happened in this session (appropriate for the 1-year anniversary of this campaign!). Weirdly, I wasn't nervous about it beforehand at all. I think that may have been because I'd run a short one-on-one via text with Alice to set up her new character so I was feeling warmed up. Either that or I knew the players would be doing a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of role-playing.
Yeah, technically we started with just 1 living PC, although was running Levi and both Alice and James were in the room waiting for a character to play.
We began with Nadine (controlled by Daria, as usual), Levi (controlled for the time by Nel), Caspar, Blaine (run by me at this time, since Bailey was on a weekend trip) Rowan, Jonah and Nora (Nadine's parents) and the dead body of X-05 in the shrine to Gunther the Hindsighted at the entrance of the catacombs. Caspar said he'd be able to resurrect X-05, but he'd need some special materials. He bid them wait and went into the church. While he was gone, Nadine noticed her mother acting odd, like she was absent. Jonah seemed cagey about the situation and wouldn't say anything when Nadine tried to get information out of him. Caspar returned with a reliquary and asked them to come with him to his home where they could be more private. They headed over, finding a small house on a hill. Caspar warned the party he had gotten a dog in recent years, a dobermann called Len. As per the logic of this post
, Len is a guard dog that defends his master from humanoids and undead. After Len reacted with aggression to smelling the lycanthropy on Nadine and Blaine (not that the others could tell that was why), they all went inside and laid X-05 down on Caspar's table
. Nora and Jonah went upstairs to rest and get clean clothes and Caspar lit a fire in the fireplace. Caspar opened the reliquary, taking out a handful of holy objects: a necklace of saints' fingerbones, an amulet of a long dead paladin and two scrolls. He opened one out and began to explain.
He said that he was not actually powerful enough to raise the dead by himself. He needed the scroll to do it, an object of ancient magic from hundreds of years ago. The scroll itself was a poem composed by a paladin on the subject of the war, exploring the theme of humanity's ability to persevere in the face of endless adversity. He'd also need people that X-05 had been close with to help with the resurrection, offering prayers or gifts to entreat the deceased spirit to return.
Caspar: "Usually I would not expend this magic, but this is a special case. This man is twice-blessed and chosen by Saint Traft, and he gave his life for his companions. It would be cruel not to give him a second chance."
Meanwhile, James asked me if his backup character could come and steal the body so he could play as them instead. Welp...
The party crowded around X-05's body. He was laid with his moonsliver spear in his grasp and the flickering fire shining on his chrome head.
And so, the resurrection challenge
Nadine (Religion check): "X-05, I know you may believe your time in this mortal realm has come to an end, that you have fulfilled your duty, fought and died in life so that you may rest in death, but that could not be further from the truth. What we’ve done, what we promised the people of Stensia, if you give up now it will all be in vain. Demons march on the capital and it is only good hearts like you and me that stand between them and their destruction. You did not give up on me when my heart stilled, and I will not give up o you now. I ask, beg, no--order you to come back to me, fight by my side, as a comrade, hero, and as a friend."Nice, have advantage.
 against DC10. Success. Final DC lowered to 7.
Levi (Religion check): *praying to the spirits of the dead* "I knew this man. When I met him first he was a vagabond who came to my town with that boisterous elf Perren and caused all sorts of mayhem. I was ready to kick him out of my town. But when we did exile him, and then Siegfried's army came knocking, he came back without hesitation and fought for a people who hated him and nearly died for a cause that was not his own. I have seen this man's growth, and you need only look upon his history to see that he deserves a second chance." against DC12. Success. Final DC lowered to 4.Blaine sees there's a spot that needs filling and he awkwardly steps forward to fill it."Master," Rowan says, cutting in front of Blaine and causing him no shortage of relief, "you were the first person to show confidence in me, you were the first person to actually make me feel like I was worth something. I've seen you do some incredible things, and I think you're an incredible person. Please, do something incredible again and come back to us."
All: "Awwww...."[nat1] against DC13. Failure. Final DC increased to 5.
All: "ROWAN!!!!!!! NOOOOO!!!"
Daria: *desperate* "Uhhh advantage?"Well, I think the speech was quite good so...[re-roll, nat20] against DC13. Success. Final DC decreased to 1.
All: "YEAAAAAAA ROWAN!!!!"
I then rolled the final check, needing to beat only a 1 to succeed. Although I only had a 5% chance of failing, the tension was palpable. against DC1. Success.X-05 shudders and his screen-face flicks on, bearing a single "!". He then makes the AoL dial-up noise for a few minutes as the text "shadow.exe has stopped installing" scrolls across the screen. Rowan gives X-05 a big hug and Nadine beams at him.
