With the conclusion of the 'Wandering War' between the Yuan-ti enclaves and the Roc descendants, Richard found himself in the unique position of having no pressing threats against his Kingdom. Only three years ago was the kingdom split in a bloody civil war with Wardovia, its sister kingdom across the channel. The newly elected King Calidan of Wardovia had agreed to an alliance with Andavia, but this was not a popular decision amongst its people, particularly not with the secret society known as the Black Hand, who had many influencial individuals withing Wardovia.
If a true alliance was to last King Richard understood that he must take care of such discontent, without appearing to take offensive action against his new ally. As we now know, The Black Hand were only the tip of the iceberg'
- Simon Deangelo – Peace During Wartime: The Wardovia Job
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Taking the rains of dungeon master, It was time to up the ante with my first crack at a campaign. Being the kind of person who likes, nay, relishes the chance to improvise, this campaign I would not put too much fore planning towards. Our heroes would be tasked on a mission to the late medieval celtic themed Wardovia under orders from King Richard. While there, they would work towards they're ultimate goal by traveling the surrounding kingdom undertaking tasks that would aid them in the final battle, but they would not have enough time to achieve all these tasks, making the final battle have a variety of factors influencing it. With white board, marker pen and generic mooks in hand. Our story began...
“After the successful assassination of the Yuan-ti high command, Jocasta was to part ways, for a time, from her companions, where she was to go, nobody knew, other than she tasked them to meet with two old acquaintances of hers on the outskirts of Andavia.
The Paladin Azreal of the order of Bahamut had clearly been affected by his actions on the previous adventure, no longer a stoic man concerned with delivering divine justice on behalf of his God above all else, Azreal was now a more foreboding man, a heavy heart, throwing himself into violent conflict, seemingly to take him away from the responsibility of moral deeds.
No such drastic changes however for the tiefling Trust. As before, her current priorities were simply to make money, through legitimate means or no, and she would walk the long early spring roads even for the mere suggestion of a big payoff.”
- Roma Drangasti – Beyond the Wandering War
Returning from our previous campaign is Trust the kleptomanical Teifling and our Paladin of few words, Azreal, now downgraded to Lawful neutral by request. Trust was to remain her self centered self, maybe even developing more of a sadistic streak. Azreal went through a significant character evolution throughout the campaign, though not necessarily in a way you'd expect. They're first task, before the introduction of our other player characters, was to meet up with two old associates of Jocasta's, who were the first of many influential characters I had decided to include to create a backbone and identity to the campaign.
“Sakari Gempeitōkitsu was an orphaned immigrant from the east who grew up tending to the once great library of a small village known as Fostaf. Often neglected by members of the village, Sakari ultimately led a very empty life, enriched only by the worlds the books could provide stories of. Her means of escape was to come about when, during the Andovian-Wardovian civil war, when agents Loggo Logmond, “Chrissy” Dean and Jocasta Laxcroix, took refuge in the village. While information is hard to come by it is believed that Lacriox attempted, or was successful at taking Sakari as a lover, resulting in much stigma from the inward inhabitants of the village, and there are a few accounts of a violent incident between Logmond and Dean. Irrespective of this, Sakari and Jocasta were often close after the conclusion of the war, but as with many individuals involved with Miss Lacroix, were to part ways not long after...
...Captain (Later Commander) Karatrana “Kara” Luxor Regnetris, was a well respected member of the Anavian city guard, who first came to prominance when training under Jocasta Lacroix shortly after the conclusion of the Andovian-Wardovian civil war. The two were often seen as a professional partnership, and Kara's ability soon exceeded her Captain's, earning her own position under that rank. After a fine start to a career, Jocasta was to leave the guard once more, Kara being the only true remnant of her time there. Kara became known as a level headed and forward thinking commander, marred only by a few eccentricities, such as her modified armor and relationship with a certain city librarian”
- Alysoun Mifflinburg – No Dykes to Watch Out For: Mercenaries on the Road Less Traveled
Kara and Sakari were both created when I was trying to come up with a ideal partner for the otherwise material Jocasta. Sakari was a meek somewhat oriental inspired book worm, Kara the exact opposite, A muscular straight to the point warrior woman. In both cases for a time they seemed to work for Jocasta, bringing out the best of her and filling in the holes in her character. Jocasta is as Jocasta does however, and the relationships never worked for long, though as it turns out Kara and Sakari were a perfect match for each other.
In game, the two were to work as important NPC's, Kara would keep the character informed of all things combat related, occasionally providing support to the team as a guest character. Sakari on the other hand would provide the group with background and information, often giving hints regarding quests and jobs, both a good compass to keep the character moving in the right direction.
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After almost walking in on a compromising situation, Trust and Azreal delver a letter from Jocasta to Kara and Sakari, and they mention that the King is recruiting mercenaries for work in the city of Andavia. So to the city our characters head, and upon arrival are met by a few more interesting characters.
