H.O.L.E. are the Heroes of Lesser Earth. They are the characters of an average pack of gamers (loosely based on the gaming stories of every game I have ever played in) traversing the world in search of adventure, wrongs to right, innocents to save… but mostly prodigious piles of cash. They stride the dangerous corridors of Lesser Earth (see below) like tiny, human-sized giants out of myth. Their cause is true, and their purpose is just, and for those times when it isn’t, well, we’ll just rack that up to stupidity.
The heroes are Bunker, the leader, Morty, his best friend and the group’s healer, Enkidu, the irresponsible half-orc, Freya, the DM’s girlfriend, the ex-warlock, Martin, who is now playing his previous cohort Fleece, and Zobbie, Freya’s younger sister and Bunker’s former flame. Up until recently the party has been primarily reactive as the villains have slowly shown their faces, that changed when the group decided to carry the fight directly to the arch-mage Erias.
What is Lesser Earth?
The Worlds of Fantasy (as defined by… oh… say, the Great Sage Reelshmart—does that sound like an intelligent name?) consist of three major realms. These are the Greater, Middle, and Lesser Earths. Greater Earth is all dirt. Solidly packed, floor to ceiling, for as far as you care to go in any direction. Nobody lives there except for gophers, who wish they didn’t because there’s nothing to eat. Except for smaller gophers.
Middle Earth we’re all pretty familiar with by now. That’s the one with hobbits and elves and Peter Jackson and rings and giant eagles and horrible, dark, nasty, villainous eyeballs that live on top of skyscrapers in the middle of vast stretches of extremely non-arable land that nevertheless seem to support godzillions of orcs, goblins, and trolls. (Middle Earth is now available for the illiterate!)
Well, Lesser Earth is a lot like that one, except everything is cheaper and breaks more easily. It’s also slightly smaller, and it’s nearly impossible to find a competent engineer to help you build that evil skyscraper.
Who are the Heroes?
Bunker: (Human Fighter, Alignment: Good) Bunker is the leader of H.O.L.E. and fortunately one of its slightly more responsible members. Bunker was once a paladin, but when he was unable to destroy an evil copy of himself created from a Mirror of Opposition, the copy’s subsequent acts caused Bunker to lose his paladinhood. Bunker has been through quite a bit to get where he is today, and much of it has left it’s mark on him. But his ultimate goal has stayed the same, simply to do a little good in the world.
Being basically open and kindhearted, Bunker often wears that heart on his sleeve, He has at various times developed crushes on Fleece, Freya, and Samantha, the leader of her own group of hardy adventurers. (That one was kinda hard on him, when she died and all. He’s better now.)
Retired now, Bunker has moved to Laketown to run The Whip. He thinks he’s deserved it.
Morty: (Dwarf Cleric, Alignment: Lawful Good) Morty wants to help people, but the truth is, he’s never really gotten a good handle on this whole alignment thing. It almost seems as if he picked his out of a cereal box. He worships the dwarven god Lageron and his heavenly concubine G’ale, creators of the dwarven race, but much better known for being the gods responsible for beer.
The last time Morty was killed, he was reincarnated as a short, squat, dwarf-sized troll. The party gave him a hat of disguise to hide his warts and make him look like a proper dwarf again. The one thing that no one anticipated was that he would continue to grow to the size of a tall, rubbery, troll-sized troll. Thankfully he still has his hat!
Since then, Morty was affected by the broad curse that Swillsberne Rocschlassen had placed on the beer served for Oktoberfest which turned all the drinkers into furries. Transformed into a bunny rabbit, Morty was mostly just glad he didn’t end up like his cousin Gilbert, who was transformed into a four-foot-long goldfish. Enkidu was finally able to remove the furry-curse from Morty, which turned him back into a troll. Who looks like a dwarf.
Enkidu: (Half-Orc Fighter/Wizard, Alignment: Unaligned) Raised in the human city of Brighthaven and schooled in the finest institutions, Enkidu is not your typical half-orc. In fact, he considers himself an orc first and last and reacts poorly to those who refer to him as being half-human. Enkidu’s overarching goal is to reunite the orcish tribes and lead a grand campaign to knock the humans out of the dominant spot in the world.
