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Out of Game Posts / Re: Returning to NERO
« Last post by Derek Jones on November 29, 2018, 01:53:15 pm »
Hi Mike!

Our season ended in October, and should be starting back up in April of 2019.

Feel free to ask any questions that you might have. You can also jump on over to our FB group, or our discord server!
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Out of Game Posts / Re: Returning to NERO
« Last post by Parrilla on October 27, 2018, 07:31:37 am »
Just jump into it and let the muscle memory do the rest. If you think about it too much, you might end up talking yourself out of it. haha
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Event Teasers! / Re: Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #3
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 09, 2018, 09:46:43 am »
Somewhere outside the mortal realm of the Terran Valley there stretches a Long Road. The Long Road is made up of countless different roads, some brick, some stone, some just dirt and some could hardly be called a road at all. The Long Road is made up of fresh new branches, and branches so old that no being has travelled over them in tens of thousands of years. All roads eventually become part of this road, and this road leads to destinations beyond all realms.

A familiar wind twists and spins upon the Long Road. Earthly debris flutter and fly about until they form the physical body of the old Crone and the Crow.

The Crone takes in the familiar surroundings of the Long Road and notes the lack of travellers wandering the paths of the dead.

"What's this? Where have the dead gone? Surely not even the Harbingers dare to cross the death dragon." Mutters the old woman. "What is this all about, Crow?" Questions the Crone.

The large black crow that stands upon the shoulder of the old woman croaks with a voice seldom used. "This is strange, Mother. I have seen death within the Terran Valley with my own eyes. The Harbingers do not interfere with the cycle, there must be something else at play."

The Crone clutches at her gnarled wooden cane. "Yes, there must. Come, let us see if the Death Dragon has answers." With the motion of her hand, the old Crone sets into motion the debris ridden whirlwind and disappears from sight.

On the Plane of Death lies the Eternal Graveyard, a massive spiritual embodiment of the last resting place of all formerly living spirits. The Eternal Graveyard has been the den of the Dragon of Death, Asmodeous, for as long as mortal memory can recall. There are many such places on the Plane of Death, as different cultures come and go so too do the physical manifestations of the plane.

The landscape is dark and barren of life. Dry grey dirt give way to the occasional leafless trees that dot the landscape under a blanket of black cloudless sky. Points of light that appear to be stars twinkle in a spectacular night sky reminiscent of the sky found on Tyrra. There are no constellations to be found in this sky, however, as the points of light appear and disappear haphazardly.

In front of the massive metallic gate that serves as the entrance to the Eternal Graveyard the swirling whirlwind of debris coalesces into the form of the old Crone and the Crow.

The old woman stands on guard as her form solidifies from the dirt, leaves, and twigs that are caught up in the magical dust devil. On her shoulder, the Crow flaps its wings and lets out a loud caw in alarm.

All around the new arrivals, ghostly spirits of the formerly living listlessly float in mid air. None of the spirits appear to take notice of the disturbance from the arrival of the Crone and Crow. The Crone is familiar with Plane of Death, she has been here countless number of times to bargain with the Death Dragon for the spirits of those that practice the traditions. The Crone has never seen this, however.

A small green vortex of power swirls in midair near the gate of the Eternal Graveyard. A black robed figure weilding a massive scythe made of white glowing arcane magic herds nearby spirits into the portal vortex where the spirits come to their senses and begin to scream in anguish before being sucked into an unknown oblivion. Thankfully, the vortex is far enough away that the Black Shepard does not notice the Crone and her companion.

"You are no longer welcome here, old woman." Says a disembodied voice near the Crone. The old woman turns to the source of the warning and suddenly finds herself face-to-face with a large suit of black armor, etched with ancient arcane runes of power and Death.

"Lord Erostis" Sighs the old woman, lowering her guard. "You know better than to sneak up on an old woman. You gave me quite the fright!" A crooked smile forms on the cracked lips of the old Crone.

"Jerk!" Croaks the Crow.

"You should leave, Samhain. The Plane of Death no longer welcomes you. The new master does not respect the old traditions. You will find no bargain to be struck here. Be gone!" Snarls the deep voice within the black steel helm.

"What is this?" Snaps the Crone. "A new master? Someone killed off the Death Dragon?" Asks the Crone incredulously.

"It does not matter to you, how this came to pass. It only matters that you leave now before the master takes note of your presence and binds you to his will!" Warns the armored Death Lord.

