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    Canonfire :: View topic - Backstory...Curse of the Cairn Hills
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    Backstory...Curse of the Cairn Hills
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    GreySage

    Joined: Sep 09, 2009
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    Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:07 am  
    Backstory...Curse of the Cairn Hills

    This is a LONG post, so I intend to 'chop it up' into smaller vignettes, but it gives a relatively detailed account what occurred prior to my current Mistmarsh campaign. In order to understand where you are going, you need to know where you’ve been (right, SirXaris?). The same is very true about the current campaign’s plotline.

    Many of the events leading to this adventure resulted directly from the previous series of events (the preceding campaign, basically) that took place in the Cairn Hills. Jeremy, Jaran, Brandis, Horatio, Kai-tel, and Muamar all partook in that (mis)adventure. It actually started as two separate adventures until Fate (and a devious DM) interwove them into one.

    At that time, Jeremy and Jaran were assisting the local lord and his vassals at High Ery (in the Cairn Hills bordering the Plain of Greyhawk) to defend against the depredations of some unknown, highly cunning, and elusive ‘beast’ that had begun to prey upon the locals. Fears were quickly running high when, night by night, over the course of several days, the marauding beast picked off and devoured the farmers of the surrounding land. It left no tracks and proved to be extremely resourceful at evading detection. When the lord’s soldiers intervened, along with a few of the more seasoned locals, and a pair of priests (one of St. Cuthbert, the other a priestess of Phyton), the monster began to attack by day, even targeting its tormentors. Those it killed with merciless savagery it devoured, leaving only gory remnants behind that sickened even veterans. Even with their own skills and divine powers, neither Jaran nor Jeremy could successfully thwart the beast from claiming more victims.

    Guesses as to the nature of the human-eating monster included a lycanthrope (Jeremy had faced were-beasts before numerous times), a shape-shifting feral druid, and even a humanoid shaman of Beltar. No one had a clue, but over the course of several horrible encounters in which more and more people were slain and eaten, the beast finally revealed itself! It seemed to be some type of supernaturally strong human(oid) savage who could alter its appearance (including human form) and also shape-shift into a monstrous wolf-like beast with incredible speed and stealth which left no pawprints. To make matters worse, it even employ various mind-influencing magic, primarily a fearing ability that it used to isolate and kill potential victims, and it was assumed the beast could use ‘translocational’ magic, and perhaps, even fly! Worse yet, the creature, whatever it was, seemed to be growing over the course of time and with subsequent kills, starting human-sized and approaching the bulk of an ogre. And, up to this point, nobody had so much as spilt a drop of its blood!

    By now, news about the prowling beast stalking High Ery had reached Commander Tigran Gellner of the Cairn Hills militia. With a small but elite force of men (and both a wizard and a priest of Pholtus) at his side, Gellner rode to the site of carnage with the sole intention of slaying the marauding creature. However, even the commander and his men could not locate any sign of the creature. Yet they finally met face to face with the monster when, under cover of night, dodging the various Continual Light spells placed around the perimeter of the keep, it struck once more. Gellner was the only man to finally wound it with a grazing arrow, showing that it was not invulnerable, and thus likely mortal, but he lost a soldier in the process to the wily creature. The search for the supernatural predator renewed with fervor...

    more to come,

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Thu Aug 16, 2012 8:27 am  

    Unbeknownst to everyone, during one of the much earlier hunting forays in which the beast was nearly cornered in a cave before using magic to elude capture, Jaran was successfully Charmed by the crafty monster. Using the priest of Fharlanghn, it lured out Jeremy from the security of the keep, realizing that the crusader of Heironeous was the next greatest threat to its own survival…and greatly desiring to consume him to accelerate its unholy growth and power! With Jeremy in tow, Jaran walked along the banks of the Ery River, seemingly nothing amiss; they nonetheless donned their armor and brought along weapons. Alas, it was a ruse, and the beast set upon Jeremy with predatory savagery, tearing at the huge crusader with massive sweeps of its clawed fingers and the strength of a giant. Before he perished and was consumed, Jeremy noted to his horror that Jaran watched from a nearby perch, seemingly amused by the spectacle!

    Enter Brandis and company, riding through the Cairn Hills. Brandis’ venerable father, a retired city guardsman (and staunch reverer of Pholtus) and a young, feisty priestess of Trithereon named Dana (yes, you read that correctly!), were in tow. The veteran warrior and his entourage were trying to pick up any clue they could discover as to the whereabouts of one of Brandis’ many brothers, a guardsman who was posted in the Cairn Hills, who suddenly disappeared with nary a trace. Suffice it to say, the stage was set for conflict between Brandis’ surly father and the vocal priestess with Brandis caught in the middle.

    By the time they approached High Ery, all the surrounding farmlands had been evacuated and only the Lord’s soldiers remained, along with the priest of St Cuthbert, to protect the keep and try to slay the infernal monster plaguing them. The savage creature had successfully devoured the Captain of the Guard, countless villagers, the priestess of Phyton, and numerous soldiers. The death toll was astonishing and morale was shattered.

    Even though she hated the idea of working with Gellner, a known followerer of Pholtus, Dana considered it her duty to assist the lord and his vassals to help hunt down the beast and tried to garner support from the other members of the group. However, her efforts were in vain. Dana and ‘the old man’ erupted at each other, spewing vitriol, and the priestess, cursing them, decided to remain. The rest of the group focused on their own matters to find the missing soldier, and opted to venture forth in spite of the obvious danger. It turned out to be a BIG mistake, for although Brandis miraculously discovered the dried skeletal remains of what appeared to be his missing brother in the nearby wilderness (this is a separate story entirely!), the group had to return through High Ery en route back to Greyhawk City.

    The grisly, horrifying death of Jeremy had the keep on high alert, and Jaran’s magically-induced treachery was not only discovered, but also negated by the priest of St Cuthbert. No longer could the creature use Jaran to lure out more potential victims to fuel its unholy hunger. However, Jaran was devastated by the fact that he had direct, if unintentional, involvement at Jeremy’s death and spiraled into grief and depression.

    Meanwhile, the beast did not plan to stop its hunting forays in spite of its brush with mortality, and considered the added soldiers prime targets for its future attacks (it was intent on finding, slaying, and devouring Gellner, in fact). Growing even more powerful with its most recent ‘super-charged’ feast, it grew even bolder and planned to assault the keep once more. Sensing nearby, easier victims prowling the remnants of the vacated villages, it intended to strike once more…and so it did under the cloak of night when Brandis and company sought shelter in an abandoned stable.

    stay tuned...

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Thu Aug 16, 2012 9:18 am  

    Using its supernatural powers, cunning, and phenomenal strength, the monstrous creature not only captured, but also killed and devoured Muamar with relative ease before his allies could intervene. Brandis, the ‘old man,’ Kai-tel, and Horatio found only a steaming, gutted, half-devoured corpse. They found the creature stalking by the riverside, apparently trying to evade them. When confronted by the four men, the monster used its magical abilities, evoking fear in Kai-tel before savagely attacking the rest of them, hurling Brandis’ father with a backhand into the river (he nearly drowned and died in the current). Next it targeted both Brandis and Horatio, confident it could kill two ‘lowly’ humans. It was mistaken, grossly underestimating the skill of the veteran warrior. Brandis’ enchanted sword and superb skill bit deeply into the beast, scoring one severe blow in the beast’s thigh before it had to retreat. Although it failed to dispatch either human, the creature’s incredible power proved near-fatal to them both. Only curative magic prevented serious debilitating injury. In the end, however, Brandis and his remaining companions vowed to seek out and kill the beast. A tense accord between Dana and Brandis’ group ensued, and they agreed to put aside their personal differences.

    While Gellner and his men patrolled one side of the river, Brandis and company (with the exception of the ‘old man’ who remained in the keep, still recovering from his near-death ordeal), Dana included, picked their way along the other. With Kai-tel’s Flying magic and a good bit of luck, they discovered a partly hidden cave nestled high above the river along a rather steep canyon wall. Kai-tel dared to near the mouth of the entrance, confident in his Invisible state, and noted that something lurked inside; he was sure it was the monster they sought! Taking battle positions, they strategized a plan to ‘smoke out’ the occupant with a Fireball and cover various points from above with arrow fire.

    Kai-tel’s Fireball launched perfectly at the partially concealed cavern mouth, catching the underbrush and debris ablaze and casting smoke everywhere. There was a terrible bellow from within the choking cloud and fiery blast, followed by violent thrashing. Moments later, as the fire began to dissipate, to everyone’s horror, the wizard flew into the smoking cloud and vanished from view. Horrible screams soon erupted, followed by ripping and tearing sounds, and suddenly, Kai-tel’s gurgling shrieks ended abruptly.

    Almost maddened beyond reason, Brandis tried to reposition himself to get to the cavern mouth. He was too far to do much of anything, and to his continued shock, the monstrous thing suddenly appeared along the rocky shoreline across the river from his position. It seemed semi-dazed, collapsing to the stones alongside the Ery River. Dripping gore from its taloned hands and fanged maw, the enormous goblin-like creature half-staggered, half-rushed to get to nearby cover. Brandis noted the terrible wounds from his previous swordwork along the massive, ogre-sized, shaggy humanoid’s body, and its slowed movements. Just as he readied an arrow (enchanted by his bow), a well-placed shot from the priestess slammed into its torso, virtually disappearing from view. Immediately the creature stiffened, blood erupting from its mouth in a steady stream, and it dropped, lifeless to the rocks. Brandis made sure the deed was done with a few well-placed shots of his own, and, under the watchful gaze of the priestess, crossed over the river and beheaded the fell monstrosity with his sword. Recovering the remains of his wizard friend, torn asunder by the sheer power of the creature, came next.

    Gellner made sure personally the head of the creature was carried back to Greyhawk City and conveyed it to the Guild of Wizards for identification. The rest of the monster’s carcass could not be burned and so it was hacked apart and buried in several locations. Jeremy’s sparse remains were laid to rest in a shallow cairn near the keep along with so many other victims. Brandis’s presumed deceased brother, Muamar, and Kai-tel were wrapped for a hasty ride back to Greyhawk City for proper burial…though Brandis had hopes that some Divine miracle could be performed. Dana returned to the Temple of Trithereon, a heroine, proclaiming victory over the predator with the direct intervention of the Summoner (though she gave some credit to Brandis).

    This was just the beginning for Brandis and Jaran…

    By the way, how many of you guessed the “true” nature of the beast yet??? Take your best guesses (without looking through your various monster tomes!)! I am interested to see who will identify it. Happy

    I will reveal it in my follow-up post!

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Sat Aug 18, 2012 11:52 am  

    Without browsing, eh? Confused

    Sounds like it has several of the abilities of the Jackalwere, except for that bit about "flying," or apparently flying.

    Have to think about it a little, before I make an official guess. Although, your characters could have been mistaken about that "flying" part. Still, I think at least one of them would have recognized a Jackalwere, so . . .

    Naw, forgetting the "mental powers" you mentioned, too. Razz

    There's a cat-like creature that comes to mind, but you're playing Greyhawk, not Athas. rolleyes

    It could be one of of two, or three other creatures, but those usually aren't solitary.
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 18, 2012 8:26 pm  

    I was thinking Shambling mound, then beholder, Ogre-mage, then flying entered the milieu along with teleport like abilities. I will have to think on this longer.

    Later

    Argon
    GreySage

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    Sat Aug 18, 2012 9:54 pm  

    If the creature really did have all the powers people thought it did, then it sounds to me like the barghest is the best fit (a type of demon). It comes to the Prime Material plane to murder and consume victims. It gains size and power as it does so and when successful in killing a certain number and attaining sufficient power, it magically returns to the Abyss to assume its proper place in demondom. Your description of its methods and physical appearance fit perfectly and, though I don't remember its magical abilities perfectly, the ones described in your story seem to be appropriate to demonkind.

