Avandra's Gambit

Avandra's Gambit - Success, but not for the Heroes

A summary of events past and why I waited to continue to keep logs for my players.

This is odd in some ways. I am writing a log to a campaign that ended. Too many DM’s took a turn and the plot got lost. Or did it?
My players and I first began Avandra’s gambit about 18 months ago in the Summer of 2012. We met weekly and made wonderful progress for one of my group’s campaigns. I played games with my players, making the obvious choice often be the one that would do the most harm to the world when seen from a different perspective. As such, the players released the damaged splinter of a goddess’s psyche from a self-imposed prison…albeit a splinter corrupted by time left playing with her would-be captor’s bodies in a pocket dimension as if they were marionettes impersonating dancers at a grand ball. Their mentor, infected by the influence of the goddess Avandra’s now less than sane and decidedly necromantic powers, failed to bring the players back at the time and place they had expected. Instead they each went to different times and places of their gleaned from the misremembered fragments of their mentor’s life, some living most of their natural spans in far distant locations, among people strange and customs stranger. With his last remaining life force and sanity, their mentor brought them all back through a mirror weeks after they had expected to in their home realm, but days or rears subjective time to themselves. The peaceful fishing town they left was now infested with the undead. Their mentor, font of all of their wisdom and father of their youth, attacked them. Forced to kill their mentors decaying form, they took to the streets to escape. Escape itself became a trap for the players. I took the idea of a necromancer and made him a good guy, a savior—albeit on that to the players still looked as sinister as the archetype would suggest. As they travelled towards the gates of the town, they were confronted with signs of grissly death, desperation, and, oddly, hope. Someone in the town had scrawled words of praise for the necromancer on buildings in pain, blood, and other fluids. Though they seemed like the frantic ravings of the insane or demonic, the players would find out later that their DM lead them to have the option of slaying a true savior- not of the town- but of the greater world of Eberron.
I had the players run from hordes of undead or sneak their way past as they could. I maintained pressure on them that increasingly made their decisions near real-time, knee-jerk reactions of the hunted, rather than long debating meta discussions about what their characters should do.
When they finally caught a glimpse of the necromancer, the found him in a square before the town gates. The necromancer stood at an altar before a great construct that emitted a shield that encircled the town. Lining up before the alter, seeming under their own will, were the remaining citizens of the town. Numbering near a hundred, they stood with their heads down in silent prayer, watched over by animated constructs and priests in ragged blood-stained robes. One by one they filed up to the alter where the necromancer sacrificed them, adding their life energy to the violent field surrounding the town. I had thought the players might still try to talk to each other and the npcs to understand the situation, despite the way that I had hounded them and their choices. So far the players had found interesting ways to foil my subplots, but would they also do so to the unbeknownst potential apocalypse before them?
Fyodor, whose player tends to swing first and ask questions when loot is being divied up decided the matter. Charging through the square and startling the crowds as well as the priests, Fyodor drove his spear through the heart of the necromancer, disrupting the ritual. As the shield began to fade and the necromancer dropped to the ground, his own blood joining those of the previous sacrifices, the towns folk who had waited their turned wailed in horror. They wept and cried that the shield was to keep the undead in the town, to keep their infection from spreading. The head priest of Avandra’s local shrine was to have sacrificed the town’s people in order to create a containment field to save Eberron itself. With it gone, the townfolk had paid their lives for nothing. The uproar attracted the attention of the undead to a degree that the guards could not keep the swelling surge at bay.
My players created through their well-meaning actions to taint a goddess with a sliver of her own psyche that had rotted in its confinement, creating of some of her most devout believes in the local parish monsters capable of spreading similar taint among the mortals of Eberron, starting with Cyre. I placed this instance in the moment that created the blighted Mournland. As the armies fought in the fields that would become the blight in the usual campaign setting, I had placed the town on the peninsula nearby. The armies themselves would prove a target of notice to the undead who would then snake their way through the high grasses towards the armies who would be unaware of them prior to members of their own ranks becoming infected. As the infection spread, I placed a now lich-queen esque Avandra among the battle, growing in size and strength as the presence of her taint grew in the mortal world. As the battle turned from one army against another to one of living versus the undead, Avandra made a proclamation about her intent to remake the world in her own image, before releasing a spell that vaporized the infected, leveling what would be the Mournland, and spreading the disease through the air to the areas surrounding the blight, creating borders of neighboring kingdoms a change from political and military demarcations to that of life and death.
The players would need to become strong and find a way to defeat or change Avandra before the world was consumed by her taint. Ultimately the players followed clues that took them all across the main continent, trying to find anyone who could help break Avandra’s spreading grasp on the world. The players enlisted King’s, Gypsies lead by a fortune-telling, body-swapping, homunculus, a tower dungeon made into a town by a bad of peaceful monsters, a King controlled by an Aboleth-like creature, and a less than trustworthy tiefling bard/ardent. Eventually, they found clues of a tool of power that might be able to strike down Avandra, the rod of sever parts. Miska, the spider god that had been imprisoned and broken using the staff promised to help the acquire the parts if only they promised to use the completed staff to bring and end to his pained existence.
The players plane hopped, finding three pieces of the staff before the players began to get busy, bored, or wanted to DM themselves for a while.
The campaign died, though we still played on occasion. A year later, when we got back together to play regularly again, the players largely agreed that they missed that campaign and that it was a shame that they saw no way it could be continued again. I said, that yes, it was pretty much impossible to continue the story…and then I did. Only I did not tell the players that we were continuing the same story. As you will see in their logs, I did not tell the players where there new characters were. They were not told the world, the realm, setting, and indeed, they were brought into the game after having been held in a kind of stasis by unknown captures who were slain before they even awoke, leaving them little meta to work with spoil any surprises. I am able to write this now because, since last week, the last of the players have worked out that they are living in he same world as before. Moreover, they learned that the heroes sent to find the rod failed. Avandra’s grasp encricled the world and that the gods and primordial powers all either died or expended most of their power to defeat avandra, using mortal exarchs. These exarchs then told the power that they would keep the powers, thank you very much, and found their own religions based on their own immortal rules and that arcane, natural, and elemental power would now stem from them, the 16 priest kings (thank you Dark Sun). Moreover, the history and even presence of Gods and Primordials as they were before is expunged. When naysayers or cults are found, entire communities disappear. Magic powers are bestowed upon their users by the Priest Kings directly or indirectly. The players find out about the intervening events of the last thousand or so years from writings and murals they find in a long lost ruin of a shrine that until recently had been buried in the mountains as well as from Miska himself who is pissed that the heroes had failed in their quest and took the last three pieces of the rod whereever they went. Miska has seen been given what power the gods and primordials could to act for them in the world and to try to destroy the rule of the Priest Kings. Bearing the remaining four parts of the Rod, he has set out to do so in his own way, using his own methods, and to his own ends. It will be interesting to see what the players choose to do with this new knowledge.

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MichaelDonElgan

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