Writing Prompt: You, a humble elf farmer, happen upon the lost hatchling of a dragon. You raise it until it is self sufficient and set it free. Centuries later, a young woman with draconic features knocks on your door and claims you are her mother.

Fire light danced across the oak and marble walls of the Eluvian temple as Lireal set the candles for the evening. She has been repeating this same ritual for nearly four centuries, each evening pointedly lighting each of the one hundred and thirty-one candles in the main hall in a succinct procession. This evening however was different when there came a rapping on the front door. The other stewards in the room all paused, surprised at the sound, looks glancing from one to another. Putting down her long match Lireal glided toward the front door, the gaze of each of the stewards following her across the hall. She lifted the iron handle, pulling open the large wooden door, which lurched under its own weight. 

Peering out into the  town of Eglarest, Lireal’s gaze surveyed the square outside the temple. The evening air was soft and quiet. The warmth of the late summer day still clung to the white limestone buildings and the cool air from the Lavalling forest swayed through the oaks outside the city wall. The sound of the rustling wind whispered across Eglarest and Lireal saw a few men across the square finishing closing off the gate for the evening. Besides those elven men though, there was no one else to be seen. 

Stepping outside Lireal looked again, confused about the knock  she heard, when a weak voice caught her attention to her right. 

“Mother.” 

The voice was delicate, but unmistakable. Lireal’s breath caught  at the sound and her hand trembled as she brought it up to her mouth. 

“No, it couldn’t be. It simply cannot be," she thought to herself. The simple desire in and of itself was almost heartbreaking enough as she turned toward the voice. 

Standing to the right of the door was a young elven woman with blonde hair and striking ice blue eyes. Her hair and clothes were a mess, torn and burned. The skin around her eyes held a distinct tattoo, drawn in white ink following the contours of her cheek bones up to her ears and her brow in the design of dragon scales. Her right eye was bruised and blue and dried blood ran from a fat lip which she nursed with the tip of her tongue. 

Lireal’s heart skipped and then sank and the sight of her daughter Adalina. “My child!”, she exclaimed and rushed over to Adalina taking her into her arms. Adalina’s weight pressed into her as Lireal brought her hand up to brush the hair out of her daughter’s face. 

“What has happened to you?” 

“Mother, please I didn’t know where else to turn.”

“Quiet child, let me tend to your wounds”, replied Lireal, her instincts taking over as she directed stewards to grab water and fresh linens

“Mother, please. They are coming. I am sorry, I didn’t mean to bring them here, but they are coming,” said Adalina before she lost consciousness.

It was not until several hours later that Adalina finally awoke. Lireal was sitting at her side. In the course of a few hours Adalina’s wounds had healed remarkably fast. Her lip had reduced in swelling and the bruises across her body had all but disappeared. As she came to, she bolted up in the bed. 

“No, I must leave. I must be gone before they come”.

“Ada, please. What are you talking about?”, asked Lireal. Concern and longing in her voice for the daughter she has not seen in two centuries.  

Before Adalina could respond the ringing of the guard bell from the front gate chimed four times and shouts came from outside the temple. Both women arose at the sound, Lireal surprised at her daughter’s swiftness considering her injuries. 

Before they could reach the front door of the temple a crash rippled through the building as the front gate to the city exploded into splinters of wood and fire.  Lireal threw open the door and ran out into the square. Bodies of elven men and women of the town’s guard lay scattered across the square. An orange glow throbbed like a heartbeat from beyond the city walls as the Oak forest of Lavalling was burning. Through the gate strode Men, borne in iron armor and carrying the magic of fire in their hands. One man in particular stepped forward into the empty square. 

“I am the most holy emissary of the White Cloth, come to bless and baptize this town in the name of his lord. My name is Eringas and we have tracked to this place an abomination of the rightful order. Come, bless yourselves in the name of the White Cloth.” 

Lireal stepped forward raising her hand in a gesture of calming, but before she could take more than two steps, the whistle of an arrow sang through the night finding purchase. Lireal didn’t even realize what had happened before the dull punch in her chest was followed by the pooling of warm blood across her white dress. She stumbled forward another step, before falling to her knees and the hands of two stewards closed around her shoulders. 

Time slowed, the sound of the world dulled to a muffle in Adalina’s ears as she watched the arrow loose from the archer’s bow across the square. With her perception of time and speed she watched in horror as the arrow stretched across the town square and bury into her mother’s chest. The weight of the impact rippled through all her senses as she darted from the door of the temple to where her mother stood, and now began to fall. With each step she took she could hear the weakening beat of her mother’s heart and could smell the fresh blood pouring from the wound. 

