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ZEITGEIST [Spoilers] Sometimes the players go all in for their backstory

Tormyr

Adventurer
EDIT: It's time for me to gather all the wisdom I can for the upcoming campaign, and I have added more players' backstories. I would appreciate any suggestions on places to tie their stories into the campaign.


"Nico", human order cleric from Crysillyr (skyseer)
"My proper title is Brother Niccolo Petrelli, Third Order Justicar of the Holy Fraternity of Triegenes, and duly appointed officer of the Royal Homeland Constabulary of Risur... but for simplicity's sake, you may call me Nico."

FULL NAME: Niccolo "Nico" Petrelli (NEE-koh-loh peh-TREH-lee)
GENDER: Male
RACE: Human
CLASS: Cleric (Order)
THEME: Skyseer
BACKGROUND: Acolyte
ALIGNMENT: Lawful Good
AGE: 24-ish?

HISTORY: Nico was something of a troublemaker as a child. As a result, when regular schooling proved ineffective, he was sent to a national boarding school run by the Clergy. There, given a strict code of behavior and a highly structured life, he thrived, becoming a star pupil. Upon graduation, he served the church in both humanitarian missions and ceremonial guard duty, before receiving a commission as a Paladin, a holy knight of the church.

He served his first year (Level 1) in Crysillyr, bringing justice to the wicked and lawless. Then, he was given a mission to travel to Risur, to spread the influence of the Clergy oversea. This was likely due to his familiarity with their language (Primordial), having learnt it from an early age from his mother.

In Risur, Nico first worked (Level 2) as a Freelance Peacekeeping Agent (i.e. Bounty Hunter). There, he begun to experience firsthand the wonders that his mother taught him as a child, and he begins to tentatively explore the ways of the Skyseers, attempting to interpret them as an extension of his existing connection to the divine. The strong dichotomy between the Clergy's position on fey (the spawn of demons) and how they're viewed in traditional Risuri society has begun to make him question the "absoluteness" of his faith.

Soon, his actions drew the attention of the Risuri Royal Homeland Constabulatory. Offered a position as an officer of the nation, he gladly accepted, seeing it as a means to further the right and proper cause of his holy commission to bring law and justice to the world, while helping his newfound homeland to thrive in peace and prosperity.

FUTURE DEVELOPMENT: Prolonged exposure to the culture of Risur may continue to erode Nico's faith in the church, and cause him to explore more of his Risuri heritage. This could eventually lead him down a number of different paths:
  • He may seek to embrace the teachings of the Skyseers, where he would become an Applied Astronomist.
  • Nico might also direct his attention towards the Fey themselves, where he may adopt a Fey Patron, and begin to train as a Warlock (probably embracing the Pact of the Talisman, thanks to the gift given him by his mother).
  • In a less drastic mechanical (but not narrative) change, Nico may forswear his Paladin Oath of Vengeance, and instead adopt the more Fey-friendly Oath of the Ancients.
Either path could be dangerous, marking him as an apostate of the church, having turned away from their teachings. He may yet find a center ground between them all, embracing his beliefs of the gods and the planes alongside, rather than in opposition to, a deeper understanding of the Fey.

