Friday, June 29, 2012

Character Application: Playtest Wizard

I submitted the following application for a DnDNext playtest game.  I'm not sure if I'm going to get to play him, and that's ok.  Two games is enough for me!  But I thought that I'd share the application here for safekeeping, if nothing else.

Name: Arrelon Illafel
Gender: Male
Race: High Elf
Class: Wizard
Deity: Corellon


Unlike most high elves, Arrelon prefers to keep his brown hair cut short; it's less of a hassle that way. This reveals something of his personality: while always one to work hard and an excellent student, Arrelon prefers to go his own way when moved to do so, rather than follow some rigid program. This sometimes gets him into trouble--he has been passed over before for awards and honors due to what his instructors deemed recklessness or lack of responsibility. In truth, however, he's really more of a free spirit than a troublemaker.

Arrelon is of slightly below average height for elves. While of a slender build, he is fond of running as a way to rejuvenate his body and clear his mind in between long bouts of study. And study he does--Arrelon enjoys playing with magic, and often will try variations on established spells just to see what would happen.

To friends, he is generous and kind. He tries his hand at humor with some frequency, though in truth many of his friends would say that he hasn't quite got the knack for it...but they usually humor him with a chuckle anyway.


Arrelon's parents were both products of a long line of wizards in Sraekin. In fact, his mother, Gilonna, was an illusionist at the Moonsong Academy, a prestigous wizardry school in the capital city of Sraekin. His father, Saelas, on the other hand, was a bit less ambitous. While blessed with some skill in the arcane arts, he bounced from job to job throughout most of Arrelon's childhood. He dove into each new project with gusto, but often would quickly lose interest when challenges were met.

It was natural for Arrelon and his two sisters to join the academy as they came of age. For his part, Arrelon was recognized early on as having a special talent and passion for magic. Unfortunately, within the rigid curriculum of the academy, this did not always bear fruit. Many students were content to learn magic by rote memorization, but he preferred to treat each new spell as a toy with which he could play. Unfortunately, rather than focus on the assignments at hand, Arrelon frequently would get wrapped up in related, but irrelevant, issues. As a result, while he discovered ways to cause his mage hand to appear with anywhere from three to seven fingers, not to mention make obscene gestures, he was two weeks late in learning the competantly deliver a shocking grasp. As much as he tested his instructors' patience--and earned low marks at times--he always eventually caught up with the rest of the class.

His mother had long talked of having her three children join her as instructors at the academy. As his graduation approached, however, Arrelon realized that this was probably not to be his path. For one thing, his grades probably weren't good enough to get such a job, despite his mother's influence on the faculty. Moreover...a life of syllabi, due dates, examinations, and papers just wasn't appealing.

When he saw the duke's announcement requesting adventurers, he was intrigued. It seemed like a great opportunity to experience new things and explore the world! His parents, and especially his mother, were not enthusiastic...but ultimately conceded. With his pack on his back and staff in hand, he closed the door on his house, taking his first steps on the path to his new adventure.

RP Sample:

Arrelon knocked at his mother’s chambers. “Come,” said the voice inside the door. As he entered, she looked up from her desk, where scrolls and parchment were scattered everywhere. Her face turned to a frown. “Arrelon, I understand that you still have not completed your paper on displacer beasts for Master Alcook. It was due yesterday. Graduation is in just two weeks. Can’t you just get this last assignment in so that you can graduate?”

“I just submitted it mother. Spent the whole night working on it,” he said with a penitent smile as he sat down.

His mother signed. “Good, at least that is done. Still, the late submission won’t help your marks, and you’ll need all the help you can get when you apply for the instructor position we talked about.”

“Yes, about that mother. I’m thinking…” he paused. This wouldn’t be easy to break to her. “I’m thinking about an alternative.” She immediately frowned, but he hurried on. “The duke has posted an announcement requesting adventurers to act as first responders against some of the recent disturbances we’ve experienced. I was thinking about tossing my hat into that ring.”

