Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Ar, Part Four

The looming beast looked like a cross between a shaggy rug and an oversized goblin fitted with large lynx-like ears. Dardaniel could not repress a faint squeal when the creature hunched down to gaze at him. Its ears homing in on the slight sound made their tawny tufts flop forward. With its large bulging eyes, the beast exuded a somewhat-endearing appearance were it not for its terrible fangs. That impression ended at once when it roared.

“Now, now, let’s not get carried away with the random-forest-critter-meets-unsuspecting-hero routine, shall we?” said Dardaniel as calmly as he could. “Surely we can find a way to get along. Let me guess: you are a sasquatch, aren’t you?”

The beast raised a bristly eyebrow, frowned, and roared louder. As it raised its clawed hand, the wizard reacted with greater speed, pointed a finger at the hairy face, and cast a few sharp words. Strands of sticky webbing shot forth and wrapped themselves around the beast’s head like a mad smothering turban, muffling the victim’s bellows and interfering with its sight.

As the brute clawed at the webs, the wizard took a few steps back. “I do beg your pardon,” he said. “I should have known better—the puppy eyes, the large ears, the big fangs, and all. You are a bugbear, yes indeed. Didn’t mean to offend.”

The monster tripped and fell on the jumble of tree roots while struggling to rip off the blinding strands. Judging a retreat more prudent, Dardaniel spun round and buried his face in what seemed like a wall of fur.

“Oh bugger,” he uttered, looking up at another beast that had sneaked up from behind. It grabbed him by the back of his robe and yanked him off his feet. As he prepared to speak another spell, the bugbear slapped him across the face, causing Dardaniel to swing wildly, his feet kicking helplessly. Another spell attempt resulted in a backslap with similar effects.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

#Calidar: FUNDED!

Dear Supporters of ‪#‎Calidar‬

I have the pleasure of announcing that "Beyond the Skies" has met its initial funding goal. So, yes, a great book there will be! Thank you so much to all of you for making this possible, and in time before Christmas too. Now comes the next step of hitting the stretch goals. These are crucial because they increase the amount of internal art. The dream goal is one illustration for each of the 89 gods depicted in the book, plus artwork for the other chapters, which do represent a substantial part of "Beyond the Skies." Your generosity has made this ultimate goal possible. Kudos to you all!

For those of you reading this message and who've not had the opportunity yet to jump in, now is a great time to do so, first off because the project will definitely happen.  At this point, it can only get better.  Kickstarter does not actually complete a transaction until the project ends on January 7th 2016. 

If you do not own the first book in the series, "Stranger Skies," you can obtain it through this Kickstarter campaign at a discount.  The complete PDF files for "Stranger Skies" is listed there at an all-time low of $6. 

You can also own two 60-page booklets in printed format which are only available to Kickstarter backers.  They cannot be purchased after the crowdfunding campaign ends. Simply backing the project with a First Mate pledge level already earns you these two booklets in PDF format for free.  Poster maps from "Stranger Skies" are also available at a discount.  There is a limited supply of these poster maps.  Once out of stock, they are unlikely to be reprinted.  You can find all this under the project's "Add-Ons" header.

If you want one more more add-ons over and above the normal pledge for "Beyond the Skies," simply add the value of these add-ons manually to your pledge amount, along with any shipping fees listed in their descriptionsI'll contact you later via Kickstarter to confirm everything.

Thanks again for your interest and your support.  Merry Christmas.    

-- Bruce Heard

Second in the Calidar series, this 220+ pg compendium tells all about gods, their spirit servants, and their foes, for use with any RPG.  Aside from listing gods, this book's contents further develop the Calidar fantasy setting and provide substantial material designed to enhance game play, such as divine powers for mortal followers based on their piety, secret brotherhoods, temple floor plans, etc.

Friday, December 18, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Ar, Part Three

A soft rap at the door pulled Dardaniel from fitful slumber. Malvolian stuck his head in and gazed at the wizard. “We’ve arrived, Master,” he said in a muted voice. His angular, bluish face seemed as if it had been carved with a hatchet, with prominent cheekbones and an upturned, claw-like chin. He bore the large pointed ears of djinni-kind and iridescent eyes that gave them a strange, inscrutable expression.

Dardaniel stirred under a pale ray of light filtering through his bedchamber’s window. He grunted, got up, and shuffled groggily toward the light. A sea of dark green treetops lay below the Silver Cloud, as far as the eye could see, partially masked by dawn’s lingering mist.

