Krieg is from the post apocalyptic future of Hekinoe and came back in time to stave off Judgement Day, the day all analytical engines in Kusseth gain sentience and bind themselves cybernetically (in a steampunk fashion) to all the red dragons to rule the world. He is the father of this future Hekinoe's most feared dragon hunter: Nakmander.
Monday, August 29, 2011
Friday, August 26, 2011
14th of Thirdmonth, 10006 DK
The rest of the group hastily signed the contract with the Eastern Bardic College, then they went and turned it in and met with their handler. Their handler eyeballed them a bit and offered them four jobs: an assassination of a politician that was working against the colleges, the removal of a youth gang that had taken to robbery, murder, and become a general blight upon Meroteth. The other jobs were collecting a few rents for the college, and also working over a blacksmith that had reneged on a contract with the college in an attempt to convince him that he should pay the money owed.
The group split up to cover the majority of the collections, meeting up in the early afternoon for the final collection, which was from a fighting school. The master of the fighting school, a Vyanth, was reluctant to pay unannounced ruffians that appeared from nowhere demanding his money, but the group was able to convince him after producing their list of accounts and work order from the Eastern Bardic College. After that, they returned to their handler and accepted the extortion job.
They found the smith's shop easily enough, and recognized it as the area where they had worked ten years ago to kidnap one of Cenn's reavers. Kethralzahn took the lead by informing the angry looking smith that he had reneged on a contract and the group subdued him, and then destroyed his forge. Krieg took one of the smith's masterwork weapons off of the wall to be sold by the college as a partial payment on the smith's loan, though he did admit that he was concerned about destroying the smith's means of production. With the other jobs looking unappealing to the group, they decided to retire to the rowe'dhauss and relax while awaiting their letters.
15th of Thirdmonth, 10006 DK - 18th of Thirdmonth, 10006 DK
The days were spent hanging out in the rowe'dhauss, experiencing lost memories, and other fairly mundane things. Once again, Krieg's resemblance to Nakmander was brought up, and once again, Krieg denied ever having heard such a thing, and once again, the issue was dropped with no resolution. On the morning of the eighteenth, letters arrived at their night fowl P.O. box. Xein received his later from John Johnson, but seemed to think that John had been compromised in some way. Kethralzahn received his letter and without word grabbed the group's map of The Known World and began walking east. D'alton ran after him and asked where he was going and they discussed D'alton following him and Kethralzahn agreed that that might be ok, and he would wait while D'alton did things like sleep and eat. Then everyone else started following and Krieg asked what the Hell was going on and no one would tell him. Eventually he figured out that they were walking to Steeltown. Krieg thought that was stupid as they would have to cross a desert and climb mountains (or go around them) and they had no supplies or climbing gear. He said perhaps they should fly, but the group had no money, just a bunch of guns and weaponry. Krieg asked Kethralzahn if he would wait a half hour if he could provide means of transport far quicker than walking and the Rankethlek agreed. When Krieg returned he had several pounds of marks with him and explained that he would finance this flight, but they would stop at the Necropolis and visit The Great Library of the Necropolis after they visited Steeltown and Kethralzahn said that would be ok and they began their flight.
19th of Thirdmonth, 10006 DK - 6th of Fourthmonth, 10006 DK
The flight to Steeltown took many days and The Robust Five were awed by the majestic mountains and deserts and open skies of The Known World.
7th of Fourthmonth, 10006 DK
The group arrived in Steeltown around midday. Xein immediately approached the guards standing on the zeppelin dock and explained that he was friends with A'lst about ten years ago and needed to see him. The guards began to visibly go on the offensive, their hands gripping weapons. Kethralzahn intervened by explaining that he was bringing them to the first five of the Rankethlek and that they would not be allowed to wander the city. Kethralzan led them to the Hall Of Remembrance and Meeting and met with the first five alone. Mokethneer was leery of him, despite Carenkere using his knowledge and secret arts to determine that Kethralzahn was still a Rankethlek through and through and bore a lightning heart just as the first five did. Mokethneer could not accept this, coupled with Kethralzahn's story of memory loss. Mokethneer decided that the only creature knowledgeable enough to judge the nature of Kethralzahn was A'lst. Then he called for the friend and brother of his dead father.
