Monday, June 29, 2015

Kjorûn Gatekeeper

A rare deity of the dwarven pantheon, Kjorûn does not condone war, yet he stands as a brave and capable warrior. Though a demigod of humble status in Holmring, many revere him in Araldûr and on Kragdûr for different reasons. On the moon, he unveiled the secret of seitha and a proved himself hero of the early colonial times. On Calidar, he is seen more as a pacifist with the wisdom of being ready for war to best avert it. As such, he garnered respect from Alfdaíners and their spiritual patrons. He protects those who guard citadels, great walls, and towers from invaders. Above all, he honors those who die in this sacred duty. Kjorûn earned the trust of the Dârgilath, and consistently gains followers among engineers, architects, masons, stone carvers. The Gatekeeper is the consummate builder of fortresses, and many mortals pray for his protection when they fear an invasion.  Here is some of his mythology:

"From the union of the All-Mother-Mountain with Kjosgor Stonecrown, an earth elemental ruler, rose their son, Kjorûn. He remained for a time on his father’s plane, learning the ways of the stone realm. Few among the elementals accepted him as one of theirs. In their stolid and rockbound points of view, he was a half breed, weak and soft like his flesh and blood. Fights continually pitted factions of elementals against denizens of fire, air, and water. Tired of their bellicose nature and pointless wars, Kjorûn departed to live at his mother’s court.

“And who is this pebble of a godling asking for entrance in Holmring?,” railed Krîma Ironblaze. “He is of my blood,” answered Khrâlia. “And I welcome his presence under the vault of Tokhrast Bryn.” But the war goddess did not flinch at the response. “He may be so, yet tradition demands he prove himself worthy.” The term “tradition” tickling his eardrum, Djurohr Hammerlaw joined the discussion. “The Thayn of Hûrkhana is right, Khrâlia Mountain Queen. It is the law.” Thus did the door to the Great Mountain become shut to Kjorûn and the demigod depart to the mortal world.

Monday, June 22, 2015

Ghedrun Evercraft

Ghedrun is an automaton that ascended to divine status. Her maker, Klangrîm Thunderforge, gave her half his heart, which contained the magical power to make Ghedrun come alive. It imbued her mind with his memories of Belbryn Sunblade, his late wife. She appears in many ways like her predecessor, in body and personality, yet she remains fully aware of her nature. It remains unclear whether Klangrîm first thought of replacing his beloved spouse with an automaton or his mortal faithful did, but the end result is all the same. Since she ascended, his followers readily accepted Ghedrun’s existence and amended the Krone Skrinâd accordingly. The idea of a mechanical goddess captured the minds of countless dwarven engineers and clockworkers of the Dârgilath who soon established her cult. This sealed her status as a rightful goddess of Holmring.

From her Mythology:  When Ghedrun’s eyes opened, she saw at first the concerned face of her maker, as he hunched over her to examine his work. He then reached into her chest, flicked a spinning wheel into motion, and a ticking sound followed. The machinery within her whirred, ground, and chimed as her arms, legs, and facial parts came alive. Satisfied, the Great Blacksmith flipped panels shut on her body, and stood back. As the rest of his figure shifted within Ghedrun’s field of vision, she saw a gaping wound in his chest, and within it, half a heart beating with the same pattern as her own internal workings. He noticed her gaze and pulled up the top part of his leather apron to mask the wound.

“Arise, my beloved. Take your place at my side,” Klangrîm requested. Ghedrun sat up and observed her maker’s sanctum: a forge, bellows, anvil, and great hammer on one side, a wondrous workshop on the other, with spare parts, sketches, and blueprints. The golden bust of a woman stood nearby atop a pedestal. “Who is this?” wondered Ghedrun. “It is you, dearest, or perhaps an image of who you once were.” Puzzled, she examined her hand and the exquisite workmanship of the mechanism within. She then caught a glimpse of her face in a nearby mirror. Her traits were identical to the bust’s. Thoughts formed in the marvelous clockworks of her enchanted mind. “A loved one who was lost?” Klangrîm smiled as much as his scarred face allowed. “Lost? No my dear, not lost. You are in all ways like the memories that lay in my heart and now live within you.” Ghedrun searched her mind and found what her maker had given her. “Yet I am different,” she answered. Gears and springs clicked and droned inside her head. “It doesn’t do well to latch on to illusions for too long, yet a part of me will always be the one you seek, Craftsmaster. I accept it and will return your love, but you must set free what you created for only in this way will our love grow whole.”