Elbowing his way in, Feyward approached, holding a steaming bowl. “You might need this, Master,” he said with a grin revealing large gray teeth. “Just got it from the galley.” As fat and jovial as Malvolian was wiry and gloomy, Feyward owned small, porcine eyes almost invisible behind drooping eyelids, and a large, hooked nose. A long, black goatee snaked from his chin, reaching almost to his bulging belly.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Once Upon a Time in Ar, Part Two

Dardaniel marched down to the cavernous chamber housing the Haakens’ skyships, and lingered at the entrance. Immense white marble columns and stained glass windows stretched to lofty heights where pointed arches formed an elegant vault. Under the glimmer of pale golden globes levitating in the vast dimness, the main horizontal boom, to which the Prince of Ar was tethered, extended above the azure-hued, mirror-like floor. The heavy galleon, Widdemar’s black and red flagship, floated in its moorings thirty feet from the floor, slowly swaying from an unseen and unfelt breeze. Well above its main mast, smaller booms held two smaller vessels. One was Feldorian’s tiny racing yacht, the Archonian Shadow, famous from the time Dardaniel’s father competed in flying regattas. The other was the Silver Cloud, a mid-size skyship the remainder of the family used for errands simple magic could not satisfy.

Dardaniel observed his valets, Malvolian and Feyward, glide effortlessly up a staircase spiraling between two slender pillars. Queasiness gripped him as they raced to the top and proceeded across the Silver Cloud’s narrow boarding plank. His legs felt like cotton, and merely gazing at the vault high above the skyships made Dardaniel’s discomfort grow even worse. Unlike his forebears, the wizard suffered from fear of heights, a calamity he’d never revealed to anyone. The nephew of an Air Admiral? The son of an illustrious daredevil? Alas, even his mother’s djinni blood failed him miserably. Dardaniel was convinced it was Ethrenielle’s doing, for he believed she’d secretly inflicted upon him a curse which could not be dispelled and grew worse with time. He loathed flying.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Once Upon a Time In Ar

Ethereal eddies spun slowly in the crucible, casting purple glimmers while golden bubbles emerged, bulged, and popped softly into miniature ghosts. Dardaniel, a young man in appearance despite his advanced age, straightened his aching spine before leaning against the back of the tall chair surmounted with the household’s crescent arms. He drew in a long breath and resumed his work. Small circular motions of his index finger kept a silver spoon stirring the crucible as he muttered an interminable ritual. The imp-like face engraved on its handle twitched and wrinkled its nose at tiny specters coiling around it.

Reduced to stumps draped with molten red wax, candles in a tall candelabra threatened to extinguish their feeble, trembling flames. Their sallow gleams revealed books and ghoulish artefacts crammed on shelves behind the wizard. This had once been his grandfather’s study, now mostly overlooked by the rest of family. It was why Dardaniel chose this small chamber to conduct his arcane labor. Somewhat claustrophobic, it still smelled of old varnish, leather, dust, and other less mundane things. He hadn’t seen Lord Widdemar for years. The head of the House of Haaken lived on the manor’s top floor, a recluse who no longer spoke with his son, Felldorian. Everyone knew he was still among the living as his aerial servants continued to come and go, picking up meals and occasional mail, or delivering signed edicts to rule his domain and his aging progeny as he’d done for nearly a century. The servants were bound to silence. When questioned about their master, they responded with quizzical wind-like sighs before flying up through the service shafts.

Nothing surprised Dardaniel these days. It didn’t help that a monstrous war raged between his beloved Alphatia and faraway Thyatis, no doubt orchestrated by the immortals. He’d received news that Empress Eriadna had been killed when a magical storm laid waste to Sundsvall and the imperial palace. Or had she? As a loyalist and a fervent supporter of the empress, he found this hard to believe. He didn’t want to believe it. Something made him think that she’d survived somehow, for she was a mighty sorceress, perhaps the mightiest of them all. Her son, Zandor, the rightful heir, promptly seized the throne in the wake of the tragedy. It was no one’s surprise that he’d proclaimed her death with neither hesitation nor a shadow of proof, for Eriadna’s remains were never found. Thoughts, fleeting hopes, and somber concerns jostled through Dardaniel’s mind, challenging his concentration. He repeated a crucial verse of his spell and grimly stirred the crucible’s purple eddies, staring into them as if they would yield a hidden clue.

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

"Beyond the Skies" is live!

I have the pleasure to announce that the kickstarter page for Calidar's CC1 "Beyond the Skies" IS NOW LIVE! We're open for business. Thanks for your patience and your support.

The link is here: