DMDM's Way of the Wicked, Part II: The Dark Tower

Game Master Douglas Muir 406

Villains! You've committed acts of great and terrible evil. But now comes your greatest challenge yet. You must find and take control of the Dark Tower, and unleash horror upon the Kingdom of Talingarde.


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Male Vampire(former Dhampir) Bard(Negotiator) 13/Anti-Paladin/2 - [HP 209/231; AC43,FF36,T22; CMD32; DR/10 magic+silver; F+28,R+29,W+26; Per+31; Init +12]

Ouch, sorry to hear that. I have been semi-employed/self-employed for several years. Had a good interview earlier this week, so I hope that pans out, and I understand the confusion that goes with being jobless.

I will most likely be around, and if I am not, there are 20 or so campaigns that will be looking for players. If I am here and you get the time to restart this campaign, or want to run another one, please let me know.

I am in the real northeast, New Hampshire, so not really close to where you are going to be. Have fun with the trip, and I hope you find something soon so that you can get back to gaming.

As others have said, you are probably one of the best story tellers on these boards, and the number of lurkers hereabouts definitely reinforces this view I am sure. So, if I am here, I would love to rejoin you in whatever you are running.

Until then, the Judge will continue to rot in a bag while a dead goblin annoys him and tosses poo about this immaterial home that all us non-living characters seem to be stuck in.


M Tiefling Magus/Rogue;
Statistics:
HP 169/169; AC:37/21/29; Saves: +22/+23/+20; Init +10; Per +28(See Invisibility), CMD 42
Misc:
Effects: Resist Cold 30, Fly 30', Telepathic Bond

I don't think I realized how many games you were in/running at once, Mini. That's impressive!


Unnamed

Well what I can't make up in quality like dmdm I make up for in quantity!


Vitals:
LD14, Cav 1 INIT:+4, AC:34 (39)/FF:33/T:16, HP:283/216, F:+24 R:+14 W:+17, P: 10
Skills:
Bluff+8,Climb+12,Dip+8,Disg+8,Han An+9,Intim+30,Kn(Nobil)+18,Kn(relig)+8,Perc+10,Ride+10,Spellc+4,Surv+6,Stea lth+8

Doug,

It has been a please being part of this game, and if you decide to start it back up I will be here.

Sorry to hear about the job. I can relate. Last year when I retired from the Navy, I went 6 months with out a job and burned through all of my savings and entered into debt. I am just now making head way because of it. Keep pushing through, the other side gets better.

Fair winds and following seas.


M Human Bard 1

Good luck on the job front. I will be happy to hang around in case this ever starts up again -- it's been extremely entertaining!


Male Human Oracle (FC) 15 Init: +8 Perc: +0 AC:24/14/20 F:+13 R:+14 W:+15 HP:124/124 Freedom of movement, Resist Cold/30, Air Walk 30'

Sorry to hear about your job hopefully you will find something soon. If you ever find yourself in Georgia (USA) let me know.

Dren will be waiting for you...watching you from the dark until you come back! :]


M DEAD!! KILLED BY EVIL EVIL DMDM!! Rogue1/Barb (Feral)1 temp hp 14/17 and 9 con (HP 24/25+4 when Raging; AC21/17/15(-2 Raging) ; CMD 16 (18 Rage) Fort +4(6); Ref +8; Will +1( 3); Init +6; Perception +5/6 for Traps; Darkvision

nice Dren way to make it creepy to the last


Male Vampire(former Dhampir) Bard(Negotiator) 13/Anti-Paladin/2 - [HP 209/231; AC43,FF36,T22; CMD32; DR/10 magic+silver; F+28,R+29,W+26; Per+31; Init +12]
Bref wrote:
nice Dren way to make it creepy to the last

This coming from a goblin ghost who still slings poo.


Many thanks to everyone for your kind words and support. You've all been great players, and I'm already missing the campaign!


