Diamond Cascade To Return (27/3/2012)

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A couple of things have come together over the last few weeks. Firstly I’ve had some feedback that at least two, possibly even three people were reading my MopNoWriMo posts AND enjoying them, which I think makes it a bigger hit so far than The Warlock’s Shadow. So thanks, Hilde and Matt and Gavin.

Second thing is that Diamond Cascade is set to return. Yes, the game is afoot once more, the defining moment so far probably being the use of a Dragon Orb as an improvised melee weapon with which to hit a dragon (as opposed to using, Oh I don’t know, maybe one of its LEGION OF DRAGON-RELATED POWERS perhaps?). In preparation for the resumption of this illustrious[1] and unforgettable[1] epic narrative, the previous Diamond Cascade posts have been re-vamped, including: Elimination of the nearly ALL of the bizarre character sequences that suddenly rendered the early episodes almost unreadable following some software upgrade or other; Elimination of TWO or THREE of the several thousand spelling mistakes and typos that riddle this un-proofread series; integration of the infamous INTERLUDE ON THE ELVISH BORDER sequence, and best of all, now available in ALL-NEW CHRONOLOGICAL ORDER. Although you can still do it backwards like it used to be if you want.

START HERE >>>>> Diamond Cascade And The Quest For Some Bat Shit

Oh, it’s a bit sweary and Father Christmas gets killed at some point, so best keep away from children.

Yes, Yes, I’ll write something about World Building again soon. I know I promised…

[1] Words do not necessarily mean what you think they mean. Terms and conditions may apply. Occasionally when some words are out of stock, and equivalent word will be offered as an alternative. Check with your local dealer for eligibility in your area. Etc. Etc.

Poland. New Reviews. Stuff (14/6/2011)

Posted in News

The King of the Crags is to be published in Poland (probably) next year by Dwojka bez sternika, who recently published The Adamantine Palace. The Thief-Taker’s apprentice, meanwhile has been acquired by Proszynski, who also brought out (are bringing out?) Wolfsangel. I think it would amuse my thief-taker to be in the company of a werewolf. Possibly this is an excuse to visit Poland…

There have been some reviews recently.

The Adamantine Palace first: “…fast, furious and action packed…” Vilutheril

And finally, a couple for the Order of the Scales: “Great Stuff” Falcatta Times and “enthusiastic … brilliantly executed … heart-thumping dragon action” from LEC Book reviews.

For the handful of you following the adventures of Diamond Cascade, there will be a large hiatus shortly (we played the last session last week and left everything on a total cliff-hanger – which I guess is what you get when you put the fate of the world into the hands of a bunch of chaotic thieves and wizards, most of whom are carrying negative wisdom modifiers (and believe me, when it comes to party actions, those modifiers do stack).

I had a go at a couple of other projects to replace Diamond Cascade, but they were rubbish. In fact, everything I write at the moment appears to be rubbish, but that’s what rewrites and editors are for, so no worries – yet. There might be some cartoons instead. Which will also be rubbish since I can’t draw. But it’s my blog, so nyer!

Diamond Cascade: To the Victor, the Spoils

Posted in DC

Beyond the corpse of Captain Shark-face, a bounty of treasure awaits. Chest upon chest of it. Like a gang of starving street-urchins set upon a rich man’s table, we fall upon it. . .
. . .BOOOOM! goes the first chest in a ball of fire as Wizard Daftboy smashes it open . . .
. . .HISSSS goes the next as the Halfgit forces the lock. . .
. . .SMASH goes another as Crazy Dwarf throws it down the stairs. . .
. . .TING goes some poison-dart-like-thing as it narrowly misses Shifty’s face

Eventually, someone bothers to look through Captain Shark-Face’s personal stuff and finds the chest keys under his bed. After we’ve smashed them all and set off their traps. After we’ve been charred, poisoned, mangled and, in the case of the Halfgit, tripped so far out on hallucinogenic gas that there’s probably no coming back. All but one chest is smashed. We have no means to carry most of this treasure. The tide is coming in. The only ways out are either underwater and full of sharks or up through a tiny hole in the ceiling that’s almost impossible to reach.

Still, eventually we do. (Am I the only one who can Spider Climb?) So now we’re down to trying to pitch the one tent that we’ve got with us on a windy cliff-top in a storm. That’s about when it occurs to most of us that we never found the thing we were supposed to be looking for in the first place.

To recap:

Most of my stuff is covered in salt-water and is probably going to rot. There’s a big pile of treasure underneath me that we can’t reach and couldn’t carry even if we could. We’re out on an exposed cliff in the middle of the night in freezing rain and a howling wind with no shelter to speak of. At least I’m not too bashed up.

Unlike everyone else, who are either battered, smashed, bruised and burned or raving mad.

Our lift back to civilisation is waiting for us out at sea. Waiting for us to bring them a ship that we can’t sail and happens to be stuck in a tidal cave filled with sharks. We are at the wrong end of a cliff and the only way down involves being able to breath underwater and body-wrestle said sharks.

Oh, and we smashed up our only boat.

And this black pearl, the whole reason we came here in the first place, is distinctly not in our possession. Presumably its somewhere back in the submerged caves covered in salt water and yet more sharks.

And the only reason we were looking for the damn thing in the first place was to give it to some dodgy bloke who would then, MAYBE, tell us something about some shit about which I DON’T CARE AT ALL.

