Fate of the Crown releases on May 21, 2019

Medieval Musings: Your Newsletter from Paul J Bennett

'...could not put the Kindle down...but I do have to work.' - Safetyt

In this week's Medieval Musings:

  • Character origin: Hayley Chambers
  • Fate of the Crown - Pre-order
  • Gamers Corner: All about Magic
  • Foreshadowing - Did you know?
  • Sword of the Crown audiobook sample
  • WIP update & tidbit from Ashes
  • Author Spotlight 
  • Book Giveaways - Over 150 books

Character Inspiration: Dame Hayley Chambers

In the original Role Playing Game (RPG) the character of Hayley Chambers was a Non-Player Character (NPC) run by the gamemaster, me. She was a throwaway character, merely a scribbled note in pencil, but once again, my wife Carol (Anna) decided to add Hayley to her ever-increasing retinue of advisors. She was introduced as a King's Ranger who had been knighted for killing a creature and saving a village in the process.

However, in the books, her purpose is to offer a counter-balance to Beverly. Whereas Beverly can always be counted on to do the ‘right’ thing, Hayley lives her life in more of a ‘grey area’. To her, it’s the people that count. She’ll interpret her duties as a ranger to do what she thinks is right, not always following the rule of law.

This is more evident in the short story, Hayley and the Beast, from Mercerian Tales: Stories of the Past. She also acts as a counterbalance to Osferth, the villainous ranger in Servant of the Crown. In the RPG, the archery contest didn’t include Osferth, as it was merely the backdrop to other things, but the mean-spirited ranger was too compelling to leave out, especially after his initial run-in with Gerald.

Naturally, I couldn’t have Osferth win the archery contest, otherwise he wouldn’t hold a grudge later in the story, so I needed someone to defeat him. Who better than another ranger, and a young woman at that, so I added Hayley to the mix, also giving her a tie to Anna for future development.

Hayley also helps me develop Beverly and Revi. Her friendship with Beverly is casual and relaxed, allowing Bev (and only Hayley calls her this) to have someone to talk to about things that she couldn’t speak of to others.

Hayley's relationship with Revi, on the other hand, is quite playful. She does an excellent job of keeping him grounded, and in the here and now, as he is prone to want to focus solely on his studies.

So there you have it, that’s where Hayley Chambers came from.

Fate of the Crown still available for Pre-order!

The room fell into an awkward silence. It was Gerald that broke it, "We are fighting a war to liberate this realm from a dark presence. These people are Mercerian and deserve to be treated as such. The vast majority of inhabitants of this city don't support the king, nor do they care, one way or the other, who rules. They have the right to live in peace and safety.

Gamer's Corner

How does magic work in the world of Merceria, or rather, what are the rules of magic?

They are based on the Roleplaying(RPG) system I developed, as are the stories. All the magic that you read about in Heir to the Crown series and all future series is based on this system.

To understand the magical system, you must first learn how a character is created.  It begins with a character sheet; a list of attributes, generated by rolling dice, and skills, chosen by the player (the human behind the character).  A character who can cast magic must pick a ‘school’ of magic, and a will have a corresponding score (from 1- 100+) that represents their skill with said magic.

For example, we have a character named Harold, and he has chosen Air Magic; he can do things like call forth lighting. Being new to magic, Harold has a skill of 60, meaning his chance of successfully casting a spell is 60%. In the game we use percentile dice (2 dice, each with the numbers 1-10 on them) to see if he is successful, thus generating a value from 1-100. If the roll is 60 or less,  he has cast the spell. However, there’s more to it than that.

First of all, the degree of success is important. How much did he make his roll by? Subtract the die roll from the skill and the result (divided by 10) is how much success he had. Thus, if you roll a 34 against a skill of 60, the result is 60-34=26. You always round up, so 26/10 would be 2.6, rounded up to 3. (Yes, this is why grade 4 math is so important!)

Harold has now cast a spell with 3 Success Points (SP). Combat spells inflict 1-6 damage for each SP generated. There is a location/severity chart that can modify this; hitting the head, for example, is more likely to increase the damage.

As you can see from the calculation, spells do not lead to tremendous amounts of damage, at least not until the mage is much more skilled. In the world of Merceria, spells are awesome against individuals but have only a marginal effect in large scale battle. That’s because magic in my system doesn’t scale up as it does in other role-playing games. There is no ‘wish’ spell or ‘mass destruction’ spell.

Also, when a spell is cast, each SP generated uses up one point of energy. Energy is an attribute assigned to characters when they are generated, typically ranging (at least for humans) between 51 and 70. At higher levels of skill, these energy points can be consumed quickly, but regenerate over time. This is why Revi and Hayley have to rest after casting, as they can physically harm themselves if they cast when their energy is depleted.

In addition, there are rules for ranged casting, damage protection, and the severity of the wound, but that’s a topic for a later discussion as I've run out of room in this article.

As you have just read, the magic system is quite detailed, allowing me to completely understand the effects when I write about it.

Until next time, keep the dice rolling!

Forshadowing: Daisy & Tilly saw it, did you?

Some of the things I always like in a good story are little hints or pieces of information that come into play later in the storyline. This is typically referred to as foreshadowing if it predicts something, but sometimes it’s just a little part of the story that might be referenced later.

