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Redeem the Past, Chase the Future. A 4e Story Now One Shot.

Alright, @zakael19 is interested in possibly running a 4e game for his home group, so I'm running a one-shot, solo PBP for him to help him get a feel of both sides of the effort; GM and player. This will be a solo game, so my combat encounter budgets will feature monsters/NPCs leveled down to 6 to account for this.

He's elected to play this in the default Points of Light setting for 4e (map below).


Once we've resolved his 3 Minor Quests and 1 x Major Quest, the tale that has been carved out for Valak-Born-Anew will be told. His character particulars are below:

Name: Valak-Born-Anew
Race: Deva
Background: Purified Soul
Theme: Sohei

Story and Quests:
At some point in the past Valikos fell - descending into cruelty and whims, his form twisting into a rakshasa. Through the blessing of Avandra and the sacrifice of a cousin deva, he was redeemed. Now he travels the world atoning for his past, each act of repentance absolving a perpetuated wrong and returnsing some of the memories of his past lives before the blot of darkness severed him from that history. Rumors of a cult springing up in the Fallcrest area led by what may be a rakshasa have filtered to his ears, redemption of such a figure is the highest calling of his purified life.

Major Quest: With the Changebringer's Grace, redeem and purify the rakshasa - or end their dominion before they can grow into a true tyrant.

Minor quest: Locate the cult's hidden sanctuaries and verify their leader's identity.

Minor quest: Obtain a holy implement or ritual to bind the rakshasa's power.

Minor quest: Perform an act of repentance, preventing an occurrence of the sort of cruelty he perpetuated in his past.

Valak-Born-Anew, level 8
Deva, Avenger
Build: Pursuing Avenger
Avenger's Censure: Censure of Pursuit
Background: Purified Soul (Insight class skill)
Theme: Sohei (+2 insight & perception at level 5)

Str 10, Con 14, Dex 17, Int 13, Wis 20, Cha 8.

Str 10, Con 13, Dex 16, Int 11, Wis 16, Cha 8.

AC: 22 Fort: 17 Reflex: 18 Will: 20
HP: 70 Surges: 9 Surge Value: 17

Religion +12, Acrobatics +14, Insight +16, Perception +16

Arcana +5, Bluff +3, Diplomacy +3, Dungeoneering +9, Endurance +6, Heal +9, History +7, Intimidate +3, Nature +9, Stealth +9, Streetwise +3, Thievery +7, Athletics +6

Level 1: Melee Training (Wisdom)
Level 2: Avenging Resolution
Level 4: Weapon Expertise (Heavy Blade)
Level 6: Deadly Draw
Level 8: Invigorating Pursuit

Avenger at-will 1: Overwhelming Strike
Avenger at-will 1: Bond of Censure
Sohei at-will 1: Sohei Flurry
Avenger encounter 1: Angelic Alacrity
Avenger daily 1: Aspect of Might
Avenger utility 2: Resonant Escape
Avenger encounter 3: Deadly Stride
Avenger daily 5: Menacing Presence
Avenger utility 6: Deliverance of Faith
Avenger encounter 7: Inexorable Pursuit

Radiant Temple Uniform Cloth Armor (Basic Clothing) +2, Adventurer's Kit, Grappling Hook, Holy Symbol, Hand Crossbow, Sandals of Precise Stepping (heroic tier), Blade of Vengeance Falchion +2

Blade of Vengeance Falchion +2
+15 to hit, 2d4 + 7
+2d6 radiant on crit
1s & 2s on damage become 3s if my Oath of Enmity target.

And zooming in a little bit, we're going to set this in the isolated enclave of southeastern Nentir Vale; the Barony of Harkenhold. Furthermore, we're going to set this in the more isolated still hamlet of Easthill:



Population: 155 A hamlet of shepherds and stonecutters, Easthill rests on the slopes of the Briar Hills. The stone used to build the crossing at Albridge was quarried from hills nearby. A human trader named Sarken Toldorff is the village elder, but he is thoroughly cowed by the Iron Circle marauders. A hunter named Adalbar has quietly stepped up to organize Easthill’s fight.