I’ve had enough. The rest of them can do what they want. Wolfgirl’s already pissed off somewhere doing her own thing and I reckon she had the right of it. Shifty, he’s got twenty-four hours to sort his shit out or he can stay behind. The rest. . . I don’t even know the rest of them. Wizard Daftboy, Mad Monk, Crazy Dwarf, Caleb Knight of Something, I don’t even know who these people are. What happened to my friends? There was a point to all this once, wasn’t there?

Maybe there wasn’t. Maybe I just wanted gold. Wine, women and song and a few friends to share it with. What am I doing here, out on this godforsaken cliff? Gods, Ebra, what am I doing?

As soon as we get back, I’m out of here.

And that’s when a band of orcs and ogres stumble into our camp.


Diamond Cascade: Shifty vs. The Shark

Posted in DC

Alturiak 16(?): …Cleansing, as he passed, the filth of the undead and the unnatural from the secret caverns and grottos of the shores…

Here’s a shout out to all wizards who are really, really stupid. Not the ones who are just a bit stupid, but the ones who simply have no capacity to think before they act. Here’s the situation: You’ve just climbed out of an underwater tunnel that’s now filled with sharks, cutting off your only retreat. You’re in a dead-end cave with assorted aquatic undeady things that you know damn well can paralyse everyone around you and a pirate captain who just might well be nowhere near as human as he seems. The only decent swordsman nearby literally has his plate-mail pants around his ankles (underwater cave, remember). He’s also the closest thing you’ve got to a cleric (y’know – for the undead turning thing and for the making you better after you’ve had your head ripped off and your brains eaten and so forth). You have one spell left and no, it’s not Dimension Door. The only thing going for you is that Captain Eats-Elves-Raw-For-Breakfast seems to want to talk a bit before he feasts on your vital organs. Do you:

a) Parlay and see if you can find grounds for co-operation or at least compromise and barter?

b) Engage in conversation while your comrades strategically position themselves, readying spells and items for maximum tactical effect.

c) Engage in conversation while your tank at least pulls up his pants.

d) Magic Missile the fucker and then think about what to do next afterwards.

If you answered d), then you are clearly meant to be adventuring as part of our thing-we-laughably-refer-to-as-a-team. If your answer is e), do what it says in d) only without the thinking bit, then congratulations, you are, in fact, Wizard Daftboy.

So there we have it. And this is how yours truly came to be sandwiched between a gang of aquatic ghouls and a ravening pirate psychopath who also turned out to be a wereshark.

Hang on a minute.

Now if I hadn’t been too busy making aquatic undead heads explode with my swanky new arrows of explody-goodness (What? So I’m the only person with magic arrows?) then I might have stopped to wonder about that. A wereshark.

That works. . . how, exactly? As far as I can tell, the creature that’s happily ripping my so-called friends to pieces has turned into what is basically a big man with a shark’s head. With gills on his neck. Not having any trouble breathing, I notice, although I think he has to keep running and he might suffocate if he stood still for too long. Certainly seems to have the whole blood frenzy thing going for him, judging by the state of Mr Pants-Still-Round-His-Ankles.

I’m about as far as wondering what happens if you take a wereshark into a desert, and whether there are fresh-water weresharks and salt-water weresharks by the time it became apparent that ordinary swords and sticks and absurdly shaped dwarven axes aren’t actually having much impact. And, because in a moment of bizarre charity I gave the only other magic sword we ever found to someone who turned out to be a murderous doppelganger (I hate you, Stalker), I’m the only person with an enchanted weapon.


Obviously there’s only one thing for it – lend it to someone else for a couple of minutes – but that’s starting to be a problem. Caleb Knight of Something is lying on the floor with his plate-mail pants still round his ankles, only now it’s in a big pool of his own blood. The Mad Monk’s more likely to cut himself than anyone else, Crazy Dwarf. . . Well, he’s crazy, and that leaves Wizard Daftboy, who’ll probably just wet himself, and the Halfgit, whose most likely course of action would be to bolt back to the town and sell it as fast as she possibly could.

So this is how I end up toe to toe with Captain Sharkface or whatever his name is. I’d like to say I fought him hard and I fought him well and in the end I sent him to hell. But what actually happened was that Shifty snuck round behind him and stabbed him in the neck lots with a silver dagger. Apparently that works too.

Afterwards, there’s only one thing left to say.

“So am I the only one who can do any healing magic?”


Diamond Cascade: NPC Jones [1]

Posted in DC

Alturiak 16(?): Thus, Diamond Cascade continued to engage the most noble of the North Coast, those few who had not sunk into the depravity around them, to his cause…

So anyway, there’s this big cave full of water and sharks and we’re on one side of it up on a slightly burned ship, and on another side of it, the tide’s gone out enough to reveal a half-submerged tunnel that’s clearly the way out and the only way we can get to it is either swim and be eaten by sharks or scramble around the rocks and hope we don’t fall in, and I’m like “So am I the only one who can Spider Climb?” And then when we manage that with some ropes and a bit of shark-distraction, I’m like “So, am I the only one with a light spell?” And then there was some more climbing (or falling, on the dwarf’s part) and then there were some caves that were still filled up with water and I’m like “So am I the only one who can breath underwater?” And then after all that there’s the shark-man thing and I’m like: “Oh crap, you mean I’m the only one with a magic sword?”

Admittedly there was the bit with the underwater corpse-things and then Wizard Daftboy and the Mad Monk were all “So are you telling me we’re the only ones immune to paralysis?” But none of the rest of us were in much position to answer that.

