ZEITGEIST (anti) paladin in the bleak gate


We started our campaign in november, slow pace, started with the dying skyseer earlier this month, and we are having a great time so far, really enjoying it. I'll describe some highlights when I'll get around to it.

One of my PC's is a dwarven paladin with the following backstory: As a young adult, he joined a group of dwarven (end-of-the-world) extremists in Drakr, but realised his mistake and tried to abandon this group. He was imprisoned and tortured for some time, and finally was liberated by a stranger, who claimed a diety "Magran" sent him. This diety is otherwise unknown in Lanjyr. Now (500 A.O.V.) the keys of his prison are his holy symbol and this diety provides him his paladin powers.

So part of his personal quest is discovering who this diety is. One of the ideas I'm exploring is that this Magran is actually our BBE, but maybe that's too cliché. Anyhow I like the idea of my PC discovering his diety is not so lawful-good as he expected. Maybe his powers in the bleak gate suddenly seem to have a different effect and I could have them replace them by anti-paladin powers. Does this make any sense from a world-building stance? What would happen in The Dreaming? Any GM's with experience om messing with paladins?

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The assumption of the setting is that no one ever really definitely encounters gods. There's never any explicit divine intervention that doesn't have other possible explanations. If someone 'offends their god and loses their powers,' it could simply be that they've lost confidence in their own path, that the power was theirs all along, that they never needed the feather to fly, etc.

Or maybe they got their powers by tapping into the gestalt faith of a religion, and they're really drawing upon the energy of all the worshippers and their shared belief, with no god other than what the worshippers think exists. Maybe it does. Maybe not. Maybe the hierarchs of the church do rituals to invest formal priests, and if they excommunicate someone, it only works if that person cares.

Of course, you can have a real god if you want, too. That's your call as GM.

Reasonable options that fit into canon.

1. Some minion of the Voice of Rot (perhaps some frost giant warlock) who actually trains the PC to wield power of a fey titan.

2. Some remnant of the demonocracy, who understands how to exploit the faith of the Clergy and is ingratiating himself into their power structure.

3. A member of the Ghost Council, who is lending the PC power as an experiment to see if later on they could do the same with their loyal minions.

4. A fey lord exiled to the Bleak Gate who isn't that bad and is trying to earn his place back on the Unseen Court in the Dreaming.

I could pitch others.
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Neat ideas going on on both sides of the GM screen there!

You want to make sure the surprise is something the player would consider to be "awesome" and not just a "rug pull" that means he feels like the GM took away his character concept. You can really ruin a character this way if you're not careful. Now, you know your player, so make the best judgement call. But think through from his perspective what character concept he'd enjoy playing after the big revelation (not just what would make for a neat story beat at the moment of revelation). Afterall: if he's character concept is "I'm searching for my god", then you take that away once he finds his deity. Think through the player's expectations here - he might not ever want his character to succeed, because then the seeking-and-doubting is over, and just replaced with "I'm a baddie now."

As far as existing setting-hooks to grab onto, there's two I would recommend:
1) in the Crypta Heretica, there are many long-lost secrets of the world, sealed away. Particularly ones of divine import. You could place Magran, or the source of his power in there. If you're not ready to resolve the mystery, right at that moment, Ashima Shimtu is in a perfect position to offer the right hints and foreshadowing as to where Magran is really sealed away.
2) the Voice of Rot used to be a deity up in Drakr and eventually found its way to Risur and was adopted as a fey titan. This comes up in adventure 5, with subtle hints that the terrorists worship Rot. There are more hints in adventure 7 with the white snake. And finally in adventure 11, it's made clear that terrorists are outright worshipping Rot as their god. Considering you have a chance to meet Rot in adventure 3, this would be a great time to start revealing that perhaps Magran is an agent of Rot.

You mention the Bleak Gate a few times. The Bleak Gate is hard to get into in Zeitgeist. It's important that prior to adventure 5, the PCs have no way of getting there on their own. During adventure 5, obviously, there's a large set piece there. After that, there isn't really any "adventuring" done in the Bleak Gate (it's mostly just used as a hidey hole for discreet social gatherings (see: the second half of adv7)). So the BG might not be the best way to 'cue' his powers. Again, I circle back to either things related to the Clergy, or to the Voice of Rot, which the PCs will have many more opportunities to cross paths with.

Best of luck!

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