Sunday, February 20, 2022


As usual this took a lot longer to post than it should have; not because of the researching of notes, the searching through memories, the writing...nope, none of that. It was the art or lack there of.

I was searching for art to represent the characters and apparently, at the average age of about 14 we were the most creative individuals that have ever lived. No, seriously. That must be the case as I couldn't find a good image that represented ANY of the characters. Not even illustrations I could modify without it taking me far more time than I wish to spend. It's quite amazing to me actually since in my mind these are fairly typical D&D characters in appearance with a few exceptions. Then again, D&D isn't my jam so what do I know. 

My apologies that my first Meet The Party post didn't actually feature the party. I mean, what is this The Book of Boba Fett? Ouch. Too soon? Anyway, I felt it necessary to give you guys out there some context for the campaign for which this group was assembled. Now with that out of the way, on with The Winghorn Guard: Highpoint.

This description lists the original group as best as I can remember it. I am including those PCs killed in the first Adventure arc (Expedition to the Barrier Peaks) and those who left the group over personality/philosophical differences (some players went on to play different games - some returned once in a while for guest star roles).

All the players were Male, Jewish (it was a YM-YWHA Summer Camp), and between the ages of 12-15. 

The Party:

Arigon, The Ranger of Rae Astra (played by Martin L.)
Human* Ranger, Neutral Good, Starting Level 6. Ending Level 20

Arigon is discussed in great detail in the first entry to last years 31 Days / 31 Characters Challenge. For this reason I won't go into great detail here except to say that Arigon's player, Martin, was the driving force and sometime leader of the player group. In game, the party's leader was Telerie but without Martin I don't think the group and campaign would've been quite as amazing as it was. 

Martin was extremely likeable and one of the funniest people I'd ever met. His sense of story and adventure was second to none. While there were moments were some of the other got a little jealous of his 'screen time' - and rightly so - it spurred them on to be more proactive like he was.

Of all the guys being mentioned here, I think Martin was my closest friend during the majority of our time together. We finally drifted apart when we reached 16 or 17. People change. I hope he did well for himself, that he is happy, and that once in a blue moon he recalls his time playing RPGs fondly if he doesn't still do it now. 

BloodStar. The Barbarian, Chief of the Northern Star Tribe (played David S.K.)
Human Barbarian, Chaotic Good, Starting Level 5. Ending Level 16

David - or 'Lefty' as I sometimes called him (he and I were the only left handed people in our group of friends) - had a really creative idea for a Barbarian character. Inspired by both Marvel's Ulysses Bloodstone and R. E. Howard's Conan, BloodStar is a member of a tribe of Northern nomads whose ruling bloodline is born with a tiny, red crystal in the center of a star shaped birthmark on their foreheads.

Unlike traditional Barbarians who abhor magic, the BloodStar Tribe is imbued with arcane powers that manifest after reaching various milestones in their lives. The first is a coming of age ritual wherein they prove themselves worthy of being a member of the clan. Most of the abilities given to a Barbarian such as Berserker Rage and the like are attributed to this magic. The Chief's bloodline have additional abilities including great Strength, Constitution, and Fortitude (also known as amazing rolls for STR, CON, and HP). 

What I loved about BloodStar and Dave's portrayal of him was how he didn't play it smart or safe. Oh no. BloodStar was almost always guaranteed to 'Leeroy Jenkins' past carefully laid plans and dive into danger head first. At the same time he could be as heroic as the Paladin and clever as Arigon but simply not as polished. It made for a very entertaining group dynamic, with Rio Sunbird often talking BloodStar down to a calmer and more reasonable state of mind.

Out of nowhere, David contacted me about a year ago as he was going to run D&D with his kids and he needed some recommendations on how to pull off a particular scenario. As I am not especially familiar with 5E D&D, I called on the assistance of my buddy and current player Leo who is indeed a D&D fan (I like him anyway-heheh). Leo's advice was helpful and David and his offspring had a great time. We've stayed in touch. 

