Thursday, December 22, 2011

Far Over the Misty Mountains Cold

Yes, many people are writing about this trailer.  I'm going to do it too - this clip goes almost directly to the reasons that I role-play and that I write this blog.  Heck, it's the reason for the name of the blog.  Well, that and the fact that I live in the interior of British Columbia, which has more misty mountains than Tolkien ever saw in his life.

I should say first off that I've been looking forward to this film, del Toro or no del Toro, I loves me the Hobbit.  In many ways it's a classic gaming story - inexperienced fellow leaves home with a pack of disreputable ruffians.  Group runs across a number of hazards which they are able, often through blind luck or quick thinking, to overcome.  Group finds some treasure, some of which is appropriate for inexperienced fellow, who quickly becomes more experienced.

Allies are gained, confidence grows and eventually the group degenerates into infighting and bickering over treasure, only to temporarily join forces once again when more serious threats appear.  After a certain point, group play gives way to armies, lordships and the death of characters, and the inexperienced fellow goes home older, wiser and saddled with a cursed magic item that he got on a random roll in some dungeon corridor that's too useful for him to get rid of.

So basically, D&D Type 1 as the OSR would have you play it.  For all the chattering about old-school being based on pulp literature, the Hobbit sure reads like role-playing to me.

Better yet, they sing Over the Misty Mountains!  I have ALWAYS loved that song, it captures both the heart of the Tolkien experience, and the essence of the themes I like in fantasy role-playing.  And they totally nail the song, with the dwarves chanting it sonorously and slowly rising to their feet as they sing it.

See, to the dwarves, the song is both a lament and a promise - a lament for the glories of the Kingdom under the Mountain, which glories passed away in fire and horror upon the coming of Smaug, and a promise that they will one day return, to reclaim what is rightfully theirs and rebuild their fallen birthright.  It's as close to religion as the dwarves have, and they capture it pitch-perfectly.  I could watch that trailer 20 times in a row.

Complain about the singing if you want to, but to my mind, it just confirms that you either haven't read the Hobbit, or didn't understand it when you did read it.  The singing is perfect - it makes me shiver the same shiver of joy as I get when Aragorn tells the hobbits, speaking of Amon Sul, "It is told that Elendil stood there watching for the coming of Gil-galad out of the West, in the days of the Last Alliance." It's a certain kind of music that catches me just right.  Perfect.

I'm sure the movie will have a few warts and blemishes - but this trailer does more to reassure me about what we can expect from this movie than anything else I've seen or read.  Now if we just didn't have to wait a WHOLE YEAR...

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Constantcon Game - Celtic-Style 2e D&D

What:  2nd Edition Dungeons and Dragons - heavily modified AD&D 2nd Edition with a generally Iron Age Celtic theme.

Where:  On the intertubules!  But also in a campaign world of my own creation.

When:  August 29th, 8:30 PM PST to 12:00ish.

How: Google + and (optionally - if everyone agrees) Maptools

Who: Jeremy Murphy - kootenaymurph at gmail dot com - email me and I'll add you to my G+ circle.  Looking at a maximum of 5 players with 1st-level characters.

Why:  Because all my campaign notes are for 2E.  Shut up - I played the heck out of 2E, and it occupies a fond space in my heart.  Also because I like the idea of Constantcon and I want to see if it can work.

Other Stuff:  This game is Flail Snail Approved... sorta.  Since it's heavily homebrewed, some modification to character equipment may be necessary.  Check with me, and I can probably roll with it.

Primary technology will be G+ Hangout.  Optionally, we can use Maptools for shared maps and dice-rolling.  I have a lot of experience with Maptools, and will assist people getting it set up, but we'll only use it if everyone wants to.

But:  Jeremy, I got rid of my 2e stuff a forever ago!  No fear!  I have all resources and materials that you shall require on Google Docs.  And it's all stuff I bought back in the day, so I don't feel bad at all about having downloaded it!  Let me know if you need reference materials and I'll hook you up.

Update: Download the Quickstart Guide here.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Arigato Gozaimas, Shihan

I'd like to take a minute to talk about Shihan Hitoshi Shiozaki.

When I was in university on Victoria in 1998, I met Chantal, and through her, her husband Junichi.  "Jun" asked if I would be interested in coming to the karate class that he attended.  At that time, I was an out-of-shape ex-athlete, and thought that martial arts might be a fun way to get back into shape.

