The Ballad of Hal Whitewyrm

Chapter VI: 1st of Ches, The Year of Shadows, 1358, Dale Reckoning
In which our hero adventures in Westgate.

Chapter VI
(Click here for the entire chapter)

Judd’s Favorite Moment

It was just nice to pick this back up again and get back to it. I didn’t realize how much I’ve missed Hal’s adventures through the Realms. That said, I liked Hal’s debauchery through Westgate and watching him truly fall in love with Reltav. That was really interesting.

Daniel’s Favorite Moment

This was the hardest chapter in this story (quite possibly the hardest roleplaying experience in my gaming career) for a number of reasons. Hal was/is in a very dark place, and many times during the chapter I almost felt him slip from my fingers into the void. I/He found some anchors in the unlikest of places, namely Reltav and embracing the dark side of his persona, and only in doing so was I able to keep a hold of him, his essence, his story. Finding those anchors wasn’t easy either because as this chapter developed, I found myself not liking where Hal was headed. We started in such sunlight in the forest, and the shadows of the alleys of Westgate seemed so far from that, so deep from that sunshine. The real-world demands on my time due to Nursing school only served to give me the time I needed to come to terms with where the story had gone, accept it, and embrace it. After all, all ballads have a part whe the hero goes into the underworld and encounters a dark reflection. I had to accept that violent, immoral part of Hal—HE had to accept it—so that we could move along. I look forward to the ascent into the light once more, especially now that Hal has changed.

I will also one day have something to say about Hal’s dual nature vis-a-vis the two women he loves, Reltav and Nasharel.


Readers, please feel free to post about your favorite moments in the comments. Thanks again for your comments and tweets. Your readership is immensely flattering and really does contribute energy to the game.

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Chapter V: 15th of Alturiak, The Year of Shadows, 1358, Dale Reckoning
In which the hero winters in Shadowdale and changes his path in the Ruins of Myth Drannor.

Chapter V
(Click Here for the entire chapter)

Judd’s Favorite Moment

My favorite thing about this chapter is an odd one because it isn’t a moment, necessarily but something about the play-by-post medium, particularly in a one-on-one game. It seems to hold pretty well. Between two people, it is pretty easy to put a game on the shelf for a while and come back to it with fresh eyes a while later.

Because the artifact of play is play, it is easy to get one’s bearings again and jump back in.

The holiday season is a rough time to get together for my tabletop games and between the holidays and Daniel’s incredible exertion in this year’s NaNoWriMo, the play-by-post game was set aside but it is nice that we could agree to take a month off and get back into it.

Daniel’s Favorite Moment

This was a very challenging chapter in many ways. It was put on hold while I wrote my NaNoWriMo novel during November mainly because I see this game as a novel-in-progress and it was a lot of mental energy to keep two complex storylines going on in my head.

The other reason is the events in Hal’s life. They took a turn I never envisioned. There were a few times where I wanted to go all meta and stop the action, go against the organic flow of the story and turn it around to what I wanted it to be. But that would’ve gone against the very basic premise of a roleplaying game, and this Burning Wheel game specifically. I may be playing a character brought over from my youth, but his story is happening now. And it took me some time of staring at the screen to accept that we were heading in a very different direction and embrace it.

The third reason is the Duel of Wits that ends the chapter. Without going into specifics, there came a point where that DoW bypassed the character in the game and addressed me personally. And when that happened, I had to tap the mat. It was a very sobering moment, and quite precisely the moment that told me that I needed to explore this new road Hal found himself in all of a sudden, come what may.

It was an amazing chapter, one that could have very well been the end of this wonderful game/story, but wasn’t.


Readers, please feel free to post about your favorite moments in the comments. Thanks again for your comments and tweets. Your readership is immensely flattering and really does contribute energy to the game.

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Chapter IV: 16th of Eleint, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
In which the hero flies into Zhentil Keep and slays the wizard who killed his mother.

Chapter IV: 16th of Eleint, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
(Click Here for the entire chapter)

Judd’s Favorite Moment:

Its no one thing this time. I enjoyed getting to write about a gathering of Forgotten Realms Deities, that was good fun.

But more than that, I really dig how much Daniel throws himself into it. Not just being excited about the battle with Xerez but that too. When I post about good smells coming up from the inn’s kitchen, he writes about how much he enjoys breakfast. When people start playing music, drinking and dancing, Hal starts singing songs. I like his lust for life and that is what I enjoyed the most this chapter, the way Daniel takes little cues and enjoys experiencing the Forgotten Realms through Hal so damned much.

Daniel’s Favorite Moment:

To have finally achieved one of Hal’s driving goals/Beliefs was just amazing! Due to tradition from level-based games, I was expecting that to be something that would come in the future, but to have had it happen now (for me; for Hal it’s been 15 years in the making), and in the dramatic fashion it happened, with conspiracies and Deities looking down on the events… it will simply stand as one of my favorite gaming moments forever, period.

Beyond that, what I’ve most enjoyed, and it certainly achieved a pinnacle in this chapter, has been Judd’s rampant use of the setting. As a Forgotten Realms junkie, it has been a delight exploring this world through the game. Not one scene goes by where there is no doubt this is Faerun; it’s the little details that make it come truly alive and that’s what has allowed me to dive in so hard I can practically smell Elminster’s pipeweed! This is the Forgotten Realms game I always wanted to play, and the wait since first getting that gray boxed set has been well worth the wait.

