Chapter #349

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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 1991-6 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                    +
+                                  tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu   +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  THE PARTY:                                                       +
+                                                                   +
+  Alindyar       16th level dark elven wizard                  (N) +
+  Arnold         12th level human barbarian                   (NG) +
+  Ged            14th/14th level grey elven priest/wizard     (NG) +
+  Lyra           13th level female dark elven wizard           (N) +
+  Mongo          17th level dwarven fighter                   (CG) +
+    Gorin         9th level dwarven fighter                   (NG) +
+  Peldor         19th level human thief                        (N) +
+    Bosco        11th level halfling thief                    (CN) +
+    Tanya        5th/11th level female human fighter/thief     (N) +
+                                                                   +
+  Otto           7th/8th level dwarven fighter/thief          (CN) +
+  Razor Charlie  8th level human fighter                      (CN) +
+                                                                   +
+  Belphanior     (14th)^3 level elven fighter/wizard/thief    (CE) +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  Date:        1/10/576 C.Y. (Common Year)                         +
+  Time:        late morning                                        +
+  Place:       some city in the Hold of the Sea Princes            +
+  Climate:     very cold                                           +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
+  "Even when someone has the strength to discard me, my power      +
+   is not diminished."                                             +
+                                - the Loc-Nar, from _Heavy Metal_  +
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++





                    CCCXLIX.  Demonstorm!





  The adventurers have successfully subdued the rogue Belphanior,
only to face a much greater evil, as the demonic eye of Elik has
opened a portal to the Abyss.  Though this gateway now charge a
horde of hideous demons, of all sorts, whose goal is the complete
destruction of the party!

eye:  BEHOLD:  THE ABYSSAL LEGIONS OF ORCUS!
Otto:  (watching the demons come forth)  Holy fucking shit.
others:  (instinctively spreading out, to make themselves tougher
  targets)

  As the Adventurers stared in fascinated horror, scores - no,
hundreds of gibbering demonspawn swarmed forth out of the portal.
Fiends of every twisted size and shape imaginable came screaming
into existence.
  Ged, possessed of unnatural strength of mind and faith, was the
first to react.

Ged:  By Boccob!  Alindyar!  We must slow their advance.  We'll be
  overrun!  (he begins spellcasting)

  The drow only glanced at each other as they briefly shared their
thoughts, then both began weaving their own magics.

  As the front of the dreadful horde surged forward, the first rank
suddenly sank and floundered as the ground turned to thick, gooey
mud.  Nearly mindless, most of the demonkind kept up the charge,
heedless of the fate of their dark brethren that were trampled into
the mud.  In moments, the whole area Ged had enspelled was packed
nearly solid with the bodies of demons crushed underfoot.

Ged:  (sighs with satisfaction)  Boccob...
Peldor:  Nice move, but it's not gonna stop 'em!

  As Alindyar completed his spell, dozens of spiders shimmered into
existence around (and on) the demons.  These eight-legged allies
provided only a moment's distraction amidst the hordes of demons.

  Lyra's spell brought a bit more hope to the adventurers as a wall
of flames leapt up between the remnants of two buildings, blocking
the advance of the demons completely.

Eye:  (floating amidst the magical fires)  FOOLS!  YOU THINK YOUR
  PUNY MAGICAL FIRES WILL STOP THE HORDES OF HELL?!?

  It seemed the Eye made a good point, for the horde of demons
charged straight into the flames.  Their bone-chilling screams
increased, but they came on, straight for the adventurers.

Ged:  Get down!  (wielding his fire wand)  INZUS!

  The next instant the simple fire wall exploded, magnified by the
power of the mighty artifact.  Demons roasted as the suddenly white-
hot flames leapt skyward and outward.  The adventurers closest to
the flames were knocked down by the blast, while others fell back
from the intense heat.

Gorin:  (covering himself from the blast with a raised shield)  Fuck,
  yeah!!!
Peldor:  (he, and the other non-spellcasters, can only watch as this
  display of magical might carries itself out)
Otto:  Wow.

  Moments passed before anyone could see anything amidst the high,
blazing fires...and then the wall vanished, dispelled.  Littering
the ground were the burned forms of the demonic masses.  Smoking
and charred remains were everywhere, but not all of the demons were
dead, not all had been caught in the fires.  Those that remained -
mostly larger, meaner-looking fiends - were surely the greater
threat.

Eye:  (still apparently unscathed)  KILL THEM!!!



  Before there was time to assess the situation further, the second
rank of demons attacked.  Complete chaos was at hand.



  Gorin found himself in the path of a huge, skeletal fiend, some
foul thing that looked like a tall skeleton wrapped in dull black
leather.  A great horn protruded from the back of the creature's
skull, and its long, curved talons were crusted with blood and dirt.
A pair of glowing red eyes only served to make the demon's fanged
mouth seem more fearsome.  The foe walked with mechanical but rapid
movements, giving a brief and incorrect impression that it was some
sort of automaton.

babau:  (screeches and drools as it approaches)
Gorin:  (rather than wait, he attacks, charging with axe held high)
  Die, spawn of evil!

  The brave dwarf rushed onward, but found himself in pain almost
immediately.  A moment later, he realized why:  his chain mail armor
was getting hot, and fast.  The demon must have been exerting some
arcane power on the metal links, the dwarf decided.  Pain or no pain,
he was Gorin, right hand to Mongo, and he ignored the blistering of
his armor as he leaped, sinking his axe into the demon's chest!



  Bosco, nowhere near the bulk of the party (he usually wasn't) was
confronted by a squat, hairless, white-skinned wretch of a demon.
The thing's short body was chubby, yet gaunt, pale flesh hanging down
from misshapen bones.  The thing was barely taller than the halfling,
but Bosco realized that it was probably a powerful foe, and he moved
with caution, sword pointed at the demon.

dretch:  (gurgles and slobbers as it ambles toward Bosco)  Sluuuurp!
Bosco:  Hey, now!  (he takes to the air as the demon's claws scrape
  at the air below)
dretch:  Glurp?
Bosco:  I don't think so!  (he stabs the thing through the top of
  its head)
dretch:  (begins drooling blood)  Glaaark!
Bosco:  (pulls his sword free and moves a few feet higher as the
  wounded demon swipes and snaps at him)



  Razor Charlie, sneering despite the current situation, had been
ringed by a small pack of three-foot tall manes.  Perhaps these puny,
craven demons - the most pathetic denizens ever to roam the Abyss -
sensed that the scarred warrior held less magic than anyone else in
the party.  Perhaps they simply happened to end up surrounding him.
In any case, the bloated little beasts swarmed toward the mercenary,
intending to rip him to shreds.

