The following is a work of fan fiction set in Too Many Bones universe, a board game designed by Adam and Josh Carlson, and published by Chip Theory Games. It is one of my favorite games and I highly recommend you check it out. Watch some videos of people playing it, and then pick up a copy for yourself. Do not let the quality of this fan fiction reflect on the ultra high quality of the game, its characters, setting and mechanics. Note: The events of this story take place about Day 2 of the original game, and well before the events of Undertow (the standalone expansion to Too Many Bones).
While some places, characters and mechanics are creations of Chip Theory Games and their property, some are of my own addition. Chip Theory Games may use any and all characters, locations, mechanics and all else of this for their own means with or without compensation and/or attribution, though obviously it would be appreciated.
This is a very rough draft of this work and has not been fully checked for consistency, grammar or anything else. However, after writing it for a couple or few hours, I’m not sure when or if I’ll get back to it, so much like other stuff in The Collected Writing Prompts of Brian A Thomas it is a quick off the cuff stream of consciousness writing. A general concept for a greater story that may or may not get off the ground. Do not judge the high quality of Chip Theory Games writing, narrative, game mechanics or quality based on this quick effort.
Thumper stood on the wall watching the party of adventures the Council of Eight had picked to face the growing Tyrant threats make their way to the Deepwood. He had his bow at the ready in case they gave a call for help. He wasn’t the best shot with a bow, perhaps in the bottom third or even bottom quarter of the Gearlocks along the wall that day, but he could hold his own, and beyond envy, had other reasons to be on the wall.
His specialty was his hammer, and his sharp eyes. He could swing his blacksmith’s hammer with a solid thump against any foe, knocking them back, stunning them for a time. At least that was his pitch, in which he was sharply confident of. He had practiced regularly even before the rumors started circulating that the Council would be looking for a party for some external adventure. Everyone knew the Deepwoods held dangers, and few ventured beyond the city gates.
He had been interviewed by the elders, but in the end not picked. They told him that perhaps “some future adventure”, but they appreciated his skills and dedication to the cause. Of course at the time he wasn’t sure what the cause was. It was when he was hanging with Nugget snooping in on the final meeting that it became more clear that they were having concerns about the Tyrant threat that seemed to be on the rise in recent years. Nugget with her sweet smelling hair, turned to him with a smile when they were detailing to those picked what they expected along the way. She had a smile he feared meant she was about to get herself, and perhaps him as well, into trouble. Standing on the wall now, poised to help the group who hadn’t got very far before they found themselves in a small scuffle (which if anything else, proved the dangers of going off alone into the Deepwood), he was somewhat pleased and at the same time disappointed she hadn’t included him in whatever scheme she was up to. Come to think of it, where was she… It was then he noticed her. He quickly glanced around, it appeared that none of the other archers or others gathered to watch the party off had noticed. Nugget just hanging back, darting around the brush and woods as not to be noticed. She took out a baddie that was probably going to surprise the group from behind and she hunched down. He just stared at her, keeping at the ready if the party called for help, which it didn’t look like they were going to do. It looked like they were going to try to inspire those watching that everything was going to be okay.
They had practiced the night before. He knew Boomer had wanted to get some “prime loot” and had mentioned there was a recent peddler that had taken to hanging out on the outskirts of the Gearlock section of town that seemed shady to her. She had suggested, on a few occasions, that she was “already practiced enough” and was ready to start making things go boom, most notably said shady pedaler. He hadn’t stuck around long enough to know the outcome of everything, but so far as he knew the pedaler wasn’t assailed by the party.
For her part, Nugget looked back at the wall and saw Thumper staring right at her. She blushed mildly. Of course he’d have noticed her. He always noticed her. She could tell he had a crush on her, and she had tried to avail herself to him, to make it clear she’d be receptive if he’d just ask. She wasn’t even sure why she waited in this case, she’d normally just ask whoever out herself. There was something about her situation with him that required her to let him make that move. It wasn’t that he’d be insulted, he’d probably be pleased, but she just felt it would have more impact if he’d make the move himself. Perhaps when she came back from this adventure, and how dare they do it without her, perhaps after the adventure she’d try to drop a more broad hint. With that she focused as the party cleared their battle and started to move on. She’d have to keep her distance and just be a shadow to them until they needed her most. She’d already saved their skin in a way they probably would never know.