We're going to set this after the brief abstract of events above (because it thematically has no bearing on our lone PCs dramatic needs!). Lets say that Adalbar was convinced by a fraction of the small village's shepherds and stonecutters to make a stand against the Iron Circle marauders...and make a stand they did. However, the cost was immense. They were cut down to half their numbers and, though he led the vanguard to push the marauders out in the final stand, Adalbar was rendered blind in one eye and lamed terribly in the fight. Though a symbol of courage and a figure of sound counsel, he will never walk, hunt, or fight again.

Meanwhile, Sarken Toldorff was forced into exile into the Briar Hills during the siege. However, he has returned and the large majority of the community, most of the remaining living, are furious at the profound losses that Easthill endured due to Adalbar's being swayed by a small fraction of patriots (less than a handful still alive and each of those maimed) within the ranks of Easthill's now-routed community.

Lets go with that as our starting point...

The sun is setting at the back of the priest as he enters the outskirts of the adrift community of Easthill. A mixed company gathers around a maimed man tied to a stake, kindling at his feet. The captive's eyes are sad, yet unafraid. Weathered skin tells the tale of many hours as a shepherd. Horrific wounds on naked body, futilely attempting to scar, tell a tale of war. And recent at that.

The air is thick with the promise of violence. A ringleader brandishes burning torch.

Whether it's a snapped twig, the crunch of grass, a cough, or the feel of eyes upon them, as one, they turn to behold the newly arrived stranger. The rays of the sun blind them despite their shielding hands.

Does a memory wash over Valak-Born-Anew as he takes in this spectacle?

What does he do?

Once we figure out a Goal and declaration here, we'll go to the conflict mechanics (if we indeed have a conflict here).
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Like a jagged knife stabbing into his eye, a flash of his past unfurls before him – superimposed over the scene. The same vantage point, but far more figures tied up in a city square awaiting the flames to be stoked and a vast crowd milling about. A deep sense of satisfaction pervades the rakshasa Valikos as his twisted schemes are about to bear fruit in the immolation of innocents, forever corrupting these city folk jockeying to be the first to start the fire, and coincidentally cementing his hold on the levers of power for this district. With a growling laugh he makes a sharp gesture and the pyres start to smoke – why not indulge this once.

Valak takes a steadying breath as the memory of his past life fades as quickly as it came, leaving the small village square before him once more. With the setting sun behind him, his sharp gaze probes the scene, attempting to discern who this trussed figure might be, and who of this crowd appears to be instigating the impending violence. He steps forward with arms outstretched in a non-threatening benediction to further distract them from their business, but the sword named Redemption hangs ready in his cross back scabbard. In these sad times, not all can be redeemed through word and works alone.

“Avandra’s blessings upon thee.”
Edited post discussion with Manbearcat to clarify goal:

If this is indeed a mirror of his past, with a crowd about to immolate someone due to manipulation of their own unwarranted fears, he will act to distract the crowd and defend the tied up figure until he can disperse the citizens and help them. If the figure warns him off, he will accept that – some choose their own time and he’s not a paladin.

Complexity 1 SC, Level 8 SC.
Goal: Disperse the gathered citizens to prevent the execution.
DCs 12/16
1/4 Successes (0 Hard DC available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skill Available

Attempting a Perception check here I think, to discern what I can of the scene – who’s in charge of the villagers, what’s the general tenor of the crowd, and any relevant details about the tied-up figure.

Primary skill check +16, auto success against Moderate DC of 16.
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1/4 Successes (0 Hard DC available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skill Available

* The figure administering the execution is brandishing torch, is the only figure bearing armor, leather and well-worn, and a crude short sword sheathed on hip. That is enough to indicate; "in charge" here.

