New World Adventures (Part 1)

by Jonathon Chambers

Alek was sitting on his bed cleaning his sword, when his elven friend Erdan opened the door. Standing behind Erdan was Aleks wife Gwenevere.

Gwenevere told me of your loss, said Erdan. She says she fears what may become of your time alone with that sword.

Gweneveres fears are unfounded. This sword never pierced any flesh but my foes, nor will it.

You misunderstand my good friend, Erdan sat on the bed beside Alek, She fears not scars of the flesh, but of the heart. No good comes from choosing the company of a sword over your wife and friends.

No, you misunderstand. Dragon blood weakens adamantite. I must remove every trace.

Erdan took Aleks sword from him and held the blade in the air for close inspection. If you show me such a trace, I shall bite my tongue.

It need not be seen to be there, Alek took his sword back and continued to clean it.

Gwenevere fears you rub this cloth against a clean sword so you may spend half a day cursing the gods in secret.

And what if I am? Regdar was a fine cleric. He was my friend, my comrade and the partys only healer. Why must the gods take him away? To curse the gods sufficiently would require more than half a day.

Very well, but if you must curse them, curse them in the company of those who love you. Darrak travelled here with me, and he eagerly awaits your greeting.

Alek reluctantly sheathed his sword and made his way to the dining room. He was not the sort to be unhospitable to a pair of guests, even if they did arrive unannounced.

Darrak was sitting at the dining table on a chair made for a child. Although there were many who made chairs that allowed dwarves to sit at the same height as humans, Alek was yet to find one at no expense. The chair would have been firewood had not Alek agreed to exchange actual firewood for it. Although it made Darrak look foolish and sometimes even feel foolish, it did the job.

Alek, said Darrak, Forgive the intrusion, but it was Gwenevere who sent for us. She wishes only for the health of your heart and mind, as do we all.

There is nothing to forgive, said Alek, before noticing the wooden chest on the table. You brought New World Adventures?

Indeed, said Erdan, I thought a session may lift your spirits.

You approve of this Gwenevere? asked Alek.

New World Adventures has always lifted your spirits, said Gwenevere, Although it can be played to excess, it will do more good than cleaning a clean sword.

What of Robert? The game cannot commence without Regdar to play as Robert.

Gwenevere placed her hand on Aleks shoulder and said, I shall play as Robert.

You? But you know nothing of New World Adventures.

Then you must teach me.

Erdan and Darrak helped to set up the game while Alek explained it to Gwenevere.

This wooden piece is Robert, Alek held a hand carved painted figure depicting a young man in New World clothes. Robert stands within any of the squares burnt into the leather sheet, along with his friends James and Michael. I play as James and Darrak plays as Michael. Erdan tells the tale of their adventures in New World, and we dictate how they respond to the adventures they face.

Where is New World?

New World, cut in Erdan, is set thousands of years into the future. All intelligent races but the humans have become extinct. Robert, James and Michael are humans who live in luxury and own wondrous magic items. Large markets allow them to purchase goods and services of any kind imaginable. You gain currency by finding employment and gaining a salary. Even if you do not have employment, the governing body still provides a salary for you.

This does not sound realistic.

Indeed, but New World was created not for realism, but enjoyment. In New World, humans adventure not for survival, but for love, wealth, power and recreation.

This, said Alek, Is your character paper. That which is written in ink is the same for us all. It is the details in chalk that makes each different. As our characters learn and grow, they become more different still. As this happens, you must erase and re-write accordingly.

What is the meaning of the numbers?

Large numbers are superior to small, and each number has its meaning upon its left. Level is the greatness of a character overall. Notice Robert is level fourteen, James level thirteen and Michael level fifteen.

What of the list?

These are the items Robert has with him. The phone is a magic item that has its own code. If you learn the code of another phone, you may speak with its owner at any time from any distance. The identification card is much like identification papers, but smaller, almost indestructible and displays a portrait to prevent others from using it. The debit card is just as small, just as indestructible, can hold an unlimited number of invisible currency and can only be opened using a secret code. This makes it useless to thieves. The wallet is a coin purse made for holding cards also. You have a collection of keys, one for your home, one for a cabinet inside your home and one for your car. A car is a very large magic item that can carry five people along any road ten times as fast as a horse, but for a price. Just by owning a car, you have to accept a minus two thousand to your salary, but I find it is well worth the expense. All items but the car are stored in pouches made into your pants.

