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Fanfic / Game of the Ancients

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Game of the Ancients is an ongoing Fan Fic series by Master Ghandalf, set in the Eberron setting for Dungeons & Dragons.

Captain Len of the Wandering Blades is a mercenary down on her luck, in desperate need of funds. When a young woman named Thyra Entarro promises to pay well for a seemingly-routine job, it seems like just the lucky break she needs. But things are never that simple. Thyra has secrets of her own - dangerous secrets. Secrets which might just explain why a Silver Flame inquisitor seems determined to hunt her down, by any means necessary. The item the mercenaries were hired to acquire turns out to be a map in the possession of a notorious Karrn warlord with ties to Khorvaire's most infamous terrorist organization, the Order of the Emerald Claw - and he, and his necromancer ally, have their own plans for the ancient artifact they think the map will lead them to. An artifact that, of course, lies buried in the most dangerous place on the continent. And if that wasn't bad enough, the real danger might not come from the Emerald Claw but the mysterious forces that watch and wait from the shadows, determined to reclaim a world that was once theirs. So all in all, just another typical day.


And that's only where things start...

The series is plotted to take place over five stories, of which one is currently complete and another is ongoing.

  1. ''Game of the Ancients Part I: Khorvaire
  2. ''Game of the Anceints Part II: Sarlona

Further fics are planned to take the heroes to, in order, Xen'drik, Argonessen, and Aerenal.

Game of the Ancients contains examples of:

