearer from having their soul ripped out of their body by powerful magic. One of their followers offered me such a pendant, but I politely declined motioning to the amulets of my own faith that I wore; I was not about to forsake the Æsir for a single god despite their supposed ways of peace or how tested my faith has been as of late.




Though what their leader, Brutha, preached sounded positive, I, amongst others, was wary of any large force that comes here bearing words of peace but is also heavily armed. When at last the 'Omnians' tired of attempting to convince the stubborn and diverse collection of proud individuals that populate this town to their faith, they quickly labelled all who would not join their cause as heretics and decreed we shall all be cleansed with flame. Battle was joined and throughout the day we fought against those who would seek to assimilate us.



Several of us faithful banded together with the Bishop of Ithus and Guildmaster of the Divine ways (my mentor) Relan, as we fought off first wave of the Omnians. Upon driving off their force from the south of the town, Relan discovered a book belonging to one of the Omnians and set about translating it the divine runes it contained to see if any information pertaining to their faith could be used against them. During this time a few of us took a lesson in learning the first three divine runes for the common letters A, B, & C. 

Personally, I am sceptical that this is the script set forth by the Æsir as a means of writing; it is said the All-Father hung himself for nine nights on the cosmic tree yggdrasil, pierced by his own spear gungnir, without food or drink in self-sacrifice before he received the mystical runes. As I have studied, the arcane script used by the magic-users of this land is incredibly similar to the elder futhark of my people and I believe this is no coincidence; Wodin is the god of magic, ergo that is the script of the 
Æsir. I am willing to accept that these so called 'divine runes' are perhaps the script of the Vanir or other such gods...

Unfortunately for several of us, we were so intent on studying and uncovering the truths contained within the text we failed to heed the warning the perceptive Avana voiced just before we all lapsed into unconsciousness and then death. When I awoke from the deepest of slumber, a verdant-clad warrior was pouring a potion of resurrection down my throat; the one I recognized Relan bestowed upon me after I requested it, for I believed my feeble miracles wouldn't be strong enough to avail Avana if she by chance fell as a newcomer to this land.


Upon assessing my surroundings, I saw that Relan was missing and two others lay dead, one of them Avana. I quickly removed to restore her to life with a potion of my own that an individual by the name of Jackrym had traded to me for a 'favour'. I am not one to make oaths where I do not know the resulting deal, but I believe bringing Avana back was worth it and shall hold true to it though I do not entirely trust him.



Jackrym Donajari
Jackrym appears to be a follower of the divine though I have yet to inquire about the particulars of his belief. When we first met, he teased me with knowledge of the location of part of an artefact of my faith, particularly relating to the fallen Æsir, Lokki. He claimed he would exchange such valuable information for something of equal worth; what that is exactly he has yet to say, but he hinted on something of a personal nature. I rebuffed him at first, wanting nothing to do with anything related to the Trickster, but the thought gnawed at me and I did seek him out to continue our discussion; my reasoning was thus: though I have no interest in the power such a whole artefact could grant me, I feel it is my duty to obtain at least the one part I am able to, lest it fall in its entirety into the hands of those who'd misuse it.

Could this be the mask Jackrym alluded to?
When we met again his expressed knowledge of my own gods, myths, and the artefact (which was apparently a mask created/worn by the god of Mischief and Strife before he was cast out of the Æsir) convinced me he speaks the truth (or at least he is a very good at embellishing it); Shiny believes he is trustworthy, but warns me any oath sworn with him must be carefully worded. So I will take him at his word, but if he breaks our contract, I do know from two encounters that he has a deep aversion to iron and I shall use that knowledge to his detriment.

The question now is, how much would I give for the chance to safeguard this item? Wodin gave his eye for a drink from the well of wisdom. Tyraz gave his hand so the monstrous Fenris-Wolf could be bound. Would my sacrifice be for personal gain or for the betterment of my community?


I must dwell deeply upon this, yet I stray from recounting the events of the day:


We had soon learned that Relan had been abducted by the Omnians and they were keeping him held in Rowanoak. Eventually our foe were driven from the fortress and Relan freed. Once again a group, we made for the holy grounds of Ithus, we much needed to pray to our gods and restore our faith. 




Whilst we were prostrate, we were again attacked by the followers of Om; the seemed content on capturing Relan, either as the prophet of Ithus or as the primate of the divine guild. We drove them off after suffering casualties.

Our reserves of faith were low and each time we stopped to pray, the Omnians would harass us and wear down the small amount of divine energy we'd gain from our devotions. Though taxed to our limit, we eventually captured one of the leaders, the more peaceful 'mother' and scattered the remaining worshippers of Om before they burnt King Willumarius alive. Fighting beside my mentor and defending in the name of the 
Æsir felt righteous; it has restore confidence in myself and my abilities and I spoke briefly with Relan about further serving those I trust by further becoming a warrior-priest.

The remains of the day were spent taking care of personal business, relaxing and talking with friends, new and old, about a great many things: ethics, morality, faith, etc.

Sendill
One of my new friends is a man named Sendill. His attire is very familiar to me, similar to those of my kin and I soon learned he he is a newcomer to this land and arrived in a manner very similar to my own: we were both shipwrecked whilst on a journey. Though few of the names and places he mentioned I recognized, I feel that I have met another of my kinsfolk. That makes two, and with them we make three, the most blessed of numbers. Apparently he fancies himself a skáld; at last, perhaps a decent poet has come to these lands, for I am sick of what that hestkuk Philip tries to pass off as poetry.

