So, yeah. I’ve done a frankly terrible job of maintaining the blog over the last couple of weeks. As I think I stated in a previous post, I’m in that odd position where I’m not really going to be running (as a GM) for a while and as a result, I’ve allowed my focus to slip a little bit to other things. Yesterday – 9.26.2018 – the Pathfinder: Kingmaker video game went live, for example, and as I’d backed that on Kickstarter, I’ve started playing it (even though we just finished chapter 3 in the face-to-face group.
Anyway, one of the things that I have been doing is coordinating with the new player regarding his planned character. He declared earlier on that he was leaning toward a “holy” kind of character – Michael Carpenter from the Dresden books … but without a sword – and we’ve been discussing ideas about that. In the previous runs of Red Sky, we briefly had a PC who fit this – Brandon Harris – but the player had to curtail his gaming on that night due to family obligations, so that character quickly fell out of the narrative and eventually died in the fifth adventure (which ended up being a bit too … railroady at the end.) So the precedent for such a character already existed in my game and I recommended the new player – hereafter referred to simply as Mark – at least take a look at Harris to look at him.
During our back-and-forth, though, and before Mark’s character concept was fully settled, I was reminded of this scene from Supernatural and really dug the idea of ripping it off in some way.
I even offered Mark the chance to take over that (deceased) character entirely if he wanted to with the conceit that he could totally rebuild him however he wished, but he declined as he wanted to do his own thing (which amounted to ‘holy biker guy.’) He initially started looking at the Crusader template in Monster Hunters 1, then stumbled upon the Outcast Angel racial template (though at first, he did not realize that the latter was part of the Inhuman character template.)
Still, I kind of wanted to play with the idea that the new guy – currently named Hugh “Mac” MacArthur – was tied to Harris in some way. I’d ended adventure 5 with Harris tackle-grabbing another former PC, Robert Mankiller (who had been possessed by a big bad evil dude) through a dimensional vortex that carried them both to a Hell dimension (specifically, a pocket of the Nevernever where the Big Bad of my campaign is imprisoned. So I floated that concept to Mark and he came up with an interesting idea – Mac and Harris have the same Soul that is constantly being reborn. This Soul was one of the original 12 Knights Templar, and they keep coming back to fight the Good Fight. Now I really liked this idea, but I’m currently recommending some minor alterations to it.
What I’m thinking right now is thus: this ‘rebirth’ is not a normal one by any stretch of the imagination. Brandon Harris (the previous recipient of the Soul) voluntarily tackled the Nihancan (disembodied bad guy) possessed Robert Mankiller into a dimensional vortex that took them both to the pocket of the Nevernever that is controlled by the Faceless King, my previously mentioned Campaign Big Bad. This is essentially a hell dimension but the Faceless King is master here and as a result, the Soul was feared to be Lost forever. Jegudiel, an Angel of the Lord (probably a seraph?) who had charged Brandon with his recent Holy Mission, took it upon … himself? Itself? to retrieve the Soul and breached the Faceless King’s prison. This proved to be something of a mistake because in that place, the Faceless King was nigh-omnipotent and Jegudiel was nearly Lost as well. The Soul was finally pulled free from that prison and, with its last fragments of power, Jegudiel thrust it into the recently deceased Vessel that was Hugh MacArthur, restoring the mortal shell to life. Unfortunately, Jegudiel’s strength was so far gone that doing so destroyed the seraph so it poured the last fragments of itself into this Vessel in the hope that a greater Power could possibly restore it. This could explain the “Outcast Angel” racial template (should he pick it up) but could also be used to pick up stuff like Flashbacks or Nightmares (with the notion that when he wakes and realizes he’s no longer in the Heavenly City, that’s when the terror strikes.) Those who are gifted (or cursed as the case may be) with Sight will be able to realize that something ain’t right about this guy. An added benefit for me, I think, is that Jegudiel breached the Faceless King’s prison to retrieve the Soul, there’s absolutely nothing saying that something else didn’t get out as well!
Honestly, even if Mark decides to not go the Outcast Angel route – I may end up allowing him to pick up the racial template without requiring Inhuman as well – I’m sort of leaning toward utilizing this backstory because I just like it and it ties into the greater narrative. Mark understandably doesn’t want to deal with any of the stuff tied directly to Brandon’s character, but in this way, I can link them somewhat.
As I understand it, Mark’s current thinking regarding Mac is that he was an undercover DEA agent who had infiltrated a criminal biker gang that, unfortunately, discovered his true identity and basically murdered him. If I’m going to ripoff Supernatural (which Mark hasn’t watched), it makes sense for the gang to have buried him so starting out with him in a shallow grave and waking up abruptly there is probably the way to go. And the grave is, quite conveniently, extremely close to where the dimensional vortex that Brandon went through was located at. Even more conveniently, that location is the epicenter of a minor earthquake we had here in Oklahoma on the day that the adventure begins. So New Mac wakes up in the shallow grave, claws his way out, and discovers that the area around him – it’s an oil field that’s still operational in the real world, but has been abandoned in the game world following the events of adventure 5 – has been devastated, as if a bomb has gone off.
Mac will be met by Arthur Curtmantle, an immortal NPC who is currently believed to be dead (though only the wizard PC actually knows he’s immortal) following adventure 5, who will point the new PC in the correct direction. Which will, of course, be the same direction that the other PCs are pointed toward…