Rowan: *quietly as he hugs X-05* "I was really ready to go home..."
Nadine: "I'm so glad to have you back, my friend."
X-05: "Uh, yeah. Me too."God I love X-05. He's such a treasure.
At that moment, Nel (right on cue) knocked on the table to signify someone was knocking on the door.
Blaine: "Someone gonna get that?"
Nadine: *having a moment with X-05* "You can get it."
Blaine: "Fine, fine." Blaine goes to get the door. Opening it, he reacts to the visitor: "Oh, Siessa. Nice new outfit."
Daria: *on edge* "Nadine goes to look. What does Siessa look like?"Pink and lavender regal attire, paler skin, younger-looking-
Daria: "Divine Sense."Yep, you detect one undead.
Nadine: *drawing Oathbearer in longsword form, advancing towards Siessa
* "Explain. Now."
Siessa: *backing up into the rain* "Listen, it's not as bad as you think."
Nadine: "Where's Ace?"
Siessa: "He... didn't make it."
Nadine: "And how did that happen, exactly?"
Siessa: "He had that book on him, right? Well, he couldn't prove to Katrina that he wasn't a cultist. He made the wrong choice."
Nadine: "So she killed him."
Siessa: "Yes. She offered us both a deal, not to become-" *gestures to herself* "but to work for her, to fight against the demons. Ace clearly cared more about his patron than that."
Nadine: "Then why did you become a vampire?"
Siessa: "She offered it and I accepted. I knew that this was the best form for me to take, this is the strongest I can be when I go up against the demons-"
Nadine: *angry* "You just threw your humanity away for power? Just like that? I would kill to get my humanity back! And you just threw it away!"
Siessa: "Nadine, I thought you'd understand. I need this power to win, we all need to be the best we can be to win this fight. Have you heard of Andros the Grey?"
Nadine: [religion check: 12] "Yes."Andros the Grey, a legendary paladin who served in the early throes of the Blood War. A close friend of Evelyn Lowe, but a man with a dark legacy. He threw away humanity to gain an advantage over the demons and was successful in starting humankind's push into new territory. Many say he made deals with demons, others that he was just a mad dog of war who achieved nothing. His exact history is still hotly debated.
Nadine: *laughs a bitter laugh* "You'd throw away humanity on a simple legend? You're more of a fool than I thought."
Siessa: "Don't you see we're on the same side? It doesn't matter if the legend is exactly true, what I know is that it worked: I'm stronger now, stronger than you."
Nadine: "Maybe we should test that."
Quickly, Nadine realised she would be a hypocrite to attack Siessa. Nadine was a lycanthrope, a monster just like her. So why attack, unless out of pure prejudice?
Nadine: "Fine. I'll work with you."
Siessa: "How so?"
Nadine: "I'm trying to say I'm allowing you to live."
Siessa: *scoffs* "You're not 'allowing' me to do anything. I'm not threatened by you."
For the record, I think Siessa would win. A flying bear that's constantly regenerating wins against the paladin.
The party then took a long rest, wanting to digest the events of the day. Blaine headed to the tavern with Levi; Nadine, Caspar, Nora and Jonah slept upstairs; and X-05, Rowan and Len slept downstairs. Siessa soon left as well, realising she wasn't welcome. She turned into a brown bear, had Rodor (who had just turned up, having caught Siessa's scent and run to her) climb on her back and flew back to Castle Falkenrath.
Daria: "Wait, she can fly?"She can do lots of things.
In the morning, the party was 8th level and Nadine was Tired™. After a tense breakfast (porridge made by Caspar), Nadine noticed her mother was really out of it and dazed-looking like she'd never seen her. Insight and Medicine checks did not reveal the source of her ailment. Jonah still refused to speak on the subject, but relented once breakfast was done and went upstairs with Nadine where he sat her down and started from the beginning. All this time I'd been dropping hints he was hiding his emotions, and now they were coming out.Looking closer, you can see scars from bite marks on their arms and necks.
Jonah: *sitting next to Nora, who seems to be drifting off again* "Let me be frank. We were prisoners of the Falkenraths for 8 years."
Jonah: "We spent 8 years in that place,
and while we were there we were nothing but meals for them. There were many others there who couldn't cope with it, some broke down and withdrew into their minds while others became deranged and obsessed with the vampires. Your mother and I were special because we had each other to lean on, so I think it's possible we might have been one of the ones who couldn't cope if we didn't."
