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26 days ago
Current Let's be honest, it's far more satisfying and challenging to actually imagine what a character looks like than paste a hundred gifs of a celebrity and call it good.
1 mo ago
So, a team of players who are good at playing as a team in a team-based game are individually bad players. Seems kind of silly when you put it like that, no?
2 mos ago
My goal these days is to have an RP that can actually finish, or the very least, last a few years. I see way too many die on page one to take chances
2 mos ago
Detailed character sheets are my jam. I refer to them a lot for consistency and if someone puts in a lot of effort, I feel more comfortable taking them than someone who didn't
2 mos ago
Actual RP discussion in the sidebar? Never thought I'd see the day.


Lowering the site's value since January 2012.

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Watch the Skies

A GM special
Midday, 17th of Sun’s Height, 4E208
Falkreath Hold, Hours from Falkreath

The Reach was behind them as Skyrim opened up ahead as the hard mountain passes gave way to fields and forests as the group reached the borders of Falkreath hold. It normally would have been a cause for celebration due to an easier journey with more temperate weather, easier access to food and water, and more comfortable places to bunk down in camp, but a heavy air hung over the group after what had happened with Finnen and Daro’Vasora.

Finnen’s attack had stunned many and his sudden disappearance without cause left more questions than answers, and for her part, the Khajiit wasn’t in any mood to talk; it had taken her hours to begin to get her voice back. Even now she was reluctant to speak, sinking into a somber silence, keeping a makeshift scarf about her neck, cut from a strip of her own bed roll. Despite the fact it still carried Finnen’s scent, she persevered, a part of her not wanting to give up on him, but most of her being terrified at the thought of what he had done to her. He warned her this could happen, and she let it. Daro’Vasora nearly died at the hands of someone she trusted and loved and was something she had no idea how to process, so she didn’t even try.

She pulled the scarf up higher, covering her mouth. Finnen’s scent filled her mind, and she forced herself to think of the better times, fighting the specter of what Pale-feather had done with her lover’s body from invading her memories and stealing them from her. It’s what that bastard would want, and Daro’Vasora was too damn stubborn to let a monster steal her memories from her.

Right now, she had to put her own personal stakes aside; the others needed her to be at her best. Since the attack, a lot of the company was recovering from injury and loss; aside from Finnen, Raelynn and Fjolte had disappeared, and Megana and Zaveed still were unheard from after their scouting mission… and Daro’Vasora was trying her best not to fear the worst. It was hard for her not to be snarky and sort at times; everyone she had grown close with had abandoned her, died, or otherwise been missing. It all felt like a validation of how she felt for so many years, starting with how Roux had betrayed her trust and leading up to a group of idiots who activated a Dwemer machine in the Jerall Mountains for everyone.

And so, Daro’Vasora went from person to person to make sure they were eating and drinking properly, or as much as they could with oftentimes limited supplies, and directed people to talk if they needed support. She herself took no part in it; everything was too raw, and she knew herself too well to trust the words that were likely to come out. She busied herself in maps and journals, planning the path ahead, painfully aware how few in number they now felt. She would catch herself lost in thought, turning to look for Finnen, Meg, or Raelynn and finding none of them, or having a thought she wanted to run by Fjolte and realizing he wasn’t there to answer them. Even at night, setting down for the night, there was nothing to keep her warm except for a bed roll and the lingering aches on her throat.

After the second day of travel, they had reached a clearing, and a few relieved groans could be heard; at least they didn’t have to work over steep mountain passes for a change. As they crossed, an unnatural, albeit familiar sound filled the air that filled them with dread. A pair of airships approached from the Northwest and were heading right towards them. The protection of trees and rocks were too far to run and make it, but they had to try. Scrambling for safety, the group heard the propellers grow louder and with a sinking realization that they weren’t going to make it before the ships were upon them, the companions turned and prepared for a fight that they almost certainly would not win.

Daro’Vasora’s hand was shaking, gripping on her mace. She was so damn close. Had she gotten careless and distracted? Was there another way? She knew that the clearing likely was going to expose them, but they needed to take some risks in exchange for quicker travel due to exhaustion and rapidly dwindling supplies, and none of them had seen an airship in weeks. The whole ordeal struck her as disgustingly unfair. She wanted to scream in defiance, she wanted to turn and apologize to what was left of her companions.

All that they could do was stand defiantly and hope S’rendarr looked upon them with mercy.


An unnaturally booming voice came from the East, a figure approaching from behind them that Daro’Vasora saw was adorned in some kind of bone armour… dragon bones, she realized with an immediate and heightened realization.


The words this Nord were bellowing were almost deafening, the Khajiit’s ears pulled back as she flinched away at this approach as he stared down the airships without fear or hesitation. He looked like a predator that had caught his prey.


From the Nord’s mouth emitted an unbelievable force of energy, like a hurricane spit forth from his mouth; the few trees that had been in his way were stripped of branches and bark, and the air cracked in a deafening boom; both of the airships looked as if they had been struck by a giant’s fist, knocking them out of their formation and nearly into each other, fabric tearing from the hulls and balloons atop their frame, gas escaping from them as they tried to correct their course. The entire scene was surreal; the once unassailable airships that had ruled uncontested were being battered around like a child’s plaything.

Haunting roars filled the air and overhead, impossibly fast and sun-stealing shadows swept across as they darted towards the airships. Daro’Vasora tried to make sense of what she was seeing as the creatures she witnessed came to life.

The creatures screamed at the airship,

Torrents of unearthly fire and ice spewed force from the creatures’ mouths as they made passes at the airships, causing the gases above to erupt and the decks to freeze; the panicked and anguished screams of the mer could be heard, somehow, over the absolute carnage of the carnage of the leather-winged creatures. One had dull reddish-brown scales, while the other had bluish white. Daro’Vasora realized what she was witnessing.

They were dragons.

The airships crashed into the ground as the dragons forced them into the ground with their mighty talons, crushing metal that weakened beneath their claws. Teeth tore into the frame and into the ship, the sounds of dying crewmen still ringing through the plains. It was impossible to look away.

A group of mostly Nords and an assortment of others had crossed towards them from the treeline, a motley assortment of hardened looking men and women, with a few others aside, led by a giant of a man with a crimson great beard and mane of matching hair, looking like a figure out of legend. One in particular stood out to Daro’Vasora; she was a Khajiit, like her, her bare arms and tail visible under black and teal leather armour, her face concealed beneath a hood. Clutched in a clawed hand was a long spear with a worn, but meticulously cared for, blade, and a pair of daggers were strapped to the woman’s frame, evidenced by her slender and feminine frame and smaller stature. She was a Suthay-raht, actually taller than Daro’Vasora by a handful of centimeters and far more physically defined by curves and musculature.

This figure seemed transfixed on Daro’Vasora, stepping forward towards her slowly as if the carnage with the dragons was an everyday occurrence. She pulled her hood down, revealing a pale face with her straight white mane swept over the left portion of her face, concealing her left eye and jaw, but the other side was visible, a powerful and shorter muzzle protruded from the girl’s face, and across her face and body were cheetah-like spots. However, behind darkened eyes, concealed with charcoal and plant-mixed red-black face paint shone an emerald green eye that was immediately familiar to Daro’Vasora because it was one in the same as her own.

The girl picked up the pace and crossed the field quickly now, reaching the companions and immediately throwing her arms around Daro’Vasora, tears welling in her eyes. “Vasora! Bright moons, La’Shuni cannot believe her eyes!” she exclaimed. “She thought you were dead!”

Daro’Vasora didn’t realize she was holding her breath as she returned the embrace, burying her face in the girl’s shoulder, holding onto her like she was the only person left in this world.

She caught the quizzical stare of Sevari, who between the brutal display of might from the dragons, the approaching stranger in the dragonbone armour, and the strange girl who was so freely embracing Daro’Vasora prompted her to smile between teary-eyed relief and amusement.

“Everyone, I would like for you to meet my sister.”

Falkreath, Dead Man’s Drink

Falkreath had weathered the storm rather well, all considered. Its buildings all still stood, although there had been signs of conflict in the streets; doors and windows were hastily repaired, and even the tavern in which everyone was seated in a long row of tables, the entire tavern put together to make one singularly long table, had a hole in the ceiling that made light pour in like some divine radiance; indeed, had the pillar of light been only a few meters closer, Jorwen Red-bear would have been cast in the middle of it, making his crimson hair shine like rubies to accentuate his already commanding presence.

Around the table were faces both familiar and new, and the warband in itself was a peculiar sort; mostly Nords with a few scattered individuals who had come from across Tamriel, many of whom now called Skyrim their home. They all had a common cause and they fought together, brother and sisters forged in the bellows of war. It was the new faces that drew the most curiosity and interest from around the table; a motley band all their own. Had it not been for La’Shuni taking an immediate and impulsive move towards reuniting with the one she proclaimed to be her sister, suspicion might have led things down a decidedly different path.

The thing was, they needed all the help they could get.

For all the drinking and revelry, Jorwen was at the head of the table with a slab of frown. One hand lay limp on the table next to a large mug of mead and the other balled in a fist against his leaning jaw. His eyes went about the great mirths of the hall until they fell on Sevari’s. If anything, Jorwen found his reflection in the other man, who was sitting in almost the same way. Their stares almost seemed to convey a conversation of a hundred words. Without one spoken, Jorwen rose and Sevari rose in turn.

Sevari followed Jorwen outside, the two of them standing in the stillness of night. For what seemed like an eternity, there was nothing between the men but moonlight and cricket song. Sevari reached into his coat pocket and pulled free a new cigar from a new bundle he’d gotten from one of Jorwen’s men. He lit it with the tip of his finger and as he exhaled the smoke, Jorwen spoke.

“You’re a fighter.” Sevari stood quiet, then nodded.

“A killer.” Jorwen said. Not a question. A man recognizes most in others what he sees in himself. “All your life, I’d reckon.”

Sevari nodded again, “What of it?”

“In Skyrim, ‘specially these days, it’s a good day to be a killer. A fighter. Them others,” Jorwen nodded to the others in the tavern, Sora’s Party, “They any like you?”

“Some.” Sevari grunted, puffing a few more times off of his cigar, “What of it?”

“We need men like you. Like me.” Jorwen shrugged, “No shame in facts.”

Sevari wasn’t sure who that last part was meant for. Maybe it was for himself, the big man. “What’s your point?”

“You their leader?” Jorwen asked. Sevari shook his head only slightly, a small tick of his head. Jorwen nodded, “Get me the leader, then.”

Somewhere up in a corner of the rafters of the Dead Man’s Drink, a pair of deep carmine eyes squinted down at the arrivals from behind a thick curtain of shadow. Bare feet softly touched the timber cladding of the wall as the owner of the nosy eyes peered out briefly from the shadow to gaze further. The eyes widened before closing as a slate grey face retreated back to the darkness in much of the same manner as an animal might return to its nest for solitude...

Sevari opened the door, letting the songs and shouting pour into the lonely Falkreath streets again. His nighteyes scanned the dark drinking hall for Sora until he found her. He waved her over.

Looking over a tankard of mead, Daro’Vasora’s eye caught Sevari’s between La’Shuni’s animated gestures as she was trying to go over what had exactly happened to have turned the polite, meek sister she knew into a leather-wearing, spear-wielding woman with muscles and scars that hardly resembled the girl she knew. It had been a couple of years since she’d seen La’Shuni last, and with a heavy heart, she realized she missed out on a lot of life back home. It had moved on without her.

“Hey, sis? I’ll be back soon. Sevari needs a word.”

“Who’s that?” La’Shuni asked, looking towards the door, her lips drenched indelicately with her own drink, dribbles running down her mouth. What on Nirn happened to her manners?

“The brooding one… I’ll explain later. We’ve all the time in the world to catch up, I promise.” Daro’Vasora said, standing and kissing her sister on the brow. “I’ve missed you so damn much. I won’t be long!” she promised.

Soon, she was out of the door next to Sevari, her arms crossed with a terse expression as she regarded Jorwen for several moments. “Well, boys, any reason this couldn’t wait until morning? It’s not like I haven’t seen my sister for years and thought she might have died until today.” she grumbled, looking down the cobblestone road. “Surprised this place is still standing. Wooden walls don’t tend to fare well against cannons and airships.”

“Wooden walls look less important than stone ones, don’t you reckon?” Jorwen looked at Sora, gave her a quick once over and it seemed like that was all he needed to gauge everything about her. “Now it’s a haven for my men and the other warbands like us to use and rest in. Warbands of men that look dirty and tired and beaten, that look… less important than ones clinking and clanking around in armor polished enough to blind you.”

Sevari snorted. Jorwen continued, “Odd, ain’t it? But I reckon you’d know a lot about the importance of looking unimportant.” He turned his eyes and nothing else towards Sora, “And then proving the poor fool wrong when he’s got his back to you?”

“I’ll ask you once, and I care a shit if your sister is in there,” He said, turning his full breadth on Sevari and Sora. If Sora looked close enough, Sevari had a blade out and close enough under his coat to not glint in the moonlight. Though he was looking very unimportant all the while. “Who are you trying to look unimportant for? Me or the Dwemer?”

Daro’Vasora’s arms remained tightly crossed as she stared unblinkingly up at the giant of a man, her expression impassive save for the slightest tightening of her jaw. “Paranoid one, aren’t you? Guess you’re not as daft as you look; can’t even figure out how to groom yourself properly.” Daro’Vasora replied shortly. “Look, chief, captain, jarl, whatever… my lot and I don’t have the greatest track record of seemingly well-intentioned strangers telling us they’re on our side.

“I’ve lost a lot of people I care about to the Dwemer, and had I a mediocum more selfish interests at heart, I’d be in Stros M’kai right now with a bowl of rum punch and a chest full of treasures at my side, but instead I just spent weeks walking across the gods-damned Alik’r desert and crossing the mountains, all the while surviving shiny new Centurion hunters and nearly getting murdered by my own gods-damned boyfriend, so forgive me for cutting through the bullshit and this shit-footed coy waddling game you’re pulling me into instead of spending time I’d much rather be with family, but do you really think that the sad-sack shit caravan you came across that’s what’s left of my friends is really a threat to you?” Daro’Vasora growled, jabbing a finger into Jorwen’s chest. “So why don’t you turn your back and find out which I am? You’re big and scary; what’s a little cat going to do to you? Brain you with this thing?” she asked, pulling her mace off of her belt to show it to Jorwen.

“It’s Dwemer make. Take a wild guess how the fuck I got it.”

Jorwen looked over Sora at Sevari. The man shrugged, making a show of a cigar in one hand and the hidden knife he had in his other before dropping his arms again and sheathing it. Jorwen nodded. “Alright.” Jorwen turned from Sora, “Why aren’t you in Stros M’kai then? Why wander from Hammerfell to Skyrim? War to another?”

The Cathay’s eyes narrowed. “I’m going to end this invasion once and for all. I’d kindly appreciate it if you didn’t get in my way.” she reached into one of her belt pouches and pulled out a pendant, a bear made out of orichalcum. It dangled in front of her eyes, turning slowly. “This was my uncle’s. He died in Imperial City trying to save two boys from the ships that came from the sky. I wasn’t there to stand by his side, and I couldn’t save him. I can sure as hell avenge him.”

Jorwen regarded her, unimpressed, “Lots of folks killed Dwemer here. Lots of folks got people to avenge.” Jorwen shrugged, “I don’t know you.”

“And that has to start somewhere.” the Khajiit retorted, ears flattening and eyes narrowing. “We didn’t ask to get pulled into whatever you’ve got going on here, but believe me when I say I’m no friend of the Deep Elves. My people are exhausted, hungry, thirsty, and we still have a long way to go before we can well and truly rest. I appreciate the hospitality, and I assume that at one point you didn’t know my sister, either. So let me propose a deal; you let us stay here until we’re recovered, and we’ll help you with whatever it is that needs doing in the meantime.” she extended a hand. “Might as well make the most of a shit situation, yeah?”

“All I’ve been doing my whole life.” There was the evidence of humor on his smirking lips but none in his voice as he engulfed her hand in his own.

The hands shook; Jorwen made Daro’Vasora feel like a doll in his grasp. She grinned. “My mentor always told me ‘if something is difficult, you’re on the right track’. Talk to my people, get to know them; you Nords like stories, and you’re going to want to listen to theirs. We even managed to piss off and sabotage the ‘governor of Volenfell’s’ operations and broke a bunch of warriors out of one of their best secured prisons before coming here. Give us a chance; you’ll like us.”

“I know how things are done. Ain’t my first time leading people, hopefully my last.” Jorwen nodded at Sora, a new bond between them that seemed to sweep away the prior tension like a dust in the wind. “I’d say that same thing about this war, but I reckon I’d be wrong. Said the same thing last War.”

“Gotta knock on some wood after.” Sevari quipped before taking a drag off his cigar.

“Oh, I’ve been praying at shrines. Reckon I’ve been doing something wrong all these years.” Jorwen chuckled bitterly and turned his vast shoulders on them to get back inside.

As the party each stood around each other, crowded in the Dead Man’s drink, a small sprinkle of dust fell from above. The timber support beam creaked as a stranger pranced across it on graceful footsteps. She came down slowly to her knees - so far undetected by the new arrivals. Her bottom touched the wood and she leaned backwards carefully until her slender legs were hooked. First dropped a long waterfall of thick, scarlett curls. Then the face followed.

She bore the sharpness typical of her race. Her skin the colour of the sky before a storm - her cheekbones high upon the heart shaped face. In the dim candlelight that was illuminating the tavern, she appeared more gaunt than usual. But being upside down also had a strange effect on a person's ability to make sense of a face. As she opened her large, almond shaped eyes, they caught the flickering flames of the candles dotted around the room. It created the illusion that the woman had many eyes - like a spider. The position that she had bent herself into was also not helping to dispel the notion that she was in fact, an arachnid.

