During my upbringing in India, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) or role-playing games were unfamiliar to me. However, over the past five years, I have had the pleasure of immersing myself in this captivating game. In this blog, I am sharing some valuable leadership insights gleaned from my experiences with D&D.
Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy tabletop role-playing game that has captivated the hearts and minds of players for decades. While it’s known for its storytelling and epic battles, D&D also offers valuable insights into leadership. Surprisingly, the lessons learned in the imaginary realms of dungeons and dragons can be applied to real-world leadership situations. Let’s explore some of these leadership lessons from the world of D&D.
- Collaboration and Teamwork:
D&D is a team-based game where players form parties to achieve common goals. Leadership in D&D often means bringing together a diverse group of characters with unique abilities and personalities. Similarly, in the real world, effective leaders know how to foster collaboration and teamwork among their team members, recognizing that diverse strengths and perspectives can lead to success.
In D&D, dungeon masters create dynamic and ever-changing scenarios, forcing players to adapt and make quick decisions. Leaders must also be adaptable, especially in today’s fast-paced world, where unexpected challenges are common. Being able to pivot, adjust strategies, and make informed decisions on the fly is a valuable trait.
D&D players face numerous decisions throughout their quests, some of which can have far-reaching consequences. Leaders are often tasked with making critical decisions that impact their teams and organizations. D&D teaches the importance of considering various options, gathering information, and making well-informed choices.
Effective communication is vital in D&D. Players need to convey their intentions, share information, and work together seamlessly. Leaders must also be skilled communicators, conveying their vision, goals, and expectations clearly to their teams. Moreover, active listening and fostering an open dialogue are essential leadership traits.
- Problem Solving:
D&D adventures are rife with puzzles, challenges, and obstacles. Players must think creatively and use their resources to overcome these hurdles. Leaders often encounter complex problems in the workplace. Learning from D&D, they can encourage innovative thinking, resourcefulness, and a willingness to tackle challenges head-on.
D&D empowers players to take ownership of their characters and decisions. Likewise, successful leaders empower their teams, granting them autonomy and trust to make decisions within their areas of responsibility. Empowered team members tend to be more motivated and engaged.
In D&D, characters face setbacks, injuries, and defeats, yet they press on. Leaders, too, must display resilience in the face of adversity. It’s essential to bounce back from setbacks, learn from failures, and maintain a positive outlook.
- Vision and Strategy:
Dungeon masters in D&D create grand narratives and worlds for players to explore. Leaders also need a clear vision and strategy to guide their teams and organizations. A compelling vision can inspire and align team members toward a common purpose.
Dungeons & Dragons is not just a game; it’s a source of valuable leadership lessons. From teamwork and adaptability to decision-making and resilience, the principles learned in the world of D&D can be applied to leadership in any setting. Aspiring leaders and seasoned professionals alike can draw inspiration from the adventures of their favorite characters, both in fantasy realms and the real world. So, roll the dice and embark on your own leadership quest!
November 30, 2023
Originally written as Va Yabqá Vajhu Rabbika (And the countenance of your Lord will outlast all), it was included in the seventh poetry book of Faiz – Mere Dil Mere Musafir.
The nazm was composed as a protest against Zia Ul Haq’s oppressive regime. It gained a rapid cult following as a song of resistance and defiance, after a public rendition by Iqbal Bano at Alhamra Arts Council on 13 February 1986, ignoring the ban on Faiz’s poetry.
In the Nazm, Faiz employs the metaphor of traditional Islamic imagery to subvert and challenge Zia’s fundamentalist interpretation of them; Qayamat, the Day of Reckoning is transformed into the Day of Revolution, wherein Zia’s military government will be ousted by the people and democracy will be re-installed. (Source: Wikipedia)
Here it is with transliteration (scroll down for my favorite renditions).