"What is this new Archon of Death doing with the spirits of the dead?" Demands the old woman. "I'll not leave until I receive an answer as to why the traditions have been abandoned, and the spirits are being diverted from their paths along the roads!"

The shoulders of the rune covered armor drop ever so slightly. "Samhain, the time has come to pass when the ancient enemy has awakened. I do not know how this has come to pass, but I do know that the servants of the enemy have taken the power of Life and Death and have twisted the elements into tools of the forbidden magic. The ancient empire in the Terran Valley has been risen from their tombs in the sand. The Kings have set into motion their vile plans to awaken their lords."

The black helmet of the Death Lord turns towards the Black Shepard. "My plane has fallen. These are no longer the spirits of heroes and champions. They are food for the enemy."

Samhain looks to the Crow on her shoulder and then to the green vortex that continues to swallow the spirits as they are pushed into the event horizon. "Are there no champions left to fight them? Are the traditions so far gone as to be unknown to the Tyrrans?" Asks the Crone.

"Old woman. You have arrived much too late." Says the Death Lord.

"No, she has not." States another voice. The form of a shining spirit appears before the trio.   The lovely sylvan spirit form of Thelan Starbloom approaches the old Crone. "Beloved Samhain, I am thankful that you have come. It pains me that you are not welcomed in the old ways that you deserve. As you can see with your own eyes, the people suffer and the next war begins within the valley." The shining form of the old sylvan spirit, and the manner in which it addresses the old Crone marks the Elven spirit as one of the Siol Lear.

"You spoke of my timeliness. What do you know, child of the Siol Lear?" Asks the Crone.

"It is true that the old ways are forgotten, but they are not lost. My people kept the traditions in writing as well as in the mind. While the living no longer practice the old traditions, there are those that will listen. There are adventurers within the town called Varos, where the Moon called home." Says the sylvan spirit.

"Varos, I know of it. The town is renowned for its greed and stupidity. Mother, I do not think it would be wise to involve those mortals in this new game." Croaks the Crow.

"We shall see if your evaluation is correct, Crow. I dearly hope that you are wrong on this as well." Says the Crone. The old woman waves her hand to summon the whirlwind that will take her from the Plane of Death. "Come Thelan, we will seek out those who will listen." In an instant, the Death Lord is left on his withering plane to bear witness to the end.
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Event Teasers! / Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #3
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 08, 2018, 09:21:00 pm »
Each morning the air gets cooler and cooler as the end of one season gives way to the next. As broken and fractured as it is within the Terran Valley, Time still marches on. The leaves of the great trees begin to wither and dry up as the trees prepare for the frost of winter that is only but a breath away. The fish and the birds migrate to warmer areas lest they freeze in the biting cold of the waning sun. The harvest is over, the grain bins sit festering with rotted wheat and barley. This winter will bring famine, disease, and death.

A pumpkin patch lies untended, the farmer having long ago given up all hope to save his crop. The large orange and green globes have succumbed to the rot and pestilence that has taken hold of the Terran Valley for several months now. The vines have turned to wisy husks attached to worm ridden pulps of goo.

This evening, a cool wind blows across the meadows and swirls through the trees. The wind dances over the rotten pumpkin field, twirling and swirling in a great show for no one. The festivals have not opened this year. The bonfires are not blazing and the fields are home to no merriment. There is little to be thankful for, and the traditions are forgotten amongst the  sorrow of decisions made and fear of the consequences to come.

The dancing wind forms a blinding wall of spinning leaves, dust, and straw as it always has. The rotating whirlwind of the harvest shrinks and forms the outline of an ancient woman covered in the same debris of the twisting wind. Her form is hunched with age, her hair is a tangled mess, and her clothes look to be layers of rags upon rags. Still, she smiles a crooked smile and holds one hand up in a gesture of accomplishment.

Silence. She is alone in the pumpkin patch.

The old crone frowns and wonders to herself. Where are the merrymakers? Where are the bonfires, the apple cider, the flaming jack o' lanterns? Has she gotten the time wrong?

The woman looks around the patch and spies a large black crow with eyes of fiery emerald watching her from its perch on a tattered and leaning scarecrow. "You!" Says the crone while pointing a crooked bony finger in the crows direction. "What season is it? Have I missed the harvest celebrations?" The old crone questions the crow.

