Misc Posts

Celebrate Read a New Book Month


This September we are celebrating “Read a New Book Month”! You can also totally celebrate in December, since that is also designated as a new book month. For us, September is the doorstep of our favorite season of the year, and it has us looking to settle down, find some new books, and enjoy a slower pace of life.

Choose Your Weapon

When looking for a new book, there are many avenues available! A big chain like Barnes & Noble has plenty to choose from, or you might want to go to a local bookshop and find some hidden gems. Going online to stores like Amazon enables you to support indie authors who might not be able to get their books into larger stores. Or if you find yourself pressed for time to sit down and read, audiobooks are another option! Don’t overlook your local library if you don’t want to spend money.

What Genre?

We are lovers of high fantasy, and that tends to be 80% of what we read. But we also enjoy some spooky stories, some urban fantasy, and some nonfiction books. Stick with what you like, or it might be fun to branch out and try something new! If you are uncertain about spending money on a book you are not sure you’ll like, you can find ebooks for relatively cheap, especially from indie authors. Some sites like Amazon also let authors do a temporary free promotion of their book, so you can try one without any cost! Keep in mind the authors do not make any money from this, so you can tell they truly want to share their work if they do free promotions.

Recommendations

We’ve definitely written plenty of posts talking about some of our favorite books. If you are looking for some inspiration, feel free to check these out!

Are there any books you recommend for this list?

Video Games, Writing Tips

Best Video Games to Build Your Characters (Part 2)

Video games are as great an escape as reading a book. They let you become another character and play out an adventure. Games allow you to discover new lands, save the world, or go on a side quest. Very much like a fantasy book, you join along in the adventure to see what happens in the end.

And like a book series, games can have several in the series. That’s why we split our list of the best video games to design your character into two posts. Sequels are popular. Everyone wants more of what they enjoyed. It worked for Avengers, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and it’s how we’re building Thread of Souls.

If you missed part one of building a character in a video game, check it out here.


6. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire quickly became one of our favorite games. Inspired by Baldur’s Gate, you build a party of characters in an attempt to stop a god from wreaking on the world. You can make a party of five custom characters, each with their own voice and skill line. It’s another great example of a D&D party in video games. You can outfit characters with armor, weapons, and choose a color unique to them to make them stand out.

7. W2K22

WWE is a big part of our lives and W2K22 is one of the best games when it comes to designing a character. From their looks, clothing, and attitude, the game offer plenty of options when it comes to design. You can choose any skin color, select from hundreds of outfits or clothes, and give your character a specific fighting style. It’s one of the most fu games we’ve found when it comes to building a character. Characters are restricted to how tall they can be. So if you play a shorter or taller race, you are limited to height.

8. Neverwinter – Free

Neverwinter’s character creator is the best choice for free games to choose from. It pulls directly from the lore and official D&D books, so those familiar with the mechanics should find it simple to build a character. If you have a drow paladin at the table, you can build them in Neverwinter and get them pretty close to how you imagine them.

9. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is robust. There are 25 classes and 12 races to choose from when you build a character. Classes have their own unique look — rangers wear a hood, paladins wear heavy armor — but you can change certain elements by giving them armor during the journey.

10. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age

Elves, humans, dwarves, and Qunari make up the characters you’ll be able to choose from in Dragon Age. While it isn’t a lot when compared to other games, it fits the lore of the world. One of our favorite things about the character customization options for Dragon Age is the clothing. There are so many outfits to find and equip in the game and you can customize the color and style of them as well. You can tailor outfits to fit the personality and skill of your specific character.


Seeing your character come to life in a video game can give them more life in your writing. Watching them move around the map or interact with objects and characters can give you new ideas in roleplaying them at the table. Give it a thought the next time you sit down to play.

What is your favorite video game?

The Spool of Souls: Updates & News

Spool of Souls – TOS News for September 2022!

Hello there, Talia and Dorian with our monthly update! Talia is recovering from her achilles tendon injury. It is a slow process but healing takes time. She is able to get up and around without issue, so good news! We are super thrilled about the future for Thread of Souls and our ttrpg projects, so let’s get to it!