Forgive me, I am not following. Perhaps I will understand when the game commences.

Alek asked Erdan if he was ready, and after some minutes, Erdan was.

You are all dressed in your finest garments, anxiously waiting to be summoned through the door. Erdan spoke from behind a small wall erected on the table, to prevent others from accidentally reading what was written on his scrolls. Once summoned, you will be asked a series of questions regarding your suitability for employ...

Erdan, if I may interject, said Darrak.

Erdan gestured for Darrak to speak.

It would be unfitting for Gweneveres first ever session to be a job interview mission. Job interview missions provide colour and variety, but they hardly do justice to New World as a game.

What would you suggest?

Were we to skip to the next mission, what would await us?

After successfully becoming accountants, you travel to the city for celebrations. Your mission is to get James a lady friend.

Very well, let us complete these missions in reverse order.

That will not do. The second mission is celebrating the success of the first, and is written for higher level characters. James will encounter great difficulty attracting a lady friend if the entire party are still students.

Alek, said Darrak, As he who plays James, what say you?

I say reverse order. If the party fails we shall try again next week.

Gwenevere? asked Darrak.

I have faith in your judgement Darrak. Gwenevere wished that real life problems could just be tried again next week.

Reverse order it is, agreed Erdan, as he placed a scroll in the chest and removed another. He then began to draw with chalk onto the leather grid. You arrive at the tavern, dressed ready to cele... -skip that bit- You are dressed ready to party. Music is playing loudly. The room is filled with sweet smelling mist, and is illuminated by many beams of light, which change colour and dance to the music. Over here, he said, pointing to a section of the grid he drew, dancing with the beams of light is a crowd of young men and women. Over here is the bar, where you can purchase your drinks. Finally, over here is a fenced outdoor area, where you need not yell to be heard against the music.

I scout the room for hot women, announced Darrak.

Why hot? asked Gwenevere.

I apologise, said Darrak, In New World, the word hot can also mean attractive.

Here is a drawing of the crowd, said Erdan.

I like the dwarf one, said Darrak.

There are no dwarves in New World, said Erdan. I believe that is merely a short, overweight, male human with a large beard.

Male? Are you certain?

I care not for its gender. As James, I care not for it at all. Alek got an odd look from Gwenevere, which prompted him to add, And as Alek, I care for none of them.

The women in this scene are not at all realistic, added Gwenevere, Those garments are fitted so closely, they look as if they are painted on. Not even the queen has a tailor so skilled.

First, this is fantasy, said Erdan, everyone must be attractive in fantasy. Second, New World clothes can stretch to fit.

I understand, said Gwenevere, but where is the pouches that store their phone, keys and wallet?

These women have no pouches. They store their belongings in a bag.

The picture shows no bags.

Enough, said Alek. The locations of their phone, keys and wallet have no bearing on my choice. I choose that one. Alek pointed at the picture.

Excellent choice, said Erdan, placing three identical painted wooden figures, each depicting an attractive young woman. The one you have selected is this one in the middle.

You have selected the one with the most hot clothes, said Gwenevere, now pointing to a different woman, However this one clearly has the most hot body beneath.

Robert raises a good point, said Alek, I want that one then.

Gwenevere wondered who Robert was, then remembered that she was Robert.

Very well, said Erdan, The one you have selected is this one in the middle.

I selected the middle one last time. Who are the others?

The figures on the outside are her friends.

What if I select one of the friends?

Then the friend you have selected is the one in the middle.

I approach the woman in the middle, and say, Hey babe, what up? Alek turned to Gwenevere and added, Which is New World for, Greetings Beautiful. How are you?

Confidence throw? said Erdan, and then to Gwenevere, Whenever a character attempts something difficult, they select an appropriate skill and find its number. They then throw a die. The final result is the sum total. For example, Jamess confidence is three, so Alek throws for James.

I threw a twelve, said Alek, throwing a die with fourteen more sides than any die Gwenevere was familiar with, Three and twelve total fifteen.

Which is not high enough, said Erdan. Jamess mouth opens, but words come there none.

