Monday, February 5, 2018

Monday Recap: The Edgelord Returneth
Try not to cut yourself on that edge
We were going to do another installment of Chaos Quest this weekend, but a few players fell through and I didn't want to finish up the Skyfortress without them. So, I decided to put together a quick one-shot story.

My goal for the game was to prep as little as possible. Aside from helping the players make their characters (which also helped expedite the gaming process), I used random generators and my knowledge of the existing characters and factions within the City of Garton. I also used a good amount of classic fantasy tropes. Don't knock it if it works!

As for the inspiration for the game, instead of going my usual route and ripping off a book or movie, I just asked the players what they wanted to do. One of them posted a neat idea, and we were off!

This story is part 1 of a series. The campaign was completed.
| Part 1 | Part 2 |

Monday Recap: The Edgelord Returneth

Cast of Characters
Jon: Dungeon Master
Megan: Gemma Ashton, Human Rogue, talks a lot, designs clothes, hopes to dress royalty someday
Shannon: Ryn Darkiron, Human Bard, in a band, hair color changes daily, down with the man!
Quinn: Chaz Greymoon, Human Barbarian, unaccomplished junkie, stole his dad's axe for kicks
Makayla: Karen Iona, Human Wizard, quiet and awkward, fascinated with magic, follows the rules

We begin our story with these four teenagers working at Uncle Piebald's Magic Boutique. Gemma, who had a mind for numbers from all the measurements she took, worked as a clerk and bookkeeper for Piebald, who took too many warhammer blows to the head during his adventuring days to keep track of things. He did have a hobby of making potions and magic scrolls, which Karen assisted with and helped him test.

Ryn was in charge of the till, and helped customers find magic curios in between drumming her fingers on every available surface. Chaz, more of a shelf stocker, moved heavy objects when he wasn't sneaking into the nearby hidden alleyway to take a hit of his latest intoxicant.

They all had their own reasons for working with Uncle Piebald, and the old dwarf liked them all to varying degrees. That day, after a morning of helping customers and tracking a shipment of a pair of Boots of Levitation, Piebald announced that he wanted the four to clear the shop's basement of rats while he took lunch. After a chorus of groans from the employees, they got to work.

In the basement, they found some storage shelves as well as Piebald's living quarters. Also, plenty of rats scurrying about. Chaz split one in two with his axe, accidentally hitting some shelving on the way. Karen, annoyed, used her Mending spell to fix it up. Ryn kept trying to befriend a rat, but they kept running away from her.
Good old bread and butter tropey fantasy tropes
Eventually, the group found the hole where the rats were coming from and sealed it with a glass bottle. Suddenly, they heard a crash of glass from upstairs!

Rushing back up, they found Piebald's display case had been busted open, and two strong magic items had been stolen: a Bag of Devouring, and an oaken staff that had contained the soul of a powerful wizard. The front door was swinging slightly ajar.

Leaving Chaz to watch the shop, the girls burst out into the street. Karen spotted a hooded figure with a staff on their back, and raced after the mysterious thief. Meanwhile, Ryn and Gemma found the nearest city guard and reported the incident. Chaz locked up the shop and went around back to get high.

After a harrowing chase, Karen finally caught up to the thief, just in time to catch a glimpse of her face before she disappeared down a sewer grate. The city guards caught up with them, and refused to let the kids go down into the dangerous sewer system. Instead, they went back to Piebald's shop for questioning.

When Uncle Piebald returned from lunch (just as Chaz was about to be questioned by the guards), he stopped the interviews and asked what had happened. After a brief explanation, he took the city guards outside to talk for a moment. Karen was sure they would all be in deep trouble. Gemma knew the theft was going to be a blow to the store but was trying to cheer everyone up. Ryn and Chaz were just annoyed their breaks were cut short.

Piebald returned, and announced that nobody was in trouble. In fact, he had told the guards not to worry about it. Instead, he wanted the four teens to band together and go on an adventure to get the Staff back! The Bag he wasn't worried about. He got a little misty-eyed, thinking about his very first adventure, and how his company had come together to help a person in need.