Taken aback, he shook her head. “Absolutely not. That is a job for the foolhardy; you have too much talent to go getting yourself killed by some random goblin. Arrelon, what happened to your plans to join the academy?”

He expected this response. “Mother, you said yourself that I was going to need all the help I can get. Master Alcook can’t stand me, and most of the faculty seem at least annoyed with me. You know I love magic. But I’m just not sure that the academy is for me. This is an opportunity for me to do something with my life. I think I'd learn more as an adventurer than I would teaching cantrips.”

Gilonna sat silent for a moment; her son’s words rang true. She gave him a sad smile. “It has always been a battle for you here, hasn’t it? We’ll have to discuss it with your father this evening…but I don’t see him standing in your way. I don’t like this, Arrelon, and I fear for your safety. But perhaps you’re right. The Duke certainly does seem to need some help, and this might indeed be Correlon’s will for you. I have two conditions, however. One, you will be careful. I’ve seen too many students rush off to be adventurers and never return. You will need more than just your spells and cantrips to survive out there; you need to exercise caution, not bravado. Two, keep in mind that you can always apply for a position with the academy at some other date. In fact, some success in this path might aide your application.”

Thank you mother. I honestly didn’t know whether you’d agree. I will be careful. As for the academy...we'll see.” After a short embrace, he left her chambers before she could change her mind. I hope I’m not being an idiot, he thought. He set off to his dormitory to pack his things.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Comedy in a PBP game

I had to share this fun little exchange from a play by post game I'm in.  Emmett (played by robotbear) is a rather feral barbarian, who just abruptly exited from a meeting between the adventurer party at the local city Baron.  While the adventurer's continued conversing with the NPC, Emmett went and found himself something to do...
Robotbear: MEANWHILE, in another part of town: Emmett is starring into the eyes of a horse, neither creature giving the other any clue like they are going to blink first (Insight check: 12+6=18). 
Enthusiast (DM): While his erstwhile allies held audience with the Baron, Emmett was staring at a horse, wondering what secrets were housed within the animal's soul. The horse, meanwhile, stared blankly, hoping to lick the barbarian if he inched close enough. He looked nice and salty. 
The creature made a feint (Bluff: 12-1=11) to one side, hoping to draw the barbarian close enough for a lick, but the horse's prowess was no match for Emmett's quick mind. He knew exactly what the beast was up to, and there was no way he was going to fall for its trickery. 
Stubborn as a mule, the horse made every effort to resist the urge to blink (Saving throw against blinking: 6). Alas, it was no use. Emmett, apparently, was even more stubborn than a mule. He savoured the sweet taste of victory.
Shame that the horse didn't make that saving throw...but that's funny stuff, right there.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Storm of Zehir: Finding the Fun

Thing that I like about Storm of Zehir: Dinosaurs!
Part of the reason I haven't done any module reviews over the past few months is that I'm still in the middle of Storm of Zehir.  It's a long module, at least it seems it with my 5-6 hours per week pace, and I went through a period of frustration with it about a month ago.  A full review will follow once I'm done, but I got frustrated once arriving at the Sword Coast.

The reason?  Well, the game really emphasizes exploration.  And that's great.  The problem is that (as is probably appropriate in the world, but is not always fun as a gamer) many of the areas that you can explore are certain death for a player the first time you encounter the areas.  It's not just the random-encounter areas; you also experience this with some of the quests that you receive early on in the game.***

***Incidentally, this is the reason that games like Morrowind scale their encounter areas to match your current level.  A lot of people don't like this for world cohesion purposes, but it prevents the frustration I encountered.

At a certain point, I got fed up with exploration and just decided to stick to the main plot in hopes of getting done. The plot in Zehir is decent, with occasional flourishes of excellence that are broken up by some extremely poorly executed segments.

