Monday, 27 July 2015

Kampi's Edda: Pilgrimage of the Mariner - Part 2

During my recent recovery time in and out of the hospital, I came up with what Kampi would be doing during his absence from Dagger Deep. Here's part two!

The first Thonar's Day
Of the month of the Pasture
Local Year 5315

Rune: Fehu

Divine Association: Forsite, the law-speaker. God of Laws, Justice, & Trade
Literal Meaning: Cattle
Interpretations: Fortune, Trust, Wealth
  • Right-side: Foresight, Growth, Success
  • Inverted: Avarice, Dependence, Poverty

We have arrived in the tiny trading settlement of Bella, a scant collection of dilapidated structures surrounded by stakewall that extends into the harbour some distance on either side where we docked our ship at the small wharf. I had come to learn the majority of trade goods we were carrying on the Sojourner were farmed foodstuffs like grains, turnips, cabbage, and so on, with good reason; the surrounding forestland would hamper field farming. I surmised that the locals of this village must subsist on a diet of mostly local fish and livestock, like my own folk of the north. I learned my assumption was correct, but not entirely true.

Like the vessel I travelled upon, I noticed several distinctions between the make of the structures here that matched not only with my own country, but of similar neighbouring people like the Celtfolk. Still the differences where great enough to dissuade me from jumping to my desired conclusion that I was near familiar lands; I hoped a chance conversing with the locals might provide the knowledge of what I seek.

We ported our trade goods into a longhouse whose outer walls one could not help but notice were hastily reinforced hither and yon with timber boards over damaged sections. Though largely empty the interior bore the faint odour of a large gathering of living beings. During our several trips carrying goods a scant crowd formed; several of the larger men aided our task, and it was then I was able to see them up close in the fading daylight: at first glance our assistants were undoubtedly the burlier folk of the settlement, but they were still quite haggard and thin. I soon discovered why.

When we were at last done and gathered together in another similarly battered hall to take part in a "feast in our honour" whilst merchant-captain Lorens discussed trade with their leader, which they referred to as the 'ealdorman'. We sat around the firepit whilst locals brought us dishes to sup upon, the fare of which was meagre; we slowly began to understand the foodstores in Bella: the bitter-tasting flatbreads were made with bark flour and the thin pottage was thickened with pieces of offal, seaweed, dandelion and nettle greens. The smoked fish provided was the most palpable dish, though very little was catered. 

Nevertheless, despite the wanting meal, I, along with the rest of the crew, politely declined to dine upon the long, rubbery neck of some type of fowl these folk called a 'goo duck'. (Must be a less savoury relative of the barnacle goose I've heard certain holy-men dine off of during periods of religious fasting? At times I find many of the ways of other faiths peculiar.)

Whilst we dined, the ealdorman (with surprisingly little haggling), agreed on behalf of the village to trade over half their stock of commodities (furs, scrimshaw, dried/salted fish, timber) for the goods that we had brought. Before our company had the chance to agree to this rather generous offer, the elder quietly inquired how many passengers could our vessel be filled with. Without showing our collective concern, our leader replied that loaded with the traded goods we could take but a few.

Without thinking, I asked if his query was related to the haggard state of the folk here; were they facing starvation or perhaps sickness wrought by a scarce game? Speaking directly to me with a haunted look, he said not entirely, and told us a grim tale:

For several months the folk of this place had been beset by a horror that slew their best fighters. It continually strikes on the blackest of nights, which hides its form in the shadows and darkness, but it is agreed upon it's shape is not that of a beast, but like a man but with dark colouration. Nor like a beast has it been mindless in its predations; in the early weeks it struck at Bella's granary and larder, setting them alight and burning the majority of their foodstores.

After that the creature began to prey upon the townsfolk in earnest, occasionally returning the corpses of those slain as reanimated dead monstrosities. The populace has been decimated by these attacks; the few able warriors that remain are unfit/unwilling to face the creature and all the folk have been taking refuge in the longhouse where we unloaded our goods; the elder bid we all head there now before the night grew to its darkest.

As we arose and made our way, the elder related the horror seems content to let the folk of Bella lapse into starvation, for though it sends undead to batter against the walls of their shelter, it never assaults the longhouse directly; though they know it remains nearby for they can hear it mutter threats and commands in a foul tongue and ransack the empty buildings.

Once we were outside the entrance to their shelter, which was now filling up with the haggard community, the ealdorman had come to the conclusion why he asked about passage upon our ship: many families were willing to pay what little they had remaining to barter passage upon the Sojourner and flee this benighted place. 

Our merchant-captain promised he would take such offers under serious consideration and his answer would be given on the morrow. Although we were implored by the locals to shelter with them in the longhouse, I advised the company should perhaps remain with the ship, for if this being was as clever as told, it would surely seek to render our vessel unseaworthy. The captain concurred; we returned to our moored ship and set watches as the ominous twilight deepened. 

I feel I need to gather myself before I relate what happened that eventide.

Praise Be To The Æsir 
-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Kampi's Edda: Pilgrimage of the Mariner - Part 1

During my recent recovery time in and out of the hospital, I've come up with what Kampi is doing during his absence from Dagger Deep and finally got around to posting part one.

Midsummer Solstice 
Sun's Day of the month of the Sun (most fitting)
Local Year 5315

Rune: Dagaz
Divine Association: No direct association.
Literal Meaning: Day or Dawn
Interpretations: Awakening, Balance, Longing for Change
  • Right-side: Clarity, Hope, Trust
  • Inverted: Distrust, Sadness, Uncertainty

For several days we've crossed the sea, personally hoping to discover the source of my compulsion. We have sailed on a north-westerly course along the Malkavian Sea between the isle of Arrakus on our larbord and the mainlands to our steorbord. We have just passed the northern most tip of the island and are to continue hugging the easterly coast until it brings us to a series of fjords that link to the vessel's destination: a small trading settlement that has managed to thrive in the "cold" northlands.

