Magic supplies including a leather bound book, a box full of herbs, and flowers
Bardic Inspiration, Thread of Souls

Bardic Inspiration: Sounds of a Magical Academy

You sit at a desk in a dimly lit classroom. The windows are covered by large tapestries depicting the various studies of the arcane: divination, protection, defense, potions, and the like. The smell of old tomes, incense, and ink fills the space.”

Suddenly, the tapestries snap open bringing harsh sunlight in the room. Other students shield their eyes at the change of scenery. A burst of magic erupts from the doorway and in strides the teacher. They wear a robe of pink with blue sigils and a matching pointed hat that hangs slightly askew. “Welcome to Magical Studies I, I am your professor. Turn to page 157 and we shall begin with how to summon a simple light spell.”

Magical academies, such as the Citadel in Thread of Souls, are all the rage in fantasy, right? As authors, we love sensory details but what does it sound like within an academy? Music is a great way to get ideas and inspiration. Imagine the above scene with the following tracks playing in the background.


Magical and mysterious is Eothas. It’s soft and soothing and is great for lore drops and providing details about locations, people, and items. At the Citadel, it’s a wonderful backdrop for sweeping shots detailing the school and its three spires of law, study, and research.

The Crystal’s Shimmer and the Wind’s Revelations is a mesmerizing track for showcasing wonderful magic. It’s light and full of wonder. A great backdrop for the crystalmancers of the Citadel as they learn and teach about the eight disciplines of magic.

How May I Serve You? is an eerie discordant track for untrusting moments. Magical academies are full of many interesting people and not all of them are to be trusted. Each and every person has their own agenda. The Citadel is home to powerful mages, without giving any spoilers, not all of them are as they seem.

Bonus Dragon Prince song. I See You pairs nicely with How May I Serve You?

Mages are scholarly and Cyrus, the Scholar fits nicely for a library.

Alabastra is for those moments when the students explore the restricted section. It’s way more fun to venture into an unauthorized zone. Forbidden is just an invitation for curious mages.


Learn all about the Citadel in Thread of Souls.

D&D / TTRPGs, Fantasy Topics, News, Opinion

Let’s Talk about the Dungeons & Dragons movie Prequel Books

We still haven’t watched the Dungeons & Dragons movie trailer, but are curious about it. What has us even more interested is the announcement of two prequel books ahead of the movie: The Druid’s Call and The Road to Neverwinter. Let’s talk about what we know and what we’d like to see from them.

The Books

The Road to Neverwinter is written by Jaleigh Johnson. Little is known about it but we can deduce it will take place in the city of Neverwinter, the Jewel of the North. As huge fans of the Neverwinter MMO, we’ve spent, I was going to say countless hours exploring the city, but it’s 361.5 hours, according to Steam. That’s more than 15 days.

Needless to say, we are looking forward to The Road to Neverwinter.

The Druid’s Call, from E.K. Johnston, also has a special place in our hearts for one important reason. Talia’s first D&D character was the druid Jade, a main character in our fantasy octology Thread of Souls.

Tabletop Experience

The two books are exciting and they got us thinking. We’re sure they’re written like a typical story — choose a premise, characters, outline it, and write it — but we believe it be great if they were based on their own tabletop experience. Imagine if the characters in both books were played by actual people around a table like a D&D game.

The players all choose a character in the story and roleplay them and tell the story together. With A Druid’s Call following the main protagonist Doric, the actions and decisions her player makes shape the world and therefore the overall book.

The same be The Road to Neverwinter. While it’s unclear what the story is, the book must involve some of the characters from Honor Among Thieves. Our thoughts are on rogue Forge Fitzwilliam, as he is tied to the city.

However the books and movie are written, they’re sure to be thrilling. But as authors who turned our ongoing ttrpg campaign into fantasy books, it is definitely a fun way to write a series after playing it around a table with friends.

Character Tips, Storytelling Tips, Writing Tips

Why addressing how your characters are dressed matters

Clothing is an important factor in a story. You may not consciously think about the characters’ outfits while reading or watching, but they tell the story just the same. Shows and movies are easy-to-track outfits, while books or actual plays are more challenging. Keeping track of your character’s clothing is fun and should be part of the tale itself.