    SirXaris
    GreySage

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    Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:05 pm  

    DING DING DING!!!

    Ladies and gentlemen, we have a WINNER!!! Cool

    Congrats, SirXaris, you gain a level! You may now receive your castle, holdings, and followers. Can I join you? My previous master is a mage. Wink

    For the record, I really did try to kill those characters without pulling punches. I wanted to capture a Gothic feeling to the game, and though I did NOT like slaying (and devouring) the priest of Heironeous, to 'fudge' a roll so that he'd live seemed to cheapen the power, cunning, and lethality of the 'beast' that I had portrayed thus far. Besides, I knew that Jeremy would be 'raised' (or 'resurrected') as a failsafe plan, given his status, 'goodness,' and contacts within the City of Greyhawk.

    I was also trying to get that barghest to FULL and mature power. It was JUST shy of attaining that power level (if it had killed and eaten just one more character of moderate lvl, it would have!) when it was 'slain' and banished back to Gehenna.

    Maybe I can have it 'return' in a later campaing, PISSED OFF and ready to 'finish' its rampages, then 'hunt down' those who banished it. hmmmm

    Congrats, SX, for successfully rolling your Planar Knowledge-Creatures ability check! I am very impressed. For those of you who want to see the barghest's stats, check out Monster Manual 2. I am assuming that you didn't peak, SX!

    Also, for you who read the Drizzt books (you don't have to admit it openly Wink ), he faced off against TWO of them in one of the earlier novels (he'd just made it to the surface world and was training as a ranger), and, of course, won. But that's because I didn't write it... hehehehehehehehe

    -Lanthorn, He Who Unleashed the Beast

    BTW, does anyone know how long a barghest would have to 'wait' in Gehenna before returning on its own volition? After all, they come to the Prime on their own, so they must be able to return, if it so chose... I assume that perhaps if someone Summoned it via Gate (or similar magic) that would preclude its 'wait time.' Or is a barghest different than a demon or devil with respect to banishment? There may be a post on that somewhere...


    Last edited by Lanthorn on Sun Aug 19, 2012 8:21 am; edited 3 times in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Aug 18, 2012 10:10 pm  

    Sounds like the paladin may have deciphered what the creature is. I guess all that time in hell really paid off. Wink

    Later

    Argon
    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 19, 2012 7:27 am  

    (I'm editing my previous post)

    I recall now and the remembrance explains Lanthorn's expectations of me.

    I remember reading about the barghest in the module "The Mad God's Key," which I adapted for my "That Infamous Key" stories.

    Unfortunately, I only had a print out of the module at that time and not the entire magazine. The Green Daggers thieves guild used a barghest as their guard beast. I could not find any information on the barghest in any of my 2e Source Books. Thus, I consulted another 2e "expert," the Great Maldin. Regrettably, he knew nothing of it either. So, I substituted two war-dogs in my story instead.

    I later found the barghest in the Pathfinder Monster Manual and that lead me to the 3.5e Monster Manual. Alas, the story was already written and published on Canonfire!, so no change was possible. (Also, since that incident, I now -- mentally -- associate the barghest with 3.5, so it never entered my mind as a candidate. You said you "game" in 2e.)

    I know the 2e Source Books. However, I know next to nothing about the Dungeon and Dragon magazines. I've never read them. I was too busy driving a Truck across the country to do so and . . . they don't sell the magazines at Truck Stops. Ever see an 18 wheeler parked outside of a Barnes and Nobles? Neither have I.

    Anyway, I have access to all of those magazines now . . . PDFs. But I didn't back then. So, sorry to disappoint you, Lanthorn, but if the thing/item/creature doesn't appear in the actual Source Books, I'm probably unfamiliar with it.

    Never read the magazines! Wink
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    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:24 am  

    The barghest is found on page 13 of the Monster Manual 2 book by Gary Gygax. It proved to be a very challenging opponent for my player, as you can well read by the astonishing death toll. I had to 'tick mark' each and every kill (and the amount of 'energy' it consumed, thus fueling its unholy growth). Upon 'death,' the barghest was only a few energy/life levels shy of attaining maximum power at 12+12 HD! Evil Grin

    -Lanthorn
    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 19, 2012 10:41 am  

    The story continues:

    Brandis and his coterie returned to Greyhawk City with the remains of his (presumed) brother and two friends. There was little left of poor Muamar, and Kai-tel’s body, though not consumed by the beast, was torn asunder. Through priestly divination from the church of Pholtus, it was determined that the decapitated and dried corpse did indeed belong to his missing brother, Breisdell. Considering his family duty fulfilled in finding and retrieving the body, Brandis turned over the responsibility to his father as what to do with Breisdell as he wanted little to do with the proselytizing Pholtites (his father, however, was an ardent follower of that flock, as was Breisdell). The results of that outcome will provide yet another adventure plotline. Happy

    Instead, Brandis focused on his dead friends whose wishes he did not know, and was hopeful that they were not beyond the reach of powerful necromantic priestly magic. Having formed loose ties with the Temple of Pelor from his many past, good deeds, and knowing that Kai-tel, a Flan, paid respects to the Sun Father (Muamar was more of a conundrum, and only half-Flan), the veteran warrior humbly approached them. In short, both Kai-tel’s and Muamar’s spirits were summoned, not only to determine their respective characters, but their wishes as well. Sarana would, in no way, bring back from the dead people of ill intention, nor would she violate their desire to remain in the afterlife. The Divine power it would take, however, in order to bring back Muamar from the land of the dead was GREAT, taking no less than a Resurrection cast by the High Matriarch herself. Fortunately, Kai-tel’s body was less ravaged and a Raise Dead was possible.

    The seasoned warrior explained the horrible circumstances of his friend’s terrible demise and asked for her aid and Pelor’s grace, offering his services, magical items, whatever was necessary, to bring back his friend. Sarana pondered at length, looked into the hearts of the men involved, weighed the risks and outcomes, and Communed with Pelor himself about this infernal creature that had slain and devoured so many innocent people.

    Meanwhile, heavy with guilt as to his direct, though magically-induced, involvement in the murder of Jeremy, Jaran took it upon himself to set matters right. Riding to Greyhawk City, he found the dead Heironean’s sister, a priestess of Pelor named Shandra, as well as Priest Jaikor, close friend and superior to the deceased Gloryaxe. Together they all recovered Jeremy’s remains from a shallow cairn near High Ery and conveyed them back to the city. Shandra immediately turned to Sarana, explaining how and what happened to her brother…and the pieces began to fit together. This rampaging beast was the cause of the misery and untimely deaths of these good men.

    News from the Guild of Wizards only confirmed the High Matriarch’s communion with the Sun Father. “A barghest,” she reported to Shandra, “a monstrous devil-like beast from the fiery pits of Gehenna, one of the Lower Planes. They come here, to the Prime Material, to feed upon humanity in order to fuel their unholy growth and power.” Given the vileness of the beast that had murdered ‘good’ men, and their role in casting the barghest back into its reeking Plane, the High Matriarch agreed to use Pelor’s blessings to bring them back to life, Jeremy included. However, there were some ‘conditions’ to which all the men must agree…
    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 19, 2012 12:52 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    The barghest is found on page 13 of the Monster Manual 2 book by Gary Gygax.


    Ah ha! That's a 1e Source Book! I'm less familiar with 1e Source Materials, so . . . Razz

    But, you're correct in that it certainly "existed" before 3.5. Still . . .

    It is not in any of the 2e Source Books. Wink

    But thanks for sharing that info . . . I have those books to. Laughing
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    GreySage

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    Mon Aug 20, 2012 7:57 am  

    As there was little remaining of both Jeremy and Muamar (both victims were largely consumed by the barghest), only the most powerful of Divine blessings could bring them back from the dead. High Matriarch Sarana would have to call upon Pelor to completely restore their bodies: Resurrection. However, such a potent spell would drain the high priestess completely and render her incapacitated for days, perhaps even a week at a time. Sarana could little afford to sacrifice valuable time restoring two people that could be used for the benefit of the whole city. Furthermore, the raw power channeling through her would age the already middle-aged woman. Kai-tel’s body was not so ravaged, but even he would require a Raise spell. If Pelor were to bestow life and vitality back into these fallen heroes, what service in his Name would they perform in turn? With all this weighing on her mind, Sarana outlined the terms clearly to Shandra and Brandis, and to the spirits involved:

    In order to mitigate the debilitating effects on her body from casting these Divine spells, Sarana would have to draw upon her own private magical items and use her remaining stock of Potions of Vitality. Exceedingly potent, yet rare, she would need to recreate them, and that required very rare, and potentially dangerous, ingredients. They would have to be ‘acquired,’ and that task would fall upon the shoulders of the deceased, once restored to life. Secondly, crafting potions was not a cheap enterprise. The Church would not use its own limited resources, as they were used to support the people of the City. These monies would come directly from the men whose lives would be saved.

    Furthermore, Sarana knew she would age considerably by serving as a living conduit for the raw, Divine power of the Resurrection spells. Not a young woman, she expected the effects to be reversed. Knowledgeable in the ways of magic, including those of mages, the High Matriarch directed Sarana and Brandis to the Guild of Wizards for renowned potions capable of restoring her lost years. These were the personal demands that the High Matriarch made.

    Pelor would demand other expectations…
    GreySage

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    Tue Aug 21, 2012 3:31 pm  

    With the agreement accepted by all parties involved, the High Matriarch decided to stagger out her strenuous spell-casting over a period of several days. Starting with the least rigorous first, Sarana easily channeled the Divine power of Pelor and raised Kai-tel from a gory corpse into a living, breathing man once more. It would take many days for the Flan wizard to collect his bearings and be able to move around, even with magical healing intervention.

    Next she targeted Jeremy’s remains the following day after service. With Derider, Shandra, and a host of other under-clerics in attendance, Sarana led a holy ceremony, complete with burning incense, lit candles, and sanctified water to cleanse the remnants, and summoned forth Pelor’s most Divine prayer. Shuddering with the Sun Father’s power, Sarana focused His life-giving touch upon the bits and pieces of ruddy bone resting atop the cloth-draped dais at the altar. There was a brilliant flash of blinding light, and suddenly, a sweating, naked Gloryaxe lay before them, completely bewildered, but whole.

    Overwhelmed by the sheer power, Sarana collapsed in a heap and was quickly attended by Derider, who quickly offered her one of the High Matriarch’s personal Potions of Vitality to lessen the debilitating effects. Meanwhile, Shandra draped a white and gold-trimmed robe about her nude brother, still confused by his sudden circumstances, then led the baffled Heironean to recuperate and collect his senses in a nearby room. It would take several days for Jeremy, with Shandra’s assistance, to put events into context. Jeremy was humbled, shocked, and also horrified to hear of the events in the Cairn Hills, but ultimately relieved that the infernal barghest had been dispatched. He also reaffirmed his agreement to make good on his oath.

    With the effects of the powerful, magical potion helping to mitigate the drain on her body, Sarana recovered quickly. After a day or two of rest and meditation, she readied herself to restore Muamar’s half-consumed remains, too. With Brandis, Horatio, and Kai-tel present in addition to her clerical aides, Shandra included, the high priestess performed a like ceremony as she had for Jeremy. Again, there was a blinding flash of pure light, revealing the living body of the formerly ravaged remains of the warrior. Sarana slumped once more, to receive her last and final magical potion. However, this time the magical effects on her body, already once drained by channeling such Divine energy, revealed a further outcome. Wrinkles creased her face and more greying hairs showed in her hair. For this, a potion purchased by Brandis (by selling Kai-tel’s Wand of Enemy Detection) through a wizard go-between (named Vincent) from the Guild of Wizards was used to reverse the aging battering Sarana’s body.
    GreySage

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    Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:05 pm  

    Keep it coming, Lanthorn. It's good stuff. Smile

    SirXaris
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    Tue Aug 21, 2012 7:27 pm  

    Glad someone's reading my literary rantings. Wink Thanks, fella! As always, I don't mind feedback.