She pointed her fingers out towards the young Khajiit, reaching out to rub against the sides of La’Shuni’s ears as she stood in the tavern, eagerly awaiting her sister’s return. “See, little one, didn’t I tell you things would turn well for you?” she said in a voice that had the quality of smoke - a husky sound, feminine and breathy. A warmth and sweetness that was something of a rarity in the normally sour Dunmer of Morrowind. La’Shuni beamed up at Ivy affectionately; she had become well accustomed to the Dunmer appearing in odd places, and her presence was always a reassuring one.

Suddenly, the Dunmer woman blinked, eyeing up the guests from her new vantage point. They looked so much less sad from the upside down. She tilted her head and gave them a quick wave - grinning out at them, as if her smile could lighten the mood some.

The Dunmer turned back to La’Shuni, while one of her hooked legs came down from the timber, and was hanging by her shoulder with her foot relaxed, swinging just so. “My show will be soon, I hope you come to see,” she smiled, pinching the cheeks of the Suthay-raht affectionately. Her toes found the back of a chair and she used it to balance as with a freakish ease she slipped herself down from the beam completely. On solid ground again, she raised her shoulders and brought her hands together with glee. There was a happiness radiating from La’Shuni that the Dunmer found infectious.

La’Shuni giggled. “This one supposes if you want her there, she cannot miss it, no?” she replied, a tiny bit of teasing to her tone. She smiled warmly at her friend. “It is a wonderful day, and La’Shuni never expected it to come. Her sister… Vasora is okay! This one is certain she must have similar thoughts.”

Suddenly, a frown crossed her features. “Do you think mister Jorwen is mad at her? He seemed pretty… upset, perturbed?” the young Khajiit murmured, not sure of the words to find. “There is so much La’Shuni does not know.”

“Oh my, well if we were to know everything then quite simply the head on our shoulders would fall to the ground. Too heavy to pick up! That’s why it’s better to share the things we know…” As Ivy spoke, her hand reached out to the table to pick up a pair of batons. “If Jorwen is mad - let him be mad! He’ll get over it in time,” she waved her hand dismissively at the notion he could be mad in any capacity at La’Shuni. Her other hand found its way to her hip and she leaned to the side, cutting an incredibly feminine shape as she did so. “Don’t worry about it. Come to the firepit instead - bring your sister and her friends!” She leaned in close to La’Shuni, her lips practically brushing against the young girls ears as she whispered there. “Tonight I’m going to become a real dragon.”

La’Shuni gasped in delight. “Truly?! You never fail to surprise this one!” she exclaimed, feeling cheered up immeasurably, the thought of Jorwen sending Daro’Vasora away fleeing from her mind. “This one will make sure that they come. After all, La’Shuni Ten-Thanes speaks with the authority of the chief!” she said with a forced booming voice, suddenly with a straight military-posture with her fist over her heart before her facade cracked and she laughed at the ridiculousness of it all. Tonight was not a night to be serious; after all, what was there to worry about?

“Do you think La’Shuni will have time to speak with Vasora before your show? So much has happened…” she wondered out loud to Ivy, probing the Dunmer’s thoughts.

“That’s the spirit, little one!” she remarked with a smile, drawing back from her friend with a nod in response to her question. “Oh of course, I have to change and limber up a little first… turning into a real dragon takes time.” Ivy winked before giving the girl one last squeeze before turning for the door.

Sevari froze in the doorway. What greeted his sight was a Dunmer woman almost seeming to float down from the rafters. Surely, he was seeing things. And anybody who saw her may have been stunned by the display of flexibility. He was. But for other reasons. But beyond the flexibility was his eyes going over her lithe and fit form to finally catch on her eyes, so full of life and a mischief that both pulled him in and cautioned him away. He only realized he was staring and his breath was held when he let it out in an impressed and satisfied, “Huh.”

He flicked his cigar out the doorway and straightened his coat, making like he wasn’t just ogling her like a drunk and dressed in rags compared to her. Her walk seemed as effortlessly intoxicating as her entrance seemed effortlessly eye-catching. Everything about her was like a performance in the highest of theaters. Sevari wanted to watch it all.

Of course she noticed the Ohmes-Raht. How could she not? He was an Ohmes-Raht for a start. Didn’t get too many of them in Falkreath. She was a performer at heart, and knowing she’d hooked herself an audience of one in the stranger was enough to set her off. Her eyes narrowed the closer she got to him, but she did not look him directly in his. As she came but a foot from him, she stopped and acted startled, setting her eyes to the floor. “Oh my, oh my….” she sang, bending down as if to pick something from the dusty floor.

Ivy closed the distance that remained between her body and his, pressing her closed fist to his hand. “Your eyes, honey. They were on the floor…” she giggled - meaning no ill intent, just a flirtatious tease back. She loosed a finger from her fist and tickled the back of his hand. “Let’s see what you lose if you see my show…” That was it, she gave him a playful wink and brushed past, exiting the tavern with a sway of her hips.

La’Shuni offered Sevari a quizzical stare for several moments, not missing the same lustful gleam in his eyes that men, and some women, tended to have around Ivy before suddenly putting a hand up under her snow-coloured hair covering the left side of her face and heading out of the door in a hurry. Another Khajiit approached from the back, a tiger-stripped Cathay with cougar-like features, his face adorned with a braided beard dangling from his chin and his mane styled likewise to his shoulder blades. He dressed in a simple budi and trousers combination, forest green on grey. He offered Sevari a tankard with a wry smile.

“Careful, rhook; that one will eat you alive if you let her.” he said, patting Sevari on the shoulder before making his way back towards the kitchens.

“I almost want her to…” he stared at the Dunmer’s swaying behind as she went off into the distance. He turned to the other Khajiit, calling out to him before he got too far away, “Her name!”

The Suthay stopped in his tracks, turning to regard Sevari with bemused amber eyes and a slight smile. "And ruin the mystery? Do'Karth would never!" He laughed, plucking a bottle of wine from the counter next to him and pulling the cork with a claw before deftly flicking it into the hearthfire.

"Our enigmatic Dunmer is putting on a show very soon out in the town square; this one encourages you to go see what else she is capable of." Do'Karth replied, drinking from the bottle with a non-committal shrug. "Who knows? Perhaps she will make you a part of her performance. Rajhin knows she is quite flexible."

Sevari cocked a brow at this other Khajiit, taking another look at the empty doorway before turning back, “I’m not sure the town square would want to see the performance I want.” Sevari shrugged, offering his empty tankard out for the bottle, “Fine. Your name is Do’Karth? Warrior, fighter?”

The Suthay rolled his jaw, electing to ignore the crude insinuations the stranger had towards his friend. Be bowed his head, hand over heart. "This one is whatever he is needed to be. Sometimes that may be patching up wounds, others it might mean preparing a meal. But worry not, rhook; Do'Karth might know a thing or two about inflicting those wounds or evicting those meals." He smiled innocently.

Sevari gave his own smile, though much less innocent, “I’m no rook at this war shit.” Sevari said, “I guess your skills make you handy around here. I like that. Groups like this don’t need dead weight.”

Do'Karth's pleasant countenance didn't waver. "My humble apologies; this one had assumed you hailed from the Kingdoms." He bowed his head once more. "Do'Karth had not meant to suggest you were inexperienced; rhook loosely means friend. It is an address of endearment." He explained.

"It is not Do'Karth's preference to make judgement based on another's appearance. Srendarr knows many have made that misstep with him." He said humbly, although there was an insinuation with his tone.

“Well,” Sevari raised his tankard, “Fill this up and we’ll be best friends.”

"Of course." Do'Karth replied, crossing the distance easily and taking the tankard without much of a fuss. With a turn, he resumed his travel towards the back.

The door opened behind Sevari, and a familiar voice said, "What did I miss?"

Sevari turned to the voice, and Zaveed and Megana were standing together at the door frame.
Interest checks are basically watered down and cannibalized sections of my OOC that I post after my OOC is already up. It has flavour text that has a hook, a summary about what the game and story are about, and the standards and explanations that don't fit into a summary.

I just format it like my OOC, use graphics and colour the headers and boom, you have a functional interest check that primes people into the gist of the RP itself.
It Was Only a Dream

A Dervy Shafting

Midday, 16th of Sun’s Height, 4E208
Approaching Falkreath Hold

The lands felt like they were starting to level out somewhat after an arduous journey through the Druadach Mountains, it felt as if the group was finally reaching the foothills. More and more green and lush hills that didn’t break off into rocky caps surrounded them, and the pass was much more gentle; something that doubtless was needed after the ambush they had all survived the day before. While everyone was exhausted, most carried some form of injury, some critically; Daro’Vasora felt a pang of irrational guilt that she was one of the few who escaped the encounter without injury. The massive Orsimer who had attacked them with the Centurions was nothing anyone could have predicted, and it came as a shock that he was related to Mazrah, who has suffered grievously at his hands.

It was dumb luck and ingenuity that had saved the day; Raelynn had managed to turn one of the Centurions’ weapons against the others and the giant Orc, and the mages had kept mobile enough to distract those who had to get close to get to work. Despite how advanced and deadly these Centurions were, they still had shortcomings, and nobody had died, not for lack of trying. Still, the entire ordeal sat poorly with Daro’Vasora, and where on Nirn were Megana and Zaveed? She feared something happened to them, which was a sobering thought when Zaveed was concerned. How he had been before seemed to be so long ago that her arm stopped throbbing in his presence and when he spoke, she didn’t hear Roux’s last dying breaths.