RISURI CONTACTS
  • RUDORI BRIGHTLEAF: Nico's Uncle, the brother of Jenissa. A (low-level) ranger, Rudori and his EXTENSIVE family live in the Cloudwood district of Flint, where he works as a woodsman and farmer. Jovial and kind, he readily welcomes all visitors and generously shares both food and lodging with those who need it. He has promised his sister to watch over Nico as he can, and is always urging his nephew to come and visit more often. Rudori is a very humble and grounded man, respected in the Cloudwood community. He may have knowledge connected to neighboring farms or the woods itself.
  • TALA BRIGHTLEAF nee STILLBROOK, Wife of Rudori, Nico's aunt by marriage. A (low-level) druid and Skyseer, and childhood friend of Jenissa. Tala helps to maintain the family farm, along with her NUMEROUS children. A little less boisterous than her husband, she is nevertheless welcoming to all who come to visit... and she's probably pregnant with the next kid. Tala has some low-level connections to the more supernatural happenings within the Cloudwood, and has worked to foster a good relationship with the resident Fey of the area.
  • "CONTACT," chaplain of local Temple of the Great Church. Part diplomat, part priest, this older Dwarf (probably a low-level Cleric) serves as a center to Nico's faith in Risur. With his help, Nico is able to complete any holy rites or ceremonies "needed" for his continued service to the Clergy. He might help re-center Nico in moments of doubt, provide him with direction and guidance from his homeland... or have his own motivations. This Dwarf Cleric would have similarly grown up and trained among the Clergy, before being sent to serve as a priest in Drakr (where he would be seen as a more friendly face, given his race). However, during his service there, , he would have learned a great deal about the Eschatology movement, and eventually (secretly) become an adherent. Ever a troublemaker who wouldn't enforce the strict mandates of the church (instead being a kinder and gentler religious figure), he was moved to a lower post in Crysillyr, where he eventually met - and now mentors - Nico. One thought is that this Dwarf Cleric could represent a "backup" character, should something unfortunate happen to Nico.
IMMEDIATE FAMILY (whom live in Crysillyr)
  • JENISSA PETRELLI nee BRIGHTLEAF, Nico's mother. A druid and Skyseer from Risur. Formerly a Risuri ambassador to Crysillyr, she fell in love with a Crysilli businessman, requiring her to resign her post (as her relationship would represent a significant conflict of interest). While she currently has no official standing among either nation, she does maintain friendships within the government of both countries, and might have some favors she can call in. Jenissa is a druid and a skyseer. Both traits are seen as mildly seditious in Crysillyr; her prior diplomatic connections (and her impeccably clean criminal record) keeps her out of trouble with the government. While she respects the authority of the Great Church, and its beliefs, she does not personally adhere to them. Jenissa taught her children the fundamental tenets of the Skyseers, through nursery rhymes, bedtime stories, and the like. Before he left Crysillyr, she gave Nico a small heirloom talisman/amulet made of Ironwood, a remarkably resilient substance. This wooden locket is etched with druidic symbols of power (that few outside Risur would understand), and can open to reveal a small portrait of his family, drawn on thin parchment and carefully folded. Presumably, it is non-magical by itself, though its etchings make it suitable as a druidic magical focus.
  • FRANCESCO PETRELLI, Nico's father. A Merchant, Businessman, and Entrepreneur from Crysillyr. His dealings brought him into contact with government officials, both foreign and domestic. He met, fell in love with, courted, and eventually married Jenissa Brightleaf of Risur. Like his wife, he respects the power and authority of the Clergy, but does not prescribe to their beliefs. Rather, he dislikes the bureaucracy that they represent, but keeps his opinions to himself, lest he find the Clergy's eye upon himself and his family. It is POSSIBLE that Francesco has connections to "The Family," the underworld criminal organization that only exists in rumor. If it is true, he has kept any such involvement a secret from at least Nico, if not his entire family. It is up to the DM how to quantify his attachment to The Family; it could be incidental or extensive, eager or reluctant, voluntary or otherwise.
  • MARIA PETRELLI, Nico's sister (age ~22). Nico's younger sister is a mature, bright, and talented student of her father's business, and has begun working in the same trade. It is assumed by almost everyone who knows the Petrelli family, that she will one day assume control of the family business. She's clever and ambitious, always wanting to prove her own worth. Maria might also be involved with "The Family," either in that she's being groomed for eventual induction, or that she's already a junior member.
  • ANTONIO PETRELLI, Nico's brother (age ~14). Antonio is your typical idiot teenager. He wants to be a hero like his big brother, and successful like his sister, but doesn't have the same drive or conviction to accomplish those goals. While athletically talented, he's mostly unaccomplished and average in school.
OTHER CHARACTER CONNECTIONS
  • "RIVAL," rival paladin/cleric/etc from Crysillyr. A contemporary of Nico, this individual would be someone that he trained and learned alongside. They would have been comrades and rivals, attempting to one-up each other along the way (I like to think of it as competing to be "holier than thou"). This person probably received their holy commission at roughly the same time as Nico, but the two were sent on different paths. They could be male or female, at GM discretion. This individual could prove to be either an ally or an enemy to either Nico (or the entire group), however the world would have taken them along their journey. If Nico strays from the faith, and news of that gets back to the homeland, the rival might be dispatched to bring him home. If the Clergy has a nefarious plot underway, the Rival may be part of it. If the rival is female, she could also represent a romance that never really started (given their professions). There are multiple possibilities to play with.
  • "TEACHER," a Cleric and/or Paladin of the Great Church of Crysillyr This individual would be one of Nico's trusted advisors from the Clergy, an influential teacher who helped set Nico (and perhaps Nico's Rival) on their path. Nico would trust them implicitly, a fact that could be used against Nico and his allies. This individual may be kind and caring, or stern and forceful, at GM discretion. Similarly, their motives might be either benevolent or malicious, as the plot requires. This is a character that might only appear if the party travels overseas to Crysillyr.
There is heavy tie in for Nico in adventure two from the skyseer, and I think his aunt will be trying to take at least one of his cousins to see the nearby doctor at the church.

