Lore, Thread of Souls

Character Feature: Ruuda


This month’s character feature is Ruuda Drybarrel, the unblessed dual-wielding dark dwarf that is as pragmatic as she is passionate.

Ruuda was born as the last of twelve children to Clan Drybarrel. Growing up in the industrious city of Balum Guar, Ruuda was surrounded by a culture where worth is determined by productivity in a caste system. Young dark dwarves are taken to the temple of the Forge King to receive a blessing from their god. A priest or priestess will read the runes to determine what that blessing is. It may be woodworking, singing, serving as a soldier, or, as in the case of Clan Drybarrel, brewing beer.

Ruuda, however, found no such blessing. Despite being told she was blessed to do a certain task, she could never do it properly. As a century passed, Ruuda’s parents took her again and again to a priest to find out what her true blessing was. But with each one, she failed.

To escape the shame, Ruuda often took to wandering the outskirts of the city. There she found the gloom stalkers, mercenaries and rangers of the Deep Hollows, in their daily practice. Ruuda observed them and learned their skills, until the day she was spotted by lead gloom stalker Neir Shadowsnare. Impressed by what she had learned from merely observing, Neir took to training Ruuda on his own. But he had to do so in secret, for she was not blessed to be a gloom stalker.

While teaching her how to survive in the Deep Hollows, Ruuda and Neir came across two quag pups, wild animals of the underground. They were sick and had been lost from their pack, so the two decided to keep them. Neir’s quag grew up strong, but Ruuda’s did not survive. The loss of her companion broke her heart.

As Ruuda’s blessings continued to fail, her family accrued debt from her projects left unfinished or with poor quality. Debtors came to collect often, and there was worry that Ruuda would get taken away to be made compliant like other dark dwarves that failed at their blessing. So while on a trade trip to the dark elf city of Berenzia, Ruuda’s family gave her a barrel full of supplies and told her to leave and not return until she figured out what her true blessing was.

Left alone in the Deep Hollows, Ruuda wandered in depression and hopelessness. We meet her in Phantom Five trying to make friends with a pack of quags. Things do not go her way, and she is heavily wounded before being aided by a healer named Taliesin Ostoroth. Both runaways from their homes, the two find common ground to venture out onto the Surface to try and restore what was lost in their lives.

For Ruuda, however, there is one other task she wants to complete. She vows to find the god known as the Forge King, and take vengeance for her unblessing.


Character Tips, D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Character Prompt – Rune Layout

Creating a character is a difficult process. No matter if it’s for a book, ttrpg, video game, or LARP. You have to think about their past, present, and future and their goals, ambitions, and overall attitude. Developing a character is a fun and engaging process that requires a bit of brainstorming and critical thinking. We’ve talked about using prompts to create a story with tarot cards in a previous post. This time, we’re using runes to build a character by using the Runic V layout.

The Runic V Layout

  1. What influenced your character in the past?
    • The top left rune is Dagaz. It represents day, awakening, and new hope. The rune symbolizes discovering new insights, something unknown, or a fresh idea.
  2. What is influencing your character in the present?
    • The next rune, Kenaz, is associated with knowledge and the quest for truth. It is represented by learning one’s true and full potential.
  3. What is a future goal for your character?
    • Raidho represents the character’s personal journey. It symbolizes growth and movement towards control and rationality. The character may wish to learn who they are and who they want to become.
  4. How to achieve that goal?
    • Pertho symbolizes something hidden and is often represented by good omens, unexpected surprises, and forces of change. This could be a mysterious or dangerous challenge your character does not wish to take part in but must overcome in order to grow.
  5. What is your character’s attitude?
    • Jera is assocaited with patience, seasons, and waiting. To reach your goal will require time and understanding and you may not be ready to accept that. You’re character may be quick to take action or take their time.
  6. What problem stands in their way?
    • Mannaz is represented by humankind and humanity. Other associations include reflection, planning, analysis, and self potential. The struggle coud be caused by another person or even within yourself. The actions of another or your own could prevent you from reaching your goal.
  7. How to overcome the problem?
    • Algiz is represented by spirit guides, protection, divinity, and a teacher. It symbolizes going beyond yourself to connect with something spiritual or finding your higher self.

Misc Posts

National Reading Month – Our Favorite Books


May is National Get Caught Reading Month! As writers, we love to read although we aren’t able to as often as we’d like (does anyone?). To celebrate, we are listing some of our favorite books that have stuck with us!