    I have tried to develop character (NPC, too) personalities and motivations, especially those "noteworthies" you read about in the various sourceguides. Among those who have most prominently featured in my campaigns include the following NPCS: Tigran Gellner, Jaikor Demian, Derider Fanshen, Sarana, Jallarzi and Edwina (fun little nuisance), Sental Nurev, Bubka (S.O.B. but a shewd businessman), and even Master Tobin Potraides (with Tiddles, of course). It is fun, but takes some pondering, how best to develop a 3D 'psychological profile' for them, to make them 'come to life.' I think Argon would especially appreciate that, as a BIG supporter of role-play! And you, SX, may like my "take" on Jaikor, the ranking priest of Heironeous running a temple in a city ruled by thieves... Keep in mind this is all taking place just prior to the explosion of the Wars, with many exiled Shield Landers about (including Artur and Lady Sharn, too!).

    more to come, soon,

    -Lanthorn
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    Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:46 pm  

    Very nice, Lanthorn. Wink

    I play it a little differently, but you have an interesting "take" on things. Yes, we're still reading, so keep it coming! Cool
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    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Tue Aug 21, 2012 8:53 pm  

    Lanthorn,

    I can truly appreciate how a true psychological profile can be built for each character. I had two players decide they wanted to run an all halflings character campaign. They had been on enough adventures to attain 3rd level each. They where sent into an abandoned mansion to obtain some lost heirlooms for a human nobleman. The mansion belonged to an old noble family who's last living relative passed over four decades ago.

    When they entered the place they jumped at each noise I made and after a few hours of game play encountered a ghost. By the time I finished my description of the ghost, the two characters were screaming, and fleeing from the mansion.

    I laughed and appreciated the PC's decision to RP their characters as cowardly adventurers. They never did go back to that place.

    Later

    Argon
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    Tue Aug 21, 2012 9:35 pm  

    Gentlemen, thank you for continuing to read and offer your posts. It is reaffirming, and what I so much enjoy about this forum and its readers.

    with respect,

    Lanthorn
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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:34 am  

    The next several days were spent helping the recently ‘reborn’ to adjust to the shocking changes, as much to their bodies as to their minds and souls. Both Jaran and Shandra helped Jeremy to make sense of what had transpired, the proud crusader feeling very dejected and embarrassed for his failure against the hell-spawned beast. With scant resources from a series of previous (and now recent) losses, the humbled Heironean felt his personal honor crushed and faltering. With the High Matriarch still recovering from the excessive drain on her mind and body, Jeremy, always a man of action, felt compelled to do ‘something.’ Furthermore, he had some unfinished business in the Hills at High Ery, and returned, alone, to set matters right.

    Both Kai-tel and Muamar relied on Brandis and Horatio for their information. Brandis also negotiated the family affairs of hearth and home (the close-knit Morgenthwain house is a big but highly volatile one!), as well as occupational responsibilities among his fellow blacksmiths (they were getting grumpy with him for his recent absence); the veteran warrior surely had his hands full. Brandis was surprised, but relieved, to hear that his dead brother, Breisdell, had been likewise been returned to life by the Divine power of Pholtus. His father, a dedicated worshipper, had made great personal sacrifice to ensure his ‘favored’ son’s return, including a large donation of magical items to the Church. Brandis knew there would be more asked by the Pholtites of his father, and also of his now-breathing brother (also a resolute member of the flock of the Blinding Light), but he considered his involvement with that entire affair behind him. The veteran warrior quickly found himself in the middle of a growing family conflict, as usual, between his Trithereon-supporting mother and his Pholtite father (interesting dynamic, wouldn’t you say?). Shocked

    Meanwhile, in High Ery, Jeremy held audience with the Lordship and his Seneschal. Embarrassed by his failure to protect the people he’d sworn to aid, and offering false hope to bolster their morale during the savage depredations, the crusader apologized openly. The lie he blurted in a moment of desperation before the gathered crowd weeks before cost Jeremy more than his personal honor; it had cost him the Divine favor of Heironeous, resulting in the loss of the huge Gloryaxe’s status with the Archpaladin. He intended to atone for this sinful violation, and in his heart, he knew that he had to return to publicly renounce that lie. The Lordship and Seneschal easily forgave Jeremy for the seeming transgression; the barghest was destroyed at the cost of countless innocent lives, and they wanted to bury the past. However, Jeremy did not let the matter die, and pressed that he had to apologize to the people as well and ask for their forgiveness. The Lordship dismissed the intractable priest to do what he felt that he must in the eyes of his God, but considered the issue resolved.

    The Seneschal, however, was more reluctant to offer Jeremy ‘free reign,’ reminding him of the great suffering the people had endured at the claws of the barghest. In his mind, only more pain and misery would result by Jeremy’s continued reminder of the tragedy. He warned Jeremy about his dogged pursuit for forgiveness, and claimed that perhaps more than asking for Heironeous’ acceptance, perhaps Jeremy should instead absolve himself of the guilt. The crusader listened to the wise man’s advice, but continued with his plan.

    From one cluster of farms and houses to the next, Jeremy gathered the folk and openly condemned the lie he had spoken…that he knew of the creature and its powers, and that it could be defeated. He asked their pardon for giving them false hope in their desperate hour. As the Lord and the Seneschal had predicted, the people wanted to forget the terrible memory, of their dead, and the terror that once stalked the Cairn Hills. Many dismissed Jeremy’s apology, some accepted it almost absent-mindedly, but others were frustrated and even angered with the priest for summoning them for such a ludicrous reason.

    Confused, and even dejected, Jeremy withdrew, pondering the wisdom of his actions. In his heart and soul, he felt that he had done the right thing, but at what cost? Perhaps the Lordship and the Seneschal were correct. Maybe he opened a wound with his reminder of the past, a wound that the people desperately wanted to forget. With a heavy heart, unsure of his attempt to rectify the transgression, Jeremy mounted his riding horse, bade High Ery a sorrowful farewell, and departed back to Greyhawk City…and into the unknown future that awaited him, including his station within the Church of the Archpaladin.
    GreySage

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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 11:13 am  

    I like that. Jeremy did what was Lawful - he admitted his sin to those whom he had victimized. However, he may have gained some wisdom in learning that the manner in which he did so (publicly) wasn't the best alternative.

    SirXaris
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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 12:16 pm  

    Jeremy sinned? He lied?

    Did he know that he didn't "know" the nature of the beast and how it could be destroyed? Or did he merely make a wrong assumption, thinking that he knew the identity of the creature and how to defeat it?

    Mistaking the creature's identity is merely a false assumption and not a deliberate lie. A lie is knowing the "truth" while deliberately expressing an "untruth."

    I don't think Jeremy lied and it would be the obligation of an "older" priest at Heironeous' temple to explain that to him.

    See? We play differently. I use more realism in my game. Wink
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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 1:08 pm  

    No, my dear Mystic. He lied. He made a statement that he could not back up with facts, but stated it as truth, in the hopes of rallying the villagers to his cause, to improve and bolster their faltering morale. I called out my player directly on this, made damned sure he wished to progress, and he did. A desperate man, in a desperate situation, who made a desperate move. It was not befitting a man pledged to uphold the tenets of Heironeous, and I hold specialty priests to a higher code than a regular priest. Thus, he was immediately stripped of his specialty priest powers.

    I am not sure if Jeremy beseeched Jaikor's counsel on this matter or not...been a while. But nonetheless, both Jeremy and Jaikor are now equal level, equal rank, and thusly, of equal 'station' in terms of Church hierarchy. However, Jeremy served as Jaikor's right hand man (in our game) for the past several years, and he often still seeks the man's advice and religious tutelage, even now (though they are peers, technically). Relationships may grow and evolve, but old habits and perceptions are hard to change, so in that I find 'realism.' Wink

    And on this score, I wanted Jeremy to 'figure out' his transgression (with only a bit of guidance by Jaikor, who keeps trying to get Jeremy to 'grow up' and take ownership of his growing duties and obligations to the Church, the Faith, and himself!) instead of using Jaikor as a crutch. I let the player stumble through this...to make him 'solve' the issue on his own, and determine what he thought was an appropriate response (atonement) for his sin.

    I took the role as Heironeous, 'looking down' at the situation, weighing the action, the outcome, and Jeremy's attempt at reconciliation. I did NOT use the rules as a straighjacket (otherwise, technically, Jeremy would have to track down a 9th lvl priest for an Atonement spell). I didn't like the rules to get in the way of...as YOU would say...'the story.' I wanted a natural and organic flow, a deeper role-playing scenario, to carry greater weight on the player and his character. Make him WORK for it, solve the problem for himself.

    I think he did. I granted back his specialty powers. Now, maybe, Jeremy will be MORE mindful of what he says, no matter the circumstances, no matter the odds. Tell the Truth. Make an assumption, perhaps, but say that is what it is. A guess. But don't state it as fact. Instead, say nothing.

    Not sure if we are so different, after all. Wink

    Can I have a biscuit now?

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:31 pm  

    This post is not intended to start a debate. It simply explains why I disagree with you.

    Lanthorn wrote:
    No, my dear Mystic. He lied. He made a statement that he could not back up with facts, but stated it as truth, in the hopes of rallying the villagers to his cause, to improve and bolster their faltering morale.


    Sorry, Lanthorn, but I can only go by what I read:

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Guesses as to the nature of the human-eating monster included a lycanthrope (Jeremy had faced were-beasts before numerous times), a shape-shifting feral druid, and even a humanoid shaman of Beltar.


    Sounds as though Jeremy was convinced that it was a lycanthrope of some type, irregardless of whether or not there were "facts" to support his supposition. That's what I mean by "realism," sorry. You see, you and I did not invent the "lie," nor did we invent it's definition. That comes from a 4000 year old book called . . . the Bible. Jesus credited Satan with telling the first lie and then he and his father set about telling us what a lie is and isn't.

    So, Jeremy did not lie. To lie, he would have had to have known that it was not a lycnathrope and then tell the people that is was a lycanthrope. The way you've written it, you state that Jeremy was convinced that it was a lycanthrope and, having fought them before, he was confident he could deal with the problem. That wasn't a lie.

    Incidently, did you know that the Bible makes it quite plain that it is lying to simply withhold information from "he who has the legal right to know." The man with the Robes and Gavel has "the legal right to know," so says the Almighty God. Meaning? Meaning that if the Judge asks you a question, you cannot invoke the "5th." Not if you're truly a Christian. A true Christian is obedient to God, not to men and God says you cannot withhold the information from the Judge, even if "Caesar" says you can.

    Lanthorn wrote:
    Can I have a biscuit now?


    Sorry, no. Jeremy didn't lie. Of course, we're only talking about a game and you can and should play it the way you see fit. It's your game. But, in truth, Jeremy didn't lie. He only "lied" in your game, because "you" are Heironeous and make your own rules.

    As I said, we're not going to debate it, I'm simply explaining how and why I play it differently and why I say Jeremy did not lie.
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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 3:39 pm  

    I enact a ceasefire on that account, in honor of Rao.

    Jeremy made a statement in game (that perhaps I did not make clear in my recounting of the tale, which is 'my bad') that he knew was not true.

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 9:13 pm  

    "Clearly I remember picking on the boy".
    "Seemed a harmless little *uc*."

    Hmmm... "But we unleashed the lion."
    "Nashed his teeth and bite the recess lady's breast."
    "How can I forget?"

    Jeremy by Pearl Jam Wink

    I guess we had to be there to see or hear the statement.

    O'h Lanthorn Mystic does not part with his biscuit's easily! Laughing

    Later

    Argon
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    Wed Aug 22, 2012 10:12 pm  

    In the meantime, Sarana had recovered from her ordeal and was already planning the necessary, and potentially dangerous, expedition for her prized ingredients. She could not take the precious long time away from Greyhawk City herself to fetch them. Too much was happening as of late, including the influx of Shield Land refugees flooding the city, as well as her normal responsibilities to the Church and the Greyhawk’s many homeless, ill, impoverished, and hungry.