Him, Goliath Bear Barbarian from Ber (docker)
“In my tribe they say, ᚳᚡᚸᛦᛉ. In Common it means, ‘None among us are more physically perfect than him.’ In taverns and markets, I am usually called by my shortname: ‘Look at Him!’ or ‘Don’t make Him angry!’”

- Him

Him belongs to a Goliath tribe in the Anthras Mountains that has never been enslaved by dragons. They say their survival is due to their philosophy: “The strongest is the one who stands most alone; the strongest tribe is a collective of these Alones” (it sounds better in Giant). The “tribe” is actually an anarcho-syndicalist group of Goliaths who are completely free to do as they please. Most remain in the Anthras but many only return seasonally to record their deeds so they can attract the most accomplished mate.

Him earned notoriety as an wrangler in the Ursalina Bear Games, due to his natural affinity for bears. When the minotaur Brakken of Heffanita famously stared down a vicious bear in the arena, insiders knew it was something Brakken learned from Him, who was in his employ at the time. Panoply scholars in Ber were so intrigued by Him and his stories of Goliath anarchy that he was invited to their lectures on sociology and moral relativism. Stories of life in far away lands were entertaining, but in the end the various customs and hierarchies only confused Him.

Industrial advances in other lands never concerned Him until he heard a disturbing folktale. Apparently a man won a drilling competition against a steam-powered machine but later died of exhaustion [see: John Henry]. Him returned to the tribe and told the tale to “She among us who is best at reading the stars.” She was disturbed by the tale, and told Him it may be a harbinger of tyrannical age, not of dragons, but of machines. She and Him agreed to collaborate and discover if the rise of industry poses an existential threat to their way of life. The need to test his physical perfection against technology meant that a journey was required of Him.

In Ursalina, Him consulted his Panoly acquaintances and they recommended he live in Flint for awhile so he could see how technology has integrated into life there. He signed on to escort a Panoply scholar traveling to Flint. The scholar tried to explain urban culture but the implausible customs of civilized society only made Him laugh.

Actually being in Flint was profoundly upsetting to Him at first. Everything was backwards and people followed orders from other people for no apparent reason. Dockers, on the other hand, made perfect sense to Him. Their way of life mirrored Goliath culture somewhat: each person has a specific skill and finds a way to enjoy his or her work; individuals often form collectives. At first, the Dockers in Flint made quite a bit of sport of Him by suggesting he might not be strong enough to perform certain feats (like unloading a train car full of pig iron in under a quarter-hour).

He eventually gained their respect by being impossible to offend and by (unintentionally) entertaining people with his (confusing) aphorisms translated (badly) from Giant. At a tavern in one night, Him tried to explain the inaccuracy of the term “half-giant” by referring to the other patrons as quarter-giants. The ensuing laughter eventually subsided but quarter-giant became a running joke. Whenever Him showed up at the tavern, an impromptu slapstick performance of “Him and the Quarter-Giants” would begin (with Him unwittingly playing the world’s greatest straight man). Burduck Brightrock, the shrewd dwarven tavern owner capitalized on the gag’s popularity by renaming the place “The Quartered Giant.” Him enjoys minor fame there, but isn’t quite sure why.

Him once heard a fellow dock worker try to incite a crowd to riot. For some reason he believed that the working class deserved to lead simply because they were the majority of the population. His strength-in-numbers argument was a common one, but what shocked Him was that the crowd seemed also to agree with his violent overtones. In an attempt to calm the crowd, Him challenged them by asking, “Has anyone ever heard of a goblin horde enslaving a dragon?” The crowd waited to hear more but Him considered his point well made. Their puzzlement momentarily stalled the rally, but ultimately did not stop the riot. Later that night, an undercover agent of the Royal Homeland Constabulary approached Him and praised his attempt. He persuaded Him to team up with other like-minded people who might help him better elucidate his sense of justice.

Him lives on the south side of Bosum Strand on the roof of a smithy owned by the halfling (eighth-giant?) Horkin Tallcreek. Horkin let’s Him stay up there in exchange for occasionally lifting heavy things (and being an unspoken warning to would-be thieves). Him finds the stone building and fresh air nostalgic; he spends his free time raising pigeons on the roof or tinkering in the smithy.
Him will have some tie ins with Ber and possibly be a bit of a celebrity when during the contest in Ber. He will have been approached by Thames Grimsley.