You forget my inspirational presence, said Darrak, Any ally within three squares of Michael gains an extra two to their confidence throws.

Very well, said Erdan, You succeed.

Huzzah! cheered Alek and Darrak in unison.

Huzzah, added Gwenevere, who wanted not to be left out.

Erdan made a few die throws from behind his wall, You score three seduction points. You also gain one approval point from the one on the left and two approval points from the one on the right.

It seems we have one each, said Darrak, I ask for their names.

Confidence throw?

Twelve and... Darrak threw the die, eight totals twenty.

Melissa is the woman James seeks. To the left stands Rachael and to the right stands Samantha.

Erdan, asked Gwenevere, Did you not say earlier that James was the only character yet to obtain a lady friend?

Indeed I did, said Erdan checking the chalk on one of his scrolls.

Would that not imply that Robert and Michael have lovers already? Lovers who expect faithfulness from Robert and Michael in exchange for their own?

Said lovers are not present, said Darrak, Nor anyone who may report us to them.

But morality dictates...

Morality be damned Gwenevere! This is New World and I shall do as I please. Do not for a moment believe that my behaviour in New World is any reflection of my behaviour in this realm.

Gwenevere looked to Erdan.

Forgive me Gwenevere, but Darrak is correct. The characters can behave as they please in New World and I am powerless to stop them. I merely advise them of which skill to throw and report the consequences.

What skill must I throw to dance? asked Gwenevere.

To dance is no skill. Merely announce that you dance and dance you shall.

What skill must I throw to dance well?

Erdan reached for a scroll. Recreation, I believe.

You believe, or you declare?

One moment, Erdan was still searching the scroll, Declare. I declare, to dance well is a recreation throw.

Gwenevere examined everyones character papers, I approach the bard, and then I...

Haste not Gwenevere. Robert has but a speed of seven, so he may only advance seven squares towards the bard this round. You may declare your next action next round.

Only seven?

Seven is a good number. There is no character in the game faster than Robert.

I look at the bard then. What do I see?

You see a young man atop a podium. He plays a magical instrument and wears a magical headpiece, which plays yet more unheard music into his ears.

Tell me more of his instrument.

You see nothing. His podium obscures your view. Erdan turned to Alek and said, A new round is upon us, and James, you act first.

I compliment Melissa on her appearance, said Alek, I say, Hey, thats the hottest dress, but I think youd look hotter without it.

I warn you, a phrase such as this requires an extra five on your confidence throw.

I retract it. I speak only of her dress.

Throw?

My throw totals... nine. Eleven including Michaels inspirational presence.

Then you speak not this round. Melissa smiles, which James mistakes for laughter and mockery. A confidence penalty of five applies to the next round. Michaels turn.

Am I correct in recalling that Rachael is the friend who approves of James the least? asked Darrak.

That is correct.

Darrak leaned forward to move the wooden figure Michael by the wooden figure Rachael. I stand here, so Rachael cannot see James and Melissa when she speaks to me. I then say she appears amazing.

Confidence throw?

Twelve and sixteen total twenty eight.

You succeed. Erdan threw a die, You gain six seduction points.

Huzzah! said Darrak.

Robert?

I approach the bard, said Gwenevere, and first, I see his instrument.

You see it not. The podium is very tall.

You know nothing of this instrument, do you?

I know everything in New World.

Then describe it to me.

I may not describe that which you cannot see.

Gwenevere raised her eyebrows, but chose to let it go. I ask the bard if he knows a tune which is soft, sweet, slow and romantic.

You need not ask such a question, as the bard knows many tunes by that, and by all descriptions.

Then I ask the bard which tunes he knows.

The bard knows countless tunes, and his magical instrument knows countless more. Any tune you can name, the bard can play precisely as the original composers intended, regardless of which instruments it was written for.

With his magical instrument, which I see not?

Indeed.

What tunes does Robert know?

Countless,

Such as?

You need only name a title, any title, even a made up title, and this title shall be one of Roberts most favourite songs.

Will it also be soft, sweet, slow and romantic?

Indeed it shall.

Then I request, Gwenevere paused to make up a title, Forever Young.

Ah, the bard is most pleased, as this is one of his favourite songs also. He will begin to play it next round.