After the party moved past visual range, and Nugget blended into the background following, Thumper descended the wall, dropping by the armory long enough to drop off his quiver and bow off with the quartermaster’s apprentice who seemed overly thrilled with the battle talking animatedly with anyone would listen about how the party defeated the baddies. Thumper smiled in spite of himself, the kid, and the apprentice was little more than a kid, certainly had a way of adding flair to the battle and making it to be far grander than it had. It would serve its purpose though as he and others spread the excitement.
Thumper had little desire to join up with the other Gearlocks in the Gearlock section. He could hear them celebrating the great start to the adventure. Most of them probably didn’t know just how much danger not only the group was in, but Obendar as well, and probably the whole of Daelore. He wondered how much more danger there was that he hadn’t overheard at the council meeting. He wondered how the Elders were keeping a smile on their faces knowing what sort of dangers the others had just volunteered for. It couldn’t be easy to hold such secrets and be the face of calm while certain danger was roaring down a path towards them. Even the people celebrating now had to see the dark clouds on the horizon, not realizing that the dark clouds had arrived long ago, and what was coming was just the next wave of the storm.
That was the real crux of it all. How much danger were they all really in? Did the Elders know, were they hiding it, or were even they ignorant of the true level of danger out there. Yes the Tyrants were a threat, but something was driving their numbers up. Something is out there. He could feel it deep in his bones.
He walked head down, deep in thought, not paying much attention to where he was going, but realized soon enough where his subconscious mind was leading him to, his favorite bar outside the Gearlock section, The Drowned Raven. It was largely a human bar, but they welcomed all. He’d seen another Gearlock occasionally, and rarer still elves. He wasn’t sure he saw other races now that he was thinking about it, but he generally went in, talked to a couple of his human friends, drank a few pints then went home. Humans were one of his regular customers at his blacksmith shop, as word of his quality had spread among certain crowds… the Drowned Raven type of crowd.
As he neared, he heard a familiar strumming and voice, and a smile came to his head. He entered the tavern and sure enough, Stanza was playing on the little stage. He actually wondered why she wasn’t part of the group as she had talents to spare for any group. She noticed him, gave him a smile and nodded to a table in a cubby in the wall where some of her stuff was. He sat watching her perform. He’d seen her here occasionally. She made the rounds, mostly in the Gearlock areas, but she’d been to the Elven section, sang for the gnomes, one of the few non-gnomes to be granted that pleasure, and of course a couple of the human establishments. Humans seemed to enjoy her, the small crowd was largely quiet as she performed, which wasn’t something they seemed to do when other humans performed. Not for the first time, nor the last he was sure, he noticed how shockingly beautiful she was. If his heart wasn’t already dedicated to Nugget… even if secretly… he vowed to himself that he should just finally ask Nugget out when she came back.
Thumper noticed a shadow over the table, and then a man sat down across from him. Thumper looked around in quick caution. He knew if there was trouble, some of his friends would back him up, and if not, Stanza would, but nobody seemed to care this strange fellow was sitting with him, so for now he didn’t feel too threatened. Still, the hairs on the back of his ears stood up. The man had sharp blue-gray eyes, and he was staring at Thumper, like he was trying to peer into Thumper’s very soul. He was a handsome enough of a man, Thumper guessed the man had little trouble with the ladies… and why was all his thoughts of late on dating, and why can’t he stay focused on the issue in front of him… this might be why the council skipped him. Thumper regained his composure to see the man had a beard, well kept and scruffy at the same time in an oddly fascinating and alluring way, but it was the eyes. The eyes never wavered, but now they showed a smile behind them which spread to the rest of his face.
