JP On Gaming

Thursday, March 31, 2016

How Reign of Winter ended

My Reign of Winter campaign came to a close recently. My character, the young impressionable winter witch, Katja Alterborg and her familiar, Grandmother was resurrected after the final fight (I died on the first saving throw I had to do). She had a ermine familiar, Grandmother, who was clearly evil and power hungry, that the party hated (with reason).

Katja was an interesting character to play. She was an orphaned raised by her paternal grandmother with ultra-conservative values, and a strong penchant for home life and homely pursuits. She was described (initially) as a "short, plump, withdrawn, nerdy girl" Rather shy and quiet, she would simply initially repeat what Grandmother told her to do to the party, and say relatively little. But as she grew in power, she became more self-assured, going so far as to threaten Grandmother and nearly cook her in her cauldron. She made to in-game boyfriends, the studly Noldar the viking and the ascetic Nammpo the monk. She found her "sister from another instance of Golarion" in Nadya.

Oh and she lost a lot of weight during the AP. So much that she worried that she would lose her womanly charms if she kept "melting" that way. She also hated going to places where it was "sweltering, unlike the beautiful lands of Irrisen."

I played the first half with one group and after that one kinda exploded, I moved to another group who were in desperate need of a healer. So I healed them through to the end.

Baba Yaga Ask what you want and I shall grant it.

Katja Grandmother wants me to become queen of Irrisen.

BY My daughter will need magical training, done!"

Grandmother (to Katja)We now have 100 years to get rid of the old woman... We've got plans to make."

So I guess all there is to say is "Hail the Queen of Irrisen! Hail Queen Katja!" Now its official for everyone! No taksies-backsies!

A big Thank you to my two GMs: Evan and Chad for putting the time to get all of this done. I'll post my thoughts on the AP itself.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Arcanis coming to 5e: JP's reaction

A few weeks ago, PCI, the minds behind Arcanis posted that they were going to publish their Living Arcanis campaign using 5e alongside the Arcanis system. As you all know now, I was deep in thoughts myself about moving Saggakar to 5e when this announcement came.

I took advantage of Facebook chat and asked a number of questions from Henry Lopez. I really like his writing and creativity, of which a number of elements appear in my own works. I asked him many questions about how it would work, how he foresaw the way things would go, what some of the challenges were. I have no problem admitting I was fishing for answers on addressing the dual system issue. Something I was worried and trying to sort out, though with Pathfinder/5e.

What I heard him say was genius in its simplicity: they would produce material for both at the same time. To say that his words had no impact on my decision to produce 5e material would be lying. It influenced me a lot.

So back to Arcani5... Arcanis' emphasis on story transcends the system and being available to more players cannot help but be awesome.

What annoys me about it? I will have to come up with a new concept for a character for Arcani5! For now at least, I can keep on playing Kermina and Shankar using the original system. I am kinda bittersweet about their announcement, mostly for selfish reasons. I foresee a lot of sales and an influx of new players into the campaign, so a great success on both account. What I worry about is the likely drop in play numbers for non-5e games. How fast that will happen remains to be seen, hopefully a long time.

Whatever the case, I told Henry that I would adopt the simple policy of "shut up and take my money!!!" As I know I will be adding their upcoming products to my collection of 5e material.

In closing, from a personal perspective, this is a great decision for PCI, one I am sure will pay off big time. I did lead my friend Henry on a little without explaining my reasons. Reasons, I posted on this blog, and I'm sure I got him riled up. I hope he forgives me. It was not done with malice in mind, mischief? Yeah I can say that...

Henry, please accept my most sincerest apologies, you've been a good sport to my natural cynic. I promise I won't do it again.

If you did not read between the lines, it means you must be prepared to read many 5e articles on Arcanis on this blog as more material becomes available. Can't wait.


Sunday, March 27, 2016

Friday, March 25, 2016

[After-Action Review] Mtac 16: Colonel Sanders, Nicolas Cage and a T-Rex

Today, I attended MTAC 16 (a gaming/anime con here in Nashville TN). Though I will not attend the whole con due to other prior engagements, I agreed to participate in a special event organized by Michael-H called "Night of One Hundred GMs". The specifics of which I did not quite grasp, but I told myself: I would attend and try it.

I was asked to provide a "character sheet" detailing things I was great/good/ okay at. In whatever setting/ universe. I could create whatever I wanted. The only idea I had was of a viking skald/priest. His best skills were in the field of talking and linguistics. Fairly standard character (for me).