  • Action Girl: Several. Len and Yhani and Valyria are the most prominent.
  • Affably Evil: Tarazanthan is a rather easygoing, avuncular sort, for a millennia-old apocalyptic demon.
  • Ancient Conspiracy: The Lords of Dust are a millennia-old demonic conspiracy centered around manipulating the Draconic Prophecy to gain power and release the Overlords. They spend most of the fic lurking in the background but, as is eventually revealed, are the whole reason the plot is even happening.
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  • Badass Gay: Len is bisexual and Yhani is a lesbian, and both are fully capable of holding their own in a fight. They're also a couple.
  • Because Destiny Says So: Zig-zagged, this being Eberron. The Draconic Prophecy is a vastly complicated foretelling that various factions use to guide their plotting, but because it's less a single prophecy and more a vast web of if-then scenarios, it can be actively manipulated to force the outcome you want. This is what organizations like the Lords of Dust do and bringing about a specific chain of events is what Durastoran is ultimately trying to do, going back as far as making sure Thyra's bloodline even exists.
  • Big-Bad Ensemble: There are various antagonistic forces arrayed against the protagonists, but they mostly tie back to two ultimate string-pullers - Erandis Vol and Durastoran the Wyrmbreaker. Their goals are mutually incompatible.
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  • Big Bad Wannabe: The Inspired general Inharanath in Part II thinks he's stumbled onto a major plot against Riedra, courtesy of our heroes, and has dedicated all his might to nipping it in the bud. That he's incidental to what's actually going on and completely ignorant of the deeper machinations at play is something he hasn't even considered - not that it makes him any less of a threat.
  • Big Good: Taras Zanthan, professor of mythology at Morgrave University, who is Thyra's financial backer and mentor, and eventually hires the Wandering Blades to find the Key before the Lords of Dust do. Except not really; he actually is a Lord of Dust himself, and is manipulating everyone for his own ends.
  • Black Knight: Kharvin ir'Sarrin is a ruthless warlord and agent of the Emerald Claw who is nonetheless not without his own sense of honor, who wears heavy armor and rides a black warhorse.
  • Cats Are Mean: The Lords of Dust, one of the main antagonistic factions, are chiefly composed of rakshasas - immortal demons which resemble anthropomorphic tigers in their true forms.
  • Character Alignment: In-universe, as it is D and D. It's not stated in the text, but all of the main characters have them:
  • The Chessmaster: The Lords of Dust play a very mean, very long game especially Durastoran and his minion Tarazanthan, whose scheming behind the scenes is responsible for most of the overarching plot.
  • Cloud Cuckoo Lander: Havaktri has a mild case. She's a little... odd (part of it is the generally alien perspective she has as a kalashtar; part of it is that she grew up in an isolated monastic community and her people skills are pretty much nil). Of course she's also a very capable psion.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Len's history before she joined the Brelish army isn't something she talks about with anyone, even Yhani, but it was clearly nothing good.
  • Demon Lords And Arch Devils: The Lords of Dust are an organization composed chiefly of extremely powerful and evil fiendish creatures. They in turn serve the even worse Overlords.
  • Dressing as the Enemy: Part II involves the Wandering Blades disguising themselves to sneak through Riedra, with Havaktri providing cover for the rest by pretending to be a high-ranking Empty Vessel.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: Fittingly for a necromancer, Irinali has chalky-white skin and jet-black hair. She likes the look and achieves it, in part, via makeup.
  • The Empire: Riedra, which is mentioned in Part I and actually visited in Part II.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Rinnean doesn't have a lot of morals, but he does have some and he fell out with his House when they wanted him to cross a line he wasn't willing to. Apparently it involved killing children.
  • Evil Gloating: The rakshasa fought at the climax of Part I indulges in this, explaining just how he's manipulated Thyra. So as to better manipulate her now, of course. And he doesn't tell everything...
  • Evil Sorcerer: Irinali is a necromancer who happily works for a notorious terrorist organization in order to increase her arcane power; goes with the territory.
  • Evil vs. Evil: Kharvin and Irinali fight it out with a rakshasa and his minions over a piece of the Key at the climax of Part I. More broadly, the Emerald Claw and the Lords of Dust are the fics' two biggest antagonist factions, and their goals are mutually exclusive. Part II adds the Inspired into the mix.
  • Gameplay and Story Integration: Though Game of the Ancients isn't based on an actual game, all of the main characters have been roughly statted out (using Pathfinder rules) to fit with what they're actually capable of in the text.
  • Genetic Memory: As a kalashtar, Havaktri gets this instead of regular dreams. Apparently they're not as helpful as one might think, mostly due to coming through garbled.