“Aanoran is the name”, the man said offering his hand. Thumper shook it. He was a bit confused as to why he was feeling so well at ease, but he felt he could trust this man. It may have been the eyes and disarming smile. “The Council of Eight said you may be the one I’m looking for.”
“I’m sorry? The Council of Eight?” Thumper couldn’t envision a situation where they would have talked to this man. They certainly dealt with the Obendar Court, which oversaw all of Obendar, though generally leaving the ruling of each area to their own Councils. As Thumper heard it, Shalefist had even more diversity in their walls, including the last of the Halflings. Still, this gentleman didn’t seem to be of the Court. He wasn’t dressed fancy enough. He was dressed in the clothing of a Ranger if Thumper were to guess.
“Yes. Your Council of Eight suggested you…” the man paused as if trying to decide how much to say yet, “for an adventure.”
“I’m in!” Thumper turned to see Stanza standing by him, he scooted over to give her room on the bench beside himself. She had a huge smile on her face. Aanoran smiled in welcome to her as she settled in.
“They mentioned you too of course. Though I think they were wanting to send you out on another Tyrant hunt when the party gets back.” Thumper and Stanza looked at each other than back at the man. “Yes, I know all about the Tyrant threat, and I also know that it is just part of the dangers facing the Daelore, more than your Council is yet willing to admit.” He leaned forward and lowered his voice. “Would you two care to join me in the back room? There’s another adventure party, of which I think you two should be a part of. And if I do say so myself, you may find it more rewarding than your quests into the Deepwood or down the river.”
“Nobody’s talking about going down river!” Thumper volunteered in a near laugh but then he recalled something at the meeting about threats down river. Even if that wasn’t where Nugget and the rest were going this time, there was that possibility in the near future. The Tyrant threat had to be quailed, but if there was a deeper threat, Thumper had to know. He had to know if the Council knew this too, or if they were so narrow focused on the one threat. He looked at Stanza who was just looking at him as if waiting for him to take the lead. “Yeah. Yes. I’ll go. Stanza?”
Stanza gave a big smile. “Of course!” she lilted. “Give me my stuff!” Thumper started handing her her stuff while the man offered to carry some of it for her. “What a fine gentleman you are.” She flashed him a smile and trotted off toward the back room with Thumper and Aanoran in tow.
Thumper’s first thought was this was the most diverse set of races he’d seen gathered in one place outside the Obendar Court. A couple elves, some humans, a gnome, and was that a dwarf? They typically never left the mountains to the far east of Ebonhart, the fallen Dragonborn city… and was the cloaked figure in the corner shadows a Dragonborn? Surely not. They were all standing or seated around a large table.
Aanoran guided them to a pair of chairs that had been left open. They had clearly expected they both would be here. Thumper wondered to himself how could they have planned for both himself and Stanza to be here. She was probably scheduled, but he somewhat doubted that, he had a feeling she came here for the same reason he had, to hide from the celebrations with the other Gearlocks. They’d surely be missed, but those that knew them would probably suspect they had taken flight to other quarters of Obendar. Still, this wasn’t the only place Thumper went, and he knew it wasn’t the only place Stanza performed. Aanoran then sat next to them and nodded to an elf at the end of the table and everyone, save the cloaked figure in the corner, sat.
The elf stood. She was tall and slender, with elongated features. Strikingly beautiful in the way all elves were. “Before we begin. Marian!” The doors to the bar opened, and the barmaid looked in. “The food order, and refills please, and I don’t think our new guest has had anything yet.” She looked at Thumper, who then looked over at Marian. “My usual, beer off the right tap.” He blushed. He was sure the beer on both taps was the same, but it came out more full of flavor on the right. Thumper and Marian had several conversations about it, but she swore it was the same on both taps, but she did so with a sly smile each time.
“While we await our refills and food, why don’t we make our introductions?” She looked around the room for any objections. “I’m the Lady Emil, I’m a Spellweaver.” She looked to her left at her companion.
“I’m the Lady Helianda. I’m a Druidic Priest of the Wood Order.” The Lady Helianda’s eyes remained closed the whole time from when Thumper entered to now, but for the moment she briefly opened them, their sharp green piercing somewhere off to a distant point before she closed them again.