The type of ship I've been journeying in has been referred to as a 'Kogg', as I believe it would be spelt, by my shipmates. Apparently its design is somewhat old but still serviceable. I've found many similarities with the Knarrs of my folk; it is primary powered by sail, but can be manned by oars if needed. I am very grateful the captain permitted my employ; possibly because of my knowledge of seacraft and carpentry, but I believe more so because of ability to heal. I've heard it told that it is considered ill fortune if a ship sails without a healer, a wise adage indeed. The crew name it the Sojourner and it is a fine vessel.

This day marks the beginning of true summer, at least it would in the lands where I am from. The weather has been conducive to sailing, bright and clear but with a strong breeze to alleviate the heat. My shipmates seem to be good folk, and I have spent my free time ensuring that the ship's stores have at least half-a-dozen potions of healing on-hand in case of accidental injury.

I best get some sleep before the long day of seafaring tomorrow. I feels good to once again feel the wind through my hair, the spray of the ocean upon my skin, and to the hear timber creak; though my thoughts stray back to the lost kin I sailed with during that ill-fated voyage almost a year ago, and then to those I left behind in Dagger Deep. I pray to the gods of the sea that our journey north is successful and unhindered, and that they watch over my friends whilst I am gone.

Until my next entry.

Praise Be To The Æsir 
-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Saturday, 11 July 2015

Lusus Naturae, Narcosa, & NSFW - Impressions

Whilst I was recently recovering in the hospital (see previous post), one day my Missus brought to me an unexpected hardback that I had received in the mail; t'was Lusus Naturae, a gruesome old-school bestiary written by the appallingly astute +Rafael Chandler and illustrated by the terrifyingly talented +Gennifer Bone, which I had backed an age ago on kickstarter.

Given the awful sweat-drenched, fever-induced nightmares I was having at the time, I thought it perhaps wise that I opted not to add such text to my current infirmary reading pile.

But now that I've been home all safe and comfortable with the majority of my illnesses behind me, in my air conditioned man-cave, a beer in hand, with heavy metal rumbling over my speakers, I cracked the covers of this horrible handbook.

Yes. I fully stand by my decision to prolong subjecting myself to the 133 pages of horrors within without proper ambiance, else I'm sure I'd be unable to appreciate them to their fullest extent.

The themes herein are most definitely geared towards dark/weird fantasy worlds and the minimalist mechanics presented work best with OSR games (particularly Laminations of the Flame Princess on both counts), but the content of Lusus Naturae can easily be adapted to a variety of RPGs; in particular I see much of the concepts in this bestiary working quite well in Numenera.

A Gelatinous Hypercube. Friggin' Genius.
My advice for a simple mechanics conversion to the Cypher System is make the level of the creature equal to it's listed hit dice, as the vast majority of never go above 10 HD anyway (and the few that do are more suited to plot-tied campaigns than single encounters). The rest of the pertinent creature details and modifications can easily be discerned by reading the entry and the GM deciding the rest of the relevant info.

Aside from an excellent and varied creature catalogue, the book also contains a useful appendix of anagrammed spells (like Plane Shift to a Fish Planet), a seriously decent random monster generator, a random disease creator with a bunch of historical examples, and a list of objects found in a monster's lair.

All in all, well worth the money I spent ($35) and the time I waited (over a year). The PDF of this work can be found [here] and is currently on sale for just $10.

It's also worth noting that several of the entries in Lusus Naturae make reference to a free collaborative work by the OSR community, also edited and compiled by Chandler, known as Narcosa. This 100+ page PDF is free; fans of it may also purchase a softcover version [here].

I haven't had the time to read through the whole collection but I get the impression if you want even more gonzo, acid-and-mushrooms-in-wonderland material for your games, Narcosa is bound to contain your preferred poison.

I also realized that I never had a chance to give another one of Chandler's works (again for LotFP and other retro-clones) a good read through and review; the adventure No Salvation For Witches (or NSFW as it's appropriately known). Now that the indiegogo campaign has funded, one can purchase either a PDF and/or a hardcover print copy [here] or [here].

No Salvation For Witches, in my opinion, seems like an okay adventure. Sure, it has some superb evocative art and some clever parts (I enjoyed all the historical references), but the whole thing kinda seems like a tiny sandbox that only has one interesting thing at each location vaguely tied around a timed event.

Perhaps that's more than plenty for the PC's to do given they're limited to the in-game 24-hour time-frame and mayhap that's meant to keep them from getting too distracted from the global-altering ritual that's occurring, but it feels to me all the listed encounters and locales could do with a bit more description/flavor; the same goes with fleshing out certain NPCs' motivations/reasons why they're present. Saying rampant magic caused it kinda seems like a cop-out when it's used to explain away the majority of the weird goings-on.

That said, NSFW might be best suited for a convention game or a single session where time is limited anyway and one doesn't have to worry about the PC's missing the most interesting parts of the adventure because they're bogged down with something unrelated when the proverbial clock strikes zero.

I liken it to being trapped in a haunted house till sunrise and given free reign; some groups might chase/capture/fight the monster in the rubber mask, some might spend all night trying to unlock the broom-closet because they think there's something vital in there (there isn't). But this perhaps can be argued with any time-sensitive adventure.

An interesting quasi-adventure, but I have little desire to ever run it. Though the Tract of Teratology in the latter part of the book provides more random-generated material (this time summoning ritual flavoured) for use in other games, No Salvation For Witches left me mildly disappointed when I finished it.

I guess I was just expecting more; though it is worth noting that the indiegogo campaign for NSFW was "Pay What You Want", so for certain individuals might've got a really good deal for the amount they contributed. Me, I think I got my value, despite being a bit disappointed by the seemingly limited content.

I think the post-campaign hardcover price of 22€ seems a little steep for the content provided; the PDF seems a better deal. But then again you could get the larger, perhaps more useful Lusus Naturae PDF for the same price...

Just sayin'.

Wednesday, 1 July 2015

Happy Canada Day! (Post-Surgery Post)

Happy Canada Day to all my fellow Canadians! 