Razor Charlie:  Fuck me...(he whips out two daggers, one in each hand,
  and hurls them left and right with a nifty cross-armed motion)
manes#1:  (falls, a dagger in its forehead, and begins dissipating
  into a cloud of grey vapor)
manes#2:  (falls, a dagger in its heart, and also becomes vapor)
Razor Charlie:  (mutters something about guessing right, and kicks
  out at a third foe)
manes#3:  (sent flying back, it lands on its head and begins howling)



  Alindyar and Lyra, side-by-side, faced a hovering, buzzing,
insectoid demon that greatly resembled a gigantic fly with human arms
and scattered patches of hair on its head.  The mere sight of the
thing might have sent lesser heroes fleeing in terror, but the drow
had seen worse terrors than this in their many decades, and they
stood fast.  Lyra was hastily casting a quick spell, while Alindyar
held a short rod and muttered.

Lyra:  Away, insect!  (she points, and her fingers glow as magical
  bolts shoot forth and pelt the thing)
chasme:  (buzzes in the air as the missiles dissipate before hitting
  its hideous body)  Foolzzzz!  Do you truly think your spellzzzz
  can affect one zzzzuch azzzz I?
Lyra:  I think you missed the point.
chasme:  (waving its skinny arms)
Alindyar:  Allow me to demonstrate.  (a gigantic clenched fist comes
  into being before the wizard)
chasme:  Zzzz?  (the gigantic fist slams down, squashing the demon
  against the street)  <SPLAT>



  Arnold had been flanked by a pair of malformed, humanoid demons.
The things looked pitiful, with their pointed, hairless skulls and
twisted limbs, but this didn't stop them from attacking the huge
barbarian.

rutterkin#1:  (swings a saw-toothed sword)
Arnold:  (takes the blow on the chest, trusting to his heavy plate
  mail to protect him, and brings his own, much larger sword down
  on the surprised and not-too-intelligent foe)  Ah-nold!
rutterkin#1:  (its right arm is severed)  YEAAARGH!
Arnold:  (kicks the demon away and whirls to face the other, his
  sword meeting its crescent-tipped polearm)  Aaa!



  Peldor and Tanya had been accosted by two different foes.  Peldor
faced an otherwise attractive female demon whose small, green wings
and cruel features betrayed her true heritage.  Tanya's sword held
at bay a hulking, hairy demon, its fur a reddish-brown color.

alu-fiend:  (tries her magical charming on Peldor)  Come with me,
  mortal!  I'll show you pleasures beyond your wildest dreams!
Tanya:  He's already taken, you hellspawned bitch!  (she hurls a
  dagger at the female demon, then charges the ape-like one)
alu-fiend:  (sliced by the dagger)  Argh!  (she unsheathes two
  wickedly curved scimitars and begins twirling them as she stalks
  Peldor)  You'll both die, then!
Peldor:  (hastes himself using his tattoos, and meets the attack
  fiercely)  Not today, demon!
bar-igura:  (leaps at Tanya, bowling her over with the sheer force
  and surprise of this attack)  Graaar!



  Otto had squared off against a gigantic demon, a fifteen-foot hulk
of a beast with four arms and a snarling, canine head.  The thing's
upper arms ended in great barbed pincers, while the lower arms were
human-like save for their clawed hands.

Otto:  (sighs)  It figures that I'd get the biggest, meanest-looking
  one.
glabrezu:  On the contrary, mortal, you should consider it a great
  honor to be slain by one such as I.
Otto:  We'll see about that.
glabrezu:  (eyes the dwarf)  I sense...great potential in you, small
  mortal.  Perhaps a bargain would be in order?
Otto:  Bargain?!?



  Ged, knowing more of the ways of demons, didn't even bother to
consider what the huge, toad-like demon that lumbered toward him
might be.  Snatching, aiming, and activating his fire wand in one
single, fluid motion, the grey elf sent a sheet of searing magical
fire at the thing.

Hezrou:  EEAARGGGGH!  (burned severely, it howls and shrieks in pain)
Ged:  Take that, by Boccob!  (he begins spellcasting as the flaming
  demon lurches about)



  Nearby, a powerful demon, half-human and half-vulture, stalked
along the trench that Mongo had made while being blasted by the
lightning bolt not too long ago.  Approaching the unmoving form
at the end of the jagged furrow, the vrock raised a sharp, many-
bladed poleaxe as it prepared to dispatch this helpless foe.

Mongo:  (opens his eyes)  Huh?!?
vrock:  (its eyes wide)  Eh?

  BLAM!  Stormcrest greeted the winged demon, knocking the vrock a
good fifty feet back, where it crashed into the ruins of a small
warehouse.

vrock:  (staggers to its feet, bleeding from within its cracked
  beak)  Ungh...
Mongo:  (catches his hammer, takes one look around, and lets the
  fearsome weapon fly another time)  Die, fucker!
vrock:  (hit in the head by the mighty hammer, its neck is snapped,
  and it falls, already dissolving into a foul puddle of fuming
  ichor)
Mongo:  Huh.  (he catches his hammer and surveys the various battles
  in progress)



  Gorin had ripped his axe from the babau's chest, spraying black
ichor everywhere.  A moment later, the demon swatted at the dwarf,
knocking him away.  The babau clutched at the great wound in its
chest, as if it could heal the ripped flesh.  Gorin stood up and
hastily guzzled a potion - a high risk during this fight, but well
worth it.  His strength and fury bolstered by the magical liquid,
the dwarf charged again, heedless of the rising temperature of his
armor or the fumes coming from his burnt skin.

Gorin:  If I'm to die by melting, demon, you're damn well coming
  with me!
babau:  Bah.  (it levitates into the air, easily escaping the foe
  and his terrible axe)  Stand there and burn, mortal fool-
Gorin:  Hah!  (thanks to his magical armband, fabricated by spirits
  of the air, he flies after the demon)
babau:  What?!?
Gorin:  Surprise!  (he chops at the foe, nearly severing one of its
  legs at the knee)
babau:  ARGH!  (it teeters in the air)
Gorin:  (catches the thing's head with his backswing, shearing off
  an ear and some bone)  Die!
babau:  AAAARGH!  (it lashes out with its hooked claws, shredding
  the dwarf's shirt and scoring his armor)
Gorin:  Ungh!  (he flies right into the foe, bearing it to the ground
  as he hacks and chops, and is clawed and gored)  Argh!
babau:  Urgh!  Argh!

  The pair hit the ground, Gorin somehow managing to get the demon
on the bottom, where it took the brunt of the impact.  As the babau
staggered to its feet, Gorin leaped (and flew, slightly) and swung
his axe overhead, burying it in the demon's face!  The babau howled
its death scream, spewing black ichor on Gorin, and fell, its body
dissolving.



  Bosco had managed to avoid being wounded at all, the squat dretch
leaping and clawing at his airborne form.  At his leisure, the tiny
halfling tossed enchanted daggers at the demon, and the second of
these hit the foe in one eye, toppling it.  As the dretch melted and
bubbled, Bosco's only problem was finding a way to recover his two
daggers while keeping his hands clean.



