Dragon Age – Getting Out of the Modules

With this new session I’m starting to “feel my legs” is the saying I think I want.  We started with modules, namely, The Dalish Curse to get a handle on the rules.  Then we moved into “Curse of Strahd but set in the Fade.”  Now I feel like I’m comfortable enough with the characters to get out of these modules and really open this campaign up.  I’ve set out some hooks that have nothing to do with published modules and I’m ready to start reeling them in.

We’re still in Curse of Strahd a bit.  Namely, I have some ideas that draw heavily on Argynvostholt, the Wizard of Wines, and the Amber Temple (the dungeon that keeps on giving).

Last session the PCs were headed back to Broken Vale Village (my Barovia analog).  After defeating the evil Bann Doran Tyraxes in the Fade they were put back in the “real” world.  They wanted to check out the village and make sure it still, you know, existed.  I threw in one random wrinkle, there were two children awaiting a pickup to go to the Circle of Magi.  The party immediately decided they were to going to “rescue” these kids.  I figured they might because this is an Anti-Templar party, but I think there’s a big gap between supporting mage freedom vs. actively taking children out of a Chantry.

Hooks I’ve Set Out

The Evil Orlesian Magic SlaveTraders

One idea I think was pretty clever is that the Fade Realm the PCs went into was basically the same place 40 years ago.  This created a reason for when PCs are poking around his library they find a ledger that this evil Bann was selling people, specific magically inclined kids, into slavery rather than sending to the Circle of Magi.  This activity is continuing into the current timeline, although the PCs don’t really know that yet.  As an added twist, the family doing the trading is one that The Party Rogue has a rivalry with.  I figure, this gives the players kind of a big job to do, to expose or stop this ring of slave traders.

I haven’t completely decided what the next step of the chain is here.  It would be logical to say they’re being sent to Tevinter.  But there are any number of factions that might have an interest in siphoning off recruits for the Circle of Magi.  Tevinter obviously, but also the Qunari, Evil Templars, Grey Wardens, or straight up Evil Family of Demon Worshipping Blood Mages.  I would love to get the Qunari into this campaign at some point, this idea needs time to ripen.

Wisdom the Sentient Book

Wisdom is very much My Answer to D&D’s annoying habit of giving you combat capable NPCs in its hardcover advenures.  Full disclosure, I have three PCs in my group so I’m considering that maybe they need someone combat capable to help out.  I’m thinking about it.  Wisdom however, is a spirit possessing an inanimate book.  My original idea was, again inspired by Curse of Strahd, was that instead of gathering three magic items to defeat Strahd: The Tome of Strahd, the Holy Symbol of Ravenkind, and the Sun Sword, the PCs would instead gather three items that contained Spirits of Wisdom, Faith, and Valor.  But the party went straight after Strahd and rather than kill them with an overpowered Enemy they weren’t ready for, I decided to subject them to a tough boss fight.  I haven’t decided What To Do with Wisdom yet, but they’re with the party making their opinions known.

Scenic Antiva City

I decided to substitute another NPC for Rudolph Van Richten when the PCs got to Blackmarsh.  When you first meet him in Curse of Strahd, Van Richten is disguised as a half-elf circus performer.  I decided to have my Van Richten also be an Elf Bard and the first accent I pulled out of my ass was kind of Spanish/Italian.  What I did not expect was that one of the players would have a strong attraction to “Antivan Elf Guy.”  Being a DM worth their salt, if a PC expresses a strong interest in something then goddamn it we are going to do that thing.

Like all of these other things, I haven’t really put a ton of thought into what this person’s true goal is.  I came up with a name and have a general idea as far as who they are and what they’re up to looking at ancient Tevinter Ruins and Grey Warden rituals in the Fade.  But goddamn it there is adventure to be had in Antiva City.

The Failed Willpower Save

During the big boss fight in the Fade there was a brief moment of possible TPK.  In Dragon Age, if you hit 0 HP, you have Constitution + 2 Rounds to get healed or get dead.  Two characters were down, the last one barely managed to hold things together.  But, one character did truly die.  Their time ran out.  So, mulling it over, I randomly asked them to make a Willpower (Self-Discipline) test.  They failed.  This test is used in The Fade to resist demonic possession.  I have no idea what I’m going to do with this yet but it is a ticking time bomb I can pull out at any time.

The Tevinter Magister

One thing I wanted to do when I joined this campaign was I really wanted to use the NPC from Dragon Age: Awakening and The Calling named, The Architect.  This is an intelligent Darkspawn trying to “free” the rest of “his people” from the rule of the Old Gods.  It’s rumored that he is one of the Tevinter Magisters who originally entered the Golden City, like Corypheus.  I’m not crazy about the Elven Gods Lore in Dragon Age but the Darkspawn lore I find a lot more interesting.  This is a cool NPC, and I’d like to put in another one of these ancient Tevinter Magisters somewhere in the campaign.

I’m playing with a few different ideas here.  What if one of the Seven Magisters stayed in the fade?  What if they’re possessed by a Remorse demon, wracked with guilt for what they’ve done?  I’m almost picturing a Cole style being but for a Remorse Demon rather than a Compassion Spirit.

Morrigan

Just like one PC expressed a desire to see their Antivan Elf Guy, another PC would very much like to interact with Morrigan.  I have no problem with this.  At some point the PCs will be doing something before they hear a voice call, “Well Well, what have we here?”

Going Home

All three PCs have left home, either Orlais or their Avvar strongholds.  Assuming the campaign keeps going well we’ve got to go back to these places at some point.

But Don’t Prep

One habit I’ve wound up keeping is that while I seem to keep writing down ideas I am only really prepping for a session about one hour prior to starting.  This started out of laziness combined with the fact that I don’t really want to put a lot of prep into an online game for people I don’t really know.  Not that there is much to prep, we play online in theater of the mind.  However, the sessions keep turning out really well so I’m not writing down stats, spells, maps.  I’ll jot down ideas but I don’t do a lot of work prior and things keep going well.