Clothing isn’t Optional

Talking about character outfits is just as important as talking about them. You don’t have to describe much or go into much detail. Something as simple as stating the character wears dark leather armor and carries a belt with multiple daggers on it, gets several points — pun intended — across.

This character relies on stealth and strikes quickly. This brings to mind they may be some sort of rogue. The dark armor suggests they prefer to stick to the shadows or be out at night.

You can use clothing to quickly describe a character without outright saying what their specialty is. Mages wear flowing robes, rangers wear leather or fur armor dyed the color of nature, and clerics or healers wear colored robes depicting their deity.

Plot, plot, plot. Location, location, location

Keep in mind the environments your characters visit. Once again, clothing description isn’t meant to take up a lot of words. You’re not in school anymore, you don’t need to hit a word count. What you need to worry about is the type of clothing. If your story takes place in a cold and snowy biome, make sure the characters wear thick outfits to keep them warm.

Vice versa, if they are at the beach for a relaxing day. Put them in clothing that says beach attire. Also, don’t forget about their weapons.

For the love of all things holy. Nothing drives us madder than when characters have their weapons with them all the time! Take them away from time to time. Give them moments to use random objects to fight with. A frying pan hits just as hard as a hammer. Another thing. Please, if they get locked in prison, have the guards take their armor and weapons. Throw in the trope of having a stealthy or rogue character thoroughly searched if you have to. It’s funny.

Major plot points require outfit changes, too. These can be anything from going from one environment to another and character growth. If a character is just starting out on their quest, their outfit should be tailored to their lifestyle. Perhaps they are a professor and only wear professional-looking attire. Then, once they get thrown into the fire as it were, they come out changed. No longer are they that clean professional instructor, but an adventurer who has seen some shit. Their new clothes should reflect this. Now, they wear business attire but it’s ripped or bedazzled with color.


Keep clothing in mind when you write. Outfits make great characters and really help describe your characters even more.

Bardic Inspiration, Lore, Thread of Souls

Bardic Inspiration: Sounds of Lady Raven

Death, healing, and natural order. The dogma of Lady Raven, Goddess of Death in Thread of Souls. She is featured heavily in the Spider Octology, our eight-book fantasy series, and is one of the many included Protector gods in our world.

Often depicted as a dark hooded and winged figure. She guards those that pass on and is actively opposed to necromancy, murder, and the perversion of death. Her Deathwalkers are an order of warriors that fight against the necromantic arts.

This Bardic Inspiration focuses on her. We chose music tracks that invoke a sense of mystery, darkness, the unknown, and themes of life and death.

The Sea of Ghosts

As the Goddess of Death, she ferries souls after they pass. Souls that do not cling to any god are welcome to stay with her in her realm of the Sable Mausoleum. Sea of Ghosts is a reverential track that brings to mind lingering souls, whether trapped or free to explore.

Reverie of the Netchimen

A lighter more free-feeling track perfect for a cleric or worshipper of Lady Raven. The cycle of life and death is one everyone experiences and this is a great fit for exploring the traversal between one and the other.

Mists of Morthal

Mists of Morthal plays when visiting sacred or hallowed ground related to Lady Raven. Whether it’s a temple devoted to her or a cemetery honoring the dead. It ebbs and flows between dark and moody to harmonious and soothing.

A Cold Wind Blows from Atmora

Soothing strings and a choir bring to mind peaceful moments. Life and death can bring peace and while having the title of Goddess of Death sounds sinister, it’s one of respect and hope. She doesn’t seek to reap souls, but rather help them find solace in the afterlife.


You’d think we have a massive crush on Elder Scrolls Online, and you’d be right. Its soundtrack is vast and these are just a few examples of songs fit for Lady Raven, Goddess of Death.

Here is our Lady Raven playlist you can use for your game.

Video Games, Writing Tips

Best Video Games to Build Your Characters (Part 2)

Video games are as great an escape as reading a book. They let you become another character and play out an adventure. Games allow you to discover new lands, save the world, or go on a side quest. Very much like a fantasy book, you join along in the adventure to see what happens in the end.