  Razor Charlie had suffered several cuts and bites while slaying
the sub-demons that swarmed over him.  However, the warrior was just
as skilled at stabbing as he was at throwing, and he moved in fast,
efficient motions, burying knives to the hilt in each foe, one by
one, as they clawed and bit at him.  Before long, all seven of the
manes were dead or dissolving into noxious gas.  Razor Charlie was
unfortunate enough to breathe some of this vapor, and he staggered
away from the cloud, vomiting from the gas and weak from blood loss.



  After slaying the fly-like chasme, Alindyar had been accosted by
a massive six-armed, snake-tailed female demon, known to those well-
educated in such matters as a marilith.  Before the demonic witch
could injure Alindyar with her blades, however, Lyra hit the foe
with a chain fireball.  One of her new, unique spells, this mighty
blast combined the heat of a fireball with the "hopping" effect of
chain lightning.  It proved quite effective, blasting the six-armed
demoness back and frying a pair of minor fiends behind her.  The
fireball continued on, blasting several other demons as well as
Arnold and the two rutterkin he fought.  This was actually a good
thing, for though Arnold was burnt, so were his foes.  Arnold had
magical plate mail, though, while the demons had nothing.  The fire
dispatched one of the things, and the other was stunned for a short
moment, enough time for Arnold to cleave its head in half.
  As the marilith  slithered in yet again, Alindyar brought the
Bigby-hand up to meet her; the demon lost, its swords hitting the
fist but unable to prevent its crushing descent.  The multi-armed
she-demon was staggered, her tail whipping wildly with the pain.
Lyra followed up with another spell, a blast of fire, but this one
was negated by the demon's innate magical resistance.  Fortunately,
Alindyar's fist of force was there to strike another blow, and the
marilith was knocked away, bleeding but still dangerous.



  Meanwhile, Peldor and Tanya were in more dire straits.  Peldor had
used his magical ring to push the alu-fiend away, but as he turned
to help Tanya, his foe returned, slashing him in the arm and side.
The alu-fiend seemed to benefit from the wounds she inflicted on her
foe, smiling and stretching with pleasure.  As for Peldor, the thief
staggered to the ground, trying feebly to defend himself from the
savage and wicked demoness.
  Tanya, knocked down by the leaping attack of the bar-igura, had
suffered cuts and bruises alike.  However, she was tough, and as the
demon sat atop her, flexing its massive arms as it prepared to rip
its victim to shreds, Tanya finally brought her sword to bear.  The
razor-sharp weapon easily sliced through the hairy demon's shoulder,
eliciting a gout of dark ichor and causing the thing to shriek in
pain.
  The next thing she knew, the foe was literally pulled off of her,
by a short, unnaturally powerful arm.  The arm was attached to a
short, unnaturally powerful dwarf.

Mongo:  Need some help, pretty lady?  (he hurls the bar-igura right
  into the alu-fiend, both demons falling in a tangle of arms and
  legs and granting Peldor a respite)
Tanya:  I was doing fine, but thanks!
Mongo:  Don't mention it.  (en route to the recovering demons, he
  lifts Peldor to his feet)  You okay, pal?
Peldor:  (standing weakly, still recovering his strength)  Yeah...
Mongo:  (eyes the demons)  'Scuse me a moment.  (he takes a few
  steps)  Hey, uglies!
alu-fiend:  (pushes the bar-igura out in front of her)  Go get him,
  you fool!
bar-igura:  Grrr...
Mongo:  (throws his hammer, hitting the demon in the head with a
  loud CRACK)
bar-igura:  (falls, its skull shattered, and begins melting)
Mongo:  (catches his hammer and points to the she-demon)  You're
  next.
alu-fiend:  (turns, taking to the air in the hope of escaping)

  The demon was struck from the sky then, not by Mongo's hammer but
instead by Alindyar's massive magical fist.  The alu-fiend fell to
earth, already beginning to melt into incoherent goo.

Alindyar:  (smiles, giving Mongo a thumbs-up)
Mongo:  (wipes blood and sweat from his brow)  Yeah!  (he is
  suddenly tackled by a pair of hissing, clawing demons)  Whoulf!
Gorin:  (nearby, he sees this, and dashes over to help his liege,
  axe swinging in deadly arcs)  Hang on!



  Elsewhere, Ged and the hezrou were locked in magical combat.  The
elf had hit the demon with a power word of stunning, but the thing
hadn't been affected - its magical resistance was powerful indeed.
The flames that Ged had blasted it with hadn't even lasted very long.
In reply to the failed word of power, the hezrou had thrown up a
mighty wall of fire, surrounding Ged and preventing him from doing
much of anything.  Unfortunately for the fiend, it couldn't have
known that Ged's fire wand wasn't good just for offense.  As the
demon gloated and pondered its next move, the grey elf used his
wand to absorb the wall; before the surprised fiend realized what
was happening, the elf had walloped it in the face with Lightbringer,
his enchanted morningstar.  The herzou reeled, and Ged began another
spell.  Boccob was with him this day, for the incantation was done
before the foe could unleash _its_ next attack - and the elf's spell
worked this time!  An icy cone of cold hit the fiend directly in the
face, causing it to pitch back as surely as if Mongo's hammer had
smashed it.  Before the giant demon could regain its footing, Ged
moved in and struck with Lightbringer again.  A powerfully enchanted
weapon in its own right, the morningstar was driven by Ged's magical
belt of strength, and Boccob's grace was with the elf today.  The
hezrou's face was smashed to pulp, and as Ged watched, weapon raised
above his head, the fiend expired into a messy, fuming puddle.



  Meanwhile, Otto had apparently said something that was not well-
received by his glabrezu foe.  The mighty fiend had picked the
dwarf up in one pincer-tipped hand, and its other, smaller hands
pummeled the foe mercilessly.  Otto stabbed the hand that held him,
again and again, but this didn't stop the barrage of blows.  In
fact, nothing did, until a combined assault from Gorin, Bosco, and
Arnold got the gigantic demon's attention.  As Arnold and Gorin
hacked at its legs with all their might, Bosco flew up and stabbed
the fiend in the center of its back.

glabrezu:  Argh!  Urk!  Aie!  Ungh!
Bosco:  That's the spirit!  (he stabs the foe again, in the back of
  its neck)
glabrezu:  (badly wounded by the halfling's sword and the attacks
  at its legs, it falls heavily)
Otto:  (jumps on the demon's massive chest)  Fuck you!  (he stabs
  the foe in the neck, sawing back and forth with his blade)
glabrezu:  (gurgles and dies, black fluid spraying from its neck)
  Ghaaaaak!
Otto:  (finds himself standing in a growing puddle of thick ichor)
  Ugh.  (he reels, bleeding and beaten)
Bosco:  (steadies the dwarf with one arm)  Whoa, there.
Otto:  (regards Bosco darkly)

  The remaining demons regrouped; the adventurers did likewise.  A
recently-arrived nalfeshnee - a titanic ape/boar amalgam that loomed
twenty feet in height - now led the much-thinned demon ranks.  These
consisted of the wounded, six-armed marilith and a host of lesser
fiends, mostly manes or dretches.  Indeed, it seemed that the party
had given an excellent accounting of themselves.  The hovering eye of
Elik had merely watched the entire battle thus far; without a host
whose body it could inhabit, the cursed artifact had limited powers.
Still, it now exerted another of those powers.

eye of Elik:  YOU HAVE DONE THE INCONCEIVABLE, MORTAL FOOLS - YET
  IT SHALL NOT BE ENOUGH!  (the purple gateway fluctuates again,
  and several dozen undead shamble out to bolster the evil ones'
  ranks)  NOW PREPARE TO DIE!