I'm back home after my 8-day stint in the hospital following the laprascopic partial nephrectomy on my left kidney! The preferred methodology of removing the renal cell carcinoma that was present was a success, though I developed a few complications that followed the operation that prolonged the time spent in the hospital more than anticipated. But as of yesterday afternoon, I've been back in my own home and beginning the hopefully not long process of recovery and restoring my health to the state it was in before surgery.

For posterity sake, I'll provide an overview of all the things my body went through:

The Sunday prior to surgery I was on a liquid diet (so hungry) and had to do a bunch of pre-surgery prep. During the wee hours of the 22nd, our good friend Todd dropped the Missus and I off at Victoria General Hospital for my 6am admitting. A couple hours later I was off to surgery. The goal (factor depending) was for my surgeons to perform a partial nephrectomy via laprascopic surgery.

Hours later I awoke in the recovery room (partially cognitive, as I recall asking the nurse watching me my blood type: B+; I surprisingly didn't know that before then.) and mentioning that the fluid in my drain looked like tomato soup. xP

Soon I was transferred to my bed on the 7th floor Uruology ward and was told the post-op results of the procedure: it was as successful as intended, the tumour was removed with a minor complication; the vein above it had to be partially removed and reconstructed during the enucleation of the tumour.

I was surprised how uncomfortable this laprascopic procedure was compared to the previous one I had, though I'm sure no two laprascopic surgeries are going to be the same and this time I was left with half of an unhappy organ; my abdomen was swollen from trauma and bloated from the residual carbon dioxide they inflate your belly with during keyhole surgery.

Not exactly what occurred, but a close enough representation.
But it turns out my discomfort wasn't entirely unjustified: A day or so later whilst I was recovering, I had to take a chest X-ray that confirmed I had developed pneumonia in my lungs (explaining the shortness of breath); and an Angiograph/Interventional Radiology to locate and insert a pair of Stents into one of the operated upon kidney's arteries that was bleeding into my ureter.

I soon ended up with a fever which made for some awful nightmares and several horribly sweaty sleeps during those nights; I broke that fever Sunday night I believe, as Monday was the first day I was back to feeling 'normal': fever gone, breath improving, pain diminished. I was ready to be discharged.

Unfortunately at the time doctors felt my blood O2 levels were still too low, and on a hunch had me scheduled for a CT Scan of my chest to see if I had developed a possible blood clot. The test didn't end up happening till late evening, well after my supper had arrived; I was finally getting my appetite back and I couldn't eat it because I had to keep a clear stomach prior to the scan! Anyway the test came back negative. No blood clots!

People who know me well, know that once I start getting uppity and vocal about staying in the hospital longer than I feel I need to, I must be feeling better. I have tremendous patience for all this medical stuff, but once I feel healthy enough to leave I want to go! Mind you this whole thing had already had gone from a 2-4 day stay to over a week, so I was getting quite antsy at this point.

Unplugged from everything (drain, catheter, IV drip, and eventually O2 support) the only thing prolonging my stay was my still low O2 levels and the antibiotics they were administering for my pneumonia. I expressed my frustrations to wonderful nursing student who bent the ear of a couple doctors to discharge me. After a quick phone call with my specialist I was released with a prescription for the rest of my course of antibiotics!

Yesterday afternoon my good buddy Ash picked me up from the hospital and brought me home. I can't say how good it feels to be back; I still have some time to recover fully, but being comfortable with my best girl is vital to retaining my health.

Enjoy your Canada Day everyone!

Wednesday, 17 June 2015

Kampi's Edda: A Cruel Turn of Fate

This is will be the last entry of Kampi's Edda for some time that directly relates to in-game events until I again attend Medieval Chaos as this particular character. In less than a week's time I'm going in for an operation; taking care of that concern on my kidney. Being a complex procedure, the success of the surgery will dictate my recovery time and ergo when I am physically fit enough to attend as a fighting PC like Kampi, much less a non-combatant.

Speaking of a non-com character, I've got one in the works; He has his debut the week prior and I'm bringing him out again this coming Saturday for my last day at MC. If I feel he warrants it, I mayhap start a blog series on him.

Wodin's Day, the 17th of the month of the Sun
Local Year 5315

Rune: Othila
Divine Association: the goddess Frigg, consort of Wodin and matron of the Æsir
Literal Meaning: Inheritance
Interpretations: Estate, Heritage, Tradition
  • Right-side: Endowment, Familial ties, Legacy
  • Inverted: False Entitlement, Loss, Separation

Tomorrow, at dawn's light, I am to leave Arrakis. 

There is a ship awaiting me in the harbour of Helm's Deep, bound to the far northern lands of this realm. It is there I seek perhaps a landmark or culture that may provide proof that the homelands of my kin may be reached by physical journey.

I did not make such choice to leave on a whim; believe me that I deeply ruminated upon it. What I've been feeling for the past months, is a growing compulsion; a strong desire that I believe to be almost divine in nature. Though recent events and my own desires compel me to stay, I have sworn oaths and made sacrifices to the gods of the sea and travel for their favour and after seeing several portents I will not change my decision.

I was hoping my fellow shipwreck-survivor, Volm, would have returned from his journey east before I departed, but he has yet to do so and it has been sometime since I received word from him, so I must travel alone. The desire to reconnect with any of my remaining kin, to let them know what happened to myself and my fellow mariners during that ill-fated voyage drives me to tarry no longer, despite the incidents of the past laugardagr

As I mentioned, I saw many a divine omen that day: the first was an encounter with a follower of the God of Thunder whose faith in his calling had begun to waver: Elfranco, I believe is how his name would be spelt. It seemed that his former master, a member of the mercenary group known as the Butchers Bill, abandoned him mid-tutelage. His incomplete training and sparse knowledge of the god he followed combined with the recent complete schism between the false church of Thor (now known as Khorne, one of the four chaos deities collectively worshipped as the Undivided as they are called) and the true Guardian of Asgard, Thonar (or Thor as he is better known locally) has left this young pupil doubting his future.