The Bartimaeus Sequence by Jonathan Stroud

This is the only series that Talia has read more than once from cover to cover. She first discovered them while working as a library aide in high school. They’ve stuck with her after that, and she got Dorian to be a fan of them, as well! The witty characters, fully realized world, and fun adventures with heart and soul makes them a top read!

The Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale

Talia found these books during her early adolescent years when only the first couple of a nine-book series were out. She followed them throughout the years, feeling almost as if she grew up with Bobby Pendragon. The main character’s humor makes him easily likeable, and the grand adventures across diverse worlds keep each book feeling fresh and fun.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Hobbit has always been Dorian’s favorite book. He has owned multiple copies of it over the years with a variety of beautiful covers. We were both definitely excited to watch The Hobbit trilogy, as well! It’s a classic, fun, and timeless adventure story.

Heir Apparent & The Book of Mordred by Vivian Vande Velde

Heir Apparent was recommended to Talia by a teacher in sixth grade. She fell in love with Velde’s books after that, and The Book of Mordred was another top favorite. The style of writing is engaging and fun, and the characters are easily memorable. For fans of medieval-era stories, these are great reads!

The Magician’s Nephew by C.S Lewis

This is another book that has stuck around with Dorian since childhood. One of the things he connected to was the use of music in the book, as he later grew up to learn to play many instruments! This is the first in the Chronicles of Narnia series, which are charming children’s fantasy books.

Tell us about your favorite books!


Misc Posts

Slay a Dragon Day on World Book Day

Today we are celebrating two events at once. April 23 is both Slay a Dragon Day and World Book Day. Two things that are rather dear to our hearts for several reasons. As fantasy authors, we grew up with stories where heroes battled dragons. Many of which were actual dragons but slaying a dragon can also be a metaphor.

One of our favorite quotes is by fellow fantasy author, Neil Gaiman.

“Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Slay a Dragon Day came about from a story where Saint Theodore Tiron slew a dragon. Legend has it Theodore came across a village where a dragon demanded sacrifice and treasure. After the village gave up its livestock and wealth, they turned to human sacrifice. When Saint Theodore witnessed this, he took a stand and tamed and killed the dragon. Thus the town was saved.

Digging deeper into this story, we learn it dates as far back as the mid-9th Century. Art at the Yılanlı Kilise shows three saints, Theodore, George, and Demetrius battling two snakes with separate heads.

The story represents the battle between good and evil and is a story as old as time really. Slay a Dragon Day is about overcoming challenges in your life. No matter how big or small.

Although, if you’re into slaying dragons and even befriending them or love books, our epic fantasy book series Thread of Souls is for you.

world art day
Misc Posts

World Art Day

Happy World Art Day! As a husband and wife team of artists, we want to take time to celebrate this day of creativity and imagination!

The arts have impacted our lives in so many ways. As co-authors of a fantasy book series, digital illustrators, crafters, designers, and more, we embrace and love the arts. Our home as our books on display as well as our own art and creations. It is a happy, inspiring place to be!

Talia’s journey as an artist began at her earliest memories. She was writing stories before she could really write, instead doing a series of crayon drawings and narrating the plot. She wrote five books before graduating high school (which shall never see the light of day). In her early twenties she became an award-winning fanfiction author. Now she writes, draws, and creates for a living!

Dorian was always making up stories. He especially loved the journalistic side of storytelling, and while in college researched, wrote, and hosted a radio program. Being a lover of all things creative, he prefers to write about video games, cars, and fantasy settings. He is grateful every day that he gets to continue living his dream career!

World Art Day is not only a time to celebrate well-known artists, but also indie artists. We’ve found some of the best content have come from indie creators, whether that’s on Etsy, indie video games, or small Twitch streams and Deviantart hobbyists. Take the time on World Art Day to discover a new artist and support them!


Lore

Character Feature: Wash


This month’s character feature is centered on Wash, the former soldier with a dry sense of humor, a strong loyalty to his companions, and grudge against the man who betrayed him.

Wash was born and raised in the coastal city of Sunspire, the City of Ensemble. Raised by a single mother, he knew only a bit about his father. And what he knew he kept closely secret. A traveler from another plane that spent one romantic night with his mother before moving on.

Growing up as an only child, in his adolescence Wash made close friends with a High Elf named Aust Mastralath. He and Aust joined Sunspire’s military together as Solchen guards. One day, however, while on a mission to close interplanar rifts, a sudden change went over Aust. He turned on Wash and attempted to kill him without warning. Wash survived the attack, and Aust vanished.