More of that, please!


Readers, please feel free to post about your favorite moments in the comments. Thanks again for your comments and tweets. Your readership is immensely flattering and really does contribute a certain somethin’-somethin’ to the game.

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Chapter III: 11th of Eleint, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
In which our hero hopes to prove innocence and conspire to murder.

Chapter III: 11th of Eleint, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
(Click Here for the entire chapter)

Judd’s Favorite Moment:

I loved writing Reltav and Toad and was sure I was going to make my own post this chapter’s favorite but then Daniel wrote his oath to murder Xerez with the witch and he said:

“I call on the Foehammer, god of Brother Vhelt Marrim who now marches at his side, to guide my sword to strike true and deep upon the flesh of my enemy.”

I love that he referenced Vhelt. Nice stuff.

Daniel’s Favorite Moment:

This is the chapter where basically Every Single Post by Judd pushed Hal’s buttons to the extreme: from the moment when the Orcs show up with a elven prisoner who also has orange eyes, to the delicate and dangerous dance of lies with the Orcs, to the appearance of Reltav which forces Hal to use his treasured tapestry as his ticket out, to Reltav revealing that Xerez was “in love” with Hal’s mother, and culminating with the conspiracy and the Vow of the Seven Powers. It was relentless!

Favorite moment, though, was when Reltav said this:

“[Xerez]’s been getting more ambitious since that slave he was so in love with died and her son ran off.”

I was at work when I read this on my phone and I had to go into the stockroom in the back so I could both stare at it slack-jawed and curse Judd loudly. Fantastic.


Readers, if you have a favorite moment, please feel free to post it in the comments. Thanks for reading, your comments and enthusiasm are very flattering.

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Chapter II: 6th of Elient, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
In which the hero heads into the dark forest.

Chapter II: 6th of Elient, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
(click here for entire chapter)

Judd’s Favorite Moment:
“Tenna’ ento lye omenta, mela en’ coiamin.”

I liked when Daniel busted out some elvish phrases. Delightfully geeky.

Daniel’s Favorite Moment:
Two moments stand out for me:

  1. The battle with the troll. It was dramatic and heroic, worthy of a ballad indeed. It allowed Hal to show his devotion to his beloved, to his Instinct, odds-be-damned. It also showed me, as a player, where I need to improve Hal’s skills for the future.
  2. The brief but significant showdown with Shasslan over the fate of Vorass. No Duel of Wits, no dice rolls, just an angry-whispered argument that now leads into more adventure and Correllon-knows-what inside the Cormanthor.
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Chapter I: 5th of Eleint, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
In which the hero's journey begins.

Chapter I: 5th of Eleint, Year of the Prince, 1357, Dale Reckoning
(click here for entire chapter)

Judd’s Favorite Moment:
Taking a moment to compose my thoughts, I stand up, mug in raised hand.

“A toast. To willing fools who venture out into the wilds of the world in search of fame and fortune, for without us this would be a dreary boring place. To those who seek out the secrets of the past and bring them out into the light of day once more, and for there being nothing wrong with making a small amount of coin from the task. To those who no doubt are beloved of Tymora, for how many are the dangers we escape from by the skin of our teeth where others simply do not. To friendships forged in battle, kisses stolen during travels, and songs sung to the glories of ages past and the feats of today and tomorrow. To you, to us, to adventure on the open road: there is nothing else like it in this fair world.”

Daniel’s Favorite Moment:
The entire episode of the tapestry, from finding it in the market, to haggling for its price, to leading us to meet The Hunt, and finally seeing the story it conveys:

Once upon a time there was an elf with a deep love of winter. When it came time for him to leave his home and wander Faerun, he sought out the lands that never knew spring or autumn. The Icewind Dale, the First Glacier and the far lands of Sossal were all known to him. The Rashamen Witches called him Winter’s Lover. The Icewind Dale-folk called him the Southron Sword. The Sossali called him the Sad Immortal because a Sossal princess stole his heart and tragedy struck. When he returned after many decades with a great white bear and grief in his heart, his kin did not ask too many questions but allowed his heart to heal.

His own people called him Sul. He made his own manor and for the first time since his youth, he stayed in the Cormanthor after the spring thaw and began a family among his people.

When his children were of age, they were fostered to Great White Wyrms of the north, whose respect he had gained when he sought their wisdom and winter-lore and showed them ways other than slaughter and terror. These white-scaled dragons with ice-cold breath and great wings were grateful for the Whitewyrm children’s counsel and looked forward to having a fosterling from their elven ally. The Whitewyrm elves were no strangers to sword, spear and bow but more importantly were cunning in ways of court and politics in ways the dragons were not.

The elves of spring, summer and autumn warned him that the chromatic dragons could not be trusted because of their goddess but Sul Whitewyrm did not listen. So, when Tiamat awoke and painted the heavens red with her wrath and called on those who had five-headed shrines in their lairs to rampage through their lands and take what treasure they could, the lands gripped by winter were safe. This was called Sul’s Peace.

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Once upon a time...

Once upon a time there was a hero in the Forgotten Realms named Hal Whitewyrm…

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