The large black bird spread its wings and launches itself through the cool air, landing on the shoulder of the old woman. The bird caws and shreikes before finding its voice. "It is the season of autumn, Mother." Says the bird. "The harvest has been cancelled, Man has been beset by the Harbingers and their food has gone bad."

The old woman looks around at the putrid pumpkin patch. "I see that now." She nods. "This will be a harsh winter for the Man. Harsh indeed." Nods the crone. "Well, there is nothing to be done here now. We shall have to do without the presentations and merriment this year." The large crow caws in agreement to the old woman.

The crone flicks her bony hand and suddenly a gnarled cane of wood so old that it has blackened from use appears. "Come, Crow. We might as well get started collecting the dead, these old bones have a feeling that we will be making more trips than usual this year." The wind erupts around both the old crone and the crow, once again picking up debris from the pumpkin patch. In but a second, the pair of ancient souls are gone.
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Event Teasers! / Re: Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #2
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 08, 2018, 03:12:17 pm »
At the center of the Southwood Forest exists what was known as the Court of Dreams. This area is the central power of the Fey of the Southwood, and contains the Heart of the Wood that beats life throughout the Southwood. The Court of Dreams is, as its name suggests, the seat of High Power for the Seelie and Unseelie Fey that call the forest their home. Ancient texts also claim that the Court of Dreams once held the most powerful gateways to both the Plane of Dream and to the ancestral home of the Fey in Arcadia, though this cannot be verified as there exists no solid evidence of such powerful gateways ever existing.

This area of the Southwood Forest is the most enigmatic of the lands found in the wood. The library found in Varos, and the Royal Library of the Kingdom of the Terran Valley contain almost no information on the Court of Dreams. Crossing a few palms with the right amount of gold coin can loosen the lips of a few unsavory folks in New Haven to drop the names of several self-important individuals that maintain secret personal libraries that are rumored to contain ancient knowledge of the Court.

Of the texts that are able to be scoured by legitimate means, the Court of Dreams is referred to as The Black Well due to the appearance of a strange well during many attempts to research the area of the Court magically. There exists any number of reasonings for the appearance of the well, nearly as many opinions as there have been attempts, but the purpose and meaning of the well remains a mystery. (Editor's note: When the Wizards responsible for the reports of the well were sought for interview, three refused to discuss the matter further, four suddenly left for destinations unknown, and two died shortly after fulfilling my interview request.)

Recent adventurer reports from the outskirts of The Black Well area indicate a strong presence of Elemental Nightmare as well as many strong Dark Fey that cry out for mortal flesh.

Travel to The Black Well is not recommended. 
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Event Teasers! / Re: Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #2
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 08, 2018, 03:11:52 pm »
No one ever claimed that the magical Southwood Forest was a logical land where deserts are deserts, and the geography is rational. This leads us to another curiosity of the Fey forest, the area known as the Winter's Throne.

The Winter's Throne is actually the inner caldera of a long dead volcano that sank into the earth long before the Spirit Wars. The surrounding area no longer towers over the Terran Valley, but it now rests at nearly ground level with only a hilly circle to delineate it from the rest of the Southwood.

As one traverses the hilly terrain to reach the caldera, the ambient temperature drops to cooler and cooler temperatures until the traveller encounters a constant snowfall of the lightest and fluffiest snow known to the valley. This area was traditionally home to many of the Wolf Scavenger clans of the Terran Valley prior to the invasion of the Dark Ones in year 5752. During the time of the Siol Lear, Winter's Throne boasted a number of Wolf, Tiger and Snow Leopard shape shifters and scavenger tribes.

When the Siol Lear fell during the time of the Spirit Wars and the Dark Curse was laid upon the lands of the Southwood Forest, the Tribes of Winter fought bravely for their homeland against the Dark Fey that claimed lordship over the domain. For their courage and sacrifice defending their land, the tribes within the  caldera were cursed with an affliction that strengthened their beastial nature and left them insatiably hungry for warm flesh.

Many chilling tales are told around the camp fire of the times after the Dark Curse when the howls of Winter's Children carry in the wind, and the warm blooded hide in mounds of thick snow. The foolish consider these tales for only children, to keep them in line at night while the adults keep warm in their tents. Those adventurers that know better heed the call of the Wendigo and take to heart the warnings.       
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Event Teasers! / Re: Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #2
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 08, 2018, 03:11:13 pm »
The northeastern portion of the Southwood Forest is dominated by an impossibly large salt water lake (sea?) that seems to exist outside the bounds of the forest itself. Old texts that attempt to map the area of the Southwood Forest mention that the waters now known as the Depths of the Doomed must certainly exist at least partially on another plane of existence as the area covered by the Depths exceed the size of the Southwood Forest itself by at least double.

