This is a summary of the previous campaign, the Uprising. It is technically incomplete, however it details all of the major events and should give anyone reading enough of an idea about the occurrences of the previous campaign that they can understand any references made to previous events. It’s in the format of having been quickly been typed in a single sitting, so don’t expect it to be eloquent. This isn’t history as seen through the eyes of a bard. It’s just history.
Our story begins.
One day, a bunch of very interesting people went to investigate a circus, each acting independently but all bumping into each other as they happened to sneak in to the main building during the same half hour period of time. They decide to join up as they are all investigating information that lead them to this point. They were each investigating different things, but the shared direction seemed a good enough reason for the temporary alliance. Monsters, riddles, and prophecies got involved, and at the end all they really found was a sadistic bastard who introduced himself as Shade.
Shade teleported away before any form of fight could begin, but not before attempting to double-bluff the party into believing the small innocent looking girl he had chained to the wall was the real mastermind. The group, not sure whether she really was behind it or if she was genuinely a prisoner, and not wanting to kill an innocent or release a mastermind, decided that leaving her chained to the wall as they left was the best option. They each leave the circus and go their separate ways. End session 1.
A week and a half or so later each of them is hunted down by the city guard and brought in for questioning. Turns out that despite the night they all broke into the circus having been the ‘last night in town,’ it hadn’t left. Finally, someone went in to investigate, finding dead monsters, answered riddles, etc, etc. In the last chamber, a bare circular room when the PCs had been in there, they found one of the most gruesome scenes imaginable. A runic circle composed of lines of sand on the smooth stone floor was being used to keep the little girl alive, despite the fact that she had practically been turned inside out and scattered throughout the room. Opening the room’s door moved one of the lines of sand and the spell ended a few minutes later, but it was clear that she had been in that tortuous state for days. The guards were not pleased. Their only leads as to who could have done such a horrible thing? A witness who saw some of the group while they were breaking in on the closing night.
The PCs accused Shade, a name which the guards recognized. Apparently this Shade guy was a powerful man who wandered the continent screwing people over because he had nothing better to do with his time. The guards, believing the tale as they doubted the PCs were capable of that kind of magic (though precisely what kind of magic involved drawing sustained magic circles they weren’t quite sure), finally chose to let them off. There was a catch though. A man like Shade didn’t typically leave people as unscathed as this group of people were, which implied that he expected the group to do more damage than good in town. The guards didn’t like this implication, so as payment for being set free they were ordered to leave town.
Party, all kicked out of town together and still with no leads on their several individual quests, decide to just head to the nearest major town together and then probably split up from there. Then the shit hits the fan. A magical storm covers the sky across the continent, blotting out the sun and killing plants. Teleportation and many Divination spells become unreliable at best. The balance of nature is basically thrown to hell, for seemingly no reason. Their only lead is a mad prophet (as most are, see Prophecy (general) for details) who urges the guards at the city the PCs arrive in to check the heads and backs of all the people who enter. The guards have no idea what she’s talking about, but they obey anyway.
While traveling further south towards Seril the PCs encounter strange creatures. They look like undead, all bone and rotted tissue, but from their mouths spring large fleshy tentacles. They quickly learn that a new race of creatures, foul white creatures not much larger than a human head but with strong tentacles and powerful jaws, has appeared and are capable of turning the people they kill into personal puppets. PCs continue to investigate.
Lots of investigation happens, the group finally begin to trust each other, and Athelwolf reveals the prophecy that he received from a gypsy woman back in the circus. They decide that, much to his initial fears, the prophecy does sound like Athelwolf is destined to end the world.
Investigation continues. The group thinks they’re being watched. Unrelated to their being watch, they encounter Shade while investigating a city overrun with mutants that resulted from the creatures melding with their puppets and then rapidly growing into horrible monstrosities. Shade tells them that he’s not behind this and points them towards The Dealer in hopes that they can fix it. Party asks why Shade is suddenly so nice. Shade explains that when people are already scared and paranoid it makes ruining their lives and taking away everything they have less satisfying. It’s better when it’s a surprise.