Once I went this route, I eventually found myself enjoying the game far more.  And now, with the main plot veering back away from the Sword Coast, I'm taking time off to explore.  And it's fun.  My team can handle those areas without trouble now ( wizard died last night in a battle against some Banites...but it's the good kind of challenge, not the ridiculous kind), and we're racking up small bits of extra experience, treasure, and item crafting recipes.

Next up: crafting! I've finally got enough extra gold and components to make some serious progress with crafting, and I'm looking forward to enhancing my gear.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Character Application: A Warlock (Hexblade)

NameArmin Brent
Race: Half-Elf
Class: Warlock (Hexblade), Infernal Pact - Striker
Alignment: Neutral
Age: 28 (though the RP sample below happened when he was 16)

If there’s a typical half-elf appearance, that’s basically Armin: brown hair, cut short, 5’11”, 160 lbs, slightly tapered ears, more slender than a typical human, but bulkier than a typical elf. Upon closer inspection, however, one does notice a few unique characteristics. His eyes, though they appear brown at first, seem to have a subtle, flickering, iridescent red quality to them when he stares intently at you. Second, his posture isn’t what you’d expect for someone with elven blood running through his veins; though a good athlete, he holds himself with a small slouch in his back, as if he were shouldering a great weight.

Armin is a friendly, amicable individual prone to good natured humor. Speaking with him for only a few minutes, you might begin to think that you were making a new best friend. He is confident, listens well, and is quick with a compliment. While hardly a storyteller—in fact, he is often quite evasive, if not deceptive, about his past—Armin tactfully involves himself in conversations and seems memorably innocuous.

Some of that, however, is a front. He rarely makes lasting friendships, and in conversation is extremely evasive about his past, his motivations, or his plans for the future. A person might spend an evening thinking she was really getting to know him, only to realize the next morning that she spent the evening talking about herself...and that Armin is now nowhere to be found. Uncommonly, Armin has even been known to vanish with someone’s gold or other treasures, never to return. He is not an evil man. But he seems haunted by something in his past, and seems to be wandering his way through life without goals or purpose.

What good are choices when all of your options are terrible?

Armin was born in a small farming community on the outskirts of a major city. His mother, Serah, was single, and he didn’t know much about his father. Serah told him that he was a ranger of a sort, and as Armin grew older he surmised that he was the product result in a one-night affair. His mother was dedicated and loving, however, and worked hard to give Armin a place in the world. Among other things, this included a first-rate education. They could barely afford it, but she felt it was the best gift she could grant her child.

As he entered his teenaged years, however, a summertime drought dealt a severe blow to the farming community where he grew up. As farmers’ crops failed, food prices soared at the same time that the community’s income faltered. Refusing to abandon her hopes for her child, Armin’s mother moved them to the city and fell in with an organized crime syndicate. She served as a courier for over a year, transporting ever-increasingly sensitive materials to and from crime bosses. She quickly earned her superiors’ trust, able to conceal important documents and treasures through dangerous roads and military checkpoints alike with a combination of girl-next-door charm and a knack for stealth. It paid well, but she was often away from home, leaving Armin to fend for himself. He spent much of his free time in the library; Armin was a good student, and was considering a career in either wizardry or law. During this time, he met and befriended Belkin, an elderly wizard who had spent most of the last 20 years reading his way through the stacks of arcane volumes in the library’s archives. In those occasional nights when his mother was home, however, the two of them defied the typical relationships between parents and teenagers, remaining very close.

One day, however, his mother was intercepted on one of her missions by a competing syndicate. They beat her brutally. But even worse, they stole from her a vital portfolio of information full of secret details about personnel, safehouses, and current schemes within her syndicate. The price for such failure was certain death for both Armin and his mother at the hands of their assassins. And her superiors would know what had happened within a day’s time.

RP Sample:
The old Wizard stared into his book for a long time after hearing Armin’s request. Slowly, he raised his eyes toward the youth. “Do you understand what it is that you are asking? This is not something that can be undone. You may well be forfeiting your soul.”

