Tuesday, January 27, 2015

WoTR: Convincing the Churches, part 5

"I'm sorry.  We already donated at the office."
(Dragon Age Inquisition - quote mine)
CHURCH OF ASMODEUS
Rellius, Archpriest of Asmodeus, is actually quite willing to assist against demonic incursions and will even happily set up, at the church's own expense, a cathedral within Drezen so long as he is convinced that they have a method to hold the city and so long as they can maintain that cathedral for 100 years (non-consecutive if the city falls again) and allow the Chelish to take command of any 10% treasure located by any army containing Chelish troops.  If they accept, they will gain two squads of Hellknights, twenty clerics and three armies of 100 Chelish soldiers.

ITEM OF INTEREST: He wears an elaborate wig (Judge's Wig) that grants a +4 bonus to Intimidate and Diplomacy checks as well as being able to scrutinise individuals with Discern Lies so long as they are within 30ft.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: None.  They just have to accept his terms.  If they negotiate firmly enough, he will drop the 10% rule to only those armies that have 50% Chelish troops.


THE SEVENTH CHURCH OF IOMEDAE
The Seventh Church is the site where Iomedae called forth the Undenying Light, causing stars to shine through a terrible storm that was wracking Absalom. With torches and lanterns blown out, rain sleeting down in sheets, and waves cresting into the streets, on the night of that miracle a pack of sea-ghouls swarmed into the city. With the guard blinded in the darkness and communication by horn impossible, the ghouls ran roughshod through the city. Iomedae, still mortal, called for the Starstone to ask its brethren in the sky to light the city. The Cathedral of the Starstone glowed with blue fire, and the night stars shone rays of blue light through the clouds. The light pinpointed every ghoul in the city, and allowed Iomedae and other defenders to find and destroy them. This is the seventh of her 11 miraculous Acts, and the event is commemorated not only with the Temple, but with the Iomedaenne, a 10-foot statue of the goddess carved from red limestone thinly banded with sapphire.  Staffed with younger priests who are still in training, or very old priests who operate it as a form of retirement.  It is also a common destination for those so maimed, cursed, or aged as to be no longer sharp blades in Iomedae’s service, and who are fit mostly to train younger faithful.  The current head priest, Genedair the Faithful, is a human man in his early 90s. A hero of the Mendev Crusades, he now requires a staff and two young acolytes at his side to walk, though his mind remains as sharp as ever.

ITEM OF INTEREST: He wears a simple brass headband with a symbol of Iomedae that is a Headband of Ponderous Recollection (+2 Intelligence, skill bonuses can only be placed on Knowledge skills, swift action thrice per day to identify abilities and weaknesses as with a Knowledge check).

QUEST TO IMPRESS: Genedair is already impressed and eager to assist but he has provided all that he can.  If the PCs can arrange for access to a Teleportation Circle, they can speed up their assistance.
 
THE TEMPERING HALL
The Tempering Hall sits across the main street from the Seventh Church and is a training ground for Paladins of Iomedae and, by long-standing tradition, also those called by Abadar, Irori and Shelyn.  The Knight Lord of the Tempering House is Rochae Swiftblade, an experienced warrior who turned to Iomedae first as a cleric and only in the later years of his life as a paladin.  He can mention that there have been more paladins of Shelyn now than in previous years with three ready for creation.  There are 2d12 level 1 paladins ready for assignment.

Monday, January 26, 2015

WoTR: Convincing the Churches, part 4

Pharasmins embrace old age as a vital stage of life.
CHURCH OF PHARASMA

The church of Pharasma sits at the entrance to one of the great graveyards of Absalom. An elderly half-elven woman known as High Priestess Khallease wears a hooded, robe-like dress, and has a surpassingly youthful voice. She is rumoured to be a beautiful and young woman, perhaps an everlasting beauty, but who covers up her appearance so that she would not be distracted by seducers. She is concerned about the Worldwound as it is renowned for waylaying souls -- as are the succubi -- and wishes to see the Fallen and other undead released to return to their place of origin. She is particularly interested in seeking information on the druids who gave themselves to undeath in place of allowing demonic control.
ITEM OF INTEREST: The Pharasmin wears a Spectral Shroud - a thin bleached cloth over her chest and torso, that allows her to see invisible or ethereal creatures and once per day become invisible for 10 rounds with a fly speed equal to half speed.
QUEST TO IMPRESS: The church has no ban on resurrecting the dead so long as they are brought back via appropriate channels - i.e. resurrection or raise dead. If the PCs promise to investigate the rumour of the undead druids and their ritual sacrifice, slaying one and bringing it back for conversation, she will give them 1d6 level 5 Pharasmin clerics to assist in the creation of respectful funeral rites that will prevent return from the dead in Drezen. She will provide one Oil of Life from her collection to resurrect the druid. If the PCs think of it themselves and make a Diplomacy DC 30 check, she will come with them as part of her sacred duty to lay them to rest.