The unsavoury site of worship to these chaos deities occupies the previous site where the hospital was originally planned to stand, and I was to aid in its construction. I have several reasons to dislike this cult, but this furthers my mistrust: The fact that the mentor to this young disciple abandoned his charge is disgraceful; the bond between mentor and student should be sacred.

But, if this turn of events has shifted Elfranco toward to the true path of the God of Thunder, or at least to a master of a noble deity much better suited to training him than his previous one, then I cannot discount the entire affair for it is the will of the gods. I would train him myself, but I do not feel as I am yet ready for such a full responsibility; though the Allfather is my guide, I have made it my duty to know all members of the pantheon of the Æsir and he seeks the path of the Cleric just as I do. I thus tried to impart some of my wisdom and knowledge to him as best as I was able to during our short time together. If I return to this land, I hope to see him in a position of stronger faith.

The next omen I saw that day was a raven, which I felt must have been one of the two belonging to the Lord of the Golden Hall, either Huginn or Muninn. How do I know this? For it is under the watchful gaze of this sacred bird, there was a deepening of my belief: I felt that my reserve of faith was greater and that I could preform new acts of credence; even my mail and the small shield I had begun to carry (aptly named Lillhlif, which means Little-Shield in the tongue of my people), which before that point had felt ungainly, now seemed almost intuitive bulwarks that would keep me from harm. All of this I instinctively knew was but a temporary boon granted by the Æsir to see if I would prove myself worthy as a acolyte of their divine will.

And set forth to prove my convictions I did when a threat arose against the town (as is often to occur); I rallied behind a fighter by the name of Oenomaus, whom I met of recent, having approached me claiming to be a friend of Kail and one of the few ex-members of the kingdom of Hrogn (a kingdom in which many of the members have caused me grief as of late, it was comforting to meet one no longer bound by their service).

Though at times we became separated and I fell often to death (mostly by powerful magic or the balls from flintlocks wielded by honourless cowards, things neither my combat-prowess nor my protective gear could avail me), I did prove my mettle by felling many a foe by my sword Sváfnir (Slayer), and by my sæx Hrafnefr (Raven-Beak), with the aid of my comrades in arms. There were a few times I was able to lay my hands upon a fallen or wounded ally and through my newly gained revelation I was able to restore their vitality in measures. 

The pair of recently painted holy symbols that I bore upon my the fore and aft of my tunic (three intertwined drinking horns representing the vessels containing the mythical Mead of Poetry the Chief of the Æsir acquired through cunning and craft) when combined with my clerical foci further lessened the toll such acts would have dealt my reserves of will. It pleased me much to discover the addition of such revered images to my vestment provided directly beneficial that day.

Alas, I became overconfident of my new-found abilities, for when I paused to pray and replenish my exhausted willpower, I requested my smith friend Seppo (who is a master artisan above all in the ways of working metal and leather), to work his talent upon the restoration of my damaged armour whilst I was making my devotions.

That was the moment of hubris that caused the fall from the grace granted to me by the Allfather

I was presumptuous to believe my connection with the Æsir was firm enough not to be distracted by Seppo working upon my mail. I was wrong for I see now the connection was made tenuous and even if the gods were able to hear my worship, perhaps they did not answer my prayers to teach me a harsh lesson: the true faithful shall not seek to benefit during their time in prayer from desires of a physical nature. 

I now see that my overconfidence masked my diminished faith; and I can see now that when I last laid my hands upon an ally to restore them to life, I had only half the willpower needed to bring them back from beyond the veil; the remaining portion must have been given directly by the gods. Praise be to them for finishing the task this too-eager disciple had set forth but could not complete on his own.

I then soon came to learn of the err of my ways when the boon of a greater faithful servant began to fade with the coming of twilight. I had failed their test. I was not yet considered worthy of such responsibility. I shall remain a humble apprentice until I am deemed fit to rise again to their challenge.

The battle was fierce but desperate that day, against grim forces consisting siege jötunn, vile creatures known as feastlings, dishonourable goblinoid pirates, and other, perhaps worse beings, the culminating events ended more dire: our foe collectively succeeded in a ritual to summon a being of near godlike power known as Yog'So'Thoth. Even the bravest warriors fled before this winged, tentacled horror that walks as men do. I did not chance to glance upon it myself, but many have described this loathsome creature to me. Below is a composite sketch:

After it and its forces suddenly disappeared to who shudders to think where, news began to spread of the horrendous deeds done in their wake: Amongst the counted dead was the warrior Oenomaus, who witnesses tell me he suffered great indignities before that vile creature: the entity tore and twisted each of his limbs, caused him a magically-induced pain, silenced his screams of agony before finally devouring his very soul.

I shall see you in Valhalla one day, brave Oenomaus.
I cannot help but contemplate on the nature of that horrid creature; it nearly defies description, but surely it must have some root in the sagas of my people. I initially thought it was a form of the Midgard Serpent given it's visual affinity for water, but after careful consideration it must be an aspect of the Malice Striker, Nidthogg, a creature that forever gnaws upon the roots of the cosmic tree that keep it imprisoned. It's freedom is one of the heralds of Ragnarök as the tree begins to wither and die from having its roots torn.

I heard tell that this was not the first time the inhabitants of this land have encountered Yog'So'Thoth; that must mean That-Which-Forever-Gnaws is able to escape its imprisonment in Náströnd to wreak havoc upon the realms of mortals. This begs the question, has it fully succeeded in severing the root keeping it bound and we are but a step closer Ragnarök, or if it was only able to escape through ritual summoning does that mean the root remains somewhat whole but forcing it back to the realm whence it came may ensure the inevitable death of Yggdrasil? 

All these dark thoughts and dire events make it even more difficult to leave. I do not want to be seen a coward fleeing from these troubles, but I have already sworn to embark upon this journey and the signs further direct me to the north.

