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Shadow of the Demon Lord: Beachhead

Page history last edited by Adrian 6 months, 3 weeks ago

The Premise

Trapped in the alternate world of Alzar for almost two years the 'heroes' have drifted apart. Connor and Ser Paxton travel this new world, Cairn's mechanical body towed with them everywhere, earning a crust and trying to do good as they go. They occasionally cross paths with Ariadne, who has been trying to improve the lot of the local Daeryn and any others she can minister too. Stenchridden has spent much of his time trying to understand the markings tattooed on his body and connected to this world's Red God. He is attended to by a group of young, disaffected Daeryn warriors, hot headed but well meaning. Dr Lark meanwhile has moved within the higher echelons of society, and branched out from the Daeryn. This group performs charitable works and good deeds, but has a shadowy reputation in some quarters.

 

Of Lieutenant Langlais and Magister Brokebridge nothing has been heard at all. The two Morrigan are around, searching for a way back to their kingdom and reminding Connor and Ariadne of their debt and the need to face their master for 'justice'. Ruff has disappeared, occasional rumours of his passing the only clue that he has someone survived this new land.

 

One of Stenchridden's allies, a Daeryn shaman named Dilreet, has come across a rumour about a pilgrimage, or invasion, of another land being planned. Ariadne, Connor, Ser Paxton, Dr. Lark and Stenchridden meet in a travellers' inn near the underground city of Neras populated by an urban fungoid people, shadowing a Daeryn Dilreet has identified as a recruiter for this trip to another dimension to honour the Red God.

 

Useful Links

A map of the Northern Reaches:

Player Character Talents

Player Character Spell Descriptions

Master List of Ancestries and Paths.pdf

 

CHARACTER STATUS TRACKER

 

The Characters

 

Ariadne, a Human Revenant Priest/Cleric (played by XhaosDaemon)

 

ARIADNE

 

Ariadne is a 21 year old human of average height and weight, absolutely average features and is also returned from the dead, no longer casting a shadow and, if she speaks when angry, another entity uses her voice to interject strange and unsettling words and phrases into her speech. She is educated, honourable, dutiful and impulsive. 

 

Previously without religious inclination, this changed after she was sacrificed by cultists of the Demon Lord. The New God resurrected her and charged her with the duty to represent the god's interests in the world. A Priestess of the New God, of the Bearers of the Faith order.

 

The three mice she carries were gnawing on her body before she was transformed and returned by the New God. They have been given the ability to speak as a side-effect of the process and whisper the tenets of the New God.

 

----

 

Ariadne witnessed the horror wrought by demons firsthand. she's seen possession firsthand or survived an attack from a demon. She swore to fight the Demon Lord’s corruption and send its minions screaming back to the eternal darkness from which they were spawned, vowing to devote her unlife to destroying a terrible evil.

 

----

 

Ariadne is providing healing and medical care for the indigenous population of Alzar, using a mask to hide her deteriorating appearance.

 

Connor, a Human Warrior/Fighter (played by Fred)

 

CONNOR

 

Connor is 49 years old, tall, but otherwise perfectly average looking. He puts his and his friends' interests above anything else. He is courageous, cheerful but arrogant. He belongs to the cult of the New God.

 

Connor was born in Foundry and was recruited as a saboteur when he was 12 to work in the war between the many smelting operations. By 18, he grew tired of that life. Packing his things, Connor hit the road and travelled throughout the Northern Reach and a few other places in the empire.

 

When he was 23, this nomadic lifestyle came to an abrupt end as Connor was captured and turned into a slave. For five more years, he toiled under his masters, until a chance to escape presented itself. Pursued by his captors, Connor was saved by Caldheror, an Elven weaponmaster. The fey warrior took pity on the disheveled young human and taught him how to fight, as well as how to speak Elvish.

 

Connor spent two more years traveling, until he met Caitlin, a young farmer’s daughter who stole his heart. Connor married her and the two managed the farm when Caitlin’s parents passed away. With the birth of the couple’s fourth child a year ago, finances took a turn for the worst and Connor decided to look for work as a mercenary or adventurer.

