Friday, May 18, 2018

Season Finale - Tomb of Annihilation

It is hard to believe that seven months ago we streamed our first live D&D 5e session of Tomb of Annihilation. In many ways, the story of the characters trekking through the unknown in the jungles of Chult mirrored my own journey trying to learn and navigate the challenges of streaming a weekly tabletop rpg on Twitch. Two dropped episodes, sound issues, scheduling conflicts and a myriad of other issues all seemed like meta-level traps designed by Acererak to ensure we would never make it to this day. As we prepare to conclude the first season of our story, I am pleased to see how far it has come and looking forward to seeing where the development of these characters leads.

I would like to write a bit about each of the characters in hopes that it adds some context to where they have been and what the stakes are leading into Saturday's finale.

Klaus Kringle

This story in many ways began with Klaus, the half-elf fighter who was employed by the party's benefactor, a wizard named Syndra Silvane. Klaus came to be in her service after she purchased him from slavers from his home in Sossal. In exchange, she offered him the opportunity to work for her to pay off this debt and to be her student in the arcane arts. Syndra fell ill with the death curse and quickly assembled the party using her faction contacts to round up the characters.

Klaus has had a number of struggles with his confidence during the journey. His training from Syndra was incomplete, and for much of the way he has had to discover his latent control over the Weave by trial and error. He had visions of ice and snow covering the sweltering jungles of Chult. As the party neared the lost city of Omy they met Artus Cimber, a man wielding a ring that could manifest snowstorms and ice creatures. Klaus knew his fate was tied to this man, but he did not know how.

Artus and Klaus did not see eye to eye and had several arguments along their journey. Artus became extremely displeased with the party and Klaus in particular for his role in brokering a deal with a Yuan-ti overlord named Ras Nsi. Artus explained that Ras Nsi was responsible for the deaths of many in Chult and was the only thing keeping Artus' wife, Alisanda, from returning from her self-imposed exile.

While in the Tomb of the Nine Gods, Artus felt the presence of one of his former enemies. Artus then disclosed to the party that he was a friend of Syndra Silvane's and that in a former life they had been agents of an organization known as the Harpers. They had been working together to foil the plans of a beholder named Belchorzh from becoming a lich. During their mission, Syndra had been killed from a death ray originating from one of the monster's many eye stalks. Artus managed to survive and brought Syndra's body back to the Harpers who arranged for her revival.

When the time came to confront the beholder, Artus gave Klaus a letter to deliver to Syndra. Artus seemed to be holding something back from Klaus, but there was no time to waste. The battle with Belchorzh turned out to be Artus' last, as he was disintegrated by the gloating aberration. Klaus later read the letter, which was laced with the revelation that Syndra had been grooming Klaus to become the inheritor of the cursed item. The Ring of Winter, as Artus called it, is an artifact of great evil with the power to plunge the entire world into an ice age. There are many in the world that would delight in using its wickedness to extinguish life, thus it required a guardian. Artus was growing weary of his days on the run keeping the Ring safe and longed to reunite with his wife. He had asked Syndra to find a new bearer so he could rest, and it would seem Klaus was the answer to that question.

The Ring did not find its way into Klaus' hands, however. During the battle with Belchorzh, it was Reggie who took initiative to recover the Ring from Artus' ashes and use it to defeat the beholder. Since then, Klaus has been watching Reggie to see what it might do to him - recognizing that perhaps its corrupting influence might destroy even the most idealistic and pure of heart. If that were true, what chance would he have of containing its power?

Klaus now wields the fabled spear of Shagambi, one of the Nine Trickster Gods. Shagambi's influence and encouragement have helped Klaus reclaim his confidence so that he might be a deciding factor in destroying the Soulmonger and putting an end to the Death Curse.

Reginald "Reggie" Itsame

Reggie is a paladin of Torm who was sent on the quest to destroy the Soulmonger at the bequest of his mentor, Iwata Moto. Reggie began the campaign as a cheery, idealistic and naive knight-in-training. An early mishap by the party ended with incarceration in Port Nyanzaru. While captive, Reggie met a half-orc cleric of Torm named Undril Silvertusk. Undril was the epitome of everything Reggie aspired to be: patient, thoughtful and willing to give everything of herself to Torm's teachings. An early delve into a trap filled hallway led to an explosive fireball which took the life of another member of the party named Sindri. Undril Silvertusk prayed to Torm and made a deal to trade placed with Sindri before his spirit was devoured by the Soulmonger. This sacrifice left a tremendous impression on Reggie, who has looked to her as a saint ever since.

