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Author Topic: A Skald in Hell  (Read 936 times)

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Offline TheKhanTopic starter

A Skald in Hell
« on: December 27, 2011, 03:02:35 PM »
This is sort of a prologue for an adventure I'd like to run if I get approval. Thoughts and suggestions are always welcome.

The black winds of Avernus blasted through the grey clouds and the red skies. Fireballs  littered the sky, raining down on the harsh landscape, fusing rocks and dust into black volcanic glass. Rivers of blood cut through the landscape, with gaping faces forming in the mud of the banks and grasping hands in the sanguine spray of the rapids.

Dust settled around Lamont as soon as he was through the portal. Brimstone fouled his nostrils but he endured the smell nonetheless. One did not become a skald of Transgalica, a master of wizardry and history by being dissuaded by physical discomfort nor does one become a favoured Heimdall of the Bifrost by shirking away from duty. Nothing less could bring him to Baator, the Nine Circles of Hell. For the last two year he had researched this plane in preparation for his trip away from the saner places of the universe and now he had one of the things that he came for. Snow.

This was a place of fire and earth, of blood and war, a barren wasteland of obsidian and forgotten souls. Yet there was snow here, on a plane where snow was physically impossible. It confirmed Lamont's suspicions and fear that the immortal realms were afflicted with the same fell winter that gripped Cis-Midgard. The Gods would die, for Ragnarök was coming.

The Council of Skalds would needed to hear of this, as did the clergy. The Gods may be doomed, but not everyone's fate was foretold and some even dared to predict that civilization would survive to a new age. With time to prepare for the War of Wars, they may yet be able to salvage Transgalica or even Cis-Midgard itself. He turned to pass back through...

... Nothing.

The portal home was gone.

"FOOL"!

"You arrogant, proud fool!"

Lamont continued to yell at himself for sometime, for his frustration was quite real. The great devils of Baator, who called themselves Baatezu, were known for being among the most treacherous of immortal beings and every scroll and hide he had studied in preparation warned him of this, including the one from which he got his incantations to open the portal to the planes. Yet it had never occurred to him that the Baatezu may have authored such scrolls as lures for mortals like moths to the flame. In his desperation, he never checked if the portal he had created would allow him to turn to Cis-Midgard but now it was far to late. He had yet to meet any Baatezu and they had already tricked him.

Offline Crowe

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #1 on: December 28, 2011, 09:05:58 AM »
Hey, I followed here from your Introduction thread. Cool story! I like Norse mythology and such tales.

I don't know if you'd be looking to continue it through a RP (and if its non-adult or not), but I think it would be fun to play :-)

Offline TheKhanTopic starter

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #2 on: December 28, 2011, 11:26:02 AM »
Thanks. I actually asked people's opinions on a potential intrest check thread in this post, so you can check it out if you want some more details. I do want to run it as an adult story, although it doesn't technically need to be if you want to be true mythology, it is tough to keep things PG-13. That and I want to run it as a group game, so I need to be approved anyhow (fingers crossed).

Anyhow, one of the cool things that this story and hopefully game will get into is that Planescape connects all mythologies so there are going to be reactions of other gods and religions to the news that Ragnarök is coming. It is one thing to have one apocalypse going, but what if one sets off two or three more? What if other gods try to take advantage of this? It will be fun. Lamont's is very much on the periphery to all of this and is story only briefly overlaps with the adventure I have planned, at least for now. He is just one mortal wizard who is in way, way over his head.

Offline Crowe

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2011, 10:16:00 AM »
Honestly, I've only tried to do a system RP like that once and I didn't get it. They seem very complicated. I mean, unless there's like a beginner's way to ease into it, I'm not sure how to play.

I think you'll be approved soon. You are very creative and that's always a good thing :-)

Offline TheKhanTopic starter

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #4 on: December 29, 2011, 05:19:32 PM »
It took time for Lamont to regain his composure, but he was a Skald and he would bend like a pine in the blizzard, but he would not be broken. Aver us left him precious few options, none of which he liked, but to become paralyzed with indecision now would be a death sentence. He could seek a way out of hell, although it would be difficult and leaving was not guarantee of his safety. The Nine Hells were the nexus of those souls who lived lawful lives, but evil ones none the less.one in every thousand of these souls was deemed diabolical enough to become Baatezu, which meant they were absolutely lovely company in the feast hall as far as he could tell. The planes who's portals connected to Baator were similar in nature, although a little less extreme. The Infernal Battlefield was just as lawful, a place of steel, rust and war, albeit less intrinsically evil. Alternately, The Fourfold Furnaces were equally evil, but less orderly. Neither option was good, although if he could avoid the latter, he would. There was also one gatetown that led to the Concordant Opposition if he could reach it, but from his readings, its portal was likely under heavy guard.

