Daniel Ruth

Owner of this website.  See my bio page if you want to know more;)

Thursday, 10 February 2022 17:23

We explored the monastery.  We found half-dead, disfigured insane people and decayed furniture. Finally, while exploring we encountered a large lumbering figure.  An assemblage of human body parts.  As we approached the area, we heard chanting screaming etc.  The creature did 20-30 per hit.  Worse it exploded after it died.

Afterward, we further explored and found room after room packed with mutant surgical experiments. One room had a guy holding a shiny sphere, another with a group singing around a statue.  Another room with a brawl (fight club). Another room full of hungry mongrels. The last had rabbits and turnips.  Ambrus almost fled in terror.  We retreated to have a long rest before we decided what to do with them.  The flesh golem was the guard and the guy to give the inmates food.  We then spent time figuring out how to feed them without the flesh golem.

Irina had a guilt trip about the dream pastries incident and insisted on staying at the Abbey and becoming the Abbess.  As a reminder, there was a riot because the people of the city couldn’t get their cookies made of murdered children, since we killed the child-killing hags.  Because we didn’t think to warn her brother of the sudden lack of opiates, the town rioted and people died.  Fortunately, few children died since their parents had already sold them to the hags to be made into cookies.  For some odd reason, no one in the party cared about the deaths of the rioters.  She was the only person that had healing and cooking so in her head it seemed to have made sense.

We left the Abbey and soon met with Serena Lousyrescue (or so it sounds).  She was the NPC we rescued from the demon at the cost of Brian’s original character.  Later she was kidnapped by Strahdania.  She had a chain around her neck, that boded ill.


 Notes from the GM:

A few things not obvious from the Summary (and which at first seemed to be only a couple minor points and bloated into a wall of text)...
Group is on a slight detour to the Wizard of Wines (which is nearby) to ask about all the crows seen around Barovia (and which seemed to be in higher concentration at the Wizard of Wines).  Afterwards I believe Berez is the intended next stop.
Ezmerelda seemed keen on working with the group to deal with Stradhanya, so she might be an ally for the eventual fight.  She also seems to have a thing for Jon's PC.  Having a Human 12th+ level Wizard (Bladesinger) on your side might not be a bad thing.  She is staying at the Abbey researching history and magic stuff for an eventual Strahdanya battle.  She mentioned she had a (boobytrapped) wagon full of Vampire fighting gear at Von Richten's Tower.  At some point it should be fetched, but be careful of the explosives.  She has faith that the group can handle it...  Ezmerelda also was puzzled about some missing books (BTO's character has them and took them to his alternate dimension...these are the books that BTO specifically indicated he was surreptitiously putting in a pack).  I didn't want to undo something a PC did just because the player was missing and as a GM I was amused by the paradox.
...and yes, Van Richten is apparently in Barovia.  He too has beef with Stradhanya.  Von Richten is also a racist a-hole (something about a trained Tiger that he planned to release at the Vistani camp to indiscriminately kill), so Ezmerelda warned Karn might want to be in disguise or absent if he is met (assuming the group wants to make a good impression).  She does consider Von Richten a valuable ally, but also a huge a-hole that eventually should be put in his place.
It also came up that Ezmerelda doesn't believe Strahdanya is all seeing and all knowing in Barovia.  She would need spies (most think the Vistani are her agents) or scrying to keep tabs on the group.  It did occur to the group that y'all were given gifts from her soon after arrival.  Additionally, one of Lord Quevan's boots was stolen by a pack of wolves just before arriving at Vallaki.  It's not clear if the first helps scrying, but clearly having personal property of a target helps (regardless of how / where said property was acquired...yes the boots were found at the Durst Manor, but they had been with Lord Quevan since with no replacement intentions...hence personal property).
Ezmerelda also relayed (with a 25+ History roll) that Karn does seem to be the spitting image of a man named Tatius.  Said person was apparently a love interest of Strahdanya before she became a Vampire (again those missing books or she could have shown the group a sketch of Tatius).  It was on the day before his wedding to Strahdanya's sister that Tatius (and Strahdanya's sister) died...this also seemed to be the eve of Strandhanya becoming a Vampire and Barovia becoming stuck in a perpetual overcast.  Presumably Karn has the reincarnated soul of Tatius and somehow the soul has an impact on the looks of a person.
Karn's memory of an event with Vasili Von Holz (Vallaki Accountant) resurfaced during this conversation.  Vasili had taken Karn aside for a discussion just before the group crawled into the "dungeon" (at Yester Hill) with his apparent love interest, Ireena.  While away from the rest of the group, Vasili transformed back into Strahdanya, took a second "sip" from Kharn and then blanked Karn's memory of the event.  Laces out.  Vasili is Strahdanya, Strhdanya is Vasili. Ireena's reaction == "Ew!" and queue crying game music.  (It is a (mostly) medieval society.)
Ireena is indeed staying behind at the Abbey because of guilt over the Cookie Riots of Ought-Nine (and being Lawful Good in alignment as well as a follower of the Morning Lord).  For a short time she will have support from Ezmerelda, but Ireena hopefully can use her cooking / medical feats to help the tortured folks at the Abbey (as a side note, expect cereal in the form of dried beat or carrot flakes to make an appearnce as a healthful breakfast stapple).  Maybe the Lesser Restoration waters in the pool down below will help.  She will be leveling up now as a Cleric, so when the group gets 8th, she will be 7th level lame NPC class / 1st level Cleric.  This is when I fully expect the group will return and either kill Ireena or cause her death...this action (killing all religious authorities) is either part of the group's secret charter or just an ongoing meme.
The group left Kerzk at the end of the game.  A lavish tent was spotted ahead at a crossroads.  It was assumed to belong to Strahdanya.  Discussion ensued about how it should be avoided at all costs (similar to the innocuous dinner invitation from Strahdanya which the group received weeks ago).
It was amidst the "how do we sneak around or past the tent" that the group noticed Serina Lazarescu (the NPC Vistani girl rescued a week back from a Demon sacrifice and kidnapped outside the Wizard of Wines) standing outside the tent with a chain around her neck.  It was hard to make out details at extreme range, but the impression is she is nervous.  This seemed to be an implied threat of some sort.  That is where the game ended...
 
