Part 2 of this series is going to detail Day 1 of the weekend’s games for the Titanswrath historical event in my homebrew world of Akaar.
Right from the start, I knew I wanted to split the adventure into two parts. One day for accomplishing one part of the story, and another to finish it. And, since a large majority of my players were going to be playing their FIRST game of Dungeons & Dragons, I felt like this was a great way to introduce them to the different flavors D&D has to offer.
As I examined the historical event of Titanswrath in my breakdown of Akaar’s story, it became clear how to split it up. Day 1 would be for completing the deal with the goddess Kasal in order to obtain an endless army with which the heroes could combat the tarrasque known as the “world-breaker.”
That means I need to figure some things out. I need to know:
- Where this is all starting
- Who all is involved
- Where they are going
- What’s at this location and what’s it all about
- How will the deal with the god go down
Start At the Beginning
It makes sense that the leaders of the land of Errun would be the ones concerned with stopping the world-breaker and the demi-deities. They would be getting together to figure it out. So, it makes sense that this would start at the capital city of Safuja, also known as the Seated Jewel.
It also makes sense to start there when I make Safuja the eventual target of the demi-deities that are leading the world-breaker on its path of destruction. The demi-deities want revenge for being stripped of their purpose, and they want to exact it upon the people of Akaar. Where better to strike than the gleaming capital?
So now I have to flesh out enough detail to Safuja that the players are going to see. I’ve already decided that this event is going to be somewhat “on the rails,” because so many of them are first-time players, and I’d rather direct the story in the direction it needs to go rather than watch them flounder about the beginning of the game, not knowing what to do.
The Sovereign needs a place to live. That’s where the heroes are going, after all, to meet with the Sovereign. So I created Nakosa Keep, a large castle-like palace in which the Sovereign and his staff and guard live. The keep is in a part of Safuja called Providence Ward, which is the walled-in, “higher class” section of the city, where the rich and powerful live.
I found a map online of…well, actually a churchy type temple or something that didn’t totally fit my needs, but it was close enough, and I could imagine the differences to make it more like Nakosa Keep. It’s actually very difficult to find art online for the interiors of nice castles and palatial manors. And I don’t have the time to make them myself (plus I’m not that talented).
I’ve Seen All Good People
Who are the major players in this event? Well, the Sovereign’s been mentioned, so I have to put him into play. After fleshing him out, I came up with Sovereign Balthias zon Tior, a high-elf man who is also a Paladin of Shamol – goddess of redemption and rebirth. He has some extremely powerful magic items that make him super-strong and a true contender.
We also need the five generals of the armies of Errun, because the Day 1 adventurers are going to be escorting them to make the deal with Kasal. So I have to put them together too.
- General Tova Norelia, a female human battle master. Long, braided red hair. She’s rambunctious, a bit abrasive, and is very no-nonsense. Used to be a soldier.
- General Yimo Katakoria, a male half-elven war cleric of Borohn, who used to be a knight. He has long, dark hair that’s pulled back tightly into a ponytail. He is extremely loyal to the Sovereign, and very meticulous about his looks.
- General Riskel Torivelo, a male tiefling hexblade warlock and follower of the goddess Safar. He has dark red skin, and bright, orange irises. He used to be a criminal, but found the light and began doing good in the world.
- General Ibya zon Ren, a female tabaxi ranger with cheetah-like print on her fur. She follows the god of fortune, Omad, and is a champion of the people who live on the outskirts of the civilized lands, protecting them from the lawless.
- General Geron Uzeka, a male minotaur paladin of Jasor. He is large, and quite intelligent, and likes to keep the mood light-hearted. He is a natural entertainer.
And, because the adventurers are eventually going to go up against a freakin’ tarrasque, we’re going to need a few NPC adventurers to accompany them on Day 2. More on them in the next post.
Finally, I need a facilitator – someone who will give the details of the deal with Kasal to the Sovereign and the adventurers. So I need a fifth demi-deity, Kasal’s avatar. Enter Drijalora, a tall, gray-skinned woman with inky black splotches all over her body. She has long, oily, messy black hair that hangs in front of her face; and she wears filthy, tattered clothing. She carries a long, silver staff with an enclosed circle at the top. She is the demi-deity of Kasal, and she will be the goddess’s voice on Akaar.
Location, Location, Location
I had to figure out where the heck the adventurers were going to have to take the generals in order to do the deal with Kasal. Where would such a deal take place? Where would a goddess of undeath and disease want to make such a deal?
For this one, I actually reached out to Reddit for some help. The commenters were very helpful in submitting some ideas, and I definitely incorporated some of them into the flavor of the encounter. I eventually decided that this would happen within an ancient temple that was originally dedicated to Kasal’s sister, Mahluq – the goddess of monsters. I found the map to Kerzit’s Fane online, and it fit the kind of twisty-turny temple-dungeon I was looking for, so I redesigned some of it, and blocked off about half of the map (I didn’t want my large number of players getting lost and spending all of their time finding their way around).