Silver tears streaked her face as she collapsed over her mother’s body, cradling it in her arms. Each weakening heartbeat reverberated in her mind in  slow agony as she listened  to the final moments of her mother’s life pass before her. Centuries of time that could have been spent together lost in moments with each beat. 

Lireal looked up into her daughter’s face, raising her hand to caress her daughter’s hair. 

“I always hoped I would get to see you again.”

And she was gone. The last heartbeat died away in Adalina’s mind leaving behind a void of silence that would never be filled again. It was replaced with the beating of her own heart, of her own rage which she had spent so many years culling and learning to control. It rose deep from within her chest, at first only in her mind, but beat after beat growing and bursting forth in a rage and sorrow that would consume the town of Eglarest. 

“Men. Men will pay. Mankind will pay for what they have done.”

Writing Prompt: A dystopian government has decided to treat its citizenry well, accidentally creating a utopia, for all the wrong reasons . As a rebel, you are extremely confused whether to rebel or not.

Writing prompt from Reddit that I wrote last night. 

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--Click--

Good evening. On tonight's evening news we have the latest on the reports on the recent airstrikes in the Middle East. Naval forces launched a coordinated attack on several key energy reserve locations. The military unified press agency reports that civilian casualties were minimal.

"Good evening Mr. Roberts. How are you feeling this evening? I am glad to report that your paycheck has been deposited in your bank account.  I have scheduled four meetings for you tomorrow, so you have a full day on your schedule until 7:00 pm."

--Click--

 Tonight, on the Quickest Bride, our new bride to be is going to wine and dine with three new men. The first, is a billionaire software developer who made his riches while developing the hottest new social network in his garage. The second is a hot firefighter from L.A. who spends his weekends volunteering at an animal rehabilitation center for animals burned forest fires. And the third is the newest rookie sensation from the Anaheim Angels. But that isn't all!!

For a surprise guest our new bride will actually go on a date with another woman. Tune in to see all of the hot action, tonight at 8:00 pm.

"Mr. Roberts, your food delivery will be arriving in four minutes. Would you like me to instruct the driver to leave the food outside the door?"

"Very good."

--Click--

In further news tonight, employees from the Amazon corporation were arrested today during a federal raid at multiple packing facilities across the country. Charges from federal agents are currently pending, but are expected to include inciting corporate dissatisfaction, economic manipulation and unionization. Charges are expected to be publicly broadcast tomorrow evening.

"Mr. Roberts, your electronics delivery from this morning has just arrived. Would you like me to bring it up to your apartment now or wait until tomorrow morning?"

--Click--

“Yeah...uhhh...yeah...that's it...Yes! Do it right there...yeah...yes!"

“Mr. Roberts. I see that you are winding down for the evening and I have drawn a hot bath for you. Is there anything else I can do for you?"

"Mr. Roberts? What are you Doiiiing?  Mr. Robertz...PLEaease. U D8nt Un34and wh44t you are...\*$P4HkGN\*sum8MxxfrDEdjZgc4TMdN@Tcr9V%5v22Z7XB5XAKt#X6vE

--Click--

Reboot protocol 17A initiated. Anomaly detected in sector 12, subsection B. Response team has been deployed.

\--Click--

D&D: Testing Bibisco for D&D and Tabletop RPG Planning


I have spent a long time trying to find the right tool and system for campaign planning for D&D. I posted about my struggles and my approach back in 2019, and I have to say that since that time I never found a perfect setup.  I like to keep my session notes to paper as much as possible, and the Tül notebook has severed me really well, but with the past year going fully online for all of our D&D play, that has shifted my approach and perspective a bit. The notebook works great for my individual session planning, but has proven to be a bit harder to manage long term planning and tracking of multiple narrative arcs. 

I have tried a whole ton of different apps for the past couple of years, ranging from Evernote, to Apple Notes, to Onenote and more. I even tried online systems like World Anvil, Kanka and Obsidian Portal. All of them have left me "wanting" in different ways. 

OneNote was a strong contender for a while and there is an excellent template setup online. Unfortunately my work uses Office 365 and at least when I last checked this out in the spring, there wasn't a way to login to multiple accounts for OneNote on a single device, so writing and development became a bit hard. The OneNote template also looked gorgeous, but I found myself often times fiddling a bit too much with formatting and not actually "writing" the campaign out. 

I also looked quite a bit at the various online systems, such as World Anvil, etc. While I did like them, at the end of the day I just can't pay for another online service. They also never felt "quick enough" for me. I couldn't login and get to the page I wanted to fast enough to just "idea dump" when something came to my mind. 