After all that had transpired I became deeply sullen and took to drink. I stated my intentions to leave to my closest friend Tobias and his companion Ori, and we said our farewells. Afterwards I met again with Seppo and by his suggestion we journeyed to the river to wash away the grime of battle on my skin and the tarnish upon my soul. Thrice immersing myself in those waters lifted my spirit a bit and gave me some measure of hope for the future. Soon after darkness fully came and the stars began to appear in the heavens; a line of three in the western sky caught my notice: each one progressively brighter towards the northern sky. Surely this was another omen, that of Wodin's mystical spear Gungir and the spearhead pointing my way home.

Before I took my final leave of those lands and began the long journey here to Helm's Deep I met with the sole individual that I owe my very life to, as she perhaps above all deserved the explanation of my departure. With my account I also gave a gift to her and our master Relan; a set of rings each embedded with a stone the colour of bright honey; for the deep appreciation I feel for the kindness and aid the church of Ithus had given to this lost mariner during his time in this land.

In return Sprig sung to me a song which moved me to tears. The words sung are as follows:

"May the road rise to meet you
May the wind be always at your back
May the sun shine warm upon your face
And the rain fall soft upon your fields
And until we meet again
Until we meet again
May you live well, in the heart of your home
Until we meet again"

Upon reaching Helm's Deep I also received a poem written by her hand:

"To search out the home he knows no more
To seek the far and shrouded shores
Away for kind and friendly folk
Will he return? I do not know
As off to Sea, the Mariner goes"

I shall keep both close to my heart upon my journey.

I pray that my travels lead me to what I seek, but I perhaps hope even more to return someday to the lands of Arrakis and to the folk family here I care about so deeply.

Praise Be To The Æsir 

-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

A song for those departed, both living and dead.

Thursday, 28 May 2015

Kampi's Edda: To be the Light or Embrace the Dark

Another bit of IC jounal this entry of Kampi's Edda. Enjoy! 

28th Day of Skerpa (the month of Mai)
Local year of 5315

Rune: Ingwaz 
Literal Meaning: the god Yngvi (an older name for Freyng)
Interpretations: Fertility, Potential, Virtue
  • Right-side up: Friendship, Inner Growth, Loyalty
  • Inverted: Futility, Inner Confusion, Spiritual Crisis

Again the Ingwaz rune shows its portents, both positive and negative; a week ago it was more so focused upon negative elements and I was in a dark place since that past laugardagr, until today: I met a traveller on the road to Dagger Deep that lifted my spirits and the events of the day restored my faith. I feel that I have taken the first steps to redeem my recent misdeeds.

The Lovely Avana
The traveller I mention was a Wood Elf by the name of Avana. She was travelling south from her home north of the Nani Wastes to discover prospective trading partners for her village. How such a delicate thing made it through the Wastes and the horrors within unarmed astounds me, but as she demonstrated during our wanderings through the wilds her deftness to move through the undergrowth unseen is peerless and her dress has practical design of being able to naturally blend in with foliage.

When we reached the town proper, I gave her to the best of my ability a tour of the layout. Whilst doing so I purchased a bone talisman from a local with the thrice-stacked Tiwaz rune of the God of Courage, Tyraz, carved upon it. Later that day, to praise the bounty of Freyng and the fortuity of his rune, I carved an Ingwaz on the obverse as a reminder of the memorable fortnight I had experienced as of late.

After a tour of the village grounds I retired to my private spot to commune, creating potions of healing and praying to the Æsir, whilst Avana gathered nearby edible berries for us to enjoy. Her knowledge of the uses of plants of this land is remarkable; I feel that she would be most beneficial to the folk of this land if she shared her knowledge with other like-minded healers versed in the herbal-arts.

Once we returned to town we enjoyed a late midday meal of fruit we gathered, come dried meat I had, and a bowl of stew a local shopkeeper was selling whilst we discussed things of a somewhat metaphysical nature: Avana and her people do not worship the divine nor believe in any sort of afterlife; they believe the departed soul returns to the earth. As a long-lived race, they pay respect to their venerable elven fore-bearers but do not beseech them for aid, nor do they receive any beyond what they consider magical boons from the vættir of the land.

I have heard similar things from my friend Tobias, though I believe he acknowledges that the gods do exist, or at least he is unable to explain the small miracles I am able to bring forth nor the larger ones of other, more gifted individuals.

Whilst I am writing upon the topic of faith, I will mention that this seemed to be a prevalent subject of this day for a large band of pilgrims (many armed) wandered into Dagger Deep soon after our arrival. Dressed in stark white vestments with azure features and the symbol of their deity, Om, they preached about the salvation and protection their god granted to their faithful, particularly from the dark lich figure that seems to plague this land.

They handed out pendants bearing this 'Ω' rune of Om and they claimed it protected the wearer from having their soul ripped out of their body by powerful magic. One of their followers offered me such a pendant, but I politely declined motioning to the amulets of my own faith that I wore; I was not about to forsake the Æsir for a single god despite their supposed ways of peace or how tested my faith has been as of late.

Though what their leader, Brutha, preached sounded positive, I, amongst others, was wary of any large force that comes here bearing words of peace but is also heavily armed. When at last the 'Omnians' tired of attempting to convince the stubborn and diverse collection of proud individuals that populate this town to their faith, they quickly labelled all who would not join their cause as heretics and decreed we shall all be cleansed with flame. Battle was joined and throughout the day we fought against those who would seek to assimilate us.

Several of us faithful banded together with the Bishop of Ithus and Guildmaster of the Divine ways (my mentor) Relan, as we fought off first wave of the Omnians. Upon driving off their force from the south of the town, Relan discovered a book belonging to one of the Omnians and set about translating it the divine runes it contained to see if any information pertaining to their faith could be used against them. During this time a few of us took a lesson in learning the first three divine runes for the common letters A, B, & C. 

Personally, I am sceptical that this is the script set forth by the Æsir as a means of writing; it is said the All-Father hung himself for nine nights on the cosmic tree yggdrasil, pierced by his own spear gungnir, without food or drink in self-sacrifice before he received the mystical runes. As I have studied, the arcane script used by the magic-users of this land is incredibly similar to the elder futhark of my people and I believe this is no coincidence; Wodin is the god of magic, ergo that is the script of the 
Æsir. I am willing to accept that these so called 'divine runes' are perhaps the script of the Vanir or other such gods...

