Monday, October 2, 2017

Diabolic Possession Ruins Dinner Party

Campaign: Game of Fangs (Krevborna, 5e D&D)

Characters: Magnus (dhampir mastermind rogue), Florian d'Targan (half-elf lore bard), Orest (human divination wizard), Maria Marzistrada (human crown paladin)

Events: After slaying two devils of ice and ash attempting to enter the town through the Traitor's Gate (and driving off the rest), the group found themselves with two inhuman corpses on their hands. Not wishing to alert anyone quite yet about infernal interference in the affairs of House Maylak, they decided to spirit the bodies away. Magnus and Maria took one unholy corpse into the woods outside of town to bury, while Orest and Florian disguised the other as a wrapped parcel and brought it inside Castle Maylak unobserved.

Orest and Florian smuggled the devil's corpse down into the catacombs beneath the castle, where they found an obscure, abandoned chamber that would serve their purposes well. Orest brought forth a number of eldritch objects, fearful instruments, and drew the required protective circles: he and Florian were attempting to perform an arcane autopsy to discover the nature and motivation of the devil! (1) Unfortunately, even in death the devil's will proved too powerful for Orest to break; unbeknownst to Florian, the diviner was now possessed by the spirit of the devil. The devil chose to bide his time and let Orest remain in control of his actions...for now. To Florian's eyes, the ritual had simply failed.

That night, both Orest and Florian were beset with horrid dreams of drowning horses, grinning hanged men, and the approach of an unending winter.

Meanwhile, despite her pledge to stay out of the group's way as they went about foiling the plot on the Baroness's life, Lady Emelda continued to be a thorn in Magnus's side. Magnus had set himself the goal of seducing Baroness Maylak, so that he might use her power as his own, but Lady Emelda kept finding ways to diminish Magnus in the Baroness's eyes--specifically, Lady Emelda kept drawing attention to Magnus's status as a bastard son of House Rhiannon who had yet to be fully recognized by his father. Magnus confronted Lady Emelda about her meddling, forcing her to pack her belongings so that he might send her back to Castle Rhiannon.

Magnus also received a messenger who told him that his aunt, Lady Kristianna Rhiannon, is coming to Castle Maylak to pay him a visit. That doesn't bode well.

Maria had heard about a convent inhabited by warrior-nuns at the foot of the mountains just north of Castle Maylak. Given that she had been raised in a convent herself, Maria saw an opportunity to make allies for the dark days that lay ahead. And so, Maria made the lonely journey to the Convent of the Heart-in-Twain. She claimed to be interested in the nuns' renowned mead brewing, but as she spoke to the sister in the nunnery she skillfully turned the conversation to martial matters; she maneuvered the situation so that she would be asked to spar with the sisters so that she might impress them with her own battle-hardened prowess. And the sisters were impressed with Maria's skill with a blade--so much so that the sisters now regarded her as a friend with an open invitation to visit again. (2)

Magnus was shocked to learn that Lady Emelda had not retired from Castle Maylak, but had simply requested new rooms in the castle--rooms that would be harder for Magnus to venture into without being noticed. Thinking like a courtier, he decided that the easiest path to getting Emelda out of his way would be to involve her in a romance of her own. He picked out a likely candidate: Markos van Trappel, a scholar whose poetry was currently much in fashion at court. However, Magnus's approach and sly insinuations offended the sensitive poet; where he had meant to make an ally, or at least a pawn, he had managed to make an enemy instead.

After a lavish dinner, Orest was called upon to offer a prophecy to Baroness Maylak. This is when the devil possessing him chose to make itself known. Instead of speaking vaguely of future events, the devil caused Orest to speak insults and blasphemies against the Baroness. Orest was seized by the Baroness's guards and dragged from the room, kicking and frothing at the mouth. Florian attempted to artfully intervene on Orest's behalf, claiming that this was all part of a playful performance, but he was publicly thrashed for daring to interpose himself against the Baroness's orders. (3) Maria and Magnus, more shrewdly perhaps, stayed silent as their compatriot was hauled down into the dungeons beneath the castle.

* * *

(1) Since this campaign is more narrative-focused, I'm letting the Arcana skill be used for vaguely defined "rituals" to accomplish investigative or social ends. These Arcana checks are run like 4e's Skill Challenges, with the caveat that failure is going to be quite catastrophic. Catastrophic as in "your character is now possessed by a devil that is going to fuck up your plans at the worst possible moment."

(2) Maria's success means that the nuns of the Heart-in-Twain are friendly with her. They will pass her information and would likely give her a place to hide out if needed. They aren't her personal army, yet.

(3) Florian now has a nasty wound that will give him problems at a later date.