    She turned to Derider for much-needed friendly advice, knowing that her confidante was a former active adventurer. Sarana already planned to task Muamar, Horatio, and Kai-tel with this mission, and had no expectation that Brandis would, or should, join them. She also would call upon Jeremy’s formidable martial, spiritual, and physical might to protect the group. Furthermore, the High Matriarch intended to bargain with Vincent, the very mage who helped acquire the potion to reverse her aging, since he was both an accomplished sorcerer of great power, with numerous talents in the realm of ‘component hunting,’ and a known, trusted member of the Church. Sarana would also ask Sir Owen, holy knight errant and only a recent, returning visitor from lands afar, to serve as the Church’s liaison on this mission and make sure that her will was carried out. But Sarana wondered…was Priestess Shandra, virtually her right hand in managing the daily affairs of the Church, someone with little practical adventuring experience, but who had shown great promise in the manufacture of magical items, ready to take on this responsibility?

    In Derider’s mind, there was no greater opportunity for Shandra to grow in her faith, and her duties as a ranking member of the Church, than to broaden her horizons and expand her experiences beyond the restrictive confines of Greyhawk City. Citing her own history, and even that of the High Matriarch’s, the Constable argued that for Shandra to truly understand how magical potions, and other items, were fashioned, she would have to take a practical, and personal, hand in their creation. Although Sarana remained skeptical, even apprehensive, she begrudgingly agreed with her close friend. However, the decision was, ultimately, up to Shandra, and not one that the High Matriarch wanted her to make hastily, without great thought. She also did not want her younger protégé to feel indebted, or pressured, in any way. Whatever Shandra’s answer, the potion ingredients would be acquired nonetheless.

    (at this point, the group line-up was starting to 'gel')

    Next time, the 'ingredients' revealed... Wink
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    Thu Aug 23, 2012 7:22 am  

    Argon wrote:
    O'h Lanthorn Mystic does not part with his biscuit's easily!


    I understand what happened now. I used the wrong blood when fashioning my homunculus. I had a vial -- for experimentation -- that had been donated by a man named "Watson."

    I recent spoke with his friend, a Mr. Sherlock Holmes, who informed me that this Watson person was notorious for withholding vital information and yet, at the same time, insisting that Holmes form a conclusion.

    Form a conclusion? Without sufficient data?

    Yes, the homunculus called "Lanthorn" was formed with Watson's donated blood! Oh! The horror! Evil Grin

    Okay, so the bastard lied! Razz

    Good thing he doesn't serve Pholtus! He of the Blinding Light would have struck him DEAD! Evil Grin
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    Thu Aug 23, 2012 5:47 pm  

    tsk tsk... <sigh>

    shaking head,

    Lanthorn
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    Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:17 pm  

    Shadra,

    Needs to go into the field and get some bat guano if she decides against getting supplies for potions.

    Later

    Argon
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    Thu Aug 23, 2012 9:33 pm  

    Sarana soon asked Shandra to have a private conversation with her in the High Matriarch’s study and outlined, rather openly and clearly, the dilemma presented before them both. “I require two necessary ingredients to recreate the potions of vitality,” Sarana mentioned. “Both are very hard to come by, and will require traveling some distance from the city. It will not be an easy road, and the first ingredient will carry you into great peril,” she noted with concern. When Shandra inquired, the High Matriarch added, “Two troll hearts, one for each potion,” which had the younger priestess rocking back in her chair, eyes wide in alarm mixed with a bit of fear. This soon changed to confusion.

    “Pelor would sanction such a…hunt?” It struck Shandra as odd that the Sun Father would approve of such wanton bloodshed, even regarding the likes of a troll.

    Sarana noted her mentee’s comment, nodding approvingly of the question. “Trolls are monsters, through and through,” she replied evenly. “They are irredeemably Evil, even more so than any humanoid or giant. They kill without question, without hesitation. All trolls do is kill and eat, kill and eat, and make more trolls,” the High Matriarch remarked with revulsion. “Countless innocent people have been torn apart and eaten by these vile predators,” she remarked, eyes narrowed, a hard edge to her normally soft tone. “Pelor does not condone wholesale slaughter or genocide, Shandra, even of trolls,” Sarana added, “but the Flanaess will be a much better, and safer, place lacking a few more of these beasts.” The High Matriarch settled back in her chair, her anger ebbing, before adding a parting warning. “I assure you that they will find you before you find them.”

    “Why trolls?” Shandra asked, trying not to show her growing anxiety.

    “Their remarkable regenerative abilities are required for the potion. The hearts must be fresh, but fortunately for us, they beat for three days after removal,” Sarana said, drawing a disgusted but awestruck look from Shandra. “There are other creatures that could do, but trolls are a bit easier to come by in these parts. They can be found in the nearby Cairn Hills at times, but in greater numbers they dwell in both the Mistmarsh and the Abbor-alz. Sometimes, a few can be found in the Gnarley Forest, too, but only rarely.”

    “What of the other ingredients?” Shandra asked softly, nervously. She heard plenty of the dangers posed by trolls, and the deadly, horrific efficiency with which they could tear apart virtually any living thing that crossed their path…before being devoured in moments. Her own brother, Jeremy, had faced a few in his adventures, even somewhat recently, and barely lived to tell the tale.

    “The sweat from a werebear, freely given,” the High Matriarch replied, drawing a perplexed and equally fearful glance from Shandra. Noting her expression, Sarana quickly added, “Fear not. Not all werebeasts are Evil. Werebears are the guardians of the forest and not the savage killers that werewolves are.” It was only a year or two ago, after all, since Shandra had run afoul a terrible pack of werewolves with some wererat underlings residing in the City’s Foreign Quarter, the lycanthropes intent on infecting innocent citizens to repopulate their numbers. The dreadful shape-shifters had been defeated, their plan thwarted, in no small part due to both Jeremy and Shandra, but the horror she witnessed had forever marked the priestess of Pelor.

    “Where do we…I...get werebear sweat?” she asked haltingly, confused.

    “They can be found in the Gnarley Forest in a village called Beltander,” Sarana answered. “Or perhaps you may be able to find a few in Corustaith, but I think Beltander is your better choice. I have a few friends there who may help you, but the sweat must be given freely,” the High Matriarch reiterated, “without harm to the werebear. You may have to barter and convince one of them, of course. I may ask Jallarzi to assist you on this; I know she enjoys that place, as does Edwina, for it was once her home.”

    The mention of the powerful sorceress, an avid ally and staunch follower of the Church of Pelor, and her diminutive but playful dragon familiar brought a smile to Shandra’s face. She merely nodded.

    “I believe the trolls should come first,” Sarana offered, “for already it is fall and soon colder temperatures will fall upon the Domain. The surrounding hills and mountains will be the first to feel the bite of winter. Trust me,” she added with a knowing smile, “you don’t want to be caught out there when it snows.”

    Shandra sat back with a heavy decision weighing upon her, and her expression drew concern from Sarana, who leaned forward to put a supportive hand on her shoulder.

    “Give it great thought before you answer,” the high priestess said softly. “You have a right to be worried, as it can be a dangerous world. But I assure you that you will not travel without trained and skilled companions.” The High Matriarch added the list of names, including Sir Owen, the paladin, and Shandra’s own brother, which drew a glance from the younger cleric. But she only nodded, realizing the debt that Jeremy owed for the Divine gift bestowed upon him.
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:11 am  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    “I require two necessary ingredients to recreate the potions of vitality . . . Two troll hearts, one for each potion . . . They are irredeemably Evil, even more so than any humanoid or giant."


    Hmm. I don't know. Are you sure?

    There was that adventure: "The Born-Again Ogres of the Blinding Light." (Card Stock, City of Greyhawk boxed set)

    Haraldus, Priest of Pholtus, had a group of four Ogre converts, servants of Pholtus, that he wanted the PCs to protect -- from other humans -- on their way to "the City" for worship. Wink

    And you know how Ogres, Giants and Trolls love to hang out together -- consult any Monster Manual. Are you sure Shandra isn't going to accidentally "kill" a converted Troll? Confused

    This could get interesting. A beautiful little side adventure . . . should the DM be up to it, that is. Evil Grin


    Mwahahahahahahahahaha!
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 11:42 am  

    Perception is "reality", unfortunately, regardless of race, religion, alignment, etc.

    -Lanthorn
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 12:35 pm  

    So now Shandra and company will be attacked by Paladins of Pholtus (called Templars) for killing Troll worshipers of the Blinding Light! Shocked

    Man, that is super cool! Cool

    It's going to get interesting now, I'll tell you! Evil Grin


    Mwahahahahahahahahaha!
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 1:01 pm  

    Mystic-Scholar wrote:
    Lanthorn wrote:
    “I require two necessary ingredients to recreate the potions of vitality . . . Two troll hearts, one for each potion . . . They are irredeemably Evil, even more so than any humanoid or giant."


    Hmm. I don't know. Are you sure?

    There was that adventure: "The Born-Again Ogres of the Blinding Light." (Card Stock, City of Greyhawk boxed set)

    Haraldus, Priest of Pholtus, had a group of four Ogre converts, servants of Pholtus, that he wanted the PCs to protect -- from other humans -- on their way to "the City" for worship. Wink


    A couple of comments.

    First, since the MM lists them as "Chaotic Evil", not "usually Chaotic Evil", they are innately evil and do not stray from that alignment. This applies to both ogres and trolls. However, there was a Dragon Magazine article that was reprinted back in the Best of the Dragon, Vol. IV (I believe) that explained that such a creature could temporarily have its alignment changed if it was raised by a goodly adoptive 'parent'. I supppose the same could be accomplished by a zealous cleric on adult subjects on rare ocassions.

    Second, if all evil creatures in D&D are potentially good, that turns the game into a modern police/detective drama where the good guys can't shoot (hack) anyone without making every possible effort to restrain them and haul them back to face justice in court and imprisonment instead of cutting their way through the underdark to destroy Lolth herself. Can you imagine the impossibility of building enough prisons to house all the evil creatures in the Flanaess and half-way houses to rehabilitate them?

    That Ogres of the Blinding Light short adventure was great fun, but I simply applied my first point above and the PCs eventually agreed that the dwarves were right as the Ogres weren't likely to have remained of LG alignment for long. (Best case scenario, Haraldus or another Pholtun priest keeps them with him for constant supervision and guidance. But what does he do with them. Use them as guards for a temple? If they are anywhere near common worshippers, that is just playing with fire. What goodly church would risk the lives of their worshippers by keeping four ogres around?)

    SirXaris
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 4:00 pm  

    Xaris,

    You're making me think that you guys over at TPK need to work on your sense of humor! Shocked

    I think, in the future, I'll preface such remarks with: "This is a joke. This is only a joke."

    Laughing Laughing Laughing

    Lighten up! Don't take everything seriously! Evil Grin
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 5:11 pm  

    Sorry, Mystic. Just use a few more emoticons and I'll be able to figure out when you're joking. At least half a dozen per paragraph. Razz

    SirXaris
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 7:08 pm  

    Wink
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    Fri Aug 24, 2012 8:20 pm  

    I for one prefer to think of any creature's listed alignment as the primary alignment associated with the race. Many variation's apply. Though if evil is part of the alignment most of the variants will be aligned along the evil alignment choice's, next would be neutral with chaotic being more likely for ogres sine their based alignment is CE. Good ogres are as rare as four leaf clovers, though chaotic good is more likely then lawful good or neutral good would be.

    I don't believe that an ogre who has a good alignment would be any more likely to convert to an evil alignment, then a evil elf is likely to convert to a good alignment.