The late hours of the evening were constantly disturbed by the antics of a troupe of madcap fools, enraging several patrons, including those of our table like Shiny and Sendill. Our discussion was cut short before I could inquire if Sendill was familiar with the gods of our homeland. Even though he mentioned his interest in the mages of Illodia, another faithful follower of the Æsir would not hurt to broaden their presence in this land, and with his concerns of poetry and magic, Wodin may be of much interest to him...


I pray I will meet my friends again in good health, especially the lovely Avana, for she may have been the one who most raised my spirits the most.

Praise Be To the Æsir 
-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Monday, 25 May 2015

Life of Riley (VHL Concerns)

I've been meaning to make this post for sometime, I just refrained from doing it until I felt I had more definite information, which I do now.

First, a bit of backstory:

About two months ago I had one of my yearly abdominal MRI scans for VHL, and the following week I saw my endocrinologist about the results. For almost a year I had been receiving monthly injections of a drug known as Sandostatin, which is primary used in my case to suppress the symptoms of active Neuroendocrine Tumors in the pancreas such as flushing, but it has an additional effect where it may retard tumour growth and possibly reduce tumour size; the two tumours I have on my pancreas are slowly growing towards the 2cm size of concern where they have the ability to develop into cancerous growths that could metastasis and potentially spread. The results of this latest batch of images were additionally to see if the drug was having any beneficial effect on growth limitation.

The results were disheartening on several accounts: first off, the drug didn't seem to be delaying their growth either by not being on it long enough to have effect or just being ineffective in general: the larger of the two is now 18.9mm in size up from the 18mm it was about a year ago, and the smaller being 1.9mm from 1.1mm. This means sooner or later I'll have to have surgery to remove said tumours, most likely a complex procedure that'll require the reconstruction of my Foregut given their location near the head of the pancreas near various local organs and their ducts, unless by chance the drug does send these tumours into remission.


The more concerning thing though, was the rather sudden appearance of a tumour (2.4cm in size) on my left kidney that appears to be consistent with a Renal Cell Carcinoma. Although rather small and of little immediate concern of possible metastasis (my VHL handbook lists there have been only three verified reports of metastasis from tumours smaller than 4cm, all of which were greater than 3cm in size during a twenty year period), the tumour's rather sudden appearance means that its growth rate is fairly considerable so I should be dealt with sooner than later.

Flash-forward to now'ish:

A few weeks ago I saw a radiologist about the possibility of having the tumour on my left kidney removed through Radio-Frequency Ablation, a minimally invasive process where they basically insert a probe into the tumour and burn it away with concentrated heat. Unfortunately he doesn't believe the procedure would work for me given several factors, mostly sensitive location and its position by the main vessels and ducts in the kidney mean they'd act as a heat sink, preventing them from being able to burn away the whole tumour site. Disappointing to hear.

I recently talked with my specialist last week and he's booked me for surgery for June 22nd. He and another kidney specialist, whom I'm meeting this Wednesday, are going to surgically remove the tumour and depending on factors, the order of preference on how it goes will be laprascopic (keyhole) partial nephrectomy (partial removal of the kidney) - recovery time estimated a month; if for some reason scar-tissue or other factors prevent them going in laprascopically, then it'll be an open surgery partial nephrectomy - a recovery time of approx. three months; and worst case scenario it'll be a radical (complete) nephrectomy - also around three months recovery.

I mentioned to him the pair of tumours on my pancreas that were reaching a concern size-wise from recent scans and that they may want to discuss the possibility working with my other specialist who has been monitoring/planning for those as I have yet to see him since these recent developments; my specialist thought this was a very good idea and shall get in touch with him as it might be better if we're able to minimize my total recovery time by one large procedure rather than waiting until I'm healthy from this operation enough to go under again for my pancreas. This remains to be seen though.

It's good to have a date to inform people of and plan around, but there's still many unknowns at this point, like how early do I have to be off work for any pre-op prep, are my specialists going to collaborate on also dealing with the concerns on my pancreas at the same time, if so what's the projected recovery time, complications, etc. I may get some more answers this Wednesday and if so I'll let those interested if I don't post it on my blog.

Aside from all this, my health has been excellent and I've been doing my best to enjoy the wonderful weather we've been having until I no longer have the chance to do so! Last weekend was my partner and I's 8th anniversary together and 1 year for being engaged. To celebrate, we had a anniversary/belated-engagement party on Friday; many friends came and we were most loved. On the following Saturday the both of us attended Medieval Chaos; it was the first time for the Missus' but she enjoyed and says she'd like to go again in the future. I'll be writing an IC post on that soon. Best anniversary ever!

Photo Credit to our good friend Scotty.

Despite these medical concerns, life is truly magnificent! :)

Friday, 22 May 2015

Kampi's Edda: The Devil's in the Details

Today's entry of Kampi's Edda is a somewhat personal excerpt from his private journal on recent events: 




20th Day of Skerpa (the month of Mai)
Local year of 5315

Rune: Ingwaz 
Literal Meaning: the god Yngvi (an older name for Freyng)
Interpretations: Fertility, Potential, Virtue
  • Right-side up: Friendship, Inner Growth, Loyalty
  • Inverted: Futility, Inner Confusion, Spiritual Crisis


The god Freyng has been blessing the lands of late with his light and warmth, for the rune most connected with this deity is prevalent this fortnight, but the recent events of the 16th day have darkened my heart. I fear that the Trickster has his influence upon that day and perhaps my own soul, for I view my own actions with confusion and disdain. But I shan't dwell upon this, for what has been done in the past cannot be undone and I will strive to live with any consequences.

