31 October 2011

Dark High Fantasy One-Shot

So I’ve been stymied in gaming lately and we’ve not been able to get our group together for over a month. Now I’m off for two weeks to India and won’t be able to get my gaming fix. So to tide me over, I’ve come up with an idea for a one-shot adventure in the creepy high fantasy world of Elric of Melniboné. I’m not sure when we’ll be able to play it.

Below are ten possible characters for players to pick up. They are split into four groups:

  1. A Dark Gothic Party of evil Chaos worshippers.
  2. A Bright Chaos Party  with a sorceress from Melniboné itself.
  3. A Domain of Man Party trying to bring Balance and Law to a troubled world.
  4. Random characters that would fit in any of the above three parties.

The characters are purposefully unbalanced, as I think our group can handle that type of situation very well and come up with a good story. Relative power levels (10 = bad ass, 1 =  red shirt) are given for each character.

Dark Gothic Party

Play two truly evil characters and worshippers of chaos: a high priest of death and his cousin, a mercenary captain with a dubious past.

Prefect Thule Krin, Governor of Mist Marsh Colony
High Priest of Chardhros (The Reaper of Souls, Lord of Chaos)
Power Level 10
Thule rules over his dank demesne with brooding animosity. Upon dominating the Demon Grishom and invoking Lassa, Ruler of the Open Sky, Thule was acknowledged a master of his craft. The Theocrat, envious and threatened by those who reach such degenerate depths so aptly, could not retaliate boldly without angering Thule’s allies at the Temple of Chaos. So Thule was awarded a prefecture and governorship on a far flung southern colony.

Thule bides his time tithing the miserable swampfolk and watching over white capped waves of the Dragon Sea. He waits for an opportunity to rise in glory and power so that he might return triumphantly to his homeland in Pan Tang.

Pangaarl Krin, Corsair of Pan Tang
Power Level 6
Noble blood in the Theocracy can mean only one thing, fighting. A scion of the House of Krin, Pangaarl chose to escape deadly politics of Hwamgaarl by hiring a ship of cutthroats to ply the Dragon Sea. Pangaarl’s ship was shattered while chasing a merchant cog into the Serpents Teeth, a stretch of coastline noted for treacherous shoals and powerful currents. Bankrupt but alive, Pangaarl found his way south into the shifting sands of the Silent Lands. There he led his few remaining ne’er-do-wells into raids on the weak and impoverished swampfolk who lived in fetid swamps along the northern edge of the sandy dunes.

The Lords of Chaos smiled upon Pangaarl when his cousin, Thule, was appointed governor of Mist Marsh. Pangaarl now works as Prefect Thule’s mercenary captain at the Castle of Tumbling Lotus.

Bright Chaos Party

Play an exotic Melnibonéan enchantress and her bodyguard.

Eralda of Melniboné, Sorceress of the 3rd Circle
Power Level 9
Always hungry to read, Eralda devoured every treatise, book, tome and scrap of paper that could be found in the Mistral Tower. She soon grew bored of the vapid meanderings of her friends’ drug-addled thoughts and sought the deeper knowledge of her ancestors. Eralda cajoled, coerced or stole whatever secrets she could from the decadent Melniboné wizards. She slowly built an impressive grimoire of summonings, bindings and evocations to rival any of those in the Dreaming City. Eralda reckoned herself ready for any challenge.

When a human merchant offered Eralda’s father her uncle’s library, Eralda found the money to purchase the waterlogged books herself. She carefully sifted through them. Disappointed at not actually finding any jewels of sorcerous insight, Eralda nevertheless admired her uncle’s meticulous observations of the chaos tendrils over which he’d built his laboratory. Intrigued and eager for adventure, Eralda hired an Imrryrian pinnace to take her to her uncle’s last abode.

Bek, Eshmir Slave
Power Level 5
Slave and lover to Eralda, Bek is devoted to her mistress. In return, Eralda takes a keen interest in the lithe girl and cares for her as someone might a beloved pet. To please Bek, Eralda ensured Bek was instructed in the use of buckler and short sword. Bek has now twice saved Eralda from worse than death on nighttime escapades:  once forcing the Conjurer Abdin-go-Rushi of Shazaar to release a grating nemesis bound to his personal protection; and, and once gutting two Vilmirian guards menacing Eralda in the twisted streets of Old Hrolmar.

Bek stands beside Eralda as the two gaze warily out to sea over the pinnace’s bow.

Domain of Man Party

The only non-chaotic party, this group sets out on a holy quest in service to the Ruler of Elemental Earth and Servitor of Balance.