DESNAN SHRINE
The Desnan High Priestess Elifteneal, a gnome, has Greater Teleport once per day and can send people to the Worldwound for a week or two if it is so arranged.  Desna, herself, seems to have taken an interest in the Worldwound and many dreams are always touched by it.  When the PCs arrive at the Desnan Temple of Dreams in a Petal District Park, which is actually managed by a variety of locals and wanderers, rather than any established clergy, they will learn of her interest in assisting them but she isn't there at the moment.  They need to track her down if they want her free teleports.

ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a brightly coloured Mitre of the Hierophant which she uses to commune with Desna to learn further information and gain greater guidance.  She also wears a colourful Prophet's Pectoral with graven star-patterns and sacred stones that increases her chance of success with augury, divination and contact other plane by 1d6 and allows her to ask on additional question with commune each time.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: Elifteneal is an easy sell on assisting the Worldwound as her deity has told her how dangerous it is for Golarion so all the PCs need do is ask and if she can assist them she will.  All you need do is make several consecutive Gather Information and Perception checks to locate her.  She is happy to teleport 14 people into Mendev or Drezen per day but will only be here for another ten days (equal to 140 free teleports).

NETHYS CHURCH
Scion Lady Seria Holden, Divinity Mage of Nethys, runs both hot and cold and is to a certain extent manic and driven by her investigations into a variety of partially taboo spells.  She is said to know every first, second and third level spell known to Golarion, but this is likely a lie.

ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a Magician's Hat that allows her to shift her Metamagic feat from one prepared spell to another.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: The church of Nethys would be intrigued only by the potential for powerful forces of magic, such as the Weapon in the Rift and the Purity Forge.  So long as they may examine the various relics involved (such as the Weapon in the Rift if you have played through that).  The PCs can gain 1d6 level 5 mages eager to investigate the two artefacts.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Fantasy RPG Realism & Patriarchal Norms

One thing I am tired of hearing about in the average fantasy game is how the subordination of women in fantasy world building is realistic and therefore here to stay.  I get it for medieval tales, I get it for certain fantasy tales, but what I don't see is why I have to deal with it in the grand majority of tales.

Why do I have to confront the reality that for the majority of world history my gender has been a second-class citizen, limited not just by the practicalities of birth and child rearing (which would limit soldiering among some women) but by the prejudice of the world itself?  Childbirth doesn't prevent women from being brave, being leaders or mages, either, and a world with magic could be a world with contraception and lowered infant mortality rates anyway so it could more easily become a society similar to our own.

But logistics aside, would you feel equally comfortable turning to a black player and saying: "Well, since this fantasy game is in a predominately white setting, you have to play a slave because that's only realistic?"

No, you wouldn't, because the implication there is that the natural place of a black person is as a slave and to countenance any alternative would be a misconception.  Yet we quietly happily churn out book after book, tale after tale, RPG after RPG, where we ram that thought down the throats of female consumers:
 
"If you were in this world, you would be thought inferior.  No matter where you went.  No matter what you could do.  No matter how many variety of magical spells a woman can cast ... men will always think themselves superior to women and look on in shocked surprise when a woman proves to have her own opinions."
 
 
Again, I have no problem with what people play at their own tables.  Both men and women enjoy playing with a variety of subjects, chauvinism and misogyny being one of them, but it is painful when the majority of texts pretty much say that it is the natural and ordinary state for women to be powerless and forced into a narrow section of roles.
 
What prompted this rant?
 
Why, Pathfinder Tales!  Although Pathfinder novels are exceptionally well-written with strong female lead characters, I've noticed that the grand majority of them are bereft of any minor female roles of note.  Many describe the soldiers, guardsmen, leaders and aristocrats as men and when the adventurers are led into the village they find women hanging out the washing and gossiping among themselves. 
 
