If you're here, you've probably figured out that this site is devoted to a webcomic. You didn't need to be told that. What you do want to know is what that webcomic's about. Well, that's a simple question. It's a medieval fantasy epic about a handful of eccentric heroes set in 12th-century Europe (or thereabouts). However, it's not your Europe.
What do you mean? How is it different?
As you may have seen, there are several elements. The strongest is probably the presence of magic, both divine and arcane, meaning both priests and wizards can cast spells. Coming a close second is the diversification of sapient species. Humans are not the only intelligent beings on this world; in fact, their influence is limited to the Mediterranean area, the Middle East and India; further lands lie unexplored. Northern Europe, including the English isles, Germany and Hungary is instead inhabited by elves and isolated communities of dwarves, now mostly Christian. Gnolls, savage hyena-like humanoids, have migrated from parts unknown to Northern Africa and become a part of Islamic culture. Orcs roam the steppes of southern Russia, and are occasionally met as far west as the twin city of Buda-Pesht. The seas belong to a handful of aquatic races collectively known as the Mer. Finally, there are a few minor races to be found, such as Moroccan bird-people and minotaurs.
What about the goblins?
Yeah, the goblins. They're everywhere, raiding travellers and sometimes getting up the courage to raze a small village or two. The elves destroyed the Roman empire, but the goblins seem to be intent on grinding the fragments to dust. They're everybody's enemy, and they have no historical precedent.
Where did this come from?
Well, one day I went out and bought the Player's Handbook for Dungeons and Dragons (third edition), published by Wizards of the Coast. Soon I'd managed to draw two of my neighbourhood friends into a campaign, with myself as the Dungeon Master. They thought it would be fun. They had no idea what I had in store for them. That's what this comic is: a reinterpretation of actual events. I say 'reinterpretation' because there's romance in here, and there was none of that when us three guys were sitting around on couches rolling dice.
The Story So Far...
Part One: ConspiracyChapter 1: Trouble At The Old Mine
The next day, Libero arrived at the farm, in search of his enemy Guen, and recognised the spark of an adventurer within Lorenzo. He encouraged the youth to pursue his goals before departing. Lorenzo returned to the ruin and penetrated its depths, but the goblins closed in around the entrance, preventing his escape. Amongst other treasures, his search found the diary of the last Roman commander of the ruin; it described how, centuries earlier, Guen had enacted dangerous magic in that place.
Lorenzo finally rescued Alraud. Together, they entered the lair of the goblin band's shaman and, after a hard fight, killed him and took his enchanted weapon (a flaming morningstar). In passing, Lorenzo also slew the leader of the goblins. The adventurers unlocked a mighty door in the depths of the mine, hoping to find treasure or a way out.
They found a famished hellhound that Guen had summoned centuries ago. Barely defeating it, they were tending their wounds when Guen herself arrived, annoyed at their interference in her affairs, and revealed herself to be a vampire sorceress. They were powerless against her. Libero cleared out the goblins at the entrance and rescued the adventurers at the last moment. Then, they headed to Venice...
Staying at Libero's home, Alraud and Lorenzo met Sir Robert of London, a sorcerer who offered to pay them well if they would complete a simple mission for him. Alraud's secret message was delivered to Archbishop Dovanno, and Libero introduced our heroes to the rulers and powers of the Venetian Republic. There was the Duke himself; the Archbishop and Archmage Valorum; and Guiseppi the Merchant, along with his lovely daughter Caterina. Lorenzo recognised her as a pickpocket he'd had stern words with that very morning.
Much against everyone's wishes, Cat was sent along on the mission by the elders of the city. One of Valorum's apprentices, the triton Thetis, accompanied the band; the whole party was guided through the countryside by Sir Robert's tracker Voltan. On the day-long journey, they fought goblin raiders, and Cat discovered a talent (and taste) for violence.
The actual mission was to recover a pair of fire serpents from a great blaze within a ruined castle. The castle itself was inhabited by a host of goblins, but the heroes managed to gain entrance to the cellars through a system of caves (battling a pride of troglodytes and a hideous creature that almost ate Cat but, thanks to Alraud, merely injured her pride). Lorenzo lent Cat his flaming morningstar, and she didn't give it back. The leader of the goblin horde, a mighty ogre, gave them fierce battle, but in the end they beat him and found the serpents.
Pursued by the goblin horde, our heroes returned post-haste to Venice, arriving at Sir Robert's sanctuary after nightfall. He showed them to the cellar, and betrayed them, leaving them to fight a number of animated corpses and his aide Voltan, now revealed as a werewolf. The monsters were defeated, but to save her life Cat had to give Lorenzo's morningstar back, at which she was most disgusted.