 

Connor and Caitlin had to ask for a loan from one of Crossings' wealthiest (and somewhat unsavory) merchants, Zephrain Honeytongue, after two crops in a row failed. In order to assuage some of the debt, Connor accepted an offer by Honeytongue to work as his bodyguard in a fancy event the merchant was attending at the house of one of the city's elite (Honeytongue always wanted to be part of Crossings' high society). Connor misjudged the approach of a rat-faced merchant as an attack on his employer and reacted, crashing into a waiter and covering Honeytongue in pudding, some of which stained Connor's only set of fine clothes. After the ridicule he suffered, Honeytongue was way more draconian in exacting payments, which forced Connor to go adventuring.

 

He’s been at it for the past three months and sends most of his earnings back to Caitlin. He hopes to score big soon so he can go back to his family. 

 

---

 

After the events of Crossings, Connor has it in mind to clear his name of an old crime and has taken up employment as a guard. He's also focussed on his combat capabilities in response to the events of recent months, and has become a weapons expert.

 

----

 

Connor tries to keep everybody together, since that makes it easier to find a way back. As the prospect of return didn't come to anything and people drifted away, he persisted and welcomed any who still wanted to follow that path, like Paxton. Connor pursued any avenue of returning to Urth that presented itself, as long as it wasn't ethically or morally wrong (no killing people in sacrifice to open a portal, for example).

He still needs to survive, so Connor took jobs as a soldier, bodyguard, etc., slowly assimilating into the culture.

 

Ser Paxton Copperpot, a Halfling Priest/Paladin (played by Lord Stilt-Man)

 

SER PAXTON COPPERPOT

 

Paxton Copperpot was a humble man, not entirely rare among the Halflings of the the Empire. He had made a modest but honest living as a Trapper eating what he caught and selling furs, antlers and the like in trade. He was comely among his people and so generally had little need to cook what he caught himself as he could find a willing maiden to prepare a fine meal of what he'd captured.

But Paxton cared little as to the... other commitments of those women, and had many a meal at a married man's table, and many a night in their beds while they were away at work. He was not proud of it, but he cared too little for the feelings of others to stop indulging his pleasures where they were offered.

That was until he met Abigail, she was a vision, the very picture of Halfling womanhood. Paxton for the first time felt true love, or at least he tells himself that's what it was that moved him to his actions. She was an acolyte of the New God, and so Paxton tried to live by those tenets also though he could muster ni belief for it. She wished him to settle further into the village and not remain so set apart in his cabin, so he took a small lodging and seeking to impress her all the more with his civic mindedness turned his strong arm to the Peasant Militia, a job he quickly took to.

She told him she wished to swear herself into service of the clergy there, and that to do so would mean she could not marry him. He was heartbroken, and dealt with his pain the way he so often had before. He seduced her best friend, her sister, her cousin, her classmate in the seminary, and even her mother. Paxton may not have been a cold hearted killer, but he was a man of few morals when it came to such matters and saw little beyond his own gratification in this.

What he could not have predicted was that each and every woman he laid with in his fit of pique fell pregnant. It was inconceivable, well, a poor choice of words. But it was greatly implausuible. It seemed some greater power had taken a hand in the lothario's lovelife, a power that caused chaos in the village as the women either unmarried or more scandalously with husbands far afield as they began to show.

It seemed the Lady herself had seen something that called to her in the amorous Halfling. She came to him in a vision, if he would serve her, with his fair face, strong arm, and uncanny success she would see him redeemed by ensuring every child he had fathered would be loved and cared for and go on to live good lives. Paxton may have been a man of overly free love, but he was not so hateful as to wish ill ends to the dreams of those women whose relationships he had damaged.

