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Staggering from the wake, the trio of friends made their way along the trail to their departed companions' home. Their hearts had been lightened by tales of the departed, laughter, and communal commiseration. Their steps less hesitant than they had been in days.

Heading into the cabin, Cire got a fire started in the hearth. Durg rustled up another bottle and Selene collapsed into a fur-covered chair. Spitting the cork from his recently acquired prize, Durg addressed Cire as they settled.

“Selene and me be wantin' ya ta know that we be respectin' what ya done for Gene and Stacy.”

Cire immediately began to protest, as nothing had been accomplished. However, before his first word, Durg gave a forceful hand motion.

“Cire, ya may na be lookin' at it this way, but Selene and I know that ya coulda slipped away during the gnoll hunt. Ya may have been thinkin' that with ole Stace gone, that the rest of us would not be takin' the same shine ta ya as before.”

Downing a large swig of the spearberry brandy, the dwarf passed the bottle across the table to a quieted Cire. “By Hephaestus boyo. Ya coulda attacked the hamlet with them fangs o’ yours instead a tryin’ ta make a home here in the first place. You’ve given plenty to the hamlet and done more than that for us.”

Selene leaned back in her chair and ran a hand through her hair.

“It is simple. We spoke to Maisy and Stout. They are the closest thing to a Council that Sunset has.”

She waved her hand around in a general motion. “All of Eugene & Stacy's possessions are recognized as yours. You were already staying here and no one is going to kick you out.”

Pausing, she looked over to Durg and nodded. “You still need capable friends to guard your back, you’re not strong enough to go out into the wilds on your own. We cannot speak for Andreas and Nicolas, but we would both be pleased to stay by your side. If you’re going to pledge yourself to protect the hamlet, we can pledge ourselves to protect you. Whether it is the snow or enemies, we will face them together.”

You have gained a new skill: Adventurer (Legendary)

Character is destiny.” - Heraclitus

You have developed the ability to establish a deep emotional bond between those questing with youThis bond is reinforced by the magical essence of Elysium.

At initiate rank you will be able to have 4 party membersUnlike basic grouped party, you will have significantly increased cooperative ability.

Durg Graniteheart the Stone Dwarf and Selene Silverstar the “Half” Elf have become your Party MembersThey will be with you only as long as your reputation, alignment, and interests synergize with their own.

Clouded with a warm sensation flowing through his brain, Cire was overcome with emotion. He had been gifted a skill through friendship. Cire hadn’t earned the skill, it was entrusted to him. This represented so much more than the sum of it’s parts.

Finally finding his voice, Cire reaffirmed his commitment to them. “I would want nothing more than to have both of you at my side until I no longer draw breath in this world.”

Selene gave a quick elbow to his side. “You and your surprises. We did not expect to become your Party Members. I got the Adventurer skill as well.”

Cire's brow knitted in a bit of confusion. “I take it from the message that being a 'Party Member' is more than us being really great friends?” He had used air quotes to punctuate his question, he had always talked with his hands.

What had come to be common after one of Cire's seemingly innocuous questions, happened shortly after he had spoken. Stone dwarf laughter erupted in the small cabin. Selene grinned while shaking her head, sending raven black strands in errant directions. She answered while her shorter friend enjoyed the situation.

“Indeed it does. We are bonded to each other now. We will all be able to sense each other, in a manner of speaking. I hear it manifests differently depending on the group.” She looked contemplative.

“This has sobered me up a bit, sadly. So I can explain it a little. However, I have only heard bits and pieces regarding the lore from the elders of my village. It is not a skill that is uncovered all that commonly. Our fates have become intertwined, or perhaps they were before we ever met.”

She shrugged and her head lulled to the side a bit. “Look, I can see your status page. You should be able to see ours too.”

Each of their eyes unfocused as they looked over the intimate details of their friend’s status pages.