I must stress that I had no idea what was to come.

Now let's backtrack some sixteen or so hours.

I attended the hockey game between the Vancouver Canucks and the Nashville Predators. After a mostly lackluster start, the Preds rallied from a 2-0 deficit to win in a shoot-out. I left pretty excited about it and in good spirits. I drove back home, stopping at the nearest gas station to fill up. Filled up, I jumped back in the car.

Will not start.

After calling my wife to bail me out, we boosted the car and I was off.

Same thing in the morning. Would not start.

Many curse words later, I was off to get a new battery installed. I left the car there, walked to work and worked all morning, fixed a number of issues and walked back. By then, I was no longer early, but "just in time" (with 2 minutes to spare). Way too close for comfort.

I met Michael and his accomplice Noah at the door. I was shown in to a room filled with people. I was handed my character sheet with the abilities I sent Michael a few days before.

I won't go into too many details about the madness that follows, but the short of the formula was that the audience was "the one-hundred GMs" and did some nasty things to us we had to handle through the madness that happened.

We fought an ancient, venerable T-Rex, a giant fire-breating kobold god that rode on a giant battle rooster, an amorphous one-thousand Nicolas Cage-looking creature from space and I had to swallow a drink made of green-colored sludge. We scared the giant chicken by mentioning his mortal enemy: Colonel Hyrum Sanders...

Madness I tell you! But really funny. Really simple and funny as heck!


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Tyrant of Saggakar 5e: It's now a thing!

I posted a few weeks about about the creation of 5e material for Tyrants of Saggakar. With recent events, I have been thinking about it more and more, and the idea takes shape in my mind.

There is a definite shift away from Pathfinder in the gaming community.

I have been playing more 5e recently and been able to do it. Does this means I want to stop playing Pathfinder? NO! I still love that game and want to play more. However, I have been a very vocal - and finding a lot less opposition to - a slim-down/trimming of the game. For now, 5e has the advantage of being much slimmer and not yet filled with junk and an over abundance of options.

I played a lot more of it, with different GMs (not just the folks I didn't particularly care for) and find that it readily can suit my gaming needs and it would allow me to publish products for Saggakar. Is it the "perfect" or my ideal system? Oh no. But it can definitely do the things I need it to do.

I even went so far as to buy the HeroLab tie-in and began to play with it, leaving me with a number of interesting design choices. I currently have a first draft version of all the races of Saggakar (no alternate racial features yet). I am more excited about the design work itself, giving a new touch to the races in a different system.

I even went so far as to create an adventure outline to allow me to get used to the rules and involve players in the creation process. I submitted a request to the folks from Lexicon in Lexington, KY on April 22-24 to run a table of the play test on Sunday morning.

I hope everything will go well, either way, I will let you know.

ToS1-51 The Sorcerer's Lost Apprentice (5e)

Two decades ago, the Mists swallowed the capital of Markelis. A local scholar believes the cause of what happen can be found inside the city itself. All he needs now are adventurers to travel there and prove his theory.
This unique adventure set in the world of the Tyrants of Saggakar using the Dungeons and Dragons 5th edition. This is a playtest that will give players credit for their work.
This is an adventure for 3rd level characters


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

[After Action Report] MidSouthCon 2016

From the start of 2016, I was lucky enough to participate in no less than three conventions. All three have been fun and events I look forward to attending again.

This past weekend, I drove down to Memphis, TN for MidSouthCon 2016. It was the second time that I drove there. I was very excited throughout the day on Friday. I finished a number of bug fixes before running out just before 4:30. Then running back with "I forgot to print my adventures!" before finally running out and onto the road. I had a thirty minutes safety cushion so I was feeling pretty good.

Then I found myself stopped at the junction of 840 and I-40. Stopped for forty five minutes! When things finally began rolling again, I managed to get to the Hilton in Germantown just over fifteen late.

My first panel was "Gaming and Pop Culture" with Robert J Schwalb (who was the guest of honor) and Wayne. A fun and entertaining discussion that covered topics like Game of Thrones, Buffy, Shannarah, and a bunch of other topics. Really enjoyed the time.

Saturday morning, I played a game of Dave's Bandits Hunter using 5e. It was an interesting adventure set in his own setting. Our group traveled on a barge hoping to bring out bandits so we could kick them in the teeth. We got swarmed - literally - by mobs of goblins seeking to take over our barge... But we defended it.