Nadine: "I see... so is that why mother's like that?"
Jonah: "Not exactly. I'll say that no one was happier to see Katrina kill that bastard Uta and his sister, but the whole "Old Falkenrath"/"New Falkenrath" thing is bullshit: she's every bit as evil as he is. When she killed Uta, she promised to liberate us. Many of the other prisoners left fairly soon, but we had to stick around to recover. While we were waiting, your mother stumbled upon something, but she couldn't say what. What I do now is that her current condition isn't due to those 8 years, it was because of what she saw."
Daria: "Oh my god..."
Nora: *mumbling* "All the insides on the outside... all the insides on the outside..."
Jonah: "Sometimes she's more aware and can talk about it. I know small details. There were two men in the room, one of them had mutton chops and a bald head. Dressed like a wizard or necro-alchemist, she thinks."
Nadine: "Necro-alchemy, huh? Just like Siegfried."
Nadine: "He was Katrina's lover. I killed him when he tried to murder a town of innocent people."
Jonah: "Katrina's lover...? I've been in the same room as Katrina a few times, and she mentioned a lover. But the way she talked about them, it sounded like they were around, somewhere in the castle."
Daria: "Oh god... what does that meaaaaaannn"
Nadine: *getting angry* "Why the hell did you take her down to the catacombs in her condition?"
Jonah: "She can read Celestial, I can't."
Nadine: "Still, you shouldn't have put her through that."
Jonah: "I always look after her, I have done since forever. It's more than you've done in the last ten years. Why did
you leave us?"
Nadine: "I've... always felt different. I couldn't stand to stay, I knew I had to chase my own path. I left to become who I am now. I realised I had to sacrifice the good things in my life to protect others."You see that this is the last thing he wanted to hear, but it's what he expected.
Jonah: "So we were just something you sacrificed? Is that how little we meant to you?"
Nadine: "You were the hardest thing to give up!"
Jonah: "But you did it anyway. You could have stayed, you could have studied to join the clergy. Maybe you could've made us safe from the Falkenraths. Maybe things would be different."
Nadine: "I had
to leave. Otherwise, I couldn't have done any of the things I've been able to do recently."
Jonah: "That wasn't your choice to make! You're my daughter, and you abandoned us. I can't just sit here and pretend that everything's back to the way it was, because it's not."
Nadine: "...well, I guess that just means you don't know me anymore, and I don't know you."As you leave, you see him move as if to speak, but the breath catches in his throat.
Then came the time for X-05 to leave. Because Len had barked the night before, and Nadine listened in, she already knew the gist: X-05 was conflicted after hearing his old students ask for further training, and realised that it'd be easier to train Rowan and the others if he could stay in one place doing it. He was grateful for the adventure, but he needed to go his own way for a while. After a stoic goodbye with Nadine (who had just disowned her father and was probably not ready to lose one of her oldest friends), he headed off with Rowan, who he bought a new horse (who he named in the Nadine style "Temperance"). His 7 other students hadn't left yet, and he saw them getting ready with their 4 new horses and 7 blessed silver sickles. They rode into the woods, towards Ach-To Island for the tutalage of...
James: "Wait, did we decide who the head monk was?"
Yeah, don't you remember?
James: "I feel like it was something terrible."
It was Juke Jaywalker.
James: *laughing* "Oh yeaaah... let's change it."
James: "Uuhhh... Janobi."
After brooding for a little while on what to do next (after basically learning that Katrina's doing something so awful it traumatised her mother), Nadine heard a voice call out from outside.
???: *Nel speaking* "Nadine? Hello?"
Daria: *excited* "Is it Perren??? Oh god Nadine needs someone she can depend on right now."
Nel: "Uhm..." *changes the voice slightly* "Nadine? Helloooo?"
Daria: "Oke, not Perren..."
Nadine then headed outside to see a young lady approaching with a big, beaming smile, purple hair and small horns.
Daria: "Oh for fuck's sake..." *laughing* "Is this
your new PC? A tiefling??? Did you design her to really get on Nadine's nerves?"
???: "Hi, are you Nadine?"
Nadine: *holding Oathbearer in longsword form* "Maybe... who are you?"
???: "Oh, uh..."
The strange girl (who had solid gold-coloured eyes) placed a scrolled-up and wax-sealed letter on the ground, somewhat timid at the rather apathetic and hostile Nadine. I'll add exactly what it says when Nel comes up with it properly, but the basic thing was that it was a letter from a fairly high up priest saying that this tiefling (Damia) was a trustworthy acolyte of the Church of Avacyn. She was even wearing the classic priest dog-collar.