Unnamed

So I am running this campaign in RL. Just started today with 4 players.

They messed up in the prison and after killing several guards the jig was up and they wound up pullingn the warden and the rest of the guards get locked one door and had the window up on the other hey had time to prep and they used cooking oil to make a trap in the hall and outside the window. Two of the 4 does and the ENTIrE prison was left w 3 guards. The one character left managed to bribe his way out with his unconscience friend

(The guards took everything, but I chose to do that rather than wipe the party)

Then I added the deck of many things like you did dmdm and they went crazy. One got 3 wishes-wasted one got a kickass sword and something for the cardinal

Another lost a level and was imprisoned and the third got a castle, a greater magic weapon (a luck blade with 2 wishes) and drew he comet card. If he beats the next monster alone he gains a level.

Everyone had a blast and we have you to thank dmdm!

I miss this game and I hope that things are getting better for you!


Unnamed

Oh and sir balin got rocked. He failed a fear save and that was that


Male Vampire(former Dhampir) Bard(Negotiator) 13/Anti-Paladin/2 - [HP 209/231; AC43,FF36,T22; CMD32; DR/10 magic+silver; F+28,R+29,W+26; Per+31; Init +12]

Sounds like fun. Keep them wondering, and feel free to add strange things like sentient ice bergs just to throw them off.


At this point it does not look hopeful -- I'm still job hunting, and don't expect to have bandwidth for the campaign any time soon. I really don't think it's going to happen, guys.

However, I can offer two things. (1) if you have questions about what I was doing, or any of the various mysteries and oddities that popped up, feel free to ask. (2) I have some of the backstory written up and I'm thinking to post it; it's full of spoilers but, as noted, it probably doesn't matter now.

So, first -- questions?

Doug M.


MiniGM wrote:


Everyone had a blast and we have you to thank dmdm!

I miss this game and I hope that things are getting better for you!

Aw. Thanks a lot, man. I'm really glad your people are enjoying it.


Unnamed

So I want to know what the deal w mr moon is

Also would you be willing to share your stats for odenkork and his crew w me


You can find a discussion of Captain Odenkirk right here. That should give you enough to build him; note that you'll want to adjust to the particular strengths of your party.

Bag'o'Bones was an Adept -- the weak NPC spellcasting class -- who had taken a couple of levels in the Souleater PrC.

I believe the crew were mostly 2nd level warriors except for the first mate, who also had a level or two of expert.


Unnamed

ah souleater...clever


Okay, some spoilers for those who would rather not know.

Doctor Moon:

Doctor Moon was an epic level nalfeshnee. You were never supposed to actually fight him; he would stay pretty strictly offstage. He's chaotic evil, but he has a lot of other stuff going on; his interest in Talingarde is purely academic.

Kate/Zimu attracted his attention by messing with the Oracle, because he'd been watching the Oracle for reasons unconnected with your story. Snacking on her was a fairly chaotic act that gave Doctor Moon a foot in the door of Zimu's psyche. He was feeding her tidbits of information, half for his own amusement and half to see if he could turn her into a puppet of the Abyss.

Doctor Moon was loosely allied with the Two Queens. (Very loosely. You may recall that when their emissary the Spite-Captain annoyed him, he sent her back to them in a jar.) The Two Queens, now, had their own agenda -- and they were much more closely interested and engaged in the multi-cornered struggle for the fate of Talingarde.

Had the game continued, Doctor Moon would have popped up again, seemingly friendly, offering information. With strings attached, of course. Oh yes, with strings attached. But you could deal with him, if you were careful and clever, and had something interesting to trade...


The Two Queens:

The Two Queens are two marilith generals, in service to the Mother of Monsters, who share a strange bond. And they're after the same thing you guys are: Talingarde. Except that where you want to take over the kingdom and remake it in your evil image, they want to destroy it pretty much completely.

