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/tg/ - Traditional Games

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Hello again, /tg/. Three days ago, I posted the first part of the story of an allegedly low-magic setting that quickly turned into something else entirely. You can read it here:


In the latter half of the campaign, the DM really started ramping up the magic and epic-level NPC's. Unfortunately for him, at this point the group was a bit tired of his shit -- me especially. And by the end of it, we almost certainly made him regret not keeping the campaign low-magic.

So read on for the conclusion of the story of Marcus Revaine: redemption seeker, failed double agent, explorer of unknown lands, dungeonbreaker, demonbinder and slayer of greater evils.
The Sword and the undead maybe-deity Bob are destroyed -- mostly thanks to Marcus. Chance seemingly doesn't care either way, Regent Dren is going through a deep personal crisis and Wraff is trapped in the mind and body of a female silver dragon.

Also, vampires and necromancers formerly commanded by the Order of the Sword, along with legions of undead, are assaulting the army and the human capital. In other words, things have gone to hell in a hand basket.

Once again, the group splits up. Chance grabs the grieving Regent by the scruff of his neck and rides off to aid the army. Marcus convinces the silver dragoness (aided by Wraff screaming "The children! The children!" in her head) to give him a lift to the capital.
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Oh joy!
Upon arriving on the battlefield, Chance finds the human army taking an almighty beating -- the problem is, of course, the masses of undead that get right back up as soon as they're cut down, while every soldiers that falls to them instantly joins the enemy ranks.

The army commander (the head of the militaristic House Arlen) refuses to retreat, citing honor, tradition, etc. Chance diplomances him into agreeing to a fighting retreat -- the army, now reduced to several thousand troops, manages to break away and fall back, though the undead are in close pursuit.

While that is going on, Marcus and the dragoness arrive at the capital, only to find the city surprisingly quiet and peaceful. They hurry to Wraff's estate, to find it untouched (or relatively untouched -- half of it was destroyed in that attack during the first session) and the children and doppelganger servants alive and well.

The doppelgangers explain that a large force of vampires suddenly appeared, taking the city over in a surprise attack. Most of the remaining nobility are either dead or missing, while the common folk are too scared to do anything -- the latter are also getting dragged off into the castle and, presumably, getting turned into zombies.

Since the doppelgangers won't listen to the silver dragoness (she looks nothing like Wraff), Marcus, whom they recognize as Wraff's retainer/bodyguard/champion/second-in-command ends up giving the orders. The children are taken to safety by several doppelgangers (and disappear from the campaign for reasons that will soon become clear), while Marcus directs others to find out what happened to Chance's wife, who is among those that disappeared.

Suddenly, there is a knock on the door.
Marcus says "come in," and a familiar face enters the room.

It's the vampire who met with Marcus the night before the group left to aid House Bear. He introduces himself as Vlad.

He is extremely happy -- jubilant, even. Here he was, plotting to overthrow the humans and eventually taking over the world, and the only thing standing in his way -- the only thing that could pose a credible threat to him -- was the Sword. And now the Sword is gone -- destroyed by Marcus.

While Marcus is busy picking his jaw off the floor, Vlad continues monologuing, revealing that he was also the one who convinced Vraius to destabilize the kingdom with his attempt to resurrect Bob, knowing full well that it wouldn't work. He then turns to Marcus and offers to make him into a vampire as thanks for doing what he considered impossible and destroying Narsillus. He goes on to offer to make him a noble, give him control over the Royal Council, etc. etc. etc.

Marcus manages to stammer out that this is something he'll need time to think about. Vlad says he understands and walks out.

Marcus then convinces the dragoness to go find Chance and offer him assistance, should he need it. Meanwhile, he himself grabs a bottle of wine and devotes the night to some intensive thinking.
Back with Chance and Dren, the army remnants are too exhausted to continue running and they turn to make a final stand. Fortunately, the dragoness finds them at this very moment. After some quick planning, she takes Chance and Dren -- the latter allowing himself to be persuaded to break out of his funk for long enough to grab a bow -- onto her back and begins strafing the battlefield. They work out a frighteningly impressive tactic: the dragoness freezes the zombies solid with her breath and Chance shattering them to tiny pieces with his shout ability. Meanwhile, Dren snipes the necromancers to prevent them from raising new ones.

The battle is won, but the group has no time to rest. Upon learning of the new threat presented by Vlad, Chance decides that their best chance is to contact Vraius and seek his assistance against the vampire -- he may no longer be a god, but he is still an epic-level character and must surely be pissed off at being tricked.

He persuades the dragoness to take him and Dren to the castle Vraius owned before becoming a god -- currently, it's owned by the House Wraff belongs to, which maintained it in case Vraius ever returned. The dragoness does so, but upon arriving decides that she took enough risks for a bunch of complete strangers and departs to seek a cure for the shouty copper dragon in her head.

(basically, Wraff's player was bored of the character -- the dragon was too much of a one trick pony -- and wanted to play something new. Thus, Wraff and all his subplots drop off the face of the earth)
Surprisingly enough, the two of them find Vraius already in the castle -- and he's outrageously drunk in a depressed, maudlin sort of way. He realizes the extent to which he's been duped and feels the full weight of his actions. Not only did he not resurrect Bob, but he killed his own daughter -- the head of Wraff's House who got her throat cut way back in the first session -- in the attempt. He doesn't care about Vlad, he doesn't care about the world being overrun by the undead, he just wants to get drunk and feel sorry for himself.

Deciding that Vraius is a lost cause until he gets sober, Chance whips out his scrying mirror and starts making some calls. One of the people he manages to contact is the head of the merchant House -- the father of Dren's fiancée. Deciding that the group cannot confront Vlad as things stand right now, he arranges for said fiancée to use her ship (turns out she's a trader and/or pirate) to transport them to another continent, where they can get some breathing room, gather allies and grow in strength.