Okay, that alone can be understood.  Child rearing does make it harder to be a soldier, though a complete lack of female soldiers indicates a law rather than a likelihood, but then you meet the leaders of these towns and villages and you find them to all be men.  Occasionally there's even comments about not wanting to stay behind with the women that the lead female has to roll her eyes and grit her teeth at.
 
This just really upsets me because the Adventure Paths have been so inclusive of women while touching on issues of sexism in just a few countries.  Now I have to look at huge swathes of Avistan and know that my female PC would be seen as an abnormality.  And people wonder why I prefer playing male PCs!
 
The Winter Witch shows how the Realms of the Mammoth Lords tribes are mildly matriarchal with a leading woman over an otherwise egalitarian tribe and this is shown as a counterpoint to both Irrisen (whose leaders are women though I don't know the norms of the general community) and the Varisians (where the women all seem to be flirty dancer types and the caravan guards are all men).  Korvosa, which is predominately Chelish colony, actually seems to give women more options than native Varisia.
 
Certainty (web fiction) explicitly states that the women stay back from the front lines of Mendev, by and large, because of the Worldwound, and though women are not in a subordinate position and while this makes more sense than most other options (since the Worldwound can taint your offspring with demonic essence), it still adds one area where you don't get to see the average woman in a cool light.
 
NOTE: The Worldwound Gambit turns this on its head by having powerful female Sarkorian barbarians, a female assassin offered inheritance rights over her older brother because of her father's preference with mention only of age-based inheritance, and a general mix up of male and female characters in both major and minor positions. 
 
Plague of Shadows has only two named female characters that I recall off the top of my head - a jealous baroness married to the victim and a barely seen shadow priestess.  All other characters - from troops to grey gardeners - were men.  I can't recall if any of the important VIP corpses were women, but I don't believe so.  The leader of the elven community and his troops were all men and his daughter appear to have no real skill.  The desire to have a son and heir was mentioned relating to Brevoy and the Brevoy-based baron's son refused to stay back because his pride wouldn't allow him to stay back with the women (never mind that there were two male soldiers and a single woman looking after the horses).
 
Master of Devils plays with some of the assumptions in Tien with a couple kick ass female paladins and other powerful female folks, but isn't very clear on general gender relations since while the monastery seems to be populated by men, that could likely be an artefact of sensible gender segregation among those who need to focus.
 
Song of the Serpent is one of the worst for all of the guards and miners met in Druma are male; mission involves a Kalistrade noble sending a man out to collect his daughter back; all dwarven soldiers, leaders and minors are men while women are only seen to be cheerfully raising kids; and the only named female character is a spoiled princess trope.
 
Nightglass, on the other hand, shows an egalitarian Nidal.  Chelish chauvinism is visible in the mining "boom town to be" with the jobs taken by men and women while the Strix are seen to be egalitarian.  Cheliax has always been noted as chauvinistic, which is funny because compared to the other books they seem far more progressive than several other nations with an important female wizard wielding real power.
 
The Crusader Road involves an Ustalavic noblewoman settling in the River Kingdoms and though there is a little shock at the fact the lady was taught how to slay monsters by her husband, that could very well be because nobles aren't supposed to do that sort of thing.  People quickly learn to ensure everyone is trained to fight and there's no comments about it being unwomanly to take up a bow or a sword.  Needless to say, I liked it.
 
Now, take any one of these books in isolation and I will agree with you that I am over reacting, but with each book I read I find that the places in Golarion where I can safely imagine myself to be an equal member of society is slowly slipping away.
 
So if we go by the books descriptions we have the gender relations thusly:
 
Patriarchal: Cheliax (less so than the others on this list), Brevoy, Galt, Five King Mountains outpost, Kyonin outpost, Varisia, Druma.
 
Unknown: Tien (unclear gender relations), Ustalav (unclear).
 
Egalitarian: Mendev (dependent on author), Nidal, Realm of the Mammoth Lords, Irrisen, River Kingdoms (implication that most towns would end up this way).
 
I am about to read The Wizard's Mask and learn the author's take on Molthune and Nirmathas.  Fingers crossed that they won't be bastions of masculinity like all these others!


