So here's the thing, I'm writing about Navere. Or at least trying to. This Navere is a Greenskin Abraxen from The Beast Lands, not a wild elf from The Spine of the World. I'm trying to sort of write a Hekinoe version of Curse of Strahd. Writing is fucking hard though, so I'm sputtering and spinning my wheels, even when I can force myself to sit and stare at the blinking cursor of an open text document (my age old Favored Enemy and the general bane of my existence).
So I'm writing about writing. Because that's easier and maybe it'll knock a bit of rust off the interior of my brain hole. The point of this post is going to be trying to hammer out a few details about Hekinoe Navere and the story in general. Normally I just kind of write things as they come to me, but that's not happening easily. So we're going to try and get a more concrete concept of the story in my head before we vomit it into a text document. Maybe it'll help, maybe it won't.
The first thing I think I need to establish is Navere's power level and abilities. Normally I write about accomplished supernatural creatures and pseudo-deities. Things that can't be stopped unless they allow themselves to be stopped. Navere is different. Navere is mortal, he's not even immortal with caveats like many things in Hekinoe. He doesn't have access to Gifts or psionics either, so his DnD Druid abilities are pure sorcery. Which means they're unreliable and fallible and I'll need to represent that in the story when he uses them and when he thinks about them. I have in the past relied upon a conflict resolution methodology that might be properly referred to as "smash it to bits with magic" with magic being a catch all term for sorcery, Gifts, or psionics. I can't do that with Navere. Yes, he's a sorcerer, yes, he'll use sorcery, but he's not going to be as willy nilly about it as a Nel would use Gifts or an Elduman would use psionics. Unless he's bat shit crazy, and I don't really think he is.
Ok, so Hekinoe Navere isn't all powerful. He's not a rookie either. He's seen some shit. So he's competent, but can be defeated. I should really just stat him out in GURPS before I really get into writing. That might be fun and would give me a more concrete idea about his capabilities and keep me honest so to speak, so he doesn't end up defeating challenges because of abilities I think up in the moment. Giving him stats would be fun and it would give me a frame of reference when writing about him and stuff. He'd be like maybe 200 points or so. Maybe. I dunno. Thereabouts.
Alright, so let's think and talk more about this story or whatever. It starts out with Navere on a ship and two pirates discussing him within his hearing. The gist is that Navere has booked passage on a ship to return home to The Beast Lands. This presents us with a few questions we need to answer for the sake of the narrative or whatever. The first is, where was he before booking passage? The second is, why was he there? The third is, why is he returning to The Beast Lands? Oh. Just came up with a fourth question. Do I want to include DnD Navere's companions from Curse of Strahd? Bjorn, Sven, Slarty, Neo, and Thedes.
We're going to start with the third question here. Why is Navere returning to The Beast Lands? After thinking about this, it's a stupid idea. Let's look at the Curse of Strahd module. DnD Navere and compatriots end up in a foreign land via supernatural mist. In the metagame, we known that the PCs have traversed the planes and came from Faerun/Abeir-Toril/Forgotten Realms and are now in Barovia in The Demiplane of Dread, which is in the Shadowfell in 5th Edition. For a variety of reasons, a vampire type entity making its home in The Beast Lands doesn't make much sense. I mean, yes, there are great blood midges and stuff, but that's not really the point. To fit with the Curse of Strahd idea, we are looking for a place that's strange and unnatural to Hekinoe Navere. A place where a supernatural vampire-esque creature that can control the minds of some animals and manipulate nature and such can setup shop. That's one of the things that infuriates DnD Navere about Barovia. The undead leech controlling and fucking with nature. So what we need is a place where nature exists, but can be manipulated by supernatural means where a vampire type creature would fit into nicely.
I'm an idiot.
The Fallen Empire of Man fits that perfectly. With the Hekinoe 2.0 changes I'm making, The Fallen Empire exists as a separate continent from the continent that The Beast Lands is on, so it would fit the idea that Navere comes to a strange and foreign place. It's also a very fertile region full of natural elements that is very sparsely populated, which leaves a lot of room for a Strahd-like figure to wander in and do whatever the fuck he wants. We still need to figure out why Hekinoe Navere is going there. The current beginning of the story starts out with Navere booking passage on a ship to somewhere and the pirates discussing what the morning will bring when they forcibly boot Navere from the ship a little earlier than he'd anticipated. So maybe we run with that a little bit?
Oh. Fifth question. What should we make Strahd be in Hekinoe?
Moving along. We're running with the idea that Hekinoe Navere is being taken to The Fallen Empire against his will. I think that his original goal was to get back to The Beast Lands after being away in like Kusseth or some shit. Everybody goes to Kusseth at some point in their life. So in attempting to answer our third question, we've answered our first question. So Navere had booked passage from Kusseth to The Beast Lands on a Haven ship. Why would the captain of the ship drop Navere in The Fallen Empire of Man instead? In the Hekinoe 2.0 map system we have Kusseth in the northwest, The Beast Lands on a continent south of Kusseth and The Fallen Empire on a continent east of Kusseth.
