"Lorebooks" from Dungeon Siege II: Broken World

I scripted a lot of quests and encounters in Dungeon Siege II: Broken World, and built quite a few environments. But writing the "lorebooks" with Ruth Tomandl might have been the most fun. Even though they were very much optional, I gave it my all—although looking back on the writing now, I realize I've come quite a long way in the past five years.

Here are some of the more interesting ones:

Letters from Hesla

A sheaf of papers tied together with yellowed grass. It is a collection of letters addressed to 'Lasi', from a woman named 'Hesla'.

At the time of the Second Cataclysm, Valdis was not the only one to fall. Our beloved home of Eirulan also sank beneath the waves. Dozens of our sisters were lost in the fall of our great city, including my blood sister, Morain. I tried to hold on to her when the great trees started snapping, but she slipped from my grasp. I can still see her falling through the branches, her mouth open in a soundless scream. I miss her dearly.

Only the wisdom of our Great Leader saved the rest of us, and I must admit, I was skeptical when the solution involved the filthy Hak'u rats. I agreed to work with them during the construction of the rafts solely because the thought of also losing Tanzi was too much to bear. Consumed as I was with my grief, I didn't think things through...

We crossed the Kelaril Strait together - Dryad and Hak'u, sometimes mixed side by side on the same rafts. When we arrived on the mainland and set up camp, we were still thrown together like leaves blown off a forest path. However, the truce did not last long -- not surprising, as those little vermin have always been devious.

I still don't know how Celia discovered the Hak'u's plans, but at least she finally showed the foresight to take action. I only wish my daughter had shown the same wisdom. When Celia and her guard started purging the accursed creatures from the camp, Tanzi, idealistic to the end, tried to stop them.

Maybe she really was in love with Hrawn the Hak'u, but I think the cunning little beast charmed her with magic. Whatever the case, My daughter is dead. When Tanzi turned her back, the nearest Hak'u used its foul sorcery to murder her.

If Celia and her guard showed any hesitation before my daughter's death, it was gone by the time her body cooled. They swept through the camp like a thunderstorm of vengeance, killing every one of the bastards they could reach. By the time the sounds of battle had quieted, only a few Hak'u had escaped and fled into the mountains.

We have seen no trace of their stinking hides since.

A Merchant's Travels

A grimy book bound with wood. Inside are journal entries from a merchant's years of travel all over the land of Aranna.

This collection of pages chronicles the journey of a traveling merchant as he made his way across Aranna to hawk his wares. Two passages stand out:

Finally decided to swallow my pride and make for Kalrathia. Feels like I haven't seen your sister in years - I guess it HAS been years. I'm sure Angus and Kevarre still owe me a few drinks. And I want to see if that old gasbag Kendril ever got what was coming to him. Couldn't ask for a nicer guy for the Assassins Guild to chase all over Aranna, that's for sure.

(...a few pages later...)

They're all gone. The whole damned city is gone. All that's left is ten acres of mud and a hole twice the size of the city. What the hell happened here?

It looks like the whole bloody city sank into the ground. Where did all this water come from? I thought this place was a desert -- no, wait, I KNOW it's a desert. I still have sand in my boots from the last time I stayed here.

I don't know if any of them were able to escape, or where they went if they did. Something this big -- shouldn't Boden and Nora have been able to stop it? I know Nora said something about a Nexus and ley lines, but... maybe I should have paid more attention to what she was saying instead of how she looked while she was saying it. But you know me.

Well, there's not much for me to do here but sit and stare, so I'm headed back your way. I guess this is what happens when you leave a damned child in charge. He should have been running through the streets playing with the other urchins, not sitting on a throne that was already too big for his father.

The Disintegration of the Morden

A book bound in woven grass, written by a Dryad named Sari. It relates the history of the Morden, most of which is already known to you; but the last few pages detail a recent development.

While almost all of the godless Morden horde have wasted away in the year since the Second Cataclysm, there are some that stubbornly remain. The few that have managed to survive this long are mostly concentrated in the Desert of Kelvera. Throughout my last reconnaissance mission to the region, I observed two distinct groups. What follows is an explanation of where they are, what they are, and how to best dispose of them.

The first group calls themselves the Ravagers. First and most importantly, they exhibit no signs of the rotting sickness that has helped push the Morden down the path of extinction. I do not know how they have fought off the disease, though I assume it has some connection to one commonality: their skin has been bleached a pale color and they are all marked by a large sigil in the center of their chests.

During my study of the Ravagers, I observed the following incident:

Three of the creatures trekked through the wasteland for three days, seemingly without care for food or water. When one of them lagged behind, its two companions turned and, without pause, murdered the straggler.

I cannot accurately convey the depths of their bloodlust -- suffice it to say that they bathed in the blood of their former comrade and howled with more ferocity than I have ever observed.

The other group, the Refugees, was even more unsettling than the first, if only because their behavior was so uncharacteristic that it still gives me pause. The wretches I saw weakly foraging in the desert resembled no Morden that I'd ever seen. They appeared to be living corpses -- pus-filled bags of bones and shredded skin. I could smell them long before I came upon them, and the scavengers seemed to delight in pestering them, swooping down to snatch bits of rotting flesh -- sometimes still attached to the body. I never thought I could find it within myself to feel sympathy for the Morden.

