Chapter 136 Prelogue
Before you read the last chapter, please take the time to at least pretend to skim through the following, admitidly huge, final post from me. The 'Into the Night Below' campaign lasted 8 years from approx the beginning of '99 to the last chapter - numbered 136 and dated the 13th November 2007. Because of the huge amount of writing that I do pretty much everywhere, on forums such as AVForums, or Brads Madness site and not even including my own sites combined with the fact that I get bored easily and distracted too often, I am writing this very page nearly two years after chapter 136's date.
Taking our little characters from 1st level in a 2nd edition DnD world kicking and screaming into the glorious 3rd edition format was good for us, although I know it caused our DM Dave no end of problems in the conversion of the adventure, as well as nightmare encounters for us at times - read my notes on chapter 107 further down this page to see what I mean.
My character Grassy went from a rubbish Crusader (a sort of prestige class in 2nd edition that was a single class taking some Cleric elements and some Fighter elements, the sum of which being not all that brilliant at either class and only chosen as Dave had mentioned we need a healer,) who's best spell was 'Create Fort'. I either healed or cast this spell all the time, while frantically hoping that I would get enough XP to be able to cast Fire Eyes of Gorm - who doesn’t want to be able to cast fricken laser beams out of their eyes?
Sadly, Grassy never got to cast this spell, but he did convert wonderfully into a sterotypical Dwarven Cleric 3rd edition powerhouse, a proper full on Cleric devout to his God and a powerful leader of Men and Dwarves. Well I think so anyway.
At this point you may be thinking '..just get on with it - tell the last chapter!' but sadly the last chapter is not anything special at all - harsh but true, and is merely a small fight with no real sense of a final instalment in a 8 year campaign at all. 'Into the Night Below' deserves so much more, hence this extremely long winded prologue. Think of it more as a series recap, one of those shows that they put on before the final episode of a long running series on TV, or the flashbacks of a crappy reality star that has just won a show for something or other, but better, natch.
So, onto the stuff that I have done and wanted to finish in the last month or so before I 'turn off the lights' and leave this part of the website cryogenically frozen in the hope that one day, it starts a new from where Chapter 136 finishes...........
- Finished the Progress pages
We now have a brief few pages detailing our adventures from beginning to end. I tried to add all the chapter references to the last page of synopsis, and I am sure that if we start again, I will probably re-write the others to include the links. This took a day or so on and off and would not have been finished if I had not done this first.
- Updated my Chapter logs
Not anything to do with the website at all, and more for my benefit, but I have the chapters as original Word docs converted from notes written during the game, or in the later stages when I was taking a laptop to the sessions simply converting them from note form to chpater form. I was missing at least 10 chapters for some reason so I have copied the webpages to word docs for completists sake.
Missing chapter 118 and converting that was a complete chore, 29 pages long and 14,000 words that I had to edit by hand - add and differenciate between who said what and when....I nearly chucked it all in at that point. Thankfully it was the last one that I had to do to finish it off, so I bravely carried onwards, this took another day or so to complete.
- Updating old Pages / Web Sites
I have avoided this at all costs, as I would simply start writting them all over again. I wanted to keep the style that I started in which was very much like my old school books (covering the DnD from our school days), but I hope (to you) that I have gotten better and even lapsed into proper story telling in some cases.
I did however remember the address of my old website, http://geocities.com/grassyknoll53/home.htm, but sadly even the wonderful archive.org has not snapshotted anything I had there 7 to 10 years ago. All I can vaguely remember are chapters being done in the Lucinda Handwriting font to emulate a flowing script, and some horrible background, which I think was actually a very faint watermark like picture of Harranshire that I had skillfully edited in MS Paint.
The site has had many background changes that I touched upon a few times during my blog type posts inbetween updates, notable in March 2004 where I amended around a 100 pages and probably 100 more pages that referenced each other. And you would have seen nothing at all while I slaved away doing apparently nothing. A month later and the website is now sitting on this very domain, www.castle-grounds.co.uk, where it will remain until I forget to pay the bill. I then hit chapter 100 a month later and have to change things all over again to take into account the three figured chapter number. Doh!
In June 2004 I mention one of our first LAN sessions where the name Theydon Bois is born, and in July I kill the first of many of my laptops through years of typing abuse, and through out the rest of the year I make tons and tons of excuses as to why I am not updating the website as I reference TV shows I am watching, like this:
Well, still watching "Somebody saaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaave meh!", and fitted in the first of the new Scrubs as well as watching the first episode of Deadwood, mentioned a few days ago. I recomend Deadwood, not just because Lovejoy is in it, but becasue its good. Imagine Little House on the Prairie with guns, and lots of swearing, and no blind girl. An example of the fine upstanding people who live there is Lovejoy, who on learning that a family including children has been killed horribly, possibly by Indians, stirs the blood and morale of the people in his bar.
2005 starts with me getting a new graphics card which obviously helps the website no end...
...my NEW SPANGLY GRAPHICS CARD, which I can gleefully announce arrived the other day. Got myself a Geforce 6600GT, which has a mermaid on it, which obviously means it must be faster than any non mermaid, and therefore lesser graphics card.
..and in Feb I start of the trend of adding the beautiful avatars which we have chosen to represent us in this picture. In March I have some more good rants about school teachers, politicians and thieves and continue into May and beyond with talk of my favourite adverts, TV shows, more Half Life 2 playing and what I bought on ebay. For example:
Adverts - Good? The ultra weird Three advert with the Japenese lass with huuuuuge hands. Bad? Shockingly so, the fucking anger inducing Clover add where they cry when they eat butter. Why cry you mugs? Has it got ground glass or some form of acid in it?
