Its a simple but incredibly critical question, what is your favorite setting, Classic Dnd, Underdark, Jungle? I love any Horror setting, so as long as its scary im happy what about you?
Durgarn-hur or Fikli Ir
Deep in the heart of Dwarven mines lies creatures not for men to know, we have yet to see if Durgarn-hur is one of these beast.
I met him under the most normal circumstances, and yet I know it was the gods at work, to what end they send him, I do not know. It was in the Maiden’s Bloody Heart, a tavern I frequented at the time that we met, that the monster of a man simply sat at the stool next to me. He stands something like 6 feet high, and grabs the room with his impressive visage, gleaming white scales contrast the strained and warn leather that clings to him. Perpendicular jagged and stained fragments of metal thrust from his figure like wicked claws grasping for something not there. A deep red cloak rest around his neck, and drapes far below his waist, stopping just shy of his leather clad ankles, which are adorned with tribal feathers and beads. His Reptilian face is scarred and battered, covered in marks from a thousand encounters with bad luck, but his deep blue eyes seem endless, and when one looks upon them too long, they feel the chill of a deep, dead winter’s night. Around his hands sat two sets of heavy brass cuffs trailing from each, warn and rusted linked chains hung, dangled. When they rang it sounded like a melancholy procession filled the air around him. This is the creatures that sat just one stool over from me, this was Durgarn-hur. I never will know what compelled him that day, and that is again another reason I believe it work of the gods. For there is little chance he knew who I was. After the initial fear had subsided, I took it upon myself to begin the most life changing exchange I have ever had.
“You must be new here, I would remember a face like your’s” I said,
“Aye, it would seem I am a new stone in the pile” He replied in an unbelievably thick accent I could only perceive as that of a dwarf. This was not the first nor last time Durgarn-Hur would surprise me.
“Do yer’av anything stronger here, or should I just buy the whole cask?”
“I wouldn’t know, I always drink this same cheap stuff, your accent, it sounds .. dwarven?” I replied unconfidently as I waved the bartender over.
“My past isn’t a light subject, laddie, but if yer buy the cask, i’ll tell it to ya, on the stone’s oath” He replied as finished his second drink since he arrived.
I knew it was surely insane, no matter how good one story is, it is still after all a story, and he was so eager to tell it, it couldn’t literally be worth it weight in gold, but that is what he asked. If I had not known the bartender as well as I did, I wouldn’t have done it either, but I knew I could get a fair price. That little thing at the back of my head tugged at the thought perhaps this was a story worth hearing.
“Done”, I replied as I grabbed the bartender, to arrange terms, That was the only time I saw Durgarn-hur surprised.
“Ah well, I deals I deal I suppose, beside what’s the point in living a tale if you don’t get to tell it, In the mines, each dwarf’s story is recorded in stone so it will last forever, Mine however will live through you I guess.”
The Following is his tale, as best as I could record it, Some of it may be fuzzy, it wasn’t until halfway in I thought it truly worth recording, and by then so much had happened. He stayed in the spot all night, and if I had moved I thought I might loose this forever. The most fascinating tale I’ve ever heard from a stranger.
It was many years ago for us, but to dragon kin, times moves slower. He awoke in small nest made of straw and sticks, and remembers the warmth of the fire, something he would never forget. Staring back at him were two creatures, each of them had large ruddy cheeks, and long dark rivers of hair that flowed from their heads to their waste, they appeared more intricate in the middle, and one was clasped with shiny metals. The Creatures shouted and screamed at Durgarn. He however could not understand the reason, or their intent. More of the things came running into the stone room, shouting and dancing, it was a terrifying sight, but what he remembers most was that cracking fire, and its extreme, oppressive, titanic waves of heat, they spurned him, and in a flash of white he scurried across the room. This is the first Durgarn-hur’s terrible memories and the one that haunted him in the night.
Time passed, again, time feels different for the dragons, and he stayed under the dark stones of the dwarves for far to long. His next memories were after he had grown, he learned the language of the creatures that imprisoned him there in the granite vaults, with cyclopean walls, Dwarves they were called and Durgarn-hur was he. Placed in chains, he worked for the things, toiled on their machines, and with their metals, he helped forge masterpieces and mend the un-mendable, it was the only enjoyment he would find deep in those stones. One day Durgarn fell upon his worst of unlucky encounters. He asked one of the dwarves, why he was called Durgarn, and why he worked all day while others sat idle. This Infuriated the dwarves, who began yelling at at Durgarn, he however did not yet understand what they were entirely saying, or why they were attacking him. One dwarf slashed him across the face with a shard of metal, this is how he got his first scar. From as he says, “an encounter with bad luck”.