The Queens have one strong hole card: a mole in the Cardinal's organization. So their plan is to let the Cardinal succeed up to a certain point... then sweep in, decapitate his network, and take over. At some point, you'd end up confronting their agents directly. And if *that* failed, the day might come (many levels down the line) when the Queens themselves would move against you.

Captain Odenkirk, BTW, had been recruited to the service of the Queens; not that hard, as he was already deeply evil, and his patron the Kraken is associated somehow with the Mother.


Male Vampire(former Dhampir) Bard(Negotiator) 13/Anti-Paladin/2 - [HP 209/231; AC43,FF36,T22; CMD32; DR/10 magic+silver; F+28,R+29,W+26; Per+31; Init +12]

Very interesting. The time and depth that you put into your NPCs is not just above what any other DM I have ever seen does, it is leaps and bounds above.

I am sorry that you cannot continue this campaign as I really wanted to see how the Judge developed at later. If you should ever want to restart this, or DM another campaign, I would love to join you.


What was Tiadora?:
A Handmaiden (Gyllou) Devil with a couple of class levels. (This was pretty much given away by the bas-relief in the Cardinal's obstacle course, which showed a Gyllou with Tiadora's face. Nobody seemed to notice.) I designed a "tormentor" prestige class that basically did nothing but give her the ability to swap spells or SLAs in return for the ability to inflict carefully quantified amounts of pain.

Why did she serve the Cardinal?:
Because he knew her true name, and had used it to enslave her. That's why Irin was mocking her about freedom and calling her a "tool" and "machine" -- unbearable insults to a proud fiend forced to serve a mere mortal.

Normally, enslaving a fiend as like Tiadora would be crazy dangerous; not only is she herself powerful, cunning, and full of patient hate, but her superiors would take an interest. In the Cardinal's case, though, not only is he himself way powerful, but he's very much in Hell's favors at the moment; if Tiadora broke loose somehow and killed him, she'd be in even worse trouble. So she serves. For now.

(This goes a long way towards explaining Tiadora's sweet good nature. Gyllou devils aren't very nice to begin with, but she has good reason to be perpetually pissed off. Being a devil, she's happy to take it out on others.)

What was Irin?:
Irin was a rakshasa with a bunch of levels in the Harrower prestige class. Rakshasas start as the equivalent of 7th level sorcerors, so this made some sense. She's optimized for enchantment and mind control on one hand, divination and information on the other. You can find a crude first draft of her here; I added a level or two and did a lot of tweaking before I was quite content.

The backstory Irin gave you was true as far as it went -- she did indeed live for decades as the leader of a bunch of travelling Varisians, regularly taking new apprentices, keeping them for a while, then killing them and taking their place. Mind, there was more to that story than even she knew, since the paladin who defeated her was none other than Sir Richard Havelyn, son of the late Sir Thomas...

Cardinal Thorn did indeed save her life; in return, Irin signed a contract to serve him for seven years. That part is all true enough...


So what about Cardinal Thorn?:

Young Samuel Havelyn was always jealous of his older brother Thomas. Samuel was brilliant, charming, witty, cunning. Why should his dull, conscientious stick of a sibling get the title, the lands and the honor? Still, for a time he was able to content himself: their cousin, beautiful Bronwyn. She was always particularly kind to young Samuel. She listened! She understood! One day, one day --

And then the betrothal was announced.

In fact her kindness to young Samuel had been just that: sympathy for the younger brother, brilliant and frustrated, gentle consolation and a willing ear. But nothing more. Thomas -- not dull but honest and steadfast and good -- had her heart from the first.

But Samuel would never, ever let himself see that.

He turned to the Church, which met with wide approval: an altogether appropriate career for an ambitious younger son. He rose quickly. perhaps he hoped that prayer and hard work and success would soothe his pain. No. Always, always, jealousy gnawed and chewed at his soul.
And then one day, while researching the family history, he made an astonishing discovery: the Havelyns had not always been loyal servants of bright Mitra. They had converted from the worship of the devil-god Asmodeus. (Hence the family coat of arms. The hand thrusting through the mass of thorns... wisdom gained through great pain. for the conversion had not been easy, or without cost.)