“I understand—I do, really. But this is our only chance. You have to help us!” Armin replied desperately. Just last week, Belkin had delighted in telling Armin of how he’d found a loophole in the convoluted laws of the hells that would permit someone to steal immense power from infernal lords. He longed to put his idea to the test. But, as the old man told him, he was too close to the afterlife to be picking fights with devils.

Now, in his despondency, it seemed Armin’s only option. They would try to run, but the Syndicate would surely track them down. They had no chance in a fair fight, much less the ambush that would surely await them on a moonlit road as they fled. He was desperate, and here seemed to be a solution that could save them.

“I am sorry Armin, I want to help you, but I can’t do this for you. You are too young to be making this kind of a decision,” the old Wizard replied.

“What good is a soul if you lose your entire world protecting it? I’m as good as dead without this, and so is my mother.” Armin replied.“Please.”

The old man gave him a long, sad look. “May the Gods forgive me.” He turned, lifted an enormous tome from the shelf at the back of the room, and led the youth down a long flight of stairs into the depths of the library’s cellar.


Armin stared at the sword in his hand. It was black upon black, and seemed to absorb all light cast upon it from the flickering torches nearby. Turning it to the side, he saw that it was almost without a third dimension: it was infinitesimally thin, and seemed impossibly sharp.

Tonight had been terrifying. But the ritual, horrible as it was, seemed to have gone as planned. Armin could feel a sinister power coursing through him, and knew that it would take him a long time harness it. In the meantime, however, he hoped it would be enough. He hurried to barn just outside the city, where he had brought his battered mother for safety while he visited with Belkin. Now, with luck, they could have a head start before her employers learned of what had happened.

As he entered the barn, he saw his mother look up in relief. Through the darkness, he could see that one of her eyes was swollen shut. The other paused for a moment when she saw the sword sheathed at his side. “We must go,” she said urgently. But in the next moment, arrows shot through the room, grazing Armin’s shoulder.

The room was a blur in the darkness. Armin unsheathed his sword, which moved as if guided on its own as he struck out at their attackers. Armin felt blood splattering on his clothes as he fought. With each foe he felled, the sword emitted a burst of energy that seemed to feed his strength. They came at him from all sides, but were no match for this blade of annihilation and its wielder. Here, in the thick of combat, Armin felt unstoppable.

Just as he began to think they might survive, however, he heard a sickening thud behind him. Slicing through a last combatant, he turned to see a lone assassin standing over his mother, where she lay covered in blood. In a rage, he screamed—and as he did, bolts of energy shot from his hands. The first shattered the man’s torso, detaching his arm and crushing his chest. But the second shot to the right, striking the support pillar in the center of the barn and causing it to buckle.

In an instant, the barn came crashing down around him. Armin lay for hours beneath the rubble, sobbing. While he had survived, but he knew his mother was dead. And somewhere in the distance—or maybe just in his head?—he could hear a deep voice laughing at his plight.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Play by Post: First Impressions

Play by post gaming is sort of the opposite of this, thank goodness. (Photo credit: mricon)
I first heard about play by post games via the Exemplary DM Podcast.  On the surface, it sounded neat: play within the bounds of your time.  But the description that the guests on that show provided ultimately turned me off: focus on literary style, emphasis on roleplaying and light rules, lack of control of your own character, etc.  I think I'm a bit of a "right of center" gamer, and this just didn't seem like it would be for me.

As I mentioned, though, a few weeks ago I decided to give it a go.  Whoever runs the twitter feed for DnDOG followed me on twitter, so I decided to check them out.  I found an amazingly vibrant community of roleplayers playing all kinds of games, though it's mostly DnD 3.5 and Pathfinder, with the occasional 4e game thrown in for good measure.  I lucked into joining a 4e game with my first application, and have been hooked ever since.