Erdan, you know everything of New World, do you not?

Indeed I do.

Then could I trouble you for some lyrics from this favourite song I share with the bard?

Erdan almost told Gwenevere that she couldnt hear details of lyrics Robert wasnt listening to, but then remembered that Robert would be listening to them shortly. Alek and Darrak did not object to this, as Erdan could sing beautifully with his Elven accent.

Forever young, sang Erdan, desperately trying to think of more lyrics, I want to be, forever young.

Is there more to this song?

Do you really want to live forever? coming up with lyrics was a lot harder than it looked, forever...

I believe you misheard me Erdan. I asked for a song to be romantic, not philosophically inquisitive.

Leave Erdan be, said Alek, being a World Master is a more demanding job than it seems. Forever Young sounds like a lovely song.

Indeed, said Erdan, It is a popular song. Countless New World inhabitants know it by heart.

Forgive me, said Gwenevere Could I press you for another lyric?

Forever?

Enough, said Darrak, Finish your turn so we may have ours.

I return to the party.

Erdan picked up the wooden figure Robert, You have a distance of five remaining, so you advance five spaces to the party this round. New round. James?

I turn to Michael so he can perform confidence restore,

Unwise, said Darrak, Michael is neutralising the cock block. He then turned to Gwenevere, A cock block is a person who disapproves of a potential relationship and actively seeks to prevent it from coming into existence.

Robert then, said Alek, I walk to Robert. Gwenevere, on your next turn, I need you to perform confidence restore.

Michael, said Erdan, Your turn.

I ask Rachael if she wishes to join me outside, where the music is quiet enough for us to speak normally.

Confidence throw?

Darrak threw a five. Twelve and five total seventeen.

You fail, but incur no penalty. Rachael explains that she would prefer to remain with her friends. Robert, you perform confidence restore, correct?

Correct, said Gwenevere, Then I approach Melissa and...

Confidence restore can only be performed as a final action, and only to allies in an adjacent square. If you approach Melissa, you will not be able to return before your turn completes.

Then I shall restore his confidence on a later turn. I approach Melissa and I dance with her.

Gwenevere, said Erdan, You cannot score seduction points on Jamess behalf.

I dance not on Jamess behalf, but on my own.

Gwenevere, what is your intention with this course of action?

My intention will become clear as it unfolds. To dance is a recreation throw, is it not?

And confidence. Confidence first for the approach, and if successful, recreation for seduction points.

Gwenevere threw a thirteen. Nine and thirteen total twenty two. Do we dance?

Indeed.

Gwenevere threw a nineteen, May I throw again?

No you may not, said Erdan, but why would you? Nineteen is one shy of maximum. With your recreation score of two, it totals twenty one, a very good throw indeed.

Too good a throw, I wish to throw smaller.

Erdan was confused, If throwing smaller is what you desire, you may select any number below or including nineteen.

I throw a one, totalling three.

Throws of one incur a fumble penalty. You injure Melissa by...

Two then, totalling four.

You dance out of tempo, using moves which humiliate yourself and her, possibly offending onlookers inadvertently. Your seduction with Melissa suffers a negative five for the next hour, as does your confidence and your social standing. Is this the result you desired?

Perfect, said Gwenevere, And to finish my turn, I apologise for my inability to dance explaining that Jamess dancing ability is far superior to my own.

Well done. You have invited James to dance, and because he is invited, he may do so without a confidence throw, provided he dances for her and not with her. James, it is your turn.

I approach and I dance.

Erdan moved the wooden figure James in front of the wooden figure Melissa, What is your recreation?

Seventeen,

Good, with a throw of seventeen you dance beautifully. You gain...

No, you misunderstand. Seventeen is my recreation. My recreation throw is... Alek threw an eighteen, Thirty five.

Thirty five? Erdan thought hard about how he could possibly describe a dance score of thirty five. The music becomes you. Like a talented juggling act, your body appears to defy the laws of reality, yet it never does. You seem to conjure up invisible objects and energy like a skilled mime. Your limbs appear to be victims of these invisible objects and forces. The bard praises you loudly, adding a plus ten to your confidence and social standing. This shall remain until you leave the tavern, and will be reinstated when you return. You also gain five seduction points with every female in the room, plus an extra... Erdan threw some dice, seven with Melissa. An extra twelve approval points with Rachael and nine with Samantha, promotes them both to supportive. When the song is over, you notice the ring of people surrounding you. Every person in the room, tavern staff included, has joined in a round of applause. Michael, your turn.