Next, I had two hours before my next panel, so I listened on and off to a few about anime. But perhaps the best and most memorable panel of all: Ethan Siegel's "Beyond the Galaxy" was one of the most entertaining. Not only did he speak of a subject I liked: astronomy and astrophysics. He detailed philosophical discussions from the 1920s about the natures of galaxies. How the debate was argued and "settled" until more information became available. Awesome chat.

Now imagine this being done by a bare-chested (though bear-chested would also be quite true) man dressed as King Triton (from The Little Mermaid). A good King Triton at that! I will say this will stay in my mind forever!

I participated in a second panel: Ultimate Character Creation. This was an interesting panel. Three of the panelists: Pat-C, Amy-B and another lady whose name escapes me right now, all three of them are very much from a storyteller aspect. I was the one who was the "D20 guy". The dynamic was good and with the clash of perspective made for a good panel. Having different opinions and personal likes always makes for a much more rounded and interesting panel.

After the panel, I was set to spend some time on Pro's Row, an opportunity for us writers to sell to the con-goers. From 4-5, I sat next to author L.A. Story. During that time, we chatted about writing and her books. She was surprised that I tend not to read much fantasy literature, even if I write mostly fantasy-based RPG material. I told her I thought her name, Leigh Ann Story (L.A. Story), was one of the coolest names for a writer. Especially since its hers! Leigh Ann was really nice and offered me a signed copy of her book, Urbania, which I promised to review here. So wait for it.

I opted to stay for a second hour, and this time, I was joined by author Cecilia Dominic. Another prolific writer, I am still certain that I met her before. However, it seems to all be in my head! If you are a fan of steampunk, her stuff sounded pretty interesting.

The evening, I was scheduled to run One Final Night of Freedom however, I had no sign-ups or players that could show up. *Sad Panda*

However, Jeff was running a Delta Green adventure and I was able to hop onto that, which was a very happy turnaround. I had forgotten how much I loved that setting. I don't think I played DG in over 10+ years. The adventure was "PX Poker night" a fun short adventure. A few of the players had never played and they looked at us with blank stares when we told them what was in store for them.


I managed to survive against the odds. All of us did, actually. Which was a surprise, I must admit.

Let's move on to Sunday. I had a game of Sailing Down the Kiflan scheduled but again, no players. I was about to join in Dave's Bandit Hunters finale when my loving wife told me I had to return home to help with the sick kiddos. So as a dutiful husband, I said goodbye and drove home.

- There is a fun buzz at the con. The following game
- The layout means people pass through, therefore you keep meeting people over and over.
- Food/ con suite readily available. More time spent at the con
- The cosplayers had some awesome costumes. Elaborate and nice.
- The organization, both on-site and pre-con was very good. Excellent communication, I showed up and was give my badge with everything I needed, times of my panels.
- Panels: entertaining and varied. Very good and fun!

- RPGs Players were fairly few for non-Forge (their local game organization) events more players
- No Adventure League. I was really surprised by this. Oh well, not really a negative point, just a personal surprise

For all these points, I really must give MidSouthCon some high marks. The positives seriously outweigh the negatives, especially since the negatives are not the con's fault themselves. This is a con I definitely plan to attend again next year.

Cool buzz and fun panels.

High marks. High marks.


Thursday, March 17, 2016

Two new iconic minis

After many months of procrastinating about it, I finally got around to finishing painting models for my iconics.

The first one is Awelara, the cambion witch. She came out REAL dark (so I may have to take brighter pic) She is the cover girl of the Tyrants of Saggakar Player's Guide. Irene's art was definitely a great guideline to follow.

The second fellow is Korb the Blind, the Kaliban oracle of the ancestors. Again, Irene's art gave him a staff topped with a hand. So I dug through the bits box and made a staff with the hand. I really like the resulting character.


[Review] Clinton Boomer's Royden Poole's Field Guide

Five short stories set in a setting that includes magic and a secret hidden world. All of them written by Clinton J Boomer (CJB).

I was lucky enough to meet him at NeonCon 2011. He has just released "The Hole After Midnight" at the time, and I inquired about what it was. I like the innovative work that CJB did on a number of RPG products and was receptive to hearing about his non-gaming book. His sales pitch, at the time "It's all about swearing protagonist who say [F-Bomb] and [F-Bomb]" immediately turned me off to the idea, I did not want to know much more about it - everything he said after that sounded like the teacher in a Charlie Brown cartoon.

