Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Breaking Down The Psychogenic Fugue Arc: What Is And What Should Never Be

So, The Bottom of the World was supposed to be this interesting three part arc before the players headed back north (perhaps stopping in The South to confront Nakmander and his clone army). I've posted about the first part and you were either there or read about what went down, so I'll skip that part.

The finale of the most recent scenario saw the group in an armed encampment at the base of a black pyramid. They were to accompany A'lst into the pyramid in search of some power source that could be used to help defend Steeltown. To pause for a moment, if we had played all three scnenarios of the arc the players might have learned something interesting: sorcery does not misfire in The Bottom of the World. I hate to just say it like that, there would have been some verbal theatrics to go along with it if we had had the opportunity, and they still would have made misfire chance rolls and such, but yeah, sorcery doesn't misfire in The Bottom of the World. To continue, the next part of the arc would have seen the group accompanying A'lst into one of those black pyramids, essentially a dungeon crawl with some strange traps. These traps would have little effect on the physical world, but would strongly affect energy, like the fire from Xein's bombs and elemental damage from his spells.

Inside the pyramid, the group would have found that any spells and supernatural powers they had were far more likely to misfire than spells cast in The Known World were. Ultimately, at the conclusion of the scenario, the group and A'lst would have found themselves at the foot of a twenty foot tall topaz colored diamond object, the twin of Nakmander's artifact. There would have been some questions and A'lst would have attempted to give some answers, but then shadow monsters (Vacusu) would have descended on them and the group would have fought for their lives. A'lst would have thrown bolts of lighting and static at the monsters and when the monsters were eventually scared off (not killed/dissipated) A'lst would have used his fancy lightning powers to claim the artifact and drag it back to his main workshop. Outside of the pyramid they would have found evidence battle with other shadow monsters and that sort of thing. While fighting the shadow monsters, the group would have noticed a kind of white shadow extending up out of A'lst, not like the opposite of a shadow monster or something like that, but a hazy white suggestion of a twelve foot tall figure kind of lurking behind A'lst, something in that vein.

Once the crystal was brought back to A'lst's compound, he would have wired it into the metal platform that the group originally met him at. Once that was all taken care of, he would have walked to another section of the compound with another platform and console on it. When everything was all set up and ready to go, A'lst would have pulled a lever. When the lever was pulled, white lightning would have erupted from the diamond thing, with arcs of it jumping from the diamond to all of the Rankethlek and Soulless in the compound, along with A'lst, Omne-4, and Kethralzahn. A large portion of the lightning would have arced up into the ceiling of the compound and headed north for Steeltown as well.

I probably would have had A'lst scream something theatrical at this point simply to be silly and be a showman.  Slowly, building in size and intensity, a hazy bluish figure would have coalesced on the platform. A shape forged of lightning with only the barest suggestion of solidity and physical presence. The lightning would have eventually formed into, forgive my bluntness, Kethranmeer. It would not be the battered and rusted Kethranmeer that D'alton and Xein knew so well though, it would be a, I dunno, white knight holy paladin version of Kethranmeer. Some idealized noble version of the warrior with a perfectly formed body duplicating gleaming plate mail and a masterfully crafted hammer. This hyper idealized version of Kethranmeer would have looked at his surroundings and seen Xein and D'alton and he would have gestured at them and bellowed "Murderers!" and then he would have charged them, swinging his shining hammer. The hammer would have passed right through them, leaving a feeling of tingling numbness in its wake and Kethranmeer would have looked at it confusedly. A'lst and Omne-4 would have approached this Kethranmeer and spoken to him in Thoeleknair and eventually A'lst would have rejoined the group and explained what was going on.

This lightning Kethranmeer before the group was an afterimage, an echo, a memory powered by the device A'lst unearthed and shaped by the perceptions of the Rankethlek. It is well known that each Rankethlek is built with a splinter of Kethranmeer's body within them, a tiny fragment of their father bound somewhere within them to symbolize their brotherhood and shared ancestry. What is not know is that each splinter of Kethranmeer is bound to the psionically active bone of an Elduman. So long story short, the power source connects to the splinters of Kethranmeer and powers up the Elduman bone, which draws in the thoughts of Kethranmeer that the Rankethlek or Soulless has and allows their thoughts and beliefs to shape the construct. In Forgotten Realms, gods can only exist if they have worshippers praying and devoting energy to their belief, it is kind of like that. However, this is not the real Kethranmeer, it is an echo shaped by the beliefs of his sons, none of whom really truly knew him beyond the first five, so he is this idealized noble warrior that blames Xein and D'alton for his death. At this point, A'lst removes his shirt and reveals this horribly infected and swollen lump of pus and infection on his chest and produces two splinters of Kethranmeer's body bound with Elduman bones. He explains that like the Rankethlek, he has bound a piece of Kethranmeer in his body to help form this echo and he would like Xein and D'alton to do so as well, because they knew Kethranmeer far better than any of his sons did. This will come at a cost though, implanting the splinters will cause constant pain and irritation and be infected, in game terms it would cost Xein and D'alton some hit points and a penalty to Fortitude saves. If they took the splinters into their bodies, A'lst would ask them to concentrate on their memories of Kethranmeer and we would do something like a Will save or Concentration check or Wisdom check or some such that would in general terms determine how accurate the echo ended up being. I would also have asked Jeremy if D'alton thought about Kethranmeer's corpse, and his answer to that question would determine the echo's appearance. 

So yeah, there you have it, the ghost of Kethranmeer. He wasn't going to rejoin the party or anything like that, he would be next to useless anyways at this early stage in his development. This Kethranmeer is a creature of purely mental power and his physical prowess is next to useless in this form. One thing I did have planned was if D'alton and Xein ever drew close to death was the ghost suddenly appearing and wreaking psionic fury on the foes of the group. There was a planned conversion process, the longer the ghost was around, the more of his levels were converted from fighter to psion, so he would be more useful as time progressed and he learned to master the powers of a being of pure thought and energy. As this progression occurred he would in effect become smarter and more vocal as he fully ascended into the realm of pure thought. He was going to go all fucking hippy dippy philosopher on the guys. 

I've had this idea planned for quite a while, it was based on an amusing conversation Fred and I had while working in Frankenmuth one day. Something to the effect of the ghost of Kethranmeer all in chains haunting D'alton for his death kind of in the vein of  Marley's ghost haunting Scrooge in A Christmas Carol and whatnot. At the time it was just something hilarious we rambled about, as was our nature in Frankenmuth, but over time I thought about it and it kind of became something I really wanted to roll with and put into the campaign world. 

So that is what The Bottom of the World arc was going to culminate in. Any thoughts or questions?

No comments:

Post a Comment