Unfortunately for several of us, we were so intent on studying and uncovering the truths contained within the text we failed to heed the warning the perceptive Avana voiced just before we all lapsed into unconsciousness and then death. When I awoke from the deepest of slumber, a verdant-clad warrior was pouring a potion of resurrection down my throat; the one I recognized Relan bestowed upon me after I requested it, for I believed my feeble miracles wouldn't be strong enough to avail Avana if she by chance fell as a newcomer to this land.

Upon assessing my surroundings, I saw that Relan was missing and two others lay dead, one of them Avana. I quickly removed to restore her to life with a potion of my own that an individual by the name of Jackrym had traded to me for a 'favour'. I am not one to make oaths where I do not know the resulting deal, but I believe bringing Avana back was worth it and shall hold true to it though I do not entirely trust him.

Jackrym Donajari
Jackrym appears to be a follower of the divine though I have yet to inquire about the particulars of his belief. When we first met, he teased me with knowledge of the location of part of an artefact of my faith, particularly relating to the fallen Æsir, Lokki. He claimed he would exchange such valuable information for something of equal worth; what that is exactly he has yet to say, but he hinted on something of a personal nature. I rebuffed him at first, wanting nothing to do with anything related to the Trickster, but the thought gnawed at me and I did seek him out to continue our discussion; my reasoning was thus: though I have no interest in the power such a whole artefact could grant me, I feel it is my duty to obtain at least the one part I am able to, lest it fall in its entirety into the hands of those who'd misuse it.

Could this be the mask Jackrym alluded to?
When we met again his expressed knowledge of my own gods, myths, and the artefact (which was apparently a mask created/worn by the god of Mischief and Strife before he was cast out of the Æsir) convinced me he speaks the truth (or at least he is a very good at embellishing it); Shiny believes he is trustworthy, but warns me any oath sworn with him must be carefully worded. So I will take him at his word, but if he breaks our contract, I do know from two encounters that he has a deep aversion to iron and I shall use that knowledge to his detriment.

The question now is, how much would I give for the chance to safeguard this item? Wodin gave his eye for a drink from the well of wisdom. Tyraz gave his hand so the monstrous Fenris-Wolf could be bound. Would my sacrifice be for personal gain or for the betterment of my community?

I must dwell deeply upon this, yet I stray from recounting the events of the day:

We had soon learned that Relan had been abducted by the Omnians and they were keeping him held in Rowanoak. Eventually our foe were driven from the fortress and Relan freed. Once again a group, we made for the holy grounds of Ithus, we much needed to pray to our gods and restore our faith. 

Whilst we were prostrate, we were again attacked by the followers of Om; the seemed content on capturing Relan, either as the prophet of Ithus or as the primate of the divine guild. We drove them off after suffering casualties.

Our reserves of faith were low and each time we stopped to pray, the Omnians would harass us and wear down the small amount of divine energy we'd gain from our devotions. Though taxed to our limit, we eventually captured one of the leaders, the more peaceful 'mother' and scattered the remaining worshippers of Om before they burnt King Willumarius alive. Fighting beside my mentor and defending in the name of the 
Æsir felt righteous; it has restore confidence in myself and my abilities and I spoke briefly with Relan about further serving those I trust by further becoming a warrior-priest.

The remains of the day were spent taking care of personal business, relaxing and talking with friends, new and old, about a great many things: ethics, morality, faith, etc.

One of my new friends is a man named Sendill. His attire is very familiar to me, similar to those of my kin and I soon learned he he is a newcomer to this land and arrived in a manner very similar to my own: we were both shipwrecked whilst on a journey. Though few of the names and places he mentioned I recognized, I feel that I have met another of my kinsfolk. That makes two, and with them we make three, the most blessed of numbers. Apparently he fancies himself a skáld; at last, perhaps a decent poet has come to these lands, for I am sick of what that hestkuk Philip tries to pass off as poetry.

The late hours of the evening were constantly disturbed by the antics of a troupe of madcap fools, enraging several patrons, including those of our table like Shiny and Sendill. Our discussion was cut short before I could inquire if Sendill was familiar with the gods of our homeland. Even though he mentioned his interest in the mages of Illodia, another faithful follower of the Æsir would not hurt to broaden their presence in this land, and with his concerns of poetry and magic, Wodin may be of much interest to him...

I pray I will meet my friends again in good health, especially the lovely Avana, for she may have been the one who most raised my spirits the most.

Praise Be To the Æsir 
-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson

Monday, 25 May 2015

Life of Riley (VHL Concerns)

I've been meaning to make this post for sometime, I just refrained from doing it until I felt I had more definite information, which I do now.

First, a bit of backstory:

About two months ago I had one of my yearly abdominal MRI scans for VHL, and the following week I saw my endocrinologist about the results. For almost a year I had been receiving monthly injections of a drug known as Sandostatin, which is primary used in my case to suppress the symptoms of active Neuroendocrine Tumors in the pancreas such as flushing, but it has an additional effect where it may retard tumour growth and possibly reduce tumour size; the two tumours I have on my pancreas are slowly growing towards the 2cm size of concern where they have the ability to develop into cancerous growths that could metastasis and potentially spread. The results of this latest batch of images were additionally to see if the drug was having any beneficial effect on growth limitation.

The results were disheartening on several accounts: first off, the drug didn't seem to be delaying their growth either by not being on it long enough to have effect or just being ineffective in general: the larger of the two is now 18.9mm in size up from the 18mm it was about a year ago, and the smaller being 1.9mm from 1.1mm. This means sooner or later I'll have to have surgery to remove said tumours, most likely a complex procedure that'll require the reconstruction of my Foregut given their location near the head of the pancreas near various local organs and their ducts, unless by chance the drug does send these tumours into remission.