But I am getting ahead of myself. For the beginning of this entry I shall turn my focus to the brighter happenings since my last entry:

During my stopovers in the lands of Daggergard, I have met with my mentor Relan, and along with acolyte follower of the god Ithus, Zanatos, I have learnt and practised many things. I now feel more versed in channelling the faith given to me by the Æsir during my times in prayer into small miracles that I hope have been beneficial to my friends and to the community as a whole.

Following the example laid before me by Zanatos, along with my desire to further serve the All-Father and the Æsir as a warrior-priest, I have taken to wearing more armour in an attempt to become accustom to such battle-garb, though I do not feel that I am used to it enough to gain any protective benefit; hopefully the usefulness of such bulky dress becomes apparent soon, for I am still unused to the warm clime of this land, and the increased garb makes it exhausting to bear to the point I almost regret the bounty the Lord of Sunlight places upon this land.

A set of greaves, and several plates about my chest, upper back, and shoulders have been placed upon my person, and I have a small shirt of maille I am looking to use to replace my hooded tunic, increasing protection but also perhaps better cooling as well. With the aid of the most talented artisan I have had the fortune of meeting; Gustav of the shoppe Dragon Anvil close to the realm of Blackmoore; I now have a helm in the fashion of my homeland closer fitting to my size and less of that of the helm of a jötunn I previously owned, and a set of vambraces with the All-Father's ravens Huginn & Muninn to wear proudly. 

I have transcribed the inscribed runes of my people into common speech:


"Huginn and Muninn fly every day over the great earth.
I fear for Hugin that he may not return, yet more am I anxious for Munin."
Huginn's name comes from the word for 'thought' and the word for 'memory' is where Muninn's comes from. May their keen sight and wisdom aid me in times to come.

Such aid did not come to me laugardagr of the past week, for I have been much troubled by the deeds done on that day. Initially it began quite well; I briefly chatted with folk, was asked by my thrice-oathbound friend Kail that I might pray that the god of justice of my people, the great Lawspeaker, Forsite, would watch over a trial that was soon to commence and see that justice was meted out. I did so on his behalf, keeping with my oath. I still do not know the result of said trial, but I know the Presiding One would see justice done on the perjured, who was accused of oath-breaking, one of the three most serious crimes of my people.


Just as I was completing my devotions to the Æsir in my favourite place of prayer, I opened my eyes to what I first believed to be a trick of the senses: boldly striding up the path towards me in a familiar, almost cocksure gait was a sight that I had not seen before the months turned to winter in this land. It was the wild-elf known only as the Pict. We exchanged hearty greetings and enjoyed each others' company (at least, I know I did) whilst we travelled the lands. 

He told me what and where he been since we last parted ways a season ago, just after we had scoured the far coast for remains of the wreck that brought me here and finding little but absolution. He told he been across the water to the kingdom of Ankh, where he relieved many of their burdens of meagre wealth, and to the Ork lands of Rugger'shrek on a personal quest to ensure the cousin of the Red King did not usurp their territory for their own. I admire his strong convictions and prowess in battle, though I do not necessarily approve of his loose morality nor his love for coin.

After sometime in the town, we where approached by an individual calling himself I believe Al-Azif, displaced from his home in far southern lands. After some banter and some combat training, the Pict elected to take him on as an apprentice of sorts. (Surprising, it seems the Pict has become more tolerable of being associated with non-elven races; perhaps the past time we spent together lessened his prejudice, if only slightly. Folk still find him brusque and rude so perhaps nothing has changed.)

I myself sparred briefly with a follower of Cheeba, before we took to the bar to slake our thirst. Just as I had paid for a round for the three of us the most bizarre thing occurred; I shall attempt to relate what happened to the best of my ability:


One moment we were standing in front of the bar, the next we were suddenly in wood-henge with, as was quickly surmised, the rest of the denizens and visitors of Dagger Deep. But this was not the wood-henge we knew, it was somehow... different; all we could lay our sight upon was. Colours and textures were slightly off, sounds and voices carried oddly, things smelt as if they were only distantly familiar. It was like being a part of the distorted reflection one sees when they gaze into a pool of water.

We were held fast and silent by powerful magic emanating from one of the three... beings, none of which we collectively recognized but I'm sure we all sensed their power. In summation, they offered our collective freedom from their 'realm' if we entertained them by participating in what they considered a game, at the conclusion of which we would be returned to the Dagger Deep we knew. We were divided roughly into two groups and a leader was chosen for both; the mare (I still don't get the title, he doesn't resemble a female horse to me at all), Dorian Noakes, and the elven prince, Tumbagil.

This 'game' as it was called, alternated between which ever force held Rowanoak during the hour and was victorious during skirmishes in Ork's Field, whist discovering and returning gems the beings had scattered about the land to accrue 'points'. Whichever force had the most 'points' at the end of the day would be titled the victor. These beings also enticed the greedy and unwise with magical rings that would bind them to the bearers' very soul. I wouldn't accept such a prize from any being I did not trust, no matter what powers it may grant. 


Myself and the rest of the group assigned to the mare were then magically transported to a distorted mirror of Hawthorne Heath. Most rallied behind their new leader as they moved to take Rowanoak before the opposing force did, but a handful like myself had reservations on playing this 'game'. Three of them I knew: the Pict, my close friend Tobias, and an individual I met last week called Shiny. The fourth one the Pict knew as a member of the pygmy tribe named Lisi. We banded together and to my lasting regret it was decided that being the most familiar the majority of the group, I should be the leader of our small band. I tried to lead as Wodin does the Æsir, but I feel that I was most unworthy attempting to do so.