I tell Rachael that I adore my good friend James almost as much as I adore her.

Rachael is a cock block no longer, said Gwenevere, you need not neutralise her.

Gwenevere, I have already told you...

Gwenevere? I know of no such person. As your good friend Robert, I beg of you, remain faithful to your lady friend. Cease further advances now, and I shall not tell her of your trespasses this evening. However, give Rachael one more loving glance and not only shall your lover hear all, but you shall quickly discover that I am a greater cock block than Rachael could ever hope to be.

Michael, said Erdan, do you cease your advance on Rachael, or do you risk everything with Jasmine in continuing?

Darrak thought for a moment. I retreat. For this turn and the turns to come, Michael shall be returning to his car. Then to Gwenevere, That was well played, and you remained true to Roberts character throughout. I always prefer an epic defeat to a minor victory, and in that, you have served me well. Now to Alek, Michaels car is still five turns away. Would you object to me helping myself to the larder in the meanwhile?

Not at all, said Alek, You and Erdan are both guests in my home.

Eat the pies, said Gwenevere. They shall be fed to the birds otherwise.

May I have a pie? asked Erdan.

Bring us all pies! said Alek.

Darrak climbed down from his chair and out of view. From there he walked under the table and off to the larder.

From that last turn, said Erdan, Michael received a twenty point hit to confidence and social standing as well as a twenty point penalty to the seduction values of all three women. Robert received a ten point bonus to confidence and social standing as well as, several die throws, eight seduction points with Melissa, five with Samantha and twelve with Rachael.

Huzzah! said Alek.

However, you both also suffer a minus two penalty to seduction with all three for being associating with Michael.

Fair enough, said Alek.

You should not do that! said Gwenevere, You should not judge a man poorly for the company he keeps!

According to the third World Master scroll...

Silence Erdan. I speak not to you, but to Melissa. You should not judge a man poorly for the company he keeps!

Gwenevere, said Alek, You are still yet to perform confidence restore.

And you shall have it by this turns end, but I am still yet to hear from Melissa.

Your denouncement of Melissa gains you a penalty of ten in confidence and social standing, and a ten in seduction for all three. James suffers a penalty of minus one seduction with all three.

That worthless wench! said Gwenevere, I strike her.

Melissa has done nothing, said Alek, She has not yet spoken.

She need not say a thing to be a worthless wench. As Robert, I see the disapproval in her eyes, and I need nothing more. I strike her!

You are performing confidence restore, said Erdan. You cannot perform it and strike someone in the same turn.

Then I perform it next turn. What do I throw to strike her?

Strength.

Gwenevere threw a three, Eight and three total eleven.

Erdan rolled a die, Melissa suffers one point of physical damage. Your confidence, social standing and seduction scores drop by thirty. James suffers another three point seduction penalty.

Is it my turn now? asked Alek.

No, said Erdan, reaching into the chest and removing wooden figures, It is the tavern guards turn. This is the head guard, and these seven are under his command. This is where they start. They each advance six spaces towards Robert.

Did all eight guards witness me strike her?

Only one guard witnessed it, but he summoned the rest.

Over the loud music?

He summoned them using magic.

Of course. How foolish of me to forget.

James?

I denounce Robert. No longer shall his ignorance and stupidity hold me back.

A complete denunciation? asked Erdan, That shall require two complete turns.

So be it.

Robert?

I flee, and I shall succeed. Gwenevere moved the wooden figure Robert towards the taverns entrance With my speed of seven those guards are without a chance.

It is now the tavern guards turn. Seeing Robert attempt to flee, they advance towards the door in order to detain him. James denounces Robert still. Robert?

I have made a fool of you Erdan. I have made a fool of the guards also. I never intended to leave. I intended only to remain for one turn further. I return to James.

To perform confidence restore?

No James, you denounced me. I intend to use you as a shield against the guards.

Robert, if you return to me, and you do not perform confidence restore, I swear by all the gods, I shall strike you!