Tuesday, 23 November 2021 20:22

Poof! The Racoon faded out and the berserker gypsy suddenly existed. Exploring the house we found a room full of mirrors.  Inside one of the mirrors, Ambrus saw the placard hanging on the wall.  He sent his mage hand into the mirror world, grabbed the placard, and pulled it out of the mirror.    Meanwhile, his mirror image stepped through and attacked him.  Kharn ran in to attack the image and then an image of him stepped out to fight us.  Patrina cast darkness and Kharn vanished but her own was still there since she can see in her darkness... oops.  Patrina’s image dispelled the darkness and mirror Kharn reappeared. Then Lord Q cast fog cloud.  During this, the monk stayed out of the room and did a fog horn imitation allowing the people inside the fog to navigate without activating the mirrors.  Someone got the idea to cover the mirrors and Kharn then covered the mirror with a billowing cloak. In the next few turns, the party scavenged moldy tablecloths, blankets, and curtains to block all the mirrors in order to negate the mirror images. Once most were covered the fog was disbursed and the remaining mirror had a second crest.  Ambros cast invisibility and went in the mirror and grabbed it while everyone else stayed outside the room. So we seem to have two crests.

While exploring the rest of the house Lord Q came across a phantasm figure wearing armor.  Meanwhile, Ambross and Kharn had a short rest to heal up from beating themselves up in the mirror room.  Since Lord Q had no backup he closed the door. When everyone was ready we all went in but Ezera effectively soloed the phantasm with one 20 HP hit and another critical smite 82 HP.  The ghost just wanted to end his life in glorious combat instead of by poison.  Hopefully being one-shotted by the paladin counts.  Although the monk wanted the armor as a wall trophy, it was finally decided it go to the paladin.

