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+ THE ADVENTURERS +
+ Epic II +
+ Many of the locations, non-player characters, spells, and +
+ other terms used in these stories are the property of TSR, Inc. +
+ However, this does not mean that TSR in any way endorses or +
+ authorizes their use, and any such items contained within these +
+ stories should not be considered representative of TSR in any +
+ way, shape, or form. +
+ The player characters contained in these writings are copy- +
+ right 1991-5 by Thomas Miller. Any resemblance to any persons +
+ or characters either real or fictional is utterly coincidental. +
+ Copying and/or distribution of these tales is permissible only +
+ under the sole condition that no part of them will be used or +
+ sold for profit. In that case, I hope you enjoy them... +
+ Thomas Miller +
+ email@example.com +
+ THE PARTY (or a portion of it): +
+ Belphanior 13th/14th/14th level elven warrior/mage/thief (CN) +
+ Otto 6th/8th level dwarven warrior/thief (CN) +
+ Date: 4/18/575 C.Y. (Common Year) +
+ Time: late morning +
+ Place: the mountain town of Helgate +
+ Climate: chilly +
+ "Just because something's cool doesn't mean that something +
+ else doesn't suck." +
+ - Butt-head +
CCCIX. Testing Ground
Mere days after Lyra's fabulous one-hundredth birthday party, the
mad elf Belphanior has finally returned to faraway Helgate.
Belphanior: Well, actually, I came back last night.
Otto: Teleportation, eh? (nods to himself, as if answering his own
question) Did you bring the golem?
Belphanior: Yep. Angus is sitting downstairs at the moment.
The elf reclined in a soft leather chair, his favorite. The piece
of furniture has belonged to the town's previous ruler, who had no
further need of it in his present condition.
Belphanior: (sips rare wine from a golden flagon)
Belphanior: Remember, Angus weighs better than two tons. He weighs
too much to make his way to this floor. Hell, he couldn't even
make it up the first staircase...
Otto: Good point.
Belphanior: Yet another reason why we need a better dwelling place,
a castle perhaps...
Otto: Another reason? You mean besides the fact that this hotel is
an easy, public target for our endless array of enemies?
Otto: (scratching at his beard absentmindedly) Where in the Hells
can we build a castle?
Belphanior: I was thinking of the northern edge of town...where the
mountainside meets the town.
Otto: Above the mines...yeah, that would work. The rock there is
the right consistency and strength, and if I remember correctly,
there's a natural shelf of granite on the slope.
Belphanior: It overlooks the entire town, yet it's far enough out
from the mountainside to stand on its own.
Otto: Sounds like a good idea.
Belphanior: Yeah...all I need to make it happen is the material and
labor to build it.
Otto: Now _that_ might be tough.
Belphanior: Believe me, I'm looking into it.
Otto: Let me know what I can do to help. Hmm, to switch subjects
entirely, how was Greyhawk?
Belphanior: The usual- well, that's not true. The usual would've
meant that I got into a pitched battle with city authorities and
ended up being driven out.
Otto: Or killing them all.
Belphanior: (his eye glows) Hmm, a possibility that I hadn't yet
Otto: (thinking of Lyra) A hundred years, eh? Man, that's a long
Belphanior: Not really...not in the grand scale of things. Myself,
I'm a century and a quarter old.
Belphanior: But enough about the drow, and their party. We've got
Otto: What sort of experiments? New poisons? Acids?
Belphanior: Better. Did I ever tell you about our voyage to that
strange alternate dimension, the one called "Earth"?
Otto: (leans forward, interested) Nope.
Belphanior: Pour yourself a drink, my friend. I've got a story for
The elf proceeded to relate his (and the other adventurers')
unusual adventures in the alternate reality, several years ago.
The tale took nearly an hour to tell, given the elf's attention
to detail (not to mention embellishment) and when it was done,
Otto sat and pondered, his chin in his hands.
Belphanior: So, what do you think?