He pledged he would serve the rest of his days however he was called to in service of the Lady and her find sons and daughters if he could know the harm he had done would not spread further. He awoke one night in a hovel, in front of a blackened folding knife set atop a cauldron. He knew then it was settled. He took up the knife and came to the certain knowledge that with that blade he had pruned himself from his children's family trees. Whomever their mothers chose would believe the child to be theirs and love them as such, but in return Paxton could never again look upon any members of those families. father, mother, or child.

Determined to set right what he had done so very wrong he set out into the wilderness, there he would find himself inexplicably drawn from Cottage to Cottage therein finding the wise women and men who would bid him to do good works for their communities, and so he did. Trapping food for those who found themselves hungry, reaping crops for ailing farmers while the Witches tended their sickness, and in times of need fighting for those that were threatened.

Over time he came to be a full Witch himself, and then he would make the trips entirely on his own. He would tend the sickness as well as reap the crops. He would deliver the babies as well as fix the roofs that would leak on them. He had found a contentment in this, and though he would never see his own children he had become like a favoured uncle to many over the land.

Then came the next call, his work was not purely in the Lady's kindnesses, but also in the Lord's service. It was for him to destroy an evil even worse than his own thoughtlessnes and spite. He took up armour made for him by grateful tanners, he sharpened the spear he had served with as a peasant cinscript. He took up a shield bound for him by the folk of the village had most tended to, he kissed goodbye to all his families, and hugged and touseled hair of all the children that called him uncle. He could be a man of adopted family no longer, but now rather the Knight of the Black Cauldron, the Paladin of the Pruned Tree in search of his redemption.

 

----

 

Ser Paxton accompanies Connor and performs missionary type work on Alzar like he did before on Urth. Where Connor goes he goes and tends illnesses, performs midwifery, digs wells etc

 

Doctor Sterren Lark, a Human Rogue/Silhouette (played by Atlictoatl)

 

DOCTOR STERREN LARK

 

Doctor Lark is a middle-aged, average-looking man remarkable only for his relative wealth, his ability to entertain with an engrossing tale, his surgical acumen, and the heretical belief he was raised with that ushering souls to the afterlife is a privileged form of worship to the New God. He holds strong religious convinctions.

 

His ancestors were unexceptional, and his parents (still alive) live comfortably as ministers of a large heretical temple. Lark is an only child who received an education as a child and can read and write Common, saved some money as a doctor. He made a dangerous enemy, who actively seeks my harm and someone he loves was injured because of his actions.

 

He's not particularly outgoing or withdrawn, can adapt to a variety of social situations, gets on well with people close to him, neutral about others. He desires status and fears disgrace, is generally law-abiding and keep up oaths when it suits him. He is capable of good and evil, though mostly sees to his self interests and those of people close to him.

 

The guild of assassins is ensconced within a heretical group of devout New God worshippers, who believe that ushering souls out of this life is a high form of worship. Their murders are ritualized and staged, both so that the soul is consecrated to the New God and so that any who witness the staging can see the act of devotion and feel the stirrings of worship in their own heart.

The members of the cult all pursue professions that give them access to likely candidates, and the actual murderers have professions that give them skill with carcass display -- butchers, artists, and the like. Doctor Lark is not the only doctor, or even surgeon, in the group, and it's a good profession for him to ply his other trade, for he is able to encounter people who are suffering and can assess who amongst them are likely to pull through their illness and who is not. Which isn't to say that all of his displays of worship are on patients. Often, it's people he meets in the course of treating his patients, or others he meets in his travels.

As a doctor, he is a good one. He genuinely cares for his patients, though it is true that he sometimes hears the Voice of Claiming when attending to one. He can think of no higher service that he could do for those lucky charges.

Doctor Lark doesn't pick his acts of worship, you see. He is told when one is Claimed. The spiritual agents of the New God speak to him when they've found someone worthy of being selected.

 

Doctor Lark had an apprentice once (Emra Tannen), who went mad when exposed to the deeper secrets of Lark's practice. That whole terrible event is what turned Inquisitor Harkwold on to Lark, whose dogged investigation forces Lark to not stay over-long in any one locale.