They meet The Dealer in Celserion, which is now abandoned and empty save for mutants and other forms of tentacly evilness. They see a huge tower shooting purple lightning into the cloud. They guess that this is important. The Dealer (who’s hideout is decorated with runes similar to the ones Shade used while torturing the girl) gives them information about the creatures and better explains what’s going on. Tells them that whatever is causing the storm is in that tower. The party still doesn’t have the full picture, but a lot of the blanks seem filled in. Party considers attacking tower, then realizes that they aren’t an army, nor are they epic level. Party moves on.
More investigating. More paranoia. Out in the darkness they think they see a pair of yellow eyes, but a moment later they’re always gone.
Their investigations lead them to Ironshire, where they wind up stealing a bunch of classified documents that give them another large piece of the puzzle, revealing that the creatures do indeed seem to have originated from the underdark.
Party goes to the Underdark. Party gets lost because their guides have trouble reading the map. Guides claim their map is being altered. Party says that’s crazy. Yellow eyes continue to watch.
They accidentally find a secret cavern. Inside they see many runic symbols similar to those back in the circus, each one keying up a number of spells, traps, and other challenges. They determine that this must be Shade’s home. They leave behind notes requesting that he buy more furniture and consider joining them for tea some time. On their way out a strange shadow-like creature appears. One with yellow eyes. It summons more shadows, of the Monster Manual variety. Party attacks shadows, kills shadows, turns to fight other shadow only to find that both it and Athelwolf are gone.
Party gets un-lost, winds up in Ankress. Find Athelwolf again, who apparently did in fact have tea with Shade. Athelwolf explains to the others that at the end of their tea break Shade hired him to kill the rest of the party. Instead they plan ambush. Ambush winds up being less of a surprise than originally hoped. Arjen (an NPC that I should have mentioned earlier) dies in the fight, but they manage to kill Shade. Shade explodes into raw magical energy. Raw magical energy becomes artifacts. Athelwolf winds up with a crown of bone being fused to his head. Shadow shows back up again, pledging loyalty to Athelwolf. Party is concerned that his magic hat will end the world.
They take a submarine to Carre. Submarine breaks half way through journey. Luckily party was still close to the coast. Party goes back to Teris on foot, finding an army on their way. Party uses army to get to tower. Party fights to top of tower, again seeing the runes on the armor of a warrior guarding the second to last floor, and then a fifth time on the top floor where some metal globe gyroscope whirly runic storm machine is spinning at insanely fast speeds. Protecting death thing is a negative energy field basically guaranteed to kill anything positive energy based that enters it. Beyond that is an anti-undead field basically guaranteed to kill any undead that enter it. Possible only person in the world based on negative energy and not undead is Athelwolf.
Athelwolf throws himself into metal globe gyroscope whirly runic storm machine. metal globe gyroscope whirly runic storm machine reveals itself to double as a meat processor. Athelwolf becomes a big mess. Then heals in the negative energy. And then becomes a mess again. It becomes a pretty gorey cycle until finally all the gooey bits of blood and bone fragments manage to break apart mggwrsm. Negative energy field begins to close. Puddle of Athelwolf begins to heal. More closing, more healing. Finally Athelwolf looks to be in one piece, but is quite dead as the thing closes the last of the way. Shadow thing headbutts Athelwolf. Shadow armor is absorbed by Athelwolf, who wakes up. Shadow is now revealed to have been a man named Anton who had been cursed by Athelwolf’s father. Athelwolf is now positive energy based, like normal people. Sun is now shining. World is now saved. Loser bureaucrat generals from the army they found take all the credit for saving the world. Athelwolf decides to retire to his deceased father’s estate.
Reading through this all, it sounds like Athelwolf was an annoying Plot NPC that I as DM planted into the party to make them follow the story, but he was actually one of the PCs. I had everyone send me typed backstory before session one, and his included a hunt for a prophecy that allegedly had him set up as destined to end the world. I started writing the prophecy and the rest of the campaign just grew from it. He may have wound up taking the center stage a lot as far as the main plot went, but now that this prophecy/Apocalypse stuff is all sorted everyone else should be getting a little more spotlight.