Monday, June 15, 2015

Khestrid Goldskald

Born from the emotional singing of dwarves, Khestrid rose as the goddess of skalds and as the spiritual patron of Kragdûras art and oral tradition. Djurohr, as Holmring’s Rune Master, favors the written word, although it relates more to contracts and law than to art. She also stands as the keeper of Holmring’s ancient lore and an advocate of the gods. Therefore, she became popular among the Hâradhir who pray for her protection when they become embroiled in contractual disputes. Khestrid favors hunters of ancient lore, sages, teachers, bards, poets, orators, inspiring leaders, and of course, trial lawyers. Warriors of the Khôr-Halad greatly welcome her bards for their compelling songs and entertaining talents.

Here is a piece of dwarven mythology illustrating her work:

As they march to battle, mourn their dead, honor their gods, or celebrate victories, weddings, and new births, the dwarves sing. Be it for the glory of ancient heroes or a tankard overflowing with frothy ale, they laugh and chant wholeheartedly, banging their fists on tables or hitting the floor with hobnailed boots. From the bottom of their cavernous chests and through their powerful throats, dwarven voices soar to the heavens, rivaling with thunder itself. It is said that from the songs of dwarves ascended their divine bard.

“Khestrid Goldskald,” greeted the All-Mother. “You are a most welcome peer of Holmring. Join me at Tokhrast Bryn, and may you bring peace and joy to the hearts of all.” The young goddess saluted her elder before responding. “In Tokhrast Bryn I shall reside, and to all the courts of Holmring I shall impart the wonder of art and of the spoken word. If Fate will have it, upon sorrow, anger, worry, and malice, I shall cast light and perspective, and preserve the Lore of the Heavens.”

Monday, June 8, 2015

Djurohr Hammerlaw

Holmring’s Great Judge is the god of dwarven law as well as the defender of truth and rightful justice. He favors judges, bailiffs, and all those who are honor-bound to follow strict and detailed codes of conduct. Some stand as equivalents to human paladins, while others adopt a grittier take on the means to achieve their ends. Though more than half of his mortal followers are of Khôr-Halad origins, Djurohr remains popular with the Hâradhir who appreciate his priors’ talent at putting in writing elaborate contracts that make the envy of merchants in Osriel and Phrydias. The Bhalrûd and Dârgilath generally prefer simpler and more radical oaths under the purview of Kustrîm’s priors.  Here's an excerpt of his mythology:

Soon after the ascension of Kustrîm Stonebrand, mortals felt a need to write down ancient laws and traditions of Kragdûr. Not all dwarves were keen on taking solemn oaths that could lead to their demises. They yearned for another way to address their many disputes. The desire was strong enough that the Oath Master should have a brother who would keep the laws, and thus did priors of the All-Mother summon a new champion from the world soul. With the love and affection of his spiritual father and mother, Djurohr Hammerlaw took his rightful place among the denizens of Holmring, and Khrâlia tasked him with creating the Barprovâd thal’Kragdûr, the Great Legal Code of Kragdûr.

But all was not fine with his endeavor. A rivalry developed between the two brothers. It wasn’t long before the two accused each other of undermining their respective efforts. Fate had it that their mother, Belbryn Sunblade, perished during this time. After decades of grieving, their jealousy grew anew. Kustrîm’s self-righteousness and his strong relation with Khrâlia only succeeded in alienating Djurohr. Revered among the Khôr-Halad, the younger god turned toward their leading patron, Krîma Ironblaze. The goddess of war swore that she would seek revenge for his mother’s death, and he became grateful for her pledge despite his father’s stern words of caution.

Along a deserted hall of Holmring came Brâlkha Shadowfist, swarthy minion of the war goddess. “Welcome, Djurohr Hammerlaw, friend of Krîma. I praise your work in Holmring. Long has a voice of reason lacked in Tokhrast Bryn.” Uncomfortable with the salutation’s bold implication, the Keeper of Laws responded gingerly. “I too greet you, Mistress of the Nolnâgh. What brings you to me?” Brâlkha laughed as she faded in an out of the hall’s dimness. “I know what you seek in the Hamardûl. We all heard of your dispute with the Oath Master. You owe him naught but scorn and retribution for his arrogance.” Shifting the weight of the heavy codex of laws tucked under his arm, Djurohr worried about the aim of the discussion. “My brother does what he feels is right. So do I.” The Lady of Shadows reappeared next to him, and whispered in his ear. “There is a way to put him back in his place, Djurohr Son-of-Klangrîm. Change the law so that you may earn what is rightfully yours. Not even the All-Mother will question your judgement, for you are the law. Make the rulings you need and rid Holmring of those who challenge your divine might. It will be our secret.”

