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!