Unsurprisingly, I did not purchase the book.

So when I was approached to review his latest offering set in the same universe, enough time had passed that I have been curious about it. I agreed to do a review of it. I must say this book is not for everyone, and it will leave you either loving it, or hating it.

The Pros

- CJB is a great wordsmith creating very vivid imagery to illustrate his points. Four of the five stories are pretty much along the "well let me tell you about [something]" and we go on from there. The allegories and metaphors flow like a cascade, and keeps the reader wanting to know more. I sure did. Out of everything I write here, I cannot stress out how awesome the images are.

- The character's dialogues allows you to clearly see and figure out who they are and what their interest are. The best and easiest way to describe their interactions remind me of the awesome nonsense Quentin Tarrantino movies are so great for. Anyone for a "royale with cheese"?

The Cons

- Swearing cheapens the narrative. This was the biggest thing for me. While I'm not prude, I think there is usually another way to say things.

The Depends-on-you

- There isn't much action. In fact nothing really happens. A lot of talking and set up, but little actually happens. In three stories, we listen to the character tell us about something. In one, they set up some combat scene, which felt VERY Tarrantino, only to end without anything actually happening. The fight starts and the story ends. Even the final story does not actually delivers what we are following our "heroes" for. Many of these stories make me think of Reservoir Dogs: talk talk talk but no action.

Of the five stories, the last one, "End of it all: On the Farthest of the Far Sideways" was clearly my favorite, I found myself smiling throughout. I felt like I was watching one of these old animated movies with strangely deformed characters which made me like it even more.

So as I said at the start, this is the kind of books and stories that you love or you hate. I would fall in the "hate" category, simply because it's "not my kind of thing", just as if you asked me to review a romance novel. I can see MANY people loving it. The imagery alone is worth the cover price. CJB is a great writer and this book only convinces me even more. If you like his writing style or urban fantasy, then this book is for you.

So how would I rate this book? It's either a 4 stars OR a 5 stars whether you like or dislike that style. If you don't know if you like it, go ahead and get this book for yourself.

"But JP, how can you rate the book a four stars when you say you are not a fan?" You ask. Because that prose is like eating a New York style cheesecake. They are seriously great pieces of writing!

For transparency, I was offered a free copy of the book in return for writing this review.


Edit: The book is available from Broken Eye Books and Amazon

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

What!? You can be the center of the world!

As some of you may have read in a previous post, I have been thinking about adding new elements to the campaign. So I looked at other campaigns for ideas.

I wanted something that was not offered anywhere else, something I would love to have available to my own characters in campaigns like Pathfinder Society.

And again, I went to Living Greyhawk. LG allowed "special missions." These allowed a player to complete story elements. Here is the text that appeared in the classic Living Greyhawk Campaign Standards.

Special Missions: These special regional adventures address many purposes, from meeting special in-game requirements for prestige classes to going back to a dungeon to finish off an evil cleric. Special missions are rare and not always approved, but they can be satisfying experiences for your PC. Contact your local Triad for more information on special missions. A PC may participate in only one special mission per year.

Simple right?

I was able to play a few for myself:
- Corfell Played a mission where he met with a representative of Corellon Larethian (requirement for the Contemplative prestige class
- Lady Torgga Became handmaiden to the Queen of the Khund Dwarves (Just RP)
- Lady Torgga Got married to my the character of my buddy Steve (Just RP)

And ran a few for people
- Resolved Tom-J's crisis of faith (personal RP)
- Jean-G did a mission to meet elves in the Udgru (RP)
- Eloise-A did a mission to meet an elemental oracle
- Lenny-L's mission did not end well for his cohort as he faced the

And those are just a few I remember off the top of my head. I have fond memories of those events. Players asked things of us that made their characters more interesting. Those adventure could not provide any item or monetary advantage.

So... I am wondering if this is something that would be a boon to the campaign. Something that could bring additional excitement to the campaign.


Sunday, March 13, 2016

Onero: City of Sins released!

I ran a poll on our Facebook group only to find that *everyone* voted for option one! I liked that one, but also had a soft spot for the other two. So in sight of this, I cut the voting short and went with it.

I added the cover to the book and voila!

