Torus and The Silver Fist

This post describes a fantasy location, for use in a roleplaying game. Welcome to The Silver Fist, a former whore house converted into a fighting pit, located in the port town of Bitton. Feel free to use this location, characters and story lines in your own game. Original artwork by Bobby Aquintania. Check out more of Bobby’s work!

Torus Freeman

He is a 50 year old bear of a man, almost 7′ tall and shoulders so broad, he enters sideways through most doors. His white hair is cropped short, revealing several old, long scars along the left side of his head. Five of his teeth are made of solid gold, and he is known to wear chains, rings and a poisoned dagger.

Torus was born a thrall but fought his way to freedom at the age of 20, in the fighting pits and arenas of the southern fiefdoms. Once freed, he spent a dozen years as a swordsman, first serving his former master, later joining a company of free riding henchmen named Harvest Moon, their banner sporting a blood red moon on black. Torus never had any dream of a glorious death, so when he felt age starting to slow him down, he left the warrior path behind and decided to settle down.

He moved to the port town of Bitton, close to where his family had originally been taken as thralls many years earlier. He found work at Good Cat Tankard, a rowdy tavern near the docks. “The Cat” was owned by a fat, old woman named Clara, a former whore who had done business there for years and inherited the place when its former owner died. The tavern doubled as a whorehouse, and Torus made sure all the clients paid and didn’t treat the girls too rough.

After three years a fire nearly destroyed the Good Cat Tankard. Eight people died that night, three of them Clara’s girls. Torus bought the half ruined tavern from Clara, but rebuilt it to suit his own purpose: his own fighting pit.

The Silver Fist

The old tavern was restructured to accomodate a fighting pit like the ones Torus fought in as a young man. The front room is small, holding only half a dozen tables and a bar with standing room. Patrons pay a small fee to enter the back, where the pit is located.

The pit is square and 8′ deep, surrounded by tiered benches on three sides. The side where the entrance is also has a betting station, where the featured fights are listed and patrons can bet on their favorites. If you win, you double your money, minus the 10% cut Torus takes.

Below the main room are the fighter’s quarters. This room is split in two by metal bars, so fighters do not start before they are supposed to. Each side has its own door leading into the pit itself. Once the fighters enter, these doors are barred from the other side. There is a separate exit from the fighter’s quarters, a staircase leading out into the street, next to the main tavern entry.

During off-season, when there are fewer merchants and traders in Bitton, the Silver Fist features fights two nights a week. During markets and other peak times, it will be twice as often. Torus would host fights every night if he could, but as it is the town is too small for such extravaganza.

Fighters are a mix of strong men who like the challenge, to thralls fighting for their masters’ entertainment (or wagers). The winning fighter is typically paid a 10% cut of the house takings. During peak times, this can amount to a lot of coin in a single night.

The fights are rarely to the death. If one fighter is knocked out, or otherwise incapacitated, the other wins. If one fighter yields, the crowd is usually consulted by the pit master, who then renders his verdict. If a yield is denied, the fight will resume. It rarely happens that someone refuses to fight, usually a thrall who did not enter the ring voluntarily. In such cases the loser is allowed to leave unharmed, only to face whatever punishment their master might have in store.

Besides the pit master and the bet master, there are 6 guards in the pit room. Two are stationed by the betting station, guarding the silver and gold deposited there by the patrons. The remaining guards are scattered throughout the crowd, ready to step in where necessary.

Recent Events

Two guards recently decided to steal from Torus Freeman, taking a full night’s profit and skulking off into the night. Needless to say, Torus is not happy about this. He is trying to keep the scandal quiet, so as not to make others think of his operation as an easy target, while at the same time doing everything possible to track down the two traitors. One theory is that they were working with Clara, the former owner. She has been heard saying, she feels Torus took advantage of her state of mind after the fire, and bought her out well under value.

A few people have also voiced their opinions against the fighting pit, claiming that it draws an unsavory, dangerous element to Bitton that is neither needed nor wanted. So far though, most of these are dismissed as patrons who lost more than they would like, or relatives of fighters who were maimed or killed in the pit. The local authorities have turned a blind eye to whatever goes on at The Silver Fist, because of the bribes Torus hands them, but if enough voices speak out against the pit, sooner or later they will have to get involved. Torus aims to ensure this never happens, and has started collecting information about those who seek to take his business from him.

The Power of Minecraft

A while back I read a piece about how the casual game Bejeweled can help sufferers of depression, when played in “endless mode”. The idea is that playing takes on a calming property, allowing you to feel like you’re achieving something, even if you feel incapable of doing anything. It was an interesting piece, and I would like to share my own experience with games as a form of therapy. In my case though, the game I would like to talk about is Minecraft.

Minecraft is as casual as you like, and it never ends. There is no real end-game, no timer, not even a clear objective, beyond simply building stuff and exploring the digital world created for you. Unless you play in hardcore mode, you will never see a game over screen.

In our household, we’ve used Minecraft as a mental escape on more than one occasion. When my dear wife had surgery and radiation treatment, she was physically unable to do much more than sit, and even that was a chore. Being physically weak like that also has a mental toll, and she definitely went through stages of frustration, wanting to do things that were still impossible to accomplish. So to combat this feeling of uselessness, she turned to Minecraft.

Salvation Keep, one of my medieval inspired builds. Click for a larger image.
In Minecraft, an entire digital world is generated for you to explore, and all you have to do is imagine what you want to create, find a suitable location (or carve one out of the landscape) and build it!

For myself, Minecraft helped me catch a break while taking care of Kelly, who had been hit with Cancer only a few months after my mother died, also from Cancer. Playing also turned out to be a great way for Kelly and I to do something fun together, while she was unable to do much of anything at all.

Like everything else, gaming should be enjoyed in moderation, but I don’t think it deserves the bad reputation it has outside the gaming world. I still meet people who categorically dismiss games as being a waste of time – or worse, that playing somehow makes you anti-social and dumbs you down. Gaming can be a tool to feel productive and get a sense of accomplishment – a confidence booster – and a way to socialize when the normal channels are unavailable. As long as building digital castles is not all you do, and unlocking achievements is not the only thing you strive for, gaming might even be good for you.

Spawnville, where the players on our server start out, and meet up to trade etc. Click for larger view.
I know it was good for Kelly and me, and it continues to be so. Our own multiplayer server has a small, thriving community of friends who share, inspire and help each other. There is no element of competition, except when we choose to introduce one. It’s all about being creative and having fun.

I love Minecraft, not just as a game, but for what it has contributed to my household. It kept us sane when times were rough, it’s a fantastic stay-at-home activity, and I’ve even learned a thing or two about constructing cool stuff. I can’t recommend it enough.

After several months of playing in privacy, we have finally started a tumblr blog, where we’ll be sharing screenshots, videos and more from the “Realm of Rasmania”. Yes, that is the name of our digital world, and no, I did not come up with it. The images and video included with this post are all from our multiplayer server.