Deep Into the Ground
Now it’s time to fill the fane with stuff, and come up with a theme for it. I already have its purpose – it was dedicated to Mahluq, goddess of monsters. So its theme has to be based on monsters – in Mahluq’s specific case, aberrations and monstrosities.
Then came the backstory. Nirlok was an evil wizard and champion of Mahluq over a thousand years ago. He built the fane beneath a great mountain in her honor. He filled it with her horrible creations. He loaded it with traps and riddles, and the promises of treasure to lure hapless heroes into its deadly depths.
As Nirlok grew older and near death, Mahluq wished to repay his unwavering loyalty, and requested her sister, Kasal, do something to preserve him further. Kasal granted the gift of immortal undeath, and turned Nirlok into a mummy.
The Encroaching Altar
As Nirlok’s power in undeath grew, so too did Kasal’s influence within the fane of her sister’s. The dark energies within the fane soon became enough that Kasal could use it to her own ends. She used her influence to alter a small section of the temple, and created a dark altar comprising of a 40-foot tall obelisk of black obsidian, and 5 black obsidian sarcophagi. With this altar, she could have a group of participants on the Material Plane conduct a ritual with her that would thin the veil between the living and the dead.
Titanswrath Day 1
The adventurers gather at Safuja, and meet with the Sovereign and his 5 generals. There, Drijalora explains that they will travel to a fane beneath the mountain Bran Urko – atop of which stands a memorial for a great battle in the War of Day and Night. There, they must approach the altar and claim the endless army.
Half of the adventurers (those present on day 1) go with the generals to Bran Urko via a magical teleportation stone. The other half (those present on day 2) go to the second location to prepare for the fight with the world-breaker (more on that next time).
The heroes make their way into the fane and explore. They find the mummy Nirlok and solve his riddles, and overcome his traps. They find old, crumbling paintings on the walls depicting Mahluq and her creations. They defeat a small handful of creatures, successfully defeat a room of Blinding Silence, and all make it to the altar.
At the encroaching altar, which seems to be bursting out from within the regular temple, they hear the voice of Kasal herself. She says that the adventurers present must speak on behalf of all of Akaar, that they here represent their desperation – their will to live. They must agree to act as their proxy.
They do. And so they are all magically branded with a three-inch birthmark-looking blemish somewhere on their skin in the shape of a gaunt hand.
Then, in order for the ritual to work, Kasal needs additional power to weaken the veil between life and death. She cannot grant such an army without this. So, she asks five of the present player-characters for a sacrifice each. She asks the thief for his mother – he agrees. She asks the rogue for her younger brother – she agrees. Kasal asks the druid for her twin sister – but she requests that she be taken instead, to which Kasal agrees. The goddess then asks the second druid present for the elder head of her druid tribe – she agrees. Finally, she asks the archer for his warmonger father – he agrees.
With all the sacrifices set in place, Kasal commands the generals enter the five sarcophagi and receive her blessing to control the endless undead army. They do. The ritual works, and the generals arise now with a faint purple glow behind their eyes.
And that’s where the session ended.
Unfortunately, we started about an hour or so late because we had to wait for a large number of my players to arrive to my house to begin. I had a lot of backstory to explain to the players, and didn’t want to do that more than once.
So that meant that I had to scrap a couple of things, and modify some others, and speed things along in certain areas. Luckily, though, we ended right after the thing that NEEDED TO HAPPEN for Day 2 to work, because I wasn’t going to spend any time on Day 2 handling any leftovers from Day 1. There just wouldn’t be time.
What that meant, though, is that my players never got to experience the final encounter within the fane – a devious room I dubbed the Hall of Monstrosities. I was so excited for that to happen, but it never did. Oh well. It only kind of hinders a couple of plans I had for future campaigns, but nothing majorly.
The BEST part about running this game, though? Everyone had a great time! My players thoroughly enjoyed themselves, and it was a BLAST watching a bunch of new D&D players figure out riddles and traps, and ask what all they could do, and come up with creative solutions to problems I presented.
I even received one of the greatest birthday gifts I could receive: one of my players, who was skeptical about the game before, said that I completely changed his mind about D&D, and that he wants to play again. My heart overflows, I couldn’t be happier.
That being said, I did announce at the end of the game – and so I’ll announce it here as well – that this event was meant as a springboard into a brand new campaign set in my homebrew world, and the players present at the event could be invited to play if they wanted!
I’ve already assembled a short list of people based on their eagerness and excitement to play again, and I think it’s going to be a blast. I’m so equally ready and NOT ready to throw players into my homebrew world (I have a lot more building to do…but maybe it’ll be better this way).
I’ll have more content for you throughout the week, all revolving around this Titanswrath event, so stay tuned!
Until next time – Well Met!