  • The Good Captain: Len was a captain in the Brelish army before being discharged, and she continues to use the title as the leader of the Wandering Blades. Though she can be a bit rough around the edges, she genuinely tries to do right by her people to the best of her abilities.
  • The Good, the Bad, and the Evil: The three main factions in the fic fall here - Thyra, Len and company are the good, the Emerald Claw are the bad, and the Lords of Dust are the evil albeit making use of the other two. As of Part II, the Inspired fall somewhere between the "bad" and the "evil" parts of the spectrum.
  • Greater-Scope Villain: Bel Shalor, the Shadow in the Flame, the imprisoned rakshasa Overlord Durastoran and Tarazanthan serve and seek to free.
  • Guys Smash, Girls Shoot: Played straight by Kharvin and Irinali, as he's a melee fighter while she's a spellcaster. Inverted with Inharanath and Shaikatari in Part II; he's a psion and she's a soulknifenote .
  • Half Identical Twin: Rinnean and his twin sister Vaelynn look enough alike that they can disguise themselves as each other with minimal difficulty, even as adults.
  • The Heavy: With the actual Big Bads being mostly off-page, Kharvin and Irinali split the role of being the most visible and personal adversaries.
  • Hero Antagonist: Valyria and Pitar just want to do the right thing as they see it; unfortunately, this puts them at odds with both the Wandering Blades and Kharvin and Irinali. Just as Tarazanthan intended.
  • Human Subspecies: The kalashtar (descended from humans who merged their souls with renegade quori)are represented by Havaktri in Part I and get to play a bigger role in Part II. The second fic also features several Empty Vessels (humans selectively bred to serve as willing channelers for the quori of the Dreaming Dark) and one actual Inspired (a vessel currently possessed by a quori).
  • Immortality Seeker: Everyone who follows the Blood of Vol is this by definition, at least in theory, as their religion considers death a grave injustice to be fought against by any means. Kharvin explains the philosophy a bit to Thyra when holding her prisoner.
  • In-Series Nickname: Len (and nobody else) calls Yhani "'Hani." Valyria's friends and family call her "Val."
  • Interspecies Romance: Len and Yhani. 'Hani's an Aereni elf; Len is a changeling.
  • In the Blood: Thyra fears that her rakshsasa heritage will doom her to becoming a tool of evil and seeks some means to avert that destiny. Ironically, Tarazanthan has specifically stoked this fear to make her easier to manipulate.
  • Lady of War: Yhani is an elegant, graceful elven priestess who also knows her way around a scimitar.
  • MacGuffin: The Key, a relic from the Age of Demons that was scattered in pieces around the world and the protagonists and the Emerald Claw are looking for it. As per the machinations of the Lords of Dust.
  • Magic Knight: A couple of examples:
    • Len is a formidable swordswoman, and she's also a dabbler in arcane magic who's fully capable of enhancing her skills with the odd fireball. In game terms, she's a magus.
    • The rakshasa Tarazanthan is also skilled as both a swordsman and a sorcerer - it takes the combined efforts of the Wandering Blades and Valyria and Pitar to put him on the run and even then, he threw the fight.
  • The Magocracy: Riedra is a variation, being ruled by the Inspired (specially-bred humans possessed by powerful psionic beings) supported by the Empty Vessels or Chosen (aforementioned humans, who tend to be powerful psions in their own right even when not currently possessed).
  • Mordor: Two variants:
    • The Mournland is a desolate, chaotic wasteland that was once the nation of Cyre before a mysterious magical cataclysm devastated it. Unfortunately, it's also where the first part of the MacGuffin happens to be located.
    • The Demon Wastes are a more conventional barren, volcanic home of ancient evils, glimpsed briefly in Part I's prologue and epilogue as the site of the Wyrmbreaker's scheming.
  • Mouth of Sauron: The vampire Orrin serves as Erandis Vol's mouthpiece to Kharvin and Irinali in Part II.
  • Muggle Born of Mages: Rinnean; he was born to a Dragonmarked House, but unlike his twin sister, he never developed the Mark himself.
  • My Species Doth Protest Too Much: Irinali is an Aereni elf. Irinali also hates Aereni elves, considering her own people to be, by and large, a bunch of arrogant, inflexible, self-righteous hypocrites. There's a reason she lives with humans.
  • Mystical White Hair: Yhani has platinum-blonde hair and is a cleric of the Undying Court who commands potent divine magic and knows a lot more than she lets on.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: "The Wyrmbreaker" (Dursatoran), "The Shadow in the Flame" (Bel Shalor) and "The Queen of Death" (Erandis Vol) are probably not people you want to mess with.
  • Nay-Theist: Kharvin believes in the gods of the Sovereign Host, he just refuses to worship them. Followers of the Blood of Vol view all gods as being cruel demiurges (if they exist at all), and since Kharvin was a follower of the Sovereigns who converted to Vol later in life, this is particularly personal for him.