Thursday, January 22, 2015

WoTR: Convincing the Churches, part 3

I always imagined that even clerics of Erastil have a kind
of down-to-earth and homely feel to them.
CHURCH OF ERASTIL
Father Mateo is determined to defend his city and is assisting people in Absalom to create, well, fall out shelters basically.  They are not a wealthy church, however, and have little to add to the war effort - a fact that is obvious to any who see the cozy set of five cottage-like temples.  He works with Malifa Sevan to create Halos of Inner Calm at cost to help her forge the tieflings into a community.  He will argue against other churches and royals donating much to the Mendevian crusade, preferring they turn their efforts to the problems facing those within their own city.  Due to this, he's actually a problem for the PCs.

ITEM OF INTEREST: He wears a Cap of the Free Thinker (looks much like a ranger's cap) to ensure that he always makes decisions free of influence.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: They need to convince him that the trouble in Mendev will affect Absalom and they can't do that until after they have exposed one of the demon's plots within the city.  Once they have done that, they will find 1d4 clerics who have no children and 1d8+2 lay members (generally the spouses and parents of the clergy) who will move to Drezen so long as they may stay in a secured location (i.e. barracks or the castle).  This will automatically upgrade the existing Erastil shrine (mentioned in Demon's Heresy) into a temple.  If the PCs are eager to redeem tieflings and other cultists in the Worldwound, then they will gladly help with this and each pair of worshippers will each adopt a tiefling orphan if such people exist in your game.
 
CHURCH OF ABADAR
Vroclaw of Brevoy, High Priest of Abadar, Advisor to the Primarch is a stout human fellow who sees Mendev as fully civilised and the Worldwound as a lost venture -- though he would be willing to concede that a further ring of Wardstones needs to be built he imagines that the sheer quantities of money already funnelled to Mendev must be being misused if it hasn't found an answer yet.

On the other hand, Jostlin Ferqyr, human Keeper of the Vault of Abadar, is a level 15 human cleric of Abadar from the Ivy District who is predominately in charge but who is currently finding Absalom's needs rather dull.  She works within a tall, soaring building that is a marvel of engineering genius of polished obsidian made of levels slightly skewed from the one below it and then again with the level above that in the opposite direction to give an impression of a precariously perched building.  


ITEM OF INTEREST: Jostlin Ferqyr wears +2 ghost touch full plate mithral armour edged with gold and has a rather ceremonial light crossbow and a rather delicate Bracelet of Bargaining half-fused to the armour (+5 to Bluff, Diplomacy and Sense Motive checks) and can detect deceit when shaking on a deal.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: While Faldirr Makul will only provide a few lay priests (1d4) and a low ranking cleric to establish a bank / chapel in Drezen (at the expense of Drezen's coffers and only if sorely pressed), Jostlin Ferqyr desires to make her mark on the world and she's willing to take a gamble with her own considerable funds so long as the PCs can provide her with a secure location and some builders to forge a secure temple of Abadar soon as she arrives.  She will bring a Lyre of Building which halves construction times in my game.  She will arrange for a score of paladins from the Brotherhood of Abadar to accompany her and defend the temple.  During the sixth book, this temple will become a sanctuary for a number of nearby builders.

CHURCH OF TORAG
Hirkral Karktek, High Priest of Torag, is in charge of the church but to meet him you need to first convince Durkir Delgleam of your intent and need (unless you are also a dwarf).  Durkir Delgleam is a worshipper of Torag, and paladin, who takes care of the church built into one of Absalom's curtain walls.  He wears a long, well-used smithing apron and carries a hammer, working in the forge when considering any new possibility.  The temple around him is circular, built around the main forge.  He considers the Mendevian Crusade a vital one but sees greater importance in preparing an evacuation plan for the dwarves to Jormurden.

ITEM OF INTEREST: He wears Engineer's Workgloves that grant a +5 to Craft and Knowledge checks that also allows him to touch an object and understand how it works once per day.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: 
Hirkral Karktek, High Priest of Torag, is interested in rumours of a dwarven Sky Citadel Jormurden, thought to be in old Sarkoris, in the Wolfcrags in the northwest of the Worldwound's Frostmire region.  He has heard tell that the Pathfinders have found the location, or rumours of it, which is thought to be located almost entirely underground with subterranean chambers filled with still-functioning traps.  They could raise quite a lot of gold and troops to re-take such a place and could lend forth an army but only if such an investigation is assured and mounted within 6 months of their arrival.  Three 300 person level 2 dwarven fighter armies and one 100 person level 3 dwarven fighters will arrive within 1d6 months to assist Drezen, Kenabres and the surrounding farmland.  These individuals can double as builders when not deployed.