I do hope Wizard Daftboy gets on and has an accident soon so we can go back to the good old days where I’m the only one of us who knows magic when he sees it.


[1] Anyone remember NPC Jones? CUDADS newsletter, issue 1, from about 1987 applies. Also my first official editing post…

Diamond Cascade: Well, it was about time we had some pirates in this story

Posted in DC

Alturiak 16: Thus, Diamond Cascade engaged the most noble of the North Coast, those few who had not sunk into the depravity around them, to his cause…

Turns out that while me and the Knight Of Something were putting out the Wizard Daftboy’s fires and patching up those of The Monk’s victims who hadn’t been separated from any organs they couldn’t afford to miss, Wolfgirl had gotten back to talking the bloke who’d cause all the fuss in the first place. Turns out the captain of the White Wyvern is suddenly and unexpectedly short of a few hands, on account of some bunch of completely insane… Oh, wait, that was us. I don’t know how all this worked out. I was more than a little drunk, and then there was some other place and then another place and some more wine and some ale and maybe some brandy and some other stuff that frankly could have been anything and then there was the bawdy house with the mermaids, or maybe I made that up, and then something to do with the Halfgit and the discovery that three-foot-tall women can do things you really wouldn’t think of. Or maybe I made that up too. Possibly some mushrooms were involved. I’m not sure I had any sleep. And then there was supposed to be some other bar that was down the bottom of the cliff by the sea, only it turned out it was a ship and then I think I spent the rest of the day alternating between being passed out in a corner and throwing up over the side.

Apparently we’ve struck some sort of deal. In exchange for a ride to where Captain I’ve-Already-Forgotten-His-Name-And-Why-We’re-Looking-For-Him, we’re going to deliver his ship. There’s some sort of blah-blah about reefs and tides and secret channels and sharks and being back by a certain time and then there’s some rowing and all of a sudden we’re coming up to the shore and nosing our way into some half-submerged caves and there’s a ship in front of us, hidden in the cave. Can’t help noticing that the cave entrance is about twenty feet about the water and the ship has a sixty-odd foot mast. Maybe they take the mast down and row out? If any of us had a clue about ships or sailing, I’m sure that would help.

Mr sea-cave is suspiciously empty (apart from the sharks in the water), but that doesn’t stop us from  managing to smash our little rowing boat into a rock and sink it when a rather more appropriate course of action would have been to nose up to the ship and tied up gently alongside. Ah well. I know exactly how I’m getting back.

Mr sea-cave is also suspiciously devoid of other ways out. Mad Elf has a go at kicking something off by setting fire to the ship to see what will happen, but pretty much all that happens is that we watch our one and only remaining way out of here burn for a bit and then get the idea that maybe we should put the fire out. There’s some arguing and some searching and some shark-baiting, but I’m too busy sitting on a ledge making up a song.

There once was an elf, a very fine elf
And a very fine elf was he,
He sailed on a ship, went on a trip
And now he’s at the bottom of the seaaaaa
Playing with a shark?
Oh what a lark!

There once was an elf, a very fine elf
And a very fine elf was he,
By the light of the moon, he found an underwater tomb,
And now he’s an elf zombieeeeee
Eaten by a ghoul!
Oh what a fool!

There once was an elf, a very fine elf
And a very fine elf was he,
He said he was a wizard, now his home’s a whale’s gizzard,
What a sorry end for a fine fairyyyyyy
Don’t have a moan,
Just should have stayed at home!

There. See. Much more useful. Mad Elf Monk and Wizard Daftboy certainly seem to think so.

Actually, doing nothing at all would usually be more useful than anything we do.

Eventually the tide goes out and we get to figure out where the pirates went. On account of certain things not being underwater any more.


Diamond Cascade: Wolfgirl Says Something

Posted in DC

Alturiak 15

“The Valdas killed my parents.”

“OK. For some reason I’d been thinking it was a vampire. You said it was a vampire.”

“It was a vampire wearing the sign of the Valdas.”


Not sure if Wolfgirl is mad, delusional or simply immensely unlucky. My parents were killed in much more normal ways, involving swords, rape and burning, I imagine. Rather I was here and able to speculate than had been there to say for sure but only to a cleric with that still-conspicuously-absent-from-our-repertoire power to Speak With Dead.

The Monk drags us off to some diviner to try and find out something about the Valdas. She’s way too expensive for any of us to afford, but The Dwarf sort of lost his purse last night after I choked him out and so I buy a question from her anyway. Easy come, easy go. I ask here where the creature that killed Wolfgirl’s parents can be found. Bleedin’ miles away, that’s where. “Upon the earth of his home he rests, by a river that runs bright red.” Well the only river I know that runs bright red is the Crimson River and that’s over the other side of the mountains, not to mention all the orcs and the slimies and whatever else is crawling around the borders of Osmuld. So in short, bugger that.

Ah well. At least I get a good night out of the diviner’s receptionist and what’s left of the dwarf’s gold.