D'alton and Xein entered the chamber and Mokethneer began yelling at them immediately, he bellowed like thunder that they were never supposed to come here, were ordered to never tread within this halls. Xein then explained what was going on with them and that he wanted to use sorcery and A'lst to ressurect Kethranmeer. Mokethneer got louder and angrier and sort of metallicly sputtered in rage at Xein's words, finally silencing him and his heresy and telling him to gaze upon what he and D'alton and Nakmander had wrought. Then he unveiled a statue of Kethranmeer, the statue was Kethranmeer as he had fallen, every molten wound and bit of rust and shattered metal was perfectly preserved, but D'alton was not fooled and Xein's craftsman's eye knew it to be a reproduction as well. D'alton was shaken to his very core, so much that he fell to his knees and spoke that he knew he was not welcome here, but felt he owed it to his fallen brother come here and see what he had built. Mokethneer was not moved by D'alton's words, but he was no urged to greater rage. Mokethneer told them to leave this place, to leave his sight, he told them they should accompany Kethralzahn to the bottom of the world and find A'lst and tell him of Xein's twisted desire to bring back Kethranmeer with sorcery. If A'lst allowed them to live, they should work with him and aid him to perhaps serve as penance for the death of Kethranmeer. Xein thought it was preposterous that A'lst would kill them. Then Mokethneer really did kick them out. Krieg, ever cryptic, asked if he could speak privately with Mokethneer about Nakmander Zauber'konig and the Rankethlek's goals of destroying him, Mokethneer acquiesced and everyone else left. After a short time, Krieg rejoined the group and they rented a room for the night in Steeltown.
Wednesday, August 24, 2011
This is the flag of The Plains of Dust. The halved field of sky blue and brown represent the plains themselves and the freedom they afford the plainsmen. The black stallion represents the herds of horses that the plainsmen use as mounts. The crossed black arrows represent the favored weapon of the plainsmen, and also the key to their survival, for little grows in the plains and the plainsmen must hunt if they mean to eat.
Monday, August 22, 2011
This is the flag of Whurent. The black circle represents Hekinoe, the planet. The three mountains at the top of the circle represent the fact that the Dwenoren originated in the mountains at the top of the world, The North. The black of the mountains and the circle represent the fact that the Dwenoren exist in one form or another in all portions of Hekinoe. The white portions at the top of the mountains do not represent snow, as is commonly believed. Instead, they represent the death of Kaleshmar and the ruin it brought to The North. Despite the might of Kalshemar, and the massive destruction it brought to many portions of Hekinoe, the Dwenoren kingdoms remained untouched by it and their only response was to move slightly deeper into their mountains to avoid it.
Friday, August 19, 2011
Lately, I have been on my guys about goals. I keep telling them I want them to have goals and I gave them all that information and they should have goals and they ignored all my plot hooks, etc. I keep telling them, if they have more goals, I can give them more experience points for achieving those goals (I only mention this because Eric was complaining that I didn't give them enough experience for finding a shit ton of information, I'll be bringing that up later and explaining why they only got a major quest reward of experience and why it irritates me). Eric and Jeremy recently told me that their characters are totally off their game and that they've only been awake for five days and have no idea what is going on, so I need to chill.
My only response to that is as follows: I NEED INFORMATION!!1! Heh. I kid. I think the problem is that I am not being clear enough. I don't care about epic long term goals at this time. If they plan on hunting Nakmander in the south, or returning to Kusseth to clean up the streets, or want to go explore Fresgulen and resurrect the dead, good for them. None of that will be happening any time in the next five to eight scenarios, at least not anything other than planning stages and preparation. When I say I need goals from them, I mean I need to know what D'alton and Xein and Kethralzahn and Pyrel, etc, are doing tomorrow. I need the short term day to day. I need to know what they are going to do to secure their footing in Meroteth, are they going to do odd jobs, are they just going to hang out and look for trouble, are they going to leave and find a place to stay that isn't Nakmander's home town? I can't build a scenario based on "we just woke up" and I can't build a scenario for first or second level characters based on "we're going to kill shadow monsters and Nakmander and make The Bleak Tyrant return Kethranmeer to life!"
Which is not to say that that would work. But who knows.
I'm going to talk about the quest for information now. The suggested reward amount for a story reward, which is for the completion of a major plot point (such as gaining information) is equal to the APL of the party. The APL of the party is 2. They are all 1st level characters and there are six of them, APL of one for being first level characters, plus one for there being more than four players in the party. The suggested story reward is therefore six hundred experience points. For completing the quest for information, they received twelve hundred experience points. I did so because there are six of them, and because I know levels are very important to Eric and how he perceives his character. I used my judgement and used the rules of the game as a guideline, which is what GMs do. Eric takes issue with the reward amount because in his Pathfinder game, the module rewards over four thousand experience for a similar information quest.