  • The Necrocracy: Played with; the Undying Court, reanimated elven ancestors, don't rule Aerenal per se, but do guide its overall course and have a great deal of influence over the religious and cultural lives of the Aereni people. However, as Yhani will be quick to remind you, they are animated by positive energy, rather than negative energy, and therefore are deathless and emphatically not undead.
  • Noble Demon: Kharvin is a brutal, ruthless man, but he nonetheless holds himself to certain standards of behavior and is never cruel without reason. Irinali, on the other hand, has no such qualms.
  • Old Soldier: Kharvin's a grey-bearded man in late middle-age, but don't let it fool you - he's still a force to be recoked with on the battlefield.
  • Only One Name: Len doesn't have a surname. This is because she's a changeling. Neither does Havaktri, but that's because of how kalashtar naming conventions work - her surname is "-vaktri" which is incorporated into her personal name as one word rather than two.
  • Our Liches Are Different: Kharvin and Irinali ultimately get their marching orders from Erandis Vol herself, an extremely old and powerful elf lich.
  • Path of Inspiration: The Trope Namer puts in an appearance in Part II; we get to see Inharanath (an actual Inspired) and Shaikatari (an Empty Vessel who has thoroughly drunk the Kool-Aid) up close, and Havaktri describes in detail how the con works to the rest of the company.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Ghazaan's a hobgoblin and quite proud of his people's warrior heritage, though he's usually pretty laid back about it.
  • Psychic Powers: Havaktri is a kalashtar, who are naturally telepathic, and she's also a trained psion.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: Shaikatari, who serves Inharanath because it's her duty to answer to the Inspired and Riedra rather than any sort of personal malice or ambition.
  • The Reveal: Several in Part I alone. Thyra is part rakshasa and desperately trying to find a way to remove her demonic heritage, Valyria is Thyra's older sister, and is determined to kill the "demon" she thinks killed Thyra and stole her identity, Len is a changeling and only pretends to be human and Taras is actually the rakshasa Tarazanthan and has been playing Thyra like a fiddle all along, in various guises. Part II reveals that Rinnean is a disgraced ex-member of House Thuranni.
  • Shapeshifter Default Form: Len's human form serves as this; she only drops it and shows her true face very rarely, and then only to people, like Yhani, she trusts absolutely.
  • Spock Speak: Yhani talks like this, speaking very formally and rarely using contractions. It's partially because Common isn't her native language, and partially because Aereni culture is generally much more formal than that of the Five Nations.
  • The Stoic: Yhani rarely shows her emotions to a significant degree; this is because she comes from a culture that values a level of reserve much greater than that typically seen in the Five Nations.
  • Sword and Sorcerer: Kharvin's a warrior, Irinali's a wizard.
  • The Team:
    • The Wandering Blades mercenary company consists of Len (The Leader, Magic Knight) Yhani (Number Two, cleric) Ghazaann (The Big Guy, hobgoblin warrior), Rinnean (elf rogue), Harsk (shifter scout) and Havaktri (kalashtar psion). At the end of the fic Thyra officially joins, providing her skills as a sorcerer.
    • In Part II Kharvin puts together his own team, including himself, Irinali, Haund (a priest of the Blood of Vol), Saeria (half-elf bard and expert in ancient history) and Arlan (artificer and renegade from House Cannith).
  • Time Abyss: The Lords of Dust, including Durastoran and Tarazanthan are all hundreds of thousands of years old. The other main Big Bad, Erandis Vol, clocks in at a mere two-and-a-half thousand.
  • Unequal Rites: Irinali, a necromancer, doesn't think much of artificers, finding their art crude and lacking in subtlety.
  • Uneven Hybrid: Thyra has very distant rakshasa ancestry; not enough to even make her a tiefling, but it does manifest as sorcerer powers. Though it doesn't show in her at all, this does mean that it also applies to Valyria, who is Thyra's full sister; Rinnean takes a fair bit of relish in pointing it out.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting:
    • Changelings like Len can assume a wide variety of forms, though they're limited to the basic humanoid shape.
    • Rakshasas are also skilled shapeshifters and can pass themselves off as mortals flawlessly at need. Tarazanthan has been manipulating Thyra throughout her life, in various forms.
  • Villainous Friendship: Kharvin and Irinali are very different people, but they understand and respect each others' differing skillsets and make a very effective team; they also enjoy each others' company and Irinali is as loyal to Kharvin as she is capable of feeling that emotion. That said, while they're sometimes mistaken for lovers, their relationship is strictly platonic.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Havaktri is easily the most moral, and most naïve, of the Wandering Blades. Not coincidentally, she's also the youngest (she's seventeen - even Thyra is a few years older).


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