It was healing, wasn’t it? It was to the point where Daro’Vasora realized she wanted to see them both back fine, just like anyone else. Even Gregor’s undead condition was something she was slowly adapting to; his placid disposition and utter fearlessness and selflessness in the face of danger was still fresh in her mind, despite how utterly disturbing the entire thing was. She had seen him weather and endure trauma that should have killed him a dozen times over, and if she didn’t know the utter ruin that likely remained under his cloak, she would have thought she dreamed the entire thing.

What the hell was the world coming to when the relic hunter was beginning to feel acceptance and some degree of fondness for a blood-thirsty murderer and a necromancer? She knew that good and evil were subjective concepts that often accompanied whoever wrote the texts, but there were so many bloody shades of grey the Khajiit felt like she could no longer see colour at all and it concerned her. What was wrong with her that she was allowing any of this to become normal?

The group had stopped for an hour break next to a creek. While some took it as an excuse to check over wounds or eat in peace, others simply took the time to lay down and rest in the shade, easing their legs from the long ride in the saddle. Finnen was among those who deemed rest necessary, and it killed Daro’Vasora to see him laid low. She wasn’t there when he was attacked, and she had barely done more than fuss over him after she found him in the aftermath, maimed and broken to a degree that she herself broke down and cried, fearing for his life.

He pulled through, and despite his injuries, he seemed to be more or less himself. The healers had done an incredible job on him… on all of them. The only thing they couldn’t mend what was going on inside of everyone’s minds, and with the faintest of reassured smiles, Daro’Vasora laid down next to Finnen, watching his chest rise and fall as he gently snored, sleep having taken him easily. She ran her long fingers through his long hair, admiring its tone and volume. He’d changed so much since they first met… they both had. As they lay there, listening to the sound of rushing water, she wondered if he was dreaming.

“He’s a fighter.” Sevari didn’t react when Sora flinched out of her reverie at the sound of his voice. “I saw some of it. He’s a fighter.”

He stood opposite them, speaking to Sora but looking at Finnen. There was something wrong with that boy, but whatever it was, it showed up at the right time. That big Orc was no slouch, taking two of the huge bullets from the gun. He hacked something up and spat it dark to the side. He’d been doing that a lot since the incident.

“How are you?” He finally looked at Sora.

“Honestly? I’ve got no right to complain about anything right now.” Daro’Vasora said to Sevari, looking up to him with a frown. “Just taking it day by day and every time I think my plan is starting to make sense, that it’s going to work… this sort of thing happens.” she shook her head, sitting up to look at Sevari a bit easier. “How about yourself? You had quite the scare.”

He shrugged, “It happens.”

There was still a silence between them. He was sure something had happened to Zaveed. Twenty years apart or twenty days, he worried for the man. He was still his brother, and he didn’t know the man for abandoning what he set his mind to. But worrying himself to death wasn’t going to keep anybody going forward. “Food? Water? I’ve got a hunger. Dying is pretty hungry work, you know?” He had a macabre little smirk, but it was something.

“I try to make it a habit of not knowing anything about that.” Daro’Vasora replied with a grin before her expression softened up some. “But if you’re offering, anything you can spare.” she placed a hand on Finnen’s shoulder. “And for him; I want to make sure he’s taken care of before me.”

“Can’t take care of him if you don’t take care of yourself. But, sure thing.” Sevari said, a small smile on his lips. He hung at the spot he stood, still cradling his rifle in folded arms. It was something he wouldn’t let get away from him, especially after what had happened. “You’re a fighter too. Both of you, couple of warriors.”

He chuckled at that, even if there wasn’t any comedy apparent, “You remind me of someone I knew back in Elsweyr. She was a good person.” He clucked his tongue, “Still is, I’d say. Even if her and I don’t get along well these days, I think you two might. Zaveed’s sister.”

That earned a crook of Daro’Vasora’s head. “I actually didn’t know he had a sister. Just you two, and even then, I struggle to see the resemblance.” she said, deciding Finnen could wait for a few minutes. She rose to her feet, feeling something pop in her ankles and her joints aching in protest. Now standing with Sevari, she gestured, “Know what? Let’s go for a bit of a walk. So, what reminds you of this mystery sister?” she asked.

He nodded, letting her lead the way as he followed, eyes up in his thoughts and memories. He snorted, looking sidelong at Sora, “You’re both fucking mean when you want to be.” He let the sentiment grow long enough for Sora’s expression to change a tick, “And nice, too. Self-sufficient. Strong. She was almost too strong for her own good, and what strength she didn’t have in those days, she tried everything to make like she had it.”

“It’s not a bad thing. Gods know I’ve had to keep a snarl while my pants were being pissed a great too many times I’ll ever tell you,” he smiled, “But warriors? Yeah, warriors.”

It was an oddly sentimental thing for Sevari to say; for a moment, Daro’Vasora felt somewhat bashful. Compliments weren’t something that were offered freely to her, especially not from someone who had been an enemy not long ago, and barely an acquaintance after. “I’m not much of a warrior, Sevari. I’m just handy at hitting things with a mace if it buys me a few seconds to dart off with something valuable in hand… at least that was my life before all of this.” she shook her head, smiling as she looked to him.

“You know, I didn’t ever think I’d find myself in the company of people I trust and care about more than myself. I feel like a part of who I am was just left behind in Anvil when I made the choice to go back for everyone to tell them to come with Finnen and I. I used to be so vain and selfish, I couldn’t trust anyone but myself because I was afraid I’d get hurt by anyone I let close. These people changed that.” she said, crossing her arms as she stopped for a minute.

“It sounds like you cared a lot about ‘Zaveed’s sister’. I noticed that you didn’t call her your own. Who was she?” she asked quietly.

“She…” Sevari’s fingers went to the necklace around his throat. The one she made for him. Saved up enough coin to buy everything she needed and kept it hidden long enough to finish it. She’d slipped it around his neck when he least expected it.

It never left since.

“Was the first person to tell me I was worth something.” He stared long at nothing, furrowed brow as he remembered, “Growing up Ohmes in Torval was rough, Senchal was no easier. The Dominion came and suddenly everyone forgets the Ohmes are Khajiit through and through.”

“They called me half-man. Said my mother bent over for…” He scowled then, shaking his head and then looking at Sora, back in the present, “Marassa is her name.”

“It’s a pretty name.” Daro’Vasora said kindly, setting a hand on Sevari’s arm. “Both of my parents are Ohmes-stock, and they’re both very successful and well-regarded in Leyawiin. I’ve spent way too long hating being what I was that I thought being a Khajiit was holding me back, that it had people look at me with suspicion and distrust. You shouldn’t have to do the same, Sevari. You aren’t some half-man, or lesser for the station of your birth. You’re quite remarkable, and the Rid-Thar-Ri’Datta picked you to walk Nirn as an Ohmes-raht for a reason.

“We’re the most diverse race on Nirn; it makes us strong and able to see things differently than everyone else. We aren’t so set in our ways, or resistant to change and new ideas we can’t adapt. How else would two people like us, from such different walks of life, end up here? We’re trying to save the world. We pull it off, who knows? Maybe you’ll be getting your own statue in Torval, or Imperial City. Sevari Dwemer-Bane, or some shit like that. Someone with your face can walk both worlds, so own it.” she said reassuringly. “You’ve got a lot more going for you than you think.”

Sevari chuckled ruefully, “Oh, I don’t think they’ll be putting statues of me in Torval, Sora.” His chuckling continued as he shook his head, “If only you knew what I used to do in Elsweyr. Khajiit see things differently. A man accepted me and told me I could get justice for what was done to me. Khajiit saw me and saw only difference.”

He looked at Sora, a small frown on his face, “By Khajiit. By men, too, and elves. But the person who let me right the wrongs was a Man. A round-ear, a pink-skin. I might be able to walk both worlds but one of those worlds showed me how much it didn’t want me.”

He let out a gravelly cough and spat off to the side, pulling his collar down to let her see the Red Diamond, then Pelinal’s image on him. He showed her one of his khajiiti script tattoos, ‘Thank you, Anequina, for my ruined youth.’ <I don’t want it either.>

Daro’Vasora shook her head. Sevari had a story she had no idea what it all entailed, but it clearly wasn’t one of comfort and warmth. “I see you and see a man who wants to be hated, needs to be. But Sevari?” she asked, crossing her arms and looking past him. “Let’s say you finally get what you want, revenge, justice, whatever you want to call it. What comes after? Have you even thought that far?”

Sevari stopped walking and rustled around in his coat pocket, tsking, “Last one.” He muttered to himself before placing the cigar between his lips and touching the tip of his finger to it. He looked around, noticing they were alone now, a ways from the others. The cigar began smoking with each of his breaths until he removed it from his mouth, “Yeah. I have.”

