To help matara playtest a new game project, and to test some of my own solo/GM-less stuff, and just to write some hopefully fun fiction, we’re going to use the project’s draft document to guide a fantasy story.
I won’t be posting the draft doc itself, but you can join the MEGALOS Discord to learn more. Contact matty on Twitter for details.
And so we begin…
Roland is on patrol around the village, as he always is when his family don’t recall him to help with the farming.
He kicks a stone as he trudges along his patrol route, watching with satisfaction as it ricochets off his intended target, a tree trunk.
Nobody really appreciates what he does. He chases off wolves, foxes, all kinds of vermin that would be after the chickens.
Once, he even chased off three bandits! Well, there were two at the time, but they called one other person’s name as they fled, so that makes three.
Roland doesn’t belong here. He should be a knight, up at the castle. He should be going to war! All the old storybooks, with their gallant champions in their bright and invulnerable armor - that’s where he belongs. He knows it in his soul.
It’s not like he’s a good farmer anyway. He can carry stuff around, and get around the farm easily enough. He can go hunting for days at a time, finding his own food and water. And nothing surprises him - at least, nothing here.
He doesn’t have a green thumb, or a love of plants and planting. He sees the farm animals as loud hindrances, always doing whatever they feel like no matter how much trouble it causes for the farmers.
He wants to be out doing! He’s restless - all the time. Even when the elders overwork him to try and drain some of that nervous energy, he gets the work done. He’s just not happy about it.
After all, there’s a war to fight.
War? Of course there’s a war. Not a week goes by that the villagers don’t see someone on the road. Nobles escorted by their armored guard, or furtive couriers carrying dispatches to the castle, or an increasing number of injured soldiers warning of battles that began in far-off places but whose names are growing more and more familiar.
They need someone like him, Roland thinks to himself.
He’s good with a spear, even if it’s supposed to be for hunting. And he’s got a shield, and special armor, made for him by a blacksmith who seemed like he was humoring him more than anything. He can fight. He should be out there fighting. For himself, for his village–
Two armed men in strange leather armor emerge from the underbrush nearby.
“An interloper,” one growls in a surly voice.
“Kill ’im. No witnesses,” commands the other.
Roland gulps. He - he’s going to be fighting!
Roland steadies his grip on his spear, and tightens his fingers around the leather straps of his shield. Whoever these guys are, they mean business–!
He isn’t thinking of being a soldier any more. He isn’t thinking of anything. He’s just charging forward.
The soldier draws a cruelly curved blade from his belt, raises it in a practiced motion, and beckons mockingly at the young man.
Roland’s instincts guide his hand. These guys are the enemy. I can’t let them get to the village.
The man groans at the impact of the spear, but does not fall - not yet. With Roland close, he swings his wicked blade.
Roland raises the shield at the last minute, surprised at his own actions and how little control he feels he has over himself right now. He feels like a rider atop a horse that’s going wild.
He’s almost too distracted to notice the second soldier charging forward, pulling a knife out, and throwing it.
Roland feels dizzy and sick. There’s something sticking out of his side - it’s a knife, he tells himself in delirious amusement. That guy threw a knife at me.
The wounded soldier’s blade descends, catching Roland unprepared.
Through the blood and burning red, Roland finds clarity. The soldier raises his sword for a second hit, and Roland’s spear pierces the leather armor in the opening he’s given. The soldier falls, and Roland wheels to face his surviving adversary.
The second soldier is naturally more wary thanks to the fate of his comrade. He swings his blade in a series of quick feints, trying to create an opening to exploit. Roland can feel his blood flowing. Can the soldier simply outwait him?
Roland alternates between spear and shield, and the soldier’s weapon rings against metal but does not cut flesh.
Time to finish this, the wounded farmboy tells himself. Battle is nothing like he imagined. It’s frightening, and painful. But in this moment, he knows why he’s doing it. It’s not because of grand dreams of knighthood and adventure.
It’s because these two men would have killed any of his village neighbors, had the pair come across them instead of him.
As the second soldier falls, Roland slumps down to the ground. He feels for the knife - and cannot bear to disturb it, despite how it hurts.
He’s still conscious. But he’s bereft of purpose. He’s just killed two men - for real. Who were they? Where did they come from? What did they want?
A girl’s voice cuts through his confusion, and he sees a slender and feminine figure emerge from the brush.
“Thank you, stranger.”
The first thing he really notices about her is the ruby pendant hanging from her neck…
We’ll stop here, and introduce our second character in the next post. Where will their adventure take them?