Just a quick one.
I'm about to start DM'ing this campaign and wanted to ask about the PC's backstories. I'm going with the 'Can't remember the last 5 years' line but I'm wondering about that amount of time specifically.
1) Is it implied that the past 5 years would be mostly in the service of Lowls?
2) How does Lowl's control the actions of the PC's? Its presumed they are bought as slaves, but in book 2 it has a flashback of a PC beating a man to death with their bare hands. I have a paladin in my party and I very much doubt they would do that without some sort of charm/compulsion.
I have a Paladin in my group too. And I made the 2) exactly to him...
See, they weren't nice back then... All you need to do is make a background justifyng all that happened.
In my case, when the paladin worked for Lowls, he already had fallen. So he was a bitter ex-paladin, he will know this in book 3...
But the lost of memory made him come in terms with his God. So everything turns out ok.
Give them the true devotion trait from the players guide, I gave that trait to the inquisitor in my game. It's basically their god giving them a second chance because their destiny outweighs their sins. When the paladin regains his memory he'll find out he lost his paladin powers before becoming fugue due to his/her actions.
Yep. I had an inquisitor of a CN deity who was an Antipaladin under the service of Lowls - the deity didn't like the direction she was going, and was basically about to revoke all of her powers when memory loss happened. He decides to give her a second chance at that point, since she is working to better herself.
The 5 years are all supposed to be getting sold to and being in service to Lowls - I went with taking ALL of their memories away and extending the time they were with Lowls, but as written I think it's supposed to be sort of a rock and a hard place, they're forced into doing evil things. I'd probably go a step further and have them slowly becoming evil over their time in his service, what with the constant interaction with occult junk and knowledge of Great Old Ones. That way, the Paladin might have ended up falling as they got more "into" the power trip, but with all of those occult memories erased, their God recognizes that they should get a second chance to redeem themselves (starting from level 1, of course).
Those are definitely some solid suggestions. It is worth recognizing that when it comes to the actual back stories the AP is really open to just about anything. Which applies to not only the details of a character, but also how much. You can be really elaborate in filling in the details or just do enough to be plausible.
When it comes to this particular event I could also see saving part of the explanation to a certain event in book 6 where a bit of divine intervention or guidance could be very well received.
What I plan to do in my campaign is to establish that they had been manipulated through magic (sugestion/charm and even dominate) and forced to do what they did. Even though Lowls is only Bard 2 in the original AP, IMC he'll probably be of a Higher level (possibly level 10 or 11) to justify his access to those spells. One possible way to hint of their magical manipulation is to slightly modify the reactions of NPCs to them. Since they probably only knew the PCs as they were under compulsion spells, townsfolk might now note that the PCs actually show proper emotions and reactions. If my PCs are clever enough, they might guess that their lack of emotional drive before was the side-effect of domination magic, even before they get back their memories.
Another thing I want to add is that a properly drawn or inscribed Yellow Sign (i.e. Craft DC 25) will give a -2 on Will checks against mind-affecting spells and effects from followers of Hastur. This effect is automatic, as long as the victim is looking to the sign (treating it similar to a gaze monster ability). Lowls probably used an yellow sign to further deepen his control over the PCs.
No offense intended Pedro, but I think that actually undermines some of the Lovecraftian aspects to this story. IMO, the entire point to the early portion of this campaign is to demonstrate that the PCs really know nothing about their former lives, and in fact, all of the evidence they uncover shows they were despicable individuals. This reinforces the Lovecraftian idea of the alien within. I think you would undermine this idea by saying it was not their fault.
But hey, it's your game, do what works for you and your players.
Ah of course! I do understand that. It's just that for my players, being previously despicable humans won't work at all. And while we do enjoy the lovecraftian touches in other Paizo APs, we're not experts of the Lovecraft mythos by any stretch of the imagination. As an example, my players have no idea that Denizens of Leng or Hounds of Tindalos come from the Cthulhu Mythos. So they're into this AP without any specific expectations.
OTOH, Mind control and losing one's agency is extremely frightnening to them (well, to anyone, really). Knowing this, I wanted to emphasize the otherwordly power the yellow sign has on people's mind. From what I could gather, just by looking to a Yellow Sign you could be influenced by Hastur. Having a simple symbol be a powerful tool to open one's mind is utterly terryfing. I might even allow for cultist's holy symbols to count... not entirely sure yet.
Also, I had this idea of a sociopathic Lowls that through a strong force of personality, but also some suggestion and even Charm spells, would befriend you, and slowly make you do things you didn't want to. Just like a good sociopath would do...
There's also every possibility that the Paladin *wasn't* a paladin before he woke up from the fugue. Especially apt if they're a paladin of Sarenrae, she's exactly the sort who might try to take the opportunity the fugue provides to try to 'pull a Revan', as it were.
In my game, the Dhampir Inquisitor of Sarenrae had been an Inquisitor of Nyarlathotep before, for example.