Wednesday, October 29, 2014

New Pantheon 1: First Ascension and a Bad Night's Sleep

"Wake up you mongrels!" The guard walks down cell block, hitting his club loudly on the bars. "Cell block 10, you have thirty seconds to be out and on your feet, standing at attention."

Repeating a process they have performed a hundred times before, our heroes, and the rest of Cell Block 10, scramble out of bed and stand at attention in the damp and dark hallway. They are led to the first containment zone, where they are chained together in pairs. They are next led outside and given pickaxes. It's a mining day.

And it's a glorious morning. The sun in shining, the sea is lively, and Gallowhall has docked with a seemingly unspoiled jungle island with a few cliffs and crags peeking above the lush canopy.

20 prisoners are led by five guards through the jungle towards a rocky hill. For a time, our heroes dig out the rock wall, searching for bits of iron. It is backbreaking work, but a pile of ore begins to accumulate.

After an hour of mining, a guard brings a wheelbarrow full of ore to our heroes to collect. This added weight breaks the ground beneath our heroes' feet, and the lot of them plummet into a fast moving underground river.

After being hit against rocks and thrown about, our heroes are deposited in a large underground cavern. Bioluminescent algae is everywhere, casting the room into a dim green light. Without so much as an introduction, our heroes begin working to free themselves from their shackles. Semprona the anti-paladin take a pickaxes and hacks at the ankle bindings until each pair is separated. The guard and his wheelbarrow appear to be gone.

Our group slowly proceed down a natural hallway to another large cavern. This one has three small shapes and, when Layric gets closer, he determines they are sleeping Grindylows. Barely containing his excitement, the rogue coup-de-gras one of the aquatic goblins, and the rest of the group rushes in to murder the other two before they can finish yawning. Around the room our heroes find 9 small spears, a pile of junk, medium leather armor, enough cloth and stones to make a sling, and a small box with 6 spoiled cure light wound potions (which must be choked down to have any effect, at risk of vomiting).

A man-made stone hallway protrudes incongruously down this hallway. Aislyn the sorcerer cautiously blasts some strange goo on the wall, then freezes it altogether when it turns out to be an Ooze Swarm.

The hallway ends with a closed stone door. There are three large mechanical men (same stats as a Hippocampus), all in serious disrepair. When Layric somersaults into the room, he trips and falls at their feet as the constructs slowly whir to life. Although they once clearly were dangerous guardians, these metal creatures are falling apart, and no are no match for our heroes. Semprona pushes the stone door open.

Our heroes enter a medium size hexagonal room, with 6 pedestals and 6 immense soulstones on each. The largest soulstone Rache the Inquisitor has ever seen is about the size of a fist. These are the size of a chair, large lumps of crystal that glow with the colors of the 6 elements: Yellow (Positive), Purple (Negative), Blue (Water), Red (Fire), Brown (Earth), and Grey (Air). It is dim in here, but a massive crack in the back wall appears to be letting in sunlight from above.

Our heroes sense that they are entering a council chamber, and that there is a heated discussion taking place.

They catch phrases like "Just criminals" "weak" "imprisoned" and "unworthy" but then these exclamations are drowned out by a stronger voice. This stronger voice is at the same time loud and quiet, male and female, gravely, airy, rageful and calm, fluctuating between staccato punctuation and flowing verse. As it speaks, our heroes realize that this voice is an overlap of 6 very different voices.

This voice says "We have waited long enough. They are weak now, petty, disunited and mortal. But I sense in each of them a great desire for power." There is a short pause, and then the voice says "No more discussion. It is decided."

They feel the hair on their neck stand up, and they are aware that the invisible presences in the room turn towards them.

"You stand before the gods of the old world. Cast down and broken in the cataclysm, our powers were lost but our spirits were not killed. This temple was build in a bygone era, a last resort in case of such a failing. You stand before the elemental spirits, the creators of the universe, and a Pantheon marked for death."

"We seek revenge upon those who broke us. We seek the recognition above all the powers of the multiverse. We seek worship in the hearts of man. But above all, we seek the power to take back all creation."

"We stand at a crossroads of events, a precipice of history, and if we do not act now we are surely lost. We can wait no longer. You shall be our vessels, and we shall be your weapons. In the end, we shall be as one."

"We offer you great power, unimaginable power, the power to conquer worlds and obliterate your enemies. We offer you power beyond your imagining, power beyond what any mortal has ever held, power beyond even what the new Gods hold now. But, in return, we require a covenent."