The problem with this comparison is that the information in the Pathfinder module is useful and explains a lot about Harrowstone and the murdered felons and whatnot. It is extremely informative and probably has a kernel of information that we need to defeat the five felons when we encounter them as haunts or ghosts or whatever in the burned out bowels of the prison. The information in my campaign is a long collection of plot hooks interspersed with useless information, and stuff that if pursued and combined with later knowledge, might reveal a bit about what is going on with Nakmander. Basically, I made a quest to get them more quests and rewarded them double what I should have for it. I stand by my decision and would really appreciate it if Eric doesn't complain any more about experience points, leveling, or anything else related to being low or high level. The power to level is in the hands of the group, more goals = more experience = faster leveling. That is the way I have said this campaign will go, and it will.
Now, onto plot hooks. I said I've been throwing out plot hooks left and right by the dozen and the guys have ignored/missed them. Eric said the other days that this is probably because I am not describing things clearly enough. A hook to me is just that, a kernel of an idea, something of note, possibly out of the ordinary or interesting to investigate or pursue that will lead to a quest, major or side. It is not a fully fledged scenario or quest with pass/fail criteria and a reward. It is one sentence, or a paragraph, of something I think is interesting that I hope the players will pay attention to and latch onto and pursue for future adventure and experience and cash rewards.
Here is the information that they gathered:
- Nakmander is responsible for the disappearance of his father and the death of his mother, Morlen of the House of Byr.
- Kethralzahn thinks Krieg resembles Nakmander, Krieg said he'd never heard of such an accusation.
- Hell was renamed Meroteth.
- All loyalists and officials of Kusseth were killed when Nakmander came to power.
- A three mile radius around the artifact has been blockaded for the protection of the citizens of Meroteth. Everyone stays out, except for fools.
- Three bardic colleges have been built in the city.
- Nakmander ignored attempts by The Fell Peaks to reintegrate Meroteth into that country.
- Food is strictly rationed in the city.
- Nakmander purged the city, kicking out citizens of Kusseth and Vyanth that did not practice sorcery, and he destroyed all Fallen he could get his hands on. He used Fell Human shamans that joined his regime to remove some citizenry identification tattoos.
- Youth gangs are getting rowdy and destructive, rather than productive like they are in Kusseth.
- Two months ago, Nakmander flew directly south with a fleet of zeppelins full of soldiers and sorcererers and such.
- Supposedly, Nakmander captured a few Whurentian dragons and brought them back to Meroteth.
- Shadow monsters have been sighted in The Beast Lands long before Nakmander even left to search for the artifact.
- Meroteth's borders only extend as far as the bolts of sorcerous energy from the artifact can reach.
- Camp Osfell, once a Kussethian military outpost, has been taken and retaken by Kusseth and Vyanthnem over a dozen times in the past ten years, and is basically a burned out ruin with troops in it.
- Before Nakmander brought back the artifact, Meroteth only survived Kusseth's retaliation attack by massive outpourings of sorcery from the populace of the city.
- Kusseth has made an agreement of sorts with Serethnem and been allowed to rebuild sections of their steam engine tracks through the desert.
- After Cenn's death ten years ago, the reavers have split into multiple bands with conflicting ideologies.
- Tribes of Uncout and Greenskin Abraxens from The Beast Lands and The Wild Lands have begun trying to expand north into The Fell Peaks and Vyanthnem.
- The Fallen Empire discovered a massive deposit of wolf-iron in the north of their country, which has led to increased attacks from Volungshemle, and to better armed Soulless and undead.
- The Rankethlek rebelled and founded Steeltown and have been able to hold of The Fallen Empire's attempts to retake their city.
- Whurent has become aggressive of late and has attempted to expands its borders using huge, steam belching, war machines.
- Nine years ago, some manner of catastrophe devastated the Necropolis, the capital of The Fallen Empire of Man, and some force cut a swathe of destruction through the city, finally blowing a hole in the southwest wall of the city.
- In the past five years, fewer and fewer Children of Volung have been working as mercenaries.
- A sorcerer and his cabal of cultists have been making attacks on The New Empire.
- The new bardic colleges of Meroteth have incorporated sorcery into their curriculum, something never before done.