Originally called The Lake of Magic, the Depths of the Doomed suffers from the same curse that has afflicted the entire Southwood Forest since the Spirit wars. In times of peace, the lake resembled a calm and welcoming body of water that was known for excellent fishing, trade with the water-born natives, and a busy passage between other large bodies of water across Tyrra through use of the magical Vortex Currents found beneath the waters surface.
 
The waters of the Depths are restless and very choppy, even on a windless day. The dark water is believed to be a result of the unknown depth of the bottom of the lake. Records indicated that several unsuccessful attempts have been made at determining the depth of the lake, all resulting in lost equipment and/or teams of researchers. As of the return of the Dark Ones in year 5752, the bottom of the Depths of the Doomed have remained a mystery.

This not to say that there is no place in the waters that have a bottom. The Depths does maintain a rocky underwater terrain that provides a basis for several underwater societies. Historical records contain some information about water dwelling Fey, monsters known to hunt the open seas, and several large communities of races that are known to call the water home.

Recent forays to the Depths have brought back tales of aggressive water life, and Dark Fey that hunger for the last breath of the living. Some reports tell of run-ins with ghostly pirate vessels and the restless dead of those that succumbed to the siren call of the monsters found within the waters of the Depths. These days the Depths of the Doomed is no place for the weak of heart.
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Event Teasers! / Re: Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #2
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 08, 2018, 03:10:55 pm »
The southernmost section of the Southwood Forest is not really part of the forest itself, but is actually an expansive system of catacombs carved into the ridge far below the area known as Forrester's Ridge.

These catacombs were carved after the events of the Spirit Wars when the Burning Barrows to the West became inaccessible. The honored dead required a place to rest, and the traditional lands for that purpose had been cursed. The Siol Lear had been wiped out so the new caretakers of the forest decided that it would be best to create a new site for honoring the fallen protectors of the Southwood Forest.

For years, the sects of Nature Magic that came to call the Southwood their home labored to create a series of catacombs that could keep the bodies of the fallen safe while honoring their sacrifice to Nature. With a wary eye always pointed to the horrific example that lay just to the West, the sects of Nature also devised the catacombs to be defensive in nature. Protections, traps, and guardians were planned in the creation of the catacombs in case the catacombs become corrupted as the barrows had become. For centuries the catacombs have been expanded and carved deeper and deeper into the earth until the reappearance of the Dark Ones in the year 5752.

When the Dark Ones invaded the Southwood Forest, many sects of the Nature followers became trapped and were forced to flee into the catacombs or else become slaves to the Dark Ones. Since the time of the invasion, the Southwood has been nearly impenetrable to anyone not aligned to the Unseelie Fey. Recent tales coming from adventurers making their way into the heart of the Old Wood say that the catacombs have become terribly deadly, filled with the roaming undead. Those few that have made it into the depths of the Deadly Catacombs, and were able to resurrect successfully, tell tales of an expansive honeycomb of tunnels that lead into a dark and dangerous world unlike anything found on the surface of the Terran Valley.
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Event Teasers! / Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #2
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 08, 2018, 03:10:34 pm »
Near the southernmost section of the Southwood Forest, one will find the ancient burial grounds of the Siol Lear. Massive mounds of earth and stone resembling hills break up the rolling landscape of the once lush Fields of the Reclaimed.

The catacombs of the barrows are said to be miles in length as they twist and turn back upon themselves deep within the rocky soil of the fields. Here, ancient heroes of the Siol Lear were laid to rest with both great pageantry above ground and somber traditional rituals that took days to perform within the barrows below ground.

Those well versed in the lore of the Siol Lear describe the barrows as The Land of Heroes. The sages of the past tell tales of the hero spirits roaming the fields, guarding against those that would desecrate the resting places of the dead. This was a place of honor that, until the Spirit Wars, no Seelie or Unseelie would dare to disrespect.

As with the entirety of the Southwood Forest, even the Land of Heroes fell into corruption when the Dreaming fell. The soil of the fields turned sour and brown with decay. The spirits became hostile and hungry for the life force of the living. The barrows became deadly and unsuited for holding the dead. With no other recourse, the dead were unceremoniously thrown onto the land in heaps to rot and the spirits left to fester.