I was not prepared.

At our first class of Yoshukai Karate (I would have found out that basically means "real fighting karate" if I had thought to look it up), I met his instructor, Shihan (Master) Hitoshi Shiozaki.

Now, Shihan was not much to look at.  Probably about 5'2", he wore thick coke-bottle glasses, slacks and plaid shirts buttoned to his neck.  He was probably in his 50's at the time, and his only transport was an old blue bicycle.  He smiled and laughed a lot while we changed and did our pre-class warmup, and seemed like a harmless little fellow.  Then training started.  No laughter now - just focus, and sweat, and pain.

I have never worked harder than that in my life.  Stretching, pushups, kicking drills, kata, "toughness training", more stretching.  So much stretching.  And the toughness training.  For Shihan, the way to make your body tougher was to work it.  We kicked, punched, kneed each other.  We had little cloth gloves to keep from splitting our knuckles, but that was it.  3/4 power, most of the time - no pads.

I left the first class and staggered to my friend's house, where we were setting up for our Sunday D&D game. Collapsed on the couch and moaned.. "Water.. water".  I was hooked.  I went 2-3 times a week for almost 2 years.  That fall my mom got me a 20 lb bag of epsom salts for my birthday.  I learned that I can take a relentless beating and my body does not break.  My skin doesn't split when I punch, and even now I can throw a hammer of a straight left.

Sure, we learned kata, but more often, we did kumite.  It was great.  Challenging and painful, but really great. I learned more about Hitoshi, too.  Hitoshi Shiozaki was a student of the founder of Yoshukai Karate, and a 6th-Dan black belt.  He practiced Karate most days of his life for 30 years, and won the All Japan Full-Contact Karate Open Tournament 4 times in the mid-80's.  Think about that.  All Japan, Full-Contact, open tournament.  Won it 4 times in a row.  Truly unbelievable.

I eventually moved away from Victoria, after achieving a green belt in Yoshukai.  I practiced Tae Kwon Do and Kickboxing later, and the skills Hitoshi taught me always came in handy.  Primarily because he taught me to respect my master and fellow students, to listen carefully, and to come ready to fight, but never to pick a fight.

Hitoshi Shizaki died of complications from an asthma attack in 2006 in Japan.  I said goodbye to him 6 years earlier, when I left Victoria to travel, but somehow, I thought he would always be there, in that little dojo in the industrial park, riding his bike, laughing with his students after class.

I have only ever met 2 people in my life who deserve the title of "Shihan".  Hitoshi Shiozaki and Jon-Lee Kootnekoff.  It saddens me to learn of Shihan Hitoshi's passing.  "OSU!" Shihan.  Thank you.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

A Great Tool for the Busy DM

StumbleUpon.  You kill me - I should be doing other STUFF.  I have Domain Game turns to work on, prep for my online After The Bomb game, work stuff that I really shouldn't be doing at home.  But yet I click, and click and click.

But.  But, but, but - the clicking finally pays off!  I found this little gem, by Wizards of the Coast, no less.  I haven't really looked at the adventure portion yet, but the little maps it creates are GREAT.  For small post-apocalyptic complexes and buildings, these maps look ideal.

In addition, I can save them right off the website and import them into Maptools with a few mouse clicks.  Super work, WotC, really super.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Discussing The Steel Remains

Over at The Silver Key and Dweomera Lagomorpha about some of the recent trends in fantasy literature.  This started as a post on Brian's website, but it outgrew that, so I moved it over here.

The thing that's really clarified this discussion to me is the comment by Richard Morgan that Brian quoted -  something along the lines of this not being fantasy for 13-year-olds.

I think that fundamentally what we see as "high fantasy": the Lord of the Rings, the Ranger's Apprentice, Harry Potter - this is a very 13-year-old view of the world.  The clear good/evil dichotomy, a heroes always win assumption, sexless "romance".  It's a very "immature" perspective. Of course, many of these books explore other things - the Lord of the Rings deals extensively with friendship, loyalty, leadership and honor - but the context, the world and it's assumptions - they're simplistic.

Lots of fantasy book reminds me of a terrible Arthurian movie from the early '90's called "First Knight".  It's medieval england, but everyone is clean, the good guys wear shiny armor and crisp blue uniforms, and the bad guys wear black furs.  It's flat - it leaves no lasting impression.  It's the middle ages as seen by the SCA.  Excalibur, on the other hand, is not clean, the heroes are not clear, good things don't always happen to the good guys.  It's more "adult" and a better movie for it.