We shall see the day
लाज़िम है कि हम भी देख़ेंगे
Lāzim Hai Ki Ham Bhī Dekheñge
Inevitably, we shall also see the day
वो दिन के जिस का वादा है
Vo Din Ki Jis Kā Va.Ada Hai
That was promised to us, decreed
जो लोह-ए-अज़ल में लिखा है
Jo Lauh-E-Azal Meñ Likhkhā Hai
On the tablet of eternity
We shall see the day
जब ज़ुल्म-ओ-सितम के कोह-ए-गरां
Jab Zulm-O-Sitam Ke Koh-E-Girāñ
When dark peaks of torment and tyranny
रूई की तरह उङ जायेंगे
Ruuī Kī Tarah Uḍ Jā.Eñge
Will be blown away like cotton fluff;
हम महकूमों के पाऒं तले
Ham Mahkūmoñ Ke Pāñv-Tale
When the earth’s beating, beating heart
ये धरती धङ-धङ धङकेगी
Jab Dhartī Dhaḍ-Dhaḍ Dhaḍkegī
Will pulsate beneath our broken feet;
और अह्ल-ए-हकम के सर ऊपर
Aur Ahl-E-Hakam Ke Sar-Ūpar
When crackling, crashing lightning
जब बिजली कङ-कङ कङकेगी
Jab Bijlī Kaḍ-Kaḍ Kaḍkegī
Will smite the heads of our tormentors;
We shall see the day
जब अर्ज़-ए-ख़ुदा के काबे से
Jab Arz-E-Ḳhudā Ke Ka.Abe Se
When, from the seat of the Almighty
सब बुत उळवाये जायेंगे
Sab But Uthvā.E Jā.Eñge
Every pedestal will lie displaced;
हम अह्ले-ए-सफा मर्दूद-ए-हरम
Ham Ahl-E-Safā Mardūd-E-Haram
Then, the dispossessed we,
मसनद पे बिळाये जायेंगे
Masnad Pe Bithā.E Jā.Eñge
We who kept the faith will be installed
सब ताज उछाले जायेंगे
Sab Taaj Uchhāle Jā.Eñge
To our inalienable legacy.
सब तख़्त गिराये जायेंगे
Sab Taḳht Girā.E Jā.Eñge
Every crown will be flung.
We shall see the day
बस नाम रहेगा अल्ला: का
Bas Naam Rahegā Allāh Kā
Each throne brought down.
जो गायब भी है हाज़िर भी
Jo Ġhā.Eb Bhī Hai Hāzir Bhī
Only His name will remain; He,
जो मंज़र भी है नाज़िर भी
Jo Manzar Bhī Hai Nāzir Bhī
Who is both unseen, and ubiquitous; He,
उळ्ळेगा अन-अल-हक का नारा
Utthegā Anal-Haq Kā Na.Ara
Who is both the vision and the beholder.
जो मै भी हूँ और तुम भी हो
Jo Maiñ Bhī Huuñ Aur Tum Bhī Ho
When the clarion call of ‘I am Truth’ (the truth that is me and the truth that is you)
और राज करेगी ख़ल्क-ए-ख़ुदा
Aur Raaj Karegī Ḳhalq-E-Ḳhudā
Will ring out, all God’s creatures will rule,
जो मै भी हूँ और तुम भी हो
Jo Maiñ Bhī Huuñ Aur Tum Bhī Ho
Those like me and those like you.
लाज़िम / Lazim – must/binding/certain
वादा / wada – promise
लोह / lauh – slate/tablet /title page
अज़ल / azal – eternity
लोह-ए-अज़ल / lauh-e-azal – slate of eternity (destiny)
ज़ुल्म / zulm – abuses/victimization/tyranny/oppression
सितम / sitam – injustice/oppression/tyranny
कोह / koh – mountain
गरां / garaan – massive/enormous
महकूम / mehkoom – enslaved/subject
अह्ल / ahl – people
हकम / hakam – ruler/master
अर्ज़ / arz – appeal/request
सफा / safa – clean/pure
मर्दूद / mardood – accursed/outcast/barred
हरम / haram – sanctum/holy site
मर्दूद-ए-हरम / mardood-e-haram – the faithful who were banished from Mecca to Medina
मसनद / masnad – throne
मंज़र / manzar – scene/view/visage
नाज़िर / nazir – spectator/overseer
अन-अल-हक / an-al-haq – I am the truth
ख़ल्क / khalq – creation
Here are audio and videos of Iqbal Bano’s live version, and a few other favorite versions along with a modernized Coke Studio rendition from season 11.
February 9, 2023
With the release of the Amazon Prime show “The Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power” many people are looking to return to, or start reading, the books that started it all. Of course, the main books are The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings trilogy, and The Silmarillion. Then there are others like the Unfinished Tales. For those who wish to dig deeper into the core of the Middle Earth lore, you have the 12-volume The History of the Middle Earth and the new The Nature of the Middle Earth.
If you are familiar with the material, I have seen a reference guide put together to get you up and running quickly. Below is the list of essential reading to understand the Lord of the Rings: Rings of Power story.
Please do note that the showrunners have rights to limited material from the Tolkien Estate, and the histories (from The Lord of the Rings appendices) do not always tell a story. In order to tell a cohesive story, there are some original characters introduced, timeline compressions, and other adjustments made for the medium of television. In my opinion, I am glad I am living in an age where an attempt is made to bring the world to this medium to bring new people to the journey through the Middle-Earth.