Continuing our exploration we found a magical haversack that finally went to the monk.  Later explored the bedroom we originally stayed in during the groundhog cycle and found it full of zombies.  One with a big glowing fist.  We won after a short combat, partially due to the undead being limited to having to attack through a doorway.  The zombie with the glowing fist had a bracer that gave +1 damage and hit to natural weapons and unarmed attacks.  The monk got this.  It was late but it was hinted that there was only one more room on this floor so we continued.  The next room over we found the second half of the bracer set that gave an additional +1 hit and damage (total +2).  Yay!  At this point, it was after 1:00 AM so we called it a night.

Sunday, 24 October 2021 11:28

The party woke up find the chickens gone.  The house owners had made breakfast and left for the day.  So in between the time we woke up and the people in the house cooked breakfast they were gone (eaten).  We spent the day looking over the sheep, talking to Luca and then the villagers.  No one knew anything.  We even interrogated the sheep.  Luca was mentally challenged due to a head injury, so was a bit frustrating to talk to.  They knew nothing as well.  We all knew it was Ilya, the resurrected boy with an unnatural appetite but there was no proof.  Patrina even left her book/familiar with the sheep to spy on them.  Then we left.  After hours of getting the run around it came to a boil when all the sheep went missing at once after we left for a few hours.  The familiars were gone and Luca had left the sheep alone after telling them to look after one another.  During this discussion, he took out a letter stating that due to his father’s friend he could find shelter and food for himself and his companions.  I must have blinked because this seemed a bit contrived. So perhaps the villagers won’t starve? (hint:  yes they still will)

The villagers noticed soon after we did that the sheep were missing and formed two mobs.  Kaladin tried to reason with the crowd but failed despite a decent roll (14 but no bonuses).  As usual, the people without charisma skills shouldn't bother to try to roleplay.  Lord Q tried afterward and failed too (with advantage he rolled two 1's.  Maybe it was fated.).  Just they were about to attack, Ilya ran up, looking obviously emaciated, and demanded food.  We all attacked since this was the proof we had wasted two hours trying to get.  However, he was a legendary creature.  He swallowed random villagers (his mother specifically) to regain hit points, as an interrupt action spat poison area effects and basically two shotted most of the party.  Patrina was fairly effective using darkness and chilling touch to reduce his hits and negate his healing some of the time.  Naturally, we still mocked him for using an ability similar to his infamous Plant Growth fail.  Luca got nailed the first attack and lay dying on the sheep field.  It was difficult healing without the goodberries but we had some healing potions, a paladin, and Patrina who had some sacrificial healing abilities. Ilya seems to still have some life to him but after a final attack and health absorption, he ran his house near the sheep fields.  Patrina did her sacrificial heal to Kaladin who had gone down earlier and he then flew after Ilya in his house.  The heal was well-timed because he was 2 failed death saves down.  We charged after him and once again kept going down.  It was even worse in the confined space. (It wasn't helped that the map had the two floors stacked on top of each other and kept flashing each floor randomly.  Very confusing and frustrating, especially with the wall obscurement of FG that never matched the floor you were on.  I would strongly recommend that the GM spread out the maps so they aren't on top of each other even if it needs those annoying gates at the entrances)  The warlock eventually claimed the final blow.  Most of the others didn’t even get a hit in and were just hit point buffers. 

Dimitri (Ilya’s father) was informed of the news rather brutally by Patrina (she was criticized by the rest of the party for being far too blunt, though it was amusing), then again by Ezera (who was just as blunt, he just worded it differently.  It could be questioned who was nicer).  His mind snapped, then he recovered and they did it again.  I was actually wondering if they were trying to drive him mad.  He ended up catatonic and disavowed by the village mayor.  The paladin was disgusted by this attitude (nobody else was happy with it though they didn’t want to take responsibility for it either...even though it was pretty much Patrina and Ezera that drove him mad) and righteously washed his hands of the whole matter.  Leaving the entire village to starve while we head off to explore the dead Luca’s inheritance and its stash of food.  That’s Ravenloft.  Even the paladins are evil.

Saturday, 02 October 2021 22:35
In general, I enjoy fiddling around with Joomla and the website.  There are times, however, when it is maddening.  Last week the site went down.  At first, I blamed the domain server for pointing to the wrong location.  Then I figured it was the NAS box I use to host the site.  I thought I had it nailed when I found it would not update the web location and synch with the domain server.  I spent too much time trying to get it to talk to the Synology account to update the web location.  Then I noticed that NAS box had lost its time sync.  Again.  It's' happened before and I suddenly get fake malware notifications as the system realizes that hackers have gotten into the system to change my computer's time... so evil... the notification goes away when I correct the time.  Apparently, it can nuke my web page too.  Talk about the domino effect.  I really have no idea why my NAS box can't keep time.  Maybe I should add an atomic clock;)
Wednesday, 15 September 2021 10:12

So, after a brief discussion about whether we should even go down this hole, we started piecing together a plan.  Not only would our Darkvision not work but none of our heritage artifacts would either.  The last time that happened was in the church so we postulated that maybe this was holy ground.  Druid holy ground? Ezra sent more rope up.  Kharn hauled up Loki, gave him a lit torch and lowered him back down.  It turns out, the pool wasn’t that big nor was the chamber.  With an athletics roll, he managed to swing Loki to the dry land.  He tied the rope to some roots and Loki did the same onto some rocks.  Eventually everyone came down and reequipped.  The dim light seen in the distance turned out to be a Driftglobe which Loki took.  (Eventually it ended up with Kharn.)  At this point, characters started disappearing.  Along with our rope.  What followed was a series of induvial encounters as we wandered the maze of The Between.  One background oriented and one combat oriented.  Some worthwhile information was gained but I’ll probably forget some of it.  In no particular order.

The Between

We started with Loki.  He encountered his mother raccoon.  She advised him to get rid of his evil bag of bones.  When his turn came around again for his second encounter, he fought Wintersplinter.  He only lasted two rounds before dying.  Kharn fought and died at the hands of the legendary Yeti.  His other encounter was a ghostly Vastini girl.  I don’t recall what she said. 

Lord Q got a visit from the Raven Queen.  She said that this place was outside of Stradhanya’s control and any auguries he had done came from Stradhanya.  Dave was a bit perplexed since his Warlock powers come from the Raven Queen.  Or do they? She told him to get rid of the bird cage as it was controlled and powered by the Kraken/Drowned God/rival evil power in this land.  I believe she hinted that the means to destroy it was down here.  When Lord Q requested proof she was the Raven Queen and not Stradhanya again, she gave him a Light cantrip and recharged his spells.  I’m not sure that was proof but no one else got so much as a lousy t-shirt.  For his combat, his fateful servants came out and demanded that he sign a new contract, pledging to the Drown God.  They had been secretly working for him all along.  Dave did his usual arguing and they eventually attacked.  Unfortunately, they didn’t have any real powers so it didn’t really go anywhere.  I think the Kraken then arose from a pool and swallowed him whole.    

Kaladin fought Granny Momo.  She pumped Magic Missiles into him and he tried to entangle her in her own dress.  That got a little weird, with Brian playing the part of an old woman.  I think he was killed eventually.  On his next spotlight, he encountered his grandfather, a silver dragon.  He demanded to know why he hadn’t returned to his castle in Barovia.  Kaladin asked where it was.  I can’t remember the name.  He said it was a castle that hosted the silver knights which protected this realm before Stradhanya came.  Grandad suggested he restart those knights.  Pointing out that he was a Monk and not a knight was dismissed with a wave.  Kaladin asked about the dream telling him to kill his friends.  He was told that the evil gold coin was messing with his head.  He advised he should destroy it.  He asked how.  In this land between realms, it was possible to do so.  Evidently it has been enhancing his dragon powers.

Ambrus saw that human lady that was once his friend, Esmerelda.  She was concerned that he was dead, in the land of The Between.  It was clear, they were once very close.  She was glad to see that he had rid himself of that “awful dagger”.  The dagger other visions had indicated had the ability to kill the vampire.  With Ambrus’s memory loss, he was at a loss.  She told him his lock and key tattoos had the power to break the connection assumed that’s how he did it.  So maybe he could do the same for the rest of us.  He already did so for Zolton? She awaits him in Kresh, evidently.  Now that the wine has returned, maybe we can get in there.  She, and several others, advised us that the only way out was down.  His combat was against the demon we encountered in the sewers; I think.  Again, he had no chance although Brian seemed to enjoy beating on everyone regardless.  Ambrus was one of the few that actually got away.