Diamond Cascade: Some Bandits When You Need Them

Posted in DC

Alturiak 14: Thus, Diamond Cascade engaged the most noble of the North Coast, those few who had not sunk into the depravity around them, to his cause…

Look, in the big scheme of things, in the grand world-spanning story of Diamond Cascade, greatest troubadour of the land, hero of the people, saviour of kings and crap like that, the whole sordid business of a visit to the North Coast will be a footnote. Diamond Cascade helped deliver a letter. Whooo-hooo. All the thieving and the drinking and the whoring and the less we talk about any of that the better, no one wants to know about that. Sure, there might be a little twinkle in the eye as I sing my made-up tale, but no one wants to know that what Diamond Cascade actually did was spend a month and a half so drunk he could barely remember what colour the sea was, routinely woke up in a pool of his own vomit, contracted several diseases and only left to seek his fortune again because he couldn’t afford to pay for a cleric to make them better on account of having spent half his money on strong drink and loose women and lost the rest playing dice. Even if that’s pretty much what I’m aiming for here. I don’t know why. I just want to forget the whole shitty business with Stalker and Holli. Wipe it all clean and start again. Gods know, I’ve done that enough times.

Ordinarily, that wouldn’t have been a problem. Stalker would have done the same and so would The Gnome, only with more sex and less drinking. But sometimes, when I don’t pay attention, when I least expect or, frankly, want it, my erstwhile comrades actually manage to achieve something. Maybe it comes down to having all this new blood around us. By the time I emerge the following afternoon, bandy-legged and a little sore around the edges, they’ve been up, had breakfast, tied their shoelaces all on their own and then gone to see someone who’s something to do with the ships about some of the stuff we’re supposed to be interested in and now, apparently, we’re looking for some pirate bloke called Serious who sails around on a ship named after a musical instrument and stole some treasure off the something-to-do-with-ships bloke, who will, in return for the return of said treasure, tell us some stuff that apparently we want to know. Or someone that we know wants to know. Or something. It’s all a bit confusing, and mostly what I pick up is the the Caleb, Knight Of Something doesn’t like the something-to-do-with-ships bloke one little bit on general principle. Can’t see pirates working out much better for him, but we don’t have time to get into that question, because by then it’s getting dark and (yes, look, I had a good night) we’re off to some place that has a name but which we’ll call Seedy Dive because that’s what it was. Seedy, loud, full of smoke and noise and the smell of beer and sex. And more naked people than you might have imagined.

My kind of place, if a little low-brow. I’m all for settling in and seeing whether I can score for free, but no, Wolfgirl has to go asking questions and find herself a pirate to talk to (given the track record of my companions, I make a big and generous assumption about the talking bit) and the next thing I know there’s half a dozen men moving in on her and Mad Dwarf is hurling himself at them like a rabid gerbil with an axe the size of a church and The Monk is right behind him, and I still haven’t got around to having the conversation with any of them that until one of them learns to Talk With Dead, launching into a homicidal mania at the first sign of… well, anything at all really, isn’t going to help us find things out.

So I try to stop them. As does Caleb, Knight Of Something and the wizard. Three against three. Admittedly with some pirates in the middle who are nominally in the fray too, but their role in this turns out largely to involve tripping over each other and getting serially stabbed and thumped, oft as not by accident, until they fall down.

It’s only later that I begin to wonder whether jumping on the back of a frenzied berserker dwarf and choking him out in the middle of a fight was such a good idea. At the time I’m too distracted by Caleb, Knight Of Something realising that the Wolfgirl he’s grappled to the ground is called Wolfgirl for a reason (two, actually), and Wizard Daftboy trying to stop the amazingly fast and agile Mad Elf by rolling an amazingly slow and cumbersome ball of fire about the place. And setting fire to the Seedy Dive.

Unfortunately, my dream outcome, in which Wizard Daftboy and Mad Elf have at each other, Caleb, Knight Of Something tried to separate them, ends up killing them both and retires to a life of sorrowful penitence somewhere far away, fails to happen.


Diamond Cascade: Shifty’s Friends

Posted in DC

Alturiak 13: Strong was Diamond Cascade’s desire to leave this sink of corruption and return to battling the vile hordes of darkness sweeping the land; yet as he prepared to leave, word came of one of Diamond Cascade’s most dire foes. No less than the wicked dwarf Durmijeron might be found within this place, for he is a servant of the seventh house of the city, the house of Valdas whose symbol is the two-headed serpent, and in matters of this house, many strange deeds are afoot. Diamond Cascade vowed to bear the stench of this City of Sin for as long as it would take to bring the “white dwarf” to final justice.

No hurry though.

So Shifty takes us to some place he knows, The Flying Goose or some-such, not that I much care apart from needing to know where to stagger back to once I’m done partying. I have to admit, I’d kind of thought the whole letter delivering business was Shifty’s problem, since he’s the one carrying it, and the rest of us would be left to our own pleasures (or whatever substitutes for them in the case of The Monk and the Knight of Something). But no, there’s a mad dwarf (can we meet a dwarf who’s not mad, please, one day? Or mad in a has-a-fetish-for-stamps sort of way, instead of mad in a has-a-fetish-for-severed-heads kind of way? Or do dwarves have the same social management principles as the elves and the reason we only ever find lunatics is because they’re the ones who weren’t allowed to stay at home)? Mad Dwarf recognises Shifty but not before The Monk has to kick his butt in an arm-wrestle and thus piss him off (because the loony social outcasts of elves and dwarves getting together is, like, a total recipe for social harmony. Not). The Mad Dwarf has a  friend (Karallis Fane? But I’ll remember him as the man who thought that wearing a deep purple cloak over dark red clothes mad him look cool instead of making him look like he’d just crawled out from under a bad accident involving several tuns of wine) who has to show up and we all have to walk off to some swanky house run by some Lord Smelly Arse (Aros Reekiel, was it?) who then proceeds to ask all sorts of questions that I, for one, would prefer not to answer, such as ‘who are you and why did it take so long for my letter to get here and what have you been up to on the way’? We tell him some bollocks, but here and there the odd bit of unguarded truth slips out. On the plus side, Lord Smelly Arse shares our dislike for Durmijeron. On the minus, well, now everyone knows about the stupid riddle the Gnomes left for us.