Otto: Question one...
Otto: Who was the little red demon-thing you fought right before
being sucked into the time-vortex?
Belphanior: Beats the hell out of me. I always figured he was
working for the forces of "evil" who were arrayed against us at
Otto: Hmm. Question two: what happened to the girl, Paula?
Belphanior: (shrugs indifferently) Who cares?
Otto: Indeed. And now to question three: what exactly did you
retrieve, during your travels there? From the sound of it, there
was a wide variety of alien artifacts to be had.
Belphanior: Ah, _now_ you're talking! (he looks around) We'll
need to find a testing ground for the arcane devices. Since we
still have to live in this hotel, I don't want to risk destroying
Otto: You think some of the relics are that powerful?
Otto: (nods) Also, I'd suppose we don't want to risk any of these
townspeople finding out what's afoot.
Belphanior: Agreed. Though they're generally a harmless lot, it
serves no purpose for them to see and know more than they must.
Otto: How about the old, abandoned mines to the north?
Belphanior: Exactly my thoughts. You think they're safe for any
potentially heavy-duty blasting, though?
Otto: I looked into them, previously, for another reason, and they
seem sturdy enough. I guess the ore vein ran out. (shrugs)
One can never have too much money.
Belphanior: (stands) Okay. I'm ready when you are.
Otto: A few moments...I'd like to get some parchment and a quill.
Belphanior: You? The note-taking type?
Otto: It's a fool indeed who doesn't learn to read and write.
Within the hour, they had ventured to the mines, practically
empty-handed save for the usual weapons and protections, not to
mention Belphanior's portable hole, in which all the artifacts
were stored. Just being in the mines wasn't sufficient, since
they wanted to "test" the items in secrecy. Thus, they moved
deep into the mineshafts, far from anywhere where prying eyes and
minds might interfere. At last settling in a large, hollowed-out
cavern, they stopped. Otto lit a lantern and placed it against
one wall, while Belphanior began taking strange items from his
Otto: (looks on, in wonder) I'm amazed that you retrieved so
Belphanior: Hey, how often do you get a chance to loot on an alien
world? Besides, we were there for several days, and some of these
things are actually Peldor's.
Otto: (looking over the assortment of wondrous items) Hmm.
There were dozens of strange and unique things here, all stolen by
Belphanior during his short time on the world of Earth. Without
further ado, they began examining the items, one by one.
Belphanior: Let's start with what we know. (he holds up a device
that resembles a metal tube with a handle attached, at an angle)
This is a sling.
Belphanior: A sling, but more powerful and easier to use than any
sling on this world. Observe. (he fumbles with a tiny switch on
the thing, then points its tube-end at one wall and pulls a lever
on the item's underside)
There was a terrific blast, incredibly loud in the confined space,
and a chunk of rock was torn free from the wall. Something small and
incredibly fast-moving flew around the chamber for a moment.
Otto: (covering his ears) Sling, eh?
Belphanior: As you can see, it's more powerful than any sling we
know of. It fires tiny pointed stones of metal at high rates of
speed, with equally high rates of accuracy. (he hands the thing
Otto: (examining the item) Where are the stones held?
Belphanior: Within the handle. A squarish metal container keeps
them safely locked away. Watch that switch, there - it causes
the weapon to fire.
Otto: Right. (interested, he sets the item aside for now) Did
you get any more of the stones which it launches?
Belphanior: (holds up a couple of paper boxes) I believe these
Otto: (carefully opens the boxes) What powers the launching of
the metal stones?
Belphanior: Sorcery, as far as I can tell.
Otto: (holding up two differently-sized metal "stones" in either
Belphanior: (hefts a larger weapon, with a longer tube and much
narrower handle) This is called a "shotgun" - that's what I
heard someone say.
Otto: (puts the pointed sling stones down) Shot-gun?
Belphanior: It can fire volleys of smaller sling-bullets, which
tend to shred anything they hit.
