An encounter two decades in the making

Last night, I ran the third part* in a storyline I’ve been wanting to play out for something like 20 years.

When 2e came out, Ral Partha launched a line of AD&D figures. I vowed to collect them all, a task that far, far outstripped the income of an unemployed high schooler. But one blister I did get was the human fighters. The male figure (they all came in sets of male and female) wore light plate, had a sword, and wore a helm with wings. I painted him in a blue-and-white motif.

And then I envisioned a story. He was a paladin, most likely, and one day, on the high plains of Tralyne, he and his party would come upon a rope ladder hanging from the sky. And when he climbed that ladder to the cloudscape, he’d find a castle — his castle, an ancestral fortress left to him by his father. And his mount, a pegasus, would be waiting there.

That was then.

In 2008, when I started this campaign, one of the players chose a paladin as his character. And the gears in my head started turning.

His paladin, Thorssen Darkhammer, is a paladin of the Raven Queen. And this campaign isn’t in Tralyne; I left that world behind years ago. This one is set in the barony of Greenhill, surrounding the small city of the same name.

Early on, I suggested that Thorssen be an orphan with no memory of his parents. I didn’t tell him why. I planted an astronomical scroll on a skeleton in a kruthik lair two years ago. I planted a lens of reading in a treasure parcel in a satyr’s labyrinth last year.

A few sessions ago, the mayor of a small town plagued by zombies mentioned Darkhammer Crossing, which Thorssen (and his player) had never heard of. They went up to the ruins. And last night, they made it into the hallway underneath, where Thorssen met the ghost of his father, slain 25 years ago by a grayskin necromancer who, by the way, is coming back right now because he finally found a ritual to break the divine seal and raise 300 years of dead for the army of his master, the deathpriest Gulxogoth. And then Thorssen got to pick up the hammer for which his family is named.

It’s completely different than I envisioned 20 years ago. Rather than inheriting a castle, Thorssen is now the heir to ruins. His family is scattered, if they’re even alive.

But I got to give the paladin a castle. I have completed something that’s been on my to-do list for 20 years. And I got t0 advance the plot at the same time.

That kicks ass.

* This is my night game, run on Skype and GameTable after my kid goes to bed and before everyone else does. So we play for one to two and a half hours, depending. In a normal, face-to-face, six-to-eight-hour game, this would be done in one session.

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One Response to “An encounter two decades in the making”

  1. The highlight (for me) was actually Kaden (the party cleric) whispering to me, “Would it be awkward if I Turned your ancestor?”

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