One of the things that I love about this book, and Randy did a great job of it, is that it is pretty much system-agnostic. The two elements that are specific to Pathfinder are the settlement entry, and the prickle: a new monster unique to Onero.

Why is that, JP? You ask. Well simply, because once I believe that once we present game elements about something, that is locked forever. Let's say (for example, that's not the case) that we present Duchess Krava as a Chaotic Evil Wizard 12. This gives her some basic skills, abilities and resources. Then we cannot use her as lawful good cleric or as a druid in a later adventure. I much prefer leaving those things unclear, give the prospective GM the information and let him decide for his own game. Unless you expect or want the PCs to fight something, there is no need to provide a stat block or game entries.

This book is the first entry into a "Greater Faremh" book we will be building together.

Now I need to go back to my writing board because I have a few more ideas I need to expand upon!

You can get your copy of Onero City of Sins directly from RPGNow/DriveThruRpg!


Saturday, March 12, 2016

The three-cover dilemma

With the art all done and the writing completed, edited and reviewed, I now turn my attention to making a cover for the book. In fact, I made three of them, being unable to select one. I asked Randy the one he preferred (which I will not say which one).

You can click on the image below to see them in a large format. Which do you prefer?

I will create a poll on the Legacies FaceBook group later today.


Friday, March 11, 2016

Teaser: Onero City of Sins

For the past few months, Randy and I have been hard at work putting together the first city book for Tyrants of Saggakar, Onero: City of Sins. The original idea for Onero came as we were writing ToS1-05 Path to Ambition. What at first started as an idea of a "place where the First Ones don't rule". Then the discussion evolved to a bastion of good to a place of sin and deprivity.

I will admit the first idea really intrigued me, the second not so much, so the third was born.


Because I don't like or want alignment to be a deciding factor in the creation of alliances in Saggakar. I like that grayness, that non-Manichean dilemma, and the alliances of convenience and necessity. So we got to talking. And talking. And try to come up with a series of ideas about what we wanted to put in this book.

One thing led to another, with a series of iterations led to the final product.

A few lessons learned from my end
- A rough map helps place things in town
- A basic, relatable, simple human need or desire helps
- Depravity is a dark place to dwell
- It is always easier to trim material than to add

One of my goals, which I didn't fully share with Randy is that I plan on having this book be the first of many that will cover the ArchDespotate (at first) and beyond. They will then be collected into a "Complete ArchDespotate" book down the road. So in a way, he served as my guinea pig to develop the format, though in reality, I was the one who cut out a number of elements to keep to the essential and most exciting.

Leaving us with a twenty two pages book filled with characters with dark pasts, locations with secrets, derro experiments, forgotten ruins. In short, everything you need to run adventures and even a campaign set here.

Now I have a cover to finish if I want the book to be in your delighted little hands by the end of next week...


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Frostgrave Reinforcements!

Been a long while since I posted some minis... and I'm all shaky about it... More goodies from the Reaper Bones II

This first model is a Pathfinder creature from the Kingmaker IIRC. It's not the most useful model, but like most of the Pathfinder models It is easy to paint and comes together quite easier.

This second one was originally a vampire. I painted her up in a pink/purple Kitty favors. She will serve in her Frostgrave warband for sure.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

A writer's story and thoughts on what comes next

Funny thing happened to me this morning. For the past week, I have been working really hard at both Star Wars: The Old Republic AND finishing the last two adventures of the year for Legacies. Namely "ToS1-09 One Final Night of Freedom" and "ToS1-I02 Something Borrowed, Something Blew". These two adventures form a whole that concludes the first campaign year. Not quite a two-parter, but close.

"One Final Night" is done, leaving only the Masters' Notes left to expand and complete. There is still work to be done on the special, but both adventures have been designed in tandem, with elements written in one getting moved to the other, and vice-versa. I started with the thought of writing a two-round adventure (roughly eight hours of play), with a break in the middle. This break eventually led to the split between the two adventures, creating two out of one.

These two adventures are also a good point where things will shake up the campaign. Things are changing in the ArchDespotate and you, the players will have front row seat. Or is it backstage passes?

Whatever happens you will be the ones who will directly influence the continuation of the campaign. In fact, when I started working on the story last summer, I had but a vague idea of what I wanted to do and the players are the ones who gave me the ideas and the inspiration. So in a way those two adventures are the direct result of your actions, choices and decisions. They are, shall I say, your Legacy!