"Step forward and claim your God."

Our heroes eagerly step forward. Rache the inquisitor races for the Positive stone, cackling with glee. Semprona the anti-paladin strides toward the Negative stone, declaring "No more games!" Jephthah the fighter walks forward, trips over his own feet, and winds up face first in the Fire stone. Layric the rogue dances from stone to stone, before finally determining that the Earth stone is his. Aislyn the sorcerer approaches the water stone (as if there was any doubt).

The voice speaks again.

"Covenant the first: Your desires shall be my desires, your needs as my needs, your enemies as my enemies, your friends as my friends. We are one mind, one heart, one soul. Do you swear?"

Aislyn hesitates. Is she about to give away her free will? Become a slave? But the promise of power is too alluring. The heroes swear.

"Covenant the second: As a Pantheon we are whole, divided we doom ourselves. There shall be no lies, no secret, no betrayal between god (and on the word betrayal you hear one voice break in anger, a voice as dry and dark as death). Do you swear?"

"Of course" Says Rache, "No secrets. I, by the way, am a half-orc, and not a human as I appear." Our heroes swear.

"Covenant the third: We shall seek power over all other values, unblemished by morality or other false ideals. We shall gain dominion over the world through fear or love, and we shall crush those who will not bow. Do you swear?"

Our heroes make uneasy eye contact from across the room. They swear.

"The let the New Pantheon begin."

The power flows through them, to each of them, and the soulstones turn to opal. They feel the gods rooting around in their brains and, at the same time, an immense unlocking of energy. Their skins glow.

"Without our planes to grant us power, we will have to seek Ascension in the new ways. Worship. You shall come to understand more in time. But first, you must find a way to freedom."

There is a large crack in the back of this room, leading to a vertical shaft up to the surface. Rache pokes his head out, only to see the prisoners eating lunch under the watchful eyes of 6 guard. He and the other heroes return to the cave, determined to wait it out.

Night falls, and the prisoners and guards leave. After some deliberation, Layric determines that the Grindylow corpses are indeed edible, if cooked. Without anything burn, Rache heads into the night, quickly gathers some wood and avoids a Venomous Snake. Jephthah uses his new flame aura to light the branches and the horrid Grindylow meat is prepared and cooked.

They set up camp on the cold stone ground of the room of the Gods, and try to sleep.

Jephthah nods off on his watch at about 1am, and our heroes are each awoken by a thrown spear. Five Grindylows attack! Rache gets hit, and begins bleeding on the floor with a spear sticking through his side. Semprona rushes into action. In her zealousness she activates the vicious aspect of her new found power, completely destroying a Grindylow but sacrificing a majority of her health. Aislyn attempts to roll into an advantageous position, but a Grindylow takes advantage of her movement and stabs her before she can get off a spell. The Grindylows attack, and bring Rache down to negative hit points. Jephthah rushes into to distract the Grindylow on Rache, and Layric moves into flanking. After a few rounds of melee the Grindylows are killed. But the night is not nearly over.

An hour later Rache realizes that they are being watched. He wakes the others and the group try and frighten the lurking Grindylows away. They even scatter metal pieces down the hallway. Despite their best efforts, the Grindylows always stay out of range, and spend the rest of the night hooting and screaming. Aislyn, Layric, and Semprona get no sleep after this, and dawn breaks to a hungry and exhausted bunch.

As the sun rises, our heroes begin to make their way out of the underground cavern and up the hill. However, the guards and prisoners return within minutes to begin mining. Exhausted, Layric and Aislyn both fall down the hill and into the middle of the guards. Semprona, sensing battle, charges and then tumbles down the hill, followed by Jephthah. Rache, seeing the jig is up, makes his way slowly down.

"We surrender" protests Aislyn meekly, as the guards rush in. Our heroes fall under an avalanche of club blows, an awake bruised and sore in their cells.

We started on sunrise January 1st and we ended at January 2nd, mid-day. Our heroes played this a Character Level 1, Ascension level 1, and ranked up to Character Level 2 for next session.


  1. What are the rules you are using for Ascension? Mythic levels or something else?

    1. It's a custom ruleset based on the six elements: Air, Earth, Fire, Water, Positive Energy and Negative Energy. It's fairly simple - I'll post it at some point f or people to peruse.