Without further adieu, here is your reading list,
- Volume 1, Book 1, Chapter 2: “The Shadow of the Past“
- Volume 1, Book 2, Chapter 2: “The Council of Elrond“
- Volume 2, Book 4, Chapter 5: “The Window on the West“
- Appendix A, “The Númenorean Kings“
- Appendix A, “Durin’s Folk“
- Appendix B, “The Second Age“
- Appendix D, “The Calendars“
- Appendix F I, “Of Men“
- Letter 131
- Letter 144
- Letter 154
- Letter 181
- Letter 211
- Letter 227
- Part 4: “Akallabêth: The Downfall of Númenor“
- Part 5: “Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age“
- Part 2, “The Second Age“
- II “Aldarion and Erendis: The Mariner’s Wife“
- III “The Line of Elros: Kings of Númenor“
- IV “The Historv of Galadriel and Celeborn“
- Part 4,
- I “The Drúedain“
- II “The Istari“
- III ‘The Palantíri‘
- Volume 5: The Lost Road
- Part 1 The Fall of Numenor.
- Volume 9: Sauron Defeated
- Part 2 The Notion Club Paners
- Appendix on Adûnaic, the language of Númenor
- Volume 10: Morgoth’s Ring
- Part 4, Athrabeth Finrod ah Andreth
- Volume 12: The Peoples of Middle-earth
- Part 1, Ch. 5. The History of the Akallabêth”
- Part 4 Ch. XVII Tal-Elmar
- Part 1, Chapter XVII
- Part 3
Many chapters touch on Second Age, directly or indirectly in part 3
There are few things as rewarding as losing yourself in a great book series. With its expansive worldbuilding and complex characters, Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy is one of those series. If you’re planning on binge-watching the television adaptation or are just looking for background material to expand your knowledge of the lore of the Middle-Earth, you can’t go wrong with the above list.
Happy reading! And Happy Watching.
J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Númenor: And Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth book by Brian Sibley & Alan Lee was released on November 15, 2022. You can get it from the link above.
In this book, editor Brian Sibley has assembled a single-volume chronicling the history of the Second Age of Middle-earth. It is told in the words of Tolkien from above mentioned as well as other published texts, includes new illustrations in watercolor and pencil by Alan Lee.
Brian Sibley has also added extensive footnotes and commentary throughout the book.
This is the one book to rule them for the Second Age History of Middle-Earth.
Sept. 6, 2022/ Updated Nov. 20, 2022
Book collecting is another hobby of mine. Over the years, I have seemed books that are printed on acid-free paper, with archival quality inks. This helps the paper to retain its color (not turn yellow) and the ink from not fading.
The other challenge is that the hardcovers books often come with dust jacket covers. Often while shelving these dust jacket covers get damaged, or frayed as you pull the books in and out of the shelves. The edges where the dust jacket turns are most susceptible to the kinks that can damage the look of the book. If exposed to a library with windows, the spines can show signs of fading (that also means that these are printed with non-archival quality inks).
As a collector of books, I like to protect the dust jackets of my hardcover books. When someone visits our home, they always comment that it must be a lot of work to do so. So I made a quick tutorial on how I take care of these books using mylar covers. To avoid spine fading, you can also check to see if there are any UV protective covers (but that is a whole another cost point you have to consider).
Take a look at the tutorial video below.
Also, check the links below for the supplies and books featured in the video. Your purchases helps this channel. I hope you find it useful.
Brodart Just-a-Fold III Archival Book Jacket Covers
Bone folder featured in the video is “8 Inch Real Bone Folder VENCINK”
Featured Books: The Hobbit & The Lord Of The Rings Boxed Set
Music by Michael Kobrin on Pixabay
May 16, 2021
A few years ago, my family and I were visiting our parents in India. My increasing birthdays have made me appreciate them more and more. I feel there is so much I can still learn from him.
Sitting down with them, I was telling them about my friends I was in touch with, and asking them about ones I was not (and they were). The conversation went on to what everyone is doing and I made a comment “I wonder if I will ever be successful like him or her”.
My father smiled, and in his wisdom-drenched voice, asked me, “How do you define success?” I was quick to reply and pointed to him how successful they were in their career. He smiled and asked, “And?”. I immediately knew the class is in session with Mr. retired Professor. Here is a bit of paraphrasing of what he taught me that day.
He started with what his father, whom he called “Bhaiya ji” fondly, used to say.
He said that “Bhaiya ji” would say that the greatest gift a person gets is being able to wake up in the morning because that is another day they are alive. So have gratitude for that. There are some who never wake up.
Even more blessed are those who have good health. If you are healthy, can get up, walk around, be thankful. There are many who cannot do that.
