Inspired by vhesper and because I said I would do it I submit for the approval of the Midnight Society my long running and hopefully ongoing campaign. In this episode, we meet some of the characters who will become very important to the plot and one guy who really won’t. Probably. Also bugs.
The game takes place in the Eberron setting but I have taken a number of creative liberties with it, sometimes because I completely misread the book and then decided to run with it, and also used a lot of the lore because I often had no idea where or what my players would choose to do so I left them many story hooks. There are spoilers, likely, so if you don’t want to hear about plots and intrigue I advise you to cover your characters’ eyes and ears.
Worldbreakers: Episode 1
First Tremours of Destiny
Our story takes place in the world of Eberron: a land of wonders and adventure. The camera hovers over the continent of Khorvaire or as many of its inhabitants know it, the known world. Centuries ago much of it was ruled over by the Kingdom of Galifar. Upon his death, 5 great nations were born to be governed by his children. As you might expect things eventually went downhill and the five nations erupted in a massive war that lasted 100 years. Four years ago there was a terrible morning when the sky was lit by violet explosions and the nation of Cyre, the home of science and artistry, ceased to exist. Now it is shrouded by fog and no mortal dare enter its borders. After this tragedy, the surviving nations came together and 2 years ago signed The Treaty. It ended the century-long war and brought a tenuous peace to the land. It also granted rights to many of the outsider races such as orcs and goblins, making them full citizens of Khorvaire and no longer monsters to be slaughtered and killed without a thought. Smaller nations, home to these outsiders, have begun to grow up around the 4 remaining nations, and a new era of prosperity and growth has come to Khorvaire. But many believe it will not last.
The camera closes in on the center of the continent and shows a nation of rich farmlands, sprawling forests, and bustling cities. This is Breland, one of the remaining nations. It is ruled by King Boranel though he does not often sit upon his throne. He is an adventurer at heart and wanders his lands spending time with the people rather than be locked up in his musty castle. While he galavants about the nation is guided by the wise hand of his regent and brother, Kor. Breland, even during the war, has always been an accepting home for those who had none. It absorbed a large portion of the refugees from Cyre despite years of conflict across the border they shared. Adventurers too have long known that if they could make it anywhere it would be in Breland with is vast unpopulated areas to explore and it’s generous and accepting townsfolk. That is why our heroes have come here.
The camera zooms in again to a small town called Havershire – little more than a collection of buildings along a trade road – and on an inn called The Flowing Taps with its warm, welcoming lights and energetic music. It is not the nice inn in town, but it is the one where work can be found for those who desperately need it and are willing to go to great lengths for it. Sitting in the inn are the principle players.
Sulking at the bar sits a dark-haired and lean young man with a permanent scowl on his face. He nurses a glass of hard alcohol. His name is Raine and he hails from the lands to the Northwest called the Eldeen Reaches. Pristine forest homeland to giants, druids, and the progenitors of lycanthropes, the Shifters, it suffered terribly during the Great War. Raine himself is both Shifter and Druid but he no longer can call the Reaches home because another nation, Aundaire, invaded his homeland and claimed it as its territory. Now he lives filled with anger with no purpose other than survival and a growing greed within his heart.
Sitting at a table in the center of the floor is another young man dressed in armor and with a sword at his side. His features are not quite human, though none in the bar can figure what they might be otherwise. The Brelish rurals couldn’t know of the rare bloodline in the nation of Karrnath that imbued its bearers with powerful elemental magics. This man’s name is Magnus and he is Genasi. Shamed when his father fled from the battlefield and stripped of his station he too has no home and with no war in which to regain his honour he has chosen to live by his sword, hopefully, happen upon the small chance of making a name for himself as an adventurer, and secretly hoping to one day find his father to mete out punishment for that unforgivable crime.
Standing in a corner observing it all as he leans upon his spear is Jareb. He’s an Aasimar avenger and doesn’t get too attached because he’s not really important.
The comfortable hubbub is silenced as suddenly the inn’s foundation shifts dramatically. The timbers groan, drinks fall from tables, and people scream and scurry about in a panic. As quickly as it began it stops and an uneasy quiet descends. Then the door, which has sunk several inches into the ground bursts open with a thunderous crash. Frightened eyes see a solid metal foot clang against the doorframe as it is lowered from the devastating kick it just administered.
“Is everyone alright?!” the dwarf that is connected to the foot cries out. He is slightly past middle age for a dwarf with a blonde beard turning to gray but his eyes sparkle with intelligence and energy without being diminished by his years. Short and fat even for his race he stomps as carefully as he can with one metal leg into the inn, helping people to their feet. This is Garradur “Ironfoot” Thra’duum, a Dwarven artificer and retired adventurer, and his backstory is even more tragic than those written above – it might be the most tragic – but he was a DMPC sent in to heal the party so we won’t get into it until it’s important. He is, however, way more important than Jareb.