Ged:  (before the demonic and undead host can spread out and charge,
  he raises Lightbringer)
Lightbringer:  I don't think so.

  The enchanted morningstar, whose sole purpose in the world was
to slay undead, evoked its mightiest power:  a dazzling aura of
sunlight which bathed the entire group of foes in its bright, pure
beam.  Skeletons, zombies, ghouls, and wraiths alike wilted and
melted beneath the holy ray.  Even the demons were momentarily
blinded, such was the Good power of the sunray.  Perhaps the gods
stood by Ged and Lightbringer at this moment - it wasn't unthinkable
given the large amount of Evil that had crossed over into this plane
in the last quarter-hour.
  In any case, those undead not in the direct path of the sunray were
still half-melted, reduced to crawling, dying husks that rotted away
as the adventurers watched, fascinated.

Bosco:  Whoa!
Alindyar:  (shielding his eyes)  Impressive.  Most impressive.
eye of Elik:  (screams in rage)
Belphanior:  (half-conscious, he also screams)
eye of Elik:  (screams again)
Peldor:  (also shielding his eyes)  You know, I'd pay real money if
  that thing would just shut up.

  When the nalfeshnee and its demon ranks were able to see again,
they faced a potent combination of magic and attacks.  Ged swept the
fiendish horde with a moving wall of flame from his wand, and this
was followed by Alindyar's crushing fist of force.  This attack's
first victim was the badly wounded marilith; the six-armed demoness
fell, twitching briefly, and then began to bubble away.  Another
vulture-headed vrock, already aflame, was slain by Mongo's hurled
hammer.  Those few undead and demons that ran or crawled away from
the main group were felled by Arnold, Gorin, or Otto.  Lyra now used
a telekinesis to assist the warriors, holding foes at bay until they
could be properly slain.  The adventurers' efforts were truly team-
work at its finest.
  As the nalfeshnee watched in awe (fear was not an emotion it could
experience) its horde was decimated before its very eyes.  The great
fiend wondered how it had happened - hadn't it constantly used ESP
to keep track of all the mortals' battle plans and intentions?  What
it didn't realize was that its foes' minds were too different - not
to mention either too chaotic or too complex - to simultaneously
keep track of them all.

nalfeshnee:  Nooooo!  (gritting its teeth, it attempts to gate in
  some help)

  Again, it seemed that the gods - or perhaps merely fate - were with
the adventurers this day, for the fiend's dark masters failed to
answer its call.  Realizing this, the enormous demon took the only
course of action left to it.

nalfeshnee:  DIE, FOOLS!  (it swats the nearest foe - Razor Charlie -
  sending his limp, bleeding body hurtling away)
Ged:  (spellcasting)  You'll pay for that, fiend!
nalfeshnee:  Quiet!  (it points at Ged)
Ged:  (feebleminded)  Erp.  (he sits down, drooling)
Alindyar:  No!  (he bashes the demon with his force-fist)
nalfeshnee:  Argh!
Mongo:  (hurls Stormcrest, striking the demon a glancing blow)
nalfeshnee:  Urgh.  (it drops a web atop Mongo, and Gorin, who stands
  near his liege)
Gorin:  Shit!
Mongo:  Don't worry, kid.  (he begins tearing apart strands of the
  webbing)  This thing can't hold me.
nalfeshnee:  (sitting very still all of a sudden)
Otto:  What happened?
Alindyar:  (glances at Lyra, then at the others)  Nothing.
Gorin:  (half-freed from the web already, thanks to Mongo)  Bad news,
  I've no doubt...

  Suddenly, the monstrous demon began glowing, scintillating with a
variety of colors.  Then, a series of prismatic beams exploded from
its body, blasting everyone within fifty feet (which was pretty much
everyone who was fighting it) with tremendous force.  A few - Lyra,
Arnold, and Gorin - were stupefied, and staggered around aimlessly
after being blasted.

Alindyar:  Lyra!
Gorin:  (trips over a chunk of masonry, falling face-first next to
  a twitching ghoul)
ghoul:  (its lower half torn off, it yet lives; spotting the unmoving
  dwarf, it claws its way toward him, slowly but surely)
Peldor:  (approaching to backstab the nalfeshnee, he reconsiders, and
  instead TKs some fallen demon's spear into the demon's back)
nalfeshnee:  Arrrrgh!
Peldor:  Keep hitting it!
nalfeshnee:  (whirls and lunges, unthinkably fast, and bashes the
  thief with a gigantic fist)
Peldor:  (knocked away, bleeding, he drops his sword as he lands on
  the stone street, hard)  Argh!
Tanya:  Peldor!
Arnold:  (having just recovered)  You'll pay for that, dembon!  (he
  strikes, slashing a huge gash in the thing's chest)
nalfeshnee:  ARGH!  (it uses a chilling touch to get rid of Arnold)
Arnold:  (staggers away, seriously weakened, then falls, unconscious
  and very pale)
Alindyar:  (spellcasting furiously)  Keep the thing busy - I shall
  strike momentarily!
Otto:  Gotcha!  (he leaps toward the demon's broad back, sword and
  dagger ready)
nalfeshnee:  (Roars in pain as the two blades bury themselves in its
  back)  Argh!  (it reaches around to grab and rend the attacker,
  but Otto has already pulled his weapons free and leaped away)
nalfeshnee:  (dazed and badly injured, it hunches over, black ichor
  dripping from numerous wounds)  Grrr...
Bosco:  Here comes Bosco!  (the speedy halfling darts forth and stabs
  the massive demon in the neck, then kicks away, flying to safety in
  the blink of an eye)  And there goes Bosco-
nalfeshnee:  (keels over)
Bosco:  (hovering, half upside-down)  Hey!
Mongo:  Holy shit!  It's dead!
Bosco:  (rights himself, lands, then looks around)  Bosco, demon-
  slayer-  (he jumps aside as the black goo puddles nearby)
Otto:  (watching all of this in disbelief, he notices something out
  of the corner of his eye)  Shit, look!
ghoul:  (having finally reached Gorin's body, it tears at his armor
  weakly)
Mongo:  Uh-uh.  (he draws a bead on the half-dead undead, then hurls
  Stormbringer)
ghoul:  Ssss-  <SPLAT>
Mongo:  (runs over to check his henchman, catching his returning
  hammer along the way)  Fucking undead.
Bosco:  Whew, that was a close one!
Peldor:  (nearby, he stirs)  Uhh...
Tanya:  Come on, wake up!  (she pours a healing potion down Peldor's
  throat)
Peldor:  W- wuzzat?  (he sits up, looks around, and neatly TKs his
  sword back into his hand)  I'm ready!  (he becomes dizzy again)
  Whoa.
Tanya:  (laughing)  Slow down there, guy.  The demon's dead.
Otto:  (pointing)  I hate to spoil your party, but don't forget
  about _that_ demon.