And like a book series, games can have several in the series. That’s why we split our list of the best video games to design your character into two posts. Sequels are popular. Everyone wants more of what they enjoyed. It worked for Avengers, Narnia, Lord of the Rings, and it’s how we’re building Thread of Souls.

If you missed part one of building a character in a video game, check it out here.


6. Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire

Pillars of Eternity II: Deadfire quickly became one of our favorite games. Inspired by Baldur’s Gate, you build a party of characters in an attempt to stop a god from wreaking on the world. You can make a party of five custom characters, each with their own voice and skill line. It’s another great example of a D&D party in video games. You can outfit characters with armor, weapons, and choose a color unique to them to make them stand out.

7. W2K22

WWE is a big part of our lives and W2K22 is one of the best games when it comes to designing a character. From their looks, clothing, and attitude, the game offer plenty of options when it comes to design. You can choose any skin color, select from hundreds of outfits or clothes, and give your character a specific fighting style. It’s one of the most fu games we’ve found when it comes to building a character. Characters are restricted to how tall they can be. So if you play a shorter or taller race, you are limited to height.

8. Neverwinter – Free

Neverwinter’s character creator is the best choice for free games to choose from. It pulls directly from the lore and official D&D books, so those familiar with the mechanics should find it simple to build a character. If you have a drow paladin at the table, you can build them in Neverwinter and get them pretty close to how you imagine them.

9. Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous

Pathfinder: Wrath of the Righteous is robust. There are 25 classes and 12 races to choose from when you build a character. Classes have their own unique look — rangers wear a hood, paladins wear heavy armor — but you can change certain elements by giving them armor during the journey.

10. Dragon Age: Inquisition

Dragon Age

Elves, humans, dwarves, and Qunari make up the characters you’ll be able to choose from in Dragon Age. While it isn’t a lot when compared to other games, it fits the lore of the world. One of our favorite things about the character customization options for Dragon Age is the clothing. There are so many outfits to find and equip in the game and you can customize the color and style of them as well. You can tailor outfits to fit the personality and skill of your specific character.


Seeing your character come to life in a video game can give them more life in your writing. Watching them move around the map or interact with objects and characters can give you new ideas in roleplaying them at the table. Give it a thought the next time you sit down to play.

What is your favorite video game?

The Spool of Souls: Updates & News

Spool of Souls – TOS News for September 2022!

Hello there, Talia and Dorian with our monthly update! Talia is recovering from her achilles tendon injury. It is a slow process but healing takes time. She is able to get up and around without issue, so good news! We are super thrilled about the future for Thread of Souls and our ttrpg projects, so let’s get to it!

Jade’s Alphabet of Animals

“Jade’s Alphabet of Animals” is coming along nicely. It is, however, being pushed back due to the injury and recovery process. We haven’t narrowed down an official date, but it will release before the end of the year. It’s a comical take on children’s books featuring animals and creatures within the world of Thread of Souls. Here’s one such animal, the behleep, you’ll find hanging around the slopes of De Behl Marr.

The mountains are home to the cuddly behleep. A cousin to the standard sheep. They wear a coat of stone and rocks and roam around in herds and flocks. They hop along from here to there, leaping over boulders up into the air. If you see one, don’t be scared. They’ll roll right to you, so be prepared.

Asunder

Asunder update! Our fourth book in the Thread of Souls Spider Octology series is on schedule for release this December! We are about 80% through writing so far and even added in a brand new POV character. One we’re rather excited about. Here’s a sneak peek at Asunder!

Tabletop Game

While we may be nearing the end of writing book four, we are in the endgame of our story around the table. We’re playing out the events of book eight and it’s been an incredible time. Can’t believe we started in 2015.


TikTok

We have a TikTok! It’s a fun platform we really enjoy using to meet and chat with others in the community. Give us a follow!

DMs Guild

We are working on our biggest D&D guide ever! A book dedicated to the Underdark. We enjoy the creepy, dark, and mysteriousness of the Underdark. Underground adventures are one of our favorites to write. It includes cult cities, non-cult cities, drow, duergar, deep gnomes, cuisine, priestesses, consorts, taverns, roll tables, and plenty more to build your own Underdark world.