At first it was just a matter of researching family history. But step by step, his feet found the downward path. The Church was full of hypocrites and inferior minds. the kingdom rewarded dullards, the servile and the weak. His Bronwyn was lost, lost! Why not explore a little further? And so the day came when Samuel Havelyn stood before a circle, knife dripping blood, and spoke certain words. And from the darkness within the circle, a sweet voice answered him. And they spoke together, long and long.

He prospered, for a time. A hidden servant of Asmodeus within the Church hierarchy: there was so much to do! But ever his mind turned back to her, to her.

And then one day he realized: his new master was a lord of trickery and deceit. So one day, while his brother was away on duty (always duty), he murmured softly, and gestured, and felt the thrill of the Dark Lord's power passing through him. And he looked in the mirror and saw his brother's face, his brother's pale blue eyes. And he left that place and went to the house where his brother lived with his beautiful, beautiful young wife.

And then, a little bit later, he slipped. How? who knows. Perhaps the satisfaction of desire so long deferred, at last fulfilled, made him careless. Whatever the reason, he was discovered. The evidence was found, or winkled out by magic. There was no question of his guilt. And no question of the sentence to be passed.

He burned. And after they burned him, they took his charred bones and interred them in the family crypt. Because for all his monstrous crimes, he was still a Havelyn, and the family took care of their own.
and when night fell, and the servants and gravediggers had long since departed (there were no mourners), and a thin crescent moon shone down on his tomb... he rose. For his hatred was stronger than death, and the Dark Lord had use for him.

and some months later, Lady Bronwyn died giving birth to a beautiful, healthy baby boy.

* * * *

What was the Cardinal? -- a lich, the former Bishop Samuel Havelyn returned to walk the world as an undead abomination. That's why he always wore gloves: he has a lich's deadly touch. That's what he used on that Mitran monk up on the roof at the end of the battle. (It's also why the Arrow of Human Slaying did nothing to him.) Oh, and it's why he had a faint spicy smell around him: preservative spices, without them he gives off a faint unpleasant odor of burning flesh.

other clues? -- There were a few. The aveline / Havelyn. He planted an avenue of hazelnut trees outside his new lair, because he was used to them and liked to look at them. The family Scriptures found in his brother's apartment, with his name carefully scratched out. His familiarity with nobility and the Church. The name "Thorn" was a reference to the Havelyn family coat of arms. And of course the demonic dream sequences.

Why send you to kill his brother?:
-- He hated his brother Thomas. There were other places he could have started the attack, but he wanted it to be his Thomas' failure and Thomas' fault.

Wait, what about the baby?:
-- Ah hah. the baby grew up to be Sir Richard Havelyn, who was even a greater paladin than his father. In game terms, he was going to be a high level Champion of the Righteous, a terrifying optimized monk/paladin with incredibly deadly melee flurry/smites, ridiculously high AC and off-the-scale saves. In addition to being best friends with Janna, who of course was Irin's adopted daughter -- it 'was Sir Richard, as a young questing paladin, who saved her and nearly killed her mother.

In fact, that's how Cardinal Thorn found Irin in the first place. The Cardinal constantly (one might almost say, obsessively) watches over Sir Richard, both by magical and other means. Why? Because Richard Havelyn's paternity is obscure. It's not certain which of the two brothers fathered him -- the late Sir Thomas, formerly of Balentyne Castle, or his younger brother in magical disguise. But deep in his black and shriveled heart, the Cardinal is sure that Sir Richard is *his* son. His! The only son he will ever have. So when young Sir Richard was about to kill Irin (he got lucky, BTW -- caught her by surprise and made a couple of tough saves -- and even so, she wiped out all the rest of his party), the Cardinal, who was watching intently, intervened at the last moment to rescue her. If the fight had been going the other way, he'd have killed Irin to save him. Nobody can kill Sir Richard. He can be hurt, knocked down, humiliated, whatever -- that's fine, it may shake loose some of his faith in his ridiculous sun-deity -- but his life is under the Cardinal's protection. One day, he will claim his son. and one day, his son will love him.