As we get older, we realize things about the world: we realize that being a good person does not mean necessarily that good things happen to us, we learn that there are many perspectives on things, we hopefully learn about sex, and hopefully we don't learn too much about violence, but we know that there are lots of things in life that a 13-year-old has no awareness of.

So when Morgan talks about The Steel Remains as "adult" - he's right.  It depicts a world much more like the one we know as adults.  Sure - the violence is a bit much, and the sex scenes are maybe a bit gratuitous. In terms of the world that it presents - complete with grit, sex, religious extremism, selfishness and violence - it's a grown-up world.  It's not automatically better because of that, but it feels more tangible to me - the taste of it is clearer.  Yes, the Lord of the Rings is also very deep and powerful, with a clear and detailed world.  But The Steel Remains didn't take 12 years to write (or require 30 years of world-building).

The Burning Land IS a better example of how to create an adult fantasy (although you could easily argue that it's Historical Fiction, which is a bit of a different genre).   It's a bit less gratuitous, a bit more focussed, and with characters that I empathize with a bit more.  It uses the same ingredients, though - Morgan just likes more of the sex and violence and less of the finely-researched historical detail.  He's a better futurist, anyways, while Cornwell is a better historian.  They both write books that are more "adult" than a lot of fantasy, which is why I read and enjoy their work.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

New Fantasy Books

Glen Cook, I can't thank you enough.  The fantasy genre was a bland pretty place before you came along.  All that high fantasy was getting pretty old - sure there was the Thieves' World series, which was introducing a darker, grittier version of the fantasy genre to people, but it wasn't until Glen Cook's Black Company series that shit got real.

Well, not real - but different.  Darker.  The Black Company is the first fantasy series that I'm aware of that draws heavily on the military stories coming back from the Vietnam war.  Books like Chickenhawk, Fields of Fire and the excellently-titled Conduct to the Prejudice of Good Order deal with the experience of war in a way that previous fantasy fiction hadn't.  War, and the experience of making war and of living life as a soldier were brought to the fore by these books, and many of the themes started making the jump into fantasy around the start of the '80s.

That's not to say that they weren't around before that.  Much of REH's Conan stuff was pretty darn gritty, and actually holds up pretty well today.  Red Nails ain't no picnic, that's for sure.  So the darker themes have always been there, sometimes lighter, sometimes heavier.  We seem to be getting into a darker shade of dark phase here, though.

I just picked up Joe Abercrombie's "The Heroes" and "The Steel Remains" by Richard Morgan.  Just as a caveat - I like this kind of fantasy.  Eddings and his "indoor plumbing" fantasy worlds were fine when I was 13, but I frankly enjoy stuff with a little more hair on it's chest these days.  Hell, I read hours of board books to my 2-year-old, I don't need more kiddie stuff when I actually get some time to read myself.

I had slightly mixed feelings about Abercrombie's last novel - "Best Served Cold".  The only character that I really liked, Caul Shivers, turned into a total bastard by the end of it, and I never really came around to rooting for Mercatto.  She didn't really seem to learn much in the course of the novel.  But "The Heroes" is a much better story.  It actually reminded me a bit of Jeff Shaara's "The Killer Angels" in terms of categorizing the effects of war on various individuals involved, from new recruits to veterans on both sides.  It was a much more interesting novel, and the better of the two.

As for the Morgan, I really, really like the Takeshi Kovaks series and I'm reading 13 right now, with Market Forces queued up on the ebook reader - so I'm a fan.  I wasn't blown away by "The Steel Remains" though.  It was interesting - kept me entertained and turning pages right through to the end, but I can see how it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.  You don't see gay male characters much in fantasy - I can think of only 2 other series off the top of my head, so that might put some people off, and the violence is pretty Morgan-ish, but I've read his other stuff, so it wasn't that far off.  It just never really grabbed me like the Kovaks books did.  Looks like it's the first of a trilogy, though - so we'll see where it goes.