Why yes, this setting has another continent, inhabited by a hitherto unknown race of plant people. Chance met with one of them during the group's stay at the House Bear estate and elected not to mention it until now.

Meanwhile, unbeknownst to anyone else, Dren is having conversations with a voice in his head.
In the capital, Marcus is struggling to come to terms with how much of a tool and idiot he was. He trusted a vampire. He didn't stop to think about why one was helping him. He is indirectly responsible for thousands of deaths and ushering in a new age of darkness. He feels remorse and guilt and is desperately trying to think of a way to make amends.

In the morning, he heads to the castle and tells Vlad that he accepts his offer to become a vampire.

As monumentally stupid as that sounds, Marcus has a plan. A plan to get close to Vlad, earn his trust, discover his weaknesses, then backstab him when he least expects it -- or, at the very least, he wants the ability to meet Vlad on more equal footing, as he has no illusions about being able to take an ancient vampire in a fight. As such, he tells Vlad about how impressed he was with the way the vampire conned him and how he wants to learn how to be such a clever motherfucker -- that he wants to work for Vlad directly, because let's face it -- heading the Royal Council or whatever will just mean doing what Vlad says anyway.

Vlad says "Ok" and bites Marcus in the neck.
Several hours later, Marcus awakens to find himself lying under a table. This proves to be the means to protect him from the sun's rays streaming in through the window. Vlad is also in the room and sunlight doesn't seem to be causing him any discomfort.

He tells Marcus he has a chance to prove himself right now. He just needs to capture Chance -- alive, preferably -- and bring him to Vlad. He mentions something about Chance's blood being important and Marcus guesses that this has something to do with Chance's divine ancestry. Vlad also grants his newest servant a gift -- a set of bracers intended to protect him against Chance's shout power (it was an epic-level item with +10 deflection AC).

Marcus gets a horse and rides through the night, arriving at Vrais's castle in the morning. There, he confronts Chance and tells him why he is here. Chance, unperturbed as always, asks Marcus to maybe go along with his flee the continent plan instead. Marcus rolls his eyes and tells Chance to stop being an idiot -- he never had any intent of sacrificing party members to Vlad (Marcus was forced to drop his whole plan pretty much as soon as he realized what Vlad wanted). They exchange information and then both go to see if Vraius is doing any better, Thus, Marcus comes face to face with his god.
Or former god, it should be said. A god that abandoned Marcus and his responsibilities in pursuit of a stupid, selfish plan that tore apart the only remaining human kingdom, leaving untold thousands dead. A god of trickery and deceit who allowed himself to be tricked and deceived. A god who was once a mortal with the ambition and will to reach out and seize the divine spark and who is now content to sit and cry into a wine bottle, waiting for death.

I would've liked to say that at this moment Marcus becomes filled with righteous anger and calls Vraius out on his shit. That he says or does something to shake the fallen deity out of his tower of drunkenness and self-pity.

Unfortunately, Marcus does not do anything of the sort, as he himself is far too disillusioned and dejected -- after all, nothing he ever said to anyone has ever mattered. It was only through his own actions that he ever achieved anything -- and even then he managed to screw it up.

So he grits his teeth and keeps his mouth closed as Chance makes yet another attempt to convince Vraius to act. Predictably, that attempt fails and Chance decides to instead scry on a few more people to see what is happening in the kingdom.

One of the people he scries on is Vlad -- who just happens to be scrying on Marcus at that moment and sees what's going on. He sighs, reveals the ability to open a portal of plot convenience, and steps into Vraius's throne room, followed by twenty-odd vampire goons.
Everyone -- except for Vraius, who doesn't seem to care -- shits a brick; especially Marcus. Fortunately, Vlad assumes Vraius used his compulsion-inducing diplomacy on Marcus and goes on to deal with Vraius. They have a short conversation, wherein the former deity simply exposes his neck to Vlad, saying he doesn't care anymore. The vampire promptly cuts it.

Things are looking grim, when suddenly Dren steps in front of Vlad. In a determined voice (albeit quaking lightly with fear), he tells Vlad to turn around and go back where he came from.

Then he repeats it, slightly louder.

And then he repeats it again.

Vlad makes a puzzled expression… then he turns around and walks out through the portal. His goons, looking equally puzzled, file out after him, leaving the group alone in the room.

Marcus has all kinds of questions he wants to ask Dren, but Chance says that they should instead grab Vraius's body and make a run for it before whatever just happened wears off and Vlad comes back. Marcus is inclined to agree.
The group finds a wagon and sets off towards the ocean. Chance drives the wagon, while Marcus questions Dren about what he just did with Vlad, but Dren refuses to divulge any details.

Chance says that he intends to find a way to resurrect Vraius and that keeping the body in a good enough state to allow it is a concern. Dren thinks for a moment, then goes "Oh, I know," and reanimates Vraius's corpse as a zombie.

Marcus loses his shit.

He lets Dren have it from both barrels. He calls out the former Regent on his impulsiveness, lack of foresight and general stupidity. He brings up every instance when Dren has done something ill-advised during their time together and throws it in his face, giving an outlet to all the anger and frustration that's been building up in him for the past few weeks.

Dren is quick to point out that all that is currently happening is really Marcus's fault, because he killed the Sword. He actually calls Marcus a murderer and accuses him of being a traitor who is now working for Vlad. This only makes Marcus that much more angry.

Dren tells Marcus to shut up and leave him alone -- in the same tone of voice that he used on Vlad. Marcus tells Dren to cut that shit out or he'll get a slap. Dren repeats himself slightly louder. Marcus says this is his last chance.

Dren begins repeating himself and Marcus (non-lethally) slaps him for one third of his HP.

Dren shuts up.
The group covers up the awkward silence by looting Vrais's zombified body. Marcus gets a Holy/Unholy pair of +5 Keen kukris, each one also bearing every elemental enchantment known to man. Chance gets an eyepatch enchanted with See Magic, True Sight, darkvision, infravision, and every other type of vision. Dren all but leaps at the Greater Hat of Disguise, which can create any kind of non-magical clothes of armor for the wearer. The Boots of Teleport also go to Dren, though they become more of a party item. Finally, the Amulet of Nondetection/Antiscrying stays on the zombie, to prevent Vlad from tracking it.