YouTube

Our Thread of Souls character feature for August was Artemis the ranger. We love getting to talk about our characters, world, and lore. Gives us a like and follow along for more lore, writing tips, and cats.

Captain Sen – The Barbarian

Our next lore drop is all about the boisterous and lovable Captain Sen! He’s loyal, kind, and always up for a good fight. Who plays a barbarian?


D&D / TTRPGs, Misc Posts, Video Games

Best Video Game Character Creators to Build Your Characters

Visualizing a character in a book series or tabletop game is all up to the imagination. Authors, readers, and players have an idea of how a character looks but they both may be entirely different from one another. No two will see a character the same, and that’s a good thing. As long as the author describes how they look, the reader forms a complete image in their head.

Yet, as authors ourselves, we like to see our characters come to life. To get a better picture of them, we turn to art and video games. Along with Talia’s original art of each character, making them in video games is a great way to take them from our imagination.

Whether you’re an author or a reader, here are some of our favorite video game character creators.

1. Elder Scrolls Online

Ruuda looking at nature

Elder Scrolls Online is a game where you’ll spend plenty of time with your character. The world is massive and you’ll spend hours adventuring across Tamriel so having a character you enjoy playing is key. Even more so, having one that is nice to look at is a bonus. The game is beautiful and provides so many customization options for your character.

From their height, build, muscles, and race, there is plenty to choose from. There are even accessories to go through and several hairstyles and colors to choose from. Though we’ll count off a few points for not having dwarf as a race but that’s more related to lore than a problem of the creator. For those who want to play a dwarf, as we do for our character Ruuda, we suggest making a dark elf and roleplaying them as a dwarf, or dwemer in Elder Scrolls lore.

Once you’re through with customizing your character, the next best thing is selecting their clothing. Which can be done an unlimited amount of times throughout the game.

2. Baldur’s Gate 3

Jade

Baldur’s Gate 3 is one of those games that just keeps giving. While the first two came with character creation, they were halted by the era in which they were released. Characters were little more than pixels on a screen, and while you could tell what class and race they were, it was difficult to make out finer details.

The technology of today allows for a wider range of character customization options. You’ll be able to build just about any book character you can imagine in the game — even more when it’s fully released. However, for those who want to make their character taller or smaller, you’re out of luck, at least for now. One day it would be nice to see drow women taller than drow men. Getting the lackluster part out of the way, one of our favorite additions is the ability to have two-toned hair. A great option for characters with wild hair such as Ruuda.

3. Solasta: Crown of the Magister

Jade, Taliesin, Ruuda, and Jasita

Solasta is what Dungeons & Dragons looks like when taken from a tabletop game to a video game. It’s a near exact adaptation and it works rather well. Its character creation is simple when compared to others but it’s no less worthy of being on our list. When you make a character, you choose their race and class, the class is the important part we’re focusing on here.

Classes come with their own clothing and weapons. So, if you are wanting to build an archer character from a book series you like, go for the ranger. Or perhaps you want to see what a thief may look like, select the rogue class to get a character with dual daggers and light armor. You can even give them a tattoo or face paint to hide their identity.

4. Elden Ring

Ruuda with dual hammers

You’ll spend a lot of time dying in Elden Ring, but its character builder is a worthy rival for stealing your time. It is one of the most dynamic creation systems we’ve come across. You can make characters any color you wish, which is great for making dark elves, dwarves, gnomes, and dragonborn-type characters. Everything is so in-depth, from your character’s hair to their eyes, nose, and mouth.

Choosing your starting class also gives you fun clothing and weapons. So, a mage will start with a staff and robes while a fighter will have armor and a weapon like a sword. Once you’re in the game properly, you can find several weapons and clothing to choose from to better equip and detail the specific character you are building. The one major downside is there isn’t a slider for height.

5. Kingdoms of Amalur: Re-reckoning

Ruuda

Kingdoms of Amalur is one of Dorian’s favorite games. Well before Thread of Souls was conceptualized, he made characters just for fun, never having one that was his own. That is until characters such as Ruuda, Taliesin, or Jasita came along. Now, in every game he’ll build a character from Thread of Souls. Kingdoms of Amalur was one of the first that comes to mind.

