Wednesday is here so let’s look at what I believe twists and turns really bring to the table. This is the third week of exploring Arciryas and although the series of adventures could be completed in a single full day adventure, maybe, but for the purpose of the process it’s been broken into three parts. Each week we have looked at a twist for a future week, or so it seems to have played out to be so and this week I wanted to do something different.
So this week let’s investigate the under currents for what could be future potential plots for a longer story arc or at least a glimpse of what I look for in a campaign/multi-part adventure and when I believe a twist in the plot, or one of the hooks will allow us to reel in a keeper.
Sorry for the fishing puns, my wife doesn’t appreciate my artistry when it comes to these things.
Ok so a catchy title – they are actually called Rips or Rip Current but they aren’t as catch as a Rip Tide… any way..
So for those who are not aware of what a Rip current is they are areas near the shore of a beach where the breaking of waves and wind force surface water to land, however that water will then try and get back out to sea by the path of least resistance which will do so quickly and in some cases quite wide. This movement of water from the shore back out to sea essentially is a current that will pull objects, people, boats, etc. out to sea and in most of cases the current is too strong to fight against.
So why Rip Tide (current). Well when I look at the currents in this adventure (please bear with the terminology) we have Blake and his ambition, Rafnir and his need to defend his people, prince Sellis and his want to form a bridge.. over troubled water (bear with it!) and his father, King Felris, in his madness seeks the path of what he believes is redemption for his people and the remedy for his kinds affliction.
Within this scope of influences to our adventure we have been introduced to a circle of people who can become key protagonists, or antagonists, by simple actions they can change, twist or irreversibly shift the direction in what the plot and whole adventure can go. These shifts in the current can cause what was a straight forward journey across the waves into something more unpredictable or treacherous.
The one I am exploring here is the grief stricken Sea Captain (and daughter) Astrid.
Astrid in her grief for her lost mother, the fear for the safety of the person she cares about most, Rafnir, and also that warriors spirit that she has within her could all be used to spur her into motion. The first option here is a simple, yet sad one.
As she crept from shadow to shadow her eyes never wandered too far from the light at the window, her feet making no sound as she skirted the edges of buildings and slunk into shadowy nooks and crannies as she moved towards her target. The rain had come at midday and did nothing to dampen her resolve even if it did mask the occasional tear that escaped her eye, Raf would take some time to forgive her for what she was about to do but at the end of the day he was like her, pragmatic.
“The end justifies the means” she muttered to herself, the sound of rain drowning out her own voice before it reached her ears as she unslung a rope and grappling hook from her shoulder. Swinging the hook to gain momentum she hefted it towards the balcony where the window was situated. Giving it a few tugs to be sure that it was taught she began the climb, the wet stones causing her feet to sleep occasionally but her determination and pain spurred her onwards. As she reached the balcony she stepped over and landed on her feet as quiet as an alley cat.
(Alternative path 1)
The sound of voices could now be heard from the window frame, one agitated, confused, angry the other dismissive yet tinged with sadness.
“How could you do this Mathias, after they welcome us into their home, their keep with open arms ready to discuss peace you have ruined it all. There is no way forward from this, no way to salvage the situation you have gotten us into.” One voice, the agitated one, snapped almost hissing in the speed he was speaking. It took Astrid a moment to realise they were speaking elven, her enchanted earring letting her understand what was being said despite not allowing her to speak the language herself.
“My prince, forgive me. It was the only way for our people, you can not claim to see otherwise. The curse is their doing and with the ambition in that mans voice we will never be free.” the other replied his voice breaking with emotion.
Somewhere in the keep an alarm rang, soon soldiers were scurrying everywhere like ants in the rain surging forward with single purpose.
“We will explain your actions, perhaps they will spare our people housed in other parts of the keep if they have you and I as a blood debt.” The prince spoke. Calculating and calm despite the emotion in his voice. As Astrid heard a brief scuff of boots further into the room she slunk closer to the window, drawing her longsword – fear of the curse it holds not seeming like a big thing any more.
“I am truly sorry my prince.” the one called Mathias said in a soft tone.
“We can still save our people.” the prince spoke, turning towards the door as voices could be heard stamping up the stairs towards the room he stayed in.