Otto: Interesting concept.
Belphanior: Unlike the other weapon, this one stores its sling-
bullets in a small cylinder. The cylinders are in turn stored
beneath the long metal tube, here.
Otto: (looking the weapon over)
Belphanior: Watch this. (he points the item's tube at the same
wall as before)
Otto: (always a fast learner, he covers his ears)
There was a thunderous concussion, and Belphanior dropped the
weapon, covering his ears as he staggered about.
Belphanior: Damn! I'm deaf!
Otto: (rubbing his eyes, for the cavern is now filled with thick
As the smoke cleared, they could both see the section of wall where
the weapon had launched its magical load. A sizable chunk of wall
was pitted and torn, and a number of tiny metal balls were embedded
in the stone itself.
Otto: I wonder what sorts of military applications this would have.
Belphanior: Why, good ones, of course. (he picks the shot-gun up
and sets it aside) Bad news is, I only found a few of the special
stones that this one hurls. Perhaps a dozen, all told.
Otto: That's not really bad news. At least you have _some_.
Belphanior: True. Now we turn to more familiar weapons...(he holds
a long, sharp knife up, turning its blade over and over) Black
Otto: And a ridged backside, to the blade. Perhaps for sawing away
bone and flesh?
Otto: (picks up a six-inch long tube of silver metal) What's this?
(pushing a button, he causes a five-inch blade of steel to spring
forth from the tube) Whoa!
Belphanior: Hey, lemme see that. (he trades knives with the dwarf)
Otto: (takes the first knive's ridged back and experimentally saws
at a piece of wood on the cavern floor) Nice.
Belphanior: Eh? (having learned that a small button on the handle
causes the second blade to appear and disappear, he now repeatedly
flicks the knife in and out)
Otto: This saw-blade works really well. A novel idea - I wonder
why some enterprising dwarf hasn't thought of it already?
Belphanior: Who knows? (he picks up a small, brightly painted
cylinder of metal) What's this?
Otto: Just make sure you aim it away, if it's got an open end and
a button. (he tinkers with a smooth, black metal cylinder some
eight inches in length and better than an inch in diameter) Th-
The dwarf had depressed a round, nearly flat disc on the object,
causing a small blade to fire from one end; it had whizzed by his
face, missing narrowly before it lodged in the cavern's ceiling.
Belphanior: Careful with that. (he depresses a white button atop
his own cylinder, releasing a burst of noxious gas right into his
face) Ghak! (he falls to his knees, coughing uncontrollably and
rubbing madly at his eyes, which are gushing tears)
Otto: (eyes the blade he just embedded in the ceiling, then moves
to help the elf, producing a flask of clean water) Calm down!
Belphanior: C- can't see...
Otto: Here, pour this in your eyes. (he helps the elf do so)
Belphanior: Ahh...better...(he looks around, blinking) Vision's
Otto: Good thing I came prepared. What was that stuff?
Belphanior: Blindness gas, coughing gas, probably both in one.
(he wipes his eyes again) Damn.
Otto: (hefts a black cloth belt, whose length is covered with small
green spheres of metal) These things have handles and tiny metal
pins...(he notices the resemblance between the metal spheres and
the gas-cylinder that Belphanior just sampled) Maybe we'd better
save these for outdoors testing.
Belphanior: (still coughing slightly) Ghak...