Isabelle, Jeweler of Belrain
Power Level 8
Isabelle was born into the wealthy family of a jeweler to Duke Belrain. The priests of Grome, Ruler of Earth and Stone, recognized the latent sorcery in her veins. Pressed into worship in the caverns under the central highlands, Isabelle longed for her family and friends along the coastal towns of Belrain. Unable to devote herself fully to Grome, she slowly drifted away from the Deep Mystery. When she found herself pregnant, she left the cult’s warrens and returned home.

Isabelle was crushed when her child was stillborn. Seeking solace, she left again for Grome’s cavern temples. Isabelle found the droning incantations to stone and soil a way to soothingly forget her pain. Though she did not enter the priesthood, she eventually reached the First Depth. As a Shephard, Isabelle learned to care for the luxuriant plants and magical herbs that grew in verdant gardens above the temples.

Isabelle fears the holy quest all devotees must undergo at their reaching of the First Depth. With hesitant hope, she sends word to her lover of old in hopes that he will come to her aid.

Sir Antin Ul-Kurick of Girnoble
Power Level 5
A gallant knight from the land of Vilmir, Sir Antin has family scattered across the many realms of the Young Kingdoms. Before gaining his inheritance he sailed the wide world, eventually making a semi-permanent home in the opulent city of Belrain along the western coast of the Isle of Purple Towns. There he met and fell in love with a common lady of the bourgeoisie, who took herself at times away from the dark inland temples back to her homeland by the sea. Though he could not marry someone of low birth, he treated her well and the two kept a dalliance whenever she returned. Antin was called home when his father fell gravely ill.

Sir Antin put the household in order after his father's death. Then began the slow, drudging days of stewarding the family estate. When word came from his old beloved, Isabelle of Belrain, Antin leapt at her plea for help. He left his sister as steward of the estates, gathered his horse and squire, and hired a vessel out to sea.

Deacon Elga Gonwin
Power Level 5
Dour and efficient, Deacon Elga quickly found her calling in the inland temples. Raised in the soggy highlands of the Isle of Purple Towns, Deacon Elga was naturally drawn to the workshops of Grome. Never one for delicate metalwork or fancy gemstones, Elga preferred to beat out plowshares and horseshoes for her family and village. Her strength slowly grew to rival that of most men, though always others gawked at the bulky woman who toiled at the forge.

Lacking talent to coax the essence of Earth to her bidding, Elga nevertheless took heart in the tranquil silence of worshipping Grome. She grew more devoted to her god. A certain benevolent joy began to pervade her being. She learned to treat the minor pains and discomforts of those around her. In servitude to the Lord of Earth and Stone, Elga accepted the mantle of Deacon of the First Depth.

Elga now calmly faces the trials before her, confident her soul will find the peaceful repose of Earth whatever may happen to her body.

Characters for Any Party

Fan-Liet, Sailor
Power Level 1 (or 5, depending on how he’s played)
Fan-Liet’s own opinion of himself matched that of others around him, stupid and weak. Too small to work as a man in the rice fields, Fan-Liet was relegated to the backbreaking work of the planting women. Finding peace by taking his makeshift coracle out upon the rocky sea, he learned to navigate the deadly currents of the Serpents Teeth around his village home. Nobody seemed to miss him when he sailed off alone, so his jaunts began to grow longer and more daring. At times he would spend three or four days away from home, exploring jagged cliffs and deep firths cut into the coastal mountains.

One day Fan-Liet saw a graceful ship sailing briskly through the choppy sea. Thinking the captain foolhardy to use canvas in such wind, Fan-Liet lingered to see what might happen to the vessel. Perhaps when its hull was torn out from beneath it Fan-Liet could salvage some golden trinket and be rich!

Odonata, Myrrhyn Bowman
Power Level 6
The insect-like race of Myrrhyn make most humans’ blood run cold. Few find any compunction against killing Myrrhyn simply due to their alien countenance. Nevertheless Myrrhyn vary as much in demeanor and outlook as any human civilization, though often they feel closest to their goddess Straasha.

Odonata is a poet at heart, traveling the world to witness the colorful variety of life throughout the Young Kingdoms. Though somewhat small and fragile by human standards, Odonata finds many who are willing to pay good bronze for his ability to shoot accurately from on wing.

Dorkara-Bel-Mek, Dreg of Society
Power level 3
A lowly peasant from a decrepit land, Dorkara-Bel-Mek scrounges a living off the efforts of others. The Org were once a powerful race of sorcerers; but, the eons have thinned their blood and addled their brains. Now they are a disreputable lot of hirsute dwarfs cowering beneath the eaves of their tangled forest homes. Some ancient longing in Dorkara’s heart drew her to the excitement of human cities. There she found only the same misery of her homeland. Dorkara knew remorse and pitied herself.

Now Dorkara skulks human lands looking for whatever means she can to survive.

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