“I’ll inherit his wealth, fuck his wife. Marry his daughter or something, but I don’t think she’ll want to do that after I strangle his son with his own guts.” His spiteful smirk faltered for a moment and he grabbed a fistful of the necklace and pulled it up behind his neck, taut against his throat, “She’s fucking him, you know?”

He said, necklace still taut, “The son. Marassa’s fucking him and she’s been fucking him for I don’t know how long.” He shook his head, a frown twitching at a corner of his mouth, “My entire fucking family gets killed by his father!”

“I lose my home! I lose my brother, Zaveed, I lose him!” His fist was shaking now, making the beads of the necklace shiver together as if they were frightened of him, “And she fucks his son, and tells me if I even try to get even!”

His breathing was labored, his eyes bore into Sora not with anger, not with fury. But with heat. A heat that came up from his chest and set to quivering his breaths through clenched teeth. A heat that put pain in his eyes. He continued, his voice a pained whisper, “If I want to seek justice for everyone his family has killed… My first love, Marassa, will hang me.

With a violent tug and a snap, the necklace tumbled from itself, beads falling to the forest floor and plinking into each other. He threw the remnants into the stream as the moment died away into silence, “So I either forget the faces of my dead family or kill one of the only people I ever loved.” He said, voice low. He swallowed, looked away from Sora, “So, yes. I need to be hated. Because if she hates me, it might make it easier for both us.”

He turned away from Sora and stalked the way they were walking in the first place, wiping his nose and face in as rough and angry a manner he could muster. He didn’t want her to follow him, but he never really expected to get what he wanted in life. So, he settled for not caring. “I’ll get whatever you and Finnen need. Just make sure he’s okay, I’ll be back.”

It left Daro’Vasora stunned as she watched Sevari go, her eyes glancing between the necklace that was left destroyed in Sevari’s wake and what it represented. So much pain and loss filled Sevari, and the picture he painted of love and loss was so vivid Daro’Vasora couldn’t help but feel it like a knife in her own gut. “You’re all so stubborn…” she muttered, shaking her head as she gathered what was left of the necklace he had destroyed, pocketing them before returning to Finnen. Anger might have consumed Sevari then, but he wouldn’t have carried around something from so long ago that meant everything to him if it wasn’t deeply important. She’d put it together again for him, somehow.

She returned to Finnen’s side, kneeling next to him as she put a hand on his chest, feeling it rise and fall. “I hope your dreams are better than what Sevari’s waking life is right now.” she said quietly.

The Reach was famous for only a few things; hills and rocks, mist and blood. It was the land that birthed the young man named Finnen, a warrior of only few years but the men he’d put in the ground were many. He had a name for himself in Markarth Side and the Western Reach, even. Tales of his deeds trickled through the high passes like rivulets of blood. And there were rumors that a great Red Bear was coming to call on him.

For now, they saw no sign of him, heard nothing of him in the whispers of Reachmen in the towns or the hills, no scout had picked up sight nor scent. And so Finnen and his band of Forsworn waited at their fire. Finnen and seven wraiths wreathed in shadow, the erosion of the river that time was wore down their faces in his memory until they were but shadows of men.

In that little slice of time they’d sat and laughed around the fire for hours. But Finnen only sat by himself, looking about with curiosity. He was confused, was this real? But one of the writhing shadows turned, snakes about itself until the smoky tendrils made a picture of himself, skin black as charcoal with eyes red as the flames of the Deadlands, horns sprouting from his forehead to crown the black hair down his shoulders.

Finnen should have been scared, perhaps, but he only cocked his brow. “Who are you?”

“If you do not know me by now, you have truly forgotten.” The other Finnen said.

“Ah. It is you, then.” Finnen said. He looked at his hands and they were covered in blood that was not his own. “What is-“

He flinched as blood speckled his face, though he almost couldn’t feel it. Like the ghost of sensation tickling at his cheeks with fingers of nothing. A great roaring man of fire bounded through the trees and cut yet another of the wraiths at the fire. “Up, Finnen! Up!” The Black Finnen seemed to dance on his feet and giggle with excitement, “Come on!”

The Black Finnen stood and beckoned him, voice high like an excited child, even as the wraiths of smoke that were supposed to be his friends upon a time were being cut down. More big men came from the trees following the Man of Fire, and as Finnen took Black Finnen’s offered hand to stand, it was as if he was no more.

Watching himself through eyes not his own, he drew a sword he didn’t remember seeing on his belt and spitted one of the men from the trees on it. An odd thing that these men stood out as such, instead of smokey shadows lost to memory. He heard himself growl as he pushed the blade deeper, felt a wave of giddiness as the warrior-boy whimpered with bloody lips and looked into his eyes with fear and surprise. As if he had been told he would never die and had been proven all wrong.

With a great roar, he ripped the blade out the side of the man and sent his gut-rope to pile at his feet following a great gout of blood, the sickening sound of meat tearing apart. Another man came at him and he dodged right, sending his blade ripping through the man’s head, leaving only the bottom half spurting black blood.

And finally, the great Man of Fire stood opposite him. The longer he looked, it was no longer a great flame rendered into the shape of a man, slowly fading out of form into yet another Nord. Hair red as fire, teeth snarling like a bear in a big slab of red, furious beard. “I was told you were taller.”

“I’ll look it when your head is dropped at your ankles.” Finnen heard himself say. And he rolled out of the way from a great, reaping arc the huge blade of the Nord made. He sprang off his feet and sent himself hurdling at the Nord.

The Nord threw himself to the side and Finnen swiped wildly to the left, looking to take the Nord’s legs from him but finding only air. Their battle raged around the clearing, swiping and growling and slicing with fury enough to match each other.

“Know the Red Bear!” The huge Nord threw down his sword, hand covering up a deep gash in his shoulder, “Face me!”

Finnen’s bounding steps carried him into the arms of Red-Bear, their hands meeting as they struggled against each other. His heart beat the faster as he saw surprise creep into the Red-Bear’s eyes as he pressed on through the torrent of the bigger man’s strength “I am Pale-Feather.” Finnen hissed, and of a sudden he felt fear of himself, “And I… am...”

He pressed on and curled the Nord’s wrists back and back until he heard him yell in pain, wrapping his hands around the Nord’s thick neck and squeezing, squeezing, “Made-

“Of death!” Finnen’s hands were squeezing tighter and tighter still, a grip of iron in hands made of ironwood.

It was so sudden and so unexpected; one moment Finnen had been asleep, tossing somewhat fitfully, and the next his eyes had opened with an insatiable hatred and malice that Daro’Vasora realized far too late that it wasn’t Finnen who opened his own eyes. His hands were grasped about her throat so tightly she couldn’t not do more than utter barely audible gurgles and grunts as his thumbs dug mercilessly into her windpipes.

Fear gripped her with blind panic; she lashed out with claws, dragging long lines of blood into his hands and arms, his neck and collarbone and chest, and nothing was making Pale-feather release her, nothing was bringing Finnen back. She felt like her throat was entirely closed, even her vocal chords wouldn’t vibrate to allow her to scream and she kicked into the dirt feebly as he pinned her into the earth, trying desperately to gasp as she struggled against death. Her head was exploding with pain from the constricted blood vessels, the lack of oxygen, the blind terror of a body knowing it couldn’t breathe. Her neck felt like it was crushing in a noose, and she tried to speak, to scream, to do anything, and her lips contorted in agony, spittle escaping as if they were rats on a sinking ship.

The face of the man who was supposed to be her lover was staring down at her with a manic joy in what he was doing. The thoughts of every memory she shared with that face felt like they were bursting like the blood vessels in her throat; she saw him looking at the lutes in Imperial City, the way he shyly looked at her when she offered to replace it. She saw him when they had trained to fight, and when he had been over her in the following bought of love-making; the face then had been so tender and compassionate, and she felt like he was her world then.

Now she knew he was going to be the end of it.

“What the fuck…” Sevari breathed at the sight of it. He’d returned to the two of them, his pack laden with rations and water, to see Finnen not only up and awake, but with his hands wrapped around Sora’s neck.

This was no lover’s quarrel. He dropped his pack and unslung his rifle from his shoulder, charging at Finnen. He stabbed at the man with the barrel, unwilling to shoot his friend. Maybe he could get him off of Sora without killing him. Maybe, just maybe. He stabbed at Finnen’s ribs again and though the skin purpled over with bruises the man seemed to shrug them off. He never took his eyes off of Sora for even a moment, so intent on killing her.

He’d seen Finnen like this, fighting with Maul. At the time he was amazed, amazed at how fast he moved despite his wounds, how strong he still was. He remembered waiting with bated breath like a man at the edge of a boxing match in a back alley. But the same fury leveled at Sora, the man’s own lover, twisted knots into his stomach. He flipped his rifle around and grabbed firmly onto the barrel. Thwack!

He hit Finnen as hard as he could, once, twice until he rolled away from Sora, panting wildly as he let go of muted little giggles. He leveled his rifle’s barrel at Finnen, “Stay there, Finnen, please just stay there.”

His voice was pleading, ready and willing to kill Finnen if he had to, but the look on Finnen’s face was what kept him from feeling that pain. It seemed the horrifying pleasure had sapped away from Finnen to be replaced with fear and confusion. As if he hadn’t even been there. “Wh-what?”