Afterwards, Shifty and I go to a pawn shop and offload the shit we lifted from the dark elves while we were busy pretending to help the Gnomish Kingdoms. Got to say, the plus side of having half your old friends killed: You get to keep their share. Never seen so much gold. Ever. Or so many pornographic paintings of dwarvish ‘ladies,’ but that’s another matter.

Downside of half your old friends getting killed? New friends. Yes, The Monk, The Mage and The Knight of Something, all still here. Come on bandits, where are you when I need you?

After that, maybe some more shit went down, but if it did, I was in an alcohol, sex and I-have-more-gold-than-I’ve-ever-seen related coma, and it went down without me. Unlike my temporary friends Romana and Tallulah.


Diamond Cascade: The Most Beautiful City in the World

Posted in DC

Alturiak 13: The cesspit of the north, they call it in the more civilised cities of Osmuld. The Strip. Those who live there call it the Beautiful City, yet it is to beauty as a whore it to a lady. The miles of unadulterated, undiluted vice that lie along the far cliffs of the North Coast. Yet here, amid this nest of corruption, amid the endless bawdy houses and taverns and drinking holes and gambling dens and smoke houses, all wreathed in gaudy faerie fire, brazen as the strumpets within them, lay Diamond Cascade’s destination. Delivered at last, the letter carried from Gammersbridge, was like a weight taken from Diamond Cascade’s back. An onerous and repellent duty, finally discharged. Outside, the kingdoms of the isle groaned under the crushing weight of the evil bearing down on them, yet here it was as if no such peril awaited; indeed, should an army of darkspawn approach this place, they would doubtless be welcomed with the same open arms as any other and fleeced of their worldly goods.

Ah, man, can I stay? Can I just live here? Like, forever? Why am I running about getting myself nearly killed when I still have gold in my pockets and a place like this exists in the world. I so don’t want to leave.


Diamond Cascade: What do you mean he’s not actually dead? Oh, he is now.

Posted in DC

Alturiak 12: It was with a heavy heart that Diamond Cascade and those of his companions that remained buried their fallen friends. Many a word was said in praising their honour, their courage and their virtue. Lord Corren had fallen in defence of his kingdom, and the valiant gnomish priest had fallen at his side, in defence of naught but the freedom of a people who were not her own, but who had fought for hers as she now fought for them. Toasts were raised in their memories, songs were sung and yes, tears were shed. Yet duty and honour still called, and all too soon, Diamond Cascade’s eyes turned to the north, to the den of vice and thievery that is the north coast, where Diamond Cascade had one duty left to discharge: To deliver a letter carried all the way from Gammersbridge to the dread lord of thieves that might yet issue a call to arms among those most lowly of fellows against the rising darkness. Inspired by the valour and the courage of Lord Corren and the righteousness of Diamond Cascade’s cause, many flocked to his banner and pledge their swords, yet to face the evils that awaited them, only the most noble were chosen.

Yeah. Many offered to clamp Diamond Cascade and what were left of his companions in irons and let them rot in some oubliette. Or else simply hang them and get on with it. Thanks, Stalker, my erstwhile friend. And thanks to you to The Gnome, in whatever afterlife you’ve found. Thanks a lot. Now even more people want to kill me. Dammit, all I wanted was a quiet life of wine and loose women and maybe some good music. And here I am, traipsing all over the place in the middle of winter, freezing my bits off because we can’t manage to stay in one place for more than a few days (or minutes, sometimes) without pissing off the locals so much that they try to have us arrested.

So. Right. New plan. No way am I hauling my frostbitten arse all the way up to the North Coast in the middle of winter with hordes of Slimeys and Thuggers and gods-know-what else rampaging about the place, not without some serious protection. And the last bit of protection (stalker, yet, this means you) turned out to be more of a liability than an asset. So don’t blame me for being picky this time. It’s not too difficult to convince some of the town magistrates (for ‘magistrate’ read, ‘occasionally useful enforcer of the law’) to up sticks and leave. I mean, who’d want to hang around in a town whose gates don’t fit properly when there’s an army on the march? Of course, we couldn’t be at all straightforward about it. Who do I want to travel with? Well, a posse of the Knights of Tyr, that would do. Hard as rocks and about as bright, too. Just the sort to stand in the way of all the arrows when we’re ambushed by bandits on the road and then be too up themselves afterwards to even notice any looting that might happen to happen. What do I get? Another elvish monk. Whoppee-Doo. Like the last one was such an amazing success. I become more and more convinced that the elvish race has a laudable and straightforward attitude towards those of their kind who don’t quite ‘fit in.’ They kick them out into our lands and hope they’re never heard of again. Just why they all have to land on me is a mystery. Maybe one day, when I meet an elf who isn’t either a blind swordsman on a quest to defeat some mystery monster that he can’t even describe (although presumably what matters is that he’d recognise the smell when he finally blundered randomly into its path) or a bloody monk, someone will explain.