The group gathered together and pooled their knowledge. According to the guards, the thief was probably a member of the Garton Thieves' Guild. The kids wouldn't be able to navigate the city's labyrinthine sewers to find the Guild's Undercity hideout, so the next best route would be to figure out who the Guild was selling the staff to.

To get started, Chaz went to his dealer and Ryn went to her less-scrupulous fans to see if they had any connections to a staff. Gemma and Karen stopped by at the local chapter of the Mage's Guild, to see if they might know anything about the staff or who would buy stolen magical items.

Collectively, they had no luck at all. Chaz and Ryn both ran into dead ends, and the Mage's Guild merchant turned out to be a big jerk who had a beef with Piebald. Dejected, and the day nearly over, Karen turned in for the night. The others decided to go to the local City Guard chapter and see if they could get any help.
It begins
They entered the chambers of Guard Leader, and Knight of Garlancia, Kaim’ango. The candles flickered. Their hearts raced. There he stood, his pale half-elven features starkly lit by moonlight, contrasting his deeply black robes. He hastily covered a note on his desk – a missive from an unrequited lover, perhaps?

They pleaded with him, begged for aid, and despite the pain his heart had long endured, he could not say no. The passionate rage within him welled up, and he threw his wineglass into the fireplace. Drawing a delicate envelope from a small table, he handed it to the young adventurers. With a dark look in his eyes, he wished them well. Then, like it had been naught but a dream, they left.

Back in the hallway, they stood, befuddled by what had just happened. Chaz swore there hadn't been a fireplace when they had entered, or a wine glass, for that matter. Ryn had been captivated by the strange and overtly dramatic enchantment that seemed to be surrounding the mysterious Guard Leader. Gemma was already planning a less-drab outfit for him.

(Kaim'ango is a popular minor character from my last big campaign, who was knighted alongside the players at the end of the quest. His entire character is just being as edgy as possible. I picked up the idea somewhere on the internet as a way to discourage players from making mopey edgelord characters of their own. So far, so good.)

However, he had given them an important clue: a list of names that the City Guard suspected were part of Black Market dealings in the area, some of them confirmed. That jerk of a Mage's Guild Merchant was also on the list.

The next day, they decided to investigate the confirmed names on the list. Gemma and Karen went back to the Mage's Guild, and although they didn't have much luck with finding any information, they did inform the Guild that their merchant was on the City Guard's short list. Also, Karen asked if she might be able to join the Guild at some point, and she was encouraged to apply after her apprenticeship.

Meanwhile, Chaz and Ryn went to The Angry Tavern to look for a confirmed black market fence named Wulfa. The Angry Tavern lived up to its name, with several fights having broken out despite it still being midmorning. Chaz sidled up to the bar and less-than-discretely asked the bartender if they were selling any illegal drugs.

Instead of drugs, he got a well-placed elbow to the face. The bartender then went to the back room, dragged a struggling man out through the bar floor, and tossed him unceremoniously into the street. After a few introductions, Ryn and Chaz realized this must be Wulfa, or Wolfie, as he preferred to be called.

They spoke to Wolfie in a safe location, and learned that the staff had indeed gone up on the market. The Thieves' Guild was planning on selling it to an organization known as The Black Hand, who had established channels of getting contraband in and out of the city. The sale was supposed to go down later that day, between the Guild and a man named Eckbert who was in with the Black Hand.

The group reunited, and discussed the best plan of action. They decided that they should probably get the help of the City Guard to catch Eckbert and retrieve the staff. They made their way back to the local Guard outpost.
We meet again
There, they once again walked the moonlit corridors of the outpost to find Sir Kaim’ango, as alone as he always was, perched upon his balcony overlooking the lush valley below. As they encroached upon his solitude, he turned to them. Again, an impassioned plea! Though no mere flight of fancy this time, the young heroes had discovered a true foe upon which they had set their hearts. Perhaps their anger was too cruel for those so young, but there was no denying it. The fire within them could not be quenched.