- When Nakmander first returned with the artifact, it shot long, sustained bolts of white lightning, now it shoots short bolts that only seem to scare off shadow monsters, rather than destroy them.
- Shadow creatures came to Meroteth along with the artifact and they seem to be attracted to it.
- Sorcerers in The Known World have noticed that it is easier to control sorcery in the past few years, it still rebels and causes catastrophe, but less often.
- Divinations have become more costly in the past ten years, and many soothsayers have died or disappeared in the past few years.
- The bardic colleges of Meroteth have incorporated sorcery into their curriculum.
- Told of Daun'mok, the Fell Human witch doctor that helped bring Nakmander back to full strength after his wounds. Showed up before Nakmander returned from Kusseth though, as if he knew.
- Before Kalarel was booted from Nakmander's cabinet, they were researching ways to stabilize sorcerous items, and also were attempting to create some manner of flesh-based Soulless to supplement Meroteth's small armies.
- Told of how Nakmander had a vision of some kind, and immediately set to murdering soothsayers and diviners in the city.
- Informed Xein that, yes, sorcery can be used to control people's minds, and that was primarily the focus of the entire sect of sorcery dedicated to enchantments and charms.
- Told them that Kethralzahn was a Rankethlek, not a Soulless, and Soulless can easily be healed or ressurected by necromancy, assuming their is some remnant of their heart reliquary left. He has no idea what Rankethlek are or what animates them or how to bring back the dead, though there are mighty spells of sorcery that can restring the strands of fate and alter reality itself and such a spell could likely do anything the caster desires, even bring back a machine man.
Other Random Stuff That Came Up
- The soldiers and sorcerers of Meroteth that patrol the center of the city use silver rods of glowing radiance to direct the bolts of power from the artifact at the shadow monsters.
- Shadow monsters are huge and semi-insubstantial and they bring a primal fear and deathly chill with them. Despite all this, they are not necromancy fueled undead creatures.
- Kalarel Nerk'mef supposedly used to be a sorcerer of some skill privy to the secrets of Nakmander's regime, he may know things about the artifact. He frequents the Cantering Carthorse and is a victim of booze and gambling.
- Nakmander has a scar on his forehead now.
On that list, there are twenty or so bullets that I would consider to be plot hooks. I told Jeremy this, so I'll say it here. Camp Osfell in the World Knowledge section, all I say about it is that it has been taken and retaken and taken back by Kusseth and Vyanthnem over a dozen times in the past ten years. What does that mean? It means chaos. There is fighting and desperation and opportunity there. Soldiers are going to be worn out and the fortifications are going to be run down. It means the soldiers of Kusseth need help defending, and the soldiers of Vyanthnem need help assaulting. Or vice versa, who knows who holds the place at this moment. It is an opportunity is what it is. The goal is that the players will read that, understand that there is chaos and anonymity at Camp Osfell, and perhaps they might be able to aid one side or the other against the other side. It is a little itty bitty hook designed to nudge them there if they are looking for work.
Looking at another place on the list, we see that Nakmander went to Whurent and brought back dragons. This immediately raises sixty or so questions in my mind worthy of investigation. Why did he need dragons? How did he get them? Does this mean he and the Dwenoren are allies? Did he steal the dragons from the Dwenoren? Where are the dragons? What did he do with them? Did he take them south with his airships, or are they in the catacombs beneath Meroteth? Were they young dragons to be trained and bred, or old ones to be used for some unknown purpose? Ok, not sixty, but it is definitely something I am curious about and would be if I were a player.
I dunno, those are some thoughts I guess.
Thursday, August 18, 2011
12th of Thirdmonth, 10006 DK
The group started the day by checking their box at the local night folw depot for a return letter from Traith Harris. There was no return letter, and in fact, their night fowl had in fact returned with the letter they had initially sent, and it appeared to have been unopened. Still reeling from their situation and the fact that they had lost ten years of time some how, they opted to head to a local library to check back issues of newspaper and recent historical events.
The library they found looked battered and abused, and inside they discovered that it had been heavily abused ten years ago when Cenn the Reaver died and Kusseth was ousted from control. They found that an Elduman librarian had remained in Meroteth for several years attempting to care for the books, but he eventually left because of Nakmander's progressively more violent pogroms against Eldumans and Kussethians. They discovered this information from journals strewn about the library. In the head librarian's office, they discovered a well kept area including travel gear, food rations, and a collection of spellbooks. All of this stuff looked fairly well cared for and lacked the dust and debris that coated the rest of the library. There was also a firepit and a smoke hole in the ceiling of the room. Xein rifled through the spellbooks whyle Ran'dahl climbed up through the smokehole and lurked, waiting for the owner to return. Looking through the spellbooks and papers in the room, they discovered someone's writing, different from the librarians, and some notes about looking for information on the house of Byr, specifically Morlen of the House of Byr, and Elduman.