* The general tenor of the crowd is exhausted meets a combination of wild-eyed meets anxious. They're hands and posture indicates they're stonecutters who have surely spent the last many days quarrying and moving stones to repair their meager fieldstone wall (you're on the outskirts of Easthill so the freshly repaired wall is in view). Regardless of their mental and physical fatigue, they're up for this, for sure. But killing a man like this is still a horrendous affair so their "execution-ey spirits" could surely be broken.

* Beyond what you've already seen of maiming and war-wounds and sad/resigned disposition, there is a rickety, wooden sign around his neck with "treason" misspelled. The color of the wood almost blends into the tanned skin of the outdoorsman.

At your entering the scene and greeting, the assembled crowd makes a bit of a defensive horseshoe around the executioner and the unfortunate man, sort of soft-rebuffing your access.

One member of the crowd, kind of hiding themselves, blurts; "don't need a priest...soul's beyond salvage..."

Another, a bit more brave, says "yeah...last rites been given too."

More; "go away", "yeah, get", and others to that effect.

There is an intake of breath when eyes wander to your beautiful, deadly blade. Sudden inhales cascade as folks shut up and turtle in their defensive horseshoe even more.

The flame crackles over the silence. The flame-brandishing figure, mostly obscured, does nothing...yet...

What do you do? Again, Complexity 1 SC, so everything is vs the MEDIUM DC (I have no HARD DCs to deploy).
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Valak continues to move forward with precise footsteps slowly but implacably towards the huddled crowd. He keeps a gentle smile on his face while making a sweeping gesture with his right hand to take in the gathering and the object of their enmity. His left hand hangs loose and free, ready at a moment to draw and leap should things turn sour. The tones of his gentle voice somehow carries easily over the crackling of the torch and mutterings of the crowd.

"Come friends, let not your hatred and fears blind you. As Avandra preaches, it is in each of us to change ourselves and make amends. Death is a finality from where there can come no restitution. Surely there is no crime done here that rates such a violent and permanent end."

Somehow, despite the softness of his words, "violent" and "permanent end" have an extra twist, like his tongue cradles them with a veiled promise to be unsheathed.


Attempting Diplomacy to quell the crowd and separate their passions from any potential instigator.

Roll14 + 3 = 17 vs 16 Medium DC, Success.

2/4 Successes (0 Hard DC available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skill Available

Over the din of murmurs and exchanged, conflicted looks of the crowd the voice of the torchbearer:

"The best plan...the only plan...was to flee to the wood with our sheep, then wage a guerilla war against The Iron Circle until they find defending our meager Easthill not worth their losses."

The throng of folk making up the horseshoe breaks apart. The figure before you has the bearing and body of an able-bodied hunter and warrior. A few wounds from the fighting, but nothing remarkable.

He turns to look at the tied figure, torch still raised skyward.

"Adalbar was foolishly convinced by a small group of hardened patriots...all dead now...that we stand and fight. That we defend our town like Falcrest might."

Turning back to you, "...a fool's errand. One that went against the wishes of most of Easthill. And its cost us dearly."

The still unnamed figure turns back to the tied Adalbar and spits on the ground. "Treason."

The individuals of the crowd, unnerved and somewhat unmoored from their original purpose at this point, murmur a collection of indecipherables.

Things can turn dicey here. If you address this executioner (with law/history/parley/threat, whatever) and it goes south, things might cascade toward violence. A failure there and I'm bringing in a Hard DC to the conflict for whatever move is to follow. A failure on that and things then do escalate to violence with the executioner (Standard) and two other able-bodies (Minions) from the crowd.

If you try to muster the crowd in your favor or address Adalbar and fail, the present crowd will grow larger. Should the Skill Challenge ultimately fail, you'll have rendered offense to a large group with increasing encounter budget (A few Standards and three Minions) and it might be Valak that is fighting to the death in Easthill or fleeing into the wood!

What do you do? Whatever it is, its at the MEDIUM DC.