    Later

    Argon
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    Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:40 am  

    Argon,

    Out of curiosity, do your players slay every male orc they come across, despite the fact that in your campaign, 1% or so are actually of good alignment? Do they slay all the female orcs, too, or just the ones that attack them? Do they Detect Alignment/Evil first? What do they do about all the orc young once they've killed all the parents? Do they take them to an orphanage in the city and hope to adopt them all out to goodly humans/demi-humans or do they just abandon them to their fate? After all, if they can be of any alignment, the young are largely a product of their society - you can't blame children for being bad if that's what their parents taught them.

    How do you deal with those issues in your campaign?

    SirXaris
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    Sat Aug 25, 2012 8:53 am  

    SirXaris wrote:
    What do they do about all the orc young once they've killed all the parents?


    So, after killing the "mother" rattlesnake, you spare the young . . . because they're just so cute? Shocked

    I know I do! Evil Grin


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    Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:11 pm  

    (slaps hand in forehead with a groan)

    Cast "Restore Thread Integrity and Focus" before continuing campaign story...

    -Lanthorn
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    Sat Aug 25, 2012 12:14 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    (slaps hand in forehead with a groan)


    I can appreciate the sentiment, but . . .

    We're the ones waiting for Shandra to make up her mind. Wink
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    Sat Aug 25, 2012 1:53 pm  

    Sir Xaris,

    I don't see everything as black and white. There are gray areas in everything. Besides wars are fought all the time for what one side perceives is evil or wrong. During the civil war no one detected alignment. However, each side fought and killed each other because the perception of wrong or evil existed for both sides.

    So if the orcs attack them they will defend themselves and itf they have to kill them they will do so. However, if a party raids an orcish outpost that (unlikely) has not harmed the other races or creatures in the area, then they have done an evil act. Just because a person or creature is evil, does not give someone the right to kill them in cold blood. To defend themselves or the welfare of others is what determines right from wrong. Though it depends on what side your viewing the right and wrong aspect from.

    I forget whom made the quote but I enjoyed it well. "War does not determine who is wrong or right. It only determines who's left! Wink

    Now let's return thing's back to the threads normal topic of conversation. If you like create a separate thread where we could discuss our difference of opinion.

    Later

    Argon
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    Sat Aug 25, 2012 4:37 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    (slaps hand in forehead with a groan)

    Cast "Restore Thread Integrity and Focus" before continuing campaign story...

    -Lanthorn


    Thanks for the answer, Argon. I'll drop the issue now, though, because Lanthorn is right... and we are wrong, so... you are wrong, Argon - it is black and white. Razz

    SirXaris
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    Sat Aug 25, 2012 6:35 pm  

    Laughing

    Ok Shandra go get those supplies now!


    Later

    Argon
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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 9:21 am  

    Back (finally) by popular demand:

    Shandra reflected deep and long the rest of that day, but ultimately, she came to the conclusion that, like it or not, she needed to go beyond her normal duties and expand her skill set in order to rise in the ranks. If she planned to pursue magical studies and item creation for the benefit of the Church, to better serve Pelor, she had to take on this expedition. The very next day, Shandra approached Sarana and accepted the High Matriarch’s offer, albeit with some reticence.

    Sarana tried to allay some of her fears, but new that she was placing her mentee and friend in a potentially dangerous situation, something that the high priestess did not like doing. Nevertheless, there was no other choice if the potions were to be recreated, and all other options were less feasible. Sarana made a few other stipulations clear that she wanted Shandra to understand.

    Firstly, Shandra, with Sir Owen’s assistance, were the leaders of this expedition and served as the liaisons of the Church of Pelor to make sure everything was done properly. Ultimate decisions were placed on Shandra’s shoulders to make, but Sarana encouraged her to listen to all members of the group, primarily Vincent, Sir Owen, and Brandis, as all of them were veterans with great experience in the outdoors.

    Secondly, Vincent had agreed to join the adventuring party. His magical powers and skills would prove critical to the success of the mission. Sarana advised that Shandra rely upon his wisdom and practical experience to find and appropriate the troll hearts. The mage had agreed to serve as Shandra’s ‘magical advisor’ on the mission; he would receive a ‘cut’ of all potential components in order to pay for his services. However, under no circumstances was this to place the party in unnecessary danger or supersede the primary goal of gathering the troll hearts.

    Sir Owen was to serve as Shandra’s personal bodyguard and protector, first and foremost. Everything else was secondary. The High Matriarch had made that clear to the holy knight, and he heartily agreed.

    In order to help finance the cost of the manufacturing the potions, Sarana decreed that the entire party tithe a tenth of all monies and/or treasure that may be discovered on the expedition. In the event that nothing valuable was found (a distinct possibility), then the Church would receive a portion of all gathered components and sell them to the Guild of Wizards for needed income. The rest would go to Vincent.

    Now that Shandra had agreed to lead the mission, the High Matriarch placed her in charge of gathering the entire group, with Sir Owen’s help, and explain the goals and expectations for them. With some anxiety given the gravity of what was at stake, as well as some doubt as to her own abilities in this new challenge, the priestess immediately set to work to fetch them.


    Last edited by Lanthorn on Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:59 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 9:49 am  

    Hmm. As I haven't posted Part 9 of "That Infamous key" yet, and the characters do visit the Temple of Pelor and speak with Sarana, perhaps Shandra could be thrown into the mix?

    I'll think on it. Wink
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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 11:31 am  

    About time that book-wormish priestess gets a leg out of the church. If she play's her cards right she won't even have to involve herself directly in killing off some trolls.

    Shandra and Sarana get a guest spot in the story prior to me. Shocked

    Maybe your just saving the best for last! Wink

    Later

    Argon
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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 12:07 pm  

    Argon wrote:
    Shandra and Sarana get a guest spot in the story prior to me.


    Well, Shandra, perhaps. Remember, I said it before: Parts 8, 9, 10 &11 have been "sitting" in my computer for sometime. Yes, Parts 9, 10 & 11 are already written. Sarana's been in the story. Wink

    Shandra! You go girl! Laughing
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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 1:47 pm  

    In the meantime, Jeremy had been grappling with his own personal issues. Not only was he unsure of his standing in the eyes of Heironeous, but he was also feeling ‘lost’ and pulled in his duties, obligations, and responsibilities between the militia, the Sanctum, Greyhawk City, and now, the Temple of Pelor. He was doubting himself, his sense of honor and worth, and needing of direction. His many, long conversations with Jaikor did little to give Jeremy a clear direction to follow; in fact, Jaikor only indicated that Jeremy must follow his own course and determine what Jeremy needed to do to uphold the tenets of the Archpaladin. Jeremy was a Copper Crusader, after all, and thus, was, first and foremost, charged with the defense of the Cairn Hills and to protect the militia patrolling that dangerous region. During his youth, he may have trained in the Sanctum, and Jaikor maintained it was always a sanctuary and home for Jeremy, but the Cairn Hills required the crusader’s ever-vigilance, and the crusader still had several years’ service to perform as was agreed when he was initiated. Too, Jaikor was less and less inclined to tell Jeremy what to do, for now the two were more ‘brothers’ in the Church hierarchy, but to Jeremy, Jaikor would ever be his mentor, no matter the ranking between them.

    Nonetheless, Jeremy felt at a loss and unsure what to do. He was always accustomed to being told what to do, and where to patrol, to follow his conscience as well as the code of Heironeous. Jeremy’s recent failures as a hand-picked patrol leader (by none other than both the Captain General himself, perhaps against the better judgment of Tigran Gellner, Commander of the Cairn Hills militia) hunting bandits in the Cairn Hills, as well as his death at the claws of the barghest, only undermined the man’s belief in himself and his decisions. To add insult to injury, he had lost his father’s prized magical battle axe months before to a roving band of savage orcs in the Abbor-alz on a secret expedition that quickly became an utter military debacle. Jeremy was only one of a handful of survivors who barely managed to stumble out of the wilderness with his life intact. Once proud, supremely confident, perhaps even brash, this hulking man of conviction was reduced to self-doubt and great humility.

    Shandra met with her brother shortly thereafter, explaining Jeremy’s role on this expedition. Although the priestesss did not truly want her brother to be placed in harm’s way, especially on a mission in which she may have to make decisions affecting his survival, she had little recourse. Jeremy, on the other hand, was not supportive of Shandra’s decision to lead the mission to find monstrous, deadly trolls! Nevertheless, the fate of the two siblings was intertwined at this point, and though Sir Own was Shandra’s overt protector, Jeremy was determined to make sure that she was doubly protected! Shandra parted with her brother, telling him to be ready to depart in a few days’ time.

    Destitute and with only the barest of equipment in his possession, Jeremy could no longer rely on the resources of the Citadel’s vast armory, much less the scant military resources of the Sanctum (they were largely gone due to the need by the Shield Landers, many of whom were members of the Faithful of Heironeous, to reclaim their homeland). Instead, he made an honorable bargain with Jaikor. Jeremy offered up his last magical item, an enchanted shield, on a barter system to be completely outfitted in a suit of chain, helmet, shield, and weaponry, including a battle axe, crossbow with bolts, and hand axe. If he failed to return these items in good condition back to the Sanctum, then his claim on the item was forfeit. Jaikor reluctantly agreed, noting the shift in Jeremy’s normally jovial, upbeat demeanor, as the crusader turned over the enchanted item. Furthermore, Jaikor allowed Jeremy to collect a small amount of various religious components to serve him in his travels ahead.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:12 pm  

    Are you sure Heironeous, cared about Jeremy's lie? or was it an excuse to get the cry baby demoted? Razz Laughing

    I think Hextor is pointing out that kid to his brother Heironeous. "Hey Mister invincible I was not aware tears shielded you from a swords blade? Maybe that's why mom puts the lotion (meersalm) on you?" Evil Grin Laughing

    Later

    Argon
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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 2:33 pm  

    Jeremy has had a rough patch lately. He started off as Mighty Mouse (here I come to save the day), a monniker I used for him, and now has been kicked in the butt many times over. The last three campaigns (maybe four) have seen him lose more than just battles, nearly ending his own life, but also demotion in the military, and virtually ALL of his magical items. Losing the +3 battleaxe was the most crushing defeat. Sad Some of these losses were brought upon by circumstance. Others were the result of Jeremy's poor decisions; the man with a big axe, massive strength, and LOTS of hit points had to learn, the hard way, that not ALL enemies can be beaten by strength of arms and spells. Sometimes it is best to retreat...errrr...'strategic withdrawal.' Wink

    So, I wouldn't say 'cry baby' per se', but definitely he's got a whipped dog perspective, and is trying to find a way to rally and make a difference. He's a man in crisis, of faith, of self, of direction. GREAT role play ensues.

    Now that he's 7th lvl, Jaikor doesn't feel it is his place to 'tell' Jeremy what to do. He thinks that Jeremy for too long lived under Jaikor's shadow. Now it is time for Jeremy to 'man up', take ownership for himself even if it is not all his fault, and assume the mantle of leadership as a crusader fighting for the Archpaladin. Jaikor is there as friend, mentor, but no longer as a religious crutch (also a DM device to get the character to make some choices). Jeremy must find his own way within the hierarchy and structure of the Sanctum, as well as his own personal goals, while upholding his agreements and honor.

    -Lanthorn
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    Sun Aug 26, 2012 3:00 pm  

    You seem to have a character determined to learn his lesson the hard way . . . repeatedly.

    If he thinks to do it, you should allow an "older" priest of Heironeous to answer some of his questions, regarding his standing with the Archpaladin. Such a priest would be able to glean the answer.

    He could be informed that, while displeased with him, Heironeous has not "cast him aside." Then tell him -- via the priest -- that Heironeous wished him to learn humility and that his faithful performance of this mission, for a woman that restored his life, would go a long way to improving his standing.

    Let him "hear" these things from his god. Wink
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    Mon Aug 27, 2012 12:13 am  

    I like Mystic-Scholar's idea.