Draken Gendorf, half-orc eldritch knight fighter (martial scientist)
"I'm Draken Gendorf, delighted to make your acquaintance. Yes I'm aware that Draken sounds similar to dragon. It's another way to say dragon in Ber, where I was born. Though we moved when I was still young, to Risur which is where I call home."

His name bearing such a resemblance to dragon, caused many to pick fights with Draken growing up. Due to this his family moved to Risur hoping to get away from the hostilities, which seemed to work for a time. Draken learned a great lesson from not fighting the other boy however and had made the jest of winning a fight without a single sword swing and merely a hug, though he understands that all fights will not be won that way.

He studied some magic with his father which was a mage since Draken had some skill with magic, though studying endlessly did not seem to be his path. Draken took after his mother too much in that respect, a fighter, and what was a fighter without a fight? Draken signed up for the war at the Yerasol Archipelago, but only managed to join during the last year. When the war ended in a loss for Risur, he found himself interested in the weaponry, and tactics of Danor.

Draken traveled to Danor and spent some time at the School Jierre Sciens D'arms. In his time there he came to a conclusion and his theory was fully put down to paper. He wrote a thesis paper on "Versatility" and how it could be effectively used in combat. If to put it simply; a fighter would defeat a mage up close, a ranger could defeat a fighter at range, and a mage could defeat a ranger with spells. but what if they combined powers? his theory intrigued several people, but in order to put it to practice, to prove his theory, Draken had to return to Risur so that he could cast magic again.

After proving his theory, higher ups in Risur were impressed and took note. Draken takes great pride in being able to mingle with those of great status. It was at this point in which Risur reached out to Draken, to which his answer was a bold and resounding "Absolutely."

When he was in fights in Ber, if it ever seemed he might get the upper hand, more people would join the fight until the group started to say "don't let the dragon win."
Draken's mother is an orc fighter, and his father a human mage. Since the boy he almost humiliated that he saw being beaten by his father and had recently lost his mother, Draken started to see the world in a differently light, different possibilities, he started to see patterns. he soon after started to see what he would later coin as Laws of Power, or a guideline of rules to follow to be powerful, and have people follow him rather than want to fight him. It was not until the last year of the Yerasol Archipelago war that he started to come up with a combat theory. Not wanting to let everyone know that he wanted power, let alone power over people, he decided not to include most of his laws of power to his theory.
Draken is determined to be the best all-around fighter there is. In addition to his combat talents, the player has used the 48 Laws of Power as the driving philosophical force in the PC's life. I find the laws a bit Machiavellian and found a counter 48 laws that seem more positive that I think a NPC who becomes a guiding force (such as King Aodhan or Nigel Price-Hill) will provide as counters for his philosophy. He went to the Jierr Science d'Arms at the same time as Lya, who graduated top of her class (much to Draken's chagrin). As opposed to Him, Draken might not be as popular in Ber because of his name's similarity to the word "dragon". I think he might have been sponsored to go to the Jierre Science d'Arms by Benedict Pemberton who would have been intrigued by his desire to combine magic and martial prowess (as well as keep an eye on someone who's name sounds like "dragon").

Lutoris Xistsrith, eladrin bladesinger wizard (Vekeshi mystic)
My grandfather was at the battle where Srasama died and he saw his wife and three daughters die with her. He is consumed with a great sadness but he taught me to be the Elf I am. He imbued in me a nearly religious fervor to protect the weak. He convinced me that I must follow the Vekeshi way. I carry a small scrap of parchment with the names of the women he lost that day, I carry it close to my heart.
The player is a bit more straightforward in his character concepts, so I am trying to figure out how to help him with being a Vekeshi mystic with all the extra missions it entails. I am trying to figure out which enclave he should be associated with.

Carlotta, human rogue (gunsmith & spirit medium)
My name is Carlotta Binton, née Wintergreen. Officially, I’m Constable Carlotta. Behind my back at the RHC, they call me Cold Case Carlotta. Everywhere else, they just call me the Widow.

If you haven’t heard of my family, then you’ve probably heard of our stock-in-trade. Those bronze cannons you see in all of the photos of smiling Navy boys? The ones that helped win the Third Yerasol War? They were made by my grandfather, Rudyard Glanton, in his Parity Lake factories. Grandfather knew that iron is better than bronze in every way except the only one that counts at sea: weight. Our cannons were technologically inferior to their Danorians counterparts but our ships could carry twice as many and remain more maneuverable. I’d wager that most of the cannon balls that sent Danorians to watery graves were stamped “Glanton.”

