This is How we Role – Aetherseed – Homecoming Arc

I know, it’s been a while since I’ve written anything. This entire year has been about pursuing other projects and not pay that much attention to the blog. Among those projects is the ongoing D&D campaign set in my own campaign setting of Aetherseed. It’s the campaign I’ve spoken of in the past–though from the past posts you might be confused since I used the name Telia, but that’s just the name for the world.

Why didn’t I use the name Aetherseed from the start? I didn’t have a name then, and it took a while for me to go through all my ideas for campaign setting names to land on one I really liked and this was it.

But that’s now what we’re here for today. No, it’s time to discuss the latest big story arc we went through in the campaign: Homecoming.

The story arc kicks off with Ando getting possessed by his ever present evil entity and convincing the party to head to the village where Ando’s entire arc began, seeking answers. Of course, things get complicated along the way, and not just for our possessed fighter.

The Homecoming arc had two major goals:

  • Escalate Ando’s storyline and bring the possessing entity into the forefront: Ando had already given consent to being possessed, so it was only a matter of time before the entity began to take steps to take over, perhaps permanently. It’s a situation that unless it advanced, changed, escalated and became actually dangerous, it would become stale and the characters’ interest in it would wane.
  • Take elements from every other character’s backstory and personal arcs and kick their butts with it, not just advancing them, but also creating fresh twists and complications for them. Kalani and Ravaleth felt this the most. Venadikt on the other hand had the least impact, because his story arc has always been a slow burner with many moving pieces.

This was our first major character arc, and one thing I wanted, if everything went well, was for Ando’s arc to be resolved, either with him dying and being taken over or with vanquishing the entity. As much as I loved roleplaying the dark being, it was nearing its expiration date. And with the party closely involved in the process it would lead to very interesting and powerful moments. I also wanted to give Ando resolution and the opportunity to be in a new character arc, to look past his, well, past and try to build something new. He’s now on a new arc where the player doesn’t know anything since there is no backstory involved, it’s all happening session to session, so it’s kept fresh and it depends on his own curiosity to advance it, which is a nice change of pace for him, but we’ll discuss that when I talk about the next story arc once we finish it.

Though honestly, the best things about this arc came from player decisions and the roll of the dice. In fact, some of the best and coolest Ando moments in the entire arc came from things I had thought about but not set in stone because they depended exclusively on dice being particularly bad. And they happened.

There was a sequence that happened in real time, we had a stopwatch and without Ando’s poor decisions and Nicki’s terrible rolling, that would never have happened and the entire arc would have taken another direction. But because it went the way it did, it created so much dramatic tension that everything was much more intense.

As for Kalani, this arc introduced Rivain, his old friend, someone Kalani left behind and who is key to what happened to our sad little Eladrin. But I can safely say that Kalani’s player, Nate, didn’t see Rivain’s attitude coming and it’s something that comes back to something I repeat almost as a mantra: Stories don’t happen in the void.

What I mean about that is that while you create a complete backstory for your character and you give them people they know and love and set a status quo for their relationships, those characters and the places they live in don’t stay static, they don’t remain that way, they don’t exist in a bubble suspended in the void. No, they’re alive and exist and have their own dreams, feelings, thoughts and relationships and those will change and they will change with time as well. Maybe some distance makes the heart grow fonder, but it can just as well create resentment, or jealousy or depression. The only way for the characters to remain believable is for them to live, even if that makes them completely different people to what’s on the background pages.

Characters mentioned in a background story or description are two things:

  • Written from the character’s point of view (most of the time), so it’s a subjective view on the characters and will be missing personality details that I, as the storyteller can extrapolate.
  • A snapshot in time. Time moves on and so do the characters.

And all of this kind of explains things for Rivain and the people Ravaleth has been looking for, especially that one Gnome with the stabby knife! In the latter’s case, her player gave me pretty vague information so I can do whatever I want with them and I’ve made sure to make it mysterious and perhaps even a bit grotesque, because I know the player will allow me to go that way.

After this story completed, I put a shiny door in front of them and they just couldn’t resist going through it. They had no reason to, no compelling need, but they still did it, and it’s one of those cases where I put things in their way but I don’t want them to take it, I want them to pursue any of the stories they already have on their plates.