Then instead, I run to James out of curiosity. I wish to see if he is the sort of man that honours his word.

Have you failed to read your character paper? You shall not win.

I care not. I run to James.

What else do you do? asked Erdan, Strike him?

I do nothing. Jamess turn.

I strike Robert! I throw for strength... Alek threw a two, twelve and two totals fourteen.

Erdan threw a die, Robert suffers two points of damage. Roberts turn.

I fall over crying out in pain.

You misunderstand, said Erdan, in New World, two points will hardly leave a bruise. It is to be subtracted from your health of seventy five.

You declared all characters free to do as they wish and yourself powerless to prevent them. Am I correct?

You are.

Robert wishes to fall over, crying in pain.

Is there anything else he desires?

Yes, if he is able, on his way down, he wishes to locate a firm object and strike it with all his strength, using his face as a weapon.

I shall rule that as the same as striking yourself. Throw for strength.

Eight and... Gwenevere threw a 20, Twenty totals twenty eight.

Not just twenty eight. Twenty eight with a twenty is a critical twenty eight, which is greater than any other twenty eight. Erdan threw some dice. You inflict seventy two points of damage upon yourself. Only one point remains before you become unconscious. You may not stand nor sit.

I am back with the pies, said Darrak, what did I miss?

Robert struck Melissa, attracted the attention of the tavern guards, was struck by James, and is on the ground lying in a puddle of his own blood, said Erdan. The head guard is about to use his phone to summon a healer.

New World Adventures is certainly a different game when Gwenevere plays it, said Darrak, as he distributed the pies.

How many seduction points did James earn by hitting me?

What? asked Erdan.

He struck me. I was Melissas assailant, an evil man who is violent, overly sensitive, irrational, heartless and cannot even dance without causing offense. Not only did he strike me, he incapacitated me with a single blow. How many points does that earn him?

Erdan removed several scrolls from the chest, Forgive me, this may take a moment to calculate.

Can I still perform confidence restore on James now?

Erdan threw a few dice, That will not be necessary. It seems you all have won.

Huzzah! cheered Alek, Darrak and Gwenevere.

You now know her phone code and she has agreed to meet with you privately on Tuesday, the day following your interview. She shall be ready to celebrate in your success or comfort you in your failure. Mission complete.

Now the interview, said Alek, I want employment.

Im afraid Darrak and I must depart, said Erdan, Tomorrow we raid the ancient tomb of Heskaan. It is rumoured to now be home to a hydra, which has learned to navigate the tomb without triggering any traps.

Darrak rolled up a sleeve, revealing a scar on his arm. This happened when I last tried raiding without a proper rest the night before.

Please, friends, said Alek, Let us play but a moment longer. There shall be plenty of time for rest in the next world.

Have you gone mad? asked Darrak, You place employment before raiding.

You take life too seriously. It is little wonder you drink so much.

At least I can protect a healer!

Alek left the room.

Darrak, said Erdan, depart now. You require eight hours rest, while I require only four. You are quick tempered when you are not rested, and signs of fatigue are showing already.

Right you are, said Darrak, and then, Tell Alek I beg for his forgiveness. I know not what possessed me to say such things.

Erdan entered Aleks room to see Alek once more cleaning his sword.

Darrak has departed, but he begs for your forgiveness.

Aleks eyes did not leave his sword. One can hurt enemies with words of truth and lies, but one can only hurt friends with words of truth. Darrak is indeed a true friend.

So he has your forgiveness?

Words of truth to a man strong enough to hear them require no forgiveness.

Erdan sat beside Alek, Would you share with me the tale of Regdars final hour?

The ancient cathedral was built to honour all the gods. It sat in a city now conquered by an army of monsters. A great hall in the centre led to many separate rooms, each built to honour a different god, and each now home to a different group of monsters. We sought only treasure, and spared the life of any monster that would spare ours in return.

The room built to honour Boccob was now home to a family of kobolds. Upon seeing us, they fled through a crack in the wall. We thought nothing more of them. I searched the room for traps. Torrin collected all of the treasures. Regdar read the inscriptions carved into the wall and Nebin stood by the doorway ready to alert us if a monster approaches.