Jade’s Alphabet of Animals

“Jade’s Alphabet of Animals” is coming along nicely. It is, however, being pushed back due to the injury and recovery process. We haven’t narrowed down an official date, but it will release before the end of the year. It’s a comical take on children’s books featuring animals and creatures within the world of Thread of Souls. Here’s one such animal, the behleep, you’ll find hanging around the slopes of De Behl Marr.

The mountains are home to the cuddly behleep. A cousin to the standard sheep. They wear a coat of stone and rocks and roam around in herds and flocks. They hop along from here to there, leaping over boulders up into the air. If you see one, don’t be scared. They’ll roll right to you, so be prepared.

Asunder

Asunder update! Our fourth book in the Thread of Souls Spider Octology series is on schedule for release this December! We are about 80% through writing so far and even added in a brand new POV character. One we’re rather excited about. Here’s a sneak peek at Asunder!

Tabletop Game

While we may be nearing the end of writing book four, we are in the endgame of our story around the table. We’re playing out the events of book eight and it’s been an incredible time. Can’t believe we started in 2015.


TikTok

We have a TikTok! It’s a fun platform we really enjoy using to meet and chat with others in the community. Give us a follow!

DMs Guild

We are working on our biggest D&D guide ever! A book dedicated to the Underdark. We enjoy the creepy, dark, and mysteriousness of the Underdark. Underground adventures are one of our favorites to write. It includes cult cities, non-cult cities, drow, duergar, deep gnomes, cuisine, priestesses, consorts, taverns, roll tables, and plenty more to build your own Underdark world.

YouTube

Our Thread of Souls character feature for August was Artemis the ranger. We love getting to talk about our characters, world, and lore. Gives us a like and follow along for more lore, writing tips, and cats.

Captain Sen – The Barbarian

Our next lore drop is all about the boisterous and lovable Captain Sen! He’s loyal, kind, and always up for a good fight. Who plays a barbarian?


Misc Posts

How to Overcome Writer’s Block


Writer’s block. We’ve all been there. Staring at a screen, your cursor flashing on and off, and not knowing what to write next. Perhaps you know what to say, but not how to say it. Perhaps you’re stuck on a scene transition, or a bit of dialogue, or simply don’t know where to take the plot next. This blog entry is for you!

I am a big outliner when it comes to writing books. I need to know from start to finish where I am going. Even then, I still get writer’s block. Sitting at the desk across from me, I see my husband staring blankly at the screen. He has it, too. So what do we do when we are stuck in our writing? I want to share the top three strategies that have always worked for me! I hope some work for you, as well.

Walk Around

My #1 go-to strategy is to walk around. I especially like fidgeting as I pace. It could be bouncing a ball, or turning over a stuffed animal in my hands. Going outside is fine if you’d like, but I prefer just to pace my house. Sometimes I talk things over with my husband or out loud to myself, but most often I just think about what I’m writing.

I try not to think about the writer’s block. Instead, I visualize the story as if it was a movie, and let my imagination just drive it. Eventually, a solution will present itself just through letting my mind and feet wander.

Listen to Music

Whether it’s lyrical or instrumental, music always helps. I can’t listen to lyrical songs while I write, I find that too distracting. Having some instrumental music going keeps my pace while writing. If I find myself particularly stuck, I may stop, lie on the couch, and listen to some songs. Again, I try not to find a “solution”. I just let my mind wander and see where it goes.

Take a Break

This is really the best thing you can do for yourself during writer’s block. Just take a break. Get your eyes away from the screen and let your tension relax. Coming back to your writing with a fresh mind is very helpful.

I read this tip online once and I really liked it, so now I impart it to you. When you stop writing, try to end with an unfinished sentence. For example:

He went-

She frowned and said –

They left the house and –

When you come back to write, re-read the last page or so leading up to that unfinished sentence. Most of the time, when you get to it, you will simply be able to start typing and carry on with the story!

We hope you enjoyed this entry for storytelling tips! If you have any other strategies you use to defeat writer’s block, share them below!