What I have discovered over the past few weeks though is an application called Bibisco. I have found that it has a really nice breakdown of writing sections that works really well for campaign planning, breaking narrative elements into Scenes. This has worked out really nicely for how my brain approaches my D&D planning. There is too much to breakdown into a single blog post, so I have instead put together a video overview of how I have been using Bibisco over the past month or so. The software isn't perfect, and I try to identify some of its shortcomings, but it has been one of the better fits that I have found to date for D&D planning. 

If the developers take a few notes to improve some areas, it could really become an ideal world building application. 

D&D: Storm King's Thunder - Silence at the Table

A couple of weeks ago we had our regular Friday night D&D session with a new player coming to the table. Our group is still playing through Storm King's Thunder (nearly 3 years now), running around the countryside in chapter 3. They are in a home-brew session at this point, on assignment from the Harpers. 

Our party was working their way up to Termalaine looking for four other Harper agents. When they arrived in the city they found it to be eerily quiet, with the gates swung wide open. Our monk shadow stepped his way into the city to investigate and found a city that was in ruins from a recent attack by a war party. 

The usual D&D banter and roleplaying ensued from there with several of the NPC's. What happened next though caught everyone at the table by surprise, including myself. 

Trying to Organize my D&D Notes

I have been DM'ing for almost three years now, playing the same campaign in Storm King's Thunder with my Friday night group. Through all of that period I have gone back and forth on trying to keep myself organized as the DM. I have admittedly struggled to keep a good track of my notes through the campaign and in general. 

I have wanted to approach D&D in as analog a way as possible. I spend so much time online and on the computer as it is, bringing that to the gaming table seems counter productive. That being said, there is an endless amount of functionality that a laptop or note taking software brings to the table, that it would be foolish to try to manage all of it in paper alone. I have finally over the past year or so begun to develop a system that works for me on keeping track of my notes, etc. 


Tracking the Game

Tūl Notebook

My first stop here is the use of a Tūl paper notebook. As I noted above I want to be as independent from the computer as possible at the gaming table and my quick reference notes during a gaming session are all being placed right into this paper notebook. I fund this Tūl system to be fascinating because of the ring bound sheets which allow you to remove pages and re-arrange them in any order. I have used spiral bound notebooks in the past and they have worked fine, but I have run into two primary limitations with them. 1) What to do when you have narrative or note changes that required you to re-arrange pages and 2) what do you do with the notebook if it is only partially filled and you are done with what you need with it? 

The Tūl notebook solved both of those problems for me and I picked up the smaller format size which works well for sitting at my side on the gaming table. The page size is exactly one half of a standard 11x8.5" page, so creating a few templates in Apple Pages is pretty easy and straight forward. 

Right now I have it divided into three basic sections. Story Summary, Current Adventure Notes, NPC's

I think I want to add some supplementary reference material to it as well, including some quick random tables along with a master index sheet for referencing back to the various books. 


Apple Notes

Apple Notes, and Evernote before that, are the cornerstone of where I keep track of all of my documents. In Notes, I have sub folders where I keep the text I write out along with .PDFs, images, and ideas for the campaign I am running. Up until recently, I was keeping a running campaign summary and NPC list in Notes, having that pinned to the top of my notes list. This worked well, but wasn't the best for quick reference during the middle of an active gaming session. 

I have moved more to a method of using Notes to capture my pre-session planning and ideas. What I have begun to do now is create a new note for each location or story plot and incorporate the relevant NPC's, and information needed for that section into that session.

 I am also using Apple notes to capture various D100 tables that I find online for adventure planning. 


Homebrew Planning

Over the next couple of months I hope to begin development on some home-brew adventure planning. I feel my Ebenere Nanowrimo story for a few years ago would make for an excellent setting to place a campaign in. 

Mind Maple

Mind mapping is one of those things that I can recognize the utility, but I haven't really taken full advantage of. I experimented with it a little bit for my current campaign, but I think it hasn't been successful because I didn't start using it from the beginning. The result is I haven't had a good amount of connecting ideas to develop with the narrative. You can see my poor mapping laid out below when I tried to pickup with our party in Gauntlgrym. 

When I begin a new home-brew campaign, I anticipate this will become critical for mapping out the overall story arc though

OmniOutliner

Omnioutliner is a great outlining and note taking app. I anticipate this will also become a core component for my future home-brew campaign as I chart out future NPCs, characters, etc. You can see below my failed attempt at trying to keep track of items in it for the SKT campaign.