If you were an officer in the Fourth Yerasol War, then you were issued a firearm engraved with a certain seal that meant quality over quantity. That engraved “SW” stood for my Shermon Wintergreen - my father.

Everyone knows that the Risurian advantage over Danor somehow involves our ability to combine magic and technology. That was what my late husband, John Binton, worked on until he was murdered. The incompetents at the RHC (no offense) called it an accident long enough for the trail to go cold, so I worked it myself as best I could. By carrying out multiple jobs for the thieves guilds, I managed to find out that multiple thieves guilds in Risur were connected to carry out different discrete parts of my husband’s kidnapping and murder. I still don’t know who ordered the kidnapping, but it was someone who wanted that MagicTech weaponry, bad. Or just didn’t want Risur to have it.

You’ll probably hear people argue about whether I work for Lorcan Kell’s Guild or for the RHC. My loyalty, whatever it’s worth, is to Risur.
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400 A.O.V.: Rudyard Glanton born in the bayou outside Shale.
428 A.O.V.: Glanton’s cargo barge sinks on one of the many waterways between Shale and Slate during a terrible storm; his life is saved by Klaya, a bayou druidess. They are married one month later.
429 A.O.V.: Their first and last child is born, Mariella. Klaya tells her husband that their daughter will inherit her ability to speak with the dead but any daughter born in their bloodline will be the last child conceived.
440 A.O.V.: Together, the Glantons dominate shipping in the West by securing supply lines of raw materials needed for the constant reconstruction efforts in war-torn Shale. Rudyard recognizes the future importance of naval firepower. They expand into Flint and begin manufacturing cannons.
448 A.O.V.: Mariella marries Sherman Wintergreen, an apprentice of Rudyard’s. The Wintergreens have a son and name him Rudyard.
450 A.O.V.: The Wintergreens have a son, Sherman Jr.
452 A.O.V.: The Wintergreens have a son, Klay.
456 A.O.V.: The Wintergreens have a son, Wynchell.
458 A.O.V.: The Wintergreens have a daughter, Carlotta.
460 A.O.V.: R. Glanton secures an extremely lucrative contract from newly crowned King Aodhan to mass-produce cheap but effective brass cannons. The Glantons move to a very large North Shore house; several Glanton factories are constructed in Parity Lake.
462 A.O.V.: Wintergreen approaches Glanton with his idea of manufacturing high-quality, artisanal firearms. Glanton vehemently disagrees and says he’s in the business of winning wars, not making toys for the aristocracy. Wintergreen strikes out on his own, the two families are estranged. The Wintergreens move from North Shore to humbler lodgings in Parity Lake.
464 A.O.V.: When Carlotta is six years old she unknowingly aids in the arrest of a serial child murderer with the help of her “imaginary” friend who turns out to be the spirit of one of the victims.
The ability to speak with spirits had always been very faint for Mariella. She is concerned that the more pronounced ability will cause Carlotta an unusual and unhappy life. She consults her estranged mother, Klaya. Klaya agrees to attempt to suppress Carlotta’s ability in exchange for the two families reuniting and resolving their disagreements. Rudyard and Sherman forswear discussing business; Klaya and Mariella perform a suppression ritual on Carlotta.
Sherman begins taking Carlotta to his workshop hoping that exposure to technology will help steer her away from her affinity for the Bleak Gate of the spirit world. Carlotta proves to be a gunsmithing prodigy and father proclaims that she “has gunpowder in her blood--on both sides!”
465 A.O.V.: Sherman Wintergreen’s efforts finally begin to pay off when a wealthy noble commissions masterwork firearms for his entire family. The Wintergreens move back to North Shore.
468 A.O.V.: Rudyard Wintergreen enlists in the Risurian Navy. Sherman Jr. begins working for the Flint City Council in a minor capacity.
470 A.O.V.: Rudyard’s ship is sunk in battle and he is presumed killed in action. The enemy ship responsible is captured and found to be armed with Glanton cannons. Rudyard Glanton is devastated and signs all Glanton enterprises over to Sherman Wintergreen. Glanton spends the next few months almost catatonic before finally dying. Mariella and Sherman agree that none of their children should be party to weapons manufacture; Wynchell, and Carlotta are enrolled in a prestigious Central District school. Under the guise of studying abroad, Klay enlists in the Risurian Navy with the hopes of avenging his brother’s death.
472 A.O.V.: At school, Carlotta’s friend is involved in a cheating scandal. With the help of her brother Wynchell and his friend John Binton, they briefly dabble in contacting a Bosom Strand thieves’ guild and secure evidence proving her friend’s innocence. Carlotta and John become romantically involved.
473 A.O.V.: Sherman Jr. liaises between the Flint City Council and the Risurian Military. John Binton enlists and fights in the Third Risurian War. Wynchell is admitted to Pardwight University and studies the arcane properties of energy.
