Sunday, August 13, 2023

My 4th Campaign on Roll20


So as of last night my new 5th ed. campaign, The Lost and The Lurking (yep, title totally stolen from a Silver John novel). Well, actually, the first session zero was a couple weeks ago, but out of the four in that (long time player Terry could not make it) only two remain, the eager and adorable noob couple in their 20's who I, as I often do with couples, refer to as "The Twins." One guy seemed promising, but he wanted both a more dark ages setting, and he wanted orcs to be like Warcraft orcs. Well, my setting has progressed (after over 100 years of character continuity) to being sort of post Italian Rennaissance-like, and pre-industrial Britain-like. Strike one. And Strike two was my orcs are nasty, stinky, rape your wife and eat your guts Tolkien orcs. Warcraft? As if. Those are just big humans with tusks. Fucking boring. The worst thing to ever happen to orcs.  So he was out. The other was a girl who seemed great, I hit it off with right away, and immediately thought of her as player numero uno. The others were mostly new to the game, so it's always helpful to have a seasoned vet. Especially since I haven't exactly memorized the PHB. 

But then after the session zero, she started being problematic. She was running an Eloquence Bard. I didn't study up on it at first, because she was talking up how she was sort of an acrobat high wire performer. That sounded cool, but I should have seen a red flag when she kept asking about running some sessions featuring her circus family as the NPC's. Hm. That was usually a mistake in the past. OK. Maybe. But then another new guy told me "hey, do you know what you are in for with that class?" 

So I looked it up and was like "wow." This bard by third level will pretty much be successful with every persuasion roll. Its called "Silvertongue" or some such. Plus the character will get the ability to reduce the saving throws of foes, a lot, and will also be able to give almost endless bardic inspirations. So I was a little concerned. I told her so, and though I won't nerf it, we need to be on the same page on how some of this stuff would work. I was being nice about it, but she seemed offended. Accused me of calling her a power gamer (which she was being...she was also asking to start with a powerful 4th level feat). It was getting negative, so I bailed on her. I felt bad about it. Almost sad. I went from being excited she would be involved to in a week not wanting to deal with her. So out out out. 

More humorously, another girl, an 18-year-old, contacted off the forum practically begging to be in the game. I much prefer folk 25 and older, but she said she did art and likes to make images throughout a session. That was enticing. But when I let her into the Discord to talk more, she started demanding written up setting information. Well, I have an "info dump" setting channel for random thoughts on my setting I post, but she was all like "no, if people are going to play in your world you need organized and detailed info on politics, important families, etc etc." Sorry kid, I don't keep piles of notebooks anymore. I've had this setting since I was a kid. It mostly lives in my head. And that she should maybe be more concerned about what happens in the course of the campaign than detailed background durp. Then she started demanding to know what the "story" will be and was name dropping Critical Role. Ah, that makes sense now. I told her that CR is actors pretending to play D&D as a performance and there are plenty of groups doing that out there. So lotsa luck.

Ah well. I promised myself I would heavily vet the group, so that was what I was doing. But with a couple more dudes on board, and Terry doing her dwarf from the previous campaign, we were up and running. I used Marge, the major caravan master from the last campaign, as a sort of patron for this one. This would not be a caravan campaign. The NPC is simply taking a couple seasons off to invest in some expeditions. I'm using LOFP's Death Frost Doom as sort of an inspiration. I personally find that adventure to be sort of Unrunnable as is, but there are gems in there, including the Lichway rip-off ending. I love Lichway. 

From DFD I'm mainly using the mountain, town below, graveyard, and cabin. I would be using my own, decently smaller, dungeon map for the temple (I will show in a later post). The temple in this case will be a temple of Orcus. Here's is the information Marge will show the party next session (this session was mostly dealing with some town thugs and a kobold cave).

This cult arrived at the pass some 100 years ago (year 1 of the New Age), when there was still a well-trod overland trade route between the West and The Acherian Empire to the northeast. 

At that time in the area it had a force of several Orcus  (a foul devil lord who has nothing to do with orcs) clerics, a few dedicated and well-trained guards, and always a dozen or so slaves, and with the fierce power of the cult protector and anti-paladin Atrigan the Deathdealer, they carved a hidden complex on the top of The "Broken Spine," a local mountain with a high peak and a rambling trail that lead up to it. It was what the religion of Orcus called "a material plane undeath garrison", a place where worldly worshippers of the Demon God tortured living humans to drive them chaotic mad, and then murdered them to temporarily lay them to rest, seizing their souls so they could be unleashed to help create an undead army at such time as when Orcus decided he wished to conquer the living world with a great force. The bodies of most of the priests, after they passed away for whatever reason, would also share this fate. Even his worshippers will serve Orcus in death.

Apparently, there are many such temples and "garrisons" across the lands. And perhaps waiting undead armies of a variety of Lords of Hell. The thought is chilling. Perhaps many of the hostile undead encounters in the dark corners of the earth are souls who have awakened early to inhabit their devil-cursed material forms. 

In the 100 years since the creation of the temple at the top of the "The Broken Spine" the dead where never called upon. But over the years the progeny of Atrigan and the other priests continued to slowly accumulate victims from the trade pass and remote villages, and eventually bury their bodies in the dirt consecrated for Orcus. 

Captive non-humans, elves and dwarves, were unwanted as soldiers of the future undead army of Orcus (for Orcus was a devil brought about by human sin), so after proper torture, degradation, and murder, the bodies of any non-humans were burned in a kiln that the Orcus priests trapped a fire elemental within.  

In the year 40 of the new age, 60 years ago, the cult got greedy and instead of the usual furtive and secret capture of a select few unwary folk from year to year, attacked a well-guarded Acherian noble caravan going through the pass, as they had a surplus of living slaves to force into battle. A dozen captives were taken. Among them was Grunhix Maxima, the young niece of the then Acherian Emperor Decemberious Maximus The Third. Grunhix was on a sightseeing tour of the trade roads to the west.

The Emperor back in Acheria met with his royal Oracles,and was told of the cult and what they did with captives. The forces he sent to destroy the cult on the top of the mountain found the trail up The Spine to be treacherous, as both guards, slaves, and landslides were sent down to rain devastation upon them. The troops camped at the bottom of the mountain, and the emperor sent them three high priests of the Acherian Empires cruelest and most powerful gods of the time. A priest of Borias, God of the North Wind and Winter, a priest of Jubilex, lord of slime and corrosion, and the priest of Flambix, Goddess of flames and wartime destruction. The powerful Flambix priest personally killed the Orcus priests and their mad slave defenders, the priest of Jubilex cursed the underground temple with acidic green slime to keep the complex uninhabitable, and the priest of Borias covered the mountain top and its graves of woe with eternal winter. 

Ironically, it was a few handful of years before the Kingdom of Tanmoor ousted Acherian forces from the western kingdom and gained independence, and the great East/West pass became far less travelled. 

Apparently, there is a village at the base of The Broken Spine Peaks that was founded by the last freed slave of the Cult. 

But the temple of Orcus at the top of the spine still sits, quiet and undisturbed.  Only fear, and the constant chill of never-ending winter on the mountaintop, keeps the greedy away from any possible wealth there.

So a nice sense of grittiness there. This will be the first several games. I purposefully have no plans yet for the rest of the campaign. I wanted it to be open depending on the characters and hooks they get and so forth. So the characters are:

Female dwarf fighter

Female gnome wizard

half elf ranger (grasslands)

human fighter (cavalier)

Half elf warlock

(Pic unavailable)

I think it's an interesting and diverse group. More to come


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