“Finnen?” Sevari asked, but was met with only silence. Sevari inched the barrel closer to Finnen, “Answer me, please.”

“What- why are you?” Finnen’s lip quivered, his arms wrapping about himself, “Sora, please, what-”

And then he saw it. There was fear in her eyes as she looked at him. She wouldn’t meet his gaze. “The dream…” he muttered, “No… no, no, no…”

“Is it you?” Sevari whispered harsh.

“I…” Finnen looked at his hands, felt at his face. There was no blood. But what those hands did to Sora for her to look like that…

Finnen got to his feet, taking a few stumbling backwards steps, eyes going from Sevari to Sora. Without a word, he turned and ran. Sevari let him go, watching him retreat and shrink back into the forests.

Daro’Vasora couldn’t even call after him; the trauma done to her throat was too great. She coughed and wheezed, her head pounding and heart torn asunder from the betrayal, the near-death experience. Finnen had warned her this would happen, and she brushed it off. She discounted his warnings, thinking she knew better than him.

She lay there, helplessly curled up in a ball, wheezing as she clutched at her own throat; she knew the skin beneath her fur was probably dark and bruised, and she still felt his hands upon her neck. She couldn’t even sob, as much as her body needed to; the pain was too great, and now she simply struggled to take in the air she so desperately tried to draw.

He turned away from where Finnen had took off to, his eyes on Sora as she writhed in the ground. As quick as he could, panting and coughing as he skidded on his knees to Sora’s side. He cradled her head in his hand, reassuringly squeezing her shoulder, “Breathe, Sora. Slow,” He said, “Slow, Sora, you’re going to be fine.”

Daro’Vasora wheezed in Sevari’s grasp, clinging to his shirt, tears piercing clenched eyes. Her voice was gone, or else she would have challenged that statement.

There was nothing fine about any of this.
Current Discussion: Maintaining a Playerbase.

Alright, so I operate off a simple rule that the first three months of a roleplay are absolutely critical; as a GM, you need to be able to keep momentum going and set deadlines and stick to them. There's a lot of things that I think a lot of GMs do that contributes to games not making it out of the gate that they may not realize, and it goes back to even before the first IC post drops.

Make sure you vet your players and give feedback on reviews while sticking to your standards; all it takes if a few minutes of checking someone's posting history to make sure they stay with games and not drop most of them. Granted, we all have times where a game isn't for us, and that's fine. It's more the people who join a dozen roleplays at the same time and then commit to none of them; giving that player a character slot at the expense of someone who has proven to be someone who can stick things through slumps and slow downs is going to hurt in the long run. Likewise, review every character sheet that comes in and make sure it's up to your standard; have people revise them when you give feedback, and you can tell a lot about players for who are willing to make adjustments and those who butt heads with you. You want to make sure that your players who are accepted are roughly of similar expectations and skill level and generally have positive temperaments.

On that token, figure out how many players you're comfortable managing and stick with it! You don't want to have a story in mind where you have a half-dozen players and end up with a full-dozen or more if it is a bit too much for you to handle or doesn't work with your story. I myself prefer about 6-8, and as the game's established I don't mind picking up new blood, but my personal GMing style is trying to help players craft their own personal stories and incorporate parts of their character bios into the RP and it's a lot more meaningful and manageable if I only have a small portion of players compared to say an open sandbox with an always open tag.

The other major factor of player numbers is posting rotations; less players means faster turn around times, and one thing I notice GMs get caught up on all the time is that they wait for absolutely everyone to post before moving the plot along; oftentimes people lose interest in an RP if they have to wait weeks between GM move along posts because one or two people are dragging their heels. This is why setting deadlines is important! If I notice that the posting rate is slumping (or people don't have anything in the works), I basically say a week from that day, or as I usually do, next Monday-Wednesday, is my move along day and everyone should have their stuff in by then. I don't punish players for missing the deadlines, it just means they missed out on a chance to reply. The only time I really kick someone for being absentee is if it's been well over a month and they haven't contributed anything. I do give them a head's up and a deadline, but even that might be temporary.

Point is, you need to keep momentum going and as a GM, you should already know how your first quest/ mission is going to pan out, all the major NPCs already created and a story already in mind before the game even launches and then just fill in the blanks as you go. Players should never be forced to wait on their GM past a certain length of time; say "hey I'm moving the story along on Friday" and stick to it. Let players know that they're not waiting on a dead RP or a GM who has no time for them. Remember; players are trusting you as a GM to provide an experience for them, and by submitting a character to you and an interest to take part in your story, it's your responsibility to demonstrate to them that you aren't wasting their time. We have all joined an RP, spent hours on a character, and then find out that the GM lets the game slowly die before it even gets started. It's frustrating and demoralizing, and I think as GMs, we have an obligation to our players to respect their time and efforts.

Now for actually running the game, I have a simple rule; focus on the engaged players and don't worry about the not-engaged ones. What I mean is if people are constantly talking about the story and characters and are posting regularly, those are the players who are going to form your core group, whereas players who rarely post, don't talk OOC, and generally seem to be absentee in general are probably going to end up dropping and putting the entire game on hold to make sure they post is a major factor games on this site die. This is why I keep saying deadlines; tag everyone, let them know when they have to post by, and stick to it. Have your next GM post ready to go shortly after and keep going like that. If you notice players missing several deadlines, you probably should have a chat with them and see where they're at and ask if there's anything you can do to help their inspiration or alleviate their concerns, and sometimes it ends up being a positive experience. But you shouldn't sacrifice the enjoyment of an entire group over one or two players who seem very disinterested; if you put too much time and effort into those players at the expense of the 6 who are extremely motivated, you're going to end up bleeding those players because the game's stalling and not moving along.

On a more positive note, one thing that absolutely keeps players invested and feeling good is consistent positive feedback. Hit that like button when you read a post; it takes no time at all and lets people know that their hard work is being read and appreciated. When someone makes a post, compliment it and say what you liked about it! Talk about the characters and what happened a bit; if you do that kind of feedback, it starts to become a self-sustaining cycle where players all feel like they can participate and the more they put in, the more they get back. I've found it helps really develop characters OOC and helps flesh them out as people, and I've had some pretty awesome plots in roleplays that player characters had that largely spawned from OOC discussion and feedback.

And finally, last last big point; do not tolerate toxic behaviour. If someone's causing issues in your game, constantly argue with other players, insult players or characters, or otherwise turn the OOC into a toxic shitposting nightmare, get rid of them, no refund. The internet is full of holes for people with shitty personalities, your RP doesn't have to be one of them. You should always try to cultivate a positive and active atmosphere so people want to keep coming back and participating. If you don't, all it takes is a few shitty comments to start driving people away if an RP is still in its infancy. Personally, if I notice a Discord or OOC starts getting into uncomfortable or inflammatory rhetoric before characters even get accepted, I'm out. I only have so much free time, I'd rather spend it in good company.
@BrokenPromise and @Ammokkx basically covered the gist of it, but one thing that can help is spending time reading the posts of writers you like and paying attention to the details they put in; do things like engage the senses, think of body language or how a character would physically do an action; are they hurt or tired? What's their emotional state? Try to put yourself in the scene and imagine what it all looks like and feels like, what other small details exist that can help establish the scene. What kind of ambient sounds are in the area? Are there birds or other animals? Can you hear cars or water? There is so much you can do!

Alternatively, maybe try reading a novel or two and see how the author fills out a chapter. I would also strongly recommend collaborating with people in your roleplay! Open a gdoc and write a post together.
@RPGN Thank you for all your hard work! I look forward for these installments; I'll try to remember to fill out thr community question this time around.
Please Comply

Greenie, Tricks and Dervs slam jam

15th Sun’s Height - Morning

The Durehahdddach mountains…

A sharp elbow dug into Zaveed’s flank followed by a low Shhh, pulling the Cathay fully into consciousness. Whatever cocktail had been inside of the dart had begun to run its course and for a long while he had drifted in and out of consciousness. Even now, with his eyes finally electing to stay open, his limbs felt like dead weight and his breathing was laboured. What the hell had hit him?

Zaveed took a moment to get his orientation; the landmarks and region meant nothing to him, but they still appeared to be in the mountains, so that likely meant they hadn’t been taken far. It wasn’t easy to move two dead-weight prisoners around, so there was a good chance they were simply waiting for transportation. But who had taken him and Megana, he wondered. There were no fires, no lights, no sound. 

However, with his feline eyes, he could make out figures moving about the area and he caught the scent of prepared food. There were figures wearing long cloaks, foliage woven within the fabric for concealment, and mesh veils that covered their heads and features. The Dwemeri weapons they carried were scuffed and painted to reduce the sheen of the metal, foliage and netting wrapped about the barrels to conceal the profile. They were strange devices, unlike the weapons he was familiar with, these rifles had what looked like large pressure chambers on the side, and about the figures’ belts were several cylinders and vials. Perhaps the ammunition?