The Dark One had used all the magical skills at her disposal to enthrall, misdirect, and influence her august visitor. Yet, Djurohr’s astute mind methodically churned through her words, weighing them against his articles of law. One by one, her dweomers failed before his statutes, decrees, regulations, and precedents. And light dawned upon him about what she expected. “It is my finding that the Law is the Law, and I do not change it to suit my needs or yours. I further caution you not to meddle in my affairs. Mistress of the Nolnâgh, I judge you guilty of promulgating seditious behavior. May justice be rendered.” He suddenly brandished his massive tome of laws and slammed it hard upon Brâlkha’s head as she reappeared from the surrounding dimness. In a roll of thunder, she vanished from the hall. Ever since this encounter, Djurohr retained his most popular name: Hammerlaw.

Click here to find out more about this project: "CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar, check these two articles:  "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" and "Bye-Bye Princess Ark. . . Hello Calidar."  Feel free to comment about the material presented above. Since this book is being developed prior to its crowd funding project later this year, your comments may be reflected in the final version.  Also related is Thorfinn Tait's celebrated work.  Click here for a glimpse of his contribution to the project: maps of course!

Monday, June 1, 2015

Brâlkha Shadowfist

Brâlkha stands as the bogeyman of dwarven deities. Few honor her directly and openly. Those who pay tribute to her do so to ward her off, to obtain protection from their foes, or to wish ill upon them. The Mistress of the Nolnâgh (meaning the “night on the sides”) skims much of her power from the consciousness of superstitious dwarves, doting upon their fears and more evil aspirations. Adopted as their patron deity by assassins, spies, and those whose desire it is to eliminate the weak and the sick, she is generally associated with the Hâradhir clan.

In the darkest of times and in the darkest of lands dwelled a slayer whose skin was as black as her heart. She sold her services to the clans who paid her the most, hunted their foes, and often assured victory on the battlefield. Celebrated by some as an epic hero, she was feared by most as an epic villain. At the height of her notorious career, she ascended as a demigoddess and stood before Krîma Ironblaze.

“Mistress of the Nolnâgh, I value your skills with shadows,” said the goddess of war, “and I praise your talent for finding your way where few others can. I will stand as your Divine Liege, Swarthy One, but know that treachery against me will not be forgiven, and should you be tempted, stand ready to be cast out and to face my wrath.” Brâlkha bowed to the elder goddess. “Ever so faithfully shall I serve you, Krîma Thayn of Hûrkhana, though the manner in which I fulfill your wishes my choice shall remain. If in so doing I incur your heavenly ire, thus must it be.”

Fate decided, however, that the demigoddess should fall in the service of her liege. She’d dwelled for a time in the Ambrosian, spying on frost giants prowling near Holmring’s gates. Suspecting an unwanted presence as he prepared to assault the dwarven domain to avenge his sibling’s death at the hands of Krîma, Sfyrtur, kin of Graltur Icecrown, ordered his minions to search the shadows. The demigoddess was forced out and though she fought a great battle, the Swarthy One perished at the hands of Sfyrtur. He devoured her, leaving just her head stuck on an icy shaft, not far from Krîma’s gate. The goddess of war later exacted a pitiless revenge upon her sworn enemies, after which she enabled the Mistress of the Nolnâgh to ascend once more, as a peer of Holmring.

Long after her ascension and no longer bound to a divine liege, Brâlkha’s shadowy path in the Ambrosian led her to tangle with Ashebai of the Tolarin elves. “Brâlkha Dirt-Monger, dim are your past and your intentions,” said the Whisperer in the Shadows. “You reek of dwarf and other things I cannot fathom. Away from my realm! The shadows are mine and they do not welcome usurpers.” The dwarven goddess drew her blade and responded in kind. “Ashebai Later-Born, I owned the shadows well before you ascended. Take them from me if you dare, elven cur.” Casting waves upon waves of shadowy monsters in colossal clashes, ambushing each other from the dimness of the Ambrosian twilight, spinning in an out of pools of darkness, neither could defeat the other for they were kin of the same element. Exhausted, the two withdrew at last, vowing to seek revenge.

Click here to find out more about this project: "CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar, check these two articles:  "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" and "Bye-Bye Princess Ark. . . Hello Calidar."  Feel free to comment about the material presented above. Since this book is being developed prior to its crowd funding project later this year, your comments may be reflected in the final version.  Also related is Thorfinn Tait's celebrated work.  Click here for a glimpse of his contribution to the project: maps of course!

Monday, May 25, 2015


Balir is Krîma's ally and companion, at least from a philosophical point of view:  whenever there is war, death follows.  He isn't the father of her offspring Arnmîr and Arkhâna.  Those where born from Krîma's fallen foes.  He stands as their stepfather.  He is neither evil nor good.  Though he does not show it openly, he favors his stepson who deals with death and hunts the undead.  The story below helps illustrate his nature.        