But nope, they went through it and now they’re stuck in a dungeon crawl, suffering for their choice because my dungeons are not easy.

But I think we can discuss the dungeon after we’re done with the current arc, The Old Roads

This is How we Role: Aetherseed – Homecoming arc encompasses episodes 17 to 24 and you can find them all on this playlist (episode 16 acts as a rest episode between arcs)

You can also watch us play every Sunday on The Lawful Geek Twitch channel!

This is How we Role – Episode 11b – Fragments

Ando finished his downtime session and now it’s time for Venadikt, the Dwarven Cleric of Astreina to pursue his own objectives. Continue reading This is How we Role – Episode 11b – Fragments

This is How we Role – Episode 11a – Consent

It’s time for a sidestory! After the last major session, we kinda lost a couple of players so the downtime episode had to go away while we hunted for replacement players. We’ve found them and we’re getting things ready to resume the campaign. In the meantime, here’s the first of two downtime side-stories. First up it’s Ando. Continue reading This is How we Role – Episode 11a – Consent

Playing Octopath Traveler – The Narrative Issue

I bought Octopath Traveller on release for my Nintendo Switch and still haven’t finished it, not because it’s an exceedingly long game but because it takes effort for me to keep going. Continue reading Playing Octopath Traveler – The Narrative Issue

Musical Narrative – My Favourite Songs in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

In the past I’ve mentioned my adoration for the Shin Megami Tensei and Fire Emblem crossover RPG on the Nintendo Wii U, Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE. The music is phenomenal, the story is great and it’s an entertaining RPG with a truly enjoyable combat system. Continue reading Musical Narrative – My Favourite Songs in Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Odyssey – Has Assassin’s Creed lost its identity?

Since last week I’ve been playing Assassin’s Creed Odyssey and while I’ve been enjoying my time in Ancient Greece—which is not difficult considering how much I love the ancient Greek world and Greek myth—with my new buddy Alexios, the experience has felt off, as if there were things missing.

Assassin’s Creed Odyssey is an open world RPG, much like origins but going all in on the genre tropes, up to and including resource and level grinding and conversation options. But along the way, Ubisoft left out those iconic elements of the Assassin’s Creed series in favour of going all in on the RPG. Continue reading Odyssey – Has Assassin’s Creed lost its identity?

VAMPYR – Prologue Commentary

Vampyr released yesterday, a new game by DONTNOD, a developer that continues to impress me with their ability to tackle different genres and play styles. To say Vampyr has been on people’s radar is one hell of an understatement, it certainly was on mine. So, is it good, or does it at least have a compelling opening? Time to find out! Continue reading VAMPYR – Prologue Commentary

Dungeon Mastering – Telia Races – The Thelomir

We’re inching ever closer to launching the Telia campaign, and soon you’ll be able to join the players as they wade through the heinous circumstances I put them through. But for now, and following from previous weeks, let’s take another look at the world of Telia.

Last week we spoke of a new race available to players, the Soulforged, and this week is no different. So without further ado, here are the Thelomir. Continue reading Dungeon Mastering – Telia Races – The Thelomir

Latest Gaming Obsession – Battle Chasers: Nightwar

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been playing Battle Chasers: Nightwar, a title based on Joe Madureira’s unfinished comic book and from his latest video game development company, Airship Syndicate.

I’d heard of the Battle Chasers comic in the past, just didn’t know about it being unfinished, still I jumped right into Nightwar hoping my lack of knowledge of the comic wouldn’t leave me confused with the characters and plot. Continue reading Latest Gaming Obsession – Battle Chasers: Nightwar

Dungeon Master Writer – How RPG Storytelling can improve your writing – Part 2: Adaptation & Characterisation

Weeks ago, I spoke of how much I enjoy storytelling and my love for being a dungeon master. I do really love creating and playing in fantasy worlds and taking players through perils and adventures.

But even though I consider myself a storyteller first, writer second, the art of storytelling, specifically being a Dungeon Master—or any kind of RPG narrator, again just using one of the most popular titles—has had a profound impact on my writing, as I’ve learned many things in taking people through the theatre of the mind.

I began this series last week with lessons on Knowing your Audience and Sensory information. Here’s part 2 for your enjoyment!

Continue reading Dungeon Master Writer – How RPG Storytelling can improve your writing – Part 2: Adaptation & Characterisation