The more concerning thing though, was the rather sudden appearance of a tumour (2.4cm in size) on my left kidney that appears to be consistent with a Renal Cell Carcinoma. Although rather small and of little immediate concern of possible metastasis (my VHL handbook lists there have been only three verified reports of metastasis from tumours smaller than 4cm, all of which were greater than 3cm in size during a twenty year period), the tumour's rather sudden appearance means that its growth rate is fairly considerable so I should be dealt with sooner than later.

Flash-forward to now'ish:

A few weeks ago I saw a radiologist about the possibility of having the tumour on my left kidney removed through Radio-Frequency Ablation, a minimally invasive process where they basically insert a probe into the tumour and burn it away with concentrated heat. Unfortunately he doesn't believe the procedure would work for me given several factors, mostly sensitive location and its position by the main vessels and ducts in the kidney mean they'd act as a heat sink, preventing them from being able to burn away the whole tumour site. Disappointing to hear.

I recently talked with my specialist last week and he's booked me for surgery for June 22nd. He and another kidney specialist, whom I'm meeting this Wednesday, are going to surgically remove the tumour and depending on factors, the order of preference on how it goes will be laprascopic (keyhole) partial nephrectomy (partial removal of the kidney) - recovery time estimated a month; if for some reason scar-tissue or other factors prevent them going in laprascopically, then it'll be an open surgery partial nephrectomy - a recovery time of approx. three months; and worst case scenario it'll be a radical (complete) nephrectomy - also around three months recovery.

I mentioned to him the pair of tumours on my pancreas that were reaching a concern size-wise from recent scans and that they may want to discuss the possibility working with my other specialist who has been monitoring/planning for those as I have yet to see him since these recent developments; my specialist thought this was a very good idea and shall get in touch with him as it might be better if we're able to minimize my total recovery time by one large procedure rather than waiting until I'm healthy from this operation enough to go under again for my pancreas. This remains to be seen though.

It's good to have a date to inform people of and plan around, but there's still many unknowns at this point, like how early do I have to be off work for any pre-op prep, are my specialists going to collaborate on also dealing with the concerns on my pancreas at the same time, if so what's the projected recovery time, complications, etc. I may get some more answers this Wednesday and if so I'll let those interested if I don't post it on my blog.

Aside from all this, my health has been excellent and I've been doing my best to enjoy the wonderful weather we've been having until I no longer have the chance to do so! Last weekend was my partner and I's 8th anniversary together and 1 year for being engaged. To celebrate, we had a anniversary/belated-engagement party on Friday; many friends came and we were most loved. On the following Saturday the both of us attended Medieval Chaos; it was the first time for the Missus' but she enjoyed and says she'd like to go again in the future. I'll be writing an IC post on that soon. Best anniversary ever!

Photo Credit to our good friend Scotty.

Despite these medical concerns, life is truly magnificent! :)

Friday, 22 May 2015

Kampi's Edda: The Devil's in the Details

Today's entry of Kampi's Edda is a somewhat personal excerpt from his private journal on recent events: 

20th Day of Skerpa (the month of Mai)
Local year of 5315

Rune: Ingwaz 
Literal Meaning: the god Yngvi (an older name for Freyng)
Interpretations: Fertility, Potential, Virtue
  • Right-side up: Friendship, Inner Growth, Loyalty
  • Inverted: Futility, Inner Confusion, Spiritual Crisis

The god Freyng has been blessing the lands of late with his light and warmth, for the rune most connected with this deity is prevalent this fortnight, but the recent events of the 16th day have darkened my heart. I fear that the Trickster has his influence upon that day and perhaps my own soul, for I view my own actions with confusion and disdain. But I shan't dwell upon this, for what has been done in the past cannot be undone and I will strive to live with any consequences.

But I am getting ahead of myself. For the beginning of this entry I shall turn my focus to the brighter happenings since my last entry:

During my stopovers in the lands of Daggergard, I have met with my mentor Relan, and along with acolyte follower of the god Ithus, Zanatos, I have learnt and practised many things. I now feel more versed in channelling the faith given to me by the Æsir during my times in prayer into small miracles that I hope have been beneficial to my friends and to the community as a whole.

Following the example laid before me by Zanatos, along with my desire to further serve the All-Father and the Æsir as a warrior-priest, I have taken to wearing more armour in an attempt to become accustom to such battle-garb, though I do not feel that I am used to it enough to gain any protective benefit; hopefully the usefulness of such bulky dress becomes apparent soon, for I am still unused to the warm clime of this land, and the increased garb makes it exhausting to bear to the point I almost regret the bounty the Lord of Sunlight places upon this land.

A set of greaves, and several plates about my chest, upper back, and shoulders have been placed upon my person, and I have a small shirt of maille I am looking to use to replace my hooded tunic, increasing protection but also perhaps better cooling as well. With the aid of the most talented artisan I have had the fortune of meeting; Gustav of the shoppe Dragon Anvil close to the realm of Blackmoore; I now have a helm in the fashion of my homeland closer fitting to my size and less of that of the helm of a jötunn I previously owned, and a set of vambraces with the All-Father's ravens Huginn & Muninn to wear proudly. 

I have transcribed the inscribed runes of my people into common speech:

"Huginn and Muninn fly every day over the great earth.
I fear for Hugin that he may not return, yet more am I anxious for Munin."
Huginn's name comes from the word for 'thought' and the word for 'memory' is where Muninn's comes from. May their keen sight and wisdom aid me in times to come.

Such aid did not come to me laugardagr of the past week, for I have been much troubled by the deeds done on that day. Initially it began quite well; I briefly chatted with folk, was asked by my thrice-oathbound friend Kail that I might pray that the god of justice of my people, the great Lawspeaker, Forsite, would watch over a trial that was soon to commence and see that justice was meted out. I did so on his behalf, keeping with my oath. I still do not know the result of said trial, but I know the Presiding One would see justice done on the perjured, who was accused of oath-breaking, one of the three most serious crimes of my people.