Biographical Information:

Name: Durg Graniteheart

Level: Level: 9

Experience: 53,409

Race: Stone Dwarf

Class: Unavailable – Requirements not met

Alignment: Benevolent (2 Chaotic, 3 to Good, 1 Righteous)

Languages: Dwarven, Common

Stats:

Health: 217/217

Mana: 62/62

Armor: 21

Strength: 17

Dexterity: 9

Constitution: 20

Intelligence: 8

Spirit: 12

Charisma: 11

Luck: 14

Resistances:

Earth 10%

Mental 12%

Physical 10%

Poison 50%

 

Aspects:

Stalwart

Dauntless

Skills:

Axemanship 16, Natural

Sub-skill: Cleave 9, Natural

Armor 12, Natural

Sub-skill: Heavy Armor 12, Natural

Sub-skill: Charge 7, Natural

Sub-skill: Juggernaut 5, Natural

Sub-skill: Medium Armor 3, Significant

Mining 26, Natural

Sub-skill: Sluicing 12, Natural

Sub-skill: Smelting 4, Natural

Adventurer 1, Natural

Hammer 4, Significant

Meditation 27, Significant

Forestry 6, Average

Sub-skill: Lumber-jacking 3, Average

Trekking 12, Average

Climbing 8, Limited

Gambling 24, Limited

Sub-skill: Drinking Games 17, Natural

Sub-skill: Contests of Might 8, Natural

Lore 28, General

Sub-skill: Mountains & Hills, 22 Natural

Sub-skill: Deep Dark, 18 Significant

Abilities:

Skill Abilities: Cleave, Charge

Traits:

Dwarven Heritage: 10% Earth Magic and Mental Resistance. 50% Poison Resistance. Nightvision.

Subterranean: Bonus to various skills while underground.

Mountaineer: +1 to all actions in natural environments that are predominately made up of stone or rock.

Inventory:

(Not available)

 

Biographical Information:

Name: Selene Silverstar

Level: 13

Experience: 100,742

Race: ½ Moon Elf, ½ Wood Elf

Class: Unselected

Alignment: Stern Trickster (1 Bad, 3 Chaotic, 1 Good, 2 Orderly)

Languages: Elvish, Common

Stats:

Health: 95/95

Mana: 172/172

Armor: 14

Dodge: 10%

Strength: 11

Dexterity: 19

Constitution: 10

Intelligence: 16

Spirit: 17

Charisma: 15

Luck: 11

Resistances:

Charm 25%,

Infernal 10%

Holy 10%

Life 10%

 

Aspects:

Sly

Skills:

Blades 20, Natural

Sub-skill: Small Blades 20, Natural

Sub-skill: Flurry 12, Natural

Sub-skill: Large Blades 7, Significant

Sub-skill: Curved Blades 2, Significant

Thrown Weapons 15, Natural

Sub-skill: Blades 8, Natural

Sub-skill: Devices 3, Natural

Archery 48, Natural

Sub-skill: Marksmanship 33, Natural

Sub-skill: Quickdraw 26, Natural

Pickpocket 16, Natural

Sub-skill: Sleight of Hand 8, Natural

Stealth 28, Natural

Adventurer 1, Natural

Armor 27, Significant

Sub-skill: Medium Armor 27, Significant

Sub-skill: Light Armor 16, Significant

Herbalism 31, Significant

Small Devices 15, Significant

Sub-skill: Disarm Traps 8, Significant

Sub-skill: Find Traps 11, Significant

Tracking 18, Significant

Healing 14, Average

Farming 11, Average

Sub-skill: Tilling 4, Limited

Sub-skill: Sowing 2, Limited

Sub-skill: Reaping 3, Limited

Lore 42, General

Sub-skill: Woods & Forests, 38 Significant

Sub-skill: Arcane, 17 Significant

Sub-skill: Mountains and Hills, 3 Limited

Abilities:

Skill Abilities: Flurry, Sleight of Hand

Traits:

Elven Heritage: 25% Enchantment Resistance. Nightvision.

Forest Finesse: Increased accuracy and damage when using ranged weapons. Increased chance to dodge.

Astral Concentration: +5% increased potency to Holy, Infernal, and Life spells. +10% resistance to Holy, Infernal, and Life Magic.

Inventory:

(Not Available)


Giving Cire's shoulder a quick jab, Durg chuckled again. “Knew ya was tellin' us the truth. Stout owes me a few rounds.”

Cire blinked a bit and shook his head to ward off the intoxication. “Wait, that old gnome still thought I was pulling some sort of trick?”

Selene cut in.

“Well, he wanted us to kill you before you could speak or wake up.To be fair, his hamlet had just been attacked and your surprise didn’t do his mood any good. Stout’s never seemed to like you much. Then again, he doesn’t seem to like anyone very much. Durg and I have spent far more time with you, after all. Besides, Maisy agreed with us. We wouldn’t have let him do anything to you.”

Grumbling to himself, he looked back to one of the status pages and narrowed his eyes.

“So.... Durg... 'Soon ta be class upgraded ‘warrior' huh?”

