Extra Life 2014

Dear Friends, Family, Fans, and Random Internet People,

It’s that time of year again!

Usually I use Dungeons & Dragons to write books, but for the Dungeons & Dragons R&D’s 2014 Extra Life drive I’ll be using it to raise money the Children’s Miracle Network and Seattle Children’s Hospital, helping them treat thousands of children each year, regardless of their family’s ability to pay.

To donate, click here.

What the what now? How do you raise money playing D&D?
The game is 25-hours long, all run by the same DM, and it will be broadcast on D&D’s Twitch channel, so you can tune in and watch what happens (and maybe score some nice prizes). That also gives you the opportunity to affect gameplay with your donations.

Like how?
Well, for starters, you can affect the characters people play. Some of my teammates are selling the right to name their character or decide what race they should be for donations. Last year, I played as Havilar. This year, I’m taking votes. Your donation can gain a vote for a variety of characters, listed here

Oh my god–you’ll play as Lorcan?
It’s for the children. Every donation goes toward unlocking threshold goals too. For example if I raise $600, I’ll release a never-before-seen scene featuring the characters from The God Catcher. If I raise $1000, my character gets a free resurrection.

And if I raise my goal of $1800, I’m giving away a cool replica of Lorcan’s scourge pendant.

Hmm…that sounds cool and all. But I’d rather make sure you TPK have a lot of fun playing D&D by loading you up with monsters.
*Sigh.* You can also buy monsters by donating to the DM, Greg Bilsland.

Okay…hypothetically let’s say I want to make a donation, but I have no idea at all who these characters are. 
You don’t have to vote. Your donations are still welcome, Grandpa.

But if it helps, I’ll be posting little excerpts to orient you. Like this one for the first option, Oota:


Gray morning light rushed into the cell Dahl spent the night in, wrenching his pupils wide. He flinched as the headache that had been pounding harder and harder since his flask ran dry surged up behind his eyeballs.

“Get up,” a man said. “Oota says she’ll see you now.”

When Dahl didn’t get up fast enough, the man—a big human fellow— hauled him to his feet and out the door. A second man—a half-orc—wrapped a rope around Dahl’s wrists, tying them behind his back.

They didn’t go far—down the road a ways, every step guarded by a third man and a woman sweeping the cross-paths. A door opened, and the men pushed him through it. He blinked as his eyes readjusted to the gloom.

It looked as if the villagers had torn down one of the huts to make a courtyard, and what thatch they could reclaim had been built over the space, sheltering it from the weather. Dahl was dropped in the middle of the muddy space, facing a hut whose front wall was missing and a mountain of a man standing there.

Not a man, he corrected himself. A half-orc. A half-orc woman in men’s clothing, her dark hair cropped short, her bosom crushed into a hide chestplate. She was taller than Dahl by a head and a half and outweighed him, surely, by himself again. One parent’s blood had claimed her brutish features, her massive frame. But the cleverness in the single black eye that watched him struggle to his feet was something a human would gladly claim.

A shiver ran down Dahl’s back: Oota, and she was no one to trifle with, he was certain of that. A gesture and the big man untied Dahl—he knew as well as Oota did that it would be suicide to try anything.

“People tell me,” Oota said, “you’ve been asking how to find me. People tell me,” she continued stepping down from her dais, “you’ve been asking a lot of questions. Stirring people up. Making them worry.” She stopped in front of him. “I don’t like my people to worry.”

“You make it sound as if I were specifically harassing your folk,” Dahl said, “when I was asking everybody I found. Half-orcs, humans, elves . . .” His throbbing eyes had settled enough to see that in the dimmer corners where the firelight didn’t touch, there were scores more watching—humans and half-orcs . . . and dwarves, and half-elves, a tiefling, a pair of dragonborn. All Oota’s charges. Dahl cursed.

“You rule this place?” Dahl asked, trying again.

“I run it,” Oota said. “The parts that matter. There’s a difference.” She stooped so that their faces were nearly level—still too far for him to reach— and said softly, “One which you should appreciate, whoever you are. If I ruled this place, I’d have executed you already.”

She straightened. “First Tharra tells me she clashed with a man about your height and description, wearing one of the guard’s uniforms. Tells me I need eyes and hands ready, because someone else has a fool idea about serving the wizard and it might cost us in the end.”

“Are you going to wait for my end of it?” Dahl asked.

Oota chuckled. “What is it you think we’re doing here, son?”

Dahl tried to think of an answer. None made any more sense than “a farm for Chosen.” He saw Tharra ease in a side door, Oota’s guardsmen watching. He was caught—another mission falling apart. Time to be honest, he thought, and see what happens.

“My name is Dahl Peredur,” he said. “I was taken by accident, brought to this place with another. I stole the uniform to escape the fortress. And then I stole these clothes when I realized walking around in that uniform gets me punched. I’m not with the wizard, I don’t know the wizard. I’m just trying to figure out what in all the Hells and farther planes is going on so I can get word out to the proper people and maybe—maybe—save you all.”

“How soon?” Tharra asked from the shadows.

Oota shot her a dirty look. “What makes you think we need saving?”
“Look, you’re not military—the children make that clear,” Dahl said. “You’re not a village—you have almost no way of feeding yourselves beyond the rations and the gardens, and I haven’t found a drop of bloody liquor in this whole town. That wall says this is a prison—a war camp—but I can’t figure out what it is you’ve done to deserve that. You clearly weren’t here before. If you’re displaced, then no one has good intelligence on what Shade is doing. What is it?”

Oota gave him a toothy smile. “We like to say ‘the misfortune of being blessed.’ ” The crowd tittered.

Dahl bit back his frustration. “What does that even mean? You’re all being so damned cryptic—I can help you.” He looked over at Tharra and rolled his right sleeve up past the elbow. He rubbed his forearm, as if it were bothering him, and muttered under his breath, “Vivex prujedj.” Under his fingers, a harp and moon sigil burned up through the skin, shining blue with hidden magic before fading to a normal, indigo tattoo. He moved his hand to his wrist, so that Tharra could see the mark.

“You have something to say, Goodman Peredur,” Oota said, “you need to speak up.”

“I’m on your side,” Dahl said to Tharra. “What do I need to do to convince you of that?”

Oota laughed once, as if he’d made a weak jest. “Hamdir,” she said, and one of the human guards stood. “Our guest complains he’s thirsty. Get him a flagon of the wizard’s finest.” She looked to Tharra. “Unless you object?” she said, all false compliance.

Tharra stared at Dahl. “It’s the only way to be sure.” Dahl’s stomach knotted.

Behind Oota, the guard poured a measure of dark liquid into a plain flagon, then an equal measure of water. He held the flagon as far from his body as possible as he carried it to Oota, but Tharra intervened and took the vessel from him.

“Who do you intend to share the vision?” she asked.
Oota lifted her chin. “Do you imply I can’t?”
Tharra gave her a look of disappointment. “When did we become enemies,Oota? Of course that’s not what I mean.” She looked into the mug. “I’m offering to do it myself. Take the headache off your hands,” she added with a friendly smile. “You’ve too much to do.”

Oota watched her, guarded. “We’re not enemies,” she said, somewhat warily. As if she were saying it as much for the crowd’s benefit as Tharra’s. “We are good friends and allies. But why,” she added, slyer, “are you offering yourself?”

Tharra considered Dahl again. “Well, I did give him that bruise. I like to know I’m right. Or at least, take my lumps if I’m wrong.”

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