Over the next few hours, they slowly, carefully, and (in some
cases, painfully) identified a number of other items:
- a green metal-and-glass double eyepiece that totally covered one's
eyes; Belphanior at first thought it to be a form of protection
against the gas-cylinder, but Otto noted that the thing, when put
over one's eyes, altered vision somehow
- a black cloth vest, with thick pads and in some places, pockets
containing metal plates; it seemed useless against swords and axes
so they put it aside for now
- a long, thick black metal cylinder (Otto: "What is it with this
world and cylinders?") tipped with two tiny silver rods; they
quickly learned (the hard way) that pushing a button delivered a
nasty, stunning shock to whatever was touching the two silver rods
- several clear bags (unknown, but fairly durable material of a
transparent nature) filled with white powder; they eventually
slit one open, and found that the powder tasted terrible
- a sealed tube, with an unscrewing end, that contained some strange
but pleasant-smelling dried leaves
- a small sack containing various golden necklaces, chains, and rings
of extremely gaudy appearance (Belphanior: "Who'd wear shit like
- several thin metal rings, with a variety of unusual (and rather
- a number of small, hollow, translucent, lightweight tubes (of an
unknown, but strong, substance) tipped with tiny needles (Otto:
"From their torture chamber, perhaps?"); they found that a smaller
cylinder was contained within the outer shell, and that liquids
placed in the larger tube would squirt from the needle, if the
smaller tube was pressed forcibly; these tubes were designated for
further tests involving poisons and acids
- several lengths of long, pliable brown tubing; made from a material
of incredible stretching properties, these tubes were found to break
under extreme stretching
- dozens of tiny, paper-thin metal plates, with one very sharp edge;
at first considered as throwing weapons, then deemed useless, given
the availability of larger, sturdier blades
- a black belt-pouch containing metal rods and blades that could only
be lockpicks (Belphanior: "Some things are common to all worlds.")
- a strange handle, like the sling-weapon they had first tested but
with a thin lockpick-type protrusion; it seemed useless at first
glance, and was earmarked for further testing
- several thin wafers, of a material much like the needle-tipped
tubes but not translucent; they resembled the strange keys that
Belphanior had seen on Earth; given the absence of such locks on
this world, these items were deemed useless
- a small rectangular item of the same material, it had an opaque
window at one end, as well as a tiny button and a switch/lever;
no combination of these latter two produced any effect
- dozens of stacks of the green paper that Earth-people used for
- a pair of metal plates, each engraved with the designs on one
side of the green paper (Otto: "They must have used these to
make more of their currency...too easy, if you ask me.")
- a large, heavy tool, with twin handles that joined at a pair of
much smaller, and sharp, ends; both of them quickly realized that
this was a lock-cutting device of some sort
- a pair of shiny metal rings, slightly larger than Otto's wrists;
upon experimentation, they were found to contain other jointed
pieces, that could be rotated to fasten around ladder-rungs or
similar things; once secured, there seemed to be no way to open
the things (Belphanior: "Maybe those lock-cutters would do the
- a small silver whistle, which produced a high-pitched sound
- a bottle of liquid, which smelled and tasted like strong whiskey
of some kind
- a small, thin hinged box of a light, unknown material; when opened
it was found to contain a black square of an inky black substance
- a large, heavy red cylinder, with a handle-like protrusion and a
long, black tube of the now-familiar light, strong material; they
tried to fire this weapon, without luck, for a tiny metal pin was
placed to stop the handle's motion (Otto: "Too dangerous, perhaps,
for casual use?"); when the handle was eventually pulled, the tube
emitted a stream of white foam, which reminded Belphanior very much
of the substance one of his wands generated
- a set of tiny keys; quickly found to fit the pair of shiny metal
rings found previously
- a long, silver rod with a single button (Otto: "At least this is
simple!") which, when pushed, produced a powerful beam of bright
- a clear paper-and-unknown-transparent-material container with two
small cylinders stored within; after the container was opened (a
trivial task with any knife) the cylinders could not be made to
- a five-inch wide disc of thin, pliant, and lightweight material;
it had a small hole in its center, one plain silver side, and one
side covered in tiny runes; thought to be a hurled weapon of some
great magical power
- a small rectangular box-and-cylinder device with several buttons;
its sole purpose seemed to be the generation of a brief but very
bright burst of light (Belphanior: "I like the light-wand better
- a box of tiny wooden sticks, tipped with a red substance; they
had no powers or properties when dropped, chewed, or rubbed
together, but were found to be highly flammable (especially the
red tips) under direct flame
- a paper package, which when ripped open contained a dozen rather
thin, white cigars; these were lit, but produced a terrible odor
- several brightly painted cylinders of thin metal, which obviously
contained liquid of some sort; on one end was a metal tab of some
kind; Belphanior shook one, listening to the fluid slosh within,
before opening it...which produced a wet explosion, covering the
elf with a sticky brown syrup
- a small oval cylinder of tough, light material (they were calling
it "substance X" by this time) topped with a tiny gear and an
equally tiny button; the gear, when spun, generated sparks, though
pushing the button only caused a faint hissing sound (Otto: "Why,
it's nothing more than a glorified flint-and-steel!")