Looking somewhat startled, the dwarf looked down at the table and then grunted.

“That be my goal. 'Soon' might’ve been a bit over statin' it.” He pantomimed Cire's previous air quotes, rather badly, but it was encouraging to see.

Wincing, Cire patted his friend across his shoulders. “Didn’t mean to hit a nerve, sorry about that. We will get you there, friend. Its just, this whole time I thought that you two were leaps and bounds ahead of me. I did not know how much I was being relied upon. I thought you were doing all the hard work while I played the distraction and barely pulled my weight.”

Selene laughed and she shook her head again.

“No Cire. Your primary lack is variety in your skill set. Cire, Stacy was an aberration. Besides Maisy and Stout, no one else in Sunset is high level or expertly skilled. We depend on the isolation of the valley to keep most danger away. That gnoll attack was a first for me, never been anything like it since I have been coming here.”

“I can see that my skill diversity is lacking pretty clearing after comparing myself to you two. Its pretty obvious.” Cire went quiet with contemplation.

Without knowing it, he had focused more on fighting and leveling than the majority of townsfolk did over the course of their lifetimes. Had he sought out the blood-soaked path? He shook his head. Introspection at this level of impairment rarely ended well.

“Everything else aside. I am happy to have a home and friends to share it with. Now let's finish that bottle in a final toast to those who will travel with us in spirit if not in body.”

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About the author

TabletopLiterature

Bio: Independent author Dylan Hendrickson grew up in the Bay Area of California. During his youth he attained the rank of Eagle in the Boy Scouts of America. The outdoor program element of the organization heavily influenced his hobbies and love for the wilderness. He regularly spends time in the Santa Cruz and Sierra Mountains.

Dylan attended the University of California at Irvine and received a bachelors in History, a minor in law, and an interdisciplinary concentration in medieval studies. He then attended the University of Montana, Missoula for graduate studies in European History.

Fantasy, tabletop, card, role playing, and video gaming have always been a part of Dylan’s life. Along with anime and science fiction, his imagination ran rampant in these wonderful and terrible worlds. He considers himself a bit of a Swiss Army Nerd.

He seeks to share a vision of more than 20 years with those who will enjoy it. He strives to make his realms feel tangible, rational, and magical. To that end, he did indeed make the dice rolls.

He likes cats.

Website and Patreon Live: https://tabletopliterature.com/

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tarakis @tarakis ago

Thanks for the chapter.

:D CHEERS ©

Zethuron @Zethuron ago

Hmmm, thats quite a useful skill, he wont be going alone then.

twinklecake @twinklecake ago

Everything concerning his attachment to the hamlet and its people, and all the friendships and camaraderie seem incredibly rushed. I'm not buying any of it tbh.

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13lack12ose @13lack12ose ago

Woah, that really shows how limited in skills Cer is!
Also how is he so high leveled when compared to the others - he's only been there for a couple of months??

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    TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

    Thank you for noticing how limited in skills he is compared to other folks.

    Think about it this way, I try to point it out with his comment about focusing on combat far more than most folks. But, that is what happened. He spent time gaining personal experience versus skill experience, which is far quicker than gaining experience through non-combat. I took out a berry collecting quest that got him 100 exp for the day of collecting berries for Stout. I may add it back in or tweak it into a conversation.

    However, he has spent practically no time "grinding" or working at his skills like they are a job, hobby, or profession. He was just using his skill points to level them and doing some basic training. So, unlike Durg and Selene who have spent a much higher percentage of their time living in peaceful settings and leveling non-combat skills he has an underleveled non-combat skill set.

    I have the experience per hour of training, stressful circumstances, and combat all worked out and they are different rates. I am going to go back in and have Samuel explain that to Cire when he is explaining aptitude. So there is context to skill leveling that is not currently in the narrative.

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      Also, it shows the power of Bite. I.E. - an extra personal experience funnel is not super over powered, but over time it has helped him compared to the average person.

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      13lack12ose @13lack12ose ago

      Thanks for taking the time to answer my query!


      That does make sense regarding the extra experience funnel of bite. Maybe there needs to be a mention of the fact that experience gain in combat is significantly higher than outside of it, somewhere in the story?
      (for skills and personal xp)

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      Indeed, that is exactly one of the things I am going to put in. At the time, I felt like I was bogging down in too many details so I left some things out, but I need to put that in for context and reference.

      Thank you again for reading! I was just working on the short that I am releasing for the writathon so I am around, easy to get back to folks.