    That PC definitely needs some reassurance in the future. It sounds like he's had some doubts about his place and in a time of great need, if he's truly learned, he might be granted favor or a sign at the very least for remaining faithful after all he's been through.
    GreySage

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    Mon Aug 27, 2012 6:13 am  

    Stay tuned, my friends! Your concerns will be addressed 'shortly.' Fear not; Jeremy may have strayed from the code of Heironeous, and thus, temporarily 'fallen from grace' (lost his specialty priest abilities as a Gloryaxe), but the Archpaladin allows for atonement and forgiveness...

    -Lanthorn
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    Mon Aug 27, 2012 8:20 pm  

    Ok, I'll give Jeremy one more chance! But if that boy sheds another tear, I sending his resume to the church of Rao! Evil Grin

    Later

    Argon
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    Tue Aug 28, 2012 1:41 pm  

    I'm with the Barbarian. Jeremy needs to suck it up, get back in the saddle, and go kick some evil butt! Quit whining and feeling sorry for himself. I'm not interested in his 'feelings'! What does he think he is, a half-elven sorcerer! rolleyes

    Razz

    SirXaris
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    Tue Aug 28, 2012 4:45 pm  

    Argon and SirXaris, you two should run a boot camp for Heironeans! Sheesh, and I thought that I was a believer of tough love! Wink

    More to come, soon, promise!

    -Lanthorn
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    Tue Aug 28, 2012 8:38 pm  

    Lanthorn,

    How do you know Sir Xaris and I, don't run a boot camp? Wink

    Stop crying you nancy boy knight. Suck it up and get your inner Heironeous on! Mad

    Later

    Argon
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:35 am  

    Jeremy was not alone in his internal turmoil. Jaran, too, was suffering from pangs of self-doubt as well as guilt over the crusader’s death. The true horror of his magically-compelled treachery weighed heavily on the mind and soul of the Fharlanghn priest. In order to cope with his feelings of regret and shame, Jaran had returned home to his father’s estate of the Blackfair Manor. He was greeted with open arms by his family, all of whom wanted to hear of the young cleric’s most recent travels and adventures. Ashamed of his actions, and haunted by the barghest’s power over his mind and soul, Jaran told only scant details about his dangerous journey through the Cairn Hills, and completely avoided any mention about High Ery and ‘the beast,’ even when asked about the rumors the family had heard about the dreadful creature’s depredations. However, his father was a savvy veteran and could tell something was troubling his young son, so he wisely, respectfully, waited for a more private time to inquire.

    Jaran spent the next several days in deep contemplation as he meandered through the estate lands and immersed himself in frequent conversations with the locals while trying to reconcile with the horrible past. He offered free knowledge about the news of the road and Greyhawk City while also blessing travelers and caravans passing through Lord Blackfair’s estate on behalf of Fharlanghn. He visited his father’s private stable to marvel at the Lord’s prized steeds, and even took the occasional ride through the countryside in order to clear his mind and purge himself of guilt.

    Late one evening, over a warm snifter of brandy and a crackling fire, Lord Blackfair asked Jaran what was troubling his son. The two men were alone, save one or two shaggy dogs in attendance. Jaran could not refrain from telling his father the awful truth what had transpired in High Ery and the Cairn Hills. He had too much respect and honor for his sire and knew that the Lord who not betray his confidence. Jaran told his father everything, pouring his guild-ridden heart forth, including his betrayal of Jeremy that, ultimately, led to his friend’s death…and consumption by the monster.

    Seeing his son distraught, the Lord did what any compassionate, good father would do and tried to console him. It pained the veteran warrior to see his boy wracked thusly, and he offered what counsel he could to his son. He asked if Fharlanghn held Jaran responsible for what had transpired, to which the young cleric shook his head. He did not think so, as he had no indication of his God’s displeasure.

    “Then you must forgive yourself, son,” Blackfair offered. “And perhaps make amends to the man you feel you betrayed. Only then will you be free from this guilt you feel inside. Otherwise, it will travel with you, no matter where you may roam.”
    GreySage

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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 12:10 pm  

    Sorry, Lanthorn, but I have to ask: Just how many cry babies doe you have in this group? Confused

    Laughing Laughing Laughing

    Just kidding, but in truth, your characters are acting as though this had been their first "battle." I'm sorry, but soldiers do not "vomit" every time they kill the enemy. That only happens the first couple of times.

    By 3rd level, I expect my characters to come to the realization that "poop" happens . . . deal with it. Including the supposed betrayal that Jaran "feels."

    You make your Gods too impersonal." These men are not of the laity class. One is a Cleric, the other a Paladin (of sorts). Their Gods would not allow them to continue in such an "uncomforted" state. And, as "learned" religious men, they would know that if they had not greatly offended their Gods, then they have no reason for such guilt.

    Of course, you play it as you will, but that's how I "see" it. Wink
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 2:38 pm  

    Soldiers, no matter how many tours of duty they perform, no matter how often they train, still get emotional trauma. Ask any trusted friend you may know who has served (and I have a few). And as emotional beings, such things as rape, torture, blood, gore, mass death and destruction, and anything they would perceive as hideous, monstrous, or the like would weigh heavily on even the sternest heart. As Viet Nam and Gulf War vets, many of whom suffer from post-traumatic syndrome. True, some people can 'desensitize' themselves from some of these disturbing stimuli, but at what "human" cost? I think that the human emotional element should not be understated. Fight a war against demons or the undead, and I think most people, clerics and paladins included, would suffer from trauma. Some might just cover it better than others...

    Animal attack victims (ex: shark, bear, lion) replay in their minds the horrible events of any predatory mauling, and these are mundane, ordinary creatures. Imagine being attacked by something like a barghest!

    I think Jaran is not so much as a cry baby, but a man who feels TERRIBLE for helping, albeit against his will, with the death and CONSUMPTION of his trusted friend. If the player didn't role play such pangs of guilt, I'd wonder about his 'soul' and humanity.

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:20 pm  

    I understand your point, Lanthorn, and agree that you are correct in real life. However, the consensus of those of us reading and commenting on your story seems to be that we aren't interested in reading about all the emotional drama. This is a fantasy game/story that is all about being entertained. We want to read about the adventures. What we don't want is a soap opera. Good adventure stories include elements of emotion, but don't dwell on them. You've just gone too far to the left. Move your story back to the sword-toting right a bit. Wink

    SirXaris
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:26 pm  

    Embarassed

    Forgive the 'righteous role-player' in me (as per Campaign Sourcebook descriptor of various gaming styles...).

    ...back to our normally scheduled programming...


    Last edited by Lanthorn on Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:59 pm; edited 2 times in total
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 3:30 pm  

    (Like sands through the hourglass...so are the Days of our Lives...) Wink

    “A donation to Fharlanghn, then,” Jaran replied. He bade his family farewell and hastily made his way back to the bustling city.

    Taking lodgings at the rustic temple of The Wanderer, Jaran offered his father’s coin to the institution, then made his way to the nearby Sanctum of Heironeous with increasing anxiety.

    Shandra had been busy in the meantime, preparing for the impending journey. She made full use of Vincent’s and Sir Owen’s assistance in gathering Brandis, Muamar, and Kai-tel and informed all of them about the High Matriarch’s expectations. Shandra was surprised to learn that, many years in the past, Brandis and Sir Owen had served together on a previous religious expedition to the Gnarley Forest!

    Apparently, as a much younger, but still extremely skilled warrior, Brandis (then an active mercenary and local hero from the Foreign Quarter) had returned from a disastrous mission ending in the deaths of some of his friends. Already familiar with the Temple of Pelor and its clerics, as well as the Constable herself, through his goodly actions in the city’s rougher parts of the city, Brandis now brought the remains of his friends to the clergy of the Sun Father for possible restoration. Thanks to her personal conversations with Derider, Sarana knew the character of the ‘local hero’ quite well. After checking into the dispositions of his dead allies and their wishes, the High Matriarch agreed to raise them from the dead…on the condition that Brandis and his friends would perform a critical task for the Church of Pelor. Brandis, along with a younger Sir Owen, and Brandis’ raised friends, would travel to the Gnarley Forest to seek out a very specific item for Sarana: a very old but still living tree branch from an ipp tree. The limb would have to be several hundred years old…in fact, the older the better. The only other replacement for such a rare find would be the limb offered freely from a living treant! Over the course of many long and dangerous weeks (the sylvan elves were not very welcoming, either), Brandis and company returned with an ancient branch, leaves still attached and green (magic was used to keep them vital and fresh).

    Shandra was awestruck when she heard of this amazing tale, regaled by the High Matriarch herself. Sarana went on to remark that the expedition was a success, smiling fondly as she cradled one of her highly prized and enchanted Staves of Curing that she had fashioned personally!

    Although Brandis was not expected to venture forth on this expedition, he felt honor-bound to do so (in spite of his duties to his family and fellow blacksmiths, all of whom were growing increasingly agitated with him). Sir Owen was glad to serve alongside a man he respected, not only for his great fighting prowess, but also for his good heart and common sense. Although the paladin was a much more seasoned warrior now than in the past, he still considered the blacksmith-warrior as his mentor and friend. The holy knight spoke highly of Brandis to Shandra, considering it a boon to their upcoming mission that his ‘old friend’ was joining them.
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 5:52 pm  

    Better... At least nobody cried in this episode. Razz

    SirXaris
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 6:33 pm  

    Gimme time... Wink Or maybe one of YOU will shed a tear. Cry Next time moisture is leaked from a lacrimal gland, I will give the offending (N)PC your name, SirXaris, to act as counselor and therapist. Happy Oh, darn! I forgot. You and Argon are running a tough love/boot camp intervention!!! Shocked

    -Lanthorn, Passing out the Kleenex
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 7:50 pm  

    Actually I can see Jaran emotional distress more then Jeremy's. Jaran was indirectly responsible for a friends death. It would be different if they fought on equal ground against the barghest. That did not happen, instead a priest who's will must be strong was controlled by a foul creature. Because Jaran had failed to overcome the barghest control or manipulation, a friend died. This though a great burden is just the beginning of Jaran pain and depression. How could he trust himself again? What else can twist his will and make the priest succumb temptation, or manipulation again?

    Jaran struggle feels more real to me. So let's see how this plays out. Jeremy on the other hand is a Paladin and while alone might shed a tear for something heinous, he dwelling on defeat to much for someone in his position.

    I would not directly interfere with either character through their deity. As it seems Lanthorn has provided both characters with a means to make amends with their troubles.

    Though Jeremy should recover quicker as his troubles may be he's not cut out to be a paladin. Jaran should be in a state where he questions himself.

    Just my two pfenning's.

    Later

    Argon
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:02 pm  

    My fellow 'righteous roleplayer' speaks! Happy I, too, saw all this as great character development, not peripheral to the campaign, but INTEGRAL to it.

    Sorry if some of you are bored with the 'emotional' aspect I have relayed your way; I merely wanted to tell how how things unfolded, including the role playing aspects. Feel free to scroll down to...or ignore the parts without... the blood and guts. I'll never know the difference. Wink

    Thanks, Argon.

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 8:11 pm  

    Now clean up those tears before one of the two characters converts to the worship of Geshtai! Razz Laughing

    Later

    Argon
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 9:19 pm  

    Sir, yes, sir!

    saluting,

    -Lanthorn
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    Wed Aug 29, 2012 11:01 pm  

    By now, Jaran had easily found Jeremy. In spite of his reservations how the crusader would receive him, the priest of Fharlanghn was utterly shocked that Jeremy bore him absolutely no ill will whatsoever. He seemed to empathize with Jaran’s sense of shame, particularly how they ‘failed’ the people of High Ery against the marauding beast. Jeremy had suffered enough personal setbacks to understand Jaran’s angst, and told him their friendship held true.