We timeskip the next month and a half, as the DM briefly describes the group's journey across the ocean. At this point, Chance's player and me both reroll our characters -- the DM thought it was only fair to give us the option, as he was letting Wraff's player bring in a new character.

Chance becomes an Oracle with some custom-designed Curse that gives his spells a chance to become other spells when cast. Marcus, as a result of much meditation and a genuine desire to make up for his fuckup with the Sword, becomes a Redeemer -- a homebrew paladin class devoted to the god Selerik. However, as the Redeemer's later abilities are utter crap (his defining class feature is gaining the benefits of Teamwork feats -- but only for as long as his allies already have those feats), I only take four levels in it for the saves and the Mettle ability, otherwise keeping him as a Rogue. However, I do change his feats to gain the most benefit out of the two kukris.

Dren's player decides to keep the character the way he is.
After a month at sea, the ship pulls into port one fine summer evening, though calling it a port would be a misnomer -- it's a single jetty in a secluded cove, with no buildings or people around. As soon as the gangplank hits the jetty, the captain gives Dren a strange look, then suddenly makes a run for it.

As you may recall, the captain of the ship was the daughter of the merchant house noble and Dren's less-than-willing betrothed. As you may also recall from the previous thread, Dren utterly failed to make himself look like a good match in her eyes. As you may not recall, since I have not mentioned it up until now, he made such a terrible job of impressing her that she refused to even consider marrying her.

Dren whined at her long enough that she finally agreed to give him a chance. Her condition was that she would give him a chance -- nothing more -- at wooing her if he managed to beat her in a race -- if he would be the first to set foot on some land with a very complicated name that he has not heard of.

All of the above flashes through Marcus's mind as the captain tears down the gangplank. He nudges Dren sharply and hisses "This is the place! Use the Boots of Teleport!" Dren does so, appearing right in front of the shocked captain -- and winning the race. "It's still only a chance," she mutters, as she walks off towards the ship.

Now, if you think that Marcus did what he did because he's a fundamentally decent person who secretly likes Dren, then you obviously don't know him very well. He simply wants to see how much more Dren can embarrass himself with his efforts to woo the woman.

Unfortunately, the captain subplot, like so many others in this campaign, promptly proceeds to drop off the face of the earth.
After disembarking, the group proceeds inland, where they run into a small town populated by natives. They find a tavern and engage in a cultural exchange, the results of which I will now summarize:

- The plant people (I don't remember the race's name) inhabiting this continent have been created as a race 90 or so years ago by a Great Wyrm green dragon whom they look up to as their supreme leader and deity.

- The dragon maintains an aggressive policy of strengthening his people by setting up multiple dungeons stocked with monsters, traps and treasures from his vast hoard. As a result, there's dozens of adventuring parties running around and "grinding" these dungeons.

- The local economy is based on nuts, which come in gold, silver and copper variety. Their exchange rate for standard coinage requires annoying and unnecessary math in order to figure out the conversion from default prices.

- The concept of permanent death and/or undeath is alien to them -- each larger settlement maintains a temple with at least two druids capable of casting Reincarnate. The group actually meet one of those druids in the tavern -- he goes by the name of Maple and is absolutely fascinated by how humans look. Chance makes fast friends with him.
Fair warning: from here on out, my memory of how some things happen or how the party finds out certain facts is somewhat hazy -- I cobbled it into a coherent narrative, but some of it is almost certainly wrong. The reason for this is that the DM and Chance's player would repeatedly engage in large amounts of lorewank that neither of them bothered to adequately explain to the rest of the group. At the same time, I was finding it increasingly more difficult to care.

As you may recall from the previous thread, me and another player were debating leaving the campaign -- specifically, after the session with the conch and the kraken, me and Wraff's player talked about our growing frustration with the game becoming dominated by Dren's Sword antics and with Chance's spotlight hogging.

To our credit, we did do the rational thing and approached the DM with our concerns, looking to talk things out. To his credit, the DM apologized, professed that he too is getting tired of Chance never shutting up and promised to give us our own chance to shine.

Then Marcus found a way to deal with the sword and I was happy with that, all the way up to the moment Vlad showed up. To be clear -- I am not complaining that my character got conned by a vampire and that there were consequences to his actions. I am complaining about how Vlad's appearance invalidated everything that the group achieved so far.

Almost every NPC we knew was dead -- including House Bear, including Chance's wife, as we found out through Chance's scrying during the sea journey. The Royal Council politics, the peace negotiations with the merfolk, the quest to stop Vraius -- it all might as well not have happened. It was a massive failure of storytelling. And suddenly we were supposed to start caring about the DM's super special race of plant people and their antics. Me -- I no longer gave a shit.

I'm still not entirely sure why I stuck with this campaign until the very end. But anyway. On with the story.
Maple decides that he absolutely has to introduce us to his superior -- the head druid in charge of the reincarnation temple in this town. This druid turns out to be Wraff player's new character: a Druid/some arcane class/Mystic Theurge. He introduces himself as Oak… Professor Oak.

Chance gets to talking with Oak, explaining the group's reasons for arriving in this land and saying that he is hoping for an audience with the dragon. Oak is noncommittal since he can't speak for his deity, but he does send off an Animal Messenger to the high druid circle.

In the meantime, Chance decides that since the group now has easy access to resurrection, it’s time to start bringing his family back to life. Earlier in the campaign, he somehow managed to retrieve a piece of his father's body, which he now presents to Oak, but the ritual fails, as the soul does not want to return to the body.