So good times in fantasy if you like yours with a bit more spit and a bit less polish.  If you want a decent middle road, the new Ian Esselmont, Stonewielder, might be a good pickup.  That guy has steadily improved since his underwhelming first book, and now I find I'm enjoying his stuff more than Erikson - which is quite a thing for me to say.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

First Session of After the Bomb

After the Bomb 2e is a stand-alone RPG that uses the core Palladium rules with the TMNT mutation rules added in.  In this game, I'm also allowing things from Ninjas and Superspies, and possibly something or other from Heroes Unlimited.

Basically, it's a post-apocalyptic RPG featuring mutant animals!  I'd forgotten how much I love TMNT characters.  That's what makes this system great.  Cause it sure ain't the over-complex, fiddly combat or the as-bad-as-3e antagonist generation or the "simple" (by GURPS standards) vehicle rules..

But I can houserule all that shit.  The characters...  so good.

Let's see - we have 4 characters in the game at this point.  Perry, the DM from our OD&D game, is playing a 7'3", 380 lb mutant sheep named Baab.  Baab is a trained Farrier (which presumably means he can shoe himself) and also knows Sumo.  He speaks both english and japanese with a scottish accent (lllolll's his lllll's).

Then we have Jennie's character - a currently unnamed mutant Marten (which is like a large, tree-dwelling ferret).  This character is ridiculously fast, knows Drunken Monkey kung-fu, can pilot military vehicles, and knows the Art of Hiding, which is the neat trick where you stand RIGHT BEHIND somebody and move around so fast they can't see you.  Which would be awesome but she took the Musk Gland: Strong and Stinky bit, so the character is basically a really Silent but Deadly fart.  Which is also kinda great.

Next is the brains of the operation: Dr. Cat. Dr Cat is called Dr. Cat because he is pretty much a large scottish fold cat, but with a few minor differences from the traditional cat.  Difference one: Dr. Cat is a medical doctor, with degrees in Internal Medicine, Surgery, Pathology, Radiology and Dentistry.  Also Clinical Genetics, Anthropology, Botany, Analytical Chemistry (I don't even KNOW WHAT THAT IS) and Public Speaking.  Except he can't speak because he IS A CAT.

Oh, and Dr. Cat has ectoplasmic hands - for use in surgery, and a crippling catnip addiction.  And he can drive both motorcycles and trucks.  So he's pretty much Toonces the Driving Cat.

As if that wasn't enough, the final character is possibly the best of all.  He is a 14" tall mutant bat.  Who knows Ninjitsu.  Also he can talk to electronics, sees by ground-penetrating sonar, can fix mechanical objects by touching them, and eats only bugs. Which explains the "Breed and Control Insects" skill.  It does not explain the "Bolt-action rifle" and "WP Grappling hook" skills.  Man.  You can FLY - what do you need a grappling hook for?

Because you are a ninja, is the obvious answer.

The first session consisted of finishing the characters, waking up naked in a tube full of liquid, getting out of the tube, convincing the lab AI to download itself onto a memory crystal, convincing the elevator that it would be fun to release the brakes and plummet down the shaft in order to save electricity (reactor power in the complex is very low), searching through some labs for clothing (Baab is kinda body-shy).

The main feedback, "not enough stuff to kill".  Ah 4e-players, how simple things are in your little world.  I'm very excited - this is shaping up to be epic and silly and awesome, which is pretty much how I like my games to be.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

More Details about the Khalik Vahr

I've fleshed out the culture and race I'm using for the Hill Cantons Domain Game. I present to you: 

The Khalik:
Although there are some physical similarities, the Khalik Vahr are not dwarves.  Physically, they appear more like large, stocky svirfneblin – almost totally hairless, with large ears and oversized eyes.

It’s rare that anyone see the face or body of a Khalik, though.  Most Khalik, men and women, wear woven garments that cover their bodies and hoods over their faces, especially when outside.  Silk cowls cover their features, dimming bright lights to a manageable level.  The natural color of the material they wear is stone-grey, but when they are on the surface they paint their clothing in vertical, irregular stripes in colors that match their surroundings, effectively camouflaging themselves.

Social Organization:
There are 2 main castes of the Khalik, the common, labourer caste and the noble, warrior caste.  Members of the warrior caste generally wear full-body armour with featureless, full-face helmets, made of a hardened insect chitin.  The natural color of the material is also stone-grey, but warriors also paint their armour when the caravans are moving above-ground.