- a small, colored, opaque bottle of "substance X", it contained a
thick liquid of some kind; Belphanior, being immune to poisons,
tasted this, finding it nearly as bitter as any poison, though it
smelled wonderfully fresh
- a small, cylindrical metal container, within which sloshed a liquid;
pushing a button caused a tiny nozzle to emit a thick, soapy white
foam which tasted worse than the liquid in the last bottle
- a tiny cylinder of "substance X", whose base rotated, eventually
forcing one end of the cylinder off and exposing a greasy red
stick (Otto: "It kinda reminds me of war paint.")
- a transparent, paper-thin container, which contained a pair of
rough-textured golden cylinders of indefinite shape; when these
were squeezed, they were found to be soft, even fragile; when
the outer shell was ripped open, the golden things were found to
smell like a fresh pastry, and eventually, Belphanior ate one
(Belphanior: "Mmmmmm. And still fresh after all these years!")
- a triangular cylinder of "substance X", which contained a thick
pinkish fluid; its stopper was opened after several irritating
minutes, and Belphanior drank the potion, with no apparent effect
- a thin, three-foot long pole of wood, tipped with a cup of some
soft, black material; the thing was found to stick strongly to
any sheer surface (Belphanior: "Interesting. The air pressure
within the rounded cup keeps it attached.") (Otto: "Maybe it
would stick to a person's head just as well.")
- a small, thin, square, item; after being torn open, its contents
were revealed: a ring of a thin, opaque, pliable substance that
was eventually unrolled, to a length of perhaps eight inches; it
seemed to be some kind of covering for something
- a small, metal box, one side of which featured a glass plate
covering several tiny metal needles; this item resembled the
magical compass that Belphanior possessed, but only one of its
hands seemed to move, and in a regular motion anyway; also, the
thing constantly produced a faint ticking sound from within;
deemed to be a broken direction-finder of some sort, this item
was catalogued for eventual dissection
- a three-foot long, smoothly-shaped metal club, of extremely strong
yet lightweight metal; ruled to be a magical club of indeterminate
- a pair of heavy boots, which (unlike most magical boots) did not
re-size themselves when a foot was inserted into one; they were
too small for Belphanior but too big for Otto
- a jacket of some flat black hide, with the added innovation of tiny
metal studs, which helped seal its pockets to protect the contents
- a tiny book, its pages filled with strange, indecipherable scrawled
- a small vial constructed from "substance X", with a screw-top; it
contained dozens of tiny, identical white tablets; Belphanior ate
several, to no effect
- an item fashioned from thin, black-colored metal and dark, opaque
discs of glass; this provided the two adventurers with minutes of
puzzlement until Otto tried putting the thing on his face, when
he discovered that the item was an external eye-lens of some sort,
one that seemed to protect the user from bright light (and who
knew what else?) (Belphanior: "I bet the drow would trade me a
good spell or two for this thing.")