If you have two hands, be even more grateful, for you can earn your living with those two hands. There are some who will love to be in your position.
Blessed are those who can earn for themselves and even more blessed are the ones who can ear for their families and provide for them.
And the most blessed are the ones who wake up, are healthy, can earn living for their loved ones and most of all can help others. Only a few can do that – not because they are not capable, but they do not have the courage to do so.
I was patiently listening to him. Then he asked the question, “What is this success you talk about? Money? Fame? Position? Power?”
He paused. “For what? Look closer at everyone who you consider successful, you will see that it is not that picture-perfect you make it to be. If they are successful in their career, their personal lives suffer. If they are successful in their personal lives, their career suffer. If they are doing it all, they themselves suffer, personally, health-wise. What good is success in one area when you cannot manage other aspects of your life?”
By this time, I knew it was time to just listen and collect these pearls of wisdom.
“In your life, you will have to manage your relationships, kids, yourself, career, relatives, friends. If you put more energy into one, others will get affected. If you try to do it all, you, yourself will be affected. You have to balance. Sometimes when you do everything, even then, life throws a googly (cricketing term for the uninitiated, it means a curveball). The western world calls it work-life balance. Try to give everyone the time they deserve, and be grateful for what you have and where you are. You want happiness, go help someone, that is the happiness that nothing else will bring. And don’t stress about folks around you; you are plenty successful. Indians believe in destiny and no one can take that from you”.
“Go be a world for someone than being no one to the whole world.
And never lose yourself chasing the stars, be grateful about seeing them tonight. They will come back for you the next night”.
April 17, 2021
On August 16, 1992, my father helped me initiate the next phase of my journey in life.
It was my birthday, and we were traveling from Amritsar to Chandigarh with my cousin, Jasjeet, and his dad. I bid farewell to my mother and got in the car. The monsoon season in north India our journey wet throughout. I remember excited to be going somewhere new, a bit afraid to be away from folks I have lived with thus far. A month earlier, my father had helped me decide to go to PEC, Chandigarh instead of Delhi where Delhi College of Engineering had a “drug problem” as he put it.
As we reached my engineering school that would be my home for the next 4 years, our fathers helped us settle to our assigned room – room #238. I heard a lot of commotion and stepped out in the corridor. All the rooms were being filled in, some boys had parents with them, others on their own. I met a skinny guy next door, with his parents. That was Ajju. Further down there were three boys from Bathinda – Pompy, Numi, and Deepu.
Then, I realized, my father wasn’t around. As we locked the door and walked downstairs, I saw my dad standing half-way in a door, of a small room. As I walked closer, I realized it was the hostel warden. I saw my dad was tipping him (a practice fairly common in India, at least back then). He saw me and introduced me to the warden, who said, “Don’t worry, son. You will be fine”. Then he walked to another room down the hall, which was labeled “Phone room”. A short guy was sitting next to the landline (we didn’t have cell phones back then), our phone attendant. He asked him the hours when he is on duty, noted them on a piece of paper, placed it in his pocket, and tipped him too.
A couple of hours later, both my cousin’s dad and my father were ready to leave to travel back home. My dad gave me a hug and told me that he will call me every day when I return to the hostel after my classes. All I said with teary eyes was “OK”.
28 years later, as I am writing this, I have to say, he has kept his promise. My father (and my mother) have called me every day since, wherever I am in the world. I cannot recall a single day that they haven’t tried to reach me. The cell phones (and my family) have made it easier to find me. They still call me.
Now, I am in the same stage in life when my daughter is getting ready to embark on a similar journey of her life. And I hope I can do the same.
Happy Father’s Day, indeed.
June 21, 2020
I was never exposed to Dungeons & Dragons while growing up in India. During my later years, as I came to know about it, I have always been fascinated by the game that plays in the theatre of your mind. My friends at work set up an introductory D&D session for me. Another friend suggested a new campaign “Waterdeep: Dragon Heist” which I am having too much fun playing. My character in the campaign is Neldor, an Elf Druid. The story presented here, “The Mortuary”, is not the beginning but somewhere in the middle of the campaign, where our heroes have brought a Cleric, Loren, with them who knows how to speak with the recently deceased. This is the version of the story, and how it played in my mind and the dialogs are how I imagined them.
The torso of the gnome corpse stood upright taking in a deep breath, as Loren Allspark finished her incantation. “You have 5 questions. Make them simple”, she said while turning around to face the group. The group had already determined from the appearance that the gnome was Drakhaal, the spy who was hired to tail Renéer, by his father.
