After dropping my article on playing multiple personalities in D&D, I realized that this whole campaign we’ve been playing for the last six months makes a great pitch. Basically, we jumped headlong into the setting of Spelljammer, adopted most of the classic races you find in the new sourcebooks and our DM, Steps, went all out into his favorite genre; Cosmic Horror.
Safe to say Cthulhu is big favorite with him as is the classic rpg game, Call of Cthulhu! But, believe you me, when suggested we do it, there were no dissenters. We all love a good horror story and to be a part of one? BONUS!
On top of that, Spelljammer is just waiting for an invasion from the Far Realm! Dark shadowy creatures from weird dimensions, lots of tentacles and just holding on tight to our sanity; who could ask for anything more? Just the fact that D&D has Mindflayers is enough to scare the bejesus out of any party. But once Steps set us loose to creating characters, all bets were off!
THE LAST OF HIS PEOPLE
Ozrose stood among the lifeless bodies of his people mourning them under a black, uncaring sky. What was left of the clouds swirled angrily. His people had lived in peace on this world since the beginning. But it only took one moment in time to take all of that away.
Peering out over the valley below, the cries of the dying were almost too much for his kind soul. In fact, all of his people had a kind nature about them. To think something would want to harm them and destroy their paradise was beyond his imagining.
THEN, the form of destruction and atrophy itself loomed over the once verdant mountains; bathing it in a smothering shadow. A form incomprehensible to the mortal mind loomed over him; strangling the last bit of life from the being his people had known as their god...and strangling too the hope Ozrose once felt.
Our man, PANDA, chose Hazodee; a monkey folk who overcame enslavement and experimentation to become bigger and more resilient than their ancestors. Unlike many of the PCs of this race, OZROSE, only fled his world in the wake of it’s apocalyptic destruction. Now, not only being one of the last of the Hazodee, Ozrose also, like his people before him, was told that he carried in his genes the very DNA of his god.
PANDA naturally chose DRUID as Ozrose’s class seeing as he did not come from as strong a spacejammer/adventuring life, but was more grounded to life itself. But despite this, Ozrose has learned to be an apt ‘spelljammer’; captaining the ship using his subclass, Circle of Stars, to help him. More about him down the road.
This one had seen loss and ruin in their embattled life. Instead of running from the beast, the mysterious Giff only known as ‘The Colonel’ ran headlong into battle with it. But, although it left a devastating trail to follow, the RUINER was incredibly hard to find. And it didn’t leave many witnesses…
I chose ‘The Colonel’ to start with. The hefty Giff gunslinger came to the Rock of Bral only to find this Hazodee who had seen the monster face to face and escaped it. The Giff was hoping to get important clues as to how to find this apocalyptic creature. What he didn’t know was just how deep the rabbit hole went.
I went straight Fighter/Gun Slinger. He carries two pepperboxes, Hope and Despair and has a high Dex and Wisdom. He’s also proficient with knowledge of Religion. But that will be explained down the road, as will the surprising complexity of this character.
FORGOTTEN MORE THAN HE KNEW
He couldn’t remember where he was. He couldn’t remember who he was or even his name. There was just this stinking suspicion that he should know more…he should BE more.
Because everyone he talked to in Bral knew him. And some of them respected his skill set (whatever that was). You see, there were those here on the ‘Rock’ that were under the impression he was a master assassin! The only problem, he felt like the was just beginning to learn. If he was a master at his trade, it was buried deep and if he had any hope of surviving to find his wife, he would have to remember.
But remembering what was the problem.
My nephew chose the plasmoid; partly because he loves joke tropes. Now, there’s a serious way of playing this race, but it just seems that every race, especially plasmoid, is too easily for him to use for the yucks.
But, he did something genius with this character too:
He worked with his DM (an apt suggestion) to develop this master Rogue/Assassin who had forgotten everything and had to start from scratch. So he was essentially ‘RELEARNING’ everything! And, being the youngest of us, he was able to play his character a bit of scattered in a way that seemed natural for this type of character.