Lastly was Ezra.  He encountered the vampire Father Lucious.  With his smites and save bonuses, he managed to get some significant damage onto him.  But then Wade started using his legendary actions and Ezra was killed.  His back history encounter was with that lady from his past.  She encouraged him to continue the fight.  I’m not sure what else.  She did ask him to visit her final resting place.  When he asked where that was, it turns out she was that spirit that raised us from the dead so that we could defeat that child stealing demon.  That is where we got the Holy Avenger sword.  I’m not sure if anyone but Wade had pieced that together. 

Eventually we all ended up in the last room with a pit going down.  Some were prepared to just jump in as a leap of faith but it was pointed out that it was climbable.  It was 120 feet down.  Kaladin had 100 feet of rope which would give us advantage on the first 3 climb rolls with 1 without.  We took a long rest first since those that were killed earlier were at 1 hit point.  We had Good Berries to eat and 3 magical lights so that wasn’t a problem.  Kharn went first, forgoing the rope.  The rest went in turn.  Ezra fell and took 6d6.  Irena fell and took 9d6 and was knocked out. Ambrus fell and took 6d6 and Lord Q fell and took 4d6.  Love those skill challenges.  Kaladin stowed the rope and flew down.  Except that it was too tight so he had to make a roll as well.  He missed and used 2 inspirations to succeed. 

The Gone.

That got us down to another plateau with another 50 foot climb.  This time we were smarter and had Kharn lower us down, one at a time.  And then he climbed down.  And then Kaladin was to fly down but when the light sources had all left, he was attacked by the darkness.  (Dan: Yeah.  That happened.  If I had magic missile I would have attacks the darkness back) He then flew down.  There were millions of bones, littering the floor of this vast chamber.  We could hear dogs howling in the distance.  We started along the cliff bottom, staying together.  We passed stairs going up but we were told to go down to get out.  Eventually we were attacked by dogs, charging in from the darkness.  There were those 2 headed Death Dogs with 2 attacks of small damage but a poison save.  There were two Death Heads that flew, did damage and restrained on a failed save.  And there was one Death Hunter caster.  He did a Death Bolt which did 4d8 plus a save for something.  He Counter spelled Lord Q’s Fog Cloud.  He finished off Ireena with a Chill Touch.  So, it was a fight.  We did a decent job, concentrating fire on injured ones.  We could not see the caster so he was untouched for several rounds.  Kaladin was paralyzed (restrained) by a Death Head and fell from the sky.  But he saved the next round and avoided being turned to stone.  Loki was poisoned by a dog, giving him disadvantage on attacks but the tide had turned by then so it wasn’t a big deal.  Ezra cured that disease with his Lay on Hands.  Ireena started low due to her long fall and was out fast.  But she made several death saves until Loki could get a berry into her.  After 3 rounds, it was just the caster and a dog.  We pummeled him but he used a Dimension Door and got away.  There was no treasure, of course. 

Brian said that it was possible to finish the dungeon in another hour but no one believed him so we stopped there.  Ezra did a Prayer of Healing, Ireena used her last two healing kits, Loki loaded his last shots and we took a short rest.  We’ve been told that 6th level awaits us on the other side.  The means to destroy these artifacts may be Ambrus and the key may be that this place, beyond her reach, is the place that it can be done.  It seems pretty obvious we are to get rid of them.  I, for one, will be sad to see mine go.  It’s the best thing about my character. (Dan: So far the only thing I used from my heirloom was the 10 feet addition movement.  Now its only 50' instead of 60'.  On the other hand no one is mind controlling me or trying to turn me into an Illithid, so I guess I came out aghead.)

Saturday, 12 June 2021 19:26

 Jon has started a 1st edition D&D campaign after having a bout of nostalgia.  Hello and welcome!  Brian has had an unfortunate case of death, brought on by a virulent bout of Balorism.  Goodbye!