“I was walking on th’ street an’ I saw th’ whole buildin’ shake.” Garradur rumbles. “I had ta come in an’ see if anybody be hur – innkeeper! Yer floor’s separating from th’ rest of it!” He points out a corner of the building that has fallen further than the rest revealing a dark recess underneath. “Be tha’ yer cellar?”
“No…” the innkeeper frowns. “The root cellar’s out back.” He looks over the assembled forms in his common room. “Alright, I know there’s a bunch of adventurers here. Who wants to earn a few gold and go down in the hole?”
There were only three such persons willing to take a paltry reward for such pitiful endeavors. Garradur went with them because he felt sorry for the young ones and figured they needed the benefit of experience and perhaps someone with knowledge of structural engineering and dungeoneering.
Down into the hole, they went, introducing themselves and discussing their various abilities and tactics as they went. Raine revealed that he could turn into a large black cat and he scouted ahead at the edge of the light that just emanated from Jareb looking into the darkness. Suddenly there were beset by enormous insects! They fought long and hard, delving deeper into a dizzying maze of tunnels, fighting off the nightmarish mutations, and wondering just what could have caused this. Finally, they stepped into a much larger chamber with a deep hole in the middle and saw the rows and rows of enormous eggs. The softly glowing phosphorescent orbs combined with observations about the tunnel’s size were the clues needed to identify that the Taps inn had a serious pest problem: ankhegs.
The colossal arthropods burst through the ground moments later seeking to protect their young from the intruders. The ragtag crew nearly died but somehow managed to defeat the mated pair and they destroyed the eggs. Raine’s keen senses, however, picked up that there was light emanating from a small opening at the bottom of the hole. Curiosity led to ingenuity as they used a combination of rope and a magical trampoline supplied by the artificer to descend safely. Squeezing through the tunnel, this one naturally formed in the rock and too small for ankhegs to get through, they found another chamber. This one was brightly lit by a glowing moat of water that encircled a stalagmite of rock upon which sat a shining crystal. Those in the party trained in arcana gasped as they recognized it was a Khyber Dragonshard – a rare and powerful stone. Along the walls of the chamber were letters as tall as a man carved into the rock. No one recognized the script.
Sitting along the wall was a skeleton. Jareb and Garradur searched the body for clues and found a few pages of a journal. Much was eaten away by moisture but a few remained enough to know that this was a shard hunter who had found his way here looking to get to the deeper recesses of khyber where shards are able to be harvested. He found this one, strangely close to the surface and not surrounded by the usual lava and terrible evil beasts. He translated the runes on the walls before deciding to attempt crossing the moat. Words were in draconic and read as follows:
I leave this for those who are prophecied
Your world will end as ours did once
The curse of fate shall find its bearer
When four enter only three can leave.
While Jareb and Garradur pondered this, Magnus and Raine were inspecting the moat. Magnus tried throwing a rock into it only for the stone to bounce off an invisible wall of force. The two discovered it ringed the moat but only went about 6 feet up. Just as Garradur and Jareb were coming to the conclusion that maybe the shard hunter had died trying to get at the shard Raine declared “I can totally jump that” and then did so.
Landing on the small center island he reached out a hand and picked up the shard. Immediately he was wracked by searing pain and he collapsed. The shoulder of the arm that had touched the stone burned and he ripped his shirt off to see a brand slowly forming across his skin there. The pain eventually subsided, the glowing water’s light dimmed to blackness, and the shard crumbled to dust in his hand. Under the light from Jareb Raine stumbled across the now shieldless moat and permitted Garardur to inspect him.
“Boy, ah don’ know how ta tell ye this, but ye got yerself a Dragonmark.”
Indeed, somehow Raine had been marked with the arcane sigil reserved for those of House Tharashk, the Mark of Finding. Marks like this were mysterious birthmarks unique to bloodlines. No one knows exactly how or why they exist, though speculation links them to the ancient dragons said to have been the first civilization since they are similar to the draconic language. The marks can show up at birth or sometime during a bearer’s life and even full-blooded members of the family may never manifest one where distant cousins can produce shockingly large examples. Generally, the larger and cleared the mark, the greater its power. Never before had our heroes heard of a mark manifesting on a non-family member, let alone a different species.
Stunned by this news and their heads in turmoil over what implications this might have the four adventurers climbed out of the hole and back into the inn. Mechanically they collected their reward from the innkeeper and went to bed upstairs only to sleep fitfully and dream of dragons.