Having found no traps, I searched the entire room again, this time for hidden objects. Nothing. I searched once more, but for hidden doors, Alek dropped his sword and cloth as tears began to fall down his cheeks. I searched every inch of that forsaken room three times, yet I found nothing.

Erdan placed a gentle hand upon Aleks quivering back. Did you search the room alone?

We all searched. Torrin ran his claws along the ceiling in search of a hidden compartment. Regdar illuminated the crack of the Kobolds retreat. Nebin searched once Torrin relieved his guard. We found not a thing.

Thinking the room bare, we stood in our normal marching order and began to return to the hall. Suddenly, Regdar screamed. I turned, but saw him not. The crack of the Kobolds retreat was upon a door, now open. The door was large enough for a red dragon to pass through.

What size red dragon? asked Erdan.

I knew not. I had only seen its tail quickly fleeing into the darkness. I ran, sword first into the blinding darkness, praying that whatever creature or structure awaited me met my sword before it met my face. Torrin grabbed a torch and ran behind me, illuminating my path and the fleeing red tail before me. Nebins arrows flew over our shoulders, but only the third and fifth met its target.

I struck not at the dragons tail, fearing it may cause the dragon to flee faster. I instead plunged the entire blade into the dragons back. Using the swords handle for support, I mounted the dragon. Once mounted, I retracted my sword, and the three of us laid the dragon to waste quickly, but not quickly enough.

I removed the healing components from Regdars backpack. I covered him in potions and bandages just as he taught me. Torrin observed that Regdar breathed not. I searched his bag for a restore breath or restore life potion. I did not yet know that such potions existed only in childrens fables. As I searched, Nebin breathed for Regdar, and Torrin beat Regdars heart, both waiting for Regdars own breath and beat to return. They did not. The only party member who may have brought him back was the one we had lost.

Your failure was your marching order, said Erdan. In our party, Darrak marches backwards to protect against sneak attacks from the rear.

I am such a failure.

I say this not to mock you, but that you may learn. Now that you have told a tale, would you permit me to tell one?

Please do,

When your great grandfather came of age, I was with him for his first raid. No one marched backwards, yet we all lived. We raided many places. No one marched backwards, and we lived. Fifteen years later, when Darrak joined our party, still no one marched backwards, and still we lived. Members retired and members joined. No one ever marched backwards, and yet we always lived.

When did Darrak first march backwards?

Tomorrow. What happened to your party could have happened to mine a thousand times over. The mere fact that it did for you speaks nothing of your skill as a raider. What makes New World Adventures so realistic is the die throws, and what makes the game so popular is how few of them there are.

I think not, said Alek. The appeal to me is the excitement of being part of an adventuring party. Yes, in this realm, I am part of a raiding party, but an adventuring party is different. Adventuring parties see new things every day. They witness things that force them to think in ways never before thought. They must act in ways never before acted. They must know each others dreams and desires intimately, lest they fail the mission. In this realm, I face lifes troubles alone, not in an adventuring party. I wish I could be a New World inhabitant. Even a level one in a poor and abusive family would be preferable to my place in this world.

I too would pay any price to escape to such a place, but I accept that no such deal is on offer. Instead, I choose to live in the same world as my body. I want the same for you.

Until we find a new healer, I can do nothing but clean my sword and play New World Adventures.

Tell me more of your search.

Torrin placed up many posters, but we still await a response. Nebin told his relatives to keep out an ear, but no sign yet. The tavern keeper says he knows of such a person and promises to ask his permission to give his address. Every day I ask him, and every day he confesses he has not yet had the time to visit him.

So, you mean to tell me you have trusted your fate to the hands of a dragonborn, a halfling and an honourless tavern keeper?

What would you have me do?

It seems the answer lies with the keeper. Perhaps tomorrow you can reason with him, threatened him, bribe him or perform a favour for him.

Samuel works not Tuesdays.

If you visit him Wednesday morning, Darrak, Gwenevere and I shall go with you.

You may speak for yourself, but not for the others.

You forget, the three of us once travelled to a tavern in the hopes of finding a lady friend for a small wooden figure. What makes you see yourself less important to us?

Alek smiled.

Erdan stood up to leave. Just as he reached the doorway, he turned and said, Now, rest up. The adventuring party leaves dawn tomorrow.

Alek laughed. If we fail, we shall try again next week.

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