I found the hours remaining until the farce of a game came to an end frustrating and exhausting; even though it was impressed upon us any actions taken against our fellow comrades would not have repercussions once we were returned to our own realm, I still regret many actions I took (or did not take) when attempting to embrace this so called 'freedom'. Taking a cue from Shiny's arraignment with Kalabar, our group hired ourselves out as mercenaries and a deal was struck: we were to assist Tumbagil and his force in defending Rowanoak when they had possession of it.

I was determined to stick to the oath sworn and so we did, but only to the strict wording. We did not assist when taking the fort, nor during any of the other skirmishes during that cursed day. The remainder of the day we spent trying to make sense of this whole mess (at least I was). I came to learn that I am not fit to be a leader, or at least one whose followers have such a different moral outlooks than I do. 

I was attacked by those I considered friends. I sold my services for coin like a whore. Though I tried to justify my actions to what Wodin and the rest of the Æsir would want, I see now that I was lying to myself to keep face as a so called 'leader' and give my followers what they desired.

I watched the Pict slay in a cold-blood a mage I considered myself friends with right in front of me and I did nothing to prevent it. Perhaps a madness briefly took me as I rifled through his pouches looking for gains, like a honour-less coward. Even close Tobias, muttered my actions being untrue to the Kampi he knew. Using the power the gods granted me I returned him to life, but that was not enough to forgive the despicable offences committed. I shall endeavour to make things right.

At the end of the day, I was sullen and dejected for I had realized that this thing whole thing, this 'game', could be an omen of the beginning of Ragnarök:


"Brothers will fight and kill each other, sisters' children will defile kinship.
It is harsh in the world, whoredom rife — an axe age, a sword age — shields are riven
— a wind age, a wolf age— before the world goes headlong. No man will have mercy on another."
 
Surprisingly, as promised, those 'beings' returned everyone to the exact spot they had been before we were abducted, once they determined the victor of their 'game': the mare; perhaps the Father of Victory was teaching me humility for my belief that Tumbagil was to be the clear victor due to the combat prowess of his force. I clearly underestimated our force to my further shame.

The Pict, Al-Azif, and I once again found ourselves in front of a familiar bar, waiting to be served those drinks I ordered it seemed like eons ago. I drank deep and often, trying to wash my troubles away. But now that I am sober I recall all that happened like a cruel dream.

Yet, aside from the harsh memories of what occurred and some changes to my personal items, I will strive to remain resolute after my faith has been tested so harshly. I've learned that though I may enjoy the company of certain individuals, they mayhap not be the best influence upon me. 

I need to deeply reconsider my relationships.

Praise Be To the Æsir 
-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Wednesday, 8 April 2015

Kampi's Edda: 5315 Prelude - Night of the Silver Moon

Today's entry of Kampi's Edda is a few recent excerpts from his personal journal:



Julemonth, several weeks following the first full moon of the winter solstice
The local year is now 5315, as have been told (whatever that means)

I have decided to keep a written account of my experiences in this strange land, partially as a means to pass time, partially to help come to terms with my lonesomeness. The winter here, if it can truly be called such, is rather mild. I have known colder summers back in Nordthheim.

I have spent the past few moons south in the city of Helmsgard; I originally made landfall near of the settlement of Dagger Deep. As I have learnt, both places are situated on an elongated isle named 'Ar-Ra-Kus'. I have found work in the harbour as a porter to the many of the warehouses and labourer for merchants; thus I have been able to afford my keep in this flophouse. I have also kept a meagre savings for the expenditure on personal affects: I commissioned a smith of weapons to fashion a knife of similar design of the seax of my much missed homeland. I also fashioned a sheath for said blade and carved the raven of Wodinaz upon it. Perhaps I will gain his favour doing so.

Before I travelled to this city with the last of the trade bands, I journeyed eastward around the berg called by locals as Shadowvale with only the guidance of the one only as the Pict to safeguard me from the perils that dwell therein. We encountered no denizens of the mountain but upon reaching the eastern shoreline which I sought we happened upon a monstrous winged wretch (I now know as a 'Harpi'). The gods granted us favour for we quickly slew the creature before it became aware of our presence with a unerring throw each of our pointed javelins.

We combed the rocky shore for any possible signs of survivors or at least usable salvage from the wreck of the drakkar. Eventually we came across the sea-eaten body of one of my shipmates (whom it was, I could not tell) propped up against the dragon prow of the longship, standing alone erect in the sands. It was then I believe I accepted that I was fated to be the sole survivor of the voyage. The figurehead we left as a memorial in lieu of the runestone I could not provide for my lost crew.

Before we departed the coast following fruitless days of searching, I happened upon an item from the ship not as ravaged by the elements as the rest: a single rowing oar. Much to the Pict's vexation, this lone piece of salvage I insisted on bringing back. Now that I have cut the length down to a more wieldly size and retreated the wood, I have been using it practically as a staff, but I also bare it as a reminder to all mariners lost upon that ship. I pray they have found comfort in the halls of the sea-god Ægyr and his wife Ránn.

The Pict disappeared from my company before I reached civilized lands. I wonder if I shall see that strange wild-elf again...