The eeriness of the blank dead eyes of the gnome and charred skin was making everyone uncomfortable. Blue nodded to Tig’rod indicating to go ahead and ask the questions the group had decided. Tig’rod took a step forward while everyone stayed back. Loren was the only one who seemed comfortable. She gave Tig’rod an encouraging smile.
“Hello Drakhaal, my name is Tig’rod. I wanted to know how did you die?”, Tig’rod asked in a shivering voice.
Drakhaal’s blank eyes seemed to look in Tig’rod’s direction, and in a hollow breathy voice, he replies. “I was … coming to deliver … the stone to folks … at the Thunder Ale Tavern. Then I saw an orange glow, there was fire, heat and then I guess … I guess … I died”.
Ersi, Roh’gar, and Neldor were looking at Drakhaal with wide eyes. They knew about the spell. The spell granted the semblance of life and intelligence to a corpse of your choice within the range of the spell, allowing it to answer the questions you pose. The corpse must still have a mouth and can’t be undead. The spell was only effective on the corpses that had died in the last ten days. Until the spell ends, you can ask the corpse up to five questions. The corpse knows only what it knew in life. The answers are usually brief, cryptic, sometimes repetitive. Seeing the spell in action was unsettling for everyone.
Loren nodded at Tig’rod indicating that he should continue.
“Where did you get the stone, Drakhaal?”, Tig’rod asked his next question.
“I … I stole the stone … from the lair …”, he took another breath, “the layer of the beholder … Xanathar … in the sewers”, Drakhaal continued in his breathy voice.
Neldor’s eyes widened to know that the Xanathar, the head of the Xanathatr’s guild is a beholder. He had not even considered that. Beholders found mostly in the Underdark, are large, orb-shaped beings with ten eyestalks and one central eye, each contains powerful magic. They are powerful and intelligent creatures and are among the greatest threats to the world. Neldor’s elf ears started twitching. Roh’gar put his scaly Dragonborn hand on his shoulder. Neldor looks at Roh’gar who tilts his head towards the gnome. Tig’rod was getting ready with his next question, and his hand was slowly moving towards his whiskey flask around his hip. Blue slaps his hand and indicates him to ask the next question they had decided.
“Do you know who killed you, Drakhaal?”, Tig’rod voice was quivering now.
Drakhaal’s eyes never blinked and in his breathy voice, he started talking again. “No, I do not. I … I saw the fire and then … then I died”.
Loren rolled her eyes, as if Tig’rod had wasted one of the questions. With everyone so quiet, she was the only one who seemed to think, this was not uncanny. Tig’rod continued, “Can you tell us if Xanathar or Zantarum were involved in your death?”
“I think … Xanathar must have me tailed … when he realized … realized the stone was stolen. I heard”, Drakhaal took another breath, “I heard … Xanathar blamed … Zantarum for the robbery. But … but … Zantarum came to know … that it was me… so they started tailing me too … black cloaks … three folks in black cloaks … were from Zantarum… I saw their tattoos. And then … and then … I died”.
Loren winked at Tig’rod, glad that this question got some answers. “The last question”, she said to Tig’rod.
“You had two pouches, we found only one. Did the other pouch with the stone in it; where is it?”
“Yes … yes … the stone of Golorr” Drakhaal seemed to be running out of time and started to struggle to answer. “Just before I died … one of the black cloaks … took the pouch … and then … and … then … I … died”. With these words, the air seemed to leave Drakhaal’s body, his eyelids shut, and the animated torso lost any sign of life and slammed against the table.
Everyone was looking at the dead gnome. Loren voice startled everyone, “This spell doesn’t return the creature’s soul to its body, only its animating spirit. The corpse can’t learn new information, doesn’t comprehend anything that has happened since it died, and can’t speculate about future events. So ask the questions accordingly. And yes, remember, the corpse is under no compulsion to offer a truthful answer if you are hostile to it or it recognizes you as an enemy”.
Tig’rod face contorted as if he was about to throw up. He took a flask from his hip and took a big sip of his whiskey. That seemed to calm him a bit. Loren notices everyone still looking at the burnt corpse. “He is dead now. Who do we want to talk to next?”
“I can’t, you do it this time. Blue?”, Tig’rod looked at Blue.
“A beholder? Xanathar is a beholder?”, Neldor was muttering.
“Yes. And let’s not discuss this here. Remember where we are. We need to finish what we came here for”, Roh’gar said in his groveling voice. And a small whiff of smoke escaped his nostrils. Neldor composed himself, nodded and looked at Blue.
“Looks like the stone is with the Zantarum. Two out of the three black-cloaked figured are here dead. The third one must have escaped with the stone”, Blue said, thinking out loud.
“We need to find out where was the stone to be taken by Zantarums”, Roh’gar made a point. “We must talk to the dead Zantarum guys”.