“Is that you, Megana?” Zaveed asked, his tone low that she’d strain to hear his words. He didn’t want to alert these figures he was awake.

"Aye," Meg replied, her own voice low enough that it was almost as if she had breathed the word out. It was really hard for her to decipher time and location while they had been travelling- she had forced herself to keep her eyes shut most of the forced journey so as not to levy any suspicion that she wasn't actually knocked out like Zaveed. After what had seemed almost an eternity to the Nord, the two were finally set on the ground. Even then Meg was much too cautious to simply begin her struggle to free herself. It had been dark, but that didn't mean her other senses weren't functioning. She could feel, she could smell, and most importantly, hear. She had waited until there was no nearby sound discernable before opening her eyes.

Her hands had been bound behind her back, but Meg had expected that even when she'd fallen in the forest, after which she'd plucked the elven dagger from Zaveed and stuffed it beneath the tightly cinched cloth sash she had wrapped around her waist. A little hand wriggling while on her side and she had managed to reach below the sash, feeling a slight sting as her finger was nicked by the sharp edge of the dagger's blade. The pain had caused her to smile... she had what she wanted.

It had taken a little patience and perseverance to slowly and carefully cut through the ropes without arousing suspicion, and more than once Meg had forced herself to pause, feeling her hand cramp up. Still, the joy she felt when the bonds around her wrists loosened was worth the pain.

"I'm free," she added, voice still remaining lower than ever, though she trusted Zaveed's sharp ears to catch her words more easily than she had caught his. "I got yer dagger on me..." She paused in her words, listening for footsteps before slowly shuffling a little closer to the Khajiit man. "Lemme cut those damn ropes off ya."

“Wait.” Zaveed urged, shaking his head slowly. “My limbs still feel like weights and I cannot feel my feet. If they discover the bindings gone before I can move, we’re done for. Besides, we’re in a good spot to try and learn a few things, no?” he asked, letting out an inaudible sigh, blinking rapidly to try and clear the sleep out of his system. 

He looked around once more slowly, trying to regard some things that were harder to discern out of the corner of his eye; at night, paradoxically, it was easier to make sense of an object if you weren’t looking directly at it. He counted a dozen figures, although all of them had their features concealed beneath netting, except for the ones who were dining. There was something oddly efficient about them; much of this camp seemed temporary and exceptionally well-concealed. Unless someone happened upon it, they would have likely never spotted any of this at a distance. 

Even those who moved around seemed to be slow and methodical, careful with their footfalls to avoid disturbing anything like a twig or dried leaves that would make a sound. He smelled oil or some kind of lubricant; at least one of them had their weapon apart and was almost silently reassembling the device. Zaveed was good, but he realized that the soldiers or mercenaries who had captured Megana and himself were exceptionally well-trained in this environment and took great pains to be as silent as possible. 

Suddenly, the camp seemed to spring to attention, and the soldiers all stood vigilant. A torchlight approached, and Zaveed felt sorry for the poor bastard who was likely about to die without even having a chance to draw his sword. But none of the soldiers moved; instead they almost seemed to be standing at attention for a VIP. Zaveed rolled his jaw. This wasn’t likely to bode well for him or Megana.

“Looks like we’re about to be very popular.” He murmured. 

Two women approached the clearing, an escort of six heavily armoured soldiers who were at odds with the commandos that were within the camp. The first was a Dwemer woman with cold, calculating grey-blue eyes and a schoolmarm’s disposition and impossibly perfect posture. 

She dressed practically, blue trousers with red piping tucked neatly into knee-high boots with a pair of straps and buckles to secure them to her feet, and her torso was adorned with a brown thigh-length overcoat, fashioned with a red waist sash. The telltale bronze sheen of dwemeri metal shone through the opening around her collar, suggesting at least a mail or scale shirt of armour beneath the coat. 

Her grey-brown hair was short and loose, pinned back with decorative pins and stopping at the nape of her neck, and her face certainly did not have the same charm or youthful presence as Razlinc Rourken; crowsfeet were under the woman’s eyes, and her cheeks were gaunt, showing the impression of her skull beneath in some areas, giving her a particularly severe appearance under the torchlight. If any feature of her could have been considered cute or attractive, it was her pert and small nose that seemed to defy the almost Morrowind-like topography of her face. 

And she approached the two prisoners with a butcher’s gaze.

At her side was a small, by comparison, breton mage seemingly her robes weighed against her aging shoulders. Long wispy white hair neatly brushed into a bun at the base of her head, leaning against an oak staff for support. Her faintly yellow adept robes were covered in patches, burn marks and oil stains. A leather apron tied at her waist. Round cheeks with lines of wrinkles crinkling over softened dimples, a pair of brown eyes endlessly fuelled by curiosity, scanning over the pair of prisoners. Her hands were spotted with scars, while a distinctly familiar ruby red ring - polished and shiny, it was snug (refitted over the years) on her ring finger. By comparison once more, the breton looked as if she was pulled out elbow deep from a project by the Dwemer official to join them. 

“Caught us some rascals eh?” the mage commented, not without a playful air about her despite how serious the Dwemeri were around her, “I suppose it’s better you two are here than out there, the world’s a real mess.”

Squinting at their faces, studying them, “Now why am I being pulled away from the work? I was reaching a breakthrough, delicate pieces I’ve been working with as you know.” She said, scolding in tone but lacking in any real weight. The Dwemeri were not so likened to her attitude on good days.

The Dwemer didn’t react to the petulant protest, instead approaching Megana, taking her by the jaw to inspect either side of her face before doing the same for Zaveed. “Because, sweet Leonora, we are trying to finish the catalog. These two will do.” she announced definitively, waving one of her escorts over. “We will bring these two back to Markarth with us. The last batch was… defective. Perhaps you need to tone down your methods?” she asked her companion idly. 

The Dwemer resumed her rod-straight posture, looking down upon Megana like she was peering down from an imposing tower. “Perhaps you could enlighten us of what you two were doing in these woods, and so close to Markarth. Cooperate and your next few weeks will be decidedly more pleasant. Do not, and you will find my patience is very thin and I have other ways of extracting what I need. Understood?” Her tone suggested only the thinnest veil of malice; it was simply a statement of fact, not an idle threat. 

Leonora shrugged one shoulder, “As I said, delicate. They look like survivors, we will see when they’re on the table.” 

It was hard to erase the fear that build up in Meg, and she had to fight against all instincts so that she didn't cringe nor pull away when the dwemer woman held her face. Mind awhirl with all the various nefarious ends that could have possibly been planned for her and Zaveed, Meg found it rather difficult to even think of what exactly she could do to escape the precarious situation they found themselves in. She was also very afraid of what consequences might befall her if they discovered the ropes they had used to bind her hands with were cut.

Yet there was a sudden sense of indignation at the dwemer woman's words, and her pride flared up like kindling added to a dying fire, allowing her to put words together and finally speak up.

"I- I'mma Nord!" she spat out, her eyes narrowing as her hands clenched tightly behind her back. "This's m'home! I'm s'posed t'be roun' these parts, not you." So what if she wasn't actually from the Reach? She could go wherever she pleased in Skyrim, and this place was more hers than either of these two!

"Ah yes, senseless nationalism, a favourite of mine. It pairs well with racial supremacy and unchecked egotism." The Dwemer replied dryly. She crouched in front of Meg, regarding her with storm-coloured eyes. "My dear child, these lands you call Skyrim and Morrowind belonged to the Dwemer far before men crossed the Sea of Ghosts from Atmora and made a right mess of everything they touched.

"We predate Atmorans, Dunmer, Nords… you are but children in our eyes and to presume you have any claim to these forests, plains, and mountains is laughably inadequate. Our structures endured as monuments of our eternal presence, our beacons that would one day herald our return home." She said slowly, deliberately. The Dwemer's face shifted into a sneer.

"Imagine my disgust when vermin moved into my home when I was away. Imagine my disappointment when the streets of Markarth that I used to play in as a youth were overrun by uncultured brutes who cannot even begin to imagine the depths of the gifts we left behind." 

The Dwemer sighed, steepling her fingers delicately before her. "I am aware six hundred years is many lifetimes for something that lives as long as a dog lives for you, but we elves are blessed with a long life… and a longer memory. Accept we are reclaiming our homes and step aside of the march of progress, or feel free to be trampled underfoot. The choice is yours."

Meg's eyes remained narrowed with anger and frustration, but she stayed silent, listening to the Dwemer as the woman spoke, teeth grinding against each other so violently she was sure those present could hear it. When the woman quieted, Meg finally lifted her eyes to glare at the Dwemer, blatantly challenging her. "So wha'? Y'think y'can jus' come back an' take everythin', push people away jus' like tha' 'cause you went missin' for Mara knows how long? This’s our home too. Y’can’ just shove people away!" An angry huff of a breath escaped her, and her green eyes shifted between the elf and the Breton. It was so tempting to burst out that she had seen their handiwork, how the dwemer in Cyrodill were the real brutes with their wanton violence, how poor children like Zahir had their parents stolen from them...  

But she couldn't lose her temper, not now. Who knew what might happen to her and Zaveed? And what if they discovered there was a whole group of them out there? The last thing Meg wanted was for those she cared about to get her because of her carelessness.