Character Tips, Storytelling Tips

How to Write Wizards

Creating new characters is a puzzling yet exciting challenge. What do they look like? How do they present themselves? What do they carry with them? You may have a rough outline of them but need to give them something that makes them stand out. Welcome to our How to Write character features. Each one is designed to guide you on how to create and write characters for your story.

Thinking of characters as classes from a tabletop roleplaying game makes the process much more simple. Our fantasy series Thread of Souls is full of examples of this as each main character you meet is based on a class in such a game. Today’s How to Write focuses on wizards!

Fantasy has seen many great wizards in its timeline. Gandalf, Yennefer, Harry Potter, the list continues. But not one of those characters is similar to the other. The one thing they do have in common is they are able to cast spells.

So, what makes a wizard? How do you effectively write a wizard in a book series? We want to share the top three methods we use to create great relatable wizard characters in your story so you can add them into stories of your own!

Choose their Speciality

When creating a wizard in a game like Dungeons & Dragons for instance, you get to choose the specific magic you specialize in. It’s a bit like choosing a major in college or a professional trade such as blacksmithing. No two professionals in their field are the same, so neither are wizards.

Take Thread of Souls for example. Gnome wizard Tymus specializes in Distortis magic, the study of illusion. He relies on misdirection and summoned images and sounds to overcome challenges. Whereas human wizard Vera uses Aegitis, protective magic, to safeguard allies and places.

Having a wizard do all sorts of magic can be difficult to follow. Stick to having your wizard characters focus on one specialty and your readers won’t get lost in what it is they are good at. If they need to use another sort of magic such as fire when they normally use ice, have them use a wand or magical item that uses the power instead.

Choose their Personal Effects

We tend to recognize characters by their attire, personality, or items. Gandalf is typically seen with a pointy hat and walking staff. So, giving your wizard character a particular article of clothing or item is a great way to have them stand out.

Tymus wears mismatched clothes of vibrant colors that show off his character. While Vera dresses in fine robes of pink, blue, and purple, carries a staff, and wears an oversized pair of glasses. One is more wild and chaotic, while the other is more refined and dignified.

Likewise, give a villain wizard character darker clothing and crude, yet refined-looking weapons or magic. Their staff may be ancient and withered with spikes at the top.

Tie their Personality to their Specialty

Along with their personal effects, give them a unique personality. Wizards are generally intelligent, as casting magic is all about mental fortitude. Yet, intelligence isn’t being the smartest person in the room. It’s the ability to gain and use knowledge. Therefore, you could have a bumbling wizard character who is rather skilled in their specialty.

Tymus is constantly moving and talking. It’s part of his ADHD. It makes him seem all over the place and unfocused when in actuality he focuses deeply on one aspect at a time. He’s always focusing his attention on his magic. How it can be used to distract or help bring joy to others. His clothing is also tied to his choice of magic and personality. He also has bright pink hair and a matching mustache. Both can be distracting but also cause others to smile as they are fun and outgoing like him.

While Vera is seen as the polar opposite of Tymus. She’s reserved and thoughtful, always taking her time to ponder a thought and say the right words. As the Magister of Aegitis, she is as unmoving as a wall of stone and holds true to the rigid ways of the Citadel.

Keep in mind your villain wizards too. Their magic is a distorted version of what they chose as their specialty. Mental magic could cause blood to drip from their and their enemy’s nose. While fire takes on a more sinister nature. Instead of a simple blast of flames, it appears as a snake striking its opponent.


We hope this helps you create more rounded wizard characters in your stories. Wizards are a thrilling addition to any fantasy tale and each one is different and fun to create.

Professor Moriarty is a great choice for a wizard character. He is cunning, vile, cruel, and highly intelligent.

Gandalf has his trusty walking stick. Yennefer is incredibly sarcastic yet stern, smart, and one of the most powerful wizards of her time.

https://www.16personalities.com/intj-personality

Lore, Misc Posts, Thread of Souls

International Beer Day and the Drybarrel Clan

Happy International Beer Day one and all! It’s not for everyone but it is what Ruuda Drybarrel’s family bases their entire livelihood on. The dwarven clan built a brewery next to their house and spends hour after hour creating beer. Whether it’s an IPA, lager, stout, ale, root beer, or another concoction, they are dedicated to perfecting each and every bottle.