“Would they know if we are from Zantarum”, Ersi asks Loren.
“Well, they will know, but they may or may not tell the truth. Keep the questions simple”, she replied, checking the back of her hand, looking bored.
“Okay Blue, it’s time to disguise yourself in the illusion spell. The black cloak and with the tattoo of Zantarum – the flying snakes”, Roh’gar said. “We need to find out where they would have taken the stone”.
Blue’s eyes sparkle, and he looks at Loren and nods to her to do her spell. Loren starts her incantation under her breath, while Blue starts his illusion spell. As Loren’s spell ends, the Zantarum corpse gets animated, takes a deep breath and turns its head towards the group. Only the white of the eyes is visible, which makes Tig’rod to take another sip from his flask. This time even Ersi takes a step away from the animated corpse.
“I am from Zantarum. We sent three of you to get the stone for us. We haven’t heard from any of you. Where was the stone to be taken?”, Blue asks while making sure the tattoo of the flying snakes is visible as his illusion to the corpse.
“The stone, eh”, this guy’s voice is screechy, like small stones grinding against the metal sheet. “The stone was supposed to be taken back to Gralhund Villa, right after we get it.”
“Did you hire the Nimblewright automaton to help you obtain the stone?”, Blue asks his second question.
“Nimblewright? No, I do not know about any automaton”, everyone flinched at his voice.
“None of you made it to the Gralhund Villa with the delivery. Not sure how many people are supposed to be at the Villa. Do you know?”
“There should be ten or maybe fifteen people there. We were following orders to take the stone and deliver it there”.
“Did you know the gnome Drakhaal and what was the stone?”
“No, we were just following orders. We were asked to take the artifact and deliver it to the Villa”.
“Who gave you the orders?”, Blue shoots his last question.
“We were following Urstul Floxin, he was with us when we were tailing the gnome”. And with that, the corpse lost the air and his torso slammed on the metal table, making a loud clang! sound.
“Well, that was informative” Blue exclaims.
“Yes, very interesting”, Ersi said and seemed to be glad that the interrogation was quick.
“Yeah, it looks like the stone was …” Tigrod said, while raising the flask towards his mouth. Before he could say anything else, Roh’gar jumped in, “Let us not discuss the matters here. We are here for information. Let’s get it and get out”. This time there was a small spark along with the smoke that escaped his nostrils. Everybody got quiet.
Blue nodded to Loren, who smiled, winked at Blue and started her incantation. The third corpse torso stood up, took a deep breath inside turned it’s head slowly towards the group. The upper right side of his face was burned where the red veins were showing. The mouth and jaw were still intact.
“I am from Zantarum. How did you all die? Did the gnome kill you?”
“No. We cornered the gnome, and then, there was fire and I died”, the Zantarum man had a deep throaty voice.
“I am here to find out the whereabouts of the stone you were supposed to deliver to the Gralhund Villa. Where is it?”, Blue asked continuing his illusion.
“We were with Urstul. He pickpocketed the pouch from the gnome. Then there was a fire and I died.”
Blue pretended to be annoyed, “That’s why I am here, man. Urstul did not show up at the Villa. If he escaped, where would he go, if not the Villa?”
“Urstul and we were supposed to take the stone and go straight to the Villa. We died, but I saw him escape the fire with the pouch. If he is not at the Gralhund Villa, he must have gone to the safehouse twenty-three B”.
Blue looked back at the group, and several heads nodded, edging him to continue.
“Did you know what was in the pouch and what was it for?” Loren raised her four fingers at Blue indicating that this would be the fourth question.
“It was a stone of some sort. It was supposed to make us rich beyond our wildest imagination. That’s all I know”, the corpse was slowing down and his voice was fading. Tig’rod was already looking away from the corpse.
“What did the stone look like?” Blue asked his last question.
“It was dark stone … greyish … the size of my palm. And there were …” the voice started to fade, “blue lines were going across it.”
As the torso of the last corpse fell on the table, Blue ended his illusion. Before anyone could say anything, Roh’gar jumped in “Time to go, everyone”. Tig’rod walked in front of everyone, taking another swig from his flask.
The group walked out of the mortuary, through the corridors of the old constabulary station. As they walked past the reception desk, they thanked the older constable whom Renéer had contacted for access to the corpses.
As the group stepped in the daylight, everyone felt like they have come back to the land of the living. Tig’rod handed Loren the twenty-five gold Dragons for her services and donation to her temple. Loren thanked him, “Thank you for your donation. If you ever need any more help, you know where to find me”. With that, she left. Everyone in the group exchanged looks, and with the new knowledge about the Xanathar, Zantarum, and the stone of Golorr, the group starts walking towards the ThunderAle Tavern.