Chaz kept clutching his head and shouting things like "How the hell is there an entire valley in the middle of Garton city?" and "It's the middle of the day, why is it suddenly night? It's not even a full moon tonight!" Gemma offered her newly-made cloak to the Guard Captain, who took it with dramatic flair. Karen, having not seen this spectacle before, was entranced by the magic and wasn't sure what sort of powerful magic this might be.

Sir Kaim’ango, pain still in his heart, lead the young heroes into his elegant ballroom. There, he strode to an ornate display case, lifting the lid with a practiced but pained motion. Inside, a long, thin rapier lay upon a velvet cushion. His eyes darkened once again. “Such passion must be met with equal force.” He lifted the elegant blade. “This was granted to me by my last – perhaps my truest – love…” with deep pain in his heart, he strapped the blade to his waist and turned to his young wards. “Let us go. We cannot let this moment pass by…”

Ryn caught a glance of a note tacked inside the rapier's display case. It read:
"I don't really need this anymore. Or want it. So I guess you can have it. - No love, Faelynn"

They followed the Guard Leader out of the outpost (which, from the outside, could have never fit a balcony or ballroom, much less a valley...) and began to head towards The Black Battleaxe, a tavern where Eckbert was supposed to be.

As they approached the tavern, the Guard Leader looked back at them.

Choral music swelled. “Stay here… It will be dangerous inside. If you see someone come running out, please! Do not throw yourselves onto the spears of fate! But if you are able to stop them… do not hesitate.” With that, Sir Kaim’ango turned and strode into the tavern to meet his dark destiny.
Most guard uniforms are sleeveless tunics. His is just sleeves.
Chaz was freaking out about where the music was coming from. Ryn, on the other hand, seemed pleased to discover she could harmonize with it.

Suddenly, the door burst open, and two thugs rushed out of the tavern! One of them had an oaken staff on his back. The group leapt into action!

Karen and Ryn began to hurl spells at the thugs. One of them drew his mace and rushed forward to engage them, while the other one (holding the staff) made to get away. Chaz wasn't about to let that happen, and took a hit of a powerful stimulant before rushing towards the fleeing criminal.

Gemma ducked into the battle and stabbed one of the thugs with her sewing knife before chucking a book of manners at his crotch. Karen threw a Magic Missile spell at the fleeing thug, while Ryn used her sling to pelt him with stones. Chaz ran up and took a mighty swing with his axe, barely seeing anything through his drug-induced haze.

The music grew louder. One of the ruffians fell to his knees. He looked at his ally, deep pain and horror etched across his face. “Don’t die here! Get away! I love you!” he shouted.

He shook his head. "Wait, what am I saying?" That was all he could think, however, before Gemma thrust her sewing knife into his back, causing him to pass out from pain.

Meanwhile, Chaz had worn down the other thug, and he was barely standing. Ryn appeared, and spoke a cutting insult that forced the ruffian to pass out from mere heartbreak.

Their foes slain, they rested now. Sir Kaim’ango approached them, dragging the body of the villain Eckbert. He sheathed his blood-soaked, seven-foot-long rapier, and spoke to the young heroes: “Your work here is done. Take your prize. But do not forget this pain in your heart. It is a sign of the cruelty of this horrible world.”

One of them, a young lass known as Karen, approached the melancholy knight. She asked a difficult question: if she could study and become as pained and tortured as Sir Kaim’ango. He looked upon her hopeful face, a wave of sadness gripping his heart. “My path is one of deep pain and unrelenting sorrow. Are you sure that you would sacrifice yourself upon such a journey?” Her eyes never wavered as she spoke yes. Ah, the foolishness of youth. He took her hand. “Then let us go into the night, and perhaps we shall be less alone, if for but a moment.” He lifted her upon his black stallion, and they rode towards the treeline. Towards their fates.

As they left, Chaz screamed at everything that was wrong with what just happened.

It had been a successful day.
Edgy Characters unite
This quest didn't involve a lot of monster slaying or dungeon delving, but my players all said they had a great time with it. I think it's very important to mix levity and challenge when making games. If everything is gritty and grimdark, you'll find people get exhausted or frustrated quite quickly.

But perhaps this is just my DM'ing style. I did do a bunch of comedy improv in college!

Thanks for reading!

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