While in the jungle the party took refuge at a fort that had been established by a number of faithful from Reggie's order. Among them was his childhood friend, Niles Breakbone. Reggie had always looked up to Niles, but the party quickly learned that he was an incompetent leader. Talking to others in the camp revealed that Niles had lost control of one outpost and had been ordering his forces to do reckless sweeps through the jungle into the heart of undead activity. Worse, Niles had placed the party's guide under court-martial. The party then had to spring to action to free her and escape the camp.

Once in the tomb, Reggie became inhabited by the spirit of Papazotl. This influence gave Reggie an ego and made him believe he was a natural leader that the other members of his party were beholden to follow. He soon began to act similarly to Niles by making rash decisions that led the group into many dangerous situations. It was the hubris of Papazotl's personality that led to Reggie picking up the Ring of Winter after Artus' death.

Reggie had a terrible nightmare shortly after acquiring the ring. He saw a vision in which he murdered his mentor, Iwata Moto, in cold blood. During a separate occasion, he had a passing thought about murdering Klaus when his back was turned. These thoughts have been contained thus far, and Reggie has resolved that the power of the Ring is too valuable not to use to destroy the Soulmonger.

Most recently, the party delved into the lair of a coven of hags known as the Sewn Sisters. Within a cage the party discovered an imperfect clone of Reggie. The clone confessed to telling the hags about the Ring of Winter, and he also admitted that he has thought about hurting Klaus. The true Reggie has thus far denied that these thoughts are real, though secretly he is terrified of what the thoughts might mean for him.

Sindri of the Steephill Clan

Sindri is a dwarf cleric of Lathander who studied archaeology. He came on the quest to find and destroy the Soulmonger not so much out of a sense of duty but because it offered an opportunity to delve into the rich history of Chult. Early in the adventure, while investigating a statue that resembled a man giving a piggyback ride to an aligator, Sindri tripped a trap which caused an explosive fireball to strike him down. As he laid dead on the floor, the half-orc cleric of Torm, Undril Silvertusk, prayed to her deity for him to intervene and allow her spirit to go to the Soulmonger and give Sindri more time to complete his quest. Sindri was given new life, but it was in Undril's body that his spirit now resided. Though the party knew that it was Sindri posessing Undril's body, he still seemed to attempt to mimic her language and behaviors.

Once the party entered the Tomb of the Nine Gods, a drink from a water well reversed his biological sex and he suddenly became a male half-orc. It was at around this same time that Sindri inherited the fretful zorbo spirit Obo'laka. Obo'laka constantly chattered away in his brain that everything was dangerous and that they should play it safe. Sindri seemed to adopt this cowardly persona and started to warn the party about perceived threats he saw left and right.

After the battle with the beholder, Sindri suddenly changed. He started acting gruff and bold. He also started to refer to himself as "Tang Big-basket" and made up stories of past adventures that seem impossible. The party is unclear if something in the Tomb is making this happen or if Sindri is legitimately having a personality crisis.

Mogh Roith

Mogh is a human druid and the newest member of the party. They found him when they helped free him from a mirror that was magically holding him prisoner. He introduced himself as a member of the Company of the Yellow Banner, an adventuring party that came to Chult looking for the Eye of Zaltec. Mogh and his companions believed that if they found the Eye of Zaltec, they could use its power to resurrect an entity called the Starfallen who traveled with the party as a spirit inside a lantern. Mogh agreed to help the party with their quest in hopes that he would become reunited with his comrades.

As time passed, it became clear to Mogh that the Company of the Yellow Banner had all perished. He found the lantern containing the Starfallen next to the body of the company's leader, Lord Brixton. Mogh now carries the Starfallen who directed him towards where the Eye of Zaltec could be found. After narrowly escaping being steamrolled by an ancient device of destruction, the Mogh successfully retrieved the Eye of Zaltec with the aid of the party. He now believes it is imperative to destroy the Soulmonger so that its wicked magic will not interfere with his attempts to resurrect the Starfallen whom he has sworn an oath to protect.

Satuday, May 19th at 4pm...

So now the heroes stand before a set of doors that stand between them and the Soulmonger. Will they successfully destroy the Soulmonger and end the death curse so that the world can breathe a sigh of relief? Or will Acererak succeed in dismantling the design of the divine and infernal with the creation of his very own death god? Find out on Saturday, May 19th on Twitch at 4pm:

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Season Finale - Tomb of Annihilation

It is hard to believe that seven months ago we streamed our first live D&D 5e session of Tomb of Annihilation. In many ways, the story o...