  The eye hovered nearby, glowing brightly.  Since it was just an
eye, and nothing more, the adventurers had a hard time knowing what
thoughts ran through its consciousness.  However, they could make a
good educated guess.

eye of Elik:  INCONCEIVABLE!
Bosco:  You keep saying that, but-
eye of Elik:  (its crimson glow becomes brighter)  SILENCE, SMALLEST
  OF FOOLS!
Bosco:  Eep.
eye of Elik:  THE TIME HAS COME FOR-
Belphanior:  -for you to shut the hell up.

  Everyone turned, stunned, as the elf limped toward the hovering,
disembodied eye.  He had wrapped some piece of cloth around his
bloody head, covering the hole made by the very eye that now floated
before him.  Most of the head-wrapping was soaked with blood now,
and Belphanior teetered as he walked, seemingly about to fall with
every painful step.  Only his tremendous willpower kept him going,
and he approached the eye until he stood mere feet from the thing.

eye of Elik:  AH.  SO YOU YET LIVE.
Belphanior:  (weakly)  Yup.
Alindyar:  (looks at Lyra, ESP-ing thoughts her way)  <I thought he
  was feebleminded?>
Lyra:  (ESP-ing back)  <He _was_...>
Alindyar:  <Interesting.>
Lyra:  <Not as interesting as whatever happens next, I'd wager.>
Belphanior:  (regards the hovering eye, as both he and it totally
  disregard everyone else present)
eye of Elik:  YOUR TIME HAS COME.  ORCUS AWAITS - REJOIN ME NOW, AND
  GAIN MORE POWER THAN EVER BEFORE.  ALL THAT REMAINS IS FOR YOU TO
  CLAIM IT.
Belphanior:  Power?
eye of Elik:  VAST POWER.  JOIN ME, JOIN THE POWER OF THE ABYSS, AND
  YOUR DESTINY WILL BE SEALED.
Belphanior:  (mesmerized)  Destiny...
Mongo:  (steps forth, ready to do something, though he's not quite
  sure what)
eye of Elik:  COME.  SURELY YOU LONG FOR THE POWER...HAVE YOU NEVER
  DONE ANYTHING THAT CHANGED THE WORLD?
Belphanior:  I'm about to.

  With a deceptively fast motion, the elf slipped Blackrazor from its
sheath and slashed out, cutting the crimson eye in half!

eye of Elik:  NO!  (it explodes with a bright red flash and a powerful
  concussion)  AAAAAAIIIEEEEEEEEeeeeee.....

  That was that.  Nothing remained of the demonic eye, or the purple
gateway to the Abyss, or the demons and undead.  Belphanior's wounds
had closed, and despite the blast, he now stood straight, Blackrazor
clenched in one white-knuckled fist.  Much like the time he had struck
down the devil Hadeus, he now seemed to be super-charged with power;
he trembled and sweated, struggling to keep his footing.  His dark
sword pulsed with power, sending waves of black light up the elf's
arm.  Finally he fell to his knees and threw his head back, screaming
at the sky and shaking his sword violently.

Belphanior:  I...AM IN...CONTROL!!!

  The elf slumped down, facing the ground for a moment.  Then, after
a short but tense time, he relaxed, seemingly at peace with himself,
but it was kind of hard to tell.

Peldor:  (approaches carefully)  Uhh...Belphanior?
Otto:  (keeps his shortsword in his hand, unsure what direction this
  situation will take)
Peldor:  Hello?  Hel-LO?
Belphanior:  (turns his head)  Enough already.
Mongo:  You're back!
Otto:  But is it the possessed you or the real you?
Belphanior:  It's...just me.  (he looks around)  Holy hells...
Bosco:  What about the eye?  Is it there?  Is it gone?  What's in
  your eyesocket now?
Belphanior:  (slightly perturbed)  What do you _think_, Bosco?  It's
  an empty socket!
Mongo:  (smiling)  Ah, now that sounds like the Belphanior I know!
Otto:  But what about the eye?
Alindyar:  Hmm...I surmise that the thing is gone forever...its life
  absorbed by the sword.
Belphanior:  (grins, despite himself)  Good guess.
Lyra:  But what about...?
Belphanior:  The demon lord, our mutual friend from the Abyss?  I
  suppose he's still out there...somewhere.  It should be a while
  before he tries anything again, though.
Tanya:  (upset, she keeps near Peldor and doesn't say anything)
Alindyar:  (also looking quite disturbed)  If the demonlord yet bears
  us malice...hmm, this bodes ill for the future.
Mongo:  You're right, but what in the hell can we do about it?
Peldor:  Nothing?
Mongo:  Right.  So we can't worry about it right now.
Lyra:  What _can_ we worry about?
Mongo:  Our wounded...and getting the hell away from here before the
  local authorities show up.
Otto:  If there're any still alive.  (binding Razor Charlie's wounds)
  He'll live.
Belphanior:  Glad to hear it.  Really.
Bosco:  (walking in circles around the catatonic Ged)  Man, this guy
  needs help.  And I mean BAD.
Alindyar:  Aye, that he does.
Otto:  I don't know.  I kinda like him this way.
Mongo:  (looking around at the demolished city)  This city's got a
  lot of work to do.
Lyra:  We should get away from here...back to Greyhawk.
Alindyar:  (already spellcasting, since he read her thoughts)  Agreed.





  By the time anyone dared to approach the site of the battle, the
twelve companions were long gone.  The carnage, however, remained.

onlooker #1:  Wow! What happened?  And what's all that slime?
onlooker #2:  Someone will have to pay for this offense against our
  city; the Princes will want vengeance.

  All the onlookers fell silent as a cherubic individual approached,
beaming at the carnage.

fellow:  I had planned some urban renewal...this, um, exceeds my
  original ideas, however.  (his smile flickers briefly, then
  reappears)  I shall need to know all about what has happened here,
  and who deserves my thanks for their efforts.

  As his gaze fell on the onlookers, they seemed to sink in on them-
selves.

fellow:  Who would like to begin?





  Elsewhere (the Abyss to be exact) a certain grossly fat demon lord
was absolutely furious.