When they grew bored, they decided to leave the library and investigate the lightning artifact in the center of the city. As they approached the artifact, they saw that there were armed blockages across most of the streets, but they seemed half hearted, like they were merely a reminder. They snuck around a blockage and entered what appeared to be an abandoned section of the city. As they drew closer and closer to the artifact and the Sorcerer Magistrate's office, they noticed the city was growing cold, despite the sun hanging high in the sky and beating down upon the black stone of the city. When they were within a mile of the center of the city a creature of dark shadows that stood twelve feet tall, that radiated a crippling cold, floated out of a shadowed alley and began literally freezing the group to death and filled them with some sort of primal fear they felt down to their bones that they could not explain. Even the Rankethlek Kethralzahn was crippled by it. As they lay frozen to the black streets of Meroteth, a bolt of white lightning shot out from the artifact, and the shadow monster let out a scream, and flew up into the air. After it fled, soldiers of Meroteth wielding a long silver wand, approached the players and warmed them up, insulted them and called them fools for venturing into the section of the city without a visa or an escort and they were forcibly removed from the area.
The group returned to the library and found Krieg Byr'ger, the owner of the spellbooks and dweller of the library. He expressed irritation over the fact that they had rifled through his belongings. They asked him a few questions about the past and the area, he thought they were odd questions, and Pyrel eventually told Krieg the whole truth about the situation and their time loss and random memory recovery. He also mentioned Nakmander. Krieg mentioned that some spells can put people in stasis and sometimes particularly potent magic can leave gaps in memories. Krieg also mentioned that Nakmander was responsible for the death of his mother and the disappearance of his father and if they were interested in issues of sorcery and Nakmander, Krieg knew of a sorcerer named Kalarel Nerk'mef, a Fell Human on his way down that once was a powerful member in Nakmander's regime. Krieg also asked if he might be allowed to hang out with the group, if they were enemies of Nakmander, or working against him, they were allies of his, and his studies here in Meroteth were not coming to much fruition. The group agreed that this would be ok and they all returned to the rowe'dhauss.
13th of Thirdmonth, 10006 DK
The group sat around the table in their rowe'dhauss and the group were struck by a series of memories. When they came out fo the memories, Krieg asked what had happened and commented that they had ignored his speaking and had looked vacantly off into the distances and twitched uncontrollably. The group decided to return to the library and research events from around the world, Krieg offered up a few its and pieces of information as well. While at the library, Kethralzahn commented that Krieg resembled Nakmander slightly and asked if anyone had ever said that to him before. Krieg very akwardly claimed that no one had ever said such a thing. No one else in the group had anything to say about the exchange. After they had received more information from the library, the group decided to investigate Kalarel, rather than go see the bards, as was suggested by Kethralzahn.
The guys tracked down Kalarel, who appeared frantic and unreliable and convinced them to pay his bar tab, which was ridiculous, before following him back to his home where he claimed he had something to show them. At his reseidence he kind of puttered around the place basically ignoring them and kind of expectantly eyeballing the door. Eventually two tattooed sorcerer thugs with sorcerous blades appeared at the door demanding Kalarel be brought to them. Kalarel desperately yelled for them to kill the thugs and he would tell them everything. Xein was convinced that Kalarel was useful and they should fight the thugs to keep him alive and in their service. Krieg advised against this, as Kalarel was a drunk and a gambler and had dug his own grave. The thugs stated that they needed to hurry up and figure out whether they were prepared to fight for Kalarel, as he owed their employer several thousand marks and Kalarel was scheduled to be tortured and disappeared in the very near future. The group decided to pay the thugs for some time alone with Kalarel, they agreed.
Kalarel revealed that Nakmander came back to the city half-dead, but a shaman called Daun'Mok was here waiting for him and brought him back from the brink of death. Kalarel explained that necromancy could heal Soulless, but wondered why they would want to heal Soulless, as Kethralzahn was a Rankethlek, not a Soulless. He also explained that Nakmander was attempting to create some sort of almost Soulless based on flesh ten years ago, in addition to engaging in heavy research on stabilizing sorcerous items. He also mentioned that Nakmander and his organization began murdering diviners. Feeling that Kalarel was out of useful information, they turned him over to the thugs.