Cal aka 'Cannibal' (played by Richard K.)
Hybrid Homunculus Thief, Chaotic Good, Starting Level 4. Ending Level 17

Within a strange room in the Barrier Peaks (a laboratory), the party located a series of Human sized tubes of alchemic fluid, many of which were smashed and leaking ooze all over the floor. One that was intact contained a vaguely wolf/dog looking Humanoid, not unlike an Aerth Kobold, with a plaque that was translated as 'Cannibal'. The creature was barely 4 and a half feet tall, covered in dingy grey fur, with bloodshot eyes and a snout of sharp teeth. 

This creature and one other appeared to be alive and the decision was made to release them. Cannibal and his 'brother' Puma joined the group in an effort to discover who and what they were. His name is revealed to be a reference to his preference for eating Kobolds and Goblins. Once the PC became aware that his name was looked upon poorly by his Human friends, he took the name 'Cal'. 

Played by real life brothers Richard (Cal) and Matt K. (Puma), these were definitely the strangest PCs in a group of atypical PCs. Cannibal was described as a Wizard created hybrid being, made of up a Kobold, a Blink Dog, and possibly a Halfling (or Wilder as they are known on Aerth). He started at a lower level than everyone else (as did Puma) but had the ability to 'Blink' - teleporting a short, line of sight distances. Later he would gain the ability to bite through virtually any material and teleport much further. 

Rich played Cal as alternatively adorable, creepy, and mad comedy relief. His appetite and attitude in battle was like a cross between Cookie Monster and the Tasmanian Devil. Loyal, energetic, and not especially bright, the character was played for laughs but was also quite endearing. One often felt sorry for this wild but well meaning freak of nature. 

I still interact with Rich periodically on Facebook, though I haven't seen him in a good 15-16 years. He used to come in to my ol' job at an Anime/Manga/Japanese Pop Culture store.

Forbeck The Freelancer (played by Neil C.)
Human Fighter, Neutral, Starting and Ending Level 5

I remember very little about Forbeck, the most normal character in this party of unique and largely-than-life PCs. I recall he was a mercenary, literally a Lance-for-hire, with a rather cool Magical Item called The Freeman's Lance. It was a lance that could change form to work as a short spear, a pike, a footman's lance, or a horseman's lance. He was as effective with it in close quarters hand-to-hand as he was on horseback thanks to it's ability to alter it's stats, shape, and size.

Personality wise I don't really remember much about Forbeck. A generic D&D Fighter is ever there was one, he only shined in his final moments when he did a sacrifice move to protect the Cleric, Rio Sunbird, from a powerful Metal Man/Golem (one of the Androids in the Barrier Peaks). 

'Puma' (played by Matt K.)
Hybrid Homunculus Assassin, Neutral Evil/Neutral Good, Starting Level 4. End Level 15

Like Cal/Cannibal played by Matt's brother Richard, Puma was an magically engineered creature found in a tube with the name 'Puma' written on a nearby metal panel. He appears as a four armed, generally Humanoid Displacer Beast - a cat person with jet black fur, green eyes surrounded by white markings, and standing roughly six feet tall. At higher levels he 'unlocked' the prehensile tentacles that sprout from a Displacer Beast's shoulders.

Puma had the ability (three times per day) to 'Displace' himself, gaining an Armor Class bonus or a Surprise Attack bonus because he was not where he appeared to be. Later we would gain an extra attack thanks to his extra arms, and of course the abilities of his Assassin Class.

Puma, thanks to Matt, served the purpose of a different point of view from the standard Superhero mentality. He was cold, calculating, underhanded, and yet always on the side of good. Well, he actually starts the game Neutral Evil and turns to the side of good during the first adventure. If Telerie is Captain America and Cal is Wolverine, Puma was definitely our Batman. 

Rio Sunbird, Cleric of Apollo (played by Ben O.)
Human Cleric, Psionic, Chaotic Good*, Starting Level 6. Ending Level 16. 

If you are lucky, you will meet someone in your life like my friend Ben. There was always something ethereal about him. He was wiser than his years, more centered, and that definitely surfaced in the character of Rio Sunbird. 