Rhedmonth, before spring

I have been blessed by the gods! During my time spent in Helm's Deep, I happened to partake in a local blót of sorts and whilst enjoying the festivities I encountered the Bishop Relan of Ithus. We caught up on our discussions when we last saw each other late last season in Daggergard.

Though a busy man to be sure, he was kind enough to devote some of his precious time instructing me further in the ways to commune with the divine. During my personal hours between twilight and dawn I have been diligently practising, and this morning I felt a stirring in the depths of my soul like nothing before! I will continue on, praying that my connection with the Æsir moves beyond mere superstitious practices into something deeper.

Also I bought a used helm from a trader on a whim because it's design recalled that of my homeland. It must have belonged to a jötunn for its size is huge! At least I can wear it provided I have filled the space with my hat. Perhaps a skilled armourer can use the design and make something more appropriate to my size...




Ēostremonth, the month of spring
The locals referred to the date as the Night of the Silver Moon

The merchant company I had been occasionally employed by made a journey north to Uberland and I travelled with them as porter and guard. After reaching our destination, I took advantage of the lull in work to visit Dagger Deep and hopefully see the few I considered family since my separation from my own.

Nothing could prepare me for this day. I shall remember it well.

During my travels along the old Uberlandian road, I met up with my friend Tobias and we journeyed to the Deep together, reminiscing about past times and what we planned on accomplishing during our visit to town. He wished to continue his learning in the ways of nature and I myself wished only to meet more friendly faces. Arriving into town, the pair of us briefly considered the call to join the town guard once our primary concerns where attended to; Tobias visited the hut of the individual known as Orlav, in the meantime I went to visit the 'house-pit-all' Relan had commissioned in the temple district and received a surprising shock: 

The partially finished building was gone (perhaps destroyed during the string of fires that swept through the Deep late last season?) and new structure stood in its place. A most unwholesome construction, filled with bones and a noxious air like a charnel house. What else had occurred in this town during my absence?

The dire portents of this revelation were swept aside when I set my gaze upon fair Sprig, priestess of Ithus. After we exchanged sentiments, Sprig informed me she did not know the purpose of said of the structure that stood where the hostel was, but sensed a great deal of wrongness about it. (When I investigated the interior sometime later in the day, the old rectory had been filled or collapsed inward, yet a stash of personal items I hid beneath the floorboards was missing, undoubtedly plundered.)

Sprig had granted me permission to use the grounds of Ithus for the time being for prayer; though I am indebted to the church of Ithus for all it has done for me thus far, I still feel improper using their facilities to commune with the Æsir... I must find my own suitable grounds.

I was just leaving the grounds of Ithus after my ruminations, I encountered probably the single greatest surprise I had witnessed for many moons: a group of newcomers were being toured about the town by the wayfarer Sunset when one of them stopped mid-stride and stared at me curiously. Upon returning the glance recognition appeared upon both our faces: 

Truly the gods had me in their favour, for the two of us were shipmates during that fated voyage I had written about before! Wolm was is his name! And I was not dreaming, for when we embraced each other he was wholly flesh and blood! Living! Not a draugr or other such revenant! By divine will we were reunited, two astray Nordthmen! The lands of Dagger Deep is truly a realm of miracles!

Our time was spent touring and conducting a treasure hunt of sorts with the others whilst we related our tales. It seemed that Wolm had drowned at sea following the wreck, but his body was happened upon by a hermit who revived him and nursed him back to health. He then spent several months north before making his fateful journey to Dagger Deep. I can still scarcely believe our good fortune. It gives me hope their may be other survivors of the drakkar on this island.


A sketch of myself, Tobias, Reed, and Wolm enjoying the calm before the storm.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)
Upon returning to town, the lot of us; myself, Tobias, and Wolm, along with newcomers Reed, Rial, and a host of other peasants; joined up with the town guard under instruction of Captain Wolfgang Krieger, where we spent our time in combat and formation drills. Heimdallrig would commend his vigilance, for even though the settlement had seen little action over the winter season, he was convinced that the increased trade would bring trouble.

And that it did, for we were in the middle of investigating a possible murder-theft when the accused vanished in a puff of smoke and we discovered to our dismay our Northbrook enemies had taken hold of our fortress of Rowanoak. Thus began several hours of protracted battle in and outside of the Deep with Northbrook as well as various other aggressors. At King Williamarius' lead, we fought to recover the abducted Rex of Hrogn, Lucius, from the clutches of the Black and Gold company; contend with a bizarre eye-creature; and drive the Northbrook and Black Rose enemies from the realm, which we succeeded in doing so, but only as a hard won rout I believe.

Below are a few sketches of these occurrences:


Wolm baring one of the ladders the forces of Dagger Deep
employed to scale the walls of Fort Rowanoak.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)

The irregular forces of Daggar Deep lay siege to the walls manned by 
the vile forces of Northbrook. We succeeded in driving the host from the fort.

(Original Photo by John Marusiak)


Black Rose villains charging forth.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)

Miscreants of the Black and Gold.
(Original Photo by John Marusiak)


The bizarre gigantic eye creature known as a 'Beer-Holder';
Personally, I saw no resemblance to a cup-bearer.
(Original Photo by Sandi Shill)
I fought long and hard that day to pay homage to Wodinaz and the rest of the Æsir for the favour I was granted finding my fellow mariner Wolm, along the opportunity to use my new-found divine gifts to aid my allies so we may continue to protect the wondrous realm of Dagger Deep.