My experience has been rather unlike what was described at Exemplary DM.  There certainly has been plenty of writing, and I'm fortunate to be playing with several fantastic writers (including the DM).  The only time I can remember trying to write dialog since eighth grade was when I was working on my nwn2 character creator module, and I've found it to be both fun and challenging.  Even a few paragraphs have taken me a very long time to write in the early going, but I think I'm getting faster as I find both my voice and that of my character.  I'm playing a fairly quiet character, and that's worked out well, as I don't need to take the lead in conversations...and any awkwardness fits his character pretty well.  :) Nevertheless, we're definitely still playing DnD.  The forums at DnDOG have a nice dice-rolling mechanism that permits you to embed honest dice rolls into your posts for skill checks and, of course combat.  This tool permits players and DMs to run a game that feels very dnd.  Right now, we're meeting the Baron of a small city, and my character has been rolling perception and insight checks left and right, while the talky-talky PCs are rolling diplomacy, bluff, intimidate, etc, as needed to interact with the NPC's.  The DM wisely places substantial modifiers on roll outcomes based on the roleplaying.  Therefore, if you roll a good diplomacy check, but write an insulting, uninspiring dialog you'll likely encounter a penalty...and similarly, if you roll badly but roleplay well, you might well succeed in the check.  And some of the time, you won't even know if you've succeed--you just go with what the DM gives you.  It's very immersive, and yet it's still driven by in almost equal parts by the character sheet and the player behind the character.

We also did a small combat, which I found to work very well.  It plays very closely to how it might on a table, with a few exceptions.  First, while everyone rolls initiative, the monsters all tend to go as a group, as do the PC's.  This allows all of the PC's to post their turn as time permits, without having to wait for whoever is in front of you to finish.  After each turn, our DM updates the grid (which he draws on his computer, in powerpoint I'm guessing?), and gives us reports of the monster conditions and such.  The actual combat is delivered in character, but with lots of out of character references to character actions and statuses.  Again, the forum software is great for because it allows you to hide or otherwise disguise these out of character elements within the game thread to clearly separate them from the roleplay.  It even lets you post secret information that is just between the DM and the player.

There are some downsides combat.  First, it is a bit harder to play a controller under this framework.  For example, one of my Hunter's best abilities is the ability to slide enemy PC's two squares with a damage-dealing, at-will attack.  One use for this might be to move "squishy" spellcaster-types closer to the front lines, and I'll certainly do that.  But another use will be to move foes into a position where they can be easily flanked.  If I'm doing this, I need to be really careful about who has already posted and who has yet to post as I execute the maneuver.  If "my" strikers have already posted that round, that tactical option is more or less often off the table.  But given how much the "everyone goes at once" framework speeds up combat, I think it's a worthwhile trade-off.

The second downside, of course, is that because we're playing within the constraints of eight individuals' schedules, play by post is kind of slow.  Or, rather, it's bursts of activity followed by long periods of waiting. As it's summer and I'm not teaching, now is a great time for me to be playing.  Therefore, I've submitted applications for a couple of other games.  As the semester starts up again in the fall, I'll see about reducing my commitments as needed.  Probably, it will just mean that I'm posting a bit less often than I am now.  And that's fine, as most games only ask for 3-5 posts per week.

Over the next few days, I'll post a few of the other characters I've written up for applications.  I don't know who will read them, but they were fun to write. :)

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

RPG Podcast Mini-Reviews

English: Podcast or podcasting icon Français :...
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
As I started getting into DnD again over the past year, I've been listening to a number of podcasts.  I thought I'd do a quick overview of some of ones I've enjoyed.

Exemplary DM Podcast - ***** Simply the best rpg podcast out there.  Timeless, genuinely funny, well produced, on topic (mostly), and bursting at the seams with great ideas for DMs and players alike.  This is a podcast about playing tabletop games, not about any specific product releases, and as such it will be as relevant in five years as it is today.  For the most part, it works for any gaming system, though they focus mostly on DnD.  I love this podcast.  They recently released their last episode of season two, and I hope that they will be able to continue in the future...though one of the hosts is moving, which makes this hard to guarantee.