College of Mysteries (Extra Option)
Brythen Blood, known as the painted man due to his plethora of tattoos, is 16th level sorcerer who stands as High Curator of the College of Mysteries in the Petal District.  The PCs will be invited to the college to wow them - inviting them foremost into a giant dome of arcane fused gemstone run by the Assembly of Enigmas.  He is interested in arranging for special lectures from leading arcanists, demon hunters and engineers from the Worldwound.  If the PCs can either arrange this or even manage the lectures (DC 30 check in any Knowledge skill), they can tweak the interest of 1d6 students per lecture (lectures take up an entire morning or afternoon).  A successful Perform, Diplomacy or Bluff check can also boost interest in any items that will be up for auction and increase their auction value by 15%.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

WoTR: Convincing the Churches, part 2

A typical Gorumite ... veteran soldier.
(Dragon Age Inquisition)
CHURCH OF GORUM
The Chief Priest of Gorum is a half-orc woman called Victa who had her position largely inflicted upon her by a rakish tiefling who finds her easy to manipulate into being somewhat of a symbol.  In fairness, the half-orc certainly has her god's favour.  The temple looks like a citadel in miniature with a simple shrine inside that is a pile of rocks with a helmet and blade set atop.  The Gorumites would be willing to go to the Worldwound but they can't be bothered taking such a long journey and there aren't many of them in the peaceful city -- most belong to mercenaries hoping to be hired.

ITEM OF INTEREST: The bare-chested half-orc wears bracers of armour so that she can show off her chest while still protecting himself.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: Win three fights with an epic sense of poise against folks such as three different CR 8 individuals (Axe Dancer Monk, Glaive Ranger Barbarian, and Street Artist Bard from NPC Codex) and do an epic speech or other inspiring performance to finish it off.  They can net the trio for Drezen if they win with style, panache and honour - especially if it's one against all three.  Then put up a Notice of Hire on the Gorumite's Church Board.  They will then be approached  by mercenary companies happy to travel to the Worldwound for 10,000gp per month per level 3 25 person human fighter army or 25,000gp per month per level 3 50 person cavalier army.

PLEASURE SALON OF CALISTRIA
The salon is a bright, well-kept building constructed in the columned style of classic Azlanti temples with extensive reliefs that wrap the upper levels of the salon’s exteriors, depicting dozens of comely humanoids engaged in enthusiastic, acrobatic, and creative forms of promiscuity while wasps buzz around the rooftop gardens that produce a type of honey that can be turned into mead that is highly prized.  The property itself is primarily staffed by elves and half-elves with a smattering of other races included - such as tieflings.  There's also a set of public baths within it.  Dyrianna of House Avenstar is Head Hetaera of Calistria and Consul of the Courtsean's Guild, who is a stunningly beautiful half-elf who found her way out of slavery at a sin pit in the Coins 20 years ago, Dyrianna has come from literally having nothing to being one of the great powers in the Ascendant Court. She has been adopted into the powerful Avenstar House of elves, taken control of the prostitutes and through them the whole salon, and recently bought controlling interest in the city’s Courtesan’s Guild (regulating paid companions who neither work on a stage nor walk the streets). 

ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a circlet of persuasion upon her head made of gold and onyx wasps chained together.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: Dryianna has little interest in the Worldwound but she has lived a rather boring and jaded life over the past few years and is willing to get swept up in the excitement of the situation if someone makes a Diplomacy 25 check.  Naturally she will then want to discuss it over dinner and should they manage to remain interesting - with Diplomacy 25 or appropriate Perform checks - she will provide some useful political "rumours" and even mention the Halo of Inner Calms currently being developed by a pauper tiefling, Malifa Sevan, which might be helpful.

POTENTIAL QUEST: Depending on your players comfort levels and your own personal interest, you could rule that the Silken Veil brothel in the Petal District mission draws her attention and agreement.  They can ensure that any goods sold in Absalom become so popular and hyped up that the PCs get full market value from them.