The Lady Emil looked at Thumper, she clearly wasn’t going in any sort of order. “I’m Thumper. I’m a Blacksmith.” He felt embarrassed as if this might not be enough so he stumbled on, “I’m sharp eyed and really good with my Hammer. I can knock out any foe…” He just shrugged his shoulders and hoped his face wasn’t as red as it felt.
“I’m Stanza! I’m a Song Smith.” Stanza lilted, she was clearly more excited about everything going on than anyone else in the room at the moment. They hadn’t even gotten to discussing any details. Of course it was the same sort of excitement that Nugget often displayed.
“Aanoran. Ranger.” Aanoran volunteered.
The Lady Emil turned to the gnome. “You can call me General Taout, or just Taout… I’m an inventor, a gadgeteer.”
The lady across the room from Aanoran was next. “I’m Glade. Paladin of the Orsock Order.” There was a small gasp from the room, and the Lady Helianda briefly opened her eyes, looked at Glade and for the first time smiled, and kept a degree of the smile. Thumper was a bit of a loss, but the rest of the room seemed impressed, even Stanza had a degree of admiration in her eyes. He’d have to get the details from her later.
The human male next to her was just staring at her until he realized it was his turn. “Gerald. Just a Rouge, part time Demon Hunter…” He closed his eyes, shrugged and then must have felt to complete his sentence with full honesty. “Wannabe Demon Hunter. My mother had been a great Demon Hunter, she taught me some before she was killed… on the streets you don’t learn those skills, you learn to be a rouge.”
“You are a better Demon Hunter than you give yourself credit Sir Gerald”, the Lady Helianda noted. “I believe our Sister Orlanda could hone what little you need honed.” The Lady Emil nodded in agreement and looked to the dwarf.
“Anzel.” She stroked her beard and just looked at the door waiting for Merian to return. “Shaman. Restoration and health.”
“Very well. This is the Dungeon Council.” The Lady Emil said spreading her arms to indicate the people gathered. Was she not even going to notate the cloaked figure in the back corner?
Stanza turned to him, a bright smile on her face. “We’re on a Council!”
Just then the doors opened and Meriam and her small staff brought in food aplenty and drinks. Anzel lifted her stein to Thumper with a sly wink. Clearly she had got her beer from the right tap too.
There was some light chatter as everyone ate except the cloaked figure and the Lady Helianda, despite some prodding from the Lady Emil.
“Stanza. What’s the Orsock Order?” Thumper asked.
Stanza looked at him, a bit in shock. Then it occurred to her that while he hanged out with humans, and perhaps more experienced in the outside world than many Gearlocks, he still wasn’t savvy to all things. “The Orsock Order is perhaps the oldest of the Elf Orders.” She seemed to have to think for a bit, “The Orsock Order is said to have helped shape the world when it was formless. The Orsock Order Elves shaped the world. Shaped man.”
“What of us?” He hadn’t really paid attention to Creation myths before.
“We came from other lands. The Dwarfs are nearly as ancient as the Elves and apparently crawled out of their caves when they felt the world being pulled together.” She looked over at Anzel who just looked over and nodded with a bit of a shrug. “The Daedi…”
“Speak not of their name.” The Lady Helianda politely rebuked, but her eyes were open and sharp. “The Dark Sisterhood bred the Orc and Troll… the gnome,” she nodded towards Taout, “rebelled against the Dark Sisterhood.”
“And for that rebellion,” Taout continued, “we were cursed. We were once tall, broad and beautiful, but then they cursed us, or thought they did. Small of stature doesn’t mean small of heart, of brawn, or spirit, or intellect.”
“What it all comes to my friend,” Glade said, bringing to a close her back story, “is that humans are almost never granted any of the Elvin arts, let alone access to an Order. In so far as I know, I’m the only non-elf to be granted training by the Orsock Order.” She turned to the Lady Helianda who had closed her eyes again, but nodded non-the-less.