- several thick, square pieces of paper, upon each of which was
painted a miniature image; these colorful paintings were of truly
marvelous quality, and a few of them allowed Belphanior to show
Otto glimpses of the alternate world
- a tiny, six-inch long tube of golden metal, with a narrow, tiny
button on one end; when pushed, the button caused a similarly
tiny metal prong to appear at the tube's opposite end; this tube
seemed to have no apparent use until Belphanior drew it across
his arm, leaving a mark that resembled that made by a quill of
the finest sort; the item was taken apart to reveal its workings
(Belphanior: "Ah! An item worthy of the wiliest elves - a self-
- several fragile spellbooks (?) which contained more small but
detailed paintings of things found on the world of Earth; the
subjects of these manuals ranged from nature scenes to portraits
of men and women to life-like paintings of naked women (Otto:
"Holy shit! Look at the size of _those_! They don't make them
like that, here...")
- a three-foot by half-foot wooden board, with slightly curved edges
and two pairs of tiny wheels, mounted on one side; the thing was
apparently some kind of magical traveling platform, though it
quickly became apparent that much practice was necessary for one
to use the item with any degree of effectiveness
- a tiny bottle, of "substance X", with a screw-top; it contained a
foul-tasting white fluid that dried rather quickly, sticking to
Belphanior's tongue (Belphanior: "Where's Rob when we _really_
need him?") (Otto: "Rob? Who's Rob?")
- dozens of small, circular bands of a pliable, stretchable brown
substance; like the long, pliable tubing examined earlier, these
things were found to break upon extreme stretching
- a tiny vial with a removable tip; the clear fluid within seemed
to have no properties when a drop was placed on Otto's fingertip
...until he tried to pull his thumb and forefinger apart (Otto:
"Glue! A powerful glue!")
- a square stack of tiny, blank yellow papers; when one was removed
from the top of the stack, it was found that part of it had an
adhesive property, and would stick to nearly anything until pulled
- a thin, lightweight disc, some eight inches in diameter, with
runes on one side; it had no offensive, defensive, or intensive
properties, though it was remarkably well-balanced for throwing
(Otto: "Hmm, maybe if we attached a bunch of those tiny metal
blades to this thing...?")
- a small, metal-and-"substance X" contraption, which contained more
than a dozen blades and implements that folded out if needed; this
was ruled one of the more practical items
- a rectangular box, about 15" x 10" x 3", of "substance X"; it had
a variety of nearly-flush buttons, and a 6" x 1" slot with a
hinged door, on one side; protruding from one corner of the thing
was a pliant black rope, of some strange material, which ended in
a pair of copper-colored metal pins; try as they might, the pair
were unable to make this device do anything
- a metal box, perhaps 9" x 6" and 8" high (the thing had four legs
to stand on, defining a bottom side) with a sliding lever on one
side and two long rectangular slots in the top face; these twin
platforms within appeared to have springs mounted behind them, but
a more detailed analysis would require taking the thing apart; the
item also had a metal-tipped rope, like the last, but there seemed
to be no way to connect the two boxes using these ropes
- half a dozen long, red tubes of paper, with a thin wick of oiled
paper protruding from one end; Belphanior was about to light the
wick of one when Otto theorized that anything requiring fire to
activate was probably too dangerous to use in a confined mineshaft
After the examination of all these wondrous items, the pair were
left with many questions, and a few general theories:
1) the inhabitants of the Earth dimension liked cylindrical shapes
2) several of their items were merely analogues of things found on
Oerth (the flint-and-steel tube, the light-wand, certain of the
3) their level of weaponry was, in some cases, far superior to that
found on Oerth, though it was obvious that they still had need
for more basic weapons such as knives and clubs
Belphanior: A good day's work, all in all.
Otto: Aye. We'll need to lock some of this stuff up, to keep the
wrong hands off it.
Belphanior: And other items will require further testing, maybe
even battle testing.
Otto: I'm looking forward to it.
next: the fate of Gorin, and the next step in a dastardly plot
ftp: ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
notes: Thanks to the following readers for their suggestions on
items recovered from Earth:
Jefferson E. Bell
John Jay Feiler
Carl M Petersen IV
David Marcus Woodcock
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