Ascending to wreak bloody vengeance on Sir Robert, the heroes were startled to discover that he had kidnapped Libero and was sealing him inside a glass coffin. Sadly, they were unable to save him; Sir Robert, too, was a vampire sorcerer, and easily defeated all four adventurers. He was last seen leaving with Libero, and now our heroes want him back...
Age: 120 (youth)
Home: Brittany, northern France
Alraud is a young priest (or monk, or whatever you choose to call him; the differentiation was less pronounced in those days). He has been brought up in the Christian faith, and is a firm believer in the Word of God. However, besides hunting game in the forests of his home, he has had little experience of the world. He is sent forth on a mission to take a message to Venice. If only it were that simple...
Age: 18 (young adult)
Home: A nameless valley northwest of Venice
Lorenzo is a farmer, from a long line of farmers. He can wield a scythe with proficiency, and is a skilled leatherworker. His community has been raided by goblins several times over the past few years; the last time he was scarred beneath one eye. Since then, he's gotten bigger and stronger... and developed a fetish for ominosity.
Age: 137 (young adult)
Occupation: Apprentice Magus
Home: Ducal Palace, Venice (formerly somewhere under the Mediterranean Sea)
Thetis is the somewhat aloof mage of the party. She holds herself to be the most experienced and wise of the heroes, but despite her age she hasn't really been out in the world before. As you can tell, she's got a soft spot for pretty things. As you can also tell, her people have never really evolved the need for clothing.
Caterina of Guiseppi's House
Age: 16 (young adult)
Occupation: Rich brat
Home: Her father's townhouse in Venice
Cat never wanted to go adventuring, especially not with the oafish Lorenzo, but once she was dragged kicking and screaming into the path of danger she discovered she quite liked it. Unfortunately for her companions, she has an unfortunate tendency to get the heroes into trouble - except for herself. She's skilled with weapons and mechanisms - like locks.
Nobody knows where they came from, but everybody knows what they want: Destruction. Consumate raiders, the goblins have never been treated as a military threat as they remain fragmented and scattered. However, a typical goblin warband can overwhelm the small communities that make up most of a medieval nation; given time, they can do a lot of damage.
Age: Unknown (over five hundred years)
Race: Elven vampire
Occupation: Preying upon mortals
Home: A system of crypts throughout the known world
This vampire sorceress has tangled with the knight Libero in the past. She controls powerful magic, and has never held doors in high regard; in recent years she has stopped using them entirely. Guen is cruel and lethal even without her magic.
Age: Unknown (as dead as Guen)
Race: Human Vampire
Occupation: Investigating the way living things work... while they're still alive
Home: Somewhere in the Alps (formerly of London)
A vampire sorcerer, Robert came into Venice and fooled everybody into thinking he was harmless. Right up until the point where he almost killed the heroes and kidnapped Sir Libero. His ultimate motives are unknown, but they seem to involve a trail of bodies.
Age: Older than the hills
Height: 30 feet at the shoulder (estimated)
Race: Fire Dragon
Occupation: Following the futile scramblings of two-legged mortals
Home: A volcano
Razinus is a force of nature not to be trifled with. He has a nasty habit of eating things that disagree with him, and considers himself more important than entire nations. In a sense, he's right; he knows more than the Library of Alexandria and once demolished an entire Roman legion when they got on his bad side. He is the narrator for the comic. Why? You'll see.
Occupation: Mercenary leader, Knight of the Venetian Republic
Libero once lived in Persia, but left in a hurry and joined a band of adventurers. While they settled down into ruling positions on the Venetian Council, Libero founded a strong mercenary group and sometimes rides out to fight evil. He has taken a liking to Lorenzo and his companions. Currently, he's sealed within a glass coffin held by the evil Sir Robert.
Ben RichardsOccupation: Webcomicking
Home: Wellington, New Zealand
That's me. I'm the person who runs this site, draws the comics, and oversees the game sessions as the Dungeon Master. I'm a geek and proud of it, because let's face it, being normal is dull. In my spare time I read fantasy and scifi, write, watch TV and draw a webcomic (you may have seen it, I can't remember the link).
Home: Wellington, New Zealand
Chris is the first player in our little group. He helps me with the HTML code for the site, and plays Lorenzo. Also proud in his geekhood, Chris is sadly cursed with the inability to roll well on a d20.
Home: Wellington, New Zealand
Ev is the other player. He plays Alraud when he's in town; when he's not, we don't play. He's not as perfect a geek as Chris or myself, professing to follow certain 'sports', whatever those are.
|All original site contents copyright 2006 Benjamin D. Richards.|