The group left Kalarel's place and found a gun shop and pawned some of their older guns, Xein used the proceeds to purchase more modern firearms and to repay Krieg for the money he had loaned the guys over the course of the day. They ended the day by venturing to the Eastern Bardic College and mentioned that they were interested in performing freelance work for the college. The college clerk asked their area of expertise, and they stated that it was violence. The clerk asked for where they could be reached and said a contract would be sent there later that day. Later that day, the group received standard bardic college freelance work contract and Pyrel and Ran'dahl signed it.
Wednesday, August 17, 2011
The Beast Lands does not have a national flag, because it is not a true nation, only a collection of dozens of clans and tribes. This flag is the flag of the Niht clan. The green represents the forests of The Beast Lands, the home of the Niht. The white circle represents the moon of Hekinoe, and the protection it grants the Niht, for they are a nocturnal tribe and the cover of night allows them to hunt the great beasts of The Beast Lands. The black sword is the relic of the tribe, a weapon that has been part of the tribe's history for many many years and has been wielded by many clan champions to defeat the beasts of the forests and also other clans.
Monday, August 15, 2011
This is the flag of Vyanthnem. The green field represents the flat, defenseless, plain of green grass that was Vyanthnem at one time. The silver trees represent the main defense of Vyanthnem, the stands of silver trees created by The Silver King to defend his people. The comet above the silver trees, represents the fall of Kaleshmar. The Silver King and his people survived the fall of the most powerful nation of Hekinoe without being touched by the destruction, and that is a great point of pride for the country.
Friday, August 12, 2011
So, the other day I was talking to Fred and he asked if I had plans for the campaign if the final battle with Nakmander had gone differently, I said yes, because I did, and he said he'd be interested to hear about those some day. Later that day, Jeremy said he'd be interested to hear about them as well, and that I should do so right now. He said that since it is in the past, it wouldn't really spoil anything, which is true. So I decided to write a blog post about it. The final battle is kind of modular and most outcomes are based on a certain aspect of the battle and how it turns out, so some can end up combined to vastly alter the nature of The Known World. Here goes.
The Ritual Succeeds Perfectly
The guys altered the ritual, at the eleventh hour, almost too late. Derf took command of the ritual and shifted the focus from the city of itself to the northwest of the city and the Abraxen reforestation sites/lumber camps. If they had not done so, Kusseth would have been devastated and the nations surrounding it (The Fell Peaks, Meroteth, Vyanthnem, and Whurent) would expand their borders. Nakmander would have not gone south, as he currently is, in search of a new land and new resources for Meroteth because he could just loot Kusseth.
If Gonigi And His Wardens Died
If Derf had actually killed Gonigi instead of messing him up and keeping him from aiding the guys against Nakmander, the guys would have been hunted by Brasscoats and Wardens Errant till the day they die, instead of merely being sought in relation to Smiling Jack and the Beltan prison break, although by now that case is considered a "cold" case. They would have very likely become some of Kusseth's most wanted individuals.
If The Ritual Had Been Stopped Completely
If the guys had immediately dispelled the ritual, or the shield protecting the sorcerers and killed them immediately and directed the ritual away from Kusseth before the last second, and left Kusseth unharmed, Kusseth wins. Literally. Kusseth would have come at Meroteth so hard and so fast and so relentlessly that not even the sorcery of the entire city could hold them off. Meroteth would have been levelled and Nakmander's organization would have fallen into ruin and he would have lost all of his support and become a very desperate and fanatical individual indeed.
If Gonigi Hadn't Been Preoccupied Fighting Derf
Nakmander had some potent ass magical protections in place, including Stoneskin and Contingency: Greater Teleport, keyed to teleport him back to Meroteth if his hit points dropped to a certain point. Because of all his protections, it would have been extremely difficult for the guys to kill Nakmander unless everyone in the group focused completely on him, including Kethranmeer and Xein with their special weapons with black stone bits. In my world, psionics and sorcery are completely separate, and all of Nakmander's spell resistance and anti-magic stuff would have been useless against Gonigi's psionics. If Gonigi had been able to help them kill Nakmander, Nakmander would have truly died, no do over with a streak of white hair and a scar, in those wolf-iron tunnels and this campaign would be vastly different in nature.