So where was this going?:
Well, Sir Richard's destiny was to be the BBGG, your archenemy. Not only was he an alarming antagonist in his own right, not only could he assemble an equally alarming group of good-aligned characters to fight beside him, but you would find it very nearly impossible to kill him... because an epic level lich would be watching him at all times, and would intervene to make sure that he could never be permanently ended.

Of course, in the end this would bring the Cardinal down.

Because just as he watches his minions, Hell watches him. And Hell never sleeps. Already his diabolical patrons were sniffing a hint of weakness. Once they realized he was infected with sentiment -- with *love*, however twisted -- they would promptly begin searching for a suitable replacement. Or replacements. Some group ruthless and evil enough to take over the great scheme and complete it, toppling Talingarde screaming into Hell.

And so -- had we gotten that far -- your penultimate fight would be against Cardinal Thorn and his allies: the Ninth Knot versus the Cardinal, Sherkov, Sir Marcel, possibly Tiadora and Irin (or maybe not; there were subplots with both those, e.g. the whole thing with the pen), and others.


Unnamed

So try fought kargeld today and I used your build dmdm. I had given PLENTY of warning about "breaker" and he sundered the war priests magic great sword...the one he had gotten from the deck of many things so it was worth a TON.

I learned something that make whole can't fix super powerful items...

They also took out captain Varning and his patrol (something we didn't do)

That is where we ended.


They'll remember the good Captain! (And if you want them to have the sword back, you can have the Cardinal fix it for them... after they've crushed Ballentyne.

There are multiple ways to storm Ballentyne; Gary deliberately wrote it that way. But don't forget that the defenders are lawful and intelligent. Run them as competent -- disappearances will be investigated, and if enough weird stuff happens they'll be on alert.


Unnamed

Oh yes, they took out Varning really early on. When we wrapped for the day they were plotting some kind of ransom ambush set up. Not sure where they will go with it, but that was the first thing they did so that will be interesting.

Miss the game but hope you are well.


Male Vampire(former Dhampir) Bard(Negotiator) 13/Anti-Paladin/2 - [HP 209/231; AC43,FF36,T22; CMD32; DR/10 magic+silver; F+28,R+29,W+26; Per+31; Init +12]

Definitely glad to hear that you are still around DMDM. I really miss this game. Not sure if you will ever be able to get it going again, but it would be great if you could.


Vitals:
LD14, Cav 1 INIT:+4, AC:34 (39)/FF:33/T:16, HP:283/216, F:+24 R:+14 W:+17, P: 10
Skills:
Bluff+8,Climb+12,Dip+8,Disg+8,Han An+9,Intim+30,Kn(Nobil)+18,Kn(relig)+8,Perc+10,Ride+10,Spellc+4,Surv+6,Stea lth+8

Thirded?


M Human Bard 1

Third and a halfed?


Hey gang -- I will be in the Washington, DC area for most of October and November. I don't think any of you live around there, but if you do, feel free to get in touch!


Unnamed

Bah. Family there but I won't be.


Male Vampire(former Dhampir) Bard(Negotiator) 13/Anti-Paladin/2 - [HP 209/231; AC43,FF36,T22; CMD32; DR/10 magic+silver; F+28,R+29,W+26; Per+31; Init +12]

I am a couple of hours north of there - New Hampshire.


Male Human Oracle (FC) 15 Init: +8 Perc: +0 AC:24/14/20 F:+13 R:+14 W:+15 HP:124/124 Freedom of movement, Resist Cold/30, Air Walk 30'

If you head south for some reason let me know, I am in the Atlanta, Georgia area.

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