IRORI CHURCH
The church of Irori sits beneath the Gladiatorial Arena and is where the true Irorians practice and spar against each other.  It is a sprawling complex that features rooms for prayer, sleep and exercise.  Sathu Yzia Iron-Palm is the high priestess of Irorium in the Foreign Quarter of Absalom. Ganfen of House Kethlin, shrewd businessman, runs the gladitorial arena above ground and coaches important figures to fame and fortune.  The Arena is a 200-ft high structure built on the top of a hill with a 10-acre central stage and along the outer wall stand 33 stone statues of famous warriors that stand 150ft tall.  There is a main gate and four side gates with a sixth reserved for performers and workers.  The seats are divided into lowest (field seats) for VIPs, lower middle tier (Mezzanine seats) for the rich, upper middle tier (terrace seats) for those willing to pay a few silver coins, and the highest seating of wood seats in the grandstand is either cheap or free.  The actual followers of Irori lay within the vaulted chambers beneath the monastery.

ITEM OF INTEREST: Many of their worshippers wear Monk's Robes of various designs.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: Beating the champion in the arena (Swift Brawler, NPC Codex or other level 12 Monk) will single-handedly will win a pool of 36,000gp which has been steadily added to over the years as it costs 1000gp simply to compete.  One can also put in a gamble on the fight itself - 1 in 16 odds (add 10 per level's difference).  The maximum winnings via the gambling method is 108,000gp (so a 3000gp potential loss if they are level 10).  The Irori arena specialists can get a vague idea of HD by using an arteact to detect whether you would be affected by a Sleep or a Deep Slumber spell. Actually connecting with the Irori church requires one to not only win one of these bouts but to behave in such a way fitting of a worshipper to draw notice (or simply already knowing who to approach).  The church can offer training to monks but little else other than burgeoning respect in the community.

Monday, January 19, 2015

WoTR: Convincing the Churches, part 1

How I imagine Sarenrae or Shelyn clerics may look
(Dragon Age Inquisition)
If you're going to raise money for the Worldwound, you might as well have fun doing it.  Here are a few representative NPCs from a few of the Absalom churches that your PCs might like to contact.  After all, nobles are best found in soirees.  Clerics are best met in their churches, ideally with lay members and other clerics around so that they're reminded of their duties. 

CAYDEN CAILEEN CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE
Saphira, Lady of Intemperance of Cayden's temple, is a Varisian who runs the wooden meadhall in the Ascendant Court district.  She is pretty rough and ready, eager to throw off the chains of lawful oppression, and finds paladins rather irritating in their arrogant sincerity.  She's certain that should the Worldwound become any more than a local blight, she would have seen the signs in her faith.  She takes Cayden's silence on the matter as proof positive that Iomedae has it all squarely in hand.

ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears Daredevil boots that shimmer in vibrant shades of blazing red and burning orange that would allow her a +5 bonus to move through enemy's squares without provoking attacks of opportunity for up to 10 rounds per day and grants her a +1 bonus to strike those whose squares she's passed through - necessary for a pub owner.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: The Brazen Clutch (Dragons Unleashed) are in the Marketplace in the Coins, ready for sale.  One has already been sold to a Paracountess Helis Merciel (some advice in this post).  Saphira won't expect the PCs to free them but she will idly mention it as an example of how Absalom needs the help of her clerics most of all.  If they do free them, she will allow them to make a speech or give a DC 20 performance or diplomatic speech in the mead hall to rouse 1d6 adventurers + 1d6 for every 5 by which they beat the check.  Multiple characters can make individual rolls rather than simply aiding another, should they choose.
 
SHELYN CHURCH REPRESENTATIVE
High Priestess Eleena Woodsong is a brisk female half elf 11th level cleric from the Shrine of Shelyn who is struggling to find beauty in the rather petty and cutthroat world of Absalom.  The Ivy District shrine is a garden of oaks, embraced by carefully cultivated and pruned rose bush vines, that surrounds a pristine pool often filled with swans.  Above the pool floats a single rose that changes colors with the seasons (white = winter, yellow = spring, fiery orange = summer, rust red = autumn).  There are benches around the clearing often occupied by lovers while artists and musicians sell their wares or practice their art around them.  The clerics tend the plants, offer suggestions to artists and provide advice to couples.  Marriage ceremonies are often conducted here so long as the love seems pure.