Disturbed by the events, Wash tried to find his friend and demand answers, but was unsuccessful. It wasn’t until years later that their paths crossed again. Wash was ripped from Sunspire by the magic of a summoning spell. He found himself locked in a circle with strange symbols and languages around it. He was joined by a large spider, fey in nature, summoned from a plane known as the Wilds. Standing before him was his former friend Aust. He had strange strange tattoos running up his forearms and he now wore a mask.

Aust was not in the mood to talk, seeming angry that Wash had appeared in the circle. He said Wash was not the one he intended to summon, and dismissed him back to Sunspire. But Was did not return alone. The strange fey spider was attached to him in spirit. A spider he named Shulva.

Life only got more chaotic for Wash after that day. Not only had he been indirectly involved in an interplanar summoning ritual, but an interplanar creature was attached to him. Magic such as that was illegal by laws of the powerful Citadel, the center for arcane study, research, and regulation. The Citadel sent an Inquisitor by the name of Dorian Aster to hunt him down and bring him in for punishment.

Wash had no plans to allow that to happen. He went on the run. Years passed as he journeyed from one run-down town to another, staying out of sight of the ever-hunting mage Dorian.

When we first meet Wash in the Thread of Souls books, it is in book two, Ash & Thunder. Wash’s travels have taken him to Oceala. Due to its highly guarded nature, he hopes to stay out of the Citadel’s reach. And due to it being a pristine port city, he hopes to find answers about Aust Mastralath, and what happened to his former friend.


Lore

Map Exploration: The Geography of the Expanse


Here is our first map exploration post in what will be many more in the future! For this first one we are doing a deep dive into a location often traveled to in the books: the Expanse. This vast desert exists on the southernmost edge of the Korventine Empire, and it is the southwest corner of Corventos.

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The History

The Expanse is famous across Corventos for being the stage for the Day of Sealing. The day in which Corventos was rid of dragons. This all happened around Soleia. While it is a legendary day in history, the king of Soleia has since disappeared, and the city has now fallen to ruin. The only operational city within the Expanse is the port city of Vonkai.

Features

The port city of Vonkai is a colorful and vibrant coastal home. Mostly Humans live there, but there are a variety of other races. About two days north are the ruins of Soleia. It is a road sometimes traveled by camel, and there is a small settlement of people that live around these ruins. To get to these ruins, travelers must cross the Golden Valleys sand dunes, as well as the general wasteland of the Expanse.

Further north past Soleia is the Gates of Remembrance, a site dedicated to all those who lost their lives in the Day of Sealing. Not far from that is the King’s Oasis, named for Vicrum Grodstrum, king over Soleia. That far east, it is the only comfort a traveler will find. If they venture even further east to Pirate’s Coast, they find themselves on the Bay of Thieves and dangerous waters, indeed.

If we look to the western side of the Expanse, there is a marker for the strange pyramid that Brother Zok ran past during the events of Ash & Thunder. Our heroes did not venture further west, for there are no settlements out there. The Celestial Mesas reach high into the blank blue sky, and the Badlands is not a friendly place for any well-meaning traveler or trader.

The Expanse is bordered on the north by the Black Reach Mountains, the place Jade was born and raised. The Millenium Sea borders the western coast, and it was that route that Sen sailed the Scarlet Maiden down during the voyage in Phantom Five.

In Summary

The Expanse is a harsh environment and not much exists within it since Soleia, the City of the Sun, is no more. But Vonkai is a popular port for merchants, and the people there are open and friendly. Only the bravest risk sailing deep into the Bay of Thieves, but otherwise the waters remain good for sea travel. It is a location our heroes traveled to in Phantom Five, seeking answers regarding High Priest Amon’s death. It was also journeyed to again in Ash & Thunder, following rumors of a storm that never moved. While it was not visited in Path of the Spiders, perhaps it will return again in future installments of Thread of Souls!


news
The Spool of Souls: Updates & News

The Spool of Souls – TOS News for April 2022!


Happy April! We have two big news announcements for the world of Thread of Souls that we are excited to share with you!

Thread of Souls Soundtrack

That’s right! A musician we have partnered with has already composed a main TOS theme as well as a Sen and Jade character theme. Right now, we are in the earliest stages, but we are excited to begin building original sounds for this world. In the future, our hope is to have all of these available to listen to and enjoy on Spotify.

Merchandise

We have launched a new merch page! One of our primary features is our new Redbubble store. Right now we have merchandise with the TOS logo on it. Expect more merch across this year including shirts, character designs, and more. That page is also a good one-stop shop for art prints, books, and our DMG/Fantasy Grounds products.

We also are in the earliest stages of conceptualizing two more major merch launches, and we are excited to spread the news in the future! Don’t want to spoil anything just now haha.

