Thursday, December 23, 2021

No, Seriously, Enchanters and Illusionists Rule the World

Over four years ago, I alleged that enchanters and illusionists rule the world.

And finally, there is proof!

My players in the Sunday night game are on the cusp of learning The Awful Truth™: a secret cabal of enchanters has altered their memories to obfuscate the fact that the player characters accidentally stumbled upon their operations a few months ago. (In fact, the cleric has already cast greater restoration to restore his own memories, and so has already learned this secret. He currently plans on doing it to the rest of the party the next time they get to rest.)

They have previously received hints of this conspiracy:

  • They keep finding the same symbol everywhere they go. It usually appears on articles of clothing or jewelry, and on one notable occasion, as a tattoo.
  • They received a picture from an oracular dwarf girl depicting a creature none of them could perceive. (They managed to determine this because the henchmen in the party seemed a little weird when confronted with the picture, so then they started asking everyone they met about it. Once they determined that their description of the picture differed from everyone else's, they started interrogating the problem further.)
  • The campaign's arc words are, "Are you forgetting something?" (In fact, this and other secret messages appear if you Select All on the campaign's front page on Obsidian Portal.)

Currently, we don't know why the characters' memories were altered, but next session, we're going to do a brief flashback to find out the sordid details. (We'll be using a more narrative system for that to cover the fact that they clearly can't die in the flashback. And then we'll return to the present, in the midst of a deeply complicated standoff — roughly half a dozen factions are involved with some trying to enter the Temple of the Frog and others trying to repel them. It's a glorious mess that I am very excited to run.)

The only information the player characters currently have is that one of the cabal's agents is currently attempting to retrieve the Book of Salientian Hours I mentioned in a blog post last month. This artifact has only just been introduced, but the players currently know that it is the Froggies' prayer book and that two other factions also want it: an unknown elf who claims it was stolen from him, and the warlock's patron who has not yet been identified as Graz'zt himself. (While the players are aware of the aforementioned facts, the characters don't yet know this information, because only the warlock knows this as part of his patron's secret agenda. Graz'zt has promised the warlock the staff of a powerful wizard if he can retrieve the book ahead of the other factions.)

I love it when a plan comes together.

Once again, my bog-standard sandbox-y fantasy game turns into a sticky morass with plots and intrigues and secret histories.

As for what this secretive cabal of memory manipulators seeks with the Temple of the Frog's prayer book — not to mention their other nefarious plans — remains a mystery. For now, anyway. (Although readers may take note that Dark, Utopia, and the Southern Reach Trilogy had outsized influences on this thing, even though I watched and read them after the game started heading in this direction. Hopefully this thing will take shape with the fullness of time.)

As for the other games I run in Khaldun, this secretive cabal has only directly interacted with one other group of player characters, although they didn't know it at the time. But there is always the possibility that other groups will follow...

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