Oh, and a wizard, which is so going to spoil all my fun. Crapsticks. Someone else who knows magic when they see it. I’d like to stab him in the back while he’s sleeping, but that’s not really me. What I’d really like it for someone else to stab him in the back while he’s sleeping.

After those two, when a knight does finally show up, I almost don’t care whether he’d a knight of Tyr or a knight of the Monkey-Headed God of Rhyming Gibberish. It has a sword and it can swing it. Good enough. With a bit of luck they’ll all last just long enough to not quite get to the coast.

So. Stalker killed half the town guard. I’ve taken the best men it can offer. The gates are broken and there’s an advancing army less than a day away. Gods. I don’t even know what the place is called. Doomed, probably, but I’ll remember it as Wonkygates.


Diamond Cascade: Interval

Posted in DC

Imagine some tinny music. Buy yourself some ice-cream and some popcorn. Diamond Cascade will now return in September. Dungeon Master permitting.


Diamond Cascade: Things That Aren’t Supposed to Happen

Posted in DC

Alturiak 9: Stalker goes into the cells. I spend the evening talking to the magistrates. There has to be a way out of this, right? Stalker, maybe he was possessed. There’s something not right with him, I can tell. But all I get out of the townsfolk is talk of gallows. Give them half a chance, they’d hang us all. Except they can’t do that, can they? He’d the king’s nephew. King’s nephews don’t hang for merely murdering a few guards.

Murdering a few guards. As if they didn’t matter. That’s what he did. That’s what Shifty did to The Gnome, crazy mad bitch that she was, it was still murder. I’ve killed men. I’ve killed slimeys and thuggers and other things besides. I’ve done a lot of things that were wrong. But I’ve never murdered someone. Not like that. Not with no reason.

And then in the morning, when we go down to see him, when go down to the cells to shake our Stalker by the throat and demand to know what the flying FUCK he was thinking, he’s gone. There’s a dead guard in his cell, the night watchman, and Stalker’s gone. Just like that. And the gibbering halfgit in the cell next door is telling us that what we brought back out of the snow wasn’t Stalker at all, but face-eating shape-shifting monstrosity. Stalker is gone. The Stalker we knew was gone a long time ago, but this is what he’ll be remembered for. Not for the noble things he did, even if most of them were by accident or to fill his own pockets, but for the pointless murders of a monstrosity while the real man we knew is out stiff and cold somewhere in the snow.

No, I’m not having this. I’m a bard. A slayer of stories as much as a maker of them. I can’t bring him back, can’t even find where he fell, but I can change how he ended.

Swayed by the wisdom of Diamond Cascade’s words, the good soldiers of Osmuld quickly galloped away to sound the alarm and call forth the good swords of the north, but it is not before the mystery of Stalker’s memory is solved: It seems he is none other than Lord Corren, nephew of the King of Osmuld himself! This joyous news flooded our hearts, and as the sun set, we bent our knees to the noble lord of this land and pledged, as did he, that our blood would feed the earth before any evil would pass us that night; and so we steeled ourselves to face the orc once more.

Nor did they disappoint. Goblin wolf-riders came, drawn to our lures. Then foot soldiers. Orcs, too many to count. Long and hard, Lord Corren and his valiant company fought them off, slaying many. Many a wound was given, and many taken too, until in the dead of the night, under the glare of a gibbous moon, a great ogre strode forth, a mighty monster, a champion of champions, scattering Diamond Cascade and his friends aside. Yet Lord Corren, alone, had the courage to face him, and one against they other they fought, in a cataclysm of blows that shook the very earth and made all else seem futile. Around them, the victorious goblins paused, transfixed by the fury of their duel, and yet, in the end, it was the ogre who fell with a mighty moan, and Lord Corren who stood victorious, drenched in blood that was not his own. And the goblins and the orcs wailed and shrieked and slid away into the night, so many, yet so afraid of but one man whose strength and spirit would not break. And thus Lord Corren, blood of Osmuld, served and saved his land unto his last breath, as he stood, still like a statue, glaring into the darkness until every last goblin was gone before he too fell dead beside the monster he had slain.

There. Let that be the story we sing of him.


[In fact, Diamond Cascade will be taking a short break, but should be back, with luck, by the end of the month]

Diamond Cascade: Probably the Worst Thief in the World

Posted in DC

And another thing. The daft halfgit who thinks he stole the Scales of Tyr is languishing in prison here. Well, I say languishing. Languishing in the sort of nipping-out-to-steal-the-guards-supper-whenever-you-feel-like-it way. As far as I can tell, he sees prison as being a handy sort of free hotel. Obviously hasn’t been in some of the prisons up north. Well he’s in for a surprise tonight.


Diamond Cascade: Finally, after so many tries

Posted in DC

Alturiak 8: For anyone planning a career as a thief, bandit or other profession that is likely to get you hunted by a posse of irate armed men whose treasure you’ve stolen, here’s a clue. Don’t run off into the night across open country after a heavy snowfall. It’s cold, the going is hard, and you won’t get very far. However, if you absolutely MUST go, then at least do SOMETHING about the monstrously obvious trail in the snow you’re going to leave behind. I mean, hello, fly spell? Pass without trace? At least a switchback and a false trail or two.