    However, upon hearing of the expedition that Jeremy was about to undertake in order to repay his life-debt to Pelor, Jaran refused to remain behind. Jeremy protested that his friend owed him anything for what had transpired. Jaran disagreed, reasoning that if the barghest had not used him to lure the crusader into a trap, then Jeremy would still be alive. No, Jaran told his friend; Jeremy’s life-debt was also Jaran’s. He claimed that they were both intertwined, as Istus had decided in her web of Fate, and Fharlanghn had placed Jaran’s path alongside Jeremy’s. With that line of reasoning as well as respecting Jaran’s sense of personal honor, especially as a crusader of Heironeous, Jeremy relented. Besides, what better guide and tracker to assist them in locating a troll in the wilderness than a capable priest of Fharlanghn?!

    Shandra, on the other hand, was not so pleased with this new development. Weeks prior she had secretly placed a Charm spell upon Jaran before she helped Jaikor to retrieve the crusader’s remains (without knowing the mental trickery the barghest employed against the priest) in order to learn fully the extent what had happened to her deceased brother, as well as Jaran’s involvement. Under the influence of Shandra’s spell, as well as her gentle probing, the guilt-ridden man, considering her a trusted confidante, explained what happened. Although she felt remorse for the turmoil Jaran felt in betraying her brother, part of her had difficulty fully forgiving him for Jeremy’s death. It was something she knew she had to reconcile, not only for Jaran’s sake, but also her own. Her belief in Pelor’s teachings, the doctrine of healing those who were suffering, including her brother’s inadvertent betrayer, compelled her to do so…though it was not easy. She had to forgive him.

    When she learned that Jaran was emphatic about joining the religious expedition, Shandra was adamantly opposed to the gesture. She wanted to distance herself, and her brother, not only with Jaran, but also the past, even though, deep in her heart, she knew she was being petty and irrational. Sir Owen, Shandra’s advisor and defender for the mission, disagreed with the priestess’ opinion, even though he was not privy to all of her personal reasonings. An avid outdoorsman, traveler, and knight errant for the cause of Pelor, Sir Owen had met and befriended many followers of The Wanderer, some of them members of the clergy. He spoke very highly of the priesthood, their benevolence to those on the road (or in the wilds) who require assistance, their love for the outdoors and nature’s beauty, relative open-mindedness to new people and cultures, and also their useful talents, both magical and mundane.

    Despite her reservations, Shandra listened to Sir Owen’s advice, swallowed her pride and subdued anger against Jaran, and eventually acquiesced. It was also a way for Jaran to embark on the path towards spiritual and emotional healing, and she had to support that decision. Jaran was invited to join the expedition, to serve as scout, tracker, and wilderness aide alongside Horatio, Brandis’ ranger friend. Besides, according to Sir Owen, he would be the only spell-caster with any power over nature and the elements (though nowhere nearly as complete as members of the druidic faiths).
    GreySage

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    Thu Aug 30, 2012 12:31 pm  

    This is beginning to remind me of CruelSummerLord's Company of the Silver Wolf stories. Yet another dysfunctional Adventuring Group. You can read a sample of his stories and my comment on it here:

    http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=847&mode=&order=0&thold=0

    I wondered -- out loud -- how his adventuring company ever formed in the first place. Your group is beginning to sound much like his. The only saving grace is that you have the Matriarch of Pelor coercing this group to work together -- for the most part.

    But I don't see them remaining together for long. The thought of "treasure" may bring a group of Adventurers together, initially, but only a growing friendship will keep them together. Otherwise, once the "treasure" is attained, they will go their separate ways. Your characters -- between them -- have way too much "guilt tripping" going on, to remain a cohesive group for any great length of time.

    I'm sorry and I don't mean to criticize your efforts, but that's the way I'm seeing it. That's how it "reads" to me. Check out the Company of the Silver Wolf stories and you'll see what I mean.

    Regrettably, CruelSummerLord hasn't posted any more of those stories in quite some time and that's too bad. His story was developing nicely, there were simply some adjustments needing to be made and some character decisions explained to help the Reader understand why these people chose to stay together. That never happened, unfortunately. The stories just stopped.

    Don't you let our comments do the same to you. Accept them as what they are meant to be: Constructive Criticism, to help you improve the story. Not a "beat down." Wink

    Of course, this is supposed to be a gaming group, with actual people and so some things may be hard to accomplish. But this fantasy "adventuring group" is headed for a break-up, if it continues to be played out in this fashion.

    Keep them coming, Lanthorn. Cool
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    Thu Aug 30, 2012 2:58 pm  

    Explanation:

    Not sure what you mean by 'dysfunctional.' Nobody is back-stabbing each other or trying to undermine other characters. True, everybody has their own reason for going (and thankfully it doesn't revolve around killing for wealth, which I think is overdone). They each have their own reasons for going:

    Brandis and Horatio: obligation and duty to friends; nothing wrong with that, is there?
    Jeremy, Muamar, and Kai-tel: repaying the life-debt...at least part of it; for Jeremy, though, this goes deeper...he has MUCH to prove as I outlined earlier
    Sir Owen: duty to the Church of Pelor; he's also 'sweet' on Shandra and doesn't want any harm to happen to her
    Vincent: AGREED to go
    Shandra: also a volunteer, and wants to expand her horizons
    Jaran: yes, guilt, pure and simple, a raw human emotion; but also driven by friendship to Jeremy

    So they aren't the traditional adventurers. I liked that.

    As for not staying together for long...perhaps that is true...but, for us, there are ALWAYS more characters to play, concepts to try out, more than time will even allow. Throughout my campaigns, PCs come and PCs go. That works for us. In a traditional group of 3-5 players, you are right. However, my player enjoys trying out new concepts (I agree with him). Some characters retire, or get put on the 'back burner.' Then we grab a new concept, develop another PC, and off we go. Even Jeremy, at one point in time, was "only" an NPC til we 'elevated' him to PC status.

    "Keep them coming, Lanthorn. Cool"

    Will do. Almost done with this recounting of the backstory on the Cairn Hills campaign, then will shift to the next one...

    -Lanthorn
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    Thu Aug 30, 2012 5:59 pm  

    Jeremy had spent many long days preparing for the upcoming expedition, not only gathering equipment, armor, weapons, provisions, and spell components, but also practicing his combat skills and centering himself spiritually. Although his conversations with Jaikor had not fully answered his questions, and perhaps led to others, they had helped the crusader to bolster his resolve. Through meditation, prayer, and reflecting on passages in the holy canon of his faith, The Book of Penitence, Jeremy had come to a revelation: the Archpaladin had bestowed upon the priest His full, divine favor! Jeremy could fell again the Divine blessings of Heironeous, including his ability to summon forth a steed to convey him forth on his journey (editing side note: in actuality, I think this pivotal moment occurred while Jeremy was still in High Ery, just after he concluded his ‘reparations’ via admission with the Lordship and his vassals, but I don’t really think you all want me to go back and amend that…it works just as well here)! With renewed hope and great thanksgiving to Heironeous for granting him another chance at redemption, Jeremy was now ready to leave the City and repay his debt to Pelor. Inwardly, he felt that he had much to prove, to himself, to Heironeous, and to Pelor, for all his many blessings.

    Shandra (priestess) assembled the team shortly thereafter: Vincent (wizard), Sir Owen (paladin), Brandis (fighter), Muamar (fighter), Kai-tel (wizard), Horatio (ranger), Jaran (priest), and Jeremy (crusader-priest). Once more she outlined the specific purpose of the religious expedition, and that it was potentially the first leg of a long journey; even if troll hearts were appropriated, there was still the case of securing werebear sweat! She reiterated that safety above all else was crucial, that no undue risks would be taken; human life was more important than the hearts themselves.

    The next decision was where to look for the object of their hunt. The Gnarley Forest was a possibility, but trolls were not abundant in the woodlands. The Cairn Hills offered some promise, and Jeremy knew of a location near the Ery River where he personally had done battle with a small group of trolls. The team did not seem convinced that either location was worthwhile. The greatest probability to find the horrid creatures was to venture either into the dreadful, inhospitable Mistmarsh, an area known to harbor trolls, or trek into the rocky slopes of the towering Abbor-alz.

    A great discussion ensued. Jeremy was quite adamant about trying out the area he knew harbored trolls, but the group thought too much time had passed to make it a worthwhile attempt, much to the crusader’s frustration. Ultimately, it was a combination of Vincent, Sir Owen, and Brandis who led Shandra to conclude that the swamp was their best, if most hazardous, choice. No one wanted to venture into that wretched place, so they decided to skirt the edges of the Mistmarsh in the hopes of finding tracks or evidence of troll activity. Vincent also claimed that his magic could be used to infiltrate the swamp and attempt to locate the monsters, too. If this failed, they could then make their way to the Abbor-alz, first stopping at the dwarven citadel, Greysmere, for resupplying and to leave their mounts. Of course, this was all based on the reactions of the dwarves, but, luckily, Jeremy was rather fluent with their language, and he claimed to understand their basic customs fairly well.

    Shandra also stated the various roles each person would fill: she was the leader of the expedition, and all final decisions would be made by her. Sir Owen would serve as her guardian and protector on this dangerous mission as well as her aide and council. Given his vast years of experience, Brandis, too, would serve not only as their primary warrior, but also offer his advice. Inwardly, the veteran mercenary was uncomfortable taking a leadership role, but he kept his reservations to himself. Vincent was their chief magical advisor and his potent spell-working ability would prove to be critical for the success of the expedition. Too, the wizard had many practical skills beyond his expansive knowledge that would serve them well in ‘the field.’ Muamar’s martial abilities would bolster Owen’s and Brandis’ skills; too, he was bringing his trusted dogs, Reba the tracking hound, and stocky, powerful war dog, Romulus. Horatio, also a trained fighter, was primarily an archer of some skill, as well as a tracker and adept hillsman. Although he had no experience in the swamp, neither did anybody else (except for Brandis, long ago in his younger days as an active mercenary), but his other skills would prove most helpful. Like the ranger, Jaran, priest of Fharlanghn, possessed many wilderness skills as well as the Divine blessings of The Wanderer. Finally, mighty Jeremy, crusader of the Archpaladin, was a potent blend of martial and spiritual power.

    -almost done! some of you may be relieved!


    Last edited by Lanthorn on Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:44 am; edited 1 time in total
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:35 pm  

    I like some of the emotional dilemmas the party entails. However, I think Mystic point is he does not see why their is a friendship. What or how does this party remain together when they are consistently reminded or thrown in to bouts of depression and guilt. Often this will cause a separation from the source of ones pain. Hence the concern with the parties cohesiveness.

    Later

    Argon
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 5:42 am  

    Better. Preparing for the adventure. I can handle that. Razz

    Lanthorn wrote:
    She reiterated that safety above all else was crucial, that no undue risks would be taken; human life was more important than the hearts themselves.


    What? This is Greyhawk, not Buck Rogers in the 21st Century! They should have been told that they were expected to retrieve the troll hearts and werebear sweat with all haste and no excuses. Oh, and don't die. But, if you do die, make sure you have acquired the potion components and arranged for them to be delivered to the Temple of Pelor first. There. That's a more appropriate pep-talk for this genre. Evil Grin Cool

    SirXaris Cool

    Edit: Added the not. SX


    Last edited by SirXaris on Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:35 pm; edited 1 time in total
    GreySage

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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:50 am  

    Argon wrote:
    I think Mystic('s) point is he does not see why their is a friendship. What or how does this party remain together . . . concern with the parties cohesiveness.


    When people do not like each other -- not necessarily enemies -- they don't "hang out" together. Why would they adventure together? Trusting one another with their lives?

    While that is not necessarily the case here, what we do have is a Jaran unable to "look Jeremy in the eye" (and he probably can't look Jeremy's sister, Shandra, "in the eye" either).

    Also, we have a Shandra who is confused: First, she can't "look Jaran in the eye" because you feels a bit guilty about charming him, while at the same time "hating Jaran" for getting her brother killed.

    Combine this with a Jeremy who believes that he is "incapable" and is going to get everyone killed.

    In short, these people are very uncomfortable with each other -- they would not spend time with one another, adventuring. For now, the Temple of Pelor is coercing them to do so; they're repaying a debt to Pelor. But, as soon as possible, they're going to split the group.