You can choose from race, skin tone, eye color, makeup, hairstyles, facial hair, and tattoos. From there, you’ll play a bit of the game to unlock class options. Classes are based on abilities and your choice of weapon rather than a specific class. You can also multiclass and choose to be a fighter and wizard if you wish. So, you can make a character who specializes in melee and magic.


We’ve got plenty of other video games to choose from as well! This is merely part one of the best video games to build your characters in. Stay tuned for part two!

Character Tips, Storytelling Tips

How to Write Wizards

Creating new characters is a puzzling yet exciting challenge. What do they look like? How do they present themselves? What do they carry with them? You may have a rough outline of them but need to give them something that makes them stand out. Welcome to our How to Write character features. Each one is designed to guide you on how to create and write characters for your story.

Thinking of characters as classes from a tabletop roleplaying game makes the process much more simple. Our fantasy series Thread of Souls is full of examples of this as each main character you meet is based on a class in such a game. Today’s How to Write focuses on wizards!

Fantasy has seen many great wizards in its timeline. Gandalf, Yennefer, Harry Potter, the list continues. But not one of those characters is similar to the other. The one thing they do have in common is they are able to cast spells.

So, what makes a wizard? How do you effectively write a wizard in a book series? We want to share the top three methods we use to create great relatable wizard characters in your story so you can add them into stories of your own!

Choose their Speciality

When creating a wizard in a game like Dungeons & Dragons for instance, you get to choose the specific magic you specialize in. It’s a bit like choosing a major in college or a professional trade such as blacksmithing. No two professionals in their field are the same, so neither are wizards.

Take Thread of Souls for example. Gnome wizard Tymus specializes in Distortis magic, the study of illusion. He relies on misdirection and summoned images and sounds to overcome challenges. Whereas human wizard Vera uses Aegitis, protective magic, to safeguard allies and places.

Having a wizard do all sorts of magic can be difficult to follow. Stick to having your wizard characters focus on one specialty and your readers won’t get lost in what it is they are good at. If they need to use another sort of magic such as fire when they normally use ice, have them use a wand or magical item that uses the power instead.

Choose their Personal Effects

We tend to recognize characters by their attire, personality, or items. Gandalf is typically seen with a pointy hat and walking staff. So, giving your wizard character a particular article of clothing or item is a great way to have them stand out.

Tymus wears mismatched clothes of vibrant colors that show off his character. While Vera dresses in fine robes of pink, blue, and purple, carries a staff, and wears an oversized pair of glasses. One is more wild and chaotic, while the other is more refined and dignified.

Likewise, give a villain wizard character darker clothing and crude, yet refined-looking weapons or magic. Their staff may be ancient and withered with spikes at the top.

Tie their Personality to their Specialty

Along with their personal effects, give them a unique personality. Wizards are generally intelligent, as casting magic is all about mental fortitude. Yet, intelligence isn’t being the smartest person in the room. It’s the ability to gain and use knowledge. Therefore, you could have a bumbling wizard character who is rather skilled in their specialty.

Tymus is constantly moving and talking. It’s part of his ADHD. It makes him seem all over the place and unfocused when in actuality he focuses deeply on one aspect at a time. He’s always focusing his attention on his magic. How it can be used to distract or help bring joy to others. His clothing is also tied to his choice of magic and personality. He also has bright pink hair and a matching mustache. Both can be distracting but also cause others to smile as they are fun and outgoing like him.

While Vera is seen as the polar opposite of Tymus. She’s reserved and thoughtful, always taking her time to ponder a thought and say the right words. As the Magister of Aegitis, she is as unmoving as a wall of stone and holds true to the rigid ways of the Citadel.

Keep in mind your villain wizards too. Their magic is a distorted version of what they chose as their specialty. Mental magic could cause blood to drip from their and their enemy’s nose. While fire takes on a more sinister nature. Instead of a simple blast of flames, it appears as a snake striking its opponent.


We hope this helps you create more rounded wizard characters in your stories. Wizards are a thrilling addition to any fantasy tale and each one is different and fun to create.

Professor Moriarty is a great choice for a wizard character. He is cunning, vile, cruel, and highly intelligent.