Orcus:  (smashes his throne's arms off, spraying his demonic retinue
  with bones and skulls)  ARGH!  (waddling about, he rips anything
  he catches to shreds)  DAMN THEM!  DAMN THEM ALL!
random lesser demon:  (decapitated with a single blow, it dies as
  others flee in terror)
Balor:  (as usual, the only one who dares to speak during the
  master's temper tantrums)  All is not lost...not yet, O Dread One.
Orcus:  EH?  (he stands still, two halves of a sub-demon clutched
  in his hands, and begins to calm down)
Balor:  (rubs its empty eye socket)  Granted, I cannot believe the
  elf refused my power...
Orcus:  (tosses the bloody demon parts away)  BAH.  BELPHANIOR MAY
  HAVE WON THE BATTLE, BUT HE SHALL NOT - CANNOT - WIN THE WAR.
Balor:  True, master.  (it staggers weakly)
Orcus:  (watches, somewhat amused despite himself)  YOUR EYE IS GONE
  AS WELL...LOST TO US.
Balor:  Yes.  (it stands straight, the weakness passed for now)  I
  can grow another...though it will take many years.  Who would have
  thought the dark sword capable of destroying my eye?
Orcus:  WHO INDEED?  WE UNDERESTIMATED ITS POWER.
Balor:  Not to mention the elf's desire to be his own master...
Orcus:  INDEED.  (he rubs his hairy, red-skinned chin)  STILL, WE
  HAVE ONE MORE TRICK LEFT...ONE MORE CARD TO PLAY, YET, IN THIS
  GAME...





next:   something that will shock you and rock you
ftp:    ftp.digex.net in /pub/access/dpm/rpg/stories/adventurers
www:    http://www.gatech.edu/oit/oe/design/thomas/adv.html
mail:   tmiller@cimmeria.ns.gatech.edu  (preferred)
        thomas.miller@oit.gatech.edu    (emergency)
notes:  By the way, _Heavy Metal_ has been theatrically re-released
  (it showed up in Atlanta on Friday 3/8/96) and is supposed to be
  available on video this spring - the same time that the sequel
  hits theaters.  I'll believe that latter part when I see it, but
  at least those who weren't around in 1981 can now see it on the
  big screen.

  Fan mail is becoming almost as difficult to collect and format
as good stories are to write.  I've got a new trick, though:  I'm
no longer going to use a ">>" to precede all of the fanmail lines.
>From now on, _my_ responses to the fanmail will be preceded with
a "TM>"...
  This batch covers responses to episodes 337-340, including the
controversial Belphanior-related comments from 337's fanmail:



A lot of negative comments in this batch of fan mail.

TM>  Gotta print 'em, though...besides, I got a lot of fan mail
     _attacking_ those  comments!  :)

It's just interesting to see what people like and don't like.  Bel
seems to be getting too powerful for some, or rather too non-evil.
His struggle (or not?) to remain neutral should be handled in the
current centilogy (set of a hundred stories?!?).

Rance



While reading the various fan mail about Belphanior asking why
he hasn't succumbed to the evil of the Eye and so forth, I was
reminded of the following quote: "For though I walk in the
Valley of Death, yea, I shall fear no evil - for I am the meanest
sonofabitch around."

As for Blackrazor, episode 329 gives us a peek into its nature -
and it was no surprise to me, I always figured Blackrazor and
Belphanior were forged from the same ore, so to speak. :)

PS. "Never let the rules get in the way of a good story!" should
be the first sentence in the DMG. In a size 20 font. Underlined. :)

Shane



there,

After reading your last batch of reader comments, I had to respond.
I would like to see Belph eventually be redeemed, not become the
next evil nemesis of the party.  Granted, he will probably lose a
lot in the process of his redemption (the eye, perhaps his sword);
however, I will be sorely dissapointed if Belph goes over to the
dark side for good.  (It might be interesting if the old group had
to band together to "save" Belph - perhaps they'd have to knock
him out so Ged could surgically remove the eye.)

Other than that, I too would love to see more adventures with the
entire band.  The episodes I enjoy the most are the ones with the
full party,  with the old Peldor and Ged constantly bickering,
everybody a bit on edge because the unknown lurks around the next
corner, etc.  The individual and small group adventures are nice,
but I think the best are the stories with the entire party.  (By
the way, I'd really like to see the old Peldor again.  Bosco is
filling in quite well, but some of my favorite scenes involve
Peldor and his minions battling verious beings... "Enough of this
Peldor!"  Loved that line.)  Perhaps a little more balance between
full party adventures and side stories would be good.  They could
go back to the lost city with the anti-magic grey dragon, or get
caught by a certain water elemental lord who probably isn't too
happy about being given fake gold for Bosco's soul, or cruise
around the underdark again...  Then there's the idea of zipping
around different planes again.

Anyway, thanks for the stories so far, and I hope you continue
writing another 3 or 4 hundred episodes.

-Tony

TM>  Wow!  Only 350 episodes and already I'm booked for that many
     more!



First of all welcome back from Mardi Gras it sounds like it had
it's ups and downs this year, I was there back in 1984 what an
excuse to party at least I kind of remember being there.... Yes
I can definitely remember the breakfasts :)

Anyway I'm writing in response to the question and answer portion
of 337 in it you were questioned about a rapier having only a
point and no edge.  That's incorrect and you're right a rapier is
about 3' long with a single front edge the person that wrote you
must have been thinking of a foil or epee both are about 3' long
with a sharp point (3 Musketeer style).

It looks like Rillen is going to have a girlfriend soon good
deal!  Poor Ged he never seen Nenya and Deryck coming.

Well we're getting ready for the Baseball season to start here's
to a repeat
performance.

See Ya!

Thanks,

Karl



Howdy! Ready for some feedback?

Arnold and Ged's reactions to Deryck and Nenya's announcement
were  great!  Arnold's holding tongue in cheek so to speak
suggests more  intelligence than he's generally given credit
for.  Ged's reaction was simply priceless!  The bit with the
tongue was cool too :)

But (you knew it was coming didn't ya?)  I think that Mongo
would've held  a grudge longer than that.  Oh well!

Also you spoke of resurrection being readily available and all
that:  with every raise dead the target's constitution lowers
permanently by one.  Also a system shock roll must be made.
Also, it's possible for a  body to be incinerated .. imagine a
fall into that lava (several volcanoes have been trekked upon
already) for example.  There are other possible scenarios in
which a comrade's body is unrecoverable...  but I suppose some
people'd be really bummed if their favorite character died.
It's just that in any given battle I don't fear any of them
dying.

Gabe



Your fan mail is definitely getting bigger... Was looking
forward to a nice long story and most of it was fan mail
<pout>....

TM>  Just think:  this episode, you got both!

Anyway keep up the good work (yeah I know some more fan mail)
but any chance of some more 'interesting' story lines, say
perhaps a run in with some Shadows or something. You'll have
your story line fairly  busy with the marriage though, say what
about having Nenya suddenly have problems which hold off on the
wedding or something?

Just a thought...