You have only yourselves to blame for all that is happening. Which leads me to review the campaign rules, see what I want to add, remove, change. I have ideas to add things to the campaign, ideas not fully formed just yet. Three such ideas are:
- "MyRealms"-like type of event where GMs can write their own adventures and run them for credit!
- House-specific adventures where players who belong to one house are sent to do "something".
- Special missions your character wants to do something special: fulfill a requirement for a Prestige Class, join an NPC, recover a lost body, etc. Ask a special mission and either run through with others or by yourself!

Just a few ideas I have been playing with. Maybe try one, maybe try them all... Is there anything you would like to see or not see in the campaign. This is a good time to get these discussions going.


Monday, March 7, 2016

More Art rolls in!

With time moving forward, art is starting to roll in. This time, a work-in-progress piece from Peter Saga was commissioned for the upcoming Onero, City of Sins, which I am co-writing with Randy Price. So far, I only showed you some busts of NPCs - all of them by Irene - this time a scenery. I like Peter's work for other projects, particularly his line art.

I will let you wonder what this place is and why I find it so interesting.

Sunday, March 6, 2016

Arcanicon 2016 is in the books

Arcanicon 2016 is now in the books and I was lucky enough to attend it for the third year in a row. And for the third year, the biggest draw for me, was to attend their multi-slot special adventure.

I got up at 3:30 in the morning, drove to the Nashville airport and in short order, I was off to Chicago. Would you guess that although our plane landed early, we were sent to an open space and told that we'd be waiting for twenty minutes. OH THE ANGST! To be so close to playing a game and be stuck on the tarmac. Oh the levels of suck. Finally getting to the terminal, I walked to the shuttle bus area where I found the driver catching a few Zzz's but he got me on my way immediately.

But in the end, everything turned out fine and I got to play in a morning slot.

Big blur with a lot of fun happened.

The special for this year was not as good as the previous two. We had a good table, with Akira, Paul and Nicole, Phil and Holga... Phil-H GM'd throughout all of our shenanigans. Brave fool.

For the second year in a row, I dressed up for the LARP-portion of it. Yes, I am talking about the sanity-draining, costume... now with more props and a new wig...

Julie did say the redhead suited me better... and she is kinda right. In a similar vein, at one point during the game, my good buddy Gregg-B from Denver walks up to me and says "JP, you make one ugly woman!" God bless him, he is absolutely right!

So in retrospect, I plan on returning to the con next year, hoping to see many of us out there...


Thursday, March 3, 2016

New Campaign Narrative Released

I have just uploaded the latest campaign narrative to our yearly fiction (available through RPGNow/DriveThruRPG). It is also available as part of the Year 1 Bundle. As an added benefit, everything is for sale during this GM's Day period!

This one is the longest narrative we have ever published, a surprising... TWO PAGES! Seriously, I seek to keep those interludes short and to the point, but this one required more.

For those who do not know, Hellebora is the current chosen queen-to-be. The loving lady willing to give up her life to continue the ArchDespot's dynasty. The lovely and demure bride-to-be.

Here is the start, as a teaser...

Lady Hellebora stood in her room, waiting for the inevitable, waiting for that moment when her future husband would make her a queen. Ironic, as a child she dreamt of becoming queen and now that crown would fall upon her head, it felt like a yoke. As the youngest child, she expected to travel the world and do as she pleased. She never thought she would be traded and sold by her beloved father to another old man needing children to ensure a dynasty no one cared for. Heck even his own family did not want him to rule.

She imagined that she would conquer her own crown, that she would lead armies of slaves into battle and that she would be victorious covered in the blood her defeated enemies. For that she trained to become the best archer, first in her native Hellsmere, then across the ArchDespotate, then finally in faraway lands.

She remembered a day in Nooraka, a day long ago, a lifetime ago. It was the province's most prestigious archery tournament. She and her brothers entered the competition with the assurance of winning. She was confident in her own skills, so confident that she stayed out drinking late into the night, enjoying the company and the music.

In the morning, she crawled out of bed, seeking relief from the pounding in her head. She dressed and barely reached the field on time to participate, unlike her brothers, whom she carefully neglected to wake up as she left. Her competitors were also affected by hangovers and some clever addition to the drinks she gave them. In those days, she controlled her life. She enjoyed the freedom that was due her people. She enjoyed life. She forced others around her to take their rightful place beneath her boots. She was truly the divine will of the gods.