The clan of 14 was blessed by the deity Thruumdar to brew beer. Ruuda, however, was not so lucky. When it came time for her blessing, she failed at everything. She couldn’t seem to do anything right and her family said each bottle of beer she made turned out wrong.

She failed at the whole process. From milling grain, pulling yeast from fruit skins, lautering, properly boiling the brew, fermenting the brew, and creating kegs and glass bottles. Her parents said each brew was poor quality.

In Thread of Souls: Phantom Five, Ruuda is forced to leave her home as she’s earned a sizeable debt to other clans figuring out her blessing. She carries with her a keg on her back full of supplies and her homemade brew. Her family may not like it but she finds it drinkable. As do many others along her journey.

Taliesin said, “Ruuda, right now I could really use one of your beers.” “Really?” Ruuda gasped. She untied her barrel from her back and quickly rummaged through, pulling out a bottle.

At first she only grabbed two cups, but when Unolé and Wash held out their hands, she grabbed another two and sat them out. She poured the beer into each one and dispensed them.

Taliesin took a long drink and she watched him carefully. When he sat the cup down, she asked, “How is it?”

He grinned. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”

There’s a lot that goes into writing a novel. We researched how beer is made so we’d understand the process and could explain it in Thread of Souls. We both grew up not liking the drink and to this day it’s still not our favorite thing. However, it runs in the family.

Dorian’s father is a homebrewer so we know firsthand what it takes to brew a bottle. The smell is horrendous but the process can be enjoyable, especially to watch. There was one time the kitchen nearly burned down in the middle of brewing. From then on, father Ravenwood was forced to brew outside.

At home, the process was a one-man band. In Thread of Souls, it’s every Drybarrel on deck. Each clan member has a job to do and it’s all managed by Ruuda’s father Angrem and mother Sadiq.

So, the next time you grab a pint of beer or root beer. Give a cheer to the Drybarrel Clan. They’ll toast your success as well. Drink responsibly, friends!

Misc Posts

How to Write Dialogue


Hello to all you writers or curious readers out there! Let’s talk dialogue. You can have beautiful descriptions in your stories, you can have intense fight scenes, but if you don’t have good dialogue, the heart and soul of your characters vanish.

I have been writing my entire life, and before becoming a published author my first exposure to having my work reviewed by others was writing fanfics. (I encourage all new and seasoned writers to take a shot at fanfics, they are great learning experiences!) As I put out more and more stories, I found I was getting the same comments.

“You write dialogue so well.” “You really capture the character voices.” “I can tell the difference between who is talking in your dialogue and it’s great.”

I realized then how important dialogue was to bring heart to the story, and that readers really pick up on good quality dialogue. From my years of award-winning writing that followed, I have compiled a list that I hope helps others that are struggling, or that just want to learn more!

Top Dialogue-Writing Skills

Don’t Overuse “Said”

I’ve mentioned before on this website how much I dislike “said” and only use it when absolutely necessary. Using alternative words will not only help your dialogue feel fresh and dynamic, but also help to convey emotions. Here’s some examples.

Don’t: “I hate you,” he said.

Do: “I hate you,” he snapped.

Don’t: “I can handle this,” she said.

Do: “I can handle this,” she asserted.

Choosing the right word helps to convey tone. You can refer to this list that we compiled for use! For a quick reference, here are some good ideas: growled, proclaimed, commanded, grumbled, countered, commented, explained, sighed, muttered, reprimanded, stated, admitted, pleaded, sputtered, divulged, concluded, begged, yelped, recalled, scoffed, teased, whimpered, responded, questioned.

Varying the Structure of Your Dialogue

What I mean by this, is that the “said” part of the dialogue shouldn’t always appear in the same place. Put it before, after, or even in the middle of the quotes to ensure things feel fresh and not repetitive. Here are some examples from Path of the Spiders:

“I’ve seen many things,” Xidime answered.

“I need to think,” Artemis sighed. “Let’s get out of here before we’re caught.”

Unolé gasped. “There’s a skeleton inside!”