So Stalker and The Gnome. So good at running away and hiding that even we tracked them down before the middle of the next day. The fire and the thin little column of smoke were the biggest give away, at least after the trail in the snow and the fact that they’d basically followed the one road out. So we catch up with them. There’s a little bit of a ruckus for a moment as The Gnome kicks off and lobs a spell in my direction and I lob an arrow back and then we’re all like Stalker, dude, what was all that about? and Stalker is all, Ha HAA! I have a power you cannot imagine now, which was a bit odd and a frankly bit lame, and so we’re all what are you talking about, dude? I mean, could we at least talk it over next time before you do over half the town guard, and we’re not mentioning the fact that several of us would probably have happily joined in a night-time wealth-enhancement caper or two, but only not mentioning that because we’ve go a couple of town magistrates with us, and there’s a certain level of wondering whether we bring Stalker and The Gnome in like we’re supposed to or do we turn on the magistrates, only that would make us all outlaws in Osmuld, which wouldn’t be great, and anyway, Stalker is the nephew of the king now, apparently, so wouldn’t that be OK because they’d just let him go in the end and let’s face it, none of us liked The Gnome anyhow, and I’m paying a little bit of attention to all this talk but mostly I’ve got my eye on where Stalker’s loot bag is stashed. It’s all a bit uncertain where this is going and who might actually side with whom…

Until Shifty slips around the back and sticks a knife in The Gnome’s ribs and it’s all downhill from there.

Stalker goes for Shifty, the magistrates go for Stalker, I’m piling in trying to separate them, thinking… I don’t know what. That I might save The Gnome from bleeding to death? That Shifty is every bit as much a murderous bastard as Stalker? That I might stop anyone from killing anyone else? Could have done nothing and watched. Didn’t. All I can say as to the whys of that is that no one else did die and that somehow, in the confusion of the melee, Stalker’s treasure bag wound up on my horse without anyone noticing how it got there.

So now we’ve got him. Question is, what, by all the gods, do we do with him? He’s a murderer. He’s the king’s nephew (possibly) and he’s what passes these days for a friend.



Diamond Cascade: The Madness of Gnomes

Posted in DC

Alturiak 7: I’d really like to think it was some sort of dark magic, but it wasn’t. I’d like to say it was OK. All the stories of the epic heroes have gaps in them. And then Diamond Cascade got to wherever he was going. They all gloss over the dull bits where nothing much happens. And for some reason Stalker and The Gnome weren’t with him any more. That doesn’t smack of nothing much happening. I suppose I could make up something heroic for them, but there are too many people know the truth for that. A whole town of them. Don’t talk about it, that’s probably the way. And then Diamond Cascade got to wherever he was going. And spin something dramatic from whatever events occur there and never mention who’s dropped out of the story and why.

So what really happened? I’ve seen it before. Tired, bruised, bloody band of heavily armed wanderers come in to a small border town late in the day. Town guard take one look at them, don’t like what they see, and demand that swords are handed over, oh and by the way, that pair of wolves you’ve got, they’re dangerous wild animals and they’re not coming in. Now if you’re me, you’re thinking yeah, whatever, all I want is a tavern with some half-decent wine and a bed with a passable mattress and if I’m in luck, someone to warm it with me. Maybe, if you’ve got an old head with a bit of wisdom, you can see their point. There’s a war on. Band of strangers wander in. Could be anyone. Could be who they say they are, could be agents of the enemy, here to slaughter the night watch and open the gates in the middle of the night to gods-know what that’s out there. But then maybe, if you’re Stalker, what you’re thinking is that the sword you’re being asked to give over to some stranger is the one thing that;s kept you alive for the last week. You’re thinking that there are corpses of a dozen slimeys and thuggers out there, and that your sword still has their blood on it. So you answer back, no, you’re not having these swords, why don’t you have a couple of gold coins instead, go enjoy your evening and leave me alone. And then if you’re the town guard, you’re thinking no, that;s the sort of thing that a band of enemy spies would try, so no, actually, now you;d be much happier if this gang of over-armed strangers was locked up in the cells until you had a chance to find out a little more about them. And now you’re Stalker again, who’s stared at death one time too many in the last few days, and no, you’re not giving up your sword, not to anyone, not for anything. And then the next thing you know, before anyone can do more than stare open-mouthed in disbelief, someone idiot draws and there are five dead guardsmen lying around the gate.

The Gnome pitched in, warped the gates and the two of them fled back out into the night. There’s a span of snow on the ground and a lot more comes down in the night. Chances are they didn’t get too far. The rest of us, we had over our swords and meekly spend out night in the cells. So much for a bed and a bottle and a woman. In the morning, they kick us out. Chuck us back outside the gates and close them behind us. Surprisingly generous, really. Other places might have hung us simply for someone to hang. It’s pretty clear that we’re not getting back in unless it’s with Stalker and The Gnome in chains between us. I can’t even bring myself to ask what the bounty is fro bringing them back. Don’t know whether I want to or whether I want to let them go. But we’ll go after them, that much is for sure. Don’t know what we’ll do when we catch them, but we’ll go after them. They’ve got our loot.


Diamond Cascade and the Annoying Inter-Dimensional Interlude

Posted in DC

Deep in the gnomish tunnels, joyful from his victory over the forces of darkness from under the mountains, Diamond Cascade dreamed of a future filled with peace and glory. Of dragons and princes and a realm at peace with itself…

Sort of. There was this dragon. It was white and tediously repetitive and kept going on about how it was hungry and some bloke called Kemir that it might or might not want to eat. An indecisive dragon. I bet there’s not many people who dream about one of them.