A blade shot out from the robes of the one called Mathias and plunged into the neck of the prince. Astrid covered her mouth to hide any noise she would produce in her shock.
“I am sorry my prince. They are already dead. King Felris has ordered it to be as so. Cleanse the weak so that the strong may lead and a new wave of our people and surge forward.
The prince turned, clutching briefly at the neck of the man in front of him before he collapsed, presumably dead, on the floor at his feet. As the pounding began on the door and the voices of the guard started to demand the door to be opened up the robed man dashed towards the window and balcony.
Astrid slid from her hiding spot in the shadows and faster than even elven keen senses could respond to she separated the traitors head from his shoulders as the door burst open and the guards had just enough time to see a red flash of the enchanted blade as the body fell in a noiseless cry at the feet of Astrid.
(Alternative path 2)
The room was quiet except for the scratching of quill on parchment and the groan of a chair. Sneaking forward Astrid looked into the room and noticed her target, the prince Sellis, sitting at a provided desk and writing on provided parchment. The prince was wearing a thin flowing robe but still seemed to be wiping his brow from sweat that glistened in the candle light.
“There, that has done it. Hopefully Blake can remove that cursed ‘artefact’ from my peoples home and we can be done with this curse and move forward to peace above and below the waves” the prince said, stretching as he placed the quill in a inkpot on the desk.
Astrid crept forward, drawing her oiled blade silently from it’s scabbard as she prepared herself to take a life.
“Are you sure that’s the wisest decision prince” Astrid’s blood chilled as she heard a familiar voice from her right, glancing up she met the piercing gaze of Rafnir. “We both know that Blake can’t be trusted, he seeks conquest and to rebuild his armada using that cursed technology to wage a new war.” Rafnir stood slowly and walked towards Astrid, sadness and disappointment in his face.
“You may be right Rafnir Coral-Tusk but there has never been peace that was for free. This is the only way for my people to be free of their curse and he has given his word to study the dark magic of the artefact. If we know how to undo what has been done to my people then they won’t suffer from their madness any more, they won’t feed on souls to sustain themselves of give birth to life any more. For a chance at that I would give a madman the keys to the sea.” The prince said before standing up.
Rafnir gestured to Astrid to be silent before muttering an arcane phrase in orcish. Astrid watched a she turned invisible before her own eyes. That man was always full of mystery.
“Did you say something Rafnir?” Prince Sellis turned around and looked to him, smiling.
“I think you’re right. There is another way however. The man and his party who spoke to your man at the docks. They are more than capable at removing the artefact from where it rests and we don’t give a madman a weapon. We would need to be discrete and would need a ship that could carry the cargo and captain to take us to where it is but it’s possible.” Rafnir spoke to Prince Sellis, but directing some words towards his hidden friend.
“You speak as if you know this captain already, if so. Can they be trusted?” the Prince asked, walking towards the window causing Astrid to step back and move out of the way of the prince. As he reached the window he stuck his head out and sighed as the water splashed his scaly skin.
“I hope so. She has not let me down yet.” Rafnir said as he stared at where Astrid stood. His mismatched eyes piercing through his own magic and her resolve.
We have explored but 2 of the several NPCs we could use to create under currents with. We could also have our Wizard, Petrel, become a contender for the artefact, or, create a ritual that would strip the madness from the elves.
We have Blakes men who are so driven to the cause that they would complete the mission even if Blake had a change of mind and heart after talking to prince Sellis, not wanting to use the artefact but to right past wrongs.
We also have the main NPCs themselves, Prince Sellis, King Felris, Blake, Rafnir or the party members who could shift the direction of the current and create a different outcome. If the invention / discovery from Petrel meant that an entire army could use it to be able to fight under water then we could have a battle underwater, a clash of two armies under the waves if you will.
What ever the shift, if it makes sense and drives a meaningful or enjoyable change in the story for your players generally about midway through a campaign I introduce a shift, to rekindle the interest of the party or hone their focus onto where I want them to explore. You set the stone to roll and they keep the momentum going forward.
Don’t forget if you like anything in particular do let me know and if you use this adventure/campaign setting and hooks I would equally love to know how they helped drive your creative spark onwards.
And as always, don’t forget to roll with advantage,
The Brazen Wolfe