A fearsome spirit existed in ancient times, before the rise of the dwarven gods. It inhabited sacred burial grounds, haunting places of death and desolation. Those who transgressed the clans’ taboos heard whispers of their ancestors beckoning them before the cold hand of death clutched their hearts and led them to their final fates. The shamans knew well of this ancient spirit and, at Khrâlia’s behest, besought it to rise from the stony depths of the moon and take on a sentient form. It would be known as Balir-the-Whispering.

When he ascended and met Khrâlia, he extended pale and skinbound fingers toward her. “Take my hand and gaze upon my soul,” he whispered. And the All-Mother seized his hand to peer into his eyes. There, she watched a myriad spirits rise, fight on, and relinquish their existence, all in mere instants as the dwarves of Kragdûr battled each other. Khrâlia released the god of death and considered his words before answering. “Balir Soul-Master, unveil mortals worthy of divine honor, and lead them safely to those they must serve. Take the unworthy to a place of your making so that they may be punished. Release all the others so they may find their own paths.” Balir bowed to his elder and endeavored to follow his divine mission.

As he led worthy spirits away from the world of the living, one Balir recognized as a demon of ogres stepped in his way. Towering, misshapen, with a gaping maw filled with twisted fangs, and its belly a mass of wriggling maggots, Aroogh stood somewhere between demon king and god. “Relinquish your charge, dwarf, and you shall go free,” it demanded. “Take me instead,” Balir whispered, “so the meek may pass unharmed.” The beast approached and plunged its claws inside Balir’s chest, intent on ripping out his beating heart. Instead, the demon’s hand remained trapped while its own flesh turned as gray as ash and flaked away. While the ogrish beast fought in vain to break free, Balir wrapped bony hands around his foe’s neck. “One does not defeat death so easily, demon” he rasped. As the beast collapsed into a pile of dust blowing away in the ethereal winds, the god of the underworld added, “Balir fetches the worthy, and he does not forsake them to the spawn of demons.”

Click here to find out more about this project: "CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar, check these two articles:  "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" and "Bye-Bye Princess Ark. . . Hello Calidar."  Feel free to comment about the material presented above. Since this book is being developed prior to its crowd funding project later this year, your comments may be reflected in the final version.  Also related is Thorfinn Tait's celebrated work.  Click here for a glimpse of his contribution to the project: maps of course!


Monday, May 18, 2015

Arkhâna Emberfury

Here is an entry about the origins of the irascible half-sister of Arnmîr Tinkerbones.  Both are demigods serving their mother, Krîma Ironblaze, and they do not see eye-to-eye. 

Unforgiving is the goddess of war. In her eternal search for challenges in the Ambrosian, Krima Ironblaze defied a god of fire giants, the formidable Arkhroth Bloodboil. After felling his companions, she subdued her mighty foe by brute force and martial means, until he could only submit to her. “Krîma Thayn of Hûrkhana, you have bested me and my companions. I hail your might. Now respect my dignity: slay me at once or set me free, for I shall never serve you.” The goddess of war placed a foot on his chest and her axe under his fiery chin. “If you’ll not serve me, then the spawn of your flesh will.” She callously reached deep into his fiery chest, pulled out a throbbing ember, seed of his divine spirit, and pushed it against her own chest until it sank out of sight. “Thus shall you live on, Arkhroth Fallen-King, and forever remain at my service.” On these words, she wielded her blade one last time and beheaded the giant.

Of this brutal union rose Arkhâna, forcefully-taken spawn of Arkhroth and blood scion of Krîma. The tale was engraved in the Krone Skrinâd, and the demigoddess ascended as the patroness of fire. For a time, she dwelled among mortals to hone her skills and prove her worth. In one her most celebrated feats, she earned the faith of King Khos I, when he ordered the ancient forges to be relit. After centuries of chaos following Kragdûr’s dark ages, horrid monsters had taken over the hallowed caves, and Arkhâna led her champions to defeat them all. Her fury alone was enough to ignite the ancient forges and bring them back to life. As the result, she earned the faith of many a Bhalrûd dwarf, despite her impulsive temperament and fits of rage that have caused countless champions to die at her side.

Note: The demigoddess later attempted to sway the fire giants.  To gain their sympathies, she took upon herself to challenge their rivals, cloud giants of Ambrosia. She sees them as scions of the water element. The fact her half-brother, whom she loathes, is the scion of a fallen cloud giant also gives her the smoldering pleasure of vexing him. Arkhâna often takes her favored spirit servants with her when she seeks battle, earning her mother’s pride, as the demigoddess is a worthy warrior in her own right. She thirsts for blood that could never douse the flames consuming her inner self.

Click here to find out more about this project: "CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar, check these two articles:  "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" and "Bye-Bye Princess Ark. . . Hello Calidar."  Feel free to comment about the material presented above. Since this book is being developed prior to its crowd funding project later this year, your comments may be reflected in the final version.  Also related is Thorfinn Tait's celebrated work.  Click here for a glimpse of his contribution to the project: maps of course!