 

---

 

With Harkwold dead, Sterren Lark is out to prove to everyone that he is, in fact, a badass. In the time since the events of Crossings, the legacy of the demon attacks on him stained his soul enough that he discovered the deeper secrets of Shadow magic. Sterren Lark attributes this development to be a Gift from the New God, as reward for defeating the virulent dog who hounded him.

 

----

 

Doctor Sterren Lark has formed a small Shadow cult of working professionals (healers, academics, administrators) who use their station to do good works in their communities and occasionally induce a culling at the secret will of the New God. Doctor Lark is beginning to suspect, however, that the people that he has managed to induct into his sect are pursuing the inspired cullings for their own personal reasons, and aren't following the will of the New God at all. It's beginning to unnerve him, and he fears they might find a reason to cull him.

Familiar faces would be a welcome sight, right about now...

 

Stenchridden, an Orc Magician/Spellbinder (played by Drewsie)

 

STENCHRIDDEN

 

He was always just the same size as the other orcs, no runt. Their treatment still rankled, just because his tusks were nubs and because of the strange markings all over his body. He survived the training pits by making himself vital to a larger orc, Middenface, who learnt to value the advice Stenchridden gave. Having survived the pits he was sent on a final test. His year were sent to act as shock troops for an Imperial action. It was whilst there his strange markings caught the eye of a mage attached to the battle line. The mage took him as well when he returned to the Tower Arcane. Stenchridden would learn that the markings were some form of runic script which had fascinated the mage, Owen. Owen believed they gave Stenchridden magical potential and began training the orc. He picked up the rudiments of arcane magic and developed his skills into further traditions. He never believed himself to be seen as an equal by the other mages. He knew this when Owen had him pull a rabbit from a hat for a group of his colleagues to 'show off his skills'. He laughed along with the others – he knew that to give into his rage would only lose him his place here. Here, despite Ahriman's curse, he had magic, a chance for power, a chance for something more than a pointless death against the walls of some castle.

This chance lasted until Drudge cast the lifeless Emperor off his throne. When the capital erupted in fire the mages of the Tower looked to the orcs in their midst. Owen had vanished a short period before in pursuit of whatever search led him to obsess over Stenchridden's markings. Without his mentor to speak for him Stenchridden found himself unceremoniously magicked outside the Tower before he could even prepare himself. The experience of being denied everything he wanted drove him mad for a period and he let loose his rage. He indulged in the terrible slaughter, taking out his anger at the mages. He joined up again with Middenface and they led a gang of raiders out from Caecras. This life came to an end when the gang ran into an ambush. As everyone around him fell he tore a hole in reality and pulled out not a rabbit but a horse, riding for the horizon until it vanished beneath him a couple of hours later. He pulled himself, sobbing and half-mad, into a ditch where he spent the night. That night he dreamt of a lady in white, bleeding from many wounds, who offered him redemption. He awoke and found he could channel the insane rage bred into orcs instead into his weapons, preventing the terrible battle madness and allowing him to fight more effectively. With his senses returned, back came his craving to understand the markings on his body again and he set out to seek his mentor from the handful of hints Owen had left behind him.

 

----

 

Stenchridden uses his new fame amongst the Daeryn to attempt to use his position to find out more about the markings. He gathers (not necessarily intentionally at first) one of those small groups of young impressionable warriors who think they are better than their tribes old ways. He play acts like the Tower Mages he met, all inscrutable suggestions of power and assumptions of authority. He is increasingly frustrated as everyone he talks to is either too young/experienced to know; or just assumes he knows everything he is asking about and gets suspicious when he seems not to - unless they pull the "ahhhh, you are testing me" schtick. He tries to use his position to support the others' efforts to improve lives (or at least not leave them worse than they found them), having his coterie escort roving healers or similar. Whether said healers welcomed this or not.... He has fallen in with a dodgy shaman named Dilreet who Stenchridden suspects has been using him against his enemies in exchange for titbits of information. Chances are undoubtedly good that the shaman's end goal is to get Stenchridden back...in order to punch open a hole for their god on the way out. 

 

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