If Kethranmeer Had Lived
If my beloved NPC had lived, he would have taken his proper place as king of the Rankethlek and master of Steeltown. He would have stepped away from the group to rule his city and aid in its construction, unless the situation truly warranted the king himself stepping into battle, like if they stormed the Necropolis to drag The Bleak Tyrant from his throne, which would have been his main goal. If the guys wished to, they could have aided Steeltown and taken one of the first five of the Rankethlek as a party member to act as my NPC and there would be lots of quest opportunities for the guys to fight Fallen and The Fallen Empire of Man. A'lst never would have disappeared in his airship and instead would live and work in Steeltown with his son and his son's sons. The Rankethlek would also be less loyal to the ideals of Kethranmeer and his goal for his people, because they wouldn't have a martyr in their derstroyed father. Obviously, they would also have a safe and unassailable haven against their foes in this campaign if Steeltown was ruled by D'alton's best friend.
If Gonigi Had Lived, But The Guys Hadn't Clearly Opposed Nakmander
At the resolution of the battle, Gonigi was aware that the players did not fight against Nakmander out of altruism, they only did so because they had family or friends living in Kusseth. However, they did save Kusseth some destruction, so he let them be. If they had waited to see how things had turned out and not struck against one side or the other immediately, or Derf had not redirected the meteors, he would have hunted them to the ends of the earth and made penal warriors of them and would have used them to hunt Nakmander.
If The Ritual Had Misfired
Every spell has a misfire chance, the more powerful the spell, the greater the misfire. Even my NPCs roll for misfire chances when they are working behind the scenes. Nakmander is an extremely powerful sorcerer and with the help of his sorcereres, he reduced the misfire chance of the ritual by a great deal. However, if the ritual had misfired, about a dozen shadow monsters would have very quickly descended upon the ritual site and a very different battle would have taken place.
If D'alton Braun Had Died And Kethranmeer Lived
If D'alton had died defending Kethranmeer and fighting against Nakmander, all the might of the Rankethlek would have been directed at waging war on Meroteth and Nakmander. Steeltown basically defends itself. The Fallen have been unable to level it with sorcery, and the Fremwightan and Rankethlek have fortified it too well for it too be weak to physical assault. Kethranmeer would have left the first five in command of his city and his people and he would have sworn vengeance for the death of his friend. He would have dragged his allies Volung and his Children, along with his Fremwightan allies, into battle against Meroteth and done everything he could to reduce that city to rubble, one blow from his hammer at a time.
If The Players Had All Died In The Final Battle
This campaign would still be happening. Whoa! (Would it!?)
So there are eight (nine!?) aspects of The Known World that could have been changed by the results of the final battle with Nakmander. A lot of this current campaign and what happened in the last ten years depends heavily on Nakmander, so his death or the death of Meroteth, could have created major differences in the events of this campaign and what happened across The Known World in the past ten years.
Wednesday, August 10, 2011
This is the flag of Steeltown. The grey field represents stone and the unyielding nature of the Rankethlek, their refusal to accept the subjugation of the Fallen. The oval in the center represent the faceless face of Kethranmeer, the father of the Rankethlek race, and also a shield. This design symbolizes the defensive nature of the race. They are not the aggressors in this rebellion, they have no desire to wage this war, only the desire to be free and be their own masters. They will not deliberately strike at the Fallen, but they will defend themselves and free those Soulless that seek freedom when they can. As Kethranmeer's face, the design symbolizes that Kethranmeer's ideals and presence and his story are part of every Rankethlek's being, they are all his sons and their path is a continuation of his own.
Monday, August 8, 2011
This is the flag of Volungshemle. The glacier and the empty light blue upper field represent The North, the original homeland of the Children of Volung. The blue lower field represents the trials and tribulations the Children of Volung have dealt with to come to their new home, The Known World, and also the oceans they had to cross to do so. The ring of fire atop the glacier represents the fall of Kaleshmar and that it lit The North on fire and forced the Children of Volung to flee their ancestral homeland, or face utter destruction.
Friday, August 5, 2011
A while ago I figured out an ending to this campaign. It was going to be the main focus of the latter "epic" level portions of the campaign. It was going to change things and alter the nature of the players and The Known World itself, perhaps even Hekinoe itself. I liked it, it was a literal save the world plot that had them gallivanting from nation to nation fighting foes and dark sorcery and such. I thought it was cool and it would show a lot of the secrets Fred is curious about, and it would tie up a lot of little plot loose ends that have been hanging around,m.