The night after, there was this annoying smarmy bloke who reckoned he was a prince or an emperor or something. J-something. Prince J-Hall or Prince Jimbo, I dunno. Don’t remember. Tedious and full of himself, wittering on about some sort of Gummy award. I told him to piss off. Mostly I wanted to smack him.

Then there was this fat old bloke with hardly any hair who reckoned he was some sort of god-of-the-gods. Reckoned he was bloke who’d sent the dragon and Prince Jimbo with some sort of message I was supposed to pay attention to. Something about this Daily Gummy award again. Reckoned I was a figment of his own imagination, so I bloody well ought to do whatever he said. Being how I was dreaming, I reckoned that actually he was a figment of my imagination and I told him to piss off too. Persistent bugger. Came back night after night. Was getting to the point where I was casting about for an exorcism spell, but eventually it stopped.

Now the next night, that was a different matter. Must have been a different gnome on mess-with-Vale’s-dreams duty. A seriously fit bird all dressed in shimmering wafty clothes that had a way of flashing all sorts of bits of skin. Wolfgirl, The Gnome, that bargirl from Neverrest whose name I’ve already forgotten, they could all learn a thing or two. Actually a lot. And God-dudes, if you have a message you want to sent, forget the fiery angels and wrathful demon shit. This is the way to do it. A hot sex-kitten gets your prophet’s attention way better.

Or maybe not. I don’t know that I was paying quite as much attention to the words as maybe I should. Kind of distracted. Anyway, apparently I have a message for the world from the gods themselves. I think it’s this:

Vote Adam Ant eying Alice for the Daily Gummy Morningstar Award. The gods command you.

I was kind of hoping after that this Zephyr chick would be back on a regular basis, possibly with some friends. I mean come on, gods, I delivered the message right? Right? She comes back right enough, all righteous wrath and flips me a finger and tells me I’m a dick.

Down time (22/12/09)

Posted in News

Rumour has it that the ARCs for King of the Crags might be flying about in the post. For anyone who wants something better to do over the Christmas break, I’m off over at paizo making up weird and wonderful magic items before I get back to Order of the Scales.

Oh, and Diamond Cascade has updated. Is anyone apart from Matt actually reading this or am I writing to an empty room? Because I can stop, you know. I can. I don’t need to write every day to stop myself from going mad. I could give up any time I want. If I happen to be all crotchety and twitchy and pacing-around-the-room-y, why it must be something entirely unrelated. Must be, right.

Anyway, happy Christmas.

Diamond Cascade has updated

Posted in News

Erm… for anyone who was waiting for me to say so, Diamond Cascade has updated. Quite a lot…

Dungeons and Dragons and Diamond Cascade (1/11/09)

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Right. Dungeons and Dragons. Other forms of role-playing games. If this is all some bizarre thing that weird folk get up to when they should be doing something more useful, you should probably stop reading around about now. You probably don’t want to know that I’ve been playing them for twenty-five years. You probably don’t want to know that they’re how I learned to put a story together, and to make it bend and flow around a strong character, sometimes more than one. You probably don’t want to know that I, a grown family man, still regularly pretend to be (currently) an over-sexed, racially prejudiced, selfishly opportunistic teenager much more interested in whores, drink and a good song (in roughly that order) than saving the world. You probably don’t care or even understand when I relate that my Dungeon-Master liked my book.

But hey! My Dungeon-Master liked my book, and that’s a pretty cool thing to know. So in honour of that, and hoping that one final nudge in the right direction will get me the +4 Longbow of Destruction and the Codpiece of  Mighty Prowess that I so richly deserve (but of course in no way, shape or form even remotely need), I’ve decided I shall publish the journal of Diamond Cascade, wanderer, womaniser, archer, songsmith and occasional accidental hero.

I’ll be putting this up as static pages so it won’t show in RSS feeds, but look for the note ‘Diamond Cascade has updated’ which will link to the latest update whenever a new one is available. I’ll shoot for once a week and see what happens.

In the mean time, here goes part one…

- – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – - – -

I’ve had many names. Cosaliades Ebron vel Huyma in the west of Demir, except that might get me killed. Ebra or Caltrop in Gammersbridge. Both wanted men in their own ways. A few wizards from North Horn Ridge might remember me as Tip-Tap. In Osmund the soldiers called me Vale. If you like, you can call me what the women in the streets of Neverrest called me: Diamond Cascade. On account of my eyes, they said. Pale and glittering and hard. I’m seventeen years old, full of piss and vinegar, I’ve walked a hundred miles to be here and I’ve got nothing except an old flute and an urgent need for some new boots. That story’s worth a mug of half-decent ale. Buy me another and I’ll sing you a song.

Nightall 1: Running out of options

I’m in the Fat Cockerel for the fifth night running. I’ve pretty much outstayed my welcome. Free board and lodgings has gone out the window. I’m down to a few free drinks from the bar. I get the message. Pay your way or piss off. Which is going to be a problem. I got enough for a few nights, if I don’t mind eating leftovers, and that’s it. Can’t go back to Gammersbridge. Still too hot. I’ve had enough of scraping a life out here in the country. Quiet it might be, but talk about dull. Same boring dumb-as-shit yokels come in every night without half a clue about what lies over the next hill, never mind other lands. Travellers come through. They throw me coins and looks of pity and next day they move on. Time I did the same.

Diamond Cascade and the Quest for Bat Shit

Well so much for that. Money in my pocket I suppose. Can’t wait to get out of this hole and spend it now. Off to Neverrest, where the grass is green and the girls are pretty. Or at least that was the plan…