Official DnD Podcast - ***** These are not frequently produced at this point (though there has recently been more activity following the release of dndnext), but there's a tremendous back catalog of episodes spanning the entire history of 4e.  Many of these feature designers pitching their products, which can be interesting on their own.  The best part, however, are the Penny Arcade actual play sessions.  Most are DM'd by Chris Perkins, who is a phenomenal DM, and the characters include the guys from Penny Arcade as well as (starting in series 2) Wil Wheaton.  Yes, that Wil Wheaton.  They are super funny, and are a wonderful model of how DnD can be played.  Really fun stuff.

Haste by Obsidian Portal - ***** Great current events in gaming podcast.  They cover everything, from indie rpg's to kickstarter, but DnD gets a bit more attention than other systems in my experience.  I love that it's fast, focused, and often has interesting guests.  They also take questions from twitter and provide DMing tips and such.  It is a vehicle for advertising Obsidian Portal, but these are genuine gamers behind that company so it is easy to overlook this...and they're not in your face about it.

Icosohedrophilia - ***** With the possible expection of the DnD podcast, this is the best live DnD action podcast that I've encountered.  I tried to do with it like I did with Critical Hit (see below)--start from the first episode and move from there.  Unfortunately, early episodes have pretty bad sound, which makes it very hard to keep track of all 7 PC's.  I gave up on it this, but then later tried again by listening to "The Story Thus Far" episode and going from there.  This is definitely the way to do it.  More recent episodes have far better sound, this lets you enjoy the strengths of the podcast.  Chris Heard is a terrific DM, with great mastery of the rules, and more importantly the ability to concisely and yet vividly tell a great story--both in and out of combat. The recent Kiss of the Spider Woman chapter was amazing fun, so perhaps start there?

Critical Hits - **** I've only recently started listening to this one, so I haven't explored the back catalog.  But recent episodes include Mike Shea interviewing another blogger or industry person about a specific topic.  I enjoy Mike a lot, and he does a great job conducting interviews.  He asks good questions, and is always focused on pulling practical tips that can be directly integrated into folks' tabletop games.

Beer and Battle - **** Another live DnD action podcast.  This one's overlooked, I think.  It's focused on fun, but DM Peter tells a very good story (though sometimes can be a bit too heavy-handed with combat descriptions).  The PC's know how to run their characters, and are genuinely funny people.  I'm sort of taking a break from it for now, but that's more due to competition with other podcasts for space on my playlist than a lack of interest in continuing to listen.  This sounds like the kind of gaming group that everyone wants to be a part of.

Critical Hit by Major Spoilers - *** This is the first live DnD action podcast I started listening to.  It's ok.  Rodrigo has created an extremely interesting world, and the story is absolutely top-drawer.  I also quite enjoy DnD Brian (Randus), as he seems like a great guy and is does a great job as a player.  Some of the other players, however, can be maddening.  For some reason, I keep coming back, though I think it's mostly for Rodrigo.

The Tome Show/Dice Monkey/4geeks4e - *** I'm throwing all of these into one, which is probably not fair ...although they are all (as far as I know) basically part of the same family of podcasts.  They are part of the same network (along with Icosohedrophilia) and often feature the same cast of characters.  With the exception of the occasional (and quite good) Dice Monkey podcasts, the Tome Show and 4geeks4e podcasts tend to be pretty long and freeform.  That's often not a good thing.  Their product review episodes are worth listening to, but I often find myself skipping past substantial portions of their other episodes.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Joined a Play-By-Post Group

I got the good news today that I made it into a play by post group over at DnD Online Games.  I had gotten the impression some time ago that these kinds of games were almost entirely narrative-based.  But upon investigating, I found that the games that folks play over there can include combat, complete with grids, etc!  Given that I have essentially given up on injecting actual tabletop games into my life for the time being, this is probably my best alternative (in addition to video games).  I'm pretty excited to give it a try.

