Category Archives: It Figures

It Figures: The Stealthic

Because in the end you have to show, not tell.

We return to the series where I can literally paint you a picture of what I’m talking about, for a quick look at one of the most unique characters in the Lands of Hope.


Created with Nokia RefocusThe Stealthic is a dedicated follower of the hero Astor, vassal of Conar in the earliest days of Hope’s invasion. Whenever the job was dangerous, difficult or required secrecy– wait, let me rephrase. Whenever the record of history revealed that something impossible had suddenly been done, it was more likely than not that Astor was responsible. Down to the present day there has been a need for trained professionals who can scout out hostile positions, explore in risky environments, and “right wrongs without clues”. Astor was nicknamed Perilsgroom, and Stealthics today are not insulted by the epithet “danger-drunk”. But they WILL take umbrage at any comparison to a thief, of which the Lands of Hope boasts very few. The Stealthic lives by two credos, “Risk in the service of Hope” and “fighting is failure”. Stealthics always seek to accomplish the mission without resort to combat, and tend to judge the worth of a course of action by how much risk is shifted to them personally and away from others. The only theft they approve of is glory.

Probably the most famous Stealthic in living memory is Feldspar_mkTrekelny, a whip-thin Man who is rumored to have come from the fabled City of the Heroes bearing powerful artefacts that assist him in his jobs. Morinack, the quiet subtle Halfling who advises the usurper Yula was known to be a follower of Astor. Others like Bildon and Meandar figure in the tales but are no longer seen in the Lands. Folks in Cryssigens swear by (and sometimes at) a young and very wealthy Elven Stealthic named Feldspar, whom no one has ever seen except for his small army of trusted agents.


Meandar, scouting in Despairing Jengesalamur

The Lands of Hope have been ruled by its Children for two thousand years of peace and stability. Crime is nearly non-existent, as most of its normal causes (such as poverty) have been removed. Stealthics can occasionally be found standing quietly in a far corner behind a ruler’s throne at court, waiting for a mission of delicate espionage. Others most likely have never been revealed by the record of history. But several Stealthics these days are to be found among the bands of despised adventurers, helping them get into (and sometimes even out of) perilous corners of the world where remnants of Despair still lurk. Army captains, court officers, rival merchants and adventuring bands all have need of specialists in accomplishing the difficult, or even impossible. Stealthics train for such jobs and display an often unhealthy love of the risk, to which some seem addicted.


I may have felt a subtle tug telling me that, for these denizens of daring, the close-up ability of my smartphone’s Lumia Refocus lens was a must. Or, maybe my tablet wasn’t charged up yet. But I wanted to add that social dimension so I used buildings for the backdrop. I got very satisfactory range to target and think some of the angles and shadow came out quite well. Night-scenes were imitated using the Color-Pop facility or the Color menu in the MS Picture Manager. Nothing but nothing improves the focus once you’ve saved the shot in-camera, though, and I’m still looking for perfection on that. With these

Stealthics convention? I've never SEEN one...
Stealthics convention? I’ve never SEEN one…

guys it’s alright because you’re not supposed to spot them anyway. I also went for some more vertical angles, to suggest the Stealthic’s perspective (perhaps when watching a fellow member of the cult, to pick up some tips). The entire question of Stealthic training is one of the great unknowns of the Lands to date. I’ve seen a few clues… maybe some day I’ll look deeper into it. But for now, I think I enjoy the mystery and I hope you do too!

Any advice? What can I do without spending a lot to improve the quality of the pictures? Do you want to hear more about the Stealthic? Check out Fencing Reputation and the exploits of the wonder of Cryssigens, Feldspar as he gets caught up in a conspiracy that could plunge the kingdom into civil war. I hope to have this title out in paper soon!

It Figures: the Pack Animals

Because in the end you have to show, not tell

As a chronicler I’ve gone to what some might find unseemly lengths to document my witness to the Lands of Hope. Occasionally I show you the photographic proof of its existence, but usually I choose a major hero or villain. This time, not so much! Still, where would the heroes of the current day be without some multi-footed help?


I decided to show some of the most common pack animals seen in adventuring mule2groups of recent times. The Restorants (Percentalion, 1995-6 ADR, Treaman and company) had a mule at the start of their career. At times the Candidates (Yula and company) hired out draft horses or mules, but never for long. The Tributarians (Shimmering Mindsea, 2001 ADR, Solo, Cheriatte and company) briefly made use of a camel (but not much use).


The pack animal is a common, but not universal feature of many modern-day adventuring bands. It’s interesting that hardened fighters with bloodthirsty, law-breaking reputations would take such close care of a helpless animal, but that’s exactly what I’ve seen time and again. And from some of the least likely camel2heroes. Treaman’s adventuring band, sometimes called the Hand of Destiny, briefly acquired a mule after their quest to slay the dragon of Maladon. Bildon, the Halfling Stealthic normally responsible for pranks of misery and daring in combat, was unusually protective of the animal and tried to sacrifice his life (uselessly) to save her. A few years later, the Tributarians took their first long journey into the unknown dangers of the Shimmering Mindsea, and thought they were being prudent by hiring out a camel. Their relationship with the beast, dubbed Lover by Trilien, took a turn for the better when the animal ran away (despite the loss of treasure, some argued they were better off).

Without wheels or magical assistance, a human-sized person can only carry mule1about a quarter of their weight for any length of time. Heroes of the Lands universally hate being caught unprepared, and tend to pack heavy. Of course, bringing along a pack animal to carry “everything” brings a load of its own problems, from feed (which also weighs something!) to temperament and of course the animal’s vulnerabilities. Sooner or later the group seems ready to head into a dangerous place. Taking a mule where quiet, and perhaps space, are at a premium is suicide: but leaving it behind, in the eyes of some, approaches murder. Adventurers seldom argue in front of strangers, but privately I’ve heard some disagreements that would make your hair UNcurl. And several times, it was about what to do with the animals.

Those same Tributarians on the Mindsea thought they had the problem licked when they hired on a person, a servant to carry and fetch but also fight for them. For a while, Parnon worked out fine, but eventually… well, one day I might be able to tell what happened before The Plane of Dreams. (But seriously,  you’ve never seen Treaman as angry as this.)


This was my first figurine blog using my recently acquired LG tablet. It has no special lens and doesn’t zoom as far, but the form factor makes it a lot easier to camel5get close by itself. I had a good sense which photos were going to “make the cut” just from looking, though of course it’s still very much the work of an amateur. I maneuvered my table into better light (for a change) and that clearly helped as well.

Hope you’ve enjoyed the look and the thoughts! Let me know your views on the unsung four-footed heroes of the Lands.