Next is the brother's turn -- Chance scries on him and finds that he is currently a zombie -- one of the thousands currently standing around on the human capital's streets, not doing much. A rescue mission is planned and launched -- the group persuades Dren to give Marcus the Boots of Teleport and Marcus jumps into the capital after having every defensive boon and enchantment that Chance and Oak could think of cast on him. He grabs the zombie brother and jumps back in.

This time the reincarnation ritual works -- and Chance's brother comes back as an elf. Chance is very happy with this.
Do you recall that elf spy Chance released way back in the first thread? Since then, Chance has dedicated himself to stalking him with a scrying mirror, checking up on him every couple of days only to see him traveling through some mountains. Well, a couple of days ago Chance found the elf has arrived in his homeland -- he contacted the elf, told him he wishes to negotiate with the elven ruler, then was told that the elven king does not talk with non-elves.

Now, after filling his brother in on all that happened since his death, Chance scries on the elf and Messages him that he wishes to negotiate with the king. The elf tells him to sod off, but Chance engages his diplomancy, and the next day he teleports his brother into the elven kingdom to take care of the negotiations.

The next item on the agenda is that Chance wants the group to start running through some of those dungeons he heard so much about, so that they all grow stronger through it. By now, a message has arrived from the druid circle is that the dragon is still considering permitting an audience, but that for now Oak should stick with the group and keep an eye on them.

Oak asks where the others want to start and the group decides on one of the beginner dungeons -- to establish a baseline for what the plant people consider "easy."
The dungeon is nothing to talk about -- it's a handful of rooms filled with pathetically weak monsters and simple skillchecks that Marcus gets Dren to run, as it's amusing to see him fail them due to not having the ranks. The reward at the end is a handful of nuts and a potion of Barkskin.

However, sometime during the dungeon run, the voices in Dren's head start acting up and Chance decides to finally take an interest in them. Through some convincing and a number of knowledge checks, he concludes that Dren's mind is currently home to the late Necronomicon, which is slowly attempting to corrupt him while pretending to be the Sword.

After discussing things with Oak, they decide that the best solution is to kill Dren -- this will allow his and the book's soul to separate and then each can be brought back separately (for some reason, both of them need to be reincarnated at the same time).

Marcus finds the logic at work here dubious at best, but he is told that this is how magic works. "In that case, can I be the one to kill him?" he asks with a nasty smile on his face.

Dren has his doubts, but Chance says that he does not have the raw strength to kill him cleanly and quickly, while Oak declines for religious reasons. This leaves Marcus as Dren's only option -- and he is currently loudly debating the merits of a sledgehammer over a woodsman's axe.
However, Marcus is only being an asshole for the sake of watching Dren squirm -- in the end, he quickly and cleanly breaks Dren's neck and drags him to the reincarnation circle in the temple. Oak chooses this moment to reveal that while Reincarnation is supposedly random, in this setting druids are able to "tweak" things a little (they roll on the Reincarnation table twice and choose one result) -- although they're technically not allowed to. Of course, Marcus and Chance persuade him to employ that ability -- and choose the funnier result.

And this is how Dren becomes a female were-raccoon and the Necronomicon is reborn as a turtle.

The group does take the precaution of warding the reincarnation spot with a Magic Circle Against Evil to contain what is currently the most evil turtle in the world. However, the Necronomicon manages to dispel the circle and attempts to teleport out to begin spreading evil and chaos, while the entire group wails on it with every weapon they can reach. It… almost succeeds ("I'm sorry guys, but it rolled just enough to make the caster check." "Wait, doesn't Reincarnation confer a negative level? It's at -1 to everything." "Ah shit, you're right. Never mind.")

This evening, Chance and Dren have turtle soup.
However, before that happens, the ancient green dragon and unquestioned ruler of this land decides to pay the group a surprise visit. He questions their motives, speaks with everyone personally, offers Marcus a chance to become human again (Marcus declines, citing need to defeat Vlad first), loses a few brain cells while talking to Dren, then finally agrees the group to stay in his domain -- in exchange, he takes the Necronomicon's turtle shell and the Vraius zombie (along with the nondetection amulet that everyone forgot about -- we never see it again).

I believe that it is also during that conversation that Dren, having discovered the ease with which resurrection can happen, announces his plan to return the Sword to life. The dragon states that it is a bad idea, though he does not explain why.

After the dragon leaves, the group rests for the night, while Marcus goes hunting. The DM has been handwaving the vampire's requirement to feed on blood so far, saying that Selerik was giving Marcus his protection, but now the hunger strikes him with a vengeance.

Having a choice between drinking Chance's or Dren's blood, or going vegetarian with the local population's sap, Marcus chooses door number three and hunts down a deer. The DM takes great relish in describing how nasty and unfulfilling that meal is.
The next day, the group travels to one of the more popular mid-tier dungeons. The DM describes it as a magical maze constructed of ever-shifting rooms that move around at random, meaning that even on multiple runs, no group ever sees the same layout twice.

In reality, the DM didn't feel like designing a dungeon, so he found a dungeon room generator online and used the above explanation as a justification for things not making much sense layout-wise. Sadly, he did not realize that he was dealing with three D&D veterans given access to a broad selection of tools, who proceeded to make the dungeon their bitch.

In no particular order, here are some of the "challenges" the group faced:
- A room completely flooded with water where the group has to face a large electric eel ("Water breathing spell!" "I'm an octopus now!" "Undead! Also, damage resistance!")

- A sphinx telling the oldest riddles known to man ("The answer is 'coffin.'")

- A room with extremely slick walls and two giant tortoises in the middle, requiring the group to kill them and stack their bodies to reach the exit ("You realize that two of us can turn into things that fly and carry the other two, right?")

- A room with a grid of changing symbols and colors, requiring the group to step on the correct squares lest they set off a trap ("Nah, we just fly across.")

- A room with a walkway over a pit filled with excrement and a door with a very obvious lock on the other end ("I use Children of the Night to summon 1d4+1 rat swarms to look for the key.")

