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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Dead Gods - Message From Thanatos

This chapter is where Dead Gods really starts to kick into gear. I really like this and the next few adventures. I feel like up until now, the slow burn was too slow.

The Heroes

(Jessie) Bidam - Platinum-Scaled  Dragonborn Fighter
(George) Theran - Drow Wizard


The adventurers had gone back to their business following the altercation with the Sign of One at the Ubiquitous Wayfarer. Word was spreading that major entities were being slain. This included Bwimb, Maanzecorian the mind flayer god, and even the greek god Apollo!

During the downtime, the adventurers learned that their NPC friends Alamandra the githzerai and Stewart Seven Fingers were planning on getting married. I'm probably going to have the githyanki attack during that scene, as all the major Sigil githzerai will all be in one place.

Bidam and Theran received a note from Veridis Mov, ruler of Crux. They were having more problems and were requesting the aid of the PCs.

The adventurers decided to go check it out, and were told about a shortcut to Crux. They had to go visit someone called "The Queen" to find out what it was.

The Queen

This is a weird part of the adventure. "Vlrc" The Queen is a formian (ant-person) who lives in a clock tower. She's got elaborate flavor text and there's even a painting devoted to her in the book. All she does is tell the group about the shortcut to Crux. No encounter, nothing. Weird, right?

So this shortcut involves going through a portal to a mortal world called Ranais. The heroes will need to walk 15 miles through this world, and they'll come upon a portal to Crux. The heroes went through.


Ranais is really cool. It's a world in ruins. The heroes appear in the remains of a city that was once full of people who worshiped gods of death. While the adventure says that the DM should keep the gods faceless (to avoid spoiling the big bad guy), I decided to go ahead and let it be spoiled. Why not now?

So as the adventurers followed the road through the city, they came upon statues and mosaics relating to:
  • The Raven Queen: Everyone loves the Raven Queen. It's a scientific fact.
  • Vorkhesis, Master of Fate: The Raven Queen's son, a criminally under-utilized NPC.
  • Zahar, General of the Raven Knights: This is actually a former PC from my 4e campaign. He ended up with the Shadowfell blade in Nightwyrm fortress and has gone on to become the Raven Queen's right hand man and perhaps even her lover..!
  • Orcus: Yep! The big bad guy!
Along the journey, the heroes heard wailing. They were being stalked by wraiths! These wraiths called themselves The Lovelost. They led the heroes to a special spot in the city and explained that the mysterious bad guy had ruined their world and that he was one who "lived again."


Art Commission from my last campaign - Orcus in center.
My players sat there and tried to piece together how Orcus did this. See, in my last campaign, their old characters fought Orcus godzilla-sized and chucked him into a massive sphere of annihilation. They didn't understand how he could be reborn after that.

They don't realize that they made a fateful oversight during that battle - they didn't grab/destroy the wand of orcus. They were too busy doing really unspeakable things to this evil imp who'd been teasing them for the latter half of the campaign. To be fair, the imp was trying to kill the Queen of their city.

The Backstory of Dead Gods

In this adventure, the official version of things goes like this. The drow goddess Kiaransalee killed Orcus, who had gotten bloated and lazy. Orcus servant Acererak raised Orcus as an undead god/lich. Orcus in his new form renamed himself "Tenebrous." He needs to find his wand to become his old self again and regain his status as a god/demon lord.

Obviously my version will be different, but I'm going to try to stay as true to this adventure as possible.  In my campaign's continuity, the 4e Orcus storyline (E1-E3, where Orcus tries to kill the Raven Queen) happens before this 2e storyline. How weird is that? And I do intend someday to run the 3e Savage Tide finale, where Orcus and Demogorgon face off.

The Temple

After a bit of concerned discussion, the adventurers decided to poke around the city. They came upon an active temple of Orcus. There were cultists in purple robes, and black reeking death emanated from the interior.

This is partly an illusion created by the visages. There's no cultists or reeking death. Instead, there's a ruined temple that contains a portal to Orcus's secret lair on the Negative Material Plane! But to get there, the heroes need to brave the illusion, which is really messed up. Check this out:

Wow, right? I did my duty to blare out every warning I could, and the players decided to leave this place be for now. They'll be back. They have to go through this portal in the next chapter.

The heroes found the portal to Crux and went through. It turned out more visages were wreaking havoc on the town. In fact, as the ruler told the heroes about this, a person knocked at the door. My clever players immediately suspected that the lady at the door was a visage, and they jumped her! They were right.

The Salience

They learned that the visages were meeting with a messenger on the World Tree in two days. The heroes decided to go there and spy on them, to see what they could learn.

Along the way, they ran into some ratatosks. The ratatosks (squirrel-people) are friendly with the heroes and decided to accompany them. So 12 ratatosks joined the party. I made names for them, each meant to be stupider than the last. Remember, their leader's name in the module is Glittereye. The names: Nutterchip, Fluffyface, Twitchycheek and Raspytaint.

They made it to the meeting point a day before the meeting. The location was a place called The Salience, formerly the net of giant eagles. The place had wooden eagle statues and it was basically a big bowl sunk into the wood of the tree. The heroes were able to befriend a giant eagle, who agreed to help if things got dangerous. Theran paid the eagle with a javelin of lightning.

The next day, 8 visages showed up. They met with a mist mephit. It told them that there was a prisoner held in Tcian Sumere, in "The Bottom of the Multiverse," among other things.

Then, the visages killed the mephit, declaring "None may know the master's secrets." The heroes fired off spells, rolling ridiculously high and just pummeling the crap out of the visages. It was a slaughter with the aid of the ratatosks.

Bidam and Theran returned to Crux. They learned that "The Bottom of the Multiverse" was slang for the Negative Material Plane. They made plans to go back to that ruined temple in Ranais....

Click here to see the next chapter. 


Timothy Brannan said...

I have been following this with great interest since I plan to run Dead Gods one day.

Ashley said...

Oh hey you're back! I'm sorry to hear that you've been feeling so burnt out on D&D. For what it's worth, I'm really glad to see you back in action again. I haven't had the chance to be involved in the game for a long time, and your write ups not only help me live a little vicariously, but make me think more critically about the game in general. Anyways, you've got some pretty great stuff going; thanks again for sharing it.

Sean said...

Timothy Brannan: Dead Gods is cool. The last few adventures are very badass. I'm not a fan of the Crux stuff, though.

Ashley: Thanks, I really appreciate it. It is a bummer when you can't play. If you have the time to play, you should recruit "real life" people that you like. Most people will give it a try, and most of them will like it. The key, though, is the DM needs to be fun.