Nadine: "Ugh... fine, I guess." *sheathes Oathbearer* "What do you want?"
Damia: "I was hoping to travel with you..."
Nel and Daria OOC decided that Damia is basically Nadine's daughter, so that's fun. Tired Palamum and her freaky kid.
AT THAT VERY MOMENT...!
Another woman started walking up the hill, this one covered in furs, 5'3" and very stocky. Probably a human.
???: *James speaking* "Heyy I'm lookin' for Nadine?"
???: "The names Isolde, I was in Kessig a few years ago and I talked to a fella called X-05, saved him from a werewolf, now the guy's famous round here. I ain't famous, what's up with that?"
Nadine: "And what do you want me
Isolde: "I just wanna fight monsters, I need the money."
Nadine: "Fantastic." *yelling down the hill* "Anyone else looking for me??"
???: *Alice speaking* "Hello there, I'm looking for a 'Nadine'?"
Nadine: "FOR THE LOVE OF-!"
The new woman was tall, with ornate armour emblazoned with the symbol of Avacyn. She was also dragging a hungover Blaine.
???: "My name is Nevaeh Montgomery, I was told you were someone upon whom I could place my trust."
Nadine: *extremely Tired™, riddled with abandonment issues* "I mean, sure...?"
So yeah, a great session with lots of great role-playing from everyone! I'm still intrigued to see what a fight between Siessa and the party would look like, but now that Daria has said that Nadine will consider Siessa an enemy next time she sees her, I guess we'll find out.
The conversation between Jonah and Nadine was hard to play out for me, but it paid off. Daria thought it made perfect sense and was a cool ass moment. We both agree that Nadine needs a win desperately right now, so she and Levi might bang next session.
I'm looking forward to seeing all the new characters in action. Nadine is the only original member of the team left now, and she feels like a real mentor figure for the others.
Also of note, I ran a one-on-one shot via text with Alice before the game to set up her backstory. Basically she's a cleric whose family are secretly Orcus worshippers. She was infused with demon powers at a young age, but rejected them and fled. The part we played out is when she investigated the coastal town of Tesh (one of the "something weird is happening here" towns that Perren visited). She nearly got killed by a mob and the guard captain bowman, but survived with just a few hit points to spare with a 31 Investigation check to know the layout of and escape the town. Having evidence of demon worship, she got a tip from a priestess of Lamas that Nadine, X-05 and Perren might be people who could save Tesh, or at least save Stensia from whatever was brewing there. A small excerpt:
The church is quite rich for Stensia, almost rivalling what a smaller town in Gavony might have. You tell her about Tesh, and she is clearly upset but not surprised. She says she knows that Tesh have turned away from the light of Avacyn and are worshipping something else, but she doesn't not know what. She explains that usually she'd send for an inquisition from Thraben, but thanks to the demon invasion that's not possible. Because a guild of thieves have taken over the town, she also can't send Lamas' paladins to do anything either. Thus she and the lord of Lamas have agreed with Queen Katrina Falkenrath that they will accept her help in return for their support in the coming war.
She seems distraught that she has to depend on Katrina, as she is very scared of what such an active vampire lord might do after the war is done.
Nevaeh: "I understand, those of the undead cults are not... the best to trust."
Priestess: "We have no other choice. Unless someone else were to deal with Tesh, they will undoubtedly spread their blasphemies north."
Nevaeh: "I wish i could be of better help, alas, my by myself can not do much."
Priestess: "You are right. Despite the wounds being healed, I can see how badly you were injured from the blood and tears on your clothes." She pauses. "Wait... I may know of someone. I have heard tell of a group that saved Shadowgrange from a host of undead. Last I heard, they were headed to Corsovia. Have you heard of Nadine of the Flame? She's a paladin, not affiliated with any company in particular. If not her, maybe you've heard the names Perren Galanodel or X-05? The former played a concert here about a month or so ago. Maybe if you told them about the danger, they could aid us."
Nevaeh: "Ah- I believe I have, yes. They would be great- though I do not know where to find them."
Priestess: "I believe they were on their way to Corsovia, maybe if you head there you might catch them. That is where the Knights of the Red are based, along with Katrina Falkenrath."
Nevaeh: "I will at once- though I might rest for one night, if not for me, then for my poor horse Autumn."
Priestess: "Of course! A fellow woman of the cloth is always welcome here."