Monday, April 7, 2008

The Iron Hobbit

I'd like to share a story I added to the Armor section of Solstice. It kind of wrote itself, and was meant to show how one might aspire to achieve the best Armor Class possible in my version of OD&D.

The Iron Hobbit

A somewhat mythical figure amongst Fighting Men and Hobbits alike is the Hero, Topple Bigslee, a Hobbit from Cloudreach who managed to piece together the penultimate combination of magical armor and protection. It was said that Topple was so hard to hit in melee, that the wind itself missed this legendary Fighting Man, or that the door never hit his ass on the way out. Topple had made his life's purpose assembling this protective gear, in order that he might take on the Terror of Twin Axe, a particularly nasty monster which had been terrorizing mankind from it's lair in The Mires for years. Topple managed to get his hands on a Displacer Cloak, a pair of Protection Rings, Plate Mail, +2, a Shield, +3, and a Sword, +2. Given his racial ability of +1 AC, and his Dexterity of 15, Topple weighed in at a whopping -8 AC, and a staggering -9 AC vs. Giants and their ilk. Furthermore, Topple received a bonus to his saves of 6, and 10 against magic sources. Topple's title of The Iron Hobbit was well earned, indeed.

So then, with his collection of retainers and battle-hardened followers, Topple set forth into The Mires on his quest to rid Solstice of the Terror of Twin Axe once and for all. After five full days of slogging through the muck and mire, and battling monsters mundane and gigantic, the Hobbit Irregulars had been reduced to Topple, and his staunchest follower, Tink Pimbleston. Despite Tink's pleas, Topple insisted they sally forth and ne'er return to Cloudreach until their mission had been accomplished. Finally, after nearly a week of hard fought exploration, the pair found a deep, dark hole that they knew was the lair of the Terror of Twin Axe.

Topple Bigslee challenged the monster to come forth and meet his demise, but his brave boasts were met with only silence, and the sound of distant swamp toads. Topple repeated his shouts, only to be met with what seemed to be faint singing...Dwarven Song, it became apparent shortly after. Tink tapped his foot, and Topple stood at the edge of the hole, stewing and frustrated. Soon, a band of Dwarves climbed forth from the hole, the very lair of the Terror of Twin Axe. Hailing Topple, whom they knew of from both tales and songs, the Dwarves offered some fine mead and biscuits which they had spirited out from their adventuring packs.

Topple had been too late, as this band of Dwarven Delvers has dispatched the Terror this very morning, and looted his vast treasure trove in the process. Even more shocking to Topple and Tink was the news that most of the Dwarves had come along in order to carry the chests, packs, bags and sacks, now filled with gold and gems, from the deep, dark hole. It had been, in fact, a single Dwarf who had defeated the Terror. "Who be this Hero, that I may speak his name and know him, that I may tell his tale of glory to those of Cloudreach?" asked Topple. The Dwarves moved aside, and motioned for their own Hero, a Dwarf named Del'ringell. An unassuming Dwarven figure stepped through the collected Dwarves to introduce himself to the famous Hero, Topple. "I am Del'ringell, of the Ast Clan, it is a pl..." with that Topple blurted out, "What manner of jest be this? This...this Dwarf with but a musty pair of leathern boots and a mallet defeated the Terror himself? And alone, you say? I may be late for the party, but I wasn't born yesterday!"

Well, Dwarves being Dwarves, and Topple, despite the pleadings of Tink, being Topple, they soon found themselves in a war or words, insults and boasts. Shortly, a new challenge had been issued, perhaps with the intent of restoring his good name, or perhaps simply born of shattered dreams and empty hopes, that Topple and Del'ringell would spar with one another for the right to be called Champion of Twin Axe, and Warden of The Mires. It was a humorous site that played out in The Mires that day, a heavily armored, magically protected Hobbit Hero brandishing shield and sword, and an unarmored Dwarven Hero with naught but a wooden mallet and leather boots. It quickly became apparent, though, that Del'ringell had no intention of going toe-to-toe with the famous Topple Bigslee. Being much quicker of foot, and unencumbered by heavy armor, Del'ringell easily avoided Topples attempts to engage him in melee. Tink was the first to notice the gravity defying leaps and springs of the Dwarf Hero, for his boots were of the Traveling and Leaping magical variety.

Now, the Dwarves had not intended for this melee to come to a true conclusion, no, just to embarass the pompous Hobbit enough that he would tire and call for a draw, while they sang and laughed with mirth at his frustration, the same frustration that the Terror himself had fallen victim to before the Dwarven band has descended upon it en masse. No one could've guessed that Topple's resolve was unbreakable. Tink suspected that this practical joke had gone awry, and again tried to settle the matter with words of reason and calm, but to no effect. Del'ringell was tiring of the game as well, and wanted to bring it to a conclusion. With a mighty call to the heavens, the Dwarven Hero cast forth his Dwarven Thrower at Topple, and missed badly, the Displacer Cloak had done it's job, but what happened next no one could have foreseen. For Topple, the would be Champion of Twin Axe and Warden of The Mires, did himself, topple. With a barely audible "Ooops", Topple fell, down, far, and deep, into the dark hole...and landed with a faint 'splumph' into the quagmire below.

Despite the diligent efforts of the Dwarves and Tink alike, given the velocity and weight of such an armored being, even as light as a Hobbit, it was soon apparent that Topple had made his final boast, and been swallowed up by the muck and mire in the lair of the Terror of Twin Axe. They say Topple's penultimate suit of armor and magic protection is still there to this day, lost somewhere in the mud and weeds deep in that dark hole, where Del'ringell, Champion of Twin Axe and Warden of The Mires, defeated both the Terror, and The Iron Hobbit, single-handedly.



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