April 20, 2020
I was never exposed to Dungeons & Dragons while growing up in India. During my later years, as I came to know about it, I have always been fascinated by the game that plays in your mind. After a few discussions during lunch and expressing my curiosity, one of my friends at work decided to set up an introductory D&D session for me. He even created my playable character for me after talking to me and we met after work.
That was last September and I loved it. At present, I am playing in two campaigns. I tend to take very detailed notes and so I decided to write one of the incidents that happened a month back in one of my campaigns. Although it is not the beginning, I am calling it “Prologue” (that may change later).
I do not claim that the story is mine, but it is how it played in my mind. The dialogs are how I heard them and the scenery is how I saw it. It is my retelling of how it went down. I hope my interest stays and I bring more stories like this.
I give you … Prologue …
Grommish looks at everyone and speaks in his guttural voice, “I am going to approach the house. You guys should hang back. I do not want to scare the parents”.
Everyone nods except Yolanda, who seems to be annoyed. She grimaces at the suggestion and looks at Grommish, “I will come with you. Last time we talked to them, I was there”.
“Fine. But no threats this time. And I will do the talking”. Grommish stares at Yolanda with his piercing orc eyes. “Are we in agreement, Yolanda?”
She shrugs and gives a slight nod. Grommish starts walking towards the house and Yolanda follows him.
The rest of their company hangs back from the farmer’s home. The golden glow of the dusk sky gives a strange shade to the already harvested fields. It is a small and humble home made of raw clay bricks that give the house its shade. There are small colored decorations on the house in a darker hue along with some handprints around the outer wall. An old door made from oak wood adorns the house. The roof seems to need a new thatch and a small lantern is hanging on the side of the front of the door. A small paddy field extends around the house on the right and transforms into a vegetable garden behind it.
Carna feels a strange eeriness in the air, now that they were closer to the town.
“The town is aptly named Hopeless Fancy. The air is evil. I feel the hope is being drained out of me”, Carna says looking at the rest of them. Everyone seems to agree. Kalyn nods but keeps looking around, scouting the area.
“Would you give it a rest, my dear man. This is a poor farmer’s home”, Carna says.
“Hey, I can’t help it. This is what I do best” replies Kalyn with a smirk on his face.
Everyone turns their head towards the house, as they hear Grommish knock on the door in a friendly manner. A middle-aged woman opens the door. She is wearing simple lighter colored clothes which have seen some seasons. They can’t hear what they are talking from this distance, but it seems that the orc and the halfling are known to the woman. She seems friendly to them.
“Let’s get closer, I can’t hear a thing from here”, Verok suggests. Everyone starts to move a bit closer to the house. The woman looks at the motion beyond Grommish, her eyes widen as they settle on the Dragonborn.
Grommish notices her gaze. “It’s fine Ms. Clairidge, they are my friends. They are with me”, they hear Grommish telling the woman, as they get closer. “That is Verok, and yes he is a Drgonborn”.
The woman looks back at Grommish and sadness seems to creep back in her eyes.
“As I was saying Ms. Clairidge, Yolanda and I are still investigating the disappearance of your son. We caught Mad-Eye the hermit but it seems it was a false lead”. Krowley notices that Yolanda looks bored of all this talk and her hand slides along with her bow. The woman dabs her eye with the edge of her shawl and nods.
“Ms. Clairidge, I have a favor to ask. I know it is painful for you to recall, but I do wish if you could tell us one more time how did your son disappear”, Grommish requests in the friendliest way possible.
“Well, as I told you before”, her voice quivers, “after the day’s work, my husband and my son came back in the house for supper. They both looked tired from tilling the fields and getting ready for the next harvest season. The supper was a quiet affair, and after supper, my son went to bed. And the next morning, he was gone. Gone like the others”.
“Are there any other ways to get out of your house, besides this door?”. The woman shakes her head.
“Any windows in your son’s room where he could use to get out?”. She again shakes her head.
“And the door creaks! How did your son get out of the house without you or your husband knowing, Ms. Clairidge”. Everyone is looking at the woman waiting for her response. Even Yolanda was looking from Grommish to the woman.
Ms. Clairidge’s voice gets agitates a little bit, “What are you trying to say? Our son was kidnapped … kidnapped by that hermit, Mad-Eye … or whatever his name is. My poor son, I wonder where he is, and if he is still …”. She could not finish the sentence and started sobbing.
Grommish looks at her patiently. After a few moments, she composes herself “As I said, he was taken, just like the other children”.