The game I joined is called The New World and designed by a guy who calls himself Enthusiast.  It's a neat concept: a well-established, culturally developed Empire discovers and colonizes a new continent, and we're playing just 30 years after the first settlement was founded.  The continent is populated by shifters, an indigenous people who possess primal magic.  The game is essentially the story of how this empire attempts to take hold in this New World.  Mine was one of 29(!!) different character applications submitted by 24 different people, so I feel incredibly fortunate to have been in the group of 7 that made it in...especially given that this was my first try!

Here is my character application:
Name: Erethil 
Race: Elf 
Class: Ranger (Hunter) 
Role: Controller 
Alignment: Good 
Deity: None 
Appearance and Personality:Erethil is smaller than a typical Elf, and is slightly built. Yet even by elven standards, he is unusually graceful. He moves about in smooth, quiet steps that allows him to go unnoticed in both the wilderness and urban settings. He has black hair that is often tied back, and sharp eyes that he uses to pan about the room. It is as if he sees everything. 
Erethil can come across as a bit gruff; he's generally quiet, but quick and to the point when he has something to say. He prefers to avoid long conversations and chit-chat, and has no qualms about walking for miles with a companion and not saying a word. That said, he has learned to work amicably in a team via his experience as a wildness guide, and is a reliable, generous companion to those he trusts. 
Background:Erethil was among the first Erathic children born in Medrona. His mother was a dignitary of some importance in Amarin, where her father was a sergeant in the local militia. When Erethil was just 10 years old, however, both of his parents went missing while traveling to Port Calia shortly after its founding. His parents were not wealthy, but left him with sufficient resources to survive until he had completed his education, while his mother's colleagues were available to help him on his way. 
Nevertheless, Erethil spent much of his teenaged years roaming the wilderness between towns. At first, it may have been in a desperate attempt to learn what happened to his parents. But the long months spent in solitude also brought Erethil solice. He found himself in awe of the combination of beauty and brutality in the natural world, and in time began to feel intimately connected to it. Through careful observation of the cunning fox, he learned how to deftly maneuver to avoid threats while in danger. By watching the wolf spider, he learned the power and efficiency of stealth and a sudden, deadly attack. 
Erethil became an accomplished hunter, renowned for his accuracy with the bow and uncanny ability to down his quarry with a single strike. His preferred hunting grounds are in the Oliddian Wood, the lush coastal forests between Olid and Amarin. Able to make a modest living selling game, he also has found employment as a guide. Wealthy Imperial citizens, recently arrived in Medrona, take comfort in hiring him as a guide as they travel between settlements along the coast of Medrona. 
While comfortable, Erethil continues to be drawn to the wilderness. He has rarely interacted with the nomadic clans of shifters that live on the continent. But what little he has seen of them hints at their deep connections with the natural world, which manifest in powerful primal energies and powers. When the Baron of Olid sent an appeal for adventurers to procure a mysterious artifact, Erethil jumped at the chance. Perhaps this artifact might hold some secret that would allow him to grow more in tune with the wilds. 
RP Sample:From his perch in the treetop, bow drawn, Erethil watches his prey. The deer has been milling about on the other side of the brush. While he could hit it now, the cover might keep him from targeting it precisely at the base of the neck. Such a strike would kill the deer instantly, preventing both pain for the animal and noise that could attract unwanted attention. With a bit of patience, soon he will have a perfect shot.
Suddenly, from within the brush, something stirs: the doe has a fawn! Lowering his bow, a small, contented smile forms on his lips. Erethil might not sell a deer today, but the snares he set up nearby were sure to provide dinner. For now, he could simply watch the beauty of a mother caring for her offspring.
 That RP sample took a long time to write, so I'm hoping I get faster at this kind of thing!!

My character sheet is currently hosted on DnDOG's character sheet system, though I'm looking at Character Distiller as an alternative...But that's a post for another day.