Kerry



In your fan-mail there is a lot talking about Belphanior's
'evil', and people are claiming he's not so evil anymore after
he took over Helgate.  I don't think I could disagree more. I
think Belphanior is a very good example on how people can be
evil and still function quite well in a society. Just because
he's chaotic evil dosen't mean he has to kill random people
every day. He has his own code of ethics saying if you don't ask
for it, you don't get it, but still, he is the one who decides
what 'asking for it' means. To me, this definately sounds like
Chaotic Evil. Even though I agree with you that the AD&D
alignment system is quite bad, I still like to use it. If you
read the description of the alignments in PHB or DMG, you
quickly find that people are only supposed to play good
alignments, or possibly neutral ones. CN is described as a lot
more Chaotic that CG, and CE is described even more Chaotic than
CN. This is just one example of the bad things about it. TSR
claims that evil people cannot cooperate. I wonder how Nazi
Germany could exist then, and even more, how  they could kill
all those jews? They did after all cooperate very well. Maybe
this is the proof that Nazi Germany WASN'T evil after all ? (Ok,
this was just a joke, please don't send Whisper after me :)
Personally I think TSR's explanations of the alignments should
be disregarded, and you should figure out for your self what
the alignments means.
...
The way you have described Belphanior's rule over Helgate, it
is quite clear that he don't rule as chaotic as I have described
here. That does not mean  that he isn't chaotic anymore, or that
you have done anything wrong. It simply means Belphanior does
not rule according to his alignment. There may be several reasons
for that. One may be that he isn't VERY chaotic, and is able to
understand that he should moderate even that in his rule. Another
may be that he has more or less let the detail ruling over to
someone who is less chaotic.

Jon



Belph as an agent of Orcus?  Actually, I'm just remembering that
the eye artifact was the only treasure the party got off the
Balor itself.  It fell when he self immoliated and Peldor was
able to grab it.  Hmmm ...

Personally I like the development that Belphanior is undergoing,
and if anyone could resist the power of an artifact it would be
Belph (for a while at least).  I am very eager to see how the
whole blackrazor/eye thing works out.  All kind of interesting
plot thingies occur.

keep up the good work.

Salutations from Mt. Kolvir,

Dave, Marie and Morgan



Well I've just finished reading the last couple of episodes. A
little bit thin on the ground for the overall plot, but they are
tying down a lot of loose ends (or tying down the adventurers
themselves. eg Nenya!)

Its nice to the characters growing more and more personality. I
prefer these mature themes.

Pete



I don't like Rillen much - he's never had much personality.
Maybe something really bad happening to him would make me feel
better, and give him some character.

How about a good hostage scenario where the bad guys kill the
hostages, to give Rillen some angst?  Hmm.. Orcus could possess
or trick him into turning on the rest of the party, and we
could see some carnage before things are sorted out.

I still like Peldor, though Belphanior has been a more interesting
character of late. Ged needs a holy mission and inspiration.

Adrian



Hi Thomas,

Thanks for the fabulous stories of the Adventurers!!!
You are certainly rivalling some of the best fantasy writers.

In the fanmail of 337, you mentioned that you don't like all
that resurrection stuff, which happened to enter the series
way back. Well, several options are open to you: disintegration
spells/devices, spheres of annihilation, travelling the astral
plane end getting your silver cord cut. There probably are many
more ways.

Keep up the good work, we love you! :-)

Jan



TM>  And now, on to the actual story feedback:



I almost expected a child to wake up from the furs at the end
of that conversation...  I'm not disappointed, though.  I like
the way you handled it.  It just would have been an interesting
surprise... :]

Patrick



As a single, self-contained story line, it was very good. What
about releasing it as a single episode?

However, I had assumed that Rillen would head to/found a
monastery, in order to be able to pass on both his combat skills
and wisdom to younger generations, and thus to make the world a
better place. But, I can also understand the motives that would
make him want to "get away from it all".

A number of questions remain:
1) is Rillen officially "retired" now (i.e., no further Rillen
   stories)?

TM>  Pseudo-officially, yes, but we haven't seen the end of him.

2) will any enemies who Rillen has made be willing to accept his
   status, or will they bring problems to the village?

TM>  Depends whether they can track him to his current location.
     I'd say there's a  pretty slim chance of big-time danger
     finding him now.

3) will Rillen be able to resist the blandishments of his erst-
   while companions, should they want/need him to assist them in
   the future?

TM>  Unknown.  If he goes, though, Songa will come along.
     (Halbarad who?)

4) are Rillen and Songa naive enough to believe they will be left
   in peace?

TM>  Doubtful, but they'll never know unless they try.

5) what of the skull ninjas, who wiped out his former monastery?

TM>  Prime candidates #1 for finding and attacking him...

Vince.



Greetings,
Just a message about these three stories, I liked them, tho it
will be  interesting to see how the Deryk and Nenya saga works
out. Ged does seem a bit flabagasted and it will now remain to
be seen if he does want Nenya or will let her go.

Keep up the good work

STefan



I'm going to miss Rillen. Sorry, didn't like the happy ending
of his affair with Sogna. If I liked these real life situations,
I wouldn't be a fantasy fan!

About the woman visiting Helgate, have I ever met her before?
I recall a picture showing a female warrior in black leather
corselet, black hose and boots and red cape entering a cave,
holding a foil and a lantern....

Costas



As much as Helgate's dark, dirty atmosphere appeals to me, I
didn't mind the delay in getting back to Belphanior, because
this story was a nice change of pace. I also love the frozen
(or near frozen) north, and stories which take place there
naturally please me.

Leonard



Thomas,
  here's a list of Rillen's class as given in some recent
stories:

255: Rillen        17th level human warrior
275: Rillen        17th level human warrior
300: Rillen        17th level human warrior
306: Rillen        17th level human warrior/monk
317: Rillen        17th level human warrior monk
318: Rillen        17th level human warrior
323: Rillen        17th level human warrior
338: Rillen        17th level human monk

If I recall correctly, pre255 he was always a warrior.

So, what is he? Is there a reason he's sometimes a warrior
and sometimes a monk, and sometimes both? I had got into
the habit of reminding myself he was a warrior, rather than
a monk, and now he isn't a warrior at all!

regards,
Glen

TM>  Hmm.  Simple error on my part - often I mix and match
     character classes.  It's TSR defiance syndrome.



  And now for a word from Down Under:

>   One thing I like about the Outback is that they have
> Castlemaine XXXX on draft.  22 ounce drafts, to boot.
> Naturally, I had several before and while eating dinner.
> Steak...another thing I like about the Outback is that their

Thomas, Thomas, Thomas,

I am glad to hear that an American likes Australian beer so
much, but XXXX ????????? I don't mean to insult your tastes,
but this has got to be the worst Aussie beer there is, the
only people that drink it are from Queensland and they are
generally not known for anything rewarding in the culinary
department (they are known however for their great babes!!)
The best Aussie beer is probably Victoria Bitter or Carlton
Cold, vastly superior to the taproom sweat that is XXXX !!!!