Originally he was a youth named Ryan, a member of the Gaelt people, Aerth's equivalent of the Celts. Due to quarrels and conflicts in the ancient history of Aerth, the Gaelts were often fighting skirmishes against the Odysseans, settlers originating from Gretha-Nova (a kind of Greco-Roman Imperium). During one battle, the Gaelts had set fire to a temple dedicated to the god Apollo. Ryan had a change of heart and ran back into the temple to save several clerics of the opposing side.

Late that evening, Ryan was visited by Apollo himself in the form of a bird as bright as the Sun. He was gifted the Staff of Apollo and told he would gain greater clarity and insight if he followed the Gretha-Novan Sun God. Ryan was unsure of what to do until he had a vision of the future - his clan had seen the bright bird and were coming to imprison him as a spy. Taking the name 'Rio Sunbird', Ryan left his home and traveled the world shining the light of hope on the downtrodden. 

In addition to being the team's Cleric, Rio was also a Psionic, utilizing the rules provided in the 1st Edition AD&D. The campaign Ben created Rio for had featured Psionics, yet the games of the other players did not. I declared the ability exceptionally rare and largely unknown to the majority of Aerth's populace. This made Rio a rather unusual individual indeed and gave the party's healer a secret weapon.

He eventually develops the powerful Psionic ability to manifest a fiery, golden, phoenix-like image that can convey a single thought to the mind of anyone and everyone who can see or sense it.  This can be a warning such as 'Run', a feeling such as 'Hope', or so much sorrow and pain it can knock weak-willed enemies unconscious.

The most important thing about Sunbird was the presence of Ben's voice and attitude. He was always calm, even when excited. He spoke and acted from a place of reason, spiritual centeredness, and empathy. Ben balanced all the wild antics and savage battles with quiet compassion, making sure we never lost sight of our objective - it wasn't about glory, gold, or killing but truth, justice, and peace. 

SlainShadow, Hunter of the Doomed (played by Elliot L.)
Half-Orc Cleric/Assassin, Chaotic Evil, Starting Level 3/4. Ending Level Unknown

SlainShadow was an attempt by my friend Elliot (who was the oldest of the players) to emulate the type of characters he favored in fiction; characters such as Boba Fett from Star Wars and Slade Wilson/Deathstroke from DC Comics.

He had a cool backstory, a great look, and totally didn't fit in with the rest of the party. His presence in the first adventure was great for dramatic tension and over-the-top action but we all knew that it wasn't going to be a good fit long term. 

Following the first adventure arc, SlainShadow departs for parts unknown. He would later reappear from time to time as an ally or an antagonist depending on the situation. I know Elliot also used him in a campaign run by another GM, one with a more traditional Murderhobo flavor to it, which I heard he fit into much better.

Telerie. The Paladin of Goldburn (played by David P.)
Human Paladin, Lawful Good, Starting Level 5. Ending Level 17

The Winghorn Guard was an ensemble cast but like the MCU Avengers, some of the characters ended up more equal than others. BloodStar could sit in as our Thor and Rio Sunbird as our Black Widow or Hawkeye, with Telerie (pronounced Tella-RYE) as the Captain America to Arigon's Iron Man. Not the perfect analogy by any means but you get the gist.

It was Telerie's player David that is really to for the concept of Aerth and the Winghorn Guard. It was he who first asked he get to the play the PC he was running in his school campaign and a most interesting campaign it was.

David attended a Yeshiva school, the Jewish equivalent of going to Catholic school. Hmm, oddly stated I'll admit but again, you get what I'm saying. His GM based their school year campaign on Jewish Mythology, with magic, creatures, history, and locations having numerous biblical elements and references. At the same time it was 100%, 'Grade A' Dungeons and Dragons. Telerie worshipped a single god and his monotheistic ways were viewed as strange by the rest of the team. Nonetheless, his allies excepted him and his unusual worldview. 