In the years following the Spirit Wars, when the Seelie and the sages of Nature reclaimed the forest and renamed it to the Southwood, the Land of Heroes remained cursed and unusable as a burial ground. It was during the return of the Dark Ones in year 5752 that a desperate sect of Nature warriors fled into the cursed barrows in order to seek help from the oldest of the Siol Lear heroes. Some stories tell of the Dark Ones that started the blaze that engulfed the cursed land, yet some stories say that what the Nature warriors discovered in the depths of the barrows was so terrible that they set fire to the barrows themselves. Ever since, the area has become known as The Burning Barrows. 



 
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Event Teasers! / Season 4 Event 9 Teasers #1
« Last post by Derek Jones on October 03, 2018, 04:35:56 pm »
The morning fog settled into the low areas of the field in front of the old keep. No flags flew, no banners lay over the ramparts of that stone citadel, but soldiers still paced the walkways with their eyes wary for signs of the enemy.

In the courtyard of the keep, large and muscular Ogres swung massive hammers upon boulders in order to break the stone into more manageable pieces for the war machines currently under construction.

"Dame Belmont!" Shouted an armored soldier as he bounded up the stone stairs to stand in front of the woman who was giving orders to a young Corporal. Dame Belmont turned to the oncoming soldier as she thrust the papers in her hand to the Corporal.

"Tell Sergeant Rutherford that he is to follow these orders exactly this time." The Dame told the young man. "Tell him that if he doesn't, I'll let the Trolls eat more than just his leg." She then dismissed the young Corporal. Dame Belmont then held out her hand to the arriving soldier.

"Dame Belmont." The soldier breathed heavy as he reached into his messenger bag and retrieved the scrolls from within. "I have the reports from Company A, and Company D." The soldier handed the scrolls to Dame Belmont before standing at attention, waiting for further orders.

Dame Belmont unrolled the parchment and scanned the scrawling writing. Her face softened a bit, she looked pleased.

"Soldier." Said Dame Belmont. The soldier reacted instantly by stiffening his stance. "Go to the mess hall and get yourself something to eat. I will send for you shortly." Ordered Dame Belmont. The soldier saluted again and ran back down the stairs to find the kitchens.

"To arms!" Shouted a voice from the ramparts. "Enemy forces sighted in the southern tree line!"

The soldiers in the keep suddenly burst into frantic motion as they ran first to the armory, then to their assigned posts. The guards already on duty took their positions and began to search the gloomy field in front of the keep for signs of enemy movement. The sounds of armor, hurried boot steps, and shouted orders made the courtyard seem chaotic.

"Sergeant!" Snapped Dame Belmont to a burly man that was shouting orders to his men stationed near where the Dame was standing. "What is the situation? More Barbarians seeking to test our walls?" Dame Belmont asked.

"Aye, Dame Belmont. They've taken up along the southern tree line and look to be organizing a charge." Shouted the Sergeant over the sounds of the courtyard. The man turned to the soldiers nearest the Ogres and shouted. "Get those brutes to the gate house and get that gate in place! We don't want to.."

Suddenly, massive armored forms began to take shape within the courtyard of the keep. As soon as their physical bodies solidified from out of nowhere, the huge figures swung their great weapons at the nearest soldiers. The massive and armored figures moved slowly, but with deadly accuracy as they struck down foe after foe in single blows.

Outside the walls of the keep, drums began to beat in rhythm as the Tribe of the Phoenix advanced from their position in the tree line. Howls of rage and terrifying war cries drowned out the screams of the dying soldiers that came from the courtyard. As the Barbarian horde advanced they threw javelins and shot arrows at any target that showed themselves upon the ramparts.

Dame Belmont raced back up the stairs and through a nearby door that allowed entrance to a corridor offering safety deeper within the keep. She slammed the door behind herself and barred the door from the inside. She paused to gather her thoughts as she strode down the hall at a brisk pace.

"Juggernauts." She whispered to no one. "How ironic."

The Dame made several turns as she made her way through the stone hallways of the old keep. Along the way she came across several guard stations. At each one she ordered the guards to attend to her. "We are leaving this wretched place." She said to the guards she encountered. "It has outlived its usefulness, it is time to make our way to the rally point."
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