After a long day of battle, several of us had a brief meal in the tavern before we returned to our respective camps. I travel south with the caravan at dawn, but I suspect I am to return to the Deep before long.


Praise Be To The Æsir



-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Kampi's Edda: Preparations for the Season Opener

Gosh, I been so terribly busy lately and done so much to write about, yet I haven't had the time to make any entries! Most of what I've been doing since GottaCon is helping administrate Vanguard Training, and crafting and preparations for the 2015 season opener of Medieval Chaos: Night of the Silver Moon. I haven't had the chance until last Friday to get any tabletop gaming in, I've been that busy!



This entry will discuss a couple projects I completed to improve my kit; Kampi's staff and helmet. Next entry I hope to touch upon Kampi's experiences at the Night of the Silver Moon event proper while it's still relatively fresh in my mind.



As I briefly mentioned last month over social media, that I had fashioned my first foam weapon: a staff created to look like an oar (the idea being that Kampi salvaged it from the remains of his shipwreck and bares it as a memorandum for his fellow shipmates that were lost at sea).

I wasn't able to thoroughly document the full construction process we used (we, as in my friend and I who both build a staff), which should be fine since this was our first time and probably shouldn't be taken as the best advice. Having no formal training we used common sense and based our guidelines around the safety requirements for this years' weapons in the Player's Handbook.

Some of the materials used, top to bottom:
Brown duct tape, PVC cement, spray adhesive, 3/4" and 1/2" pipe insulation,
3/4" schedule 40 PVC, pipe connectors and end caps.
  
I noticed that this year the edge thickness had increased to 2" from 1" from the core, making our staves quite thick; I placed this padding all along the entire length as I wanted it to look thick like a boat oar.

We used PVC Cement to attach the coupling rings and the end caps.
In retrospect, we probably shouldn't have done this; although we were concerned about safely capping our cores, tension should've been enough to keep them in place, and made for future difficulty when we try to stiffen the staves (more on that below).

A big'o'block of foam w/ hot crafting knife.
I trimmed a chunk off and used that for the basis of the 'oar blade'

Once I had fully wrapped the core in insulation foam and secured it with a combination of double-sided carpet tape, spray adhesive, and wrapped the exterior with a spiral of hockey tape, I cut a slot out of the 'oar blade' and using copious amounts of spray adhesive I inserted one end of the staff and wrapped it in masking tape to hold it fast while the adhesive dried.

The final process was wrapping the whole thing in brown duct tape.
For the 'blade' and the 'bottom' I wrapped it once perpendicular and once parallel lengthwise to add extra support, where as the rest of the shaft I taped along the length.
VerdictI had the opportunity to début Kampi's oar during the first session of Vanguard and have used it several times since, including the season opener of MC, which I consider it's final test. I am very pleased with the result. It's stood up to heavy use and abuse with only minor scratches, which are easily fixed with tape.

Improvements: The staff does flex a little too much and might be a tad, as one would say, 'whippy'. This is on account of being unsure if any thing can be placed inside the core to make it more rigid. It has been suggested that one could insert a couple fibreglass rods inside the pipe to stiffen the weapon. Another thing to consider is grey schedule 40 PVC might be slightly more rigid than the white pipe we went with.

It's interesting to note that my 'oar' passed weapon inspection last Saturday, but my friend's staff (which is nearly identical in construction, minus the 'blade') didn't on account of it being too flexible. Also there was some contention about schedule 20 being the standard vs. the schedule 40 (as recommend in the handbook) that we used??? (I wasn't privy to the exact details; I heard this account second hand.) The only thing we can think of is the addition of the 'oar blade' on my staff makes it slightly less flexible; also the materials are the same but we constructed our staves individually so each individual method might also have some baring.

So far building a staff for MC right now seems a bit of a catch-22: a larger diameter core would mean the pipe is a bit more rigid, but the weapon would be absurdly thick because the amount of the minimum edge padding required; conversely, a smaller core makes for a thinner staff, but makes it more 'whippy'. Another friend of mine fashioned his first staff using just fibreglass rods as his core (as suggested to him) but the result was a staff even more flexible than ours! *facepalm*




The one other major project I finally finished before season opener was a leather spectacle-style helmet. Originally, the Missus and I were looking to fashion one out of leather using the pattern for the metal one [here] and sizing it to my head. We got as far as building a mock-up out of card-stock before I met with my friend Doug (a crazy-talented crafter, owner of an amazing set tools and skills, and the proprietor of Aether Anvil; his Etsy store is currently empty, but his facebook page contains many interesting photos and updates), and he suggested I check out a site that sells leather patterns specifically designed for LARP and cosplay called Crystal Anvil.

There they have a Norse Guard Helm Pattern for $3.99; I purchased it feeling that using a professionally made pattern would be much better than trying to make something from scratch and possibly create something ugly/unusable and wasting leather. I' wasn't a huge fan of the eyepiece, but Doug suggested we cut something I'd prefer out of aluminium using his CNC cutter.

I printed the pattern out on label sheets (as I discovered to my chagrin my printer won't print on cardstock; this turned out to be major downfall as we will see ahead), arraigned the sheets with a slight overlap together as a large poster, cut out the pattern pieces, and stuck them to the suede side of my leather, which I then cut them out individually.



The next thing that was to be done was punch all the rivet holes, and clean the edges with a beveller. Once that was complete, I met with Doug for the final steps: dying, assembly, waxing. 