When I started the Heir to the Crown series, I already knew the complete story, and so I seeded little bits of information into the tale that could be referenced later. Even within the first book itself, there are clues and hints that something more is happening.

If you’ve read Servant of the Crown, you may remember that the steward, Hanson, recommended that Gerald trim the hedge maze. Was this just a job to give Gerald something to do, or did he have an ulterior motive? When you read A Visitor Comes to Uxley in Mecerian Tales: Stories of the Past, you will realize the truth.

Here’s another one for those of you that have read all the books up to the end of Heart of the Crown. Remember when Gerald is wounded in Uxley, very near death after running into the bandits, and he hears a wolf howling? (I know some of you are grabbing the book to find this, aren't you!) He thinks it’s calling him to the Afterlife, but when you read the later books, you learn what it foreshadowed.

Next time you read through one of my books, read carefully as everything is there for a reason! Even the smallest detail can come into play in the future, just ask Arlo and Sam! (You will have to read Fate of the Crown to figure this one out!)

Audiobook now available

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Sword Audio Sample

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A timely cold helps me to slow down and plan!

I am now 46,000 words into my next book, Ashes. The two main characters have really come to life and, having finally met, the story is beginning to unfold. Unfortunately, I had to pause in my writing for two reasons: 1-nasty cold, 2-more background required.

Although I’m not quite finished with this wonderful cold, the real reason I chose to slow down is to develop more in-depth background notes. This new series overlaps with others I have planned and takes place on the main continent of the world that Merceria is in. For that reason, I need to update my map with details on new locations. And, more importantly of all, create a detailed background of the new religion.

Religion, you say? Yes, in The Frozen Flame series, they don’t worship the ‘old gods’ like Saxnor and Malin, they follow something called the 'Church of the Saints'. This is the same religion followed by the Kurathians and has already been hinted at in Heir to the Crown.

This first book, Ashes, involves a member of one of the Temple Knight orders, and so I needed to define ranks, positions and organization of the church. I now have a map of the region, though some kingdoms have yet to be named, and I can track the route the characters take on their journeys.

I’ve also had to sit down and plan out all my other series, so I know where everything is heading. They all coexist in the same world, and some characters from Merceria may even appear in these other books.

Each new series follows a different main storyline, but there are tendrils that connect them all together like a giant puzzle. Does that mean you’ll have to read them all? No, each will be complete, but if you read them all, you’ll get more out of it.

I won’t go into too much more detail about these other series just yet, as it’s far too early to discuss such matters, and they’re still in the early planning stages. Right now, each book consists of a paragraph or two describing the main elements, though some have more detail than others.

Now I must get back to work, the Matriarch of the Sisters of Saint Agnes is due for tea.

Until next time, let me share when Natalia and Athgar meet for the first time!

Happy reading!

“I’m a Therengian,” he said, stubbornly.
“I don’t know what that is,” she said, “but perhaps we’re getting off on the wrong foot. Let me introduce myself, my name is Natalia St-” She cut herself off suddenly, then continued after pausing, “Well, you can just call me Natalia. What’s your name?”

“Athgar,” he said, “I’m a Therengian.”

“So you just said,” she replied, “now what is a Therengian? I’m afraid I’m not from these parts.”

“We are…were an ancient people. We lived in this land long before the duke came along, but were reduced to vassals by force of arms.”

Author Spotlight!

Here are a few featured books that are free, discounted, or new releases. These authors are returning the favour by sharing my books with their readers. Thanks for checking them out!

He always dreamed of becoming a Champion. But finding a mythical sword could cut his life short…

Finn Featherstone longs to trade in his paintbrush for a legendary Bizarre Blade. One day, after heroically rescuing a young girl and coming face-to-face with his sword-fighting idol, he is shocked to learn he is being drafted as a foot soldier  ...More

For nineteen years, Mariah has known one life—working in her father's smithy, lying about the hunch on her back, and hiding from the world.

In the land of Whitelea, the gods have given certain people the power to change form from human to animal. It's a power that the king covets almost as much as   ...More

A man can always trust his family. Right?
After years of wandering, Ealrin has finally reunited with his family.  But where he hoped to find comfort and answers, he’s discovered only mysteries and plots. And they all seem to center on the name he carries with him: Belouve.   ...More

Heir to the Crown Box Set!

An old warrior, too stubborn to die. A royal heir, hidden since birth.

Can they save a realm on the brink of war?

Books One, Two & 2.5!

Book Giveaways

Here are some FREE books, short stories and samples from other authors in the SciFi and Fantasy genres. Please give them a try.

Each Giveaway is a collection of authors who want to share their stories with you. Feel free to send links to friends and family!

  • If you were a casting director, which actors would you choose to star in the Heir to the Crown series
  • Character origin of Nikki the Knife
  • Cover reveals & new Pre-Orders
  • Gamers Corner - How does a character advance/train
  • More Foreshadowing with Tilly & Daisy
  • Heart of the Crown audiobook sample
  • Fate of the Crown reader reviews

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Happy reading from Paul J Bennett,
Author of Epic Fantasy in the Land of Merceria and beyond!

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Medieval Musings: A Paul J Bennett Newsletter