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      13lack12ose @13lack12ose ago

      Just fininshed my review, hope it helps the story grow!

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      Thank you very much for taking the time to give the story a review. It really means a lot to have engaged readers and meaningful feedback.

      After I finish my edit I am going to fire it off to editors and then I will repost it. Also, there is additional art on the way and the cover art. So, hopefully it is all ready by the end of next month. I couldn't have caught all of the issues without the readers who took the time to point it all out. Please feel free to check back. I am really looking forward to the additional maps. 😊

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      13lack12ose @13lack12ose ago

      Really glad to hear that my review helped grow the story. You deserve it! <3

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      13lack12ose @13lack12ose ago

      Glad you managed to weave in the XP table somewhere, I think it'll definitely aid the readers understanding of how levelling occurs!

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      Me too! I am making sure all of the math lines up in the edit and I am up to page 62. It's going slow because I made Cire more inquisitive and it changed some of his choices. I wanted to make sure folks had context to how difficult the different encounters are and I hadn't done a good job of that before.

      Thank you again for the engagement!

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      Thank you for the support! Also, I put up a new map. The ruins that the climactic fight happens in. More visual clues to how the story will develop. 😊

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      13lack12ose @13lack12ose ago

      Let me know when the editing is complete, I'd be interested in reading through the story again to see how it has evolved!

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      Will do! I plan to go through and message everyone has left comments. It will be a blanketish email, but I feel like it will be really good to get feedback from folks who are willing to read through it again. Thank you again!!

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flriley @flriley ago

One thing I don't understand. If no one is there during winter, and winter is just ending, why are there so many people there?

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    TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

    Another good question. This is the first group of folks that come to break the hamlet in and get operations going. From a frontier perspective these are the folks willing to risk the harsher weather for better gains and potential profit. I have fixed the earlier conversation in chapter 5 (in the manuscript) to give more details of the local economy.

    Gearspoke buys most of the extracted goods from the hamlet and there is a caravan every 2-3 months. Typically fresh laborers come with later caravans and some folks leave with them as well. I have a fairly strong background in the history of how extractive based frontier towns operated, I love Foxfire projects, and I have done a bad job providing some of the background details so folks can understand. Sorry about that.

    Also, Arta (Meadow now in the Manuscript) has a population in the 20k-30k range. I went with Minoan historic population levels on the islands. So decent infranstructures and developing economies, but outside of the city-states population centers are rare. So, the Hamlet's population on a good year could get rather high for a couple of months. If there is a population boom, crack down in Meadow, or lots of young folks seeking their fortunes. I am more explicit in the edit. Gearspoke is a seat of Seelie, or generally good aligned fae, power and the swamp to the south on the island is a seat of Unseelie power. So, while the Fae populations tend to be rather static, the non-fae populations are more transitory.

    I have a map drawn of the whole island and I am going to commission Esper to work on that after he finishes the print & play maps. He is working on the ruin area map right now, he just sent me his sketchs today. Anyways, I ramble, it is my number one flaw. The point was tha the whole island map puts the valley into perspective which gives folks a better idea of what sort of adventures are in the future.

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      flriley @flriley ago

      One of your earlier chapters you also mentioned how 50 was the most the hamlet population gathered and during winter 10 percent remained. Did you mean 500 instead of 50? And the 10 percent doesn't work if only 2 people are staying Wink

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      You got it. My apologies. I need to change the numbers. It's not 500, but when I said 50 I was meaning the typical population was 50, but it can spike.

      On the note of the 50 and 10% remained, the folks who stayed typically were Stout, Maisy, Samuel, Leslie, and Selene. So, it is relatively accurate before two of those five died.

      I am thinking of an interlude chapter that will give the audience more backstory on Maisy and Stout, which in turn will give more information on Samuel and Leslie.

      Thank you again for the great comments! Just the sort of thing I want to make sure I iron out with the edit.

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      flriley @flriley ago

      I just got to the end. I really hope we see more of these characters. Kingdom building is my favorite part of LitRPG novels.

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      TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

      Thank you for reading! I am about 1/3 of the way through the edit. Once I finish it and the short story I am on to book 2. 👍

tarakis @tarakis ago

Thanks for the repost.

Amazing read!!

:D CHEERS ©

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TabletopLiterature @TabletopLiterature ago

Really happy you're enjoying the edits and that they make it a better read. I am hoping it's ready to go to an editor.

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