More importantly, what in Oblivion were they planning on doing to the two of them?

"Why're y'takin' us t'Markarth?" she demanded. 

The Dwemer simply smiled ruefully back. "We cannot take our home back?" She asked, a mirthful tone to her voice. "We can. And we will. Your petty squabbling won't change what is an all but certain fact."

"I think she wants to teach us about how wonderful her culture is." Zaveed remarked dryly to Megana, his eyes narrowed into slits at this Dwemer.

"Oh, good. The beast talks." The Dwemer replied, suddenly grabbing Zaveed under the jaw with remarkable strength and with a flash, her other hand drove something into Zaveed's neck. A silver-coloured syringe was buried into Zaveed's neck, and she carefully extracted the sample before slapping a bandage pad over it.

Leonora pulled a face at her companion, thankfully distracted by the sample to notice her expression. 

She regarded the sample with curiosity, "Thank you for your contribution, Khajiit. It will prove invaluable for my research." The Dwemer said, carefully depositing the syringe into a leather pouch. "You may find it stings and impairs your ability to speak properly for a few hours, but I've little patience for those of your temperament."

Zaveed pressed at his neck by burying it into his shoulder, wheezing from the sudden sharp pain of the invasive hole in his neck and windpipe, as well as the crushing sensation of her hand on his jaw. No more defiant words managed to escape from his mouth.

Glancing at Megana she said, "I am not one to explain the minutiae of my thoughts to strangers, let alone subjects. If you require a further demonstration, by all means." She said, standing and idly dusting her hands off. "I reiterate; cooperate and you may have a place in our society. Show defiance and know that you are utterly expendable. Do I make myself understood?"

It irked Meg to no degree that her khajiit companion was called a 'beast', and the need to do something, perhaps involving a sharp blade, boiled within her, tempered only by the stinging she felt as the nails of her clenched fists dug into her palms. Her eyes swerved to look at Zaveed, and the boiling rage lowered to a simmer, unwilling to risk their lives. 

She said nothing, lips tight and eyes dark with withheld tears, but there was a visible nod to be seen.

“I certainly do not mind explaining the whys and hows.” Leonora spoke up, “Look, there’s something bigger going on here with the Dwemer return than just invasion. We’ve got a future to look forward to with the Elves from the Deep, the more open we are to examine the things that make us different,” Brushing down the length of her apron, idly lifting the metal shavings and oils from it with a flick of her wrist - precise magicka control to telepathically remove project crumbs as she had come to affectionately refer to it as, “And the things that make us the same, we’ve got a chance. Sometimes, you gotta kidnap an odd pair like yourselves to get things done.”

Hoping to smooth over the menace of her companion, Leonora felt herself to be like a bridge between Tameriel and the Dwemer, a much needed familiar face to help the subjects relax, “The world is a terrible place out there, here we’re building the future. You’re apart of that now.” Clapping her hands together the project crumbs sprinkled at her feet, “You can trust me to monitor your conditions closely, since my arrival to the project subjects have been far more comfortable and their rate of survival has been boosted.”

The breton mage spoke with conviction, but she winked at their expressions, “I may not be a restoration mage but checking vitals with the magicka equivalent of life sign’s spyglass warrants a gentler approach.”

“Please keep the bigger picture in mind; this is not to be taken personally.” the Breton concluded thoughtfully, as if her earlier threats if harm never occurred.

Meg didn't quite know what to make of what the Breton woman was saying. She certainly seemed a little less hostile than the Dwemer, showing an affable expression as she spoke, but even so her words were flying up above Meg's head like birds in the sky. Frowning, she forced herself to analyze what she said in the light of recent events. Necromancy maybe? She knew that was something the Dwemer took part in as well after the episode in Gilane. But this woman seemed anything but... then again, who suspected Gregor until it was out in the open. 

Meg knew she herself was a terrible judge of people- her feelings for J'raij and then Jaraleet had proved that.

Her eyes shifted momentarily to Zaveed before returning to the Breton. How she wished he could speak! He knew how to talk and what words to say so much better than she did.

"So wha'... yer gonna cut us open or somethin'?" she wondered, bringing up the worst possible idea up front. She had seen abandoned necromancer lairs previously, though now she did recall Jaraleet mentioning the dwemer he'd seen in the Gilane prison was much... cleaner or something. 

“That depends on you.” The Dwemer said bluntly. “Be useful to us, and we will be useful to you. It is a simple transaction, but make no mistake; you are at our mercy… and our curiosity. Sergeant,” she said, turning to one of her attendants. “Go see to it the transportation is prepared. I want these two ready to depart in ten minutes.” she glanced at Zaveed pressing his throat, blood dripping from his lips. “Hmm. Perhaps fifteen. It’s a burden when one of your quarry has a difficult time breathing.” 

“Right away, Head Researcher Nhelzis.” the Dwemer said, hurrying off.

“Now, you two behave, or this will be the longest time in your life… and the shortest.” she said darkly, turning on her heel and walking away with her hand at the small of her back. Faintly, someone offered her a cup of cold tea, which she waved off.

Leonora looked down to the small puddle of blood with resignation, she sighed through her nose following behind Nhelzis. There would be plenty of time spent with the new subjects soon enough.

Zaveed coughed and spat up bloody spittle. “Oh, she’s fun.” he croaked, the effort to speak barely audible. When the guards seemed to be out of earshot, he nudged Megana. “When I said wait, I was…” he coughed; more red saliva flung from his lips. He grunted, more annoyed than anything. “Okay. We go. Please.”

A sniffle escaped Meg- she was finding it hard not to feel terrible at the state her companion was in- and then she nodded, brow furrowing as she too looked at their surroundings, reaching back and pulling out the hidden dagger. She winced, her arms stiff and a little aching from being tense while she had forced herself to look bound while the Dwemer and mage were there. 

"Righ'," she muttered under her breath, ignoring her feeble pain as she shifted closer to Zaveed. Once more she cast covert glances to see if there was anyone looking in there direction. Perhaps Stendarr was paying attention to her silent pleas, because for the time being there seemed to be no intrusion coming her way. Without further ado Meg sliced at the ropes binding his hands together, careful not to knick the Khajiit in the process.

As it turned out, Megana was handy with a knife. “You hold knife. Can’t fight.” Zaveed uttered, quickly rubbing his wrists. “Lead away. I follow.” he said, testing his movement carefully, not wishing to betray movement. His head still throbbed, but he had sensation in his limbs, so it was good enough. He stepped carefully away from where they had been bound, slinking into the brush before anyone noticed.

Meg blinked at Zaveed for a second before giving him a quick nod, realizing indecision at this point was terrible. Gripping the dagger tightly, she peeked in the direction of the guards once more before quickly making her way out of the open and into the coverage of the foliage. Fear was replaced with a rush, a sense of victory even. They thought they'd had her and Zaveed, but they were wrong

Chewing on her lip in concentration, Meg hurriedly attempted to figure out the direction in which they had been brought before deciding that was stupid. The Dwemer woman would expect that, and Meg didn't want her friends hurt, no matter how badly she wanted to be by their side again. Besides, it was much too dark for her to see precisely where she was going, and she didn't want to give Zaveed the task of looking out when he was already in pain. In her opinion, it was best to simply get the fuck away from this camp and settle down until she could see properly once more.

Pleased and relieved that most of her apparel helped her blend in quite nicely among the leaves, Meg looked to Zaveed and gave him a small nod. "A'righ', follow me."

Nhelzis returned a few minutes later, regarding the pile of cut ropes with a mixture of mild amusement and disdain. The captain was sputtering some excuse as to why the prisoners weren’t been more closely watched, but it hardly mattered. There was no shortage of Nords in these lands, and even the small amount of blood and tissue she had extracted from the Khajiit would prove to be useful. This was but one of several stops the Head Researcher had to make this evening; her commandos had snared four other groups of prisoners this evening, and who was to say they wouldn’t also prove to be of use? She turned back to the captain, “Warm up the tea for me, would you?” she asked.

“What of the prisoners? I can send out the hunter teams to track them down.” the Dwemer officer pressed urgently. Nhelzis waved him off.

“A hunter doesn’t chase his prey through the woods when it’s wounded; it just runs harder. Let them tire, think they’re safe. The sense of fear that we could be anywhere will keep them modest, and if they have friends, perhaps they’ll expose them, too." Nhelzis instructed evenly, glancing at the captain with cool eyes. "Resume your duties as ghosts, captain; if you’re expected, you aren’t doing your jobs properly. Now, tell me where our next destination is.” she said, regarding the ropes with the faintest of smiles before turning her back on them. She was never one to linger on lost opportunities; the world was an abundant resource of new ones, after all.

Congrats on the admin position! I know we're all in good hands.
RPGN always is a community treasure. Thank you Wraith and Hank for the shoutouts! It's always humbling to know I had an influence on people and hopefully it's helped people in the GM arena.

That maybe possibly TES persistent world idea caught my eye! I would very much be interested in helping that come to life if the guild decided it wanted to give it a go.
Quoth the Obi-wan,

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