Just a note on beer,

Ben

TM>    I think XXXX is the best Australian beer that _Outback_
TM>  serves on draft.  Those little beer-icebergs that form in
TM>  the frosted mug please me to no end.  However, in the
TM>  interest of science, posterity, and the general good of
TM>  humankind everywhere, I shall sample the other beers you
TM>  mentioned at my earliest opportunity.     :)



  Next up are some comments to a comment I made:

>notes:  Somehow I get the idea that I'm beginning to deal
>  with more mature, adult, challenging concepts in these
>  stories.

this is sensible as the characters have grown in both power
and mentality.  just like any normal person, they mature and
they look at the world in a different way and find more mature
things to worry about rather than the immature things young
adventurers would worry about, like where to find more money
and magic, rather than where to settle down and keep your
friends and family safe.

keep up the current thought processing, maturity fits the
current lives of the Adventurers.  most of us have read the
stories from the beginning (even if we didn't actually start
from the beginning, like me for instance) and it works well
with them growing up.

Matt



from my understanding, most of the Adventurers are already
what we consider 'retired'.  some have found a place to call
their own.  like ged's castle and peldor's inn as well as
belphanior's castle and town.  i see the drow as retired even
though they are just using a room in the inn as their domain,
because they would rather study and research spells than go
out and investigate a weird area.  retired PCs in d&d means
they are no longer homeless adventurers going on quests after
they finish the quest they are currently on.  retirement
comes when a player no longer wants or sees a suitible quest
for his character to go on.  i see mongo, rillen, halbarad
and peyote as not being retired because we know for mongo
and rillen that they haven't a place to settle down in and
so they both have quests to find such a place.  rillen, we
see, is on his and if it works out then he'll be considered
a retired PC.  when mongo finally gets his stronghold he'll
be settled down and retired.  same happens with halbarad and
peyote, we haven't heard much of what's been happening with
them so we don't know if they've made any progress in this
direction.  rob, we know, has a pretty good position at his
church and we can consider him retired.  once they are all
retired, then you can spring the war on them and show how
each of their retirements have been effected and what they do
and this can be epic III as i suggested earlier.  what would
be cool, probably, is show how the henchmen participate in
the war, and also show each of the main guy's local incidents
if the war effects their holdings as i'm sure it will for
belphanior and ged and mongo too if his stronghold ends up in
a primary location.  rillen would probably be out of the main
focus if he stays up with the frost barbarians.

in most campaigns, 17th level is very high.  TSR has tried to
place a 20th level max when they did 2nd edition.  then they
saw how many people actually play high level guys and they
came out with the high-level handbook.

Matt



well, yes, but also your actual writing is noticeably
improving, even now.  I think there's still some way to go
with both the concepts and the writing, but as of right now,
your work is better than a fair number of published authors.
Given the volume of your output, I'd say you are doing very
well indeed.

The stories are getting less single-threaded, and you are
dealing more with the ideas, feelings, attitudes and morality
of the characters, which makes for much better reading. As
the bad guys develop more, becoming less one-dimensional, and
more characters with their own thoughts, aims and so on, you
get much more interesting stories.

Glen



hey thomas,

epic III should be the chronicles after the war.

in my opinion.

have fun,

matt



Thomas,
  I have been avidly following the Adventurers for some time
now, and I have to say that the stories just keep getting
better and better! The depth of characterisation and "real-
world feel" that you manage to pack into your writing is
phenomenal.
  Congratulations on a thoroughly superb achievement to date.

Chris



Hey Thomas,

I could finally find a moment to mail you.  These last few
weeks have been so busy that I just print out your stories
and read them in the train.  Unfortunately, all the useful
and enthusiastic remarks that pop up in my mind when reading
the tales are never written down.  Until now :-)

First of all, a BIG CHEER for Rob's guest appearance.  Despite
all, he is still my favorite (and Peyote second, heh).  I really
liked the way you introduced him a few episodes back, as the
high priest who is still baffled that his teleportation spell
works.  The other player characters might still think he is
wierd, but hey, it's not bad to have a likable high priest
friend.  It probably would not make a very interesting tale to
write about him solo, setting up a church or anything; that
would be a bit too much cheerful bungling.  But as an aid to
the others, especially when they need him, he is great!  (Hmm,
if the party really starts taking on Orcus, with undead and
evil priests and all, they should realize Rob is actually a
powerful ally.)

Heh.  Enough ranting about Rob.  Some second thoughts as well:
didn't Ged have godlike intelligence and wisdom?  The episode
where Mongo apologizes to him seemed unlikely to me, a bit
awkward even.  Ged should have fretted about his quarrel with
Mongo from the start, but more, he should have immediately
known what Mongo came in for..  In the story he was 'uhm'-ing and
guessing and just not getting it.  Perhaps Ged should also have
seen what his disciples were about, but then, love can make
you blind. *grin*

Something about the Belphanior thread.  I like it, even though
Belphanior is not my favorite character.  But I also like
westerns, so there you go.  I had also wondered about the
alignment thingy that other readers reacted to.  My suggestion:
perhaps you can let Belphanior really do his best to make the
town prosperous and safe (*giggle*), and then let him slip..
One night the eye and the sword can let him make a tiny mistake,
and the town turns against him.  Perhaps a host of angry
innocents can lay siege to his castle.  Somehow, it would suit
Belphanior's character to be driven from his own village and
become embittered and cynical.
  Talking about the castle: this overnight appearance sounds
like a card trick with a deck of many things.  Unfortunately I
am too lazy to downlown old episodes and check if that could
have been the case..

TM>  Don't worry about how it happened.  Sometimes I do stuff
     like that just to do it.

  Also, if your readers really want to see blood, in the form
of PC's dying.  Heh.  Blackrazor can do that trick.  Have a
nasty NPC wield it, and a PC's soul is gone forever.  A
possible scenario that just pops into my mind: Bad guys
attack Hellgate.  Otto is charmed and joins the baddies.  His
poison lays down Belphanior, or otherwise a stun spell gets
the Elf.  The woman in black picks up Blackrazor, and swipes
the menacing Otto.  *guffaw*  Perhaps Otto is not a favorite
of mine as well..

TM>  Heh...he's become a favorite of _mine_ though...

To chime in on Leonard's suggestion: I think it would work
very well to skip a few years to the start of the wars.
Finding out what happened to the PC's, perhaps mentioning a
kill, will lend a lot of mystery to the stories..  I also
like the flashback idea. And it gives the major baddies a
chance to build up a really powerful move.  Orcus would do
anything hasty now would he.

Last but not least: I just loved your account of the Mardi
Gras adventure.  The exact purpose of godlike beads got me
roaring!  It's that fine ethical decision: when to be PC and
when not to be PC that makes life fun.  Only one or the other
is just too boring.  *grin*  Gumbo and dacquiries.. gotta have
those one day. :-)

Take care,

Casper

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