474 A.O.V.: Carlotta is admitted to Pardwight University.
476 A.O.V.: While on a foreign mission for Risurian Military Intelligence, Klay’s cover is blown and he is killed by snipers while trying to escape. His parents are not notified until his death is declassified two months later.
Carlotta spends a semester in Slate at Mitchell University. Just before attending the biggest student (drinking) event of the year, she receives a letter from her mother informing her that another brother has been killed. Thinking of John Binton currently at war and her two dead brothers killed in action, Carlotta gets very drunk. Before passing out, she sees spirits beseeching her for various things. She spends the next day piecing together what happened during her blackout and discovers that she was apparently run out of town for consorting with the dead and provoking people.
She recalls her “imaginary” friend and confronts Klaya. Klaya tells her that hearing the voices of those at the Bleak Gate is something that runs in her family but was, until recently, suppressed.
480 A.O.V.: John Binton returns safety and marries Carlotta. John approaches Sherman Sr. with his idea of combining artisanal firearms with the arcane arts. John is skeptical but agrees, so as to avoid repeating the mistakes of the past.
The Bintons honeymoon in the tropical paradise of the southern Yerasol Archipelago, near a monastery that produces premium leaf of Nicodemus. The monastery achieves such high quality by employing secret rituals that appease the local fey. Carlotta helps uncover a saboteur at the monastery and they reward her by helping her unlock some of her natural arcane talent.
481 A.O.V.: John begins theoretical work on stabilizing arcane energies and consults Wynchell (who is a perpetual academic at Pardwight University). John has some initial success combining the technical and the arcane. When Sherman Sr. attempts to replicate the findings, he makes a mistake and the resulting accident leaves him fatally wounded. John feels responsible and keeps his work at arm’s length from Carlotta, for her safety.
483 A.O.V.: Carlotta gets pregnant and intuits that it will be a girl and that it will be the last child conceived. They decide on the name Alaia, but Alaia dies during delivery.
486 A.O.V.: John has a breakthrough in his theoretical designs and contacts Sherman Wintergreen Jr. who is now somewhere between a Flint official and an intelligence agent for the military. John secures government funding for work on a theoretical weapon.
490 A.O.V.: One night John does not come home. After several hours, police call on Carlotta and tell her that John has died in a fire at his workshop. Carlotta is taken to identify his remains and finds irrefutable evidence that he was murdered. The constables proved ineffective but Carlotta discovered that John was kidnapped by foreign agents who wanted something he was working on. John was apparently killed trying to escape, his body was moved back to his workshop, which was then looted and burned. The agents that apprehended him may not have acquired what they sought but Carlotta did. John left Carlotta a clue that triggered a Programmed Illusion. When triggered, the illusion displayed several schematics and instructions for building a prototype arcane energy matrix that could be used as a weapon.
491 - 499 A.O.V.: Carlotta knew that her ability to speak with the dead was stronger when she drank but was then uncontrollable. She spent years drinking all over the city of Flint trying to contact John’s spirit but was never able to. There is no doubt that the body she saw was his; he must have been killed more than three miles from anywhere she looked.
Her investigations pointed at the involvement of some of the thieves’ guilds in Flint. One was hired to kidnap John and hand him off to someone. Another was hired to steal whatever wasn’t nailed down in his workshop. Another burned it down. She never found out which guild was responsible for returning his body to the workshop. The only guild that seemed not to be involved was Lorcan Kell’s guild. Carlotta never officially joined but she did spend several years doing favors for Kell’s guild in exchange for whatever information she could get on anyone’s involvement.
Eventually the case went completely cold. The Royal Homeland Constabulary wasn’t useful in her husband’s case but she figured that working for them might eventually yield some knowledge of which foreign power was involved.
I thought it was interesting that the player chose variant human so she could get a second character theme. I think I am going to combine her spirit medium and gunsmith themes to mean that she got some of her inspiration from the ghost of Amielle Latimer. As for her husband's cold case, I think the Ob wanted some of his tech for their big project, and he didn't want to part with it, so they had some small-time thieves kill him and steal the tech. Eventually, Lorcan took over their territory and killed the thieves in the process, so the case went cold. She will find notes at the end of adventure 2 in the manor, see results of some of his work in adventure 5, and get more answers when Lorcan Kell is dealt with.
 