ARC Book Launch Team

We are still adding to our growing ARC team! If you love fantasy and/or TTRPG’s, reach out to become a member of our team. You’ll get free copies of the books to enjoy as well as merch as a thank you for supporting our book launches.

Asunder

Book IV of Thread of Souls is more than halfway through its first draft. We are moving along smoothly and really excited for this release in December. Also stay tuned for a fun supplemental book release this summer!

That is all the news for this month! As usual, you can find us all over social media including a young YouTube channel. We also post twice weekly on this website. See you soon!


Misc Posts

How to Overcome Distractions While Creating


It can be difficult for creators to overcome distractions when they sit down (or stand up) to work on a project. Between the tasks of the day, outside noises, interruptions, and our own self-doubts, it can definitely come in the way of producing a product you are proud of! Whether you are a writer, an artist, a TTRPG player, a photographer, or any other passionate creator, we compiled a list of four top tips to help you out! These are items we have found indispensable when we sit down to create Thread of Souls content.

Play Music (Without Lyrics)

A great way to overcome distractions is to play music. But not just any music. Ensure there are no lyrics within the piece, and ensure it is a type of music you enjoy. Unfamiliar with the world of instrumentals? Spotify has a lot of great lo-fi playlists these days to work to. You can also explore soundtracks from your favorite movies or video games.

Keeping a pleasant background noise can give you energy and increase your focus. We’ve also found we get conditioned to entering the “work mindset” when we have our established instrumental playlist going. It makes us more productive and less distraction-prone.

Get in a Comfortable Area

This goes beyond just a comfortable chair, although that is very important. If you sit a lot while creating, it is worth it to invest in a gamer-type of chair to support you. You should have a dedicated creating space that is free from other distractions and always has what you need on-hand. A good desk, an organizer for items, a great lighting source, and quick-reference items all make your space more productive.

We have two gamer-style desks and chairs facing one another (for easy collaboration). We have a lamp and quick reference items on a side table. Between our two desks is a holder for pens, pencils, USB’s, and lip balm. We are also surrounded by depictions of Thread of Souls, keeping us inspired! We are also not far from our healthy snack bowl, ensuring we don’t get sidetracked if we get up to eat.

Complete Any Pressing Tasks Beforehand

One super easy way to overcome distractions is to remove those distractions beforehand. We’re talking about the “putting-off-that-call-laundry-pile-don’t-want-to-do-that” type of tasks. If those are turning in the back of your mind, it will just be a problem and make it harder to create your best work. By getting pressing tasks done upfront, you can free up your mental space and ease the tension.

Have an End-Goal in Mind

Something that has been tremendously helpful for us is to sit down with a goal. Whether that is a daily goal or a weekly goal, having something short-term to work towards is a good motivator. It also helps keep you on track, and can push you forward if you are struggling with your creation. This is flexible for whatever works for you. Maybe you want to complete one chapter a week, or your goal is to write 500 words a day. Maybe you want to do one step of your art each day so by the end of the week you have a full piece. Or if you are world-building, maybe you want to outline one bit of the fictional society a day. It also makes you feel great when you are able to check items off your to-do list for your creations!


Hope these are helpful! Remember that anytime you create something, that is beautiful in and of itself and should be celebrated. By using strategies to stay focused, you can accomplish more of what you want to create.


Lore

International Day of Forests – the Firelit Forest


Tomorrow is the International Day of Forests! To celebrate, we are featuring a key location in the Thread of Souls series, the Firelit Forest.

The Firelit Forest stretches from north to south of Corventos. It serves as the border between the Korventine Empire and the Eleste Lands. This massive expanse of trees is visible for miles. Its name came from the many fireflies that light it up at night.

This forest has been a staging ground for many storylines in the Thread of Souls books. In Ash & Thunder, the Phantom Five travel through the forest on their journey to the capital. They visit Jade’s Druid Circle as well as the hut her late Master Galen lived in. They also have a confrontation with the spellcaster Jenkins in the middle of a ritual.

In Path of the Spiders, Wash, Unolé, Taliesin, and Ruuda flee for safety within the trees while they are being hunted by Dorian Aster of the Citadel. The book ends in a showdown between Wash and Dorian.

Historically speaking, the Firelit Forest plays a role on the grand stage of Corventos. During An’Ock’s Age of Expansion they attempted to settle it, but were unsuccessful against nature. It was decided upon as the border between the Korventine Empire and the Eleste Lands during the War for the World, as well.

Do you have a favorite real-life or fictional forest? Share below!