After meeting Ferris the wizard, Enkidu has decided that perhaps there is more to magic than scorching ray after all, and has applied himself a bit more in this area. Why, with all those spells available, there must be dozens of ways to set fire to people!
After putting on a cursed belt, Enkidu was changed into a female half-orc. A born misogynist, Enkidu was at great odds with himself… (herself?) and was having serious doubts about being able to adventure at all. Fortunately he was later cured and is back to being his old, crass, sexist self once again.
Freya: (Human Monk, Alignment: Good) From faraway Calypsia in the Bulwark Islands, Freya is a professional adventurer. She has spent much time wandering the world and sailing the oceans of Lesser Earth. In combat she is dizzyingly effective with her fists and feet, and is a superior tactician. Needless to say, she feels completely wasted in this collection of jackasses.
Her trials include memory loss, being taken advantage of by a certain unnamed half-orc named Enkidu, unwanted advances from Bunker, unwanted inattention from Bunker, squabbling with the DM, and being turned into a vampire. Still, she keeps playing, so her pain threshold must not have been hit yet!
Recently Freya decided to switch classes (the less said about that process the better) and is now a monk. Though she offered an excuse for the switch, it’s a safe bet that the real reason for it is simply that she likes the feel of punching people in the face.
Last seen heading West, because that was the only direction that rhymes with “quest.”
Martin: (Human Warlock, Alignment Chaotic Evil: Deceased) Staunch defender of his perfectly game-balanced class, (in his opinion) Martin was a constant source of amusement… to himself. Though he did seem to care about his fellows, he never seemed quite capable of thinking of them as equals. More like cats that were fun to poke at with a stick.
Martin was plagued by his vampire of a father, Drago. After dying and being turned into a literal vampire, Drago tried to eliminate Martin and was himself done away with. (See “Martin’s Song,” from Book One of the Heroes of Lesser Earth, “Running With Broadswords.”) Or so Martin thought. Now Drago has popped up again on a deserted island a thousand miles from where he was supposedly destroyed. He may not be a good parent, but he’s a persistent one.
Martin fell to his own hubris, tricking the DM into giving him the Hand and Eye of Vecna, and then attempting to battle Erias on his home turf. After his demise, the DM allowed Martin to stay in the game only if he chose to play Fleece as his new primary character.
Fleece: (Wood Elven Rogue, Alignment Evil) Fleece wasn’t technically a character at all until Martin died, having been his cohort and therefore part of his character. Setting aside the possibly masturbatory nature of their relationship, Fleece does bring a lot to the table for a group of adventurers… especially a group that left home without a rogue. She is highly skilled at the dungeoneering aspects of roguery, such as traps and locks, and seems to be greatly adept at retrieving items people may have thoughtlessly left discarded in their pockets.
There have been 3 Fleeces so far in the group, owing to a bit of fluff Martin added to her character sheet about Fleece having an endless parade of identical sisters all named Fleece and ready to take over in case something happened to the previous one. This most recent seems to be a particular expert at removing organs the owners once thought they couldn’t live without. (Turns out they were right.) She thinks of it as lethal pickpocketing.
Since Martin died he has taken over Fleece as his permanent character. That action prompted the single greatest abuse of “game fluff” ever seen in a D&D game… based webcomic… named HOLE… anyway, it was really bad.
Today, Fleece and her remaining sisters live in the former Castle Rottencore, now known as Castle Fleece.
Zobbie: (Human Druid, Alignment Unaligned) Though Zobbie’s vocabulary increased mightily when he ate and was possessed by the essence of a rather verbose pelican, his intelligence remained untouched. Thus it was that he never questioned allowing Morty to keep a total of the amount of gold that Zobbie owes the party for raising him after Velvet killed him. (Morty is a bit math-challenged.) Zobbie is attempting to pay off his debt to the party so they will allow him to return to his wife and children.
Or rather was. Before that could even come close to happening, Freya’s player’s real-life sister showed up and wanted to get in on the game. Being a free character, she was given Zobbie. Zobbie professed no interest in her former beau, Bunker, but insisted that her sister Freya not get anywhere near him. Later Zobbie willingly put on Enkidu’s Belt of Masculinity/Femininity in order to change herself into a real (imaginary) girl.
When she was last seen, she was accompanying her sister and Enkidu, as the three of them set out looking for adventure, and a new DM.