The Lady Emil looked down the table to Stanza and Thumper, “And yes, you are in a Council. Though this is more of a guild, and not all our members are here. Others are in Shalefist holding a meeting like this. Others are just scouting… and others are in Ebonhart.” For the first time she seemed to acknowledge the cloaked figure in the corner by looking at them, who simply nodded. She looked back to the group. “We have scouts and spies all over. Trying to gather information. We have reported much of what we know to the Court and the various Councils and Tribunals.” She looked to the corner again, and the figure started to move forward. “However, I think I’ll leave the rest to Iorrakas.”
Iorrakas stepped into the light and dropped the cloak from her head. Dragonborn! Her yellow eyes shined with a high intelligence and strength that matched her imposing size. Her red skin seemed to flow shades and change patterns. “I am Iorrakas. Dragonborn Warlord of Ebonhart… On contrary to rumors you may have heard, the city stands fine, shrouded in the Mists of the Lost.” Her voice had the deep growl underneath her clearly feminine voice that served a warning that you were dealing with a Dragonborn if somehow the size and dragon like features wasn’t obvious enough. Thumper thought with a degree of amusement that had Iorrakas had been with the party the other night, and had they pursued the vendor that night instead of training, she’d only need to speak from the shadows and the vendor would have dropped their stuff and walked the straight path from then on.
“It seemed fine when I was there,” Anzel noted. “Indeed many, if not most of us Dwarfs have lived there for ages.”
“There is a growing danger. The Gearlocks are pursuing the Tyrant threat.” Iorrakas went on, “the humans and elves pursue the Grindalock threat.”
Stanza leaned to Thumper and whispered, “Grindalocks are dark faerie… well they are all dark, they are just much much darker. Scary dark. Tyrants are light stuff compared to them.”
“Meanwhile, adventure awaits.” Iorrakas said. “Dungeons. Treasure.” There seemed to be a general smile among everyone at the gathering. “Make no mistake. This isn’t a simple dungeon delve. There is a purpose to our missions. We are looking for the last clues to what is going on. Why the increase in Tyrants in the Deepwood? Why are the Grindalock becoming more and more bold? What is driving wild creatures to attack on the open roads? As we go forth, yes, we’ll gain treasure, but more important, we’ll gain knowledge. Knowledge that once compiled may give the Elders at the Court of Conforth insight on what the real threat is and how to deal with it.” She backed up, making room for the Lady Emil.
“It’s simple enough. You are here because we want you in the Dungeon Council… Guild. I much prefer Guild.” She looked to Iorrakas who simply shrugged it off as if she didn’t care. “Would you join us?”
There were ayes from all parts of the room.
After that there wasn’t much more to be said. There were agreements to meet again soon, and small tasks handed to all. Stanza’s load was light as they knew the Council of Eight might call her soon to take on another Tyrant. Thumper crafted some more wears for those that were there and some others that came off and on and was paid by the Guild a premium rate.
Iorrakas and the Lady Emil finally sent out notices for the first adventure. A trip to gain a lead down at a mysterious shop in Frostborne Ally. Will you join the adventure?
NOTE: From here it goes into a very loose game concept, which once again may be used by Chip Theory Games with or without compensation or attribution, though appreciated if one or both are.
Dungeons of Daelore is a heavily story focused co-operative dungeon crawl that takes place in the same universe as Too Many Bones. It is inspired dungeon crawls such as Dungeon Alliance and more heavy story focused games like Sword and Sorcery, and Gloomhaven to name just a few of the modern dungeon crawls. It features the same high quality components, including neoprene, pvc cards and of course the quality chips that Chip Theory Games is famous for. It gives Too Many Bones fans a chance to explore other races and aspects of Daelore, while giving dungeon crawl fans a glimpse into the Too Many Bones world. A world that is facing a threat that is growing by the moment. Can you learn its secrets and stop Daelore from falling to the <redacted>? [ED: Oh… not so fast there, they’ll get to that in due time in the story.]
This is as far as I’m going with the concept in this form.