“Having a duel upbringing studying as a cleric of Ioun and working the docks of the channel coasts, Damon was a boisterous and headstrong individual, motivated by nothing more than to get out and see the realms, as was the creed of his religion, in the service of the goddess of knowledge. Having heard of mercenaries being recruited in the cultural of Andavia, Damon drew up his pay and jumped on the first boat to the city, with only his sailors skivvies and the knowledge of a few spells to his name. Damon's introduction to the world, through his involvement in the Wardovian Job, was to be a rough ride”
- 'Tripshot' Murphy - A Rush of Blood to the Head: The Adventures of Damon Volume 1
Our previous DM leaped into this campaign with the Cleric Damon, whom he played as a rather self confident knowledgeable chap, sometimes perhaps a bit too self-confident, and on occasionally rather misogynist too. Damon's stock in trade was to be ham fisted diplomacy checks and obliterating everything in sight with Cascade of Light. Damon didn't pay too much heed to possessions, with his player losing his character sheet several times, his inventory log with it.
“Striking an imposing figure in the predominantly human settlements of Andavia, the goliath known as Bigg could have been the biggest asset in the Wardovian job. His martial prowess had few equals, honed living a harsh lifestyle in the outdoors, reflected by often 'tent pegging' people he would have little patience for. However, pay particular note of the the use of the word 'could'. While showing a fair amount of loyalty to his fellow mercenaries, and showing thorough dedication to the mission, Bigg suffered from a particularly bad case of what is now known as Attention Deficit Disorder. What could have been the killing fist, risks being little more than a footnote.”
- David Davidon - Sticks and Stones: Respect and Dismissal of Goliaths
Our very first, one hit wonder DM also joined us, trying out his new character book by giving a goliath a spin. Bigg Fuckar (ho ho play on words!) was a rather aggressive character with a big emphasis on using camping equipment in combat. In particular, tent pegs. Bigg had a lot of potential as a character, but made it difficult as DM, because he was just so hard to challenge in comparison to the other characters. In time I'm sure I'd have found a way to give Bigg a less easy ride in regards to combat, but unfortunately, was unable to have that opportunity, but we'll get to that in time...
“Carnack Cousland wants only one thing, to be the most powerful individual in known existence. He cares only for this, he lives only for this, he will pay any price for this. I tell you now his history that you may use it as best you can.
Carnack grew up as the second son of Teyrn Bryce Cousland, who brought his sons up as a wealthy noble should. To use they're status for the good of the lands they own, and the people they serve. Teyrn wanted Carnack to train as a fine warrior, to be a fine example of nobility, and to be married off to another noble family to secure political stability, or become head of the family after his fathers death should anything happen to his brother.
Carnack had no interest in any of these things, not money, not women, not land. It is unknown when his disregard for anything but his own absolute dominance came about, but he has often related tales of his jealousy of an unpopular child bullied by his contemporaries. Carnack envied the outcast status of this child, nothing expected of him and free to be his own man. In his twenties Carnack was relived to find his hair had fallen out, making him less of a target for the affections of young noble women. He was to follow this up with fierce warrior tattoos covering his face, which he would later repeat on all portions of his body.
So its was to be, on one faithful day, the Cousland house was attacked by a political rival, wiped out to a man. If he can now be called a man. Carnack. As it turned out, the killing of his family was to be part of a larger conspiracy involving dark arcane powers. Carnack shed not one tear for his family, his lifeline, his legacy. He did not seek vengeance or the possibility of survivors. He coveted only the arcane power, and thanked the day he was given to seek it out.
Since then Carnack has worked as a freelance mercenary, fuel only for he quest for more power, be it martial or arcane. He has been touched not by religion, or patriotism, touched by no woman or the material vices. He has worked to put tyrants in power, then worked with rebels to overthrow them, all so long as Carnack can one day find himself in a position safe from that that struck down his familiy. To never be a victim of fate or chance.”
- Ella Howe – Not Now, Not Ever: Existences most Wanted
Last of the campaigns major NPC characters, Carnack was the second character I created for Dragon Age: Origins. I wanted to do a playthough were I was a complete evil bastard for once, but Carnack took selfishness to the absolute extreme. Carnack wanted extreme power, not monetary wealth or political standing, though if that was to get him closer to his goal then he would persue it. Carnack wanted nothing short to be a god, despite the fact he didn't believe in them. I liked the way Carnack worked so much that I decided to stick him in the campaign, as a sometime ally, sometime antagonist. Carnack could be at odds with the character, but would aid them it they could help him get closer to his undisclosed goals.
So thats the cast, who find themselves in the service of King Richard of Andavia for a special mission to the kingdom of Wardovia, which turned out to have more going on than anyone could possibly imagine, but we'll get to that, next time...