I am still proud of this, numbering 1 of 56,000,000, but if you google Into the Night Below, I am now 1 of 139,000,000. Just over double some 4 years later. Huzzah!
..and I finish 2005 in fine style at my Christmas Party:
At my Christmas party (which went well) I had to suffer the office twat try and be autheritive with me, until I told him in my special way to go away, which caused my mate to have a go at me as apparently "..its wrong to make a grown man cry.." - some people just cant take a joke when a drunk bloke taking pictures of his own arse happens to spot you having a piss in the gents...
2006, new chapters, new phone, more rants, more TV, I buy more kit (a MIMO Router) yet nothing from ebay as I had my account banned. I Play Poker for the first time, my ebay account is re-instated and in August start a new PC build, not long after David Gemmell dies. The rest of the year continues in this of more TV, PC and LAN gaming.
2007: New PC kit (TFT, GPU and CPU upgrades over the year), more webstuff across all my pages, including expanding my CSS knowledge, meaning that I now can write what I know on the back of two postage stamps, and then sadly it all trails off. The lack of DnD gaming all round slows things to a crawl, and I dont post a thing from July 07 to Jan 08.
2008 starts a new job, new TV, new laptop, more webstuff - I start the Castle White Rock website for Kons DnD and thats about it really.
And now, in July 2009, I write all this......
- The Chapters
I resisted the temptation to go back and read all 122 chapters, especially as a rough estimate I have written in excess of 400+ pages (and probably more like 500) and used some quarter of a million words to explain our travels. There is a list of all the chapter titles should you wish to reminiss though, the ones that make me chuckle by simply reading the titles alone are such fine gems as 'Ware the Spanner Spitters', 'Are you a dirty Gnome?', 'Do you want to know why we are heroes?' and probably my favourite, 'Pellets punching Pal punches Pellets pellet.'
From humble beginnings in the first paragraph of the first written chapter I mention sheep shagging and masterbation and end it by explaining how Agador can hold his cock in his hand while casting Magic Missile. Now thats how you draw new users in! Or not. I wonder if there is any way to actually tell who has clicked on the first chapter and never ever returned......
If only they had persevered though, as in my very next chapter I move from first person to third person, describing Beard and Salas's point of view as they detail their encounter with us. Oooooo I am good, and already thinking ahead on how I would like to be able write. To quote the big man, "..writing is like mining for gold, you have to go through a ton of shit before you find the good stuff."
During the chapters in the early 20's we must have changed to the third edition rules as I think we are after the Red Haired fighters boots of Speed.
Chapter 54 covered a 12hr all nighter, finishing around 230am, and was the fight with the Grell leader and subsequent testing of the ring, which involved much beatings being dished out to all.
We had some excellent weekenders, the first being in 2003 and covering chapters 90 and 91 including such gems as:
Robbie once more shows his caring sharing side as he announces “The road ahead to freedom is long and hard - there may be casualties, and death may befall you!” to the now petrified females. This is not enough as far as LotD is concerned, and so continues with the equally profound “Do you want to know why we are heroes?” and wonders why there is no response.
I get set on the Geas path that I never complete, and Robbie Handsome Bearded Fellow is born:
Robbie arrives not far from Milbourne, hidden in a small copse of trees, and casts Alter Self to disguise himself. Concentrating, he becomes a Human, bearded and handsome, clothed in fine garments. This high quality apparel marks him as ‘well to do’ despite his obvious travel weary appearance, and his demeanour and jaunty swagger shows that he looks like he knows how to strike a bargain, and finally, the fact that his hat is set at a rakish angle means that he defiantly will not take any lip from children.
The second of these chapters covers the encounter with the Derro Casters, and our excellent plan to ambush them. In this chapter I try to write in a style close to that which I later do with the Fire Giant chapter, sadly not in the same league, but hopefully you can see what I tried to do.
Chapter 107 is one that I spent alot of time on. By the time I started to write it, I knew that Salas and Max were no longer playing those characters, so I gave them (and everyone that died) the best send off that I thought possible. Although gauling to get ambushed by two CR20 or so creatures with one of our main fighters out of the battle, we nearly managed to kill the bodyguard (unsure on the Priest) - not a bad result for a horribly overpowered encounter that left 5 dead and 1 near death out of 7 sleeping characters.
Another weekender happened in 2005 covering chapters 119 and 120. The first was a 15 page masterpiece covering Moomins arrival and our Melon fight in Count Palfreys Castle grounds which contains the classic:
“What is down there?” Beard asks, while checking his various creams and ointments to make certain he has enough for the long journey ahead.
“I’ll tell ye what’s down there,” Robbie says in his special pirate voice, leaning close and mysteriously to Beard and glancing at others that are just about to be taken in by the Dance Lord, “…there be a mighty sea, where it is said there is no sun.”
Chapter 120 details in fine style Orko, and how he gains the name 'Pocket Apocolypse' from this:
Orko continues his Pocket Apocalypse barrage, by flicking through that special part of his spell book entitled ‘loudest spells I know’ and unleashes Orbs of Cold on the rocks. He is misguided however, and blasts me instead, leaving me like a stroke victim with a half frozen grimace. With a quick apology, he looks at his hands in disbelief at his poor aim, and then detonates the next set of frozen orbs into his own face. Genius.
Chapter 123 with the Fire Giants is one that I remember as taking me a very long time indeed to write, and probably one that I am the most pleased with as it turned out the most like something you would not find out of place in a fantasy book. I read all 20 pages again as part of this last chapter send off, and was very pleased with how it reads now, some 2 years after I had wrote it.
And that’s all folks. With the earliest written chapter (number 15) having a date stamp of May 2000 and chapter 136 played in November 2007, thats a good 9 years of playing the Night Below.
Now ladies and gentlewomen, I present Chapter 136......