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arkwright

Explorer
Good stuff. Here's a few things they may want to think about;
  • Crisillyir has its own Dreaming with (presumably) its own fey, much like the rest of the world
  • Nico may have been trained at the military colleges of Sid Minos, and delved the mysterious catacombs a little
  • There is a long-abandoned Clergy church in Flint, per Book 2
  • Given the modus operandi of the Family, the Flint patriarch is likely very well known in the city's Clergy community
  • It may be good to work together to come up with some concrete teachings and ideologies for the Clergy, to help drive philosophical debate and personal conflict. In particular, look for the list of Clergy vices/virtues found in the expanded Book 4 dungeon.
  • For 'Rival', consider the godhand who has a small role in Book 7 and Book 11.
  • Also, godhands are a thing
  • For 'Teacher', consider the prominent female clericist in Book 4. Alternatively, Savina Tullius, who was Risuri and is now prominent Clergy.
  • The Clergy have a very different understanding of the stars/planes than the Skyseers
  • Would be good for Nico to have an opinion on Elfaivar, Elfaivarans, the Elfaivaran slave trade and the Great Malice, as those are some of the most prominent elements in the entire AP. Even starting in Book 2, with Gale.
  • In my opinion, the AP should show Risur to be more fey-interested. Fey politics and celebrities should fill Risuri newspapers. I would put this down to fey politics and public figures not being established until later books. Consider emphasizing how much the fey matter to Risur and Flint and tie in direct figures from the Unseen Court and the like to help drive Nico's relationship with them.
  • As Cloudwood denizens, Nico's family probably have opinions on Flint's industrialization
  • Also: Nevard Sechim, Cloudwood bandits.
Basically, it's some good independent work, though for my personal tastes I would suggest more tie-ins with direct AP and world material. Gotta avoid establishing something about the world in the independent work that is contradicted by the AP later. I'm sure you were probably going to do a little of that anyway, Tormyr.
 


Tormyr

Adventurer
Yeah, this is just a first draft with information gleaned from the player's guide. We will shape it to hit major story points. Thanks for all of the ideas!
 






Tormyr

Adventurer
After a near TPK with Leska, the player decided to make a slight change and have his PC for our Zeitgeist campaign be a cleric instead of a paladin (since there was no full healer in the party).
 


Tormyr

Adventurer
I mentioned to the player of the cleric that his backstory sets him up as someone who knows every tenet and catechism and could be a clergy hardliner, but he wants to be play someone who is questioning the institution of the clergy (but not the gods) and sees his mother's view of the stars as another facet of the greater gifts bestowed on people by the gods and Triegenes in particular. I asked him him for what could have set that shift in motion. I got this:
"Momento, Fratello Niccolo..."

Nico paused, turning slowly in the colonnade of the Great Temple. His ordination was finished, his commission issued, his orders given. He was to set sail to Risur that afternoon (a journey he was decidedly not looking forward to), but it would finally be the beginning of his TRUE mission in life. Finally ready to bring the word of the Clergy to a world desperate for salvation, the young man was ready to take on the world... but for his teacher, he would gladly wait.

The older man smiled at Nico. More than a teacher or mentor, this man was a friend and guide to the proper studies of the Clergy. A master of the formal texts, he had helped explain every nuance of the text to his young disciple, preparing him for this day, his great commission.

"It is an important day for you, Niccolo," he intoned with a soft smile, setting a hand on the younger man's shoulder. "You have learned well, from the great texts, the old scholars, and even this humble vessel. And now, you set out to undertake a new mission, in the name of Triegenes."

"Si, Padre," Nico nodded. "I have committed to my heart the lessons of the Clergy, and the proper duties of a Justicar of the Faith. I shall endeavor to extend the word of the Holy to an unholy world, and..."

"Momento," the old man interrupted, bowing his head slightly. "I am confident you know every word of every proper tenet and code of the Church. You have always excelled at such. And now, as you have been given your mission, to minister to the southern lands, I give you one last task. One final code to live by, as you leave these sheltered walls." Nico's mentor smiled. "You must forget everything you have been taught."

"I... I don't... Padre?" Nico asked, tipping his head to the side in confusion. "I must forget?"