On a hunch, Doug suggested I assemble the helmet first, and after hammering all the rivets it became apparent to both of us that this helmet was way too large


I have a rather small head, so it looked absurd on me (it kinda looked like a bishop's mitre. Battle Pope!), but even to larger people like Doug it was too big. The pattern had somehow printed too large; it is mentioned in the pattern that it's spec is for a 25.5" head-size with padding, and one could scale up or down to achieve the preferred size, but annoyingly nowhere does it explain how one would go about scaling the pattern. We originally thought I must've messed up somehow when I printed the pattern, but when Doug imported the PDF file into his the CAD program he uses for the CNC when designing the eyepiece, the ratio was incorrect. 

Additionally the ruling marks on the edges of the pattern don't equate to inches (something I noticed when laying out the prints); they're pretty much arbitrary numbers at his point. I hadn't printed it wrong, the pattern itself was wrong; this was something I would have discovered if my printer allowed me to make a mock-up out of cardstock! Learn from my mistake and be wary of any sizing inconsistencies in the patterns from Crystal Anvil.

Disheartened, the following day we decided to complete the other steps and see if the helmet might look a bit better at the end. We dyed it black, then manufactured the metal eyepiece, oxidized it, and riveted it on before we waxed the whole thing.


At home I warmed the waxed leather further and worked down the rumpled edges of the leather to a more uniform roundness, the gave it a protective coat of mink oil. After all that it looked much more tolerable.

On a positive note, instead of using loads of foam to fill out the helmet so it'd fit on my head, I realized that Kampi's hat easily fits inside it, meaning I can simultaneously pad the helmet and store my hat when I wear it. Plus the hat's fur trim looks pretty decent from the back. All I added was a couple bicycle helmet pads in the front and back to provide a bit of padding and for something for the hat to gain purchase upon, and a line of weather stripping under the nasal portion of the eyepiece in case it just pushed into my face.


Verdict: I wore this helmet for about half of the season opener (the combative parts), and despite the look I'm pretty content with it. It was nice to have an extra hitpoint in-game, and the actual protection it gave me increased my confidence. I even received a few complements on it so it must not look that bad.

Eventually, I plan to sell it to someone whom it fits better and Doug and I will scale the pattern to the correct dimensions for my head, cut new pieces quickly with his laser cutter, and make a new correctly-sized helm for Kampi. Maybe I'll even take the time to tool/burn patterns into the leather and/or add a few more metal plates. Until, then this'll do.



I have a many more projects on the go that I didn't get finished in time for MC: still working on the embroidery for Kampi's hat, a replacement hood wrap, and a tunic and cloak for my Ankhadian Ranger kit, now that I'm a member.

Additionally, based upon my well-received performance during a Post-Apocalyptic Paintball-LARP Beta we attended last month (where I played a medic), I've been selected to be the groups healer (medico); so I'm slowly constructing a medieval fantasy 'first aid kit' that's based around the 'four humours'. It's just a matter of acquiring/building the props/phys reps and figuring out the RP fluff and the game mechanics.


Hopefully you'll be hearing about these soon.

Cheers!

Friday, 13 March 2015

Dread Cthulhu Questionnaires

Boo! Happy Friday the 13th, a perfectly dreadful day to release some custom material!

For any and all interested, below are the character questionnaires I designed for a recent Dread game I ran several times that used the Call of Cthulhu scenario: Dead Light. I've been referring to this mash-up as Dread Cthulhu (or in this case specifically, Dread Light).

Although a couple of the questions relate mostly to the scenario (mainly the plot hook), with a bit of tinkering these questionnaires could easily be used in any early turn-of-the-century setting that utilizes elements of supernatural/cosmic horror.

Aside from the plot hook, most of the queries are based around the characters' backgrounds and their relationships to each other and don't directly relate to the story of Dead Light. Since the scenario itself is mostly straightforward survival horror, there were few questions I felt I could ask without directly spoiling some elements of the adventure. This I believe makes them general enough for use in other scenarios.

That said, I also think utilizing these characters for best effect (and this true for nearly all Dread games), is by providing them with interesting answers; I tried to make the questions ripe for potential. The players just need to provide meaty story hooks that can add to the atmosphere of the session; don't let them pass with run-of-the-mill pedestrian answers, I imagined most of these characters as fitting into common lovecraftian tropes and archetypes (both classic and pulp).

Don't be afraid to play these to the hilt, otherwise the characters may become too passive and static, only reacting to events but never being proactive (even if they're proactively bringing about their own doom). It's up to the players and the host to breathe life into these characters and make them interesting, that way there's more player investment in them and each pull of the tower more dire. This is a one-shot game, don't be afraid to play up the characters.

On the other hand, not every question has to have a detailed answer, as the host only ends up using a few of them directly in the game anyway; I think they're there to help flesh out a character and get the player into their mindset.

Anyway, that's all common Dread advice, but it's worth mentioning again I think.

I created nine character questionnaires for players/hosts to choose from for variety, I also tried to keep their orientation gender-neutral, leaving up to the individual gaming group to sort out if a role is setting appropriate for a particular gender or not.

You can download a PDF for printing here or a google Doc for editing here. Or you can just view/copy/paste the text dump below:



[Clerk]

You just had to personally retrieve some relevant case information from up north. Why do you think this whole trip was a ploy by your office rival?

Though you've been a legal secretary for about a year now, only until recently people still treated you as a lowly clerk. What did it finally take for the men to respect you?

What do you consider your best feature? What's your worst?

You've had to defend yourself against those whom are threatened by your nonconforming independence. What item do you keep close to help protect yourself?

Why don't you go to church anymore?

