Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Ballad of Baldric Brimstone Chapter Three: Big Gay Half-Orcs and Utterly Destroying Plot

Because this particular gaming story saga is now complete, I thought I'd list all three chapters here for easy navigation. Yes, I know you're on chapter three, but it's an easier list to mass-produce so that every chapter has its very own links.

- Chapter One: Don't Ever Field a One-Eyed Dragon
- Chapter Two: Why You Never Give Your Party The One Ring
- Chapter Three: Big Gay Half-Orcs and Utterly Destroying Plot

Caught up? Great, because today we're finishing this adventure off with the grand finale!

Chapter Three: Of Cohorts and Kings!

Time Travel and Leadership

When last we left our intrepid adventuring party they'd rescued one plot-relevant NPC and one non-plot relevant NPC from a floating city in the sky run by insane magical college deans. Our heroes return to their headquarters by a long and circuitous route, during which they are thanked for their service. When the NPCs tell the guild master and the royal family about what they heard while captives, our heroes are tasked with trekking into the center of a cursed city on the coast (which is conveniently a half-day's ride away) and investigating rumors of a potential legendary sword that could save the world.

Of course no one's been here in a thousand years... this place is creepy!
So, seeing where these rails are going, we saddle up and decide to go investigating. We ride up to the ruins of a once-great city, and find it mostly filled with rubble and poisonous smoke. We follow the open paths, very specifically staying away from the vapors while picking up a few odd coins here and there. We find a wishing well, Baldric throws one of the strange coins in, makes a wish, kills the water-double that comes out, and is gifted with a second gun. Overall pleased with my shenanigans we find the throne room. Seated in the throne room, to the surprise of no one, is a skeleton in the throne with a greatsword through its chest.

Nothing to see here, folks.
We walk the throne room a couple of times, and we have the central question of "do we pull it out, or do we leave it in?" Baldric is all for leaving it where it is, but our half-construct fighter pulls the sword. Right on cue the corpse re-forms into the ancient and powerful figure known as the Chaos Emperor, who immediately imprisons us all in huge shells of crystal.

Fast forward fifteen years or so...

We Slept Through The Apocalypse?

We wake up in a ruined city with no idea of what's happened. We make our way back to the capital, only to find that a decade and a half has gone by. The world's at war, the Chaos Emperor has taken over the Citadel, and roving tribes of raiders are everywhere.

Oh, and we gained a level.

So there's that.
It's at this point I decide to put something in play for another party member. Her character was a gay, male elf alchemist, and it had become a running gag that the only bi-curious NPCs he could find were half-orcs. I ask the DM if I can take Leadership and he okays it (for those DMs who don't know, that's a foolish thing to do). He lets me design my cohort, and I tell him that he was Baldric's apprentice back when he was still a fire bomber for an orc tribe. I trust our DM to work him in somewhere.

So what does the crumbling command faced with impossible odds ask us to do less than a day out of crio-stasis? Oh nothing big; just go and kill the Chaos Emperor.

Back to The Floating City in The Sky...

We truck back across the map with no idea of what the hell we're going to do or how the hell we're going to do it. We find a city-sized encampment at the base of the tower, along with the villain's three lieutenants.

One of whom looks strangely familiar...
Baldric recognizes his old apprentice, grown huge and having forced his way up the chain of command. That night he goes to meet him, and the two catch up on old times. They also get drunk... with alchemist fortitude saves. It isn't a pretty sight.

In the middle of the night the elf comes looking for Baldric, and finds him and his companion. Looks are exchanged, and Davor decides right then and there that he's going to switch sides to whoever that elf is fighting for. Lovely, not only do I have my cohort (who incidentally is how I field-tested my Incredible Hulk character build found here), but he happens to have information about the enemy. Wins all around!

All three of these characters are fetched to the base of the tower, and through a series of unfortunate events find themselves being magically transported up into the sky city itself.

Great Revelations

As I mentioned in the last chapter, Baldric's got a wishing ring up his sleeve. With that ring, and some clever shenanigans, we smash through the encounters our ST had meant to make challenging, leave the tower, and go on the lam back to the destroyed capital we'd come from.

While the 7-foot half-orc and the normally-reserved elf are making sheep's eyes at each other the rest of the party wants to know how the hell Baldric knows this guy. So he reveals his history as Brazen Red-Eye, a wanted war criminal responsible for the deaths of countless villages and all their inhabitants. There's some hemming and hawing from the other party members about this revelation, but ultimately Brazen decides he doesn't have time for it and informs the group what he's doing. The other two alchemists join him, and he marches up to the keep to demand a way to solve this whole convoluted problem.

And make it snappy, I'm sick of your bullshit!
The party is then given a series of combats, challenges, and fetch quests, the details of which blended together after a bit. The brute squad, with the support of the rest of the party, powered through whatever challenges were laid in front of them. They were eventually brought to a location that held a time machine. The goal of course is to send them back in time to stop this from happening. Because of course it is, why else would you slingshot a party into the future?

Most of the party is thrilled by this. They can go back, save their friends and families, and make the world how it was. For Brazen, he's finally found his friends and followers. He's in a world that makes sense, and he has a chance to rebuild it into something better and different than it was before. Here he's a man with a small army of followers, a strong right hand, and is a force to be reckoned with. Back there he's just another killer on the run from the rope.

A King By His Own Hand

The campaign was far from over, but it was very clear out of character that if this machine was going to render this future, horrible as it was, non-existent then Brazen, Davor, and probably Tirnel the elf would waste no time in blowing it straight to hell along with anyone who got in their way. Without this deus ex machina the game was over, and the epic final chapter would be impossible to reach without a lot of hand-waving and NPC magical bullshit.

As if we had any shortage of that in this game...
So our storyteller and the NPCs alike were quick to assure us that it wasn't linear time travel, but rather that this machine would punch a hole into a parallel timeline. A timeline that could still be saved. Brazen holstered his gun, folded his arms, and told them if they were getting they'd better go. He had shit to do.

Slightly confused, most of the rest of the party went. The players and ST alike were wondering what he was going to do, and so they ended the session by asking the $24 question.

Brazen Red-Eye purchased the cursed city and all of its properties from the Crown for a gold piece and a blot of ink. He took his cohort and followers (mostly alchemists, gunslingers, druids, and witches with a few barbarians and fighters for flavor), and rebuilt the city. He took in refugees of all stripes, and put them to work training for war, manning the walls, growing crops and assembling new structures. In time Lost Home became known as a place where anyone could find a a seat at the table if they were willing to work hard and follow orders. It established a college of alchemy and wizardry, as well as a gunworks where firearms and more dangerous weapons were built. In less than ten years it could field an army of warriors in construct armor, and an air force of dirigibles powered by alchemy and loaded down with smooth-bore cannons. Brazen Red-Eye ruled on the brass throne till the day he died, and he was burned with the honors of a great chieftain. His widow maker was placed in his hand, because wherever he was going he was going to need it.

And that, my friends, is quite possibly the most epic middle finger I have ever had a character give to a plot he was expected to keep following.

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