The thing is, I'm not sure if that is appropriate for these guys. They only reluctantly venture out of the comfort zone of Meroteth and Kusseth. Usually only when the plot railroads them into it. They don't seem to want to get out and experience the world or affect the countries and their borders, let alone the planet itself. I guess what I am saying is that world spanning plots that involve saving and destroying the world are not really their forte. Fred talks about Kethralzahn wanting to go back to Steeltown, Eric talks about Xein wanting to meet his mother or go see John, and Jeremy talks about wanting to figure out who D'alton is. They also want to work for bards and get information. None of that screams to me that their characters have hopes and dreams and want to be important and affect the fates of nations. It tells me they want to keep doing what they do, be bossed around and become ridiculously powerful for their place in the world. Would they go along with saving or damning the world? Yeah, definitely, but just like last campaign, I would have to railroad them into it any time I wanted them to step out of their comfort zone, and I am sick of railroading.
On a completely unrelated not that has no bearing on this topic at all, I've read recently on one of the many blogs I follow via Google Reader for Android, about Dave Arneson and impartial DMing. The more I learn about Arneson, the more I feel like he is unkindly relegated to a behind the scenes or footnote status in the history of the game. Anyway, the gist of impartial DMing is as follows:
The DM is impartial, he is there to create the world as is, he is there to present it to the players, he is there to adjudicate rolls and disputes. He is not there to baby them or hold their hands while they remember their schedules or feed them or anything. He does not fudge dice rolls in any way, he does not reward stupidity or give hints and suggest that maybe they should recheck that loose flagstone or say maybe they should arm themselves with more than pitchforks and straw hats before they try to fight their way into the evil overlord's keep of damnation. He does not remind them that deserts are hot and they have no horses and perhaps they should stock up on extra food and water. He presents the world to them, and allows them to interact with it and suffer the consequences of their foolish mistakes or inattention. He is impartial and mercilessly so and rewards cunning and intelligence, but punishes stupidity and rudeness. He does not fetishize the rules, but he does not break them upon the anvil of a player's whining merely to appease the players. He is in effect, True Neutral (or perhaps Lawful Neutral), an uncaring bastion of observation, rules knowledge, and judgement.
Something about that description fills me with awe. To play in a game with an Impartial DM would be like...I dunno, it sounds cool. It sounds challenging. Rarely does a Game Master hate his players, I certainly don't. So we tend to fudge and advise and hint, basically we coddle them, because they are our friends and we like them. Impartial DMing sounds like playing DnD with some sort of silent, impassive bastion of law and order. Kind of like Kethralzahn.
Anyway, back to the larger issue, the scale of the campaign. So, Eric and John want to be high level. We can do that. It will take longer than fifteen sessions this time though. We're still level one after three sessions, but they're earning their levels. They are working to figure things out and find a niche to occupy while they amass cash and strength. Fred wants to experience the story and know the secrets of the world, that can easily be done, and we don't need high level play to do it. Going to Steeltown is actually the first step in experiencing some secrets. Jeremy wants to figure out who D'alton is, and well, that is part of playing role-playing games. It seems like playing from session to session will satisfy their goals. I don't know. I guess I am saying my epic level plot is on hold for now. I'm going to be patient and throw plot hooks at them by the dozen until something sticks. There is no time limit or session limit to this campaign, so I am content to be patient and let it happen at their speed.
Besides, every time they ruin something in Hekinoe, I can just make them suffer for it in Fourthcore. Hehe.
Wednesday, August 3, 2011
This is the flag of Serethnem. The bottom field of yellow represents the sands of the desert, and the upper blue portion represents the blue skies devoid of shade. The silver tree is an iaonen tree. Once, the desert of Serethnem was a silver forest of trees like those depicted on the flag, but when the Briar King disappeared, his sorcery drained out of Serethnem, and it returned to the desert it had once been. His silver briar trees, the iaonen trees, became twisted black patches of briars. The iaonen tree on the flag represents the lost glory of Serethnem and that the Sereth have not forgotten their past.
Monday, August 1, 2011
This is the flag of The Old Empire. The field of black represents the dark times after the fall of Kaleshmar, the period of chaos and destruction that almost completely destroyed the Elduman race. The single tower of crystal represents two things. The first is that one man stood up in the darkness and chaos after the fall and began trying to pick up the ruins of his people. The second meaning is the psionic nature of the Eldumans, it represents the fact that their mental powers rebuilt their nation and will keep it from ever falling again.