Use Action to Bring More Life to Dialogue

When you use action alongside dialogue, it helps to carry the scene forward. Of course, this can be overused. You don’t want to interrupt the flow of dialogue by having too many action descriptions. But also under-using it makes dialogue feel too transactional. We want to keep readers invested in the scene and keep the plot moving forward. Here are more examples of individual lines from Path of the Spiders that have action with them.

Taliesin held his hands up before him. “Let’s see what he has to tell us.” Magic trailed after his fingers and his spider medallion leaked shadow. The snarling sounds of Chasmic rolled off his tongue. “Bol saath dzmare.”

Artemis returned her gaze to Lysander. “Yes, I will help.”

“I don’t think they are coming back,” Ruuda’s voice broke through his mess of thoughts as she walked up, wiping her blades clean of blood. “Those things were terrible. What did you say they were again?”

Understand How Your Character Sounds

We’ll do a whole other entry on “character voice” another time, but for now keep in mind that characters have a unique way of talking. That doesn’t mean you should force characters to speak unnaturally just for the sake of differentiating them. People often sound similar in real life, after all. But keep some things in mind when writing that character’s speech.

  • Do they use “big” words, or small words? (“This is a pretty place” vs “This is a magnificent location”)
  • Do they use conjunctions a lot, or do they not? (“I can’t do that” vs “I cannot do that”)
  • Do they often speak their mind, or are they private?
  • Are they emotional or stoic?
  • Do they speak a lot or a little?
  • Do they use profanity?
  • Do they have any patterns of speech unique to them? (For example, Wash often uses “How’s about” in conversation.

This is more of a personal preference, but I’ve found trying to write accents more distracting than immersive. When I read a character that says “Ye gunna do wut?” rather than “You’re gonna do what?” I find I’m spending more time dissecting their speech rather than getting into the story.


Hope this has been helpful in your journey of writing! We love to know what projects you’re working on, so feel free to share below! Thanks for reading!


The Spool of Souls: Updates & News, Thread of Souls

Sneak Peek of Book IV: Asunder


The release of Asunder, the fourth book in the Thread of Souls octology, is only half a year away! We want to give you a sneak peek of the upcoming book. While this is still in-progress, we are excited to share this bit from the world of Thread of Souls!


If any of the other mages of the Inquisicore Spire’s fourth floor had peeked into the office of Jasita Yolarin, they would have thought a blizzard hit it. Papers whisked across a large curved desk, files flew from drawers, inkpots and quills hovered in the air, and inanimate objects moved about as if alive. In the center of it all stood a frazzled high elf woman with her ponytail askew. One hand flipped through pages brought before her while the other continued to make gestures of spells. Lounging on a sunlit windowsill, an orange and white cat regarded her passively. 

“Get me the records from the Vesper guard tower!” Jasita commanded, barely looking up from her review of a folder. 

In response, a ribbon rolled across the desk of its own accord, wrapped around the corner of a rolled-up parchment, and handed it up to the mage. 

“Write down today’s date and the hour,” she commanded a hovering journal. “Two hours ago a message was sent from the Crystal Rail to the Council of Nine by Magister Dorian Aster. He is bringing in prisoners from the Korventine Empire. And twenty minutes ago, the Magistrate herself, Leliana Dante, asked me to report to her. And I-”

She broke off as a brass hourglass shuffled across the desk toward her, its pink sand within nearly spent. 

Her panic renewed, Jasita quickly straightened her robes and ponytail. She scooped up a stack of documents that had the names Taliesin Ostoroth and Ruuda Drybarrel written all over them.  She then glanced across at the hovering journal. 

“Lulu, ensure this office is clean by the time I return,” she stated. After the journal inclined itself in understanding, she turned towards the cat. “Catlu, lock the door behind me.”

The cat flicked her tail. 

With one smooth step Jasita exited her office in a composed and quiet state. Even though she shut the door softly behind her, the noise still echoed in the otherwise silent and still hall lined with five other doors and a stairwell entrance. 

She strode into the stairwell and to an alcove with a teleportation circle etched on the ground. It glowed a slight purple. She made the gestures of the spell and whispered the arcane words before she was smoothly transported. The room around her did not change, but when she stepped out of the stairwell she was no longer on the fourth floor. 