Saturday, 22 May 2021 01:42

Our trusty raccoon-shaped plucky hero went to Disneyland, so the half-dragon is narrating the night events.  As is typical, when a player is missing we enter an alternate reality where they never existed.  We really missed the berries and the gunpowder.

The night starts with Iribella (bratty seer kid) talking to Zoltan about the link of the amulet to the plane.  He further talks about his dreams in regards to the tadpole in the amulet.  Using his racial fear resistance he looks inside amulet and sees the tadpole he dreamed about.  Yay, at least his dream made some sense.  Shuts the lid of the amulet quickly, so the tadpole doesn't escape.  Zoltan wanted to break the bond to the item but Jon's character, who started to do so previously, is not there.  PMS, Player Missing Syndrome.  Afterward, Paul talks about his desire to kill the humans in his dreams and the little seer clarifies how the amulet restricts it.

With the other part of the group, Bray(the child) told Ezera that the guards are looking for Zoltan and Lord Q at the Bluewater Inn.  Our paladin casts Gentle Repose and wakes the party. Ernst and Riktavio come to discuss 'donations' for 'clothing' and invites him to discuss what Lady Watcher (Fiona) can do for him and the church.  They dress Lord Q in a disguise and Kaladin as well.  Meanwhile, Karn wanders over to the church since we never showed up. The sword from the huntress of the Ogre magi reacts as he comes into the church.  Ezera realizes it was the sword of his fiancee and Karn and him swap weapons.  One of Fiona’s servants goes to get (and disguise) Zoltan so he can join us with the meeting.

We discuss an alliance against the government(Revolution) because Fiona’s daughter, Stella, was driven mad.  She now acts like a cat.  Zoltan tried to use detect thoughts but found nothing.  Karn attempted to communicate with animals and did not get anything either.  The brilliant plan is to create a disturbance to “show the town how it really is”, however, the party needs to go to the Abbey before they commit.  It's so stupid it just might work!  Or not.

During the meeting, a servant ran in to get us.  One of the servants was wounded and the Father’s body was stolen.  Karne was able to start tracking the scent of the dead body.  We trailed behind with a pathetic attempt not to be seen together.  We tracked the body back at the church.  People dressed “like us”, as in people trying to be incognito, had taken his body and run back through the church to the crypt.  Lord Q, who had stayed behind with Fiona, eventually wandered lazily through town with an escort.  When we finally break into the crypt Lord Q finds his way there, despite doing his best to avoid going there.

After putzing around for an hour in the crypt(this was the DM delaying things rather than the players), we finally pushed the sarcophagus aside and found a hole under it with a rope ladder leading to a large cavern.  We found a stairway down and a stone table where Father Lucian’s body was. Ezera sensed evil so we determined we were too late.  He had been turned into a monster in the hour or so it took to catch up to him.  When we tried to put him to rest (kill him) 6 wights flew out of the ground.  One jumped up and hit Kaladin.  Apparently, wight guys CAN jump.  After a round Ezera did a critical smite on the dormant Father and did 86 points of damage... it only did moderate damage.  His eyes did open though.  On his action, he leaped onto the ceiling, only to be grappled on pulled off the ceiling on Karne’s action.  Despite being a Legendary creature Karne rolled a natural 20 (30 modified) and Father Lucian rolled a natural 1(modified 5).  He did make up for it by biting Karne and healing a little.  He then turned into a bat to escape, then summoned 8 swarms of bats.

Zoltan was irritated by this, so he dropped a fireball on EVERYONE.  22 points to everything in the room... almost.  The paladin had his aura from the holy sword up which gave everyone an advantage on saves and a few had resistances (Kaladin took 5 points) so it worked out.  Father died... but used a Legendary action to make his save.  Then immediately died again but used ANOTHER Legendary action to turn into a mist.  Kaladin did his breath weapon twice and took a few bats out as well as Zoltan.  We had no healing berries, so the paladin had to heal him.  Then Karn went down, and Zoltan healed him.  We finally got rid of the wights.