Monday, May 11, 2015

Arnmîr Tinkerbones

Arngoth-the-White—such was the name of Krîma’s victim, a god of cloud giants whom she’d slain like many before him. From Arngoth’s union with the goddess of war forcibly imposed upon him, rose the youngest of Holmring’s demigods. Searching his souls and his past, he departed soon after his ascension, on a quest to find his father’s remains. Over time, he snatched the disembodied skull and scattered bones from the gnarled hands of fiends who would deny him, and returned them to his peers in the Ambrosian clouds. “August lords of mountain and sky, here do I bring the remains of my father, and lay them at your feet so that he may receive a rightful burial. Here do I come in peace to humbly ask that I may honor him and pay my respect to his kin. I, Arnmîr, son of she who felled your master, am of your blood and seek no quarrel.”

Suspicious and bitter at first, many of the giants relented, giving in to their wisdom. The demigod’s gesture was enough for them to set aside on this occasion their hatred of dwarvenkind and accept Arnmîr’s offering. He labored with them to erect a great mausoleum in the clouds, following advice from his stepfather, Balir-the-Whispering, who spoke softly in his ear of tomb-building and proper rituals. When the task was done, the cloud giants praised the demigod’s hard work, and Arnmîr departed, his conscience clear and his heart appeased.

During his journey in the world of the mortals, more than once did he encounter towns and villages whose people bemoaned the presence of a haunted battlefield in a mountain pass or in a mighty cavern housing crucial crossroads of nearby dominions. Forbidden cities and forsaken fortresses long bequeathed to bitter shadows abound in Kragdûr’s deep. Arnmîr found his calling in ancient, angst-imbued, and accursed places. There, he defied unholy pawns of undead lords and retrieved myriads of bones left far too long without burial. The most horrid of beasts often guarded these places of sorrow, acting on behalf of dark powers that thrived on hate harvested from friends and foes who could not depart. Arnmîr vowed to dispel the evils of old wars, and gather the bones of the dead, so their spirits could find restful peace at last. And always, the demigod’s stepfather guided him to do his bidding.

Yet, the son of Krîma never forgot the living. In the wake of a battle, the most perceptive of dwarves could catch a glimpse of him in the dimness of twilight, tending to those who could still be saved and blessing others soon to pass. Priors devoted to his quest endeavored to cleanse the land from the scars of conflict. Many among the Khôr-Halad honored this treatment of their wounded and their dead. If not undying faith, they offered respect and gratitude. More than one champion, sickened by the senseless waste of wars not won, took on the blue robe and crook of Arnmîr’s followers.

Click here to find out more about this project: "CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar, check these two articles:  "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" and "Bye-Bye Princess Ark. . . Hello Calidar."  Feel free to comment about the material presented above. Since this book is being developed prior to its crowd funding project later this year, your comments may be reflected in the final version.  Also related is Thorfinn Tait's celebrated work.  Click here for a glimpse of his contribution to the project: maps of course!


Friday, May 8, 2015

Godly Philosophies (updated 5/14)

I've been revamping the philosophies of #Calidar's gods (their alignments, if I dare use D&D game terminology). For legal reasons, for the sake of creativity, and since Calidar isn't intended to rely on any specific game mechanics currently available on the hobby RPG market, I'm staying away from the old system to express a character or a god's ethos. Here's what I am considering. Let me know what you think.

Philosophy:PH” refers to an individual’s general ethos and personality. Traits are organized in three broad categories corresponding to the Heart, the Mind, and the Spirit. Each features two opposing trends (with a middle-ground third if neither of the first two are appropriate). Up to ten personality traits describe each trend (some or all of them may apply). For example, Heart features either benevolent or malevolent trends (and a “dispassionate” one if a god is neither of the previous two). The general idea is that the prevailing three trends are the ones with the most traits aptly describing personality. As an option, one could simply list the number of appropriate traits after the prevailing trends (or itemize them in parentheses) as a way to express how intense these trends are. Using the elven deity Delathien’s philosophy to illustrate the matter, his philosophy could be summarized in this manner:

Heart: dispassionate (–)
Mind: instinctive (7)
Spirit: lively (6).

Trends and traits are described below.