Khalik warriors fight on both on foot and mounted.  Foot soldiers are generally encased in long hauberks made of overlapping disks of chitin, affixed to a flexible leather backing. They carry round shields made of the same material, and most carry long-bladed swords made of steel or chitin.  Their swords curve slightly and come to a wedge-shaped tip with a back-pointing hook.  Most Khalik also carry fighting picks, which double as tools, and iron flails.  Many Khalik also carry powerful crossbows along with their shields and hand weapons.  Polearms, mostly long-handled halberd or cleaver-like weapons, are also commonly used, especially when the Khalik are defending their Ways.

Mounted Khalik ride powerful lizards called Ehzak.  There are a number of different Ehzak breeds; the heavy-limbed Par’Ezhak that are used as small draft animals, the lighter Hur’Ezhak, used for riding and hunting, and the armoured, fanged Kla’Ezhak, which are trained for battle.  All Ezhak generally run on 4 legs, but can rise up to stand on their hind legs for periods of time.  Ezhak aren’t quite as fast as horses, but they are much lower to the ground, more stable and can easily scramble over rocks, up steep slopes and down banks.  Khalik riders tend to use webs of strapping to attach themselves to their agile mounts, and fight using light crossbows, lances, javelins, fighting picks, warhammers and flails.

Female Khalik of the noble classes are often fighters – it’s almost impossible to tell if most Khalik are male or female.   Some noble females belong to the Tannuth, who are the magic-users of the Khalik.  The Tannuth wear spidersilk robes and full-face masks, and are the only female members of the Khalik who are recognizable as such.  The Tannuth are effectively the educated class of the Khalik.  They are responsible for construction, engineering and scientific endeavours, in addition to being skilled users of magic, often specializing in illusions.

The Khalik worship one god, Ohm’Khalik, Lord of the Paths Above and Below.  Ohm’Khalik is a god of exploration, trade and travel, but also of warfare, if necessary.  Many male members of the noble class are priests of Ohm’Khalik, and make up the religious caste of the Khalik.

The Khalik are a semi-nomadic, tribal society that move between surface and underground sites in great armored caravans.  There are several major tribes of Khalik, and each tribe is composed of a number of semi-autonomous "Ways" or caravan-clan units that are tied together by treaties and kinship.  There are also a fair number of "Lesser Ways" that are not tied directly to the major tribes, but operate as intermediaries, allies or rivals of the larger tribes.

Khalik Ways move about the country using Wholks– these are giant beetles that have been bred to have holes and flat places on their carapace that allow wagons to be constructed on their backs.  The wagons have high sides and firing slots, allowing them to double as small fortifications.  All wagons have at least 5 dwarves, a driver, 2 crossbowman and 2 heavy infantry, aboard at all times.  They also each have 3 polearms (Halberds, basically) attached to hooks on the inside.  All Khalik are trained to move to the wagons at the first sign of attack, and to use the halberds to defend the wagons.

Wholks cost about as much as 4 draft horses, and can pull a similar amount.  The wagons carry as much weight as a standard wagon, and can be taken off the back of the Wholk and disassembled, allowing the caravan to move through fairly small spaces. Wholks-wagons can also be quickly broken down and rebuilt into a fortified laager.  Each wagon provides 50 feet of light fortification, and takes 2 people 1 hour to disassemble and set back up.  The Khalik often combine the laager fortifications with wooden stakes and a quickly-dug trench if expecting trouble.

The main advantage of the Wholk is that it eats damn near anything (although quite a bit of anything) and is effectively an ATV – it can easily navigate an underground or mountain environment that a horse cannot move through.  Downside is it’s a bit slower. moving at half as fast as a horse-drawn cart.

The other use of the Wholk is that it is a domesticated animal, used for food and materials.  A well-fed Wholk lays eggs regularly.  These eggs are round, tough-shelled and about the size of a basketball.  They are edible, and provide one of the major food sources for the Khalik.  In an area with ample forage, one Wholk produces enough eggs to feed 5-8 people.  The usual ratio of Khalik to Wholk in a caravan is between 5 and 10 to 1.  Wholks that die or are killed can be eaten as meat (food for 1 month for 25 people) and their shells are used as armor and building materials. Wholk also shed chitin regularly, and have to be “trimmed” in order to keep them useful for carrying wagons.  This shed chitin is used for tools, weapons and armor.