- A room with all the exits blocked by giant blocks of ice with golems frozen in them -- the intent was that getting to the exit would involve melting the block, which would release the golem to fight the party ("My kukris have Flaming on them, so I cut through the block where it's flush with the wall and pull it away.")
Eventually, the group enters a room with no apparent exits (the one they come in through closes behind us) -- there are plant people adventurers here looking lost and four doors in the middle, arranged into a box.

Chance figures out the puzzle immediately -- he grabs one of the doors, places it against a wall and opens it -- revealing the way out, as well as the fact that these doors act as portable Passwall spells.

The group promptly steals three of them -- at first they intend to take all four, but Chance says we should let other people who come into the room stand a chance of getting out.

From here on out, the group proceeds to absolutely break the dungeon, ignoring whatever rooms they don't feel like solving (read: all of them). After everyone gets bored of hopping around -- and after accidentally flooding part of the dungeon -- they decide to head upwards, finally arriving outside, on top of the whole structure. From here, they begin to randomly place down doors, checking out the rooms below.

At one point they see a group of plant people fighting salamanders -- Chance casts a few healing and buff spells on the adventurers and when they look up in confusion, he cheerfully shouts "Gifts from above!" and closes the door.

Finally, the group finds a room that is one giant trap -- it shows the first person to look inside the thing they desire most, while everyone else sees nothing. After everyone gets a look, the group decides to see what happens if two or three people look into the room simultaneously, using separate doors.

The room groans, begins trembling, something somewhere goes "ping" and the entire thing falls off the rails it is on and crashes somewhere below -- the group is left with looking at the dungeon's machinery and maintenance tunnels.
Needless to say, the group decides to explore those -- soon enough, they find the dungeon reward delivery system -- and the enormous pile of treasure and magic items supplying it.

In one of the very few intelligent joint decisions it ever ends up making, the group agrees that swiping everything would be a) impractical and b) sure to anger the dragon once he learns about it. Thus, they only take a couple items each -- for example, Dren gets a proper magic bow, while Marcus picks up a set of magical armor, as subpar AC is his single greatest weakness.

Meanwhile, Chance finds the dungeon controls. He decides to be a good guy and repair the room the group broke. Occasionally, a surprised "Where the hell is the room?!" drifts down from above. Invariably, he yells back "Maintenance in progress! Please stand by! Thank you!"

He manages to figure out the controls and bring the room back on the rails and into the dungeon rotation and the group departs the dungeon.

After the dungeon, Marcus hits level 12 -- this is the last time we level in the campaign.
The group is now flush with local currency and Dren begins pushing hard for getting the Sword reincarnated (the group paid for reincarnating Dren by selling one of the rings Chance got off of Vraius's body -- it was some relatively minor enchantment that no one had a good use for). When Marcus points out that a part body is necessary for the spell, Dren produces a jar full of rust shavings -- he kept the damned thing for all this time, it turns out.

Marcus is still opposed on the grounds of the entire idiotic mess starting all over again. Meanwhile, Dren insists that the Sword is his friend and he will not abandon it.

However, for once, things seem to be going in Marcus's favor. A high-ranked druid arrives, telling the party that they are to come with him -- the dragon wants them to see something that might influence their desire to resurrect the Sword.
The group joins up with two dozen or so high-level druids led by a guy called Quickflame who are setting off to fight something they call a demonwood. Demonwoods, it turns out, are the boogeyman of plant people culture -- they are members of their race whose soul does not return to their body during the reincarnation ritual. If that happens, the person turns into a tall, reddish treant adorned with wilted leaves that runs around killing indiscriminately and sucking out people's life energy. Furthermore, anyone killed by a demonwood can no longer be reincarnated. Since this race doesn't otherwise know death, demonwoods understandably make all of them shit bricks.

How this relates to the Sword: according to the dragon, the way in which the Sword achieved sentience renders it effectively soulless. Thus, reincarnating it will, invariably, turn it into a demonwood. And nobody wants that to happen.

The group travels to a temple where a demonwood currently resides, having killed the resident druids. Battle is joined and several druids buy it almost immediately. Quickflame, so named for his propensity to use the Haste spell and the Fire Elemental form almost exclusively is holding his own, but from the way the DM plays him, it is clear he intends to kill this NPC we've just met for some cheap drama.

Unfortunately for him, Chance uses Vrais's eyepatch to figure out the pattern to the demonwood's seemingly random teleports and points at where the druids should direct their magic artillery. The demonwood dies and every reasonable person agrees that these things are bad business.

Dren is not a reasonable person.
To give him credit, he is at least clever enough to arrange for the resurrection to take place when Marcus is in the market, buying supplies -- though how he manages to persuade others to go through with this remains a mystery. By the time Marcus rejoins the others (the dragon is in attendance as well and permitting the ritual to go ahead because reasons), the process is already underway.

Things go wrong almost immediately. The reincarnation circle darkens, the plants around the temple wilt, ghostly images begin forming in the air. Specs of light gather in the middle and, for a brief moment, take on the shape of a sword. However, a moment later, the shape distorts and grows -- it takes on the form of a demonwood.

The circle is of course warded and, for some reason, seems to block sounds. Dren enters the circle, speaking to the demonwood and -- joy of joys -- it's his old buddy the Sword, who convinces Dren to disrupt the wards. Dren, being the good friend and gullible idiot that he is, does so without question. The Sword yells "See you later, suckers!" and begins teleporting out.

However, Marcus has other ideas.
See, during his time at the market, Marcus was approached by a high level adventurer. Said adventurer offered him a giant pile of money for his bracers (which the DM decided were too powerful to let Marcus keep and was thus trying to get rid of).

Marcus proved reluctant to part with such a powerful item and refused every offer the adventurer made -- until, in frustration, the plant person pulled a ring off his finger and offered it in exchange for the bracers.

Marcus did not want to believe that someone would willingly part with such a powerful item. He questioned whether the item is real and in turn the adventurer offered to take him to every enchanter and wizard in the market to have it checked out -- and that is exactly what they did, proving the ring to be legit.

Still somewhat reluctant, Marcus decided to make the trade.

Now, bearing witness to yet another colossal idiocy taking place right before him -- and the newly resurrected Sword about to make a getaway -- Marcus reaches into his pocket and slips the ring onto his finger.

"I wish for this demonwood to turn into a sword," he declares clearly.

"A wooden one," he adds after a moment.
The clatter of wood on wood -- the sword hitting the temple floor -- seems very loud in the silence that follows. Marcus spends those few moments giving everyone the best "Really?!" look he can muster.

Afterwards, the dragon demands to talk with the Sword -- eventually, he makes some sort of deal with it (with part of the deal being that the Sword is not allowed to talk about the deal), decides that it is now harmless and flies away, leaving it with the group.

The Sword is unapologetic about its attempt to give everyone the metaphorical bird and walk off. Its only comment is "Well, how was I supposed to know that Marcus has a Ring of Three Wishes in his pocket? By the way, could someone cast Dispel Magic on me?" Dren is just happy to have his friend back, though a bit less happy when he finds out that the Sword can no longer turn into a bow, the reincarnation having effectively robbed it of all its powers. He decides he wants to immediately start making pacts with the Sword to make it stronger.

"Yes," says Marcus while reaching out for the Sword. "Let's make a pact."
keep going OP, this storytime is great
See, Marcus has realized that he was making an error by refusing to associate with the sword. He reduced himself to someone standing around in the background going "No, don't" when he should have been trying to influence how the Sword was being used or what kinds of pacts were struck. After all, one of the most useful deals the group got -- the one that compelled the sword to be straight and respectful with its answers -- came about due to Marcus's request. So this time, things would be different. This time, he would get involved with the start.

For the first time since it's been introduced into the campaign, Marcus touches the Sword, opening direct mental communication between them.

"Hey Sword, you remember me, don't you?"
"Yeah, you're the guy who horribly murdered me."
"Yes, I did. And I can do it again -- I will do it again if I decide you've grown too powerful or dangerous. So I suggest you behave."

Marcus then proceeds to browbeat the group -- he gets Dren's cooperation with a threat of killing the Sword right there and then -- into a pact where the Sword must tell the truth when speaking with any group member and must refrain from taking any action or forming a new pact with anyone unless the majority of the group agrees to it. There is some finagling concerning life-or-death cases, group member deaths, etc. but in the end a compromise is reached.

Part of that compromise is that group members must also be absolutely honest with the Sword and one another (the Sword keeps prattling something about equivalent exchange). Consequently, the moment the pact is sealed, Dren turns to Marcus and demands to know whether the latter has betrayed them to Vlad.
"No," Marcus answers firmly.

After Dren doesn't believe it and the Sword expresses surprise that Marcus isn't running around and screaming while being on fire, the group decides to continue becoming stronger and sets off for a dungeon that has a reputation for being very tough (we got cocky with how easy the last one was).

Upon arriving, the group proceeds inside and engages some fungus zombies with tentacles -- these indeed prove tough, as Marcus only destroys one with a full round of attacks. The remaining five make their own attacks, but only one hits (Offensive Defense is awesome). However that one is enough for the zombie to grapple Marcus.

Suddenly, there is movement by the entrance and ten vampires join the fight, intent on killing the party.

Chance, who is currently carrying the Sword, casts some sort of undead disrupting enchantment on it and hits one of the vampires -- utterly destroying it on the spot. However, things are going very not in the group's favor, so they all grab Dren and have him teleport them out.

Oak, deciding that they need to lay low for the night while the casters prepare spells more suited to fighting undead, takes the group to some grove of sacred treants that he persuades to protect everyone as they rest.
Before sleeping, the group spends an inordinate amount of time arguing about what to do about the vampires. Chance prefers to deal with them as they become an issue. Marcus wants to track them down, find their coffins and destroy them, then destroy the vampires. Oak doesn't care either way -- he says the treants will protect the group if need be. Dren wants the plan to involve him dying and being reincarnated for some reason.

(I don't know what it was, but Dren's player developed some sort of death fetish after that first reincarnation. He kept with coming up with plans where he'd end up dead on purpose and resurrected. Usually there was some logic to these plans, even if it was a twisted and tortuously loopy kind of logic -- though I can't recall any of those plans anymore. And no, it wasn't because he was now playing a female character -- that was my first thought too.)

The next morning, the group travels back to the dungeon entrance to begin tracking down the vampires. What they find instead is signs of battle, piles of ash and the ground deeply scoured with acid -- the obvious conclusion is that the dragon decided to wipe out the vampires himself.

The group's reaction is to shrug and decide that they might as well do the dungeon then.
This was the point where my level of not giving a shit reached the point where even the DM took notice -- after the session we had a private conversation where he asked me what was wrong, since I was unusually quiet the whole time.

So I pretty much asked him why I should give a damn. If this is how he's going to present challenges -- give the party access to a 100% secure location, then have an epic-level NPC deal with the threat -- then why should I give a flying fuck about what happens in the game? I've spent an IRL hour convincing people to go along with Marcus's plan that would've let us, for once, solve our own damn problem in our own damned way. If he's going to take that away from us, then why should I even bother showing up?

I'm not entirely sure if this is what in fact happened, but it is possible that some of the subsequent events were the direct result of that conversation.
Anyway. The group enters the dungeon again to find the zombies gone (presumably killed by vampires) and proceeds through a couple puzzle rooms that they solve with the liberal application of the Passwall doors.

In the next room, they find a chest -- which they of course proceed to open. And here is where the DM's inability to convey the passage of time outside of combat rounds nearly gets the entire party killed.

Opening the chest triggers some sort of summoning sigil that begins teleporting in a monster. The group, assuming that it's going to appear within several seconds, at most, takes up positions for a surprise attack. The DM seems surprised by that, but goes ok.

It's a goddamn balor.
The surprise attack fails because none of us can hit that thing's AC. Three rounds of combat later, Marcus and Oak are nearly dead and the group decides to run, once again using the Boots of Teleport to save their lives.

Afterwards, the DM expresses surprise that the group didn't try to find another solution to the situation. After a lot of wtf from the players, it turns out that the summoning sigil took around five minutes to port in the balor -- we were supposed to use things in the chest to figure out the room's puzzle by then.

After that misunderstanding is cleared up, the Sword suddenly begins acting up. It tries to speak, then suddenly cuts out, as if knocked unconscious. Chance revives it with a few Cure spells, only for the same thing happen again. After another revive, the Sword attempts to talk very, very carefully. It's clear that something it is saying is causing it to short out, but it does not know what the trigger is -- the group eventually guesses that this has something to do with the pact the Sword made with the dragon.

Suddenly the Sword recovers -- and realizes that it is no longer bound by the pact.

Simultaneously, Oak realizes that something terrible has happened.
After teleporting to the plant people's capital, the group finds the crowds in a panic. Their god has fallen silent -- he is dead. And they are not prepared to deal with this tragedy.

Mob mentality takes hold and the crowd blames the "foreigners" -- the group -- for what has happened. Chance puts Marcus on "run around and keep their attention" duty while the rest of the group travels to the main temple to find Quickflame trying to calm the crowds there (or rather a random druid, until we remind the DM that Quickflame is still alive -- he actually thought Quickflame died during the demonwood battle). Through ways and means, they get the crowd to stop rioting -- as I recall, at one point Quickflame shapeshifts into a mastodon and begins chasing the mob around.

After Marcus rejoins the group, they proceed into the temple, only to find that the dragon is indeed dead -- and to find Vlad sitting on top of the corpse.

The party has a minor roleplaying crisis, as Oak's player struggles between his character's desire for instant vengeance and the metagame knowledge that attacking a vampire who just soloed an epic-level dragon is what's officially known as a BAD IDEA. Vlad starts monologuing, trying to get everyone to give up and join his side, because they obviously don't stand a chance anymore.

Vlad eventually leaves without harming anyone because reasons. I don't remember and honestly, I don't really care. Before that happens, Marcus manages to convince him to explain why he was so afraid of the Sword (because, after all, it's long gone and no longer a threat, hur hur). The answer turns out to be disappointing -- as a pre-cataclysm artifact, the Sword was one of the very few things with the raw power to threaten Vlad.

Very shortly, it turns out that there are plenty of other things that can threaten -- and harm -- Vlad.
The group explores the temple and happens upon three massive stone tablets with a spell inscribed on them. After boosting their knowledge checks to an insane level with some spell or other, Chance and Oak decipher them to be a Mass Forced Reincarnation Spell. An epic spell, obviously, and one with some grave consequences, at that -- casting it will disrupt the other epic spell that the dragon has cast -- the one that effectively rendered plant people immortal and capable of endlessly reincarnating -- and that is somehow indirectly responsible for undead over on the human continent refusing to stay down after being re-killed.

The latter is something that Chance discovered earlier, but the dragon showed extreme displeasure at the mere hint of a suggestion to undo the spell.

In any case, between the two of them, Chance and Oak hash out a plan where they essentially set the spell off in the human capital, thus reincarnating every single undead there -- including Vlad.

Chance calls in his alliances -- the elves and the House Alder head that somehow survived everything and has been holding out in a castle somewhere -- and the group teleports, intending to go straight for the capital.
Instead, everyone ends up in some other random castle with an army of 50,000 that is about to march against Vlad's forces. Why? Because fuck you, that's why.

The group just goes along with it -- except for Dren, who wanders up to the army commander and begins chatting with him, in the process doing much to convince the man that women belong in the kitchen.

After an indeterminate amount of time, the army arrives at the capital and there is a grand old battle against the undead that the humans are doomed to lose, but they are fighting anyway because reasons. The elven army just teleports in out of nowhere, but they aren't much help either. Vlad is out there of course, killing random mooks. Marcus sees him -- and Vlad sees Marcus. They walk at one another…

And then Vlad casts Chain Lightning. Marcus has Evasion and is fine. Dren, who is behind Marcus and does not have Evasion, loses a good chunk of his health. Vlad walks past Marcus and heads for Dren -- I later find out the DM intended Vlad to kill Dren and turn to Marcus, to give a speech along the lines of "see how your friends fall before me? This is your last chance to join me."

Instead, it turns out to be the last mistake Vlad ever makes.
This campaign happens to be using exploding dice for critical hits. As long as you roll within your critical range and hit, you can continue rerolling for increased damage multipliers.

Marcus is wielding Keen kukris -- they have a 15-20 critical range.

And suddenly, I can't roll below a 16.

After the sixth roll, the DM simply declares that Marcus dives into Vlad's back, exploding out of his chest in a shower of gore and bone fragments. This doesn't kill Vlad, of course -- he simply reverts to his mist form and flies off towards the city, heading for his coffin.

Marcus follows, intending to finish things by himself.

Meanwhile, far above the battlefield, Professor Oak begins implementing the Reincarnation Bomb plan.
See, although Chance and Oak could identify the Mass Reincarnation spell, neither of them could actually cast it, it being epic level and all.

However, the Sword could. The Sword had the ability to cast the spell because plot device, shut up. Although it said that it would take several rounds to actually unleash it.

So Oak decides to give the Sword those few rounds -- he flies it far into the sky, then shapeshifts back into his base form to free the tablets (the things weighed a couple hundred pounds apiece -- we were carrying them around by abusing the equipment melding rules for shapeshifting).

Then he shapeshifts into an allosaurus and, as he, the Sword and the tablets begin falling, he starts buffing himself with every spell he can think of. Simultaneously, the Sword begins reciting the spell from the tablet.
Far below, Vlad arrives at the castle with Marcus in close pursuit. He jumps into his coffin -- which turns out to be a specially crafted artifact that revives him immediately, instead of after an hour. He turns to Marcus with an ugly smile, while Marcus tightens the grip on his blades and prepar-

Several dozen tons of magical allosaurus crashes in through the roof, exploding into spells, pieces of mortar and bloody chunks of flesh. The entire room -- Vlad, his magical coffin, Marcus, everything -- gets pulverized.

Then the reincarnation spell goes off.
Somehow, Oak is still able to tweak reincarnation, so everyone gets two rolls on the table. I do not remember what most of the group becomes. I do remember that, through sheer coincidence, Vlad gets turned into a turtle (and is later turned into soup).

Marcus becomes some sort of gray-skinned orc. I don't remember what it's called and didn't manage to find a picture of how it looks again -- I remember the picture having a jutting chin that made it look like a permanent trollface.

The Sword gets turned into a dwarf. That doesn't really end up mattering, because Marcus almost immediately hunts it down and kills it again -- he is not about to let all this shit start all over again. The DM decides that he falls for this, as Redeemers are supposed to be big on forgiveness and second chances. Marcus doesn't give a single fuck -- he knows his job and it is finally done.

Meanwhile, hundreds of thousands of people have to suddenly contend with not only being alive again, but being of an entirely different race. Halflings, gnomes, dwarves, pixies, a hundred subraces of elf -- they're all milling about the battlefield and trying to figure out what to do. Among the more amusing instances, the elven king is no longer an elf -- and thus no longer allowed into elf lands. I believe he eventually persuades the elves to adopt a more pro-diversity stance.

Also, there's all kinds of dragons around now. Wraff -- wherever he is -- should be happy.
Holy shit, someone screencap this masterpiece!
The DM concludes the campaign by giving some bookends for every character.

Chance becomes the new king of the (formerly) human kingdom and spends the rest of his life sorting out relations between all the races that are suddenly around once more.

Marcus atones for his sins, resurrects the Sword, turns it towards Good and the two of them travel the world being heroic as fuck and smiting evil left and right. They are joined by Professor Oak, who is no longer a plant person and thus sees no reason to return to his homeland.

Dren adventures with Marcus for a time, then heads off in search of his dearest betrothed. His ultimate fate is unknown.
So there you go. The complete story of an incredibly frustrating, but occasionally very fun campaign. If the ending seems rushed and disappointing… then yeah, I felt like that too. Later I found out that the DM had to wrap things up quickly because of RL interfering. I guess at least he finished the campaign instead of leaving it in limbo, so I shouldn't complain too much.

Thank you for reading and if you have any questions or want me to clarify something, I'll be around for a bit. Otherwise, stay awesome, /tg/.
Out of curiousity, was Dren's character just as stupid in real life as he was in the campaign, or was he just really good at RPing stupid people?
Yeah, sounds frustrating. Thankfully I have only ever had to contend with one campaign ending badly, of the you stop the apocalypse but no one remembers variety. Had another campaign that ended in a very frustrating way, but was not all bad
Honestly, it was difficult to tell, but I think it was the latter -- mostly.

I think he may have decided that his character will become obsessed with the Sword, but then he let some of that creep into our OOC interactions.

I recall how at one point he compared the Sword to GLaDOS and Marcus to Chell, repeaedly calling him "Murderer." When I asked if that neams Dren is Wheatley, he got really offended with me for the next half hour.

(it didn't help that Chance's player started repeatedly yelling "SPAAAAACE!" at him)
Do you think you would have liked this campaign more if it hadn't been sold to you as low-magic?
*means, goddamnit
An Allosaurus ... are you fucking with me?

Thanks OP, this was great, do you have any more stories to share with us? I'd love to see a thread of yours some other time.
Possibly, yes. On the other hand, I may have not joined it in the first place. I dislike high fantasy for some of the very things that happened in this campaign -- especially for the ease with which magic makes everything else irrelevant.
I do have the story of the best campaign I ever ran -- ironically, it was in a homebrew setting of mine.

However, I'm not sure how good that particular story would be. It would be pretty short and would end rather abruptly -- it was an online game and all but one of the players just spontaneously didn't show up one day. I never found out what happened and if it was something I did.
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OP, I'd be much obliged if you shared any other stories you have. You have a knack for writing things out in a witty and concise manner, and you've definitely brightened up my week. Thanks a ton, and have a baby nargacuga for your troubles.
Thank you for the compliment. I may write something up eventually, but that probably won't be for a couple of weeks, if not more.

Also, I'd be much obliged if someone archived this thread before it slides into oblivion.
I think pretty much every thread is archived these days, is it not? I wouldn't know how to begin the archival process otherwise.
If anyone cares, I saved the last thread. I can post it, but it's 5 files
well then could somebody post the archive link? Because I don't know how to either.
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Images are fine too, right?
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Every time
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Oh, and this is the first thread. I'll make this thread into images before it dies
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You are doing the lord's work anon
>Necronomicon is reborn as a turtle.


I can see your conflicting emotions on this campaign chapter, the DM opens with an absolutely fantastic new villain, but everything you could've thrown against him is gone. So frustrating.

>The DM describes it as a magical maze constructed of ever-shifting rooms that move around at random, meaning that even on multiple runs, no group ever sees the same layout twice.

>In reality, the DM didn't feel like designing a dungeon, so he found a dungeon room generator online and used the above explanation as a justification for things not making much sense layout-wise.

This is actually pretty clever, your DM isn't half bad. Besides, what's the point of having all that problem solving ability, random abilities and trivia knowledge if you don't get to use that every now and then?

>At one point they see a group of plant people fighting salamanders -- Chance casts a few healing and buff spells on the adventurers and when they look up in confusion, he cheerfully shouts "Gifts from above!" and closes the door.

>"Maintenance in progress! Please stand by! Thank you!"

But man, that's a *lot* of handwawing because reasons.

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