A busy clerical area greeted her. Shelves lined the walls and ran down the length of the room like stripes. It was a bustling space filled with the noise of shuffling papers and the smell of sterilization. The staff here didn’t spare her a glance as she crossed the large space and over to the singular door that connected the Inquisicore Spire to the taller and wider Dominicore Spire. 

Leaving behind the strict and tidy clerical room, she transitioned into a lounge area just inside of the Dominicore Spire’s lobby. This was for employees of the Citadel only, not visitors or students. Currently, two mages rested on fine purple sofas and read books. They all ignored one another as Jasita crossed the room. The Citadel employed tens of thousands of people. Not everyone worked on-site at the three towers or within the city of Cita, but the building was still constantly busy with professionals extremely serious about their work. Many studied and worked for years to get a chance to join the Citadel. And some, like her, were identified at a young age, graduated from the university within the Intellicore Spire, and then hired into a position based on talent and interest. 

Jasita exited the lounge and into an inner chamber. It was a corridor that wrapped around the stairwell in a circle, with a handful of doors branching off of it. She could barely hear murmured conversations from the lobby. 

Stepping into this next stairwell, this time the high elf paused before casting the incantation. She’d only ever spoken to Leliana Dante a few times in her entire 325 years of life. She was there when Leliana stepped into the Magistrate role, replacing the retiring dwarven Magistrate Karduun Whitetree. Coming from a long line of leaders, Leliana was a woman to be feared and respected. It made Jasita’s failure sting all the worse. 

Taking a deep breath to calm herself, Jasita gestured out the spell and felt her body whisked up. From the bottom of the spire to the very top, the thirtieth floor. Reformed, Jasita stepped out of the purple stairwell and into the brightly sunlit top floor. She was faced with a long corridor that ran the length of the floor, ending in walls of tall windows. There was a restrained beauty to the designs here. Purple marble with brass decor and accents. It was all very expensive and well-crafted, but with control that reflected the seriousness of the area. There were only two doors. On one side was the meeting chamber of the Council of Nine. On the other was the Magistrate’s office. A singular statue decorated the otherwise empty corridor. A seven-foot-tall depiction of the Magister, Naboris, the god of magic. He wore hooded robes and held a purple spark in his hand. A symbol of his gift of magic to the world. 

Jasita paused at a tall mirror to ensure she looked proper enough to speak to Leliana. Her traditional pink robes with blue arcane sigils were pressed and neatly tucked. Shorter strands of hair that couldn’t tie back into her ponytail framed her fair and angular elvish face. Her aqua eyes were calculating, taking in each detail with precision and a keen memory. 

Taking another deep, steadying breath, Jasita stepped up to Leliana’s white wood door and knocked. 

“Enter, Yolarin,” came a measured voice from the other side.

Jasita entered a large semi-circular office. The back wall was entirely windows, allowing in a sweeping view over the Pale Timberlands, the Magister’s Cliffs, and the deep blue of Viscera’s Bay beyond. A gentle snowfall coated everything in white. To one side of the room was a pristine seating area and a crackling fireplace. To the other were multiple bookshelves and a small desk stacked with tomes and scrolls. Directly across from her was a large desk made of birch wood. Behind parchments and books and marble statuettes sat Leliana Dante herself. 

She was a few hundred years older than Jasita, with a strong jawline and sharp cheekbones. She had the same purple hair that her ancestor, Viscera Dante, was known for. It was shaved short on one side, bangs on the other side framing her face in layers. The rest was quite long and braided behind her. Her pink and blue robes were crafted of the finest materials and neatly pressed. Sharp and narrow purple eyes regarded Jasita with full attention. 

“Yolarin, thank you for coming so promptly,” Leliana said. 

Jasita stepped up to the desk, clutching onto her folders. “Of course.”

“It seems Dorian Aster has inadvertently tracked down your two fugitives. With the help of Vera Udanta, I’m told.”

“I am surprised they were in the Korventine Empire. That is a great distance from where I  . . . lost them.”