He began our game with Goldburn, a +5 Holy Avenger that was alight with golden fire in the presence of Chaotic Evil opponents. As the campaign went on the sword would reveal numerous other hidden powers and the deep secrets behind its construction. As for armor he wore peasant clothes over chainmail with a found chest plate and helmet. During our first adventure, Expedition to the Barrier Peaks, Telerie gains a most curious and powerful suit of armor that had a protective energy shield (it could take 50 points of damage before shutting down and then regenerated at 1 point per round I think) and could fire bright bolts of light out of one its gauntlets (2D8 damage)

Since he began with these two awesome items, Telerie pretty much gave away any other treasure or magic gear that came his way. While this fulfilled his Paladin edicts to donate most of their treasure to their temple/religion, Telerie took it even further. He gave gold to the poor, healing potions to the sick, and generally just did away with material possessions beyond what he felt he needed. The other players and PCs eventually felt he needed to keep some items just to 'keep up' with the level of danger they faced, which led to a humorous dynamic of him saying, "Fine, fine. I'll take the *Defensive Magic Item* if no one else wants it. 

By the end of the campaign Telerie was virtually invulnerable to harm. In addition to his Sci-Fi Powered Armor he had a helmet that protected him from Psionics and Mental Magic, a Cloak of Protection, a Ring of Fire Resistance (Right Hand), a Ring of Cold Resistance (Left Hand), and some kind of Shield Brooch. 

Funny enough, I remember that it was David who started me GMing for the first time years before and was, as I mentioned, the catalyst for this campaign. He was also the first of us to stop being so into RPGs. He was a good looking guy, athletic, and as time went on spent more of his hours playing sports and talking to woman. I didn't fault him for this but it was disappointing to me at the time (We did get into a tiff once over a girl I had a major crush on - I got over it and apologized). Dave was a core component of the group and leading by example, he gave the party a much needed moral compass. Also, Dave's integrity and truly good nature meant he never abandoned the game and was there at the grand finale. 

Wherever you are David P., I hope you are well, happy, and still fighting the good fight. 

Worster the Wild (played by Ivan T.)
Human Fighter/Thief, Chaotic Neutral, Starting and Ending Level 6 

Oh Ivan T, you madman! Worster the Wild died pretty early in the first adventure arc, probably trying to steal from a Metal Man or from antagonizing a slobbering monster. Both the player and the character were in it for the crazy antics they could try to pull off and while that made things interesting, it isn't always a great way to survive. 

I remember very little about the PC itself except that he effected the look of a wildman - dirty and disheveled leather armor, long, unkempt beard, and the like. 

The campaign lasted nearly four years and during that length of time a number of new PCs came in, left, died, and a few stayed to form the 'next generation' of The Winghorn Guard. Some of the players mentioned above had alternate characters towards the end, including Martin's Elven Fighter/Magic-User Nitram of Namredel and my own Dwarven Fighter/Cleric Redsand Thickstone. 

Party Dynamics:

David P. was the team leader but wasn't especially aggressive or assertive. He played his character as a man with a job to do. Martin ended up being the 'field commander' more often then not, coming up with plans and giving commands on the fly in the middle of the action. 

David S.K. was the team's 'devil's advocate', disagreeing with David P.'s 'boy scout' Paladin and needing Arigon to be the deciding vote. David's BloodStar sometimes gave in to that Barbarian berserker rage. Luckily, Ben's Rio Sunbird would always be there to bring everything back down to Earth. 

Ben was so...I wanna say innocent but that isn't the right word. He reminds me of Will Byers in Stranger Things. He was the calm needed to reduce or break any storm that formed between the other players. 

Rich and Matt had the dynamic of being brothers and so they occasionally got on each others nerves. Matt, being the younger brother, could easily get on everyone's nerves when he wanted to but never as his character. The two switched their real world roles as PCs, with Rich playing the completely random and unpredictable little scamp and Matt being the world-wise, rational, and responsible older sibling. 

Party's Over:

Well that's it. This took a really long time to finish this and I am not certain I am completely pleased with the results. Did it accomplish what I wanted it to? I am not sure. Do you feel you have a good grasp of this group, the characters, and the way they interacted? Please let me know in the comments. 

I have some other things I want to get into now...

Barking Alien

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