    Personally, if I were presently "with" this group, I would be looking out for #1, because I don't trust any of these people with my life.

    Lanthorn wrote:
    They should have been told that they were expected . . . Oh, and don't die. But, if you do die, make sure you have acquired the potion components . . . first.


    Actually, they quite literally owe their lives to Pelor. Should He require them to die in His service, so be it. Even Heironeous and Fharlanghn cannot argue that point. (Jaran got a Paladin of Pelor killed, so he, too, owes a "life debt" to Pelor) So . . . maybe someone will die. Who can say?

    Coming along nicely, Lanthorn. Cool
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:29 am  

    "Coming along nicely, Lanthorn."

    Thank you.

    Side note clarification, as I know how these characters are being played:

    Jaran, although remorseful what happened, is now MUCH relieved at this point with Jeremy. The air is cleared, the past in the past. Both Jeremy and Jaran have an understanding now, neither begrudging the other for what occurred. The barghest united them in its actions wherein it killed Jeremy and broke Jaran's resolve. As I mentioned clearly, their friendship has held true. End of story.

    Jaran's association with Shandra, though, is a bit trickier, as you noted. He has been Charmed by her, so he trusts her as a friend, though he IS ashamed about what happened in the Cairn Hills (betraying Jeremy, ultimately leading to his death and consumption).

    Shandra, on the other hand, cannot fully justify her anger at Jaran, knowing he was Charmed into treachery. But, she's human, with human frailties such as emotions (too bad she's not Vulcan, then it'd be easier to reconcile). Just b/c she's a priestess doesn't mean she so easily takes the high road automatically. I applauded my player on this account. Shandra is indeed keeping Jaran at arm's length b/c she is still grappling with her inner turmoil. But...in the end, she knows she has to 'let it go' and move forward (much like what we need to do on this thread...).

    FYI: Jeremy is a crusader of Heironeous. Sir Owen is the paladin of Pelor. I think some of you have crossed threads on that distinction.

    About trust in the party. YES, some members don't fully trust the others. That would be expected in any group that just got together. However, they ARE united in their goal, regardless of how, or why, they are here. Trust requires time and actions to prove. I know of very few groups that automatically trust the other, hands down, no questions asked, right off the bat...

    Brandis, Muamar, Horatio and Kai-tel implicitly trust each other. They also don't have any reluctance towards the others. Brandis trusts Owen (served with him before) as well as Shandra (no reason not to), and is predisposed to the rest. With his lead, the others mentioned above are likely to follow suit, as they TRUST Brandis.

    Moving on,

    Lanthorn


    Last edited by Lanthorn on Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:05 am; edited 1 time in total
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 11:03 am  

    Shandra announced that the group would leave as early as possible, as they had much ground to cover in order to reach their final destination of the Dwarfwalk along the southern boundary of the Mistmarsh. Unfortunately, the weather was not cooperating, and both Jaran and Jeremy had used Divine guidance to forecast the impending weather. A severe thunderstorm had just passed through the city, and another severe system was soon to arrive. Once the weather cleared, the group would make all due haste out of the City, for it would take many days of hard riding and they wanted to arrive well before the weather turned from mild to cold. The chosen, logical route was to ride south along the High Road from Greyhawk City, stopping at Two Ford before heading east into the Plain of Greyhawk along the Neen River, and, ultimately, to the Dwarf Walk. If their hunt for trolls proved fruitless along the perimeter of the Mistmarsh, they would venture into the mountains, bound for Greysmere. For those of you with access to the City of Greyhawk or From the Ashes boxed sets can reference the route yourself as a visual aide.

    That evening, everyone celebrated their last day in the comforts of civilization, not knowing if they would return…

    And with that, I conclude the ‘backstory’ portion of this campaign and will soon pass the baton to the thread entitled “A Lanthorn Campaign: the Mistmarsh saga.” Beware…the threat of detailed characterization via role-play is extremely possible. Skip those parts if you like. However, for you hack-and-slash fans, there will be some of that too…later…

    Fine’ at last! Happy

    -Lanthorn, Bard
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 1:29 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    But...in the end, she knows she has to 'let it go' and move forward (much like what we need to do on this thread...).


    I think I speak for all "here" when I say . . . Razz

    Laughing Laughing Laughing


    Moving onward! Wink
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 3:04 pm  

    We have an accord, sir! Happy
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:25 pm  

    I second the notion. Razz Razz

    I just wanted to razz someone! Evil Grin

    Now, let's get the gang rolling maybe someone can be be shredded by a troll or two. The worse part is, what happens if the trolls are looking for human heart? Surprised

    Yeah, that would be evil... Evil But as a Vampire in Brooklyn once said, "Evil is Good!" Laughing

    Later

    Argon
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:48 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    We have an accord, sir! Happy


    Looking forward to it. And, you know I couldn't let the Barbarian Bard have all the fun razzing you, Lanthorn. Wink

    SirXaris
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 9:41 pm  

    Argon, aren't trolls always hunting for human hearts? Shocked

    SirXaris, so...I guess I have to endure a two front razzing war now, eh? I better come up with something better than the Maginot Line... Wink

    Alright, dynamic duo, I will 'get to it' when I have a chance...gotta remember all that's happened over the past several weeks and jot it down first before posting.

    hang tight,

    -Lanthorn
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:52 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    SirXaris, so...I guess I have to endure a two front razzing war now, eh? I better come up with something better than the Maginot Line... Wink


    Yep! You stepped up to the mic on the night that Lady Xristine kicked Sir Xaris' self-righteous butt out of the house for refusing her request to 'sheath his longsword'. A friendly barbarian was happy to commiserate over a tankard or xis before you stumbled on stage. Good luck! Cool

    SirXaris
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    Fri Aug 31, 2012 10:56 pm  

    Lanthorn wrote:
    I will 'get to it' when I have a chance...gotta remember all that's happened over the past several weeks.


    Don't touch that dial! Err, mouse! Don't touch that mouse! Shocked

    Stay tuned -- err, I mean logged in -- for our regularly scheduled program! Make that post! Our regularly scheduled post! Same bat-time, same bat-channel! Err, website! Same bat-website! Evil Grin
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    Sat Sep 01, 2012 6:49 am  

    I liked the emotional conflict and interplay, but then I like my heroes flawed Smile . I wish all of my players were this involved with their motivations. I'm really enjoying this, lanthorn. Can't wait for the next part.

    I wanted to address the question about the barghest and banishment to Gehenna. You can view this a few ways.

    1) You could go with the view that all outer planar beings -- angels, devas, devils, demons, yugoloths, whatever -- are treated the same way when killed on the prime material plane. That said, I think it's only greater creatures of this type who are exiled, all others are reborn (or not) in a lesser form. If that's the case, and the barghest were still just a whelp who hadn't returned back to Gehenna, then it would most likely be reborn. Probably having to start all over, although it wouldn't have to wait 100 years.

    2) You could say that only applies to devils and demons, which are the only creatures I remember being banished back to their home plane for a particular amount of time. I could be wrong on this, but I bet rasgon knowns. That would free the barghest to come back at full strength.

    Both options could provide some interesting game-play.
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    Sat Sep 01, 2012 7:15 am  

    Grandmaster Smillan,

    Thank you for your vote of approval. Happy I, too, stress character development (this should by now be quite obvious) and their 'humanity.' Glad someone, in addition to Argon, appreciates the depths of role-playing that my player and I infuse into our characters (applies to NPCs for this DM, too!).

    As to your barghest suggestions, much appreciated as well! I will tuck that nugget away for future use. Evil Grin

    -Lanthorn
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    Sat Sep 01, 2012 10:25 am  

    No problem! I've always had a fascination with barghests as a monster. The introduction of them by Gygax in DRG#26 names them as a type of deodand, which is a name he adopted from creatures in Jack Vance's Dying Earth series. This is probably the origin of the demodands (gehreleths) which came later in D&D, although I think they were also the inspiration for the daemons (yugoloths). I think this based on Gygax having called bargehsts a type of deodand and placed them in Gehenna. In later published form they don't don't appear to be a type of demodand or daemon. I imagine that Gygax's thinking on the outer planes inhabitants, and even the planes themselves hadn't quite gelled yet, when he wrote the Dragon article.
    Grandmaster Greytalker

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    Sat Sep 01, 2012 11:48 am  

    Smillian,

    I like the idea of all outer beings being sent back to their plane of existence if killed on the prime. I have used this idea before though those who have their cords severed whether on the prime or not are dead loosing all connections and ties to the outer planes. This makes Githerai and Githyanki very dangerous opponents as they have the ability to sever their opponents silver cords. Also, note that many outer beings destroyed by having their silver cords cut may reform as a lesser form, though it can take years for a reforming and in cases of the lower planar beings torturing and punishment are part of the reforming process.

    Lanthorn keep the bat-guano flying! Laughing

    Later

    Argon
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    Sat Sep 01, 2012 5:38 pm  

    I'm also in the camp with Argon, that all non-deity outer-planar beings have a difficult time coming to the Prime Material in the first place and are demoted (to one degree or another) when their soul is sent back to their plane of origin and must spend time reforming even that demoted form.

    SirXaris
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    Sun Sep 02, 2012 7:16 am  

    And now . . . back to our regularly scheduled program. Wink
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    Thu Sep 13, 2012 1:34 pm  

    Waiting patiently, Lanthorn. Don't allow real life to interfere with your obligations to your readers. Razz

    SirXaris


    Last edited by SirXaris on Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:08 pm; edited 1 time in total
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    Fri Sep 14, 2012 12:01 pm  

    Well said, Xaris! Well said! Happy
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    Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:39 am  

    My apologies, fellas. Been caught up lately between all sorts of things, including jotting down the events of my current campaign so I don't forget! Ultimately, I intend to share all of it in my posting to come. My Mistmarsh saga is coming to a crescendo right now and likely will draw to a final conclusion... Evil Grin

    Sorry for the delay. Just a little more time, and I will start firing off a few posts here and there on the adjoining thread.

    In the meantime, SirXaris, carry the torch for me by continuing your campaign updates. You've been doing a good job thus far!

    -Lanthorn
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    Sun Feb 17, 2013 4:11 pm  

    Lanthorn,
    Very nice background. I like the Days of Our Lives header, because at times that how it seemed. I say that in a good way. It's hard to get players to really delve deeply into their characters like that, and what they have done is quite interesting. Man, the Barghest was tough!

    Well, I look forward to the next part of the saga.
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    Mon Feb 18, 2013 3:21 pm  

    Thanks, Ragnar. Yeah, that title was a tongue-in-cheek chiding response to those who didn't care for the 'emotional' outpouring of the characters. Wink I guess that's what happens when the DM is what one sourceguide dubs a "Righteous Role-player."

    The barghest was a lot of fun to play from a truly savage perspective. I wanted this campaign to have a Gothic horror feel to it and I took some inspiration from the movie "The Wolfman" that was recently remade a few years ago. I consider it to be one of the best of its kind for Gothic horror that paid great homage to the original film of the same name. I was really hoping that barghest would reach her full adult status...and BOY! did she really come close! If she consumed at least a 3rd lvl person, she'd have had enough 'energy' to do so. Evil Grin

    I figured that Brandis the boy (man) hero would come to the proverbial rescue, and in a way, he did. If it wasn't for that swordsman's expert skill, the barghest would've continued her depredations, and I doubt the priestess would've succeeded in slaying the monster with her lucky shot. Besides, it was Brandis's magical arrow that even granted her the chance in the first place!

    I will continue this tale at some point in the future...I know that I keep saying that, but I want to get to a decent stopping place with my other campaign journal (Lost Caverns thread) before I do so. The next part of this saga picks up with my storyline about the "Mistmarsh" saga. I will likely either continue with that thread, or start a new one.

    Thank you, Ragnar, for reading.

    -Lanthorn
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