Leliana held out her hand and Jasita quickly passed over the folders to her. All her notes and records regarding the two prisoners she’d apprehended north of Vesper. The dark elf and dark dwarf. Taliesin Ostoroth and Ruuda Drybarrel. In her custody for two weeks before they escaped during a rest stop. 

As she looked over the papers, Leliana said, “They were found in An’Ock. A bold place for two of their race to be hiding. They were traveling with a criminal Dorian has been hunting for some time, a Sunspirian man that summons a fey creature. A lucky bit of coincidence, it seems.”

“ . . . Yes.”

The rhythmic noises of flipping parchment were nearly drowned out by Jasita’s own pounding heart. 

Without looking up, Leliana asked, “Do you know why they would go to An’Ock? Did they give any reason during the time you had them in your custody?”

“ . . . No. They would not divulge their destination or purpose.”

This time Leliana’s eyes did look up at her. “And you weren’t able to get anything from their minds?”

Jasita hesitated. “I . . . thought it best to wait until we arrived at the Citadel for that type of interrogation.”

“Hm.” She closed the reports and slid the papers back towards the blonde woman. “I don’t have to impress on you how valuable these prisoners are. Ever since the Elven Exodus, we have lost contact with the dark elves. And it has been over a millennium since the Dark Dwarven Clan has interacted with anyone on this surface world, much less the rest of the dwarves. And with the rumors that come from the Deep Hollows, as well as the slave trade and violent interactions, information now is more valuable than ever. I was proud when I heard you’d apprehended two of them in the Eleste Highlands. And sorely disappointed when I learned they escaped you and a group of highly trained soldiers.”

The lump in her throat made it impossible for Jasita to respond. 

Leliana sighed and stood. “But, ever since you arrived here as a young high elf I’ve seen promise in you. You learned to control your intrusive telepathy well under my tutelage. You excelled in all your classes. You were a star employee in all your support positions after graduation. Not to mention your parents are well-respected researchers. It is little wonder you have such discipline.”

Jasta’s eyes darted away at the mention of her parents, staring hard at the far wall. 

“So, I want the dark elf and dark dwarf assigned directly to you,” Leliana continued. “They will be your responsibility and yours alone. I trust you to do better this time.” She turned away and stared out the window at the snowfall. 

A wave of relief washed over Jasita. “Thank you very much, Magistrate Dante. I will not fail. What is it you wish to learn from them?”

The Magistrate’s powerful stance was silhouetted against the window. “Learn about their culture. Their religion. Why do they distance themselves from the rest of us? Why do they capture slaves and what they are used for? Where are their cities are located? What are their people’s intentions? What were both of them were doing so far from home? Why were they in An’Ock? I want to know it all.” 

Jasita inclined her head. “I can do this.”

“They will be here within a week, Yolarin. Make sure you are ready.”


D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, Opinion, Reviews

Symbaroum: Thrilling adventure in a corrupted land – Review

They say untold treasure lies within the forest of Davokar. That and corrupted beasts and shadows of former adventurers. Be it you’re the one looking for an Explorer’s License, I’ll not keep you from your quest. The dark forest awaits. Good luck out there.

Symbaroum is a dark fantasy tabletop roleplaying game from Free League Publishing. It’s set in a world where adventurers venture into the vast forest known as Davokar and search for fortune and glory. Players build a character and party up with others to explore, solve mysteries, and make a name for themselves in this dangerous world.

It follows similar tabletop tropes. You build a character, choose attributes to see what you’re good and bad at, select your archetype, and venture out into the unknown. One major difference is its dice system. Instead of rolling a d20 and aiming for a high number, you’ll want to do the opposite.

Building a character comes down to choosing from three archetypes: mystic, hunter, and warrior. Each one is broken down into occupations, of which there are numerous. Occupations are your character’s background and can be wizards, rangers, knights, sorcerers, duelists, sellswords, and more. Altogether there are 15 occupations.

From there you’ll select attributes and each is linked to the roll of a d20. They are broken down into the following categories: accurate, cunning, discrete, persuasive, quick, strong, resolute, and vigilant. These are what you’ll focus on throughout each session.

Welcome to the Upside Down the D20

One of the most interesting features of Symbaroum is found in its d20 system. It’s built in such a way that you’ll need to roll low to succeed. It’s backward from other popular games out there.