Wholk eggs are buried by the insect, and gestate for 6 months.  1-2 Wholk larvae hatch from each egg - the larvae are about 1 foot long and capable of defending themselves and burrowing to escape danger.  They eat plant material, insects, small animals and carrion ravenously, and grow to full-size in about 1 year.  A full-grown Wholk is about 18 feet long, 5 feet high, and moves on hundreds of small, powerful legs.  They are essentially giant millipedes.

The Wayfinders are small, detached groups, associated with the Ways, but travelling separately from them.  They act as scouts, skirmishers, foragers and warbands for the Ways.  Usually, Wayfinders are led and made up mainly of dwarven members of the Way they are associated with, but the dangerous, stealthy nature of the Wayfinder life means that outcasts and renegades from other races are often accepted into Wayfinder groups.  Some Wayfinders also work as mercenaries, selling their services to powerful Ways.  These groups are usually more highly-skilled and specialized than "regular" Wayfinders, and contain a high percentage of adventurers.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Worldgame Submission

ckutalik over at Hill Cantons has sent out invitations to a domain-style worldgame.  The post has the particulars, and I've always loved domain gaming - we used to do it a lot when I was a kid.  So without further ado, my submission for the game:

The Khalik Vahr:

"The only way that is certain is the road that runs from birth to death.  All other paths are shifting stone and flowing water."

The Khalik are a nomadic, tribal dwarven society that move between surface and underground sites in great armored caravans.  There are several major tribes of Khalik, and each tribe is composed of a number of semi-autonomous "Ways" or caravan-clan units that are tied together by treaties and kinship.  There are also a fair number of "Lesser Ways" that are not tied directly to the major tribes, but operate as intermediaries, allies or rivals of the larger tribes.

The Wayfinders are small, detached groups, associated with the Ways, but travelling separately from them.  They act as scouts, skirmishers, foragers and warbands for the Ways.  Usually, Wayfinders are led and made up mainly by dwarven members of the Way they are associated with, but the dangerous, stealthy nature of the Wayfinder life means that outcasts and renegades from other races are often accepted into Wayfinder groups.  Some Wayfinders also work as mercenaries, selling their services to powerful Ways.  These groups are usually more highly-skilled and specialized than "regular" Wayfinders, and contain a high percentage of adventurers.

The Vahr are a Lesser Way associated with the more powerful Uhr tribe as a confederate and trading partner.  The Uhr have recently suffered a catastrophic defeat at the hands of Duergar warbands, leaving the Vahr without their traditional ally and "big brother".  With Duergar incursions into their traditional territories and the Uhr in disarray, the Vahr are being squeezed into less productive territories, or spending more time above-ground, which has it's own dangers.

The existence of certain caverns which lead to "Other Ways" has long been known to the Khalik, but the dangers of passing through them have always meant that they are rarely travelled.  However, straightened circumstances lead to different thinking, and the Khalik Vahr are desperate enough to risk supporting an expedition into other dimensions.

Terrik Vahr, Wayfinder Captain of the Khalik Vahr.

Lv 7
Alignment: Neutral

HP: 54

ST: 13
DX: 12
CN: 16
IN: 7
WI: 12
CH: 15

Chitin-Plate Armor (stats as plate mail)
Chitin Helmet
Heavy Pick

Terrik is one of the youngest Wayfinder Captains of the Khalik Vahr.  He wears the traditional armor of the Khalik - heavy plates of giant insect carapace, painted stone-grey for camouflage, complete with a featureless grey helmet. 

His skill in battle, matchless endurance and ability to recruit, motivate and delegate responsibility to his team brought Terrik to the position of Wayfinder Captain.  What Terrik lacks in imagination and ability to think laterally, he makes up for with his crafty advisors and his rock-solid tenacity in pursuing a course through to the end.  His Wayfinders are a motley crew, made up of members of several different races, but they work as an effective team, and have years of experience in the most brutal and pitiless environment imaginable.

The Elders of the Khalik Vahr saw Terrik as an excellent choice to lead the first expedition through the gate.  Once an initial outpost has been set up, they expect to send additional groups through, as opportunities present themselves.  Although the Khalik Vahr are not a large country, per-say, they make up for their relatively few numbers by being highly experienced travellers, self-sufficient, tough, and accustomed to living off of the land - both above and below the surface.  They will support Terrik's expedition with resources and dwarfpower as long as they see a return on their investment - they are a practical folk, after all.