  • Benevolent: Friendly, altruistic, humble, merciful, considerate, generous, truthful, trusting, tolerant, magnanimous
  • (Dispassionate)
  • Malevolent: Wicked, selfish, insensitive, vengeful, deceitful, unscrupulous, mistrustful, jealous, manipulative, spiteful

  • Rational: Analytical, calculating, patient, deliberate, cautious, stubborn, methodical, conventional, principled, obedient
  • (Practical)
  • Instinctive: Impulsive, hasty, emotional, unpredictable, bold, creative, curious, adventurous, cunning, unruly

  • Lively: Mirthful or sarcastic, cheeky, flamboyant, passionate, outspoken, hedonistic, shameless, feisty, indomitable, eccentric
  • (Even-Tempered)
  • Stern: Ascetic, aloof, brooding, formal, dreamy, haughty, enigmatic, reserved, self-conscious, dour

If any of the opposing trends are selected, they prevail regardless of circumstances.  For example, if benevolent or malevolent, a god always acts accordingly.  However, if a deity is dispassionate, practical, or even-tempered, this could mean two things, one or both of which may be true:

1. Individual personality traits in either of the opposing trends are weak or marginally relevant (therefore the god is neither fish nor fowl).
2. The deity leans toward one or the other opposing trend at different times, depending on circumstances, such as when besotted, jubilant, angered, fearful, saddened, under pressure, etc.

Other traits can be substituted to those suggested above, as long as not more than ten traits per trend are selected (for example: austere, arrogant, boorish, vain, crafty, forgetful, greedy, romantic/sentimental, etc.)


Monday, May 4, 2015

Krîma Ironblaze

Gods of Calidar
Next in the mythologies of Calidar's dwarven gods, Krîma Ironblaze stands as the pantheon's second most powerful deity. Callous and boorish, the goddess of war is Khrâlia's chief rival in Holmring. Here's is a preview of her story, which takes place in the Ambrosian, a universe in which dwell only gods and their servants.

Krîma Ironblaze rose from the blood of dwarves on the battlefields. The minds of those who wished for victory gave her a body and a face. Those who summoned her in the name of Khrâlia gave her a divine spirit. Warriors were prompt to adopt her as their spiritual patron, one who never gives up in the face of adversity. When Krîma ascended, Khrâlia was there to welcome her. “Together, let us claim the hearts and souls of all dwarves so that they may take their place among the great races of this universe,” declared the All-Mother. The warrior goddess’s quarrelsome nature made it difficult for her to bow to her elder. “Your trade is hearts and souls. Mine is war and glory. Do as you wish, Khrâlia Mountain Queen, but I shall lead those who choose to follow me along my own path. We shall see who comes up the better.”

Despite great victories and ghastly massacres perpetrated in her name, Krîma fell short of her elder’s accomplishments. The All-Mother tallied yet more followers among mortals who sang her praise. In a huff, the war goddess set off into the Ambrosian to vent her frustration. There she encountered a towering god of frost giants with a cohort of his kin behind him. Though Krîma stood well over 20’ tall, a giant herself by mortal standards, her challenger stretched ten times as high. A crisp and crackling-cold haze formed a halo around his rime-covered body. “Step aside, little one. Make way for Graltur Icecrown,” he thundered. Krîma, hands on her hips, shot back, “You aren’t tall enough for that, King of Glaciers.” The giant laughed, picked her up, and brought her to his enormous mouth. In a foul mood, Krîma bit off a chunk of the giant’s hand that held her. He laughed again. “It takes more than a nibble to defeat the Mighty Graltur.” On these words, he swallowed the goddess whole. Her hands free, Krîma summoned her axe, Hûrkhana. As she descended through a monstrous gullet of roiling frost, she sliced all around until the giant’s throat was thoroughly severed and his head rolled off. In a frenzy of rage, the Axe Mistress slew the rest of Graltur’s people, save for a few who fled into the Ambrosian twilight.

When Ironblaze’s rage was quenched at last, the All-Mother appeared. “The rest of their people will bear eternal hatred for all of us,” she observed. Krîma shrugged. “What, you’d rather make love to them perhaps?” Khrâlia smiled back at the retort. “I might.” The war goddess bared her teeth in an angry jeer, raised her axe, and callously chopped off the giant’s mid-section before kicking it toward the All-Mother. “Help yourself then,” Krîma responded with a sinister grin. Khrâlia dubiously eyed the frosty remains for an instant. “Perhaps you should keep it as a reminder that war does not solve everything.” Defiant, Ironblaze strutted away in search of the escaped giants. As a parting shot, she spat over her shoulder, “That remains to be proven.”

Click here to find out more about this project: "CC1 "Beyond the Skies."  If you are unfamiliar with the World of Calidar, check these two articles:  "Bye-Bye Princess Ark" and "Bye-Bye Princess Ark. . . Hello Calidar."  Feel free to comment about the material presented above. Since this book is being developed prior to its crowd funding project later this year, your comments may be reflected in the final version.  Also related is Thorfinn Tait's celebrated work.  Click here for a glimpse of his contribution to the project: maps of course!