It was not just their physical appearance, however. They moved with no sense of purpose. Their eyes were empty, dead. The fury that fueled the Morden to become one of the biggest threats to Aranna was nowhere to be seen within these weaklings. They resembled the refugees here in the Outpost, only without any of the hope that the Humans desperately cling to. These Morden were defeated on every level, and do not appear to present much of a challenge.

Still, do not let down your guard around either the Morden Ravagers or the Refugees. They are desperate creatures, which could make them more dangerous than they have ever been before.

Glorydeep, Vol. 47

Although yellowed and moldy, the dimensions and craftsmanship of this book's binding are perfect. It is a collection of papers written by a Dwarf named Broadreach. The last page is the most relevant.

Ach, to be so close to our freedom and have it just out of our reach!

We almost have it worked out. Pitforger tells me that his tunnel is nearly complete. He has successfully smuggled enough explosives into the heart of the tunnel, directly beneath the largest camp that is still guarded by Overseers. When the time is right, he will attach the fuse and -- well, it should make a jolly good boom. At the very least, those four-legged bastards will feel a wee burn!

In theory, we might be able to escape in the ensuing confusion. I don't know if Pitforger's tunnel leads anywhere useful, but even if it does, I don't see how we can keep the bastard Overseers off us for long enough to get everyone out.

If there was someone down here who was still capable of standing up to them, then we might have more of a chance. Dammit!

Since that's not bloody well happening any time soon, we need to figure out a way to take down the Overseers ourselves. As far as I can tell, the glowy bits all over their body are just for show. But there is one spot on their underbelly that looks a bit different.

If we can get someone underneath them -- it's a little embarrassing, to be sure, but what isn't these days? -- then we might be able to find out just how vulnerable it is to the blade of an axe.

I had hoped it wouldn't come to us against them, as it seems like we're pretty outmatched. But I don't have to remind any of you that it will take more than long odds to sap our resolve.

Stay strong, brothers, and be ready to shoulder the axe!

History of the Glorydeep Dwarves

A collection of journals, written by a Dwarf named Longyears. Inside, she chronicles the history of the Glorydeep Dwarves.

Came all the way out here, and there's nothin' in the Kaderak mines but dust and spiders. I don't see any other choice but to head back west. Maybe there's something left in the western Plain of Tears. We'll set out at first light. Hopefully, we can make it through Windstone before winter hits. Maybe Barr will listen to me and explore that pass to the south this time.

(A few pages later)

I was right! We did it! There's a network of mines down here that's richer than anything I've ever seen. It will take us years to mine the whole thing. But what we found near the entrance was the most surprising thing of all: a Dwarf is living down here!

He's older'n anyone me or the others have ever heard of. Says his name's Nall Twentyleagues. He tells us that there's a chamber at the bottom of the mines that we won't believe. Filled with gold, silver, and copper, he says.

Barr says that it'd be a good time to get ourselves organized. So from now on, we're to be known as 'The Mining Company of Glorydeep'. Not bad, eh? Tomorrow, we're headin' to the chamber to kick things off.

(The next entry)

We got down to the cavern and there was no sign of Twentyleagues. Tad and Otto went up top to look for him, but the entrance was sealed shut behind us.

Then, out of nowhere, these huge, four-legged things came pourin' out of the walls! They herded us together like pack animals down deeper into the mines, and there at the bottom was that bastard Twentyleagues.

He told us that we were standin' in our new home. That he needs us to dig up his city and rebuild it, so it'll be ready for his fellow Sin-Bree.

Then he lit up like a torch in an oilpot, and I had to look away. When I could see again, I got a brief look at him before he disappeared. He had skin as white as a bone, and his face looked like a demon's.

They've put all of us to work digging up the city, but we're going to get out of here soon -- we Dwarves aren't known for our tunneling ability for nothing! I hope that whoever reads th

(the journal ends abruptly)

Songs of the Stone

A leather-bound book that is in better condition than most things in the Glorydeep cavern. It is a collection of Dwarven songs and poetry.

Hearken, my brothers, and drink in my words
Puff out your chests as you straighten your backs
Sharpen your wits and your weapons as well
For your mind must be sharp when we shoulder the axe

Stretch out your necks and your arms and your legs
Tighten the ropes on the ram's many packs
Breaking the rocks will have taught us the way
When we all drop our hammers and shoulder the axe

Help up your brother, his strength we will need
Time will come later for us to relax
Keep all your thoughts on the struggle ahead
We will need all our focus to shoulder the axe

(...a few pages later...)
Remember the suffering that we have endured
Never forget the foul Overseers' whacks
Hold your head high and polish your blade
For the day will soon come when we shoulder the axe
The day will soon come when we shoulder the axe

(...you flip to the middle of the book...)
The mighty orb up in the sky, her majesty that lights the world
Her golden touch an angel's sigh, across the heavens lay unfurled
To once more glimpse her blinding rays, the shadows flee at their command
The air by sunlight set ablaze, she shows us to the promised land
I miss the golden lady's gift, I miss her warmth upon my face
Without her glow I feel adrift, yet trapped within this darkened place
Though in the blackness we remain, our fate by treachery defined
We all will feel her touch again, we all will, like her, truly shine

(...the volume continues for another ten pages...)