You recognize that character from a scandal your firm helped keep from going public a few months ago. Whom is it and what was their part in it?

If you had the power to dispense justice, why would you have your own grandfather executed?

Whom or what are you anxiously waiting to come home to? Why would you loose social standing if anyone else knew?

What's your name?



[Farmer]

You hail from one of the many of the farmsteads of central Massachusetts, but what recently brought you East from your home?

Your daughter got you one of those new-fangled pocket lighters before you stopped talking to each other. Why do you still carry it although you no longer smoke?

What dead animal did you come across as a child that profoundly affected you? How?

What do you dislike about the character sitting next to you? Who would you rather sit with and why?

What handy item in your pack did you have the opportunity to pick up whilst in town?

Years ago, you had an appendage amputated after it was crushed whilst you were repairing a traction engine. On which limb was it? Do you use a prosthesis or aid?

People say you're superstitious because you do what?

As much as you dislike the city, how has this trip made you feel better than you have in years?

Only family members refer to you by your given name. What's your full name?



[Scholar]

You just attended a reading of an old colleague's will in Ipswitch and have caught the motor coach back to Arkham. What strange object did they bequeath you?

You've studied many languages during your spare time at Miskatonic University, but why do the texts in the Special Collections Room make you uneasy?

Though you'd be practically blind without them, what do your bifocals help you with the most?

Why do you keep from listening to the radio or using the telephone despite being so apt at electronics?

What are the first things others notice about you?

Why do you feel the need to blame others for your own shortcomings?

Who amongst the other characters makes you nervous and why?

What gives you the strength to face another day?

What does the nameplate on your door say?



[Driver]

A few months ago you started to bus people around the county in your converted charabanc. Why can you no longer stand being in town more than a few days?

Why do you think you have such control issues? What is the real reason?

Though you took it to the garage in Arkham last week, what part of the motor coach is still giving you problems?

What happened during your childhood that makes you hate it when people whisper?

What do you keep underneath the driver's seat just in case?

You were quite an athlete in college before you were expelled. What did you compete in? Why were you expelled?

Despite having a deep-seated grudge against their kind, which character did you let board the coach and for what reason?

Why do you believe your string of bad luck is about to change?

What's the name on your bus drivers license? What's your actual name?



[Veteran]

You have been making your way south through Massachusetts via motor coach to Kingsport to see distant relatives. Why do you dread this visit?

You wouldn't have lasted long as a medic in the Great War if you hadn't been so reliant upon it. What do you have with you that you've been unable to part with?

Why did you save that old woman instead of the child?

What about your appearance makes people recognize you as a member of that lost generation?

You once had to evict a fellow tenant because of their bizarre and unsavoury practices. What possession of theirs have you secretly kept?

What injury of yours has never quite healed right and occasionally drives you to the morphine syringe you keep in your jacket?

Why are you deeply afraid of relapsing to the person you became during the war?

Despite all you've gone through and witnessed, what keeps you from taking your own life?

What name is printed upon the dogtags you still wear?



[Artist]

The first thing you did after being discharged from the sanatorium was travel. Why are you compelled to return home to Salem?

Why do you think your parents would've preferred a son?

What odd skill have you acquired whilst gaining further insight into your art?

They said it was an accident but somehow you know it wasn't. How did your late mother die?

Which of the other characters do you instinctively feel you can trust and why?

What is that thing in your pocket and why haven't you thrown it away yet?

Why do strangers often feel compelled to tell you the intimate details of their lives?

What is your muse that inspires you through periods of darkness?

What is your full name? What do prefer to be called and why?



[Drifter]

You were picked up off the side of the road just as the weather was beginning to turn sour. What made you take to the road despite the coming storm?

You had no money to pay the coach fare. Which other character paid for you? Where do you recognize them from?

What do people automatically assume about you? And are they often wrong?

Why did you prefer to burgle houses to straight theft or armed robbery?

What awful thing did do to stay out of prison?

What do you have in your bindle that might alter the genial nature of your fellow passengers if they knew about it?

When things get tense, how do find relief?

When the world seems against you, what one thing keeps you going?

Long ago people stopped calling you by your birth-name. What do they call you now?



[Blueblood]

Normally you'd have the means to travel by rail but as of late you've been forced to contend riding motor coach. What brought about this change?

They say that it isn't becoming of one of your station. What is it and why do you do it anyway?

All lineages have their secrets, but your own has a long, dark history. Do you embrace or reject it? Why?

Though you try to dress chic and keep with current trends, what one thing is offsetting about your appearance?

What have these throbbing headaches generally preceded?

What gaudy heirloom are you compelled to keep close otherwise the family threatens they'll disown you?

Though you don't envy what they do, which of these crass characters do you respect the most and why?

When you finally inherit your legacy, what change do you most look forward to enacting?

What's your full name? You tend to go by a false last name when going abroad. What is it and why?



[Mystic]

Why did your mentor warn you against this journey back south? Why are you going through with it anyway?

What obviously gives you away as a member of an oft prejudiced group and what lengths do you go to to hide it?

You often have a recurring dream that you awake in a cold sweat from. What is it?

When you place your hands upon a person and concentrate, what can you do? What's the harsh side-effect for you?

What do you always have with you to keep you protected from evil?

What vocation are you forced to do you do to keep your family fed?

Though they'd be loathed to admit it, which other character has had to rely your unique talents before? Why?

What gives you hope through the trials ahead?

What did you have change your name to? Why?



Cheers! ;{١