There was also the slightly more insane idea of depending deeper into hell. The second layer was composed of one massive, impossible city called Dis. It may be just as dangerous, but at least there he could purchase some food while he made further plans. There may even be a portal there to safer shores.

There certainly were gods in Hell as well and he could entreat them for aid, but he doubted that any would be willing to aid him. The gods of Hell were not known for their generosity.

He could try to prove his worth alive to the Baatezu by slaying any demons he encountered. He knew that demons were in many ways the opposites of devils, as they were malevolent manifestations of chaos from an entirely different plane, known as the Infinite Layers of the Abyss. The greatest races of demons, the Tanar'ri were engaged in a never ending war with the Baatezu for dominance over all Evil. That. Did give him an idea though.

As creatures of Chaos, the Tanar'ri were likely to be drawn into Loki's hoard during the final battle. Perhaps he could convince some of the Baatezu to ally with his Lord. Most of the Ćsir would never consider such creatures to be allies, but Heimdall was guardian and a patron of both protection and orderly conduct. As twisted as these creatures were said to be, they had something in common with his god and very soon, they may too have a common foe. It wasn't a great idea, getting into bargains with devils but it could be useful and it might just spare an innocent from the upcoming slaughter down the road.

He resolved in his mind to head for the gate town and then make a judgement from there whether he could make it to the safety of the Concordant Plane and out of the Lower Planes. The other plans could serve as contingencies if they were needed. He was still leery of taking any random portal he found, the hunter in him wanted to know what to expect first.

While he didn't know which direction to travel yet, that would be soon remedied. With a short string of arcane phrases, he extended his senses into the magical fabric that permeated the multiverse. He had heard scrying be described in many different ways, but to him it had always been the same strange sensation. He felt like he was being immersed in a river, but instead of water, it was made of the finest strands of silk. From there he took the role of a spider, feeling each line and testing for vibrations until he found exactly what resonated with his mind. And there it was! A settlement of at least a hundred souls, two days solid march away. He could feel in in his bones the this was the right direction, the spell only detected permanent settlements, so it was unlikely it picked up a mustering band of soldiers. He cast the spell once more, seeking an even larger settlement, just to make sure he hadn't inadvertently found some warlord's citadel. This time divination picked up a completely different location much further away. That, at least, comforted Lamont as he began picking his way through the jagged landscape.

Both days were difficult, as it quickly became apparent that underneath the sooty and blood-soaked the ground was at best unstable and at worst razor sharp. More than once in the first hour, Lamont had to use valuable healing potions in order to keep himself a state where he was able to keep moving. The constant stream of raining fireballs wasn't helping either, but those at least we're blunted a little by the equally constant snow, who's ill effects he was in turn able to avoid with his magic. As far as me could tell, there was no natural cycle of day or night in this place, so once he had made sufficient progress, he sought out a snow drift and hollowed out a cave to overnight in. He reinforced this with protective wards and abjurations to ensure that a rogue fireball didn't bring the entire thing crashing down on his head in the middle of his sleep cycle.

*******

It was far from the most restful night he'd ever had, but it was better than nothing. Lamont broke camp quickly, took his bearings of the mountains he had been following the day before and struck out again. As he moved from open plains into the mountain passes, the environment too began to change. Instead of a lifeless wasteland, Lamont began to encounter groves of deeply coloured yew trees. These were far more gnarled and twisted than the yews of Cis-Midgard and at first Lamont was wary to approach or pass through them. He doubted that anything was innocent in this place. Eventually it became necessity though and he endured his paranoia by acting as a true Skald.