The teacher stepped away from Nico, facing a detailed fresco depicting the Fisher God himself, Triegenes, returning from the ocean after his apotheosis. "You have mastered the skills of knowledge, but you must also master the skill of understanding. You know how to respond, but you must learn how to listen. Everything you have learned in these walls is..." The old man paused, then sighed. "It is good. It is proper. And as you step forth into the world, it is useless."

"I do not understand, Padre," Nico mumbled. "If it is useless, then why did I..."

The teacher turned to face Nico straight in the eye. "Fratellino. You know the texts. The stories. The history. You have been told the meanings of these. But I tell you now, what you have been taught means nothing, until you understand it for yourself.

Nico bowed his head. "I'm sorry," he mumbled. "I do not understand."

The teacher smiled. "Admitting such is the first step. Then, I give you your final charge; these are truths you must take into your heart. Do not do what is correct, do what is right. Do not say what is proper, say what is true. Do not seek divinity in others, seek it in yourself." He stepped back, his hands cupped before him as if he were cradling the Humble Hook itself in his palm. "Now go, Fratello Niccolo, and change the world."

Nico nodded, haltingly, then offered a simple, "grazie," as he turned to leave, mulling over this new order...

Also funny here is that the player rolled a few times for a phobia to add to his character flaws and got fear of open water. His first roll was fear of institutional religion, but that wasn't going to work. ;)
 
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Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
The player of Nico really does remind me of someone, prone to lots of details.
For Lutoris I would try to tie him into the exploration of Kasavarina's life and the Arc of Reida, Maybe his Grandfather or Father were dating Dala and she is on his list of names and has heard of Kasavarina as a potential in law. I would be tempted to either not link him to an enclave isntead to the exiles in Risur or make up my own enclave bordering on one of the Risuri colonies in Elfaivar,

For Carlotta no backstory but a spirit medium, I would pick some dead spirit to guide her who is tied to the plot , maybe a previous king of Risur or one of the Ancients.

Him. If I remember correctly the Orc coastal warlord they deal with in book 6 has a Goliath or half giant advisor a Tie in to them may be useful. Maybe he also knows famous Bear Breeders of Ber and can end up as a Bear back Bear riding Bearbarian. Add a spirit realm of Bears to the Gyre

Draken , If the eldritch Knight class has links to sorcery perhaps the bloodline he has is that of Pemberton , or perhaps Pemberton is interesting in him and wants to guide him because Pemberton knows his actual bloodline links to Harkover and wants to score points off his rival. A rivalry with Lya also sounds interesting
 

Tormyr

Adventurer
For Carlotta no backstory but a spirit medium, I would pick some dead spirit to guide her who is tied to the plot , maybe a previous king of Risur or one of the Ancients.
I hadn't thought of a guide. What about Amielle Latimer? It would explain her pushing the boundaries with firearms and set up some interesting interactions in book 7.
 




Tormyr

Adventurer
Well then they will know who she is
Carlotta's player was not part of the online group at the time 4 years ago, but I have filled in the two players who joined after that of the events which transpired. The players of Carlotta and Him joined a few months later and played all of War of the Burning Sky with the group.

The most interesting detail of using Amielle is how she died in Bonds of Forced Faith. The party was fighting Pernicity, and Amielle had grabbed the flying cauldron. My brother, a newcomer to RPGs, was playing the godhand and found an interesting moment to accomplish the godhand's extra goal of making sure Danor and Risur did not improve ties. He jumped on the cauldron and pushed Pernicity out. Pernicity grabbed on to Amielle's legs. The godhand flew the cauldron over the edge of the cliff and gestured to help Amielle up. When she reached for the godhand, he let go, and Amielle and Pernicity plunged to their deaths. We use an alternate falling house rule that meant the 1000-foot fall was over double the max hit points of the characters, and Amielle made sure that Pernicity did not fly to safety as a raven.

Normally I would nix that PvP violence and explained at the table that I was going to let it through this time because it fulfilled Tomas's goal, the adventure was short, and Amielle's player could pick up and play Stanfield. Real life soon kicked in, and neither player was able to continue playing with us after the end of the year.

Amielle's probably a bit bitter toward the clergy after this incident, and that might influence Carlotta's interactions with Nico.
 


Andrew Moreton

Adventurer
Perhaps some of her fathers research developed guns particularly effective against the creatures of the Bleak gate and they needed them to secure the facility they are building Bourne in. Or for a twist perhaps Kell and the Ob are innocent in this and for some reason it was the family behind it, perhaps on behalf of the Clergy improving their out dated weapons , and is then pirated by the Ob through their infiltration of the clergy. I would like the family to be considered villains in someones game!
 

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