At this point, it was 1:30.  So we storyboarded Ireena using her vampire lore book to inform us that the misty vampire was using the desecrated table/altar to heal.  The solution was to have the cleric and paladin consecrate the altar so he couldn’t recover.  Brian gave Ireena the kill.  “Well done, Ireena Kolyana that’s the deadliest thing you’ve put down in your adventuring career.”  Kaladin’s deadliest enemy is a swarm of bats... ouch.

Monday, 22 March 2021 21:34

I had some minor surgery on my foot about a week ago.  Nothing serious, just an outpatient procedure.  I have to stay off of it for a few weeks during recovery.  My job has allowed me to work from home for the duration.  Fortunately, I am allowed to walk enough to go to the bathroom and the kitchen but most of the time the foot should be up.  My job has allowed me to work from home for the duration.  My kids have still managed to step on every part of my foot except the part that has the surgery on it.  Am I paranoid or are they really out to get me?

Sunday, 07 February 2021 17:30

Note: Review #5 of the Drunken Monkey Book Club.

The Drunken Monkey Book Club hasn't met in a few months.  Partly due to some confusion as to what was scheduled to be reviewed and when it was scheduled to meet.  Since I did read the book I thought I would publish the review anyway.

Review by Daniel Ruth

Overall Score:40star

Fast forward several months.  This is the second half of the previously reviewed 'Peace Talks'.  We didn't have to wait too long for this, telling me what I suspected.  This truly was the second half of that book.  That one ended rather abruptly, feeling like it was only half of the story.  Well, here it is.  

This jumps straight into the war preparation.  As expected there is a lot of internal sniping and arguments, showing a truly huge amount of disunity.  There's a few times they are criticizing Dresden as some of his subterfuges have been exposed.  For example, people seem to know that he was around when Mabd was kicked through the wall but not precisely what he was doing.  However, they know they don't like it.  The constant criticizing him being the Winter Knight is also kind of wearing.  It's not like it's a position he can retire from so why are they whining about it?  It also seems odd that they are telling the second in command of the Winter Court (wait... 3rd?) what duties he can and can't do.  Early on there are hints that he will get kicked off the council for... well, a conflict of interests.  Which probably made the most sense of everything though they hint it's a plot from the Black Council.

When the fighting starts it begins hard and continues through most of the book.  There should be a meme about Dresden constantly getting crippling injuries yet shrugging them off and fighting normally the scene.  This is pretty odd since they repeat over and over that the Winter Knight magic only dulls pain and doesn't actually heal you.  After a while, you get numb to it.  I don't really buy it, but I suppose it makes good storytelling... or thrilling fights... kinda.  The fights are fast and furious against overwhelming odds.  They do explain in-story why he doesn't run out of magic energy in the beginning and when later he has to conserve energy but considering how long the battle lasts I guess they had to explain it somehow.

People die.  People who you saw mentioned many books ago and you see again just long enough to remember who they were.  I have to admit it crossed my mind that it may be a good way to clear out useless characters or reduce the sheer number you have to keep track of.  There are also a few that really have an impact.  Big impactful names.  I won't spoil things but people who matter die too.  It's hinted in a way since there is a war in the making and frankly everyone is wondering if they will die.  The exact way they died is an interesting twist.  I definitely didn't see it coming.  Weeks after I read the book I still can't decide if the twist minimizes the death or brought home how fragile life is, even if the characters themselves feel larger than life.  So... it made me think and that was good.  It made my heart twinge and that was good.

The end of the book shakes things up bigger than a world-sized snow globe.  The government now knows about the magic side of things. There is no going back on that.  That ship has sailed.  Interpersonal shake-ups, political shake-ups.  Changes.  I really approve.  Nothing says that the story is progressing like changing everything.  Most of the changes you'll just nod at. Others you might shed a tear at.  One surprised me so much that much like Desden I just sat speechless for a minute as I let my brain catch up.  A change so terrifying and powerful, yet made so much sense afterward.  

Yep.  This is the book where the old gets swept away and everything afterward is a new and shiny unknown frontier.  Excelsior!

Thursday, 04 February 2021 14:15

Andy notified us last week that his game is on hold.  We all wish him the best and hope he can restart when it's convenient for him.