Valak's deceptively smooth steps carry him to just out of easy hand weapon range of the torchbearer where he glides to a halt. His calm mien betrays none of the racing thoughts as he wracks his mind for the words that will forestall the violence he knows is but a moment from release. Wait, maybe...this town IS part of the barony of Harkenwold after all - and while wounded, the news from Harken was that the Baron had survived the Iron Circle siege thanks to the intervention of some timely heroes.

He pivots slightly, a half turn away from facing the instigator of this incipient mob justice, his hands now raised slightly beseeching attention.

"Folk of Easthill - know that while you were beset here, your Baron was in turn fighting for the very life of this valley! Many of the militia of Harken fell, defending their homelands as well. Without their brave sacrifice, and those of your fellows in the finest traditions of your forefathers fighting off the Orcs who sought to laid waste to this land in years past, you would be crushed under the heels of the Iron Circle. Now, as he seeks to take stock of ravages of his lands, you know the Baron will not look kindly upon those who take justice into their own hands. Much less a travesty such as this against those who fought the invaders just like he and his household did!"


Primary Skill use: History. Appeal to law and heritage to make the crowd remember the broader context here, the Baron's laws, and their forefather's sacrifice to keep these lands free of other invaders.

Roll19 + 7 = 26. SUCCESS
(I may be burning all my good rolls here early)
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3/4 Successes (0 Hard DC available)/0 Failures/1 Secondary Skill Available

The unnamed torchbearer takes measure of the assembled crowd.

Their fury seems nearly quelled by the stranger's address. Their vigor seems stolen by the invocation of shame and the law of the land.

He looks into the sun and squints.

"For pa." The voice of a young girl rises up like a proud, healthy reed amongst the wilting adults.

Hood pulled back now, her hair splatters upon her shoulders. She forces her brother to face her. "For pa," she says sternly.

The boy, a tear streaking down his cheek, scowls back. "For pa."

They reach for one of the many, ample stones on the ground and prepare to let fly.

If the children strike true, a full conflagration of social action is certain to emerge. Spreading like wildfire, you'll have a frenzied stoning on your hands.

What do you do? If you fail here, your next Primary Skill Check will be at the Hard DC as things get out of hand or lose a Healing Surge worth of HP (1/4) if you physically intercede (which you'll start down that number if combat emerges from this).


Valak turns to fully face the crowd and those two children clearly overcome with grief and anger. One hand grabs his Holy Symbol and holds it up, where the rays of the setting sun glint off the silver badge inscribed with sigil of Avandra. As he begins to intone, the light seems to flare out for a moment, dazzling the children.

“Good folk! Avandra teaches us that taking your fate into your own hands and striking back at those who would rob you of your freedom is a blessed act. Do not CORRUPT the memory of those who fought for your freedoms, ABJURE those would urge others to fight on their behalf.”

His left hand jabs out to point at the children, blinking against the shining glare of his symbol.

SEE NOW what your fear and rage has done. You would stain these children’s souls, already twisting and in pain, with the irrevocable act of murder! Turn away from this course, gather around them in comfort and disperse from this place lest ye drawn down Avandra’s wrath.”
Valak makes a Secondary skill use of Religion to use Avandra’s teachings to remind them of the evil of this path and the goodness of fighting for your freedom. His +12 is an auto success against the Easy DC of 12.

Primary skill use: Intimidate to shame the crowd and get them to take charge of the children and deal with their grief.
R9 + 3 + 2 = 14. Using Deva encounter power Memory of a thousand lifetimes to add 1d6 to a failed skill check, +5 = 19 total. SUCCESS.
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"It might be that you saved my soul today priest." The unnamed torchbearer unclips an ample purse and drops it to the ground, coins making the noise that coins make. "I go to Harken to impress upon the Baron Easthill's dire circumstance."

Shamed and laid low of purpose, the crowd immediately disperses into constituent parts, returning to their homes and duties amidst the sprawl of the near-ruined steading.

