Complexities of life as they are right now, we realize that we will likely have very little time between finalizing the Endamon play-group and running the first game. We want to be able to run the intro session on a dime’s notice. We would generally prefer to know what people were going to play but with the hectic schedules, most people will just have to show up and jump right in.
Designing the Intro Session – Endamon
Referencing yesterday’s checklist:
Set the Initial Resources – We know the game is beginning in Crimson. The characters will have starting gear and likely be affiliated or aware with an organization. Hopefully, they will form up a balanced party and want to make sure Crimson can support them. This also means that these class-derived organizations are present to purchase services from if the party ends up missing a role. The initial resource setup needs to be solid for Crimson because of how little we know about my party. For organizations we come up with:
* The Voidchapel – Despite its name, this is a warrior training facility. Somewhere between a dojo and a college the Voidchapel is a major draw for Crimson. I like the idea of the orders of the warrior school being affiliated with body parts: Hands (warshades), Bones (reapers), Eyes (magus) and Hearts (occultists). The concept allows other “parts” like the only rumored Mind (arcanists) to exist without having to define all of them.
* The Skyblood Tower – This is going to be a principle center of mosaic mage training and the principle force behind the healing arts as well as the mining of the of red shards of Crimson. A likely touch point for the mages, dwarven characters and elven visitors from the North, it will provide a link for a lot of possible characters. Elves tend to visit the city to help with pregnancy which has become difficult in the North (due to influences of a black Shard).
* The Darkdock & Zehrdan Traders – Here we will have the structure that the fetchling presence and their shadowships will center on. It will be their cultural center and the hub of their shadow-powered classes (shadow warriors, shadow assassins, and edgewalkers). It also likely has an affiliated merchant guild (with attached enforcers) which we will make the Zehrdan (fetchling for “those who walk in light”). We see the organization being much like an edgewalker, having light (above board merchants) and dark (smugglers, rogues and the like) elements in the organization.
* The Hall of the Mysteries of Above – Because of the intensely personal and charismatic nature of the oracle class, I decide the main “temple” of Crimson is actually its ruling body. Much like a senate, the Hall is the place where oracles present themselves as marked by the heavens and thus proven divinely inspired they are allowed to participate in the governance of Crimson. They maintain peace with the Imar barbarians and manage negotiations with dwarven under-village of Kilnheart and its ruling capital in the east of Ulmdyr. This makes oracles kind of a default nobility (but one that doesn’t follow family lines) which creates massive connective story potential.
Plan the First Encounter – We have worked in a LOT of material for the resource setup so we probably want are intro encounter to be really simple. I am thinking vermin. Vermin can be singular or swarms and are a fun set to draw from without being really hard or overly present personality-wise. We don’t want them to just come out of nowhere so I start trying to visualize why they are there. I am also thinking that the Shard gives the creatures minor abilities to generate flame and so the vermin also might be starting fires in the town. The fires represent a second faceless element of danger for the players to work around.
Start the First Storyarc – Where are the vermin coming from? What does it mean? I decide that the vermin population is swelling in response to the aura of the red shards of Crimson as that they have an inherit ability to draw lifeforce from the stone. This gives us an idea of my vermin and their nature now the greater mystery of why they are there stands before the PCs to solve (and me to define).
Visualize Vivid Descriptions – Visuals are already starting to pour in. The dark stone edifice of the Voidchapel stands in the central bowl of the lower city. It is surrounded by practice yards with Skyblood mages waiting to heal warriors that are forced to practice with real weapons. The air is crisp with the tension of the Stonewrath druids and even the birds are eyed with suspicion. The rocky shelf of the western side of the old crater has been terraced with streets and fortified manor houses leading up to the perch of the Hall of the Mysteries Above. There the city’s oracles reign from from a giant red-washed domed structure–half observatory and half palace. Soft red light pulses from exposed “low-grade” shard which has been haphazardly built around in the lower city of “Cratertown.” From beneath the looming shelf of the Hall, dark tendrils unfurl each night to guide in the shadowships from the ebon edges of the Moonvoid. These dark rivers of Shadow guide the fetchling ships the needle-like docks of the Zehrdan Traders, called by the nickname of the “Black Blossom”. Standing an opposing vigil near the eastern walls, the imposing height of Skyblood Tower nearly raises to meet the Hall’s surveying gaze. With an idea of the conformation of the crater and the major landmarks describing Crimson seems to take on a life of its own.
Seeding Significance – Why are the vermin just now interacting with the red Shard’s life giving aura? Well, being creatures that have a magical link to stone and earth magics, these vermin strike me as being parasites that naturally lay eggs on the backs of sunbathing basilisks. Lately surges in the basilisk population have made travel in the East even more dangerous and the parasitic vermin that often roost on their backs are now being drawn to the shardspar pillars in the city. We would love for the PCs to be the ones to figure this out. Clearing out the creatures which display fire abilities in the aura of the red Shards influence is becoming a daily chore for the Body of the Voidchapel (City Guard). A call to trainees and citizenry interested in extra coin for clearing the vermin have been summoned by the oracles of the Hall to speak to Reynal, an oracle in charge of safety in the city. Reynal is also known to have come from the Imar, a barbarian welcome into the city’s rulership by virtue of her divine burden. She will feature in later stories with Imar and the complex diplomatic relations with its tribes. As the mystery unfolds the next question we have is: Why is THAT population swelling? Lastly, I make a note to point out fouled wine where it fits in as a sign of something further down the road.
Running down the session we know the group will have a connection to the encroaching basilisk-nest parasitic vermin. I like the idea of the characters fending off the vermin and then being recognized as successful and then being pulled in as sort of a “culling auxiliary”for the Body. Summoned to the Hall, they will meet Reynal and be charged with more vermin purging duties. Eventually the culling team will need to start cutting into the basilisk numbers as well. Mysteries of these altered ecologies start to tease the PCs immediately. The city stands poised to welcome its heroes and set them to work.
We are nearly ready to go, assuming the players ever are.