From this day forth, Durgarn learned two lessons, to never question your superiors, and to fight when attacked. The Former would save his life, the latter, win his freedom. Durgarn-hur, was worked the next day, as hard as ever. Then he was gathered and brought deep into the mine, to a place he cannot forget, even in his more euphoric dreams. The Carved walls of the pit were to clean to climb, and circler design prevented any shimming up in corners. But Durgarn, had little time for either activity, sitting opposite of the young dragon kin, was a large beast, with razor like tusk and wild eyes, The creature stamped his hooves and charged. A wild squeal was loosed, and Durgarn knew, if he wanted to avoid another scar, he had to act fast. His mind however as a jumble, he could hear a thousand foreign words roaring around him, the wild cry charging at him. That and the raging fire, of very first day, the crackling of the wood, and the oppressive heat of the flames. He re-focused barely in time. Dodging the beast at the last moment, his scales tightened, and his cold winter eyes focused on the beast. As it crashed into the thick stone wall an even louder noise was loosed. Blood splayed all across the wall, and the beast fell silent. Everyone in the arena sat still, even Durgarn was in awe. He slowly approached the beast, and upon inspection realized when I had crashed into the wall, its tusk splintered, and falling back into itself, pierced the beast heart and killed it. Durgarn had finally had an encounter with good luck. He reached down and removed a large shard of the tusk. He held it in his thick fingers, and looked at the crowd. Durgarn couldn’t understand much, but from the roars he gathered, he wasn’t suppose to live. To him, it felt good to defy the odds, It was a feeling he would chase for the rest of his life.
After that night, Durgarn never saw a full nights rest, only times when he won in the area faster then others, and got just a few hours of rest. This in time was alright for the dragon kin, he lived on the excitement, and the odds were never in his favor. He fought more animals until the dwarves grew truly bored of him. They began to pit him against beast of the underdark, monster of an arborous nature that even he refuses to speak of. Finally they fought him, and in time he learned their ways. Even in his eyes earned the respect of some of the more, liberal dwarves. This, eventually won the dragon his freedom, and his right to bear the name Filik Ir, the Freed One. Durgarn remained in that dwarves mine for a short time, but he knew his time would come again, when those small dark monsters would force him to fight again. He left those stone vaults, and angry creatures behind. His tale would not be recorded in the stone hall of lore the dwarves kept. It would be song, by the bards of waterdeep, and by the children who hope against hope to escape an “Encounter with bad luck”
–Tale from the Journal of Kelvos Darkeyes, Traveling bard
(Picture credit dnd.wizards.com)
You sit in a Tavern Surrounded by strangers
It all began with a random comment and a curious friend, he asked me something about D&D and boom, there was, I didn’t even know what had been let loose. I told him all about the adventures I had, as an Oath sworn Paladin, and a Greedy Rouge, I told him about dragons, and wizards, about turning javelins into rail guns, and about nuking towns with scrying spells, and funny enough he didn’t seem to care nearly as much as I did. I wanted that feeling back, I wanted to dungeon delve, and solve the great mysteries of the kingdom. So I took up the mantle of (queue that funny Zelda treasure noise) Dungeon Master, but I found out I was a few editions behind, I played 3.5, and 5e is …. different, especially for a rusty player. I had books to buy and Adventures to write, but then I realized what’s an adventure, monsters, plots and all with out the adventurers? I had the usual troubles, flakes, half commitments, and an ever shrinking group, But eventually we settled for four solid newbie’s not unlike myself, It was a case of the blind leading the blind and looking back even just a few sessions (were about 7 sessions in now) I can see the myriad of mistakes made.
Hindsight Always rolls a 20
I find I make the most mistakes when I feel the most confident, not unlike a fighter charging into a group of bandits, only to discover their all werewolves, and you don’t own any silver. The first few sessions, at the start were not all that bad, (see that’s the confidence bit) but as the grind went on, I began to feel like the last party member, bleeding out without much hope. I had what equated to maybe, 3 more sessions of experience with the game then my Players did, and almost none of that was as a DM. It’s like teaching your crew how to build a house, when you don’t even know how, you make the best of it.
I skipped a lot of crucial steps, first off, I had my character creation session, and our first play session at the same time. Which led to a lot of stress, How does the party know each other? Why do they care? and most off all why are they here? My party was practically all new to the game, and I wasn’t much less green. I got hung up on these small details, and it pained me that my players couldn’t care less. They wanted to play, whatever that meant for them, I found out that meant a lot of talking, a lot of rolling 20’s, and apparently marrying each other, oh and collecting every random item worth anything.
I guess the REAL take away for me was that lesson the books keep repeating, but that you never really learn until you play. It’s about having fun, however you do that, if that’s the serious horror campaign, or the silly high magic where dragons constantly get turned into shep’s and a man-bearpig leads your party. It’s about how you have fun. That’s the real magic a DM brings to the table.