All that remain are the two orphans; Carys, the older sister, and her brother Osian. Their mother perished early on in their tender years, just another ordinary life claimed by an unnamed pestilence in the vale. Their father took up Adalbar's cause and died in the recent fighting. They praise Avandra and pledge themselves to you by the grace of The Changebringer and in the name of their father lost...if you'll have them (see loot below).

Regardless, they rush to the stake and cut Adalbar from the stake's bindings. Maimed from the fighting and exhausted from the affairs, he crumples in a heap. But he will survive...

The unnamed torchbearer is not the only dour face in Easthill. A handful of able-bodied sentries remain after the fighting took so many. They stand stalwart on the high points of various hills to surveil the wood to the north and the Briar Hills to the east. Heads on a swivel, they also surveil Valak. He is not likely to receive a warm welcome...


* C1, Level 8 SC Complete: Disperse the gathered citizens to prevent the execution. = 350 xp

* Minor Quest Complete: Perform an act of repentance, preventing an occurrence of the sort of cruelty he perpetuated in his past. = 350 xp


* 700 coin (from the unnamed torchbearer)

* Benefaction for the Priest: The orphans pledge themselves to you following you everywhere in Her name and the name of their father lost. You can bring them into any combat. If they lose their HP, describe their exit from the scene (they do not perish).

Orphans (Carys and Osian)
Medium natural humanoid, humans
Level 8 Minion Soldier XP 88
HP 1; a missed attack never damages a minion. Initiative +9
AC 24, Fortitude 20, Reflex 21, Will 18 Speed 6

Benefaction for the Priest: Valak gains +1 power bonus to defenses against enemies adjacent to the orphans.

Standard Actions
(⚔) Short sword (weapon) ✦ At-Will
Attack: Melee 1 (one creature); +13 vs. AC
Hit: 7 damage.
Effect: The orphans marks the target until the end of the orphan's next turn.

➶ Bolas (weapon) ✦ Encounter
Attack: Ranged 5 (one creature); +11 vs. Reflex
Hit: The target is immobilized (escape DC 16).

Athletics +10, Perception+9
Str 12 (+5) Dex 20 (+9) Wis 11 (+4)
Con 15 (+6) Int 13 (+5) Cha 12 (+5)

What does Valak do here?

* Does he accept the children's pledge or turn them away?

* Does he pursue the unnamed torchbearer in the name of justice or follow him to Harken to help press the matters of Easthill's desperation?

* Does he attempt to nurse Adalbar back to physical health and mental well-being?

* Does he attempt to muster the faith, spirits, and martial prowess of ruined Easthill?

* Does he pursue the exiled elder Sarken Toldorff into the Briar Hills where the rock quarry lies and the routed remnants of The Iron Circle marauders who besieged Easthill fled to?

* Something else?
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Valak scoops the coinpurse up with a smooth dip of his knees and separates out a portion sufficient to sustain a pair of resourceful orphans for a time. He grabs Carys’ right hand and pours the coins inside, clasping her other hand over top.

“Avandra has drawn us together for now. Let us see where the road leads us, but it should pull us apart – I would not see you destitute.”

He stands and turns to Adalbar’s broken form, sagging from his bonds and steps forward with a small knife in hand. While atoning for his past and ministering to the lost is A purpose, it is not THE purpose which brought him here. Perhaps between these children, who always see more then people think, and this poor broken soul he can piece together the outer orbit of the rakshasa who must be in this region, and any hints of divine or arcane power he can leverage in his quest.

It takes but a moment to part the bonds, and heedless of any stains to his robes he scoops Adalbar’s form up in his arms and faces the children again.

“Come little flock, lead me to somewhere he can rest and we can speak in private.”

-Accepts the children’s pledge, for now. Not sure how much GP is appropriate to hand over.

-Will nurse Adalbar, as a potential resource who knows the area and might be able to answer questions.

Primary Goal: determine if the rakshasa’s followers are present in the village, or if the children or Adalbar can point the way forward.

Secondary Goal: Chase the possibility or rumor of something to bind the rakshasa’s powers.

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