Thursday, April 30, 2015

Mythologies: Khrâlia

Gods of Calidar
It's been a while since I last posted game material on this blog.  I've been busy writing CC1 Beyond the Skies.  Just to keep you on your toes, here's a snippet from the section describing Khrâlia All-Mother-Mountain, the chief deity of Calidar's dwarven pantheon.  For the next several weeks, I'll be posting mythologies of the dwarven gods, such as they stand, for your entertainment!

There was a time when the faint voices of shamans echoed through the fey dimness of the world soul. At first, there was a mere ripple at the surface of the great lake of magic. More voices rose and the call became more insistent. In the past, rituals of the clans had appealed for a hunt’s good fortune, or for health to a stricken folk. Never had a call been so imperious and so uniform, as all the shamans requested the same thing. “Arise, Great Spirit. Stand before Your humble servants so they may gaze upon Your eyes and hear Your voice. Mighty Queen of All Mountains, stand and claim Your realm!”

The calls, repeated a thousand times by a thousand shamans each one of a thousand days, reached deep beneath the surface of the great lake of magic. Tendrils of hallowed hope stretched into the arcane abyss, stirring eddies of power never before awakened. A tendril recoiled when a seed was sensed. It glowed, and it grew, and it rose until breaking past the surface like a hazy morning sun. The shamans’ clamor hailed the new dawn. The halo of primal magic split and formed two eyes. Veins of throbbing gold spread from them and outlined the shape of a head and a body hovering above the arcane lake. Divine flesh filled the gaps, adding bone and traits of life. The new consciousness took notice of the shamans and their summons. “Hear me now, my loyal servants. Go forth through the mountains of Kragdûr, its valleys, and its caves. Bring word of my coming to those who despair. Stop only when your bodies grows bereft of vigor. Fear not your death, for you will stand forever at the side of Khrâlia.”

The shamans cast off their ancient trappings and took on the roles of priors, harbingers of a new cult. A thousand of them traveled the moon and its depths, and after them so did their scions, and their scions’ scions. As she ascended to the firmament, Khrâlia shed part of her magic and bestowed it upon her servants. Soon, a multitude of voices reached her, fearful yet filled with hope. As time passed, her elder servants joined their goddess and helped with the hearing of prayers as the faithful fought in her name. They fetched the spirits of the valiant ones fallen in battle so that they could stand in the defense of the All-Mother.

With her celestial cohorts now swelling, Khrâlia led her faithful to a hidden chasm in the Ambrosian. “Here will be the first gate to the Hallowed Domain, and Holmring shall be its name. And there shall be four more of my peers, each with a regal gate befitting their statuses. Children of Stone and Mountain, send news of my words to the faithful. Let them herald the birth of new gods.”

Thursday, April 9, 2015

Frank's Party

I'd found out about Frank Mentzer's pre-Gary Con parties last year, and I'd promised myself to pay a visit this time around.  I managed to do precisely this, thinking I would post this short article before the one on Gary Con VII.  It then occurred to me that I had failed to ask for Frank's permission to publicly post pictures about his home and private life.  I did obtain his blessing a few days later, but that led me to talk about Gary Con first (see the previous article).  No problem, I thought.  I'll just post Frank's right afterward.  But you know what they say about best-laid plans.  

Inside the treasure chest I hauled back from the convention lurked an evil bug.  The nasty hairy thing was nestled there, in a shadowy corner, awaiting an instant of inattention, a second of weakness that created a tiny chink in my +5 plate armor of non-stick-annointed mythril.  It shouldn't have mattered.  With a constitution somewhere between that of a dwarf and an ox, I'd always swept aside all such concerns in the past.  Alas, I failed my save.  Or was it that I just rolled a 1?  Out of commission for several days, the old hero thus lay on his back, hacking most painfully and cursing most colorfully in tongues before sinking into feverish and ever-so-fitful naps.  So there.  Frank's pre-Gary Con party ended up as a postscriptum.  All told, this in no way diminishes its value as I attempt to give an account of the gathering in an appropriately rightful style.

Frank had made great efforts to communicate what he needed to share with attendees, down to the very last detail and then some. The phone number to the fire department, the local NSA branch office, and the outer-space undercover alien hideout were all duly identified.  The width and depth of the tire-tracks on Frank's lawn and the density/moisture of the underlying soil came into the equation, and it was wisely ascertained that climate change forbade anyone parking there.  Good thing, that.  I can attest to the trouble of stopping one's chariot of fire on a muddy, blood-soaked battlefield, and finding it later, resting a few inches lower and frozen in place.  Yes, this is Wisconsin spring weather.  (What?  Am I still suffering some pangs of fever, you wonder?  Nay, says I, as I reach for the amulet of aspirin and gulp down my N'th cup of tea.  It is a murky thing, a true witch's brew so dark I can never gaze upon the mug's bottom.  Something vile and glistening lurks beneath the surface, coating the otherwise white porcelain.  It matters not.  I quaff the medicine and the swirling liquid, and head into the kitchen for more. . .)