Just as I was completing my devotions to the Æsir in my favourite place of prayer, I opened my eyes to what I first believed to be a trick of the senses: boldly striding up the path towards me in a familiar, almost cocksure gait was a sight that I had not seen before the months turned to winter in this land. It was the wild-elf known only as the Pict. We exchanged hearty greetings and enjoyed each others' company (at least, I know I did) whilst we travelled the lands. 

He told me what and where he been since we last parted ways a season ago, just after we had scoured the far coast for remains of the wreck that brought me here and finding little but absolution. He told he been across the water to the kingdom of Ankh, where he relieved many of their burdens of meagre wealth, and to the Ork lands of Rugger'shrek on a personal quest to ensure the cousin of the Red King did not usurp their territory for their own. I admire his strong convictions and prowess in battle, though I do not necessarily approve of his loose morality nor his love for coin.

After sometime in the town, we where approached by an individual calling himself I believe Al-Azif, displaced from his home in far southern lands. After some banter and some combat training, the Pict elected to take him on as an apprentice of sorts. (Surprising, it seems the Pict has become more tolerable of being associated with non-elven races; perhaps the past time we spent together lessened his prejudice, if only slightly. Folk still find him brusque and rude so perhaps nothing has changed.)

I myself sparred briefly with a follower of Cheeba, before we took to the bar to slake our thirst. Just as I had paid for a round for the three of us the most bizarre thing occurred; I shall attempt to relate what happened to the best of my ability:

One moment we were standing in front of the bar, the next we were suddenly in wood-henge with, as was quickly surmised, the rest of the denizens and visitors of Dagger Deep. But this was not the wood-henge we knew, it was somehow... different; all we could lay our sight upon was. Colours and textures were slightly off, sounds and voices carried oddly, things smelt as if they were only distantly familiar. It was like being a part of the distorted reflection one sees when they gaze into a pool of water.

We were held fast and silent by powerful magic emanating from one of the three... beings, none of which we collectively recognized but I'm sure we all sensed their power. In summation, they offered our collective freedom from their 'realm' if we entertained them by participating in what they considered a game, at the conclusion of which we would be returned to the Dagger Deep we knew. We were divided roughly into two groups and a leader was chosen for both; the mare (I still don't get the title, he doesn't resemble a female horse to me at all), Dorian Noakes, and the elven prince, Tumbagil.

This 'game' as it was called, alternated between which ever force held Rowanoak during the hour and was victorious during skirmishes in Ork's Field, whist discovering and returning gems the beings had scattered about the land to accrue 'points'. Whichever force had the most 'points' at the end of the day would be titled the victor. These beings also enticed the greedy and unwise with magical rings that would bind them to the bearers' very soul. I wouldn't accept such a prize from any being I did not trust, no matter what powers it may grant. 

Myself and the rest of the group assigned to the mare were then magically transported to a distorted mirror of Hawthorne Heath. Most rallied behind their new leader as they moved to take Rowanoak before the opposing force did, but a handful like myself had reservations on playing this 'game'. Three of them I knew: the Pict, my close friend Tobias, and an individual I met last week called Shiny. The fourth one the Pict knew as a member of the pygmy tribe named Lisi. We banded together and to my lasting regret it was decided that being the most familiar the majority of the group, I should be the leader of our small band. I tried to lead as Wodin does the Æsir, but I feel that I was most unworthy attempting to do so.

I found the hours remaining until the farce of a game came to an end frustrating and exhausting; even though it was impressed upon us any actions taken against our fellow comrades would not have repercussions once we were returned to our own realm, I still regret many actions I took (or did not take) when attempting to embrace this so called 'freedom'. Taking a cue from Shiny's arraignment with Kalabar, our group hired ourselves out as mercenaries and a deal was struck: we were to assist Tumbagil and his force in defending Rowanoak when they had possession of it.

I was determined to stick to the oath sworn and so we did, but only to the strict wording. We did not assist when taking the fort, nor during any of the other skirmishes during that cursed day. The remainder of the day we spent trying to make sense of this whole mess (at least I was). I came to learn that I am not fit to be a leader, or at least one whose followers have such a different moral outlooks than I do. 

I was attacked by those I considered friends. I sold my services for coin like a whore. Though I tried to justify my actions to what Wodin and the rest of the Æsir would want, I see now that I was lying to myself to keep face as a so called 'leader' and give my followers what they desired.

I watched the Pict slay in a cold-blood a mage I considered myself friends with right in front of me and I did nothing to prevent it. Perhaps a madness briefly took me as I rifled through his pouches looking for gains, like a honour-less coward. Even close Tobias, muttered my actions being untrue to the Kampi he knew. Using the power the gods granted me I returned him to life, but that was not enough to forgive the despicable offences committed. I shall endeavour to make things right.

At the end of the day, I was sullen and dejected for I had realized that this thing whole thing, this 'game', could be an omen of the beginning of Ragnarök:

"Brothers will fight and kill each other, sisters' children will defile kinship.
It is harsh in the world, whoredom rife — an axe age, a sword age — shields are riven
— a wind age, a wolf age— before the world goes headlong. No man will have mercy on another."
Surprisingly, as promised, those 'beings' returned everyone to the exact spot they had been before we were abducted, once they determined the victor of their 'game': the mare; perhaps the Father of Victory was teaching me humility for my belief that Tumbagil was to be the clear victor due to the combat prowess of his force. I clearly underestimated our force to my further shame.

The Pict, Al-Azif, and I once again found ourselves in front of a familiar bar, waiting to be served those drinks I ordered it seemed like eons ago. I drank deep and often, trying to wash my troubles away. But now that I am sober I recall all that happened like a cruel dream.

Yet, aside from the harsh memories of what occurred and some changes to my personal items, I will strive to remain resolute after my faith has been tested so harshly. I've learned that though I may enjoy the company of certain individuals, they mayhap not be the best influence upon me. 

I need to deeply reconsider my relationships.

Praise Be To the Æsir 
-Ref 'Kampi' Vandillson