Say for instance you want to pick a lock on a door and have a discreet of 13. You’d roll a discreet check versus the lock’s modifier of -3. The modifier subtracts 3 to your discreet attribute making it a total of 10 for this one moment. You would have to roll under 10 to successfully pick the lock.

This makes attacking targets rather more engaging as well. Each enemy and player character has a target defense that impacts the d20. To successfully hit a target, the roll has to be below the target value. Yet, armor and character abilities can affect the overall number as well. So, it’s not as simple as hitting that goal number sometimes.

Shadow and Corruption – Who turned out the lights?

Symbaroum utilizes shadows as a way to build tension and show the spread of corruption. Both work in tandem with one another and make for great role-play opportunities. Each character and creature in Symbaroum has a shadow cast by light. It’s when a creature has two shadows, people should begin to worry.

A creature with a second shadow is considered to be corrupted. This means, they have spent too much time in an area of heavy corruption, such as the forest of Davokar; they’ve messed with magic they should have stayed away from, or cast a spell. Once the corruption spreads too far, characters become supernatural beings and become part of the forest ecosystem.

The World

The lore is as vast as the forest you’ll be exploring. Corruption spread throughout the land and Queen Korinthia searched for a place for her and her people. She established the kingdom of Ambria but it is at constant war with surrounding barbarian tribes and the monsters of the forest.

Those who wish to earn a living are tasked with venturing into the forest to find treasure, fight back the hordes of monstrosities, and defend the kingdom against barbarian attacks. There’s quite a bit to do in Symbaroum and plenty of quests and sessions to build multiple campaigns around.


Symbaroum is a thrilling tabletop experience that is wildly different from other tabletop games around. It can be daunting to figure out at first, like any tabletop game, but is worth it. The d20 system is engaging and makes you think about what skills to use in order to succeed. The world is dark and full of horrific monsters and it’s built upon such wonderful lore.

There are several books available from the Player’s Guide, Core Rulebook, Starter Set, and Alberetor the Haunted Waste adventure. Free League also makes Forbidden Lands, another excellent tabletop game.

Lore, Thread of Souls

World Ocean Day – Bay of Nailo

We are all about the ocean and preserving it to keep animals and beaches safe and clean. With World Ocean Day on June 8, we’re celebrating by visiting the Bay of Nailo in Thread of Souls!

Bay of Nailo

The Bay of Nailo sits between the pristine and luxurious city of Ocealo and the wilderness of the Southern Kingdoms. It’s part of a major trade route that crosses the entirety of Corventos. Merchants who travel the Bay of Nailo make port at Ocealo to collect fresh fruit, vegetables, and fish before delivering them to other cities on their route.

Silvertongue Hollow rests near the banks of the water. It’s a city of thieves and anyone looking to avoid the law. Any merchants willing to travel up the channel only do so to make a deal with the rulers of the lawless and dark town.

The waters of the bay come from the Ice Cap Inlet way in the north of Corventos. They flow down from the elven capital of Eleste’si and split into the Iron River and the Amakiir River. The Amakiir flows through the small village of Vesper and onwards into the Bay of Nailo.

Life in the Bay

The bay is home to much aquatic life including colorful fish, turtles, crabs, jellyfish, and sharks. It’s even home to a guardian that protects Oceala from harm. The great turtle Majora. The behemoth creature guards the port and prevents anyone from entering unless they offer a great amount of tribute.

Jade’s other Home

Jade’s grandparents govern Ocealo and she will often visit them and explore the city. However, she isn’t fond of the ocean or the bay for one specific reason.

A beautiful gem sitting on the coast. Her family visited it often as she was growing up. She recalled days playing with her brother, Heron, in the shallows of the Bay of Nailo. But that was before she’d realized what could live in the water. Before she understood the great depths of the ocean could hold monstrosities larger than castles. Her grandparents had laughed at her fears and assured her the bay had always been safe. But experiences as children tended to stick with people, and Jade had never quite outgrown her fear of the ocean.

The adventuring party known as the Phantom Five travels in the Bay of Nailo in Thread of Souls Book II: Ash & Thunder.