Shadows for Silence in the Forests of Hell
Synopsis: Innkeeper Silence maintains her business in the Forests, where shades and lawbreakers roam. So far, she’d managed to retain independence for herself and her daughters by supplementing her income through more dangerous means. Maintaining an appearance of a surly but harmless hostess, she has managed to remain above suspicion. And alive, and free, along with her two girls. For now.
Series: Standalone novella, but technically takes place in the same universe as most of Brandon Sanderson’s fantasy.
POV: Third person, mostly from Silence’s perspective.
The novella is gripping from start to finish, following Silence’s attempt to collect her bounty. We see her struggles to remain independent, and the pressures chipping away at that independence. We see why she needs this bounty so badly. We meet her daughter who works with her, and her dependent Sebruki, whom she took in after a tragedy.
We watch Silence employ her resourcefulness and practicality to navigate the loose, dirty rules of society. To accomplish more than she should have been able to.
I love that our protagonist leans on cleverness over force to win her battles. And I love that all the most dangerous characters in the story rely on trickery and misdirection–Silence, maintaining the anonymity of her bounty hunter persona so she could use her inn’s reputation to her advantage. The criminals, who rely on not being identified when they stop for food or goods. The tax collector Silence uses to turn in her bounties, who really doesn’t need people realizing his profession in public.
Silence is a fantastic character. Raised to be hard and ruthless, she offsets those traits with the hint of something else–a desire for and appreciation of a different kind of strength. She teaches her daughter to be strong, without being brutal. And she cares–for her children, for their freedom, and even sometimes for the lives of strangers (if only to distinguish herself from her grandmother). But above all, her cleverness and determination are on display in this story. All the ideas she’s implemented to help herself survive. It’s great.
Critical Role x Kinda Funny: Dungeons & Dragons
Genre: Fantasy RPG
Synopsis: Two rival adventuring parties meet up in a tavern, and get hired to protect the town from nearby danger. Will they be able to resolve their differences, or will their lack of cooperation get them killed?
Series: One-shot standalone.
Verdict: Fun and funny.
Available: Video embedded below.
A mixed crew of experienced and new players take on a D&D campaign, creating a two hour journey that doubles as both a wacky adventure story and an introduction into tabletop RPGs. As a Critical Role fan, I obviously had to see it.
Critical Role one-shots tend to be far more heavily comedic than the main storyline, and in any other franchise, that would put me on guard–I’m super-picky about my humor. But no matter what form the campaigns take, the cast of CR always puts characterization in the foreground, which draw me into the one-shots. (It also helps that a decent portion of the humor is actually good, even by my eclectic standards.)
This is a group of people having fun with an adventure, telling a story together and playfully ribbing each other’s characters.
And for a story which serves as an introduction for a group of new players, it exhibited a wide range of the game’s versatility. They didn’t only participate in combat. They role-played, they used persuasion and deception, they passed stealth checks. They threw around friendly fire, and manipulated each other.
The group from CR are, of course, professional voice actors. It’s no surprise that their performances and characters were memorable. I don’t know anything about the Kinda Funny group, but they also managed to throw in unique spins to their characters, really getting into the story. Overall, it turned into an entertaining experiences where all of the participants obviously had fun.