Monday, March 30, 2015

Gary Con 2015

Now this was a fine vintage!

Although I attended in a most relaxed fashion, I spent more time at the convention than I ever did.  Then again, it was the first year that I hosted events.  I showed up Thursday and played a. . . game.  Imagine that!  (I forgot the title of course).  Sitting in the open gaming area, facing toward the lake  in back of the resort, I enjoyed the mist-shrouded landscape as much as the game itself.  We all finished within one victory point of each other.  I was brave enough then to drive away for lunch, leaving my parking spot open some someone else (yes, good parking space comes at a premium at Geneva Ridge).  The resort isn't really designed for a convention, but it's part of its charm.  I headed over to the Delavan inlet, and grabbed a giant calzone at Jojo's.  No way I could eat all of that, so half ended up in the styrofoam doggie box.  It was cold enough outside I didn't worry about the food going bad.  Miraculously, I found another parking spot when I returned.

After a quick chat with Dale Leonard, I received a much desired pass for a VIP parking slot in front of the entrance.  That was a nice touch.  While taking many pictures, I bumped into many old friends.  Time for my seminar came around very quickly.  With convention success come greater challenges: due to lack of space, seminars had been relegated to. . . the bar.  Ouch.  Between 6 and 8 pm, it was pretty noisy there.  And, I managed to misplace my reading glasses.  Great.  Without them, there was no way I could decipher my notes.  A fellow attendee kindly loaned me his.  That made for a rather bumpy seminar.  I'm told seminars will be handled at another location next year, but the exact place remains up in the air, since that's still being negotiated.  I believe seminars will end up in downtown Lake Geneva.  There already is a shuttle service to The Cove, where many participants have their rooms, since not everyone can stay at the Geneva Ridge resort (it is hopelessly full!)  It would make sense therefore that seminars be held nearby, Lake Geneva being a conveniently small town.

Wednesday, March 18, 2015


I just ran across a post showing a preview of the upcoming SF movie “The Leviathan.” The art is striking in its own right, but for me it really hits home since this parallels one of my original concepts for the World of Calidar. Click here for the original article about this movie, so you’ll know what I’m talking about. I couldn't help make the analogy with a Ghülean grön. Picture Calidaran wind-driven skyships instead of anti-grav gunboats. Replace energy blasters with wizard spells. Imagine tattered, orcish standards fitted on the leviathan, along with defensive turrets for war-machines, and a few metal plates bolted on the beast's skin. Now multiply the leviathan times the number of Ghülean hordes flying through the clouds.

For good measure, I took my original description from CAL1 and posted it here.

These creatures are native of Ghüle, the orcs’ alien world. They are colossal, grossly fat, mangy worms partially covered with gray fur except where orcs have bolted armor plates onto them. Orcish standards and the bones of defeated monsters sometimes adorn the beasts. Like those on humpback anglerfish, appendages with glowing lures extend from the top of the gröns’ monstrous heads. Two huge, greenish eyes complete the picture. Gröns vary from the size of small galleys to something large enough to swallow several thousand orcs and their war machines.

Monday, March 9, 2015

Genesis of the Briarwoods

Calidar CC1 Alorea
Things have been pretty quiet, blogwise.  I've been busy fleshing out the gods of the Great Caldera for the next book, CC1 "Beyond the Skies," which will eventually lead to a Kickstarter to secure decent artwork.  Until this happy time, here's a small bit, featuring the general history behind the gods of the elves and the relation between their mortal followers and the gnomes of Alorea.  I'll let you discover what happened.

Ascent of the Elven Gods

2100 BCE. There lies a dark place in time upon which no mortal is able to gaze.  It was the Age of Alorean Gnomes, when the small folk prevailed on their moon, and their magic was powerful.  Elves lived among them, primitive nomads and hunter-gatherer clans.  With an arrogance only equaled by their curiosity, the gnomes came to see them as their servants who would undertake work on their behalf, yet be pleasing to their eyes.  At first, gnomes subjugated the elves, bound them to cater to their every wishes, and all was fine for the longest of times.

800 BCE. Reflecting their hubris as centuries went by, the lords of the land assembled armies of elves clad in iron and armed with sword and magic.  A time a great sorrow followed, when conceit and greed led the masters along the path to war.  The elves fought and died.  The elves suffered and despaired.  The masters did not care.  They only demanded more.  Those who could, fled the armies and the horror of breeding camps built by the gnomes.  They hid below ground, in places deep enough even their masters could not find them.  There, in the dark and silent solitude of their rocky abyss, they dwelled, yearning for the time they would return and again feel upon their faces the warm embrace of the sun.