“Ms. Clairidge, who are you afraid of?”. The woman’s face jerks up and she looks at Grommish. “Because you and I both know what you are telling us is not true. I caught up with Mad-Eye and he has not taken your son or any other child. Yes, I know, he was around your home when your son was kidnapped. He told me that he saw two figures walking away from your home that evening. It was a little darker so he did not see who it was. But he said one figure matched the height of your son”, Grommish’s tone was serious now. “Who are you afraid of, Ms. Clairidge? I implore you to please tell me what exactly happened. We need to know, so we can save your son, and other children who have been taken”.
“And this time, please tell us the truth”.
The woman’s eyes tear up and she starts sobbing. Grommish looks at Yolanda who still seemed indifferent and restless. He looks back at the woman who stops crying, takes a deep sigh and in quivering voice tells what happened.
“As I said, my husband and our son came back from the day’s work. After supper, my son went to his room. My husband and I were talking about how much we will be able to save from this harvest when we heard a knock on our door. My husband, David, was the one who answered the door. I was trying to see who was at the door, but my husband was blocking my view. All I could see was someone who was wearing a dark robe. Then my husband called my son. I stood up and walked up to the door. As our son came out of his room, my husband asked him to accompany the man. I tried stepping forward and asking him who is at the door, and why was he asking our son to go with him. But my husband blocked my path with his arm and closed the door behind our son. He stopped me from opening the door behind my son and told me later that it was the Dark Druid who threatened the life of our son. He also said that the druid told him that our son’s life will be spared if he comes with us. That’s all I know”.
Clairidge then drops on her knees, buries her face in her hands and started crying, “My son. Gone. Gone like the others. My poor son”.
Grommish kneels next to her and puts his hand on the woman’s shoulders.
“Don’t worry Ms. Clairidge, we will find your son. I am sorry that you had to relive this again. I do not think it was the Dark Druid who took your son. Dark Druids do not exist anymore, for a few thousand years now”. Ms. Clairidge looks up inquisitively at Grommish.
“You do not think it was the Dark Druid who took my son?”, she asks Grommish.
“No, I do not think so. I think someone is posing as a Dark Druid and I need to find out why. We will try our best to find your son and other children who have been taken. Thank you for telling us the truth. Now we know exactly what happened and can do the right investigation”.
“If it is alright with you, we would like to speak to your husband, David, and ask him if he can give us any clue to who could be the person who was posing as the Dark Druid”, Grommish says standing up.
The woman stops crying and nods. She stands up and points towards the field in the southwest direction beyond where the rest of the party is standing. “David is still working in the fields”.
Everyone turns to look behind at a solitary figure working on the other side of the field. He seemed to be trying to stay oblivious to them all, slowly moving away. As he notices everyone looking in his direction, he stands up.
“Hello there”, Carna calls. David drops the sickle and the scythe from his hands and starts running away from the house. Ms. Clairidge eyes widen in surprise and then she sees everyone running behind David.
March 15, 2020
Shiv Kumar Batalvi’s poetry stands for it’s heightened passion, separation and lover’s agony. He is indeed Birha da Sultan – the king of separation of a beloved. He has dived into the abyss of pathos and put it in words that have inspired both the lovers and the lovers of Punjabi language.
The beauty of Shiv’s poetry is the simplicity of his words at the surface but pack a punch at a deeper level that has few rivals in the language. At an age of 30, he became the youngest recipient of Sahitya Akademi Award, a literary honor by India’s National Academy of Letters, Sahitya Akademi.
For more than 4 decades, his poems have attracted the singers with his poignancy and emotions. Each one has sung his poems with welled eyes to varied music genres. From acapella version by Shiv himself (check my blog here) to modern renditions, every singer has brought their own style, music, and flavor to his poems.
A few months back, as I started to pluck the strings of the guitar, once again Shiv’s poetry beckoned and I looked up to a more modern rendition of my all-time favorite poem – “Ishtihaar“. It is also sometimes called “Ikk Kudi“. The song has been arranged in musical notes by likes of Rabbi Shergill, Hans Raj Hans, and classic, Mahender Kapoor’s version. I had to find a version that a novice guitar player like me could play easily. And I found just the one from the movie Udta Punjab. It is sung by Diljit Dosanjh, with music by Amit Trivedi.
This version attracted me for a number of reasons – the simplicity of music arrangement, modern guitar chords, and of course Shiv’s poetry. As I started dissecting the song, I found that there was not a perfect version that I can play. So I had to create chords for it first before any strings would vibrate on the guitar.
With this blog post, I am sharing the chords for the song along with the English translation of the same.
Download printable version of the chords for the song from Udta Punjab.
Enjoy playing this on a guitar.