Gandalf has his trusty walking stick. Yennefer is incredibly sarcastic yet stern, smart, and one of the most powerful wizards of her time.

https://www.16personalities.com/intj-personality

Bardic Inspiration, Thread of Souls

Bardic Inspiration: Sounds of Eleste’si

Music is inspirational. As authors, we are always writing and creating while listening to music. We are inspired by several soundtracks when we write Thread of Souls and have many posts on how can enhance your writing and ttrpg games.

Today’s musical interlude focuses on the high-elven city of Eleste’si. A stunning location full of beautiful architecture, cherry blossom trees, and rich history. It’s one of the earliest settlements to exist in the world of Theretos and its music reflects that. Here are a few choices from our Eleste’si playlist great for exploring high elf culture.

Dawn at Castle Navire

We pull inspiration from song titles and tracks themselves. Dawn at Castle Navire is great for an introduction to the royalty of Eleste’si. The city is ruled by Queen Mirandril and has been for many generations.

Golden Height

Fit for wandering the city streets throughout the day. Eleste’si is busy with trade and merchants set up their stalls early each morning to sell their wares. It’s a peaceful track for sitting on the many benches throughout the city and watching the cherry blossoms blow in the wind.

Festival of Roses

Eleste’si is known for its beautiful cherry blossom trees. They line walkways and parks and make for a picturesque backdrop. There is a festival devoted to the cherry blossom as well.

Val Royeaux

A short piece meant for a grand ballroom dance. Of which Eleste’si holds several throughout the year.

The Council of Elrond

The Council of Elrond just all around feels so peaceful. It’s a powerful track fit for showing off high elf culture, royalty, and even ancient ruins. This type of music is constantly playing throughout the palace gardens and grounds where you’ll find the great libraries and castle.


You can explore the high-elven city of Eleste’si with Taliesin and Ruuda in Thread of Souls: Phantom Five.

Lore, Misc Posts, Thread of Souls

International Beer Day and the Drybarrel Clan

Happy International Beer Day one and all! It’s not for everyone but it is what Ruuda Drybarrel’s family bases their entire livelihood on. The dwarven clan built a brewery next to their house and spends hour after hour creating beer. Whether it’s an IPA, lager, stout, ale, root beer, or another concoction, they are dedicated to perfecting each and every bottle.

The clan of 14 was blessed by the deity Thruumdar to brew beer. Ruuda, however, was not so lucky. When it came time for her blessing, she failed at everything. She couldn’t seem to do anything right and her family said each bottle of beer she made turned out wrong.

She failed at the whole process. From milling grain, pulling yeast from fruit skins, lautering, properly boiling the brew, fermenting the brew, and creating kegs and glass bottles. Her parents said each brew was poor quality.

In Thread of Souls: Phantom Five, Ruuda is forced to leave her home as she’s earned a sizeable debt to other clans figuring out her blessing. She carries with her a keg on her back full of supplies and her homemade brew. Her family may not like it but she finds it drinkable. As do many others along her journey.

Taliesin said, “Ruuda, right now I could really use one of your beers.” “Really?” Ruuda gasped. She untied her barrel from her back and quickly rummaged through, pulling out a bottle.

At first she only grabbed two cups, but when Unolé and Wash held out their hands, she grabbed another two and sat them out. She poured the beer into each one and dispensed them.

Taliesin took a long drink and she watched him carefully. When he sat the cup down, she asked, “How is it?”

He grinned. “It’s the best thing I’ve ever tasted.”

There’s a lot that goes into writing a novel. We researched how beer is made so we’d understand the process and could explain it in Thread of Souls. We both grew up not liking the drink and to this day it’s still not our favorite thing. However, it runs in the family.

Dorian’s father is a homebrewer so we know firsthand what it takes to brew a bottle. The smell is horrendous but the process can be enjoyable, especially to watch. There was one time the kitchen nearly burned down in the middle of brewing. From then on, father Ravenwood was forced to brew outside.

At home, the process was a one-man band. In Thread of Souls, it’s every Drybarrel on deck. Each clan member has a job to do and it’s all managed by Ruuda’s father Angrem and mother Sadiq.

So, the next time you grab a pint of beer or root beer. Give a cheer to the Drybarrel Clan. They’ll toast your success as well. Drink responsibly, friends!