ITEM OF INTEREST: Simply to aid in her frequent appointments, Elena Woodsong wears Getaway Boots forever attuned to her shrine so that she can head out and then as a full-round action return to her temple as though by teleport.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: Eleena Woodsong has watched a number of performers go missing when they didn't pay their tithes to Alain Always.  She wants to know what happens to them.  If the PCs choose to take up this quest, they can either bait him by themselves appearing to be an upstart performer or through using spells such as Detect Thoughts while others are talking to him.  Alternatively they can simply tail him and watch him make arrangements to have non-tithe-paying performers rounded up on petty charges and held until the next Statue Street run.  Such performers are released last so that they are least likely to escape the gorgon.  Revealing this crime to Eleena or, better yet, to the general public, will net Eleena's support and she will encourage a multitude of performances about difficulties in Mendev - raising the values made at auction by 10%.

CHURCH OF SARENRAE REPRESENTATIVE
Scion Lady Xerashir of House Shamyidd, Bey of Sarenrae, can most often be found after her dawn prayers at the Temple of the Shining Star and while she is willing to listen she states that there are evils everywhere - pointing from slavery to plague to rumours of the Whispering Tyrant's continued influence in Ustalav.  Their resources are thin and moving her clerics from this place, needed as they are, to die on the open fields holds little value to her.  Her church has several open air healing pavilions and she is willing to allow them the chance to speak with the various clerics but will send word ahead, sullying the crusade's name, as she fears losing too many of her own on a hopeless cause. 

ITEM OF INTEREST: She wears a slender silver bracelet worked in an intertwined design of three flowers that can be identified as acacia, apocynum and bilberry that symbolizes concealment, treachery and falsehood.  It's a Seducer's Bane bracelet.

QUEST TO IMPRESS: She can be shamed by signs and stories of obvious redemption such as tiefling PCs and would be intrigued enough by the idea of the Purity Forge that she will enlist a small band of Sarenrae's faithful (10 individuals, only 2 clerics) to discover the secrets of the forge so that it can be used elsewhere.  For each major NPC the PCs have managed to redeem (or tales of groups of NPCs redeemed), she will throw in a shipment of enough cure light wounds potions to serve a medium sized army (or one army thrice) that will take three months to arrive as she becomes hopeful of what will soon come.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Plot Seeds For The Fallen

Found some of my old adventure ideas for my Demon: the Fallen campaign lying in a drawer.  Figured I should write them up and post them, thus relieving my drawer of its duty to hold onto them.  It also reminded me that I never finished updating the lore descriptions.  Silly me.

THE BOSS
The fallen have finally gotten into a position of power and prestige when their old boss starts knocking.  He was low enough in the good old days that he's able to possess a host but the Fallen will need to select a suitable one and perform and determine the ritual's exacting requirements.  Accomplishing this feat will net them further prestige, but are they willing to cause a person's death to do it?  And more importantly, will their old boss feel conflicted feelings over his own host's death?

SUICIDE WATCH
Those who are aware of the fallen are starting to become suicidal.  At first it's only hunters or other annoying figures, but after awhile it's loved ones as well, even thralls.  The PCs first become aware of it when one person approaches them and says: "You have the power to help us but you won't do it, will you?" before stepping into traffic.  Each has a loss or issue they have fixated on which they can see the Fallen powers as being a real solution - Wilds for famine, Realms for lost loved ones, Awakening or Flesh for cancer.

SPECIMENS
A superior in their faction or ministry wishes to study other supernatural creatures and demands that the PCs first obtain such a specimen, by violence or by guile, and then assist her in her experimentation.  The experiments aren't necessarily cruel, but they are callous, and the PCs are as likely to find a kind (or at least reasonable) specimen as a cruel one since supernaturals tend to lose morality and gain power over time and the weaker ones are more easily found and captured.  Can they do it?  Can they find another way?

LIBER MALICTORUM
A magical society seeks to exploit the demons they summon to drain them of their essence to fuel their rituals.  The First Preceptor of the Star Catchers has put out this tome as bait for Fallen - listing details from pre-history that will cause the Fallen to investigate one at a time.  The magic on the tome, however, also pulls true name syllables from readers and sends the information to the seven high priests.  Eventually the reader will succumb and be summoned to a hidden cell where they will be bound in a circle and drained of their essence until they are dissipated into nothingness.