The Skalds of Transgalica were an ancient order of magic users dedicated to the recovery of knowledge and harmony with the natural world.  The majority of their members were bards but Lamont himself would be referred to as a wizard in other lands. Nonetheless, he still possessed the wilderness survival skills he needed to get by  and had considerable curiosity about the natural world. He quickly realized that each trunk was wrapped around or split by some sort of weapon and from there formed a cage of branches, encircling at a distance whatever parts remained exposed. Buzzing flies made their roost in the leaves while pale, red eyed bolas spiders flung their lines of silk and glue at them.  More than once, Lamont stumbled upon a host of maggots, each the size of a small dog. While they were no real danger to him, they neither knew nor cared for anything other than unending hunger. The maggots threw themselves at him, trying to tear at any piece of warm flesh they could reach with their mandibles. He defended himself by forming pure orbs of sound in his hands that could literally tear apart the giant insects.

Lamont was also taken aback by what he found inlayed in the bark of the yew trees as be observed them. He had expected these dark trees to be matched with the suggestion of horrific images to unnerve any lost souls or wandering mortals who may happen upon them. Rather, each tree was inlaid with words and script, some of which were in languages he recognized, other which were utterly alien to him. He decide not to read any of them, both because he need to keep moving and because he knew that Baatezu were good with words, so there was no need for them to trick him again. He wondered why these trees grew here, and what they really meant. Were they the contracts of every solider that the Baatezu had damned to the Blood War? Had these words been the oaths of knights who swore themselves before foul tyrants? Or perhaps they were a record of the lies spoken by the Baatezu and the Faustian contracts they used to corrupt unsuspecting souls?

Something shook Lamont out of his thoughts. The forest had changed somehow. Where once the trees were wide apart and randomly dispersed, he had entered area where they they were tightly clumped, with many dozens of them creating wide ring-band. These formed concentric circles within each other and Lamont realized that he was less then two hundred feet from their centre. He also realized that the frozen, screaming faces in the yew's trunks that he had expected earlier were now visible on the outside of each ring, as if they were all fleeing from whatever Lamont was approaching. The runes were still visible, but now they were all in the same language and arranged in rising spirals from each tree's trunks. No more were there weapons bound into the trees either, they grew straight up on their own. Now Lamont was well and unnerved, but he could not bring himself to turn back. He had finally placed what disturbed him so. The air was filled with the smell of ozone and ash, and there was a faint light coming from the central ring ahead.

Offline TheKhanTopic starter

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #5 on: December 29, 2011, 07:48:59 PM »
Honestly, I've only tried to do a system RP like that once and I didn't get it. They seem very complicated. I mean, unless there's like a beginner's way to ease into it, I'm not sure how to play.
What system were you using? Honestly, I don't think you'd have much of a problem with Pathfinder. I'd start this story right from first level, so there wouldn't be that much in the way of bells and whistles for you to learn. The basic mechanics is to just role a twenty sided dice (or d20) and the higher your roll, the more successful you were. If you can wrap your head, the rest of it will come.

The other thing to keep in mind is that I prefer good roleplaying over rolling the dice, so I try to keep combat minimal and if you Roleplay interactions really well, I may just take that over a roll of the dice.

Here's the deal, I know you're interested, so if I get approved, I'll drop you a PM and we can chat about taking care of the mechanical side of things.

Offline Crowe

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #6 on: December 29, 2011, 07:56:26 PM »
Cool, ok, then I'll try it. Part of the reason I joined was to explore different things I hadn't be able to before, so this is on that list :-)

Offline TheKhanTopic starter

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2012, 01:19:15 AM »
Just as quick note, since I can't edit. Yews have needles. They are of course leaves, but that's not the image most people get when they read that line. If I could change it, I would.

Offline That Blue One

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Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2012, 11:35:52 AM »
Sounds like you've got a great idea for an adventure!

Pathfinder really IS easy to learn- the hardest part is filling out your character sheet.  It's a really good entry-level RPG.  I might be interested in this, too- if I get approved. 

Offline TheKhanTopic starter

Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #9 on: January 05, 2012, 12:22:16 AM »
Thanks! You might still make it if approval comes quickly .

Offline That Blue One

  • Part of a complete roleplay!
  • Lord
  • Bacchae
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  • Location: The Other Side Of The Lake
  • Gender: Male
  • One day, I'll write something witty here...
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Re: A Skald in Hell
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2012, 01:17:45 AM »
If I do, I do- if I don't, there will be others.  Even if I don't make it, I'd still love to read it.  You write very well, and it's always nice to read something like that.

I hope it goes well for you, either way. :-)