HIS FATHER’S VOICE…
Hamal was very confused for an autognome. Usually, he had the answers ready for his master…his father…
But, the fact was, he didn’t know where his father, his creator, was. And, Hamal was beginning to feel like something sinister had happened to him. What the poor automaton didn’t realize was what was happening to him.
Lexi, our man STEPS wife chose the autognome. He has quickly become the heart and soul of the group. But, behind the innocent vaneer, the rest of us can’t help but wonder what darkness lies underneath and what Hamal’s creator actually did to the poor, sensitive soul.
Lexi, obviously, chose wizard (although Warlock would have been fitting also). In the days to come, I will be doing some CHARACTER REFERENCES on each of them. If you’re interested, check them out.
THE HEART OF THE PITCH
Now, I didn’t give you the characters in OUR game to insinuate that you had to play this our way. Of course, not! D&D is a storytelling device that can run the same story a myriad of ways. So, the real pitch isn’t the characters, but what’s happening to them. I only found it easier to open up the elements of the adventure by exposing you to our character builds and back stories.
They come together on the Rock of Bral which is 5E Spelljammers way of saying, “They met in the Tavern.” As I stated before, the Giff, who had spent most of his life hunting the elder beast known as the ‘RUINER’, came to Bral to find a Hazodee who he had heard had his own encounter with the devil. Hoping to piece together some clues, he found himself hot on the hunt after meeting the whole crew, all of which had some strange connection with the RUINER.
Their goal is to find information to help them towards hunting down the planet killer and stopping it. As insane a feat as that actually is, they were determined to find a way. And, once their lives became intertwined with these other poor souls, they were joined in their fervor to get to the bottom of it.
THE MONSTER: THE HORROR THAT IS THE RUINER!
First of all, let’s talk elder gods. Like the popular Cthulhu, the ‘RUINER’ is an elusive being of madness, shadow and planetary destruction. Just simply being in its presence can lead one to mental ‘ruin’. But it’s goals are more far reaching and sinister.
It is a being of absolute entropy. It ushers the end of all things which some say is inevitable and that it simply arrives when it is supposed to. But, as it is with the living, they fight against the ‘inevitable’ flood of ruin and death. They refuse to accept the end even when it is looking them in the face. And, though it may seem inescapable, those that still have life and a small bit of hope aspire to do just that.
The ‘RUINER’ hides within the folds of time and space; just out of sight and detection. And, much like the death we all wish to allude, appears suddenly wishing to catch its prey by surprise. Whether the end is something to run from or fight against or a thing that cannot be outrun or killed, we do not know and may actually be unknowable.
One of the things we have discovered along the way is that the ‘RUINER’ may not be one, but many. The cliché of ‘I am Legion’ is not far from the truth of the matter. We have detected eight distinct parts of a whole that, if allowed to join, will be the end of us all.
But what are the tools of our trade? How do we combat or cage such beasts? Well, the first implement of fighting the end is a book left to Hamal by his missing creator. A dark, eldritch book with the very symbol of the ‘RUINER’ on the cover. It is a hungry tome. And we have had moments where, when the book is opened, it has devoured the unwitting. It is in this mysterious book, we have found, that the parts of the ‘RUINER’ can be kept. But there are always, as it is with the vehicle that is cosmic horror, more questions that answers. And far more inquisitions that are left unanswered than any bit of knowledge we will ever hope to glean from pursuing it.
WHAT COMES NEXT…
We will explore facets of the tale through character references fashioned after our very PCs that are in the process of hunting this horror. Once again, you can take the characters laid out there or just take elements of the story and bend them to your liking. STEPS who developed this story did. And I, as one of the poor souls caught peering into the abyss, can only pass on information I have experienced or been given by the DM. YOU or YOUR DM will do the rest. But, to be honest, most of the rest of the info is best for a DM who may want to run the game.
But begin your journey by finding out the secrets of the Giff known as ‘THE COLONEL’. But, beware, three be spoilers ahead for those wishing to be mere passengers in the cosmic horror to come and not the captain of this doomed vessel we call SPELLJAMMER!