The most obvious option is that the captain of our Haven ship is in league with our Faux-Strahd. I don't much care for it, but it neatly ties it up in a bow and explains it. Faux-Strahd has a deal with this captain to strand travelers near his settlement for entertainment and feeding purposes. This ship and its captain kind of act as the Mists and the Vistani do in Curse of Strahd/Ravenloft. I'm not sure I like that though. It resolves everything, but it's also a real easy explanation. What if the captain of this Haven ship is Vanden or one of his cronies? Meaning that Hekinoe Navere gets dropped off in The Fallen Empire of Man for inscrutable reasons that involve a plot that won't come to fruition for thirty-five years. I kinda dig that, but I also kinda don't. Aaaaaaaaahhhhhh. I fucking hate writing. Let's move on. We have two workable ideas, don't really need to worry too much about which one we're going with at this time.
To kind of finish up our third question, we need to establish why Navere was heading to The Beast Lands. It's not super mega relevant, but we need to have a reason for it because the goal of returning to The Beast Lands kicks off this whole story. So maybe it is super mega relevant. Alright, think. Why was he heading back to The Beast Lands? Family reasons? No. Doesn't fit. He was raised by wolves and the ones he considers family would be dead by now and he never knew his greenskin abraxen family.
Hmm. How about he was returning to The Beast Lands as part of a challenge to himself? Like he's been in civilized lands doing civilized things for a while. He felt out of touch with his nature as a predator, out of touch with the beasts and forces of nature. So he decided to return to the crucible of his birth that is The Beast Lands. A place where flora and fauna grow huge and savage and mad. Where flora and fauna are so fierce and potent that they resist the manipulation that comes so easily to DnD Druids. Yeah. I dig that.
Let's hop back to our second question. Why was Navere in Kusseth? This question isn't necessarily a big deal or something I intend on referencing extensively, but it's something I'd like to know. After leaving his family (of wolves) DnD Navere wandered into civilization and kind of worked as a hunter and healer and that sort of thing. In Hekinoe 2.0, Kusseth shares its continent with The Fell Peaks and Whurent, so there's still some strife along that country's borders. So maybe Hekinoe Navere and whatever bros he may or may not have had were doing some mercenary work in Kusseth and they finished a job and Navere got sick of all the civilization and industrialization and whatnot.
One, two, three, ok now we're on four. Sorry. I'm way tipsy right now. We're on question four, should I incorporate DnD Navere's bros in Hekinoe Navere's story? It's a difficult question. I have permission from Kevin and Jacob to include Bjorn and Sven in this story if I choose to. I can't really include Sir Neo of Sporin because he's a Paladin and that doesn't fit with Hekinoe. Nor can I include Slarty Bartfast (I'm not entirely sure of the spelling) because he's an elf Monk. Also, they have dumb as shit names. I think I will tentatively include Bjorn and Sven. When writing The Last Blade I found it very useful to have a secondary character, the Herald, for Keroen to talk to, to bounce ideas off of and that sort of thing. It made Keroen a little more...human and easier to relate to I guess? Maybe. I'm not sure. I liked the experience though, so like I said, we'll include Bjorn and Sven tentatively and see how it goes.
Alright, question five. What is Faux-Strahd? In Curse of Strahd he is a vampire ruler of Barovia. In the Ravenloft setting he is a vampire ruler of a domain in the Demiplane of Dread. He's been brought there by the Dark Powers to suffer for his various crimes and horrible transgressions. He's a bad dude that eats people.
So the core aspects of Strahd are that he is an undead supernatural creature that rules a region and feeds on and torments others for his own purposes. There's really only one type of sentient undead supernatural creature on Hekinoe. The Fallen. The Fallen are undead, and while they do not require blood to survive, some of them can drain if from victims and use it to repair damage to their dead grey crystalline flesh. That seems like a fairly obvious solution to figuring out what Faux-Strahd should be. I have another idea that could work as well, and it's slightly less obvious. I might go that route instead. Perhaps. We'll keep it quiet for now.
Alright, I think we've answered everything, let's go over it all. We've established that Hekinoe Navere and his bros (maybe) Bjorn and Sven were in Kusseth doing unspecified mercenary work. They completed their last job and Hekinoe Navere decided he was sick of civilization and industrialization and wanted to return to The Beast Lands to reconnect with the strength and savagery of his homeland. After hiring a ship, he ends up getting stranded in The Fallen Empire of Man due to a deal the captain of the ship has with Faux-Strahd the Fallen to bring him living beings to feast upon and torment for entertainment.
I like it. We'll see how this develops. This has been a somewhat productive exercise and I'm glad I did it. I have a little bit of a better hold on the story now.