Me and some folks were playing a homebrew Beldrobbaen-centric campaign I created, via Storium. On March 1st, Storium became open to the public, allowing people to read without needing to pay, if the campaign is set to public.
By their request, I'm going to put up a link to our activity thus far--would be tedious to post everything, but I will provide the first section here...
It is the aftermath of the District War of Year 1115 of the Moonless Age.
The Clans as we know it are no more. The war has turn all of Chel upside down, all while the looming clouds of starvation and enemy invasion hang over our heads. My homeland is nearly a wasteland from all the fighting, and our people’s spirits are at an all-time low. But I am optimistic, for I believe it is time to take back what was once ours.
-Sinya’se Dizen’ralith Val’Beldrobbaen
ACT 1: The Borderlands
“Welcome to the Beldrobbaen districts, traveler. As you may have guessed, the District War has taken its toll on Chel—infrastructure has all but collapsed, lawless gangs flying the Sarghress flag roam the streets unchallenged, and the clans-held power structure as we know it has dissolved into chaos.
The Val’Beldrobbaen clan remains strong, but by all accounts, we should have fallen long ago. This is due to the extraordinary survival instinct our leaders possess, despite the rather embarassing lack of cohesion between our Houses. This same perseverance lends itself to the unfortunate idealology held by the elder Houses that outsiders are to be held in contempt, lest they worm their way into our foundations.
However, we of House Dizen’ralith have much use for enterprising mercenaries like you… You are to meet with our liason at the Last Haven Inn, where you will be briefed in full.”
The letters, bearing the black seal of the Val’Beldrobbaen clan, seems to crumble once you’ve finished reading. It doesn’t come as a shock, compared to how the scroll was delivered to you and your companions: by stealthed shadow warrior. Whoever penned these has taken great pains to ensure they reached you quietly and efficiently, and that its writer did not wish to have this message passed around.
The Beldrobbaen Clan, for all the average Chelian knows, was and still remains a clan of complete mystery. At most, you can infer that the clan’s well know for having detrimental numbers. But that didn’t stop them from keeping the Sarghress forces in a gridlock for several years.
Still, the land surrounding the clan’s holdings has fallen to disarray. The once bustling areas around First Landing have become quiet, and the few remaining inhabitants wary of strangers. Sarghress troops patrol captured territory here—most of the more disciplined Wolves stay well away from the border between Beldrobbaen-held lands and First Landing, there are occasional skirmishes between Beldrobbaen warriors and the hotblooded young Wolf recruits.
In short,order has disintegrated into chaos, and none are able to restore stability for long enough to address the real cause of strife—the underworld-wide food shortage, and the Black Sun threat.
Now where can i get a smoke because i got them herbs and i need my fix.
Been ages since i been here so this place got a lot worse since i ran away from orthos after setting my teacher on fire by accident.
The Last Chance Bar, location of literally the last chance for a drink for leagues in this part of the city. All sorts visit here, considering the place’s neutral grounds an unspoken rule. One can find commoners, beggars, warriors and vals all gathered here, with their identities hidden and kept that way. The odd dark elf woman is not harassed, however, but she does stand out like a sore thumb, along with a peculiar Val woman.
Barman give me the strongest drink you got. I had a bad day and oh my who is that nice lady over there?
Best to buy 2 drinks one for me and the other for the lady over there.
Now where is that pipe.
‘Looks into her bag and sorts out the mess till she finds her pipe, 1 fire starter and enough herbs to send her to the nirvana gates of Shiva’s garden.’
The mercenary finishes reading the letters, and she find herself staring at at a darkly dressed woman, with plenty of silver jewelry adoring her body. Despite here foreboding appearance, the woman’s face smiles gently and her body posture emanates a peaceful personality. She is clearly a Val of Beldrobbaen, and introduces herself as Kalii’stra Dizen’ralith Val’Beldrobbaen, fourth daughter of Dev’ess Hala’solenta.
She speaks in a motherly tone, addressing the ominous means of getting the party’s objective. “It’s a measure of secrecy needed to avoid valuable information falling into enemy hands. As you can see, the District War has turned friends into enemies, and neutral parties into bitter subjugtors. It is my mother’s wish that her family find ways to keep our clan from falling to these evils, and she has sent her daughters to fulfill their tasks. Mine is to guide you to our home, of course.”
She looks at Minalia with curiosity, but shakes her head when the drinks come by—Kalii’stra looks down into her cup, sees mysterious floating things inside of a dark brown liquid, and pushes it lightly towards the mercenary who ordered it.
“I am sorry, but I—uhh, I’ve just had my sustenance before coming here.”
Time to start my smoke while listening to the noble lady.
And i was just about to drink my cup when i also noticed the strange floating worm and they looked familiar.
Wait a minute i know that..that stuff is highly toxic. Hey bartender what kind of sick trick you pulling off giving me and that lady drink i sent to.
Are you trying to rip me off and get my ass poisoned just to get at my herbs and furs?
The barkeep looks at Minalia and Kalii’stra in anger, not even noticing how finely dressed the merecenary’s partner seems.
“What did you say, you little merc punk?” He growls, reaching beneath the counter.
Nearby patrons turn towards the pair in interest.
I said i want my money back.
You gave me a cheap as fuck drink and here this is a toxic type of worm that somehow got into my drink.
Fuck it i dare you to drink it then. If nothing happens then il be happy to pay my fee but if my hunch is right you gonna be spending the next 10 minutes in agony with your insides on fire. (Minalia rolls Intimidate, and succeeds)
The barkeep is soundly defeated by the mercenary’s outburst. Finally, he notices her important guest, the Val Beldrobbaen who simple looks on with innocent astonishment. The barkeep bows his head in respect.
“I’m sorry, milady Val. I didn’t mean te give you drinks that’s been fouled up. It won’t happen again!”
Kalii’stra merely waves away his apology, saying that the people are under the Beldrobbaen protection regardless, and this is only a minor mistake.
To the dark elf drunk, however, the barkeep only has a glare. “Tch. here’s your bloody change. Don’t come back.”
Meanwhile, the nearest patrons start to whisper to one another about the scene. A few pairs of eyes train themselves on Kalii’stra. (Minalia receives a Handful of Coins)
Oh well another bar i end up getting banished.
‘Notices the val lady is looking at Min”
What you looking at? I studied bugs for a living and knowing what’s worth eating and whats worth squashing is handy from time to time.
A cheer sounds behind the mercenary—apparently, the barkeep had bullied several other mercenaries before Minalia stood against him.
Kalii’stra shakes her head. “You must be a wood sorcerer from the culture pools. We could… definitely use people like you in my House.”
Kalii’stra then insists that they should go, because not only is she due to deliver help promised, the bar patrons are starting to loom in on her. She reminds Minalia that this area is still a place where Beldrobbaen power is weak, and the ruined lands beyond are unstable.
“Sarghress patrols roam our lands unchecked… I risked much to meet you here.” (Minalia rolls 11 on Gather Information)
Sure why not.
A job’s a job and i don’t like them mutts sniffing our behinds if we stick in this worthless bar.
A short-haired drowussu male in armor had been sitting next to Minalia, listening silently until it was time to move.
“Wait, WHAT?! I haven’t had a drink yet! We’ve been traveling for hours!” He raised loudly over the bar chatter.
His shield hung on his back, jerking to the shift as he stood up to see Minalia over the gathering of heads. He didn’t forget it about it when they left…this time.
Hey Hor, the pretty lady said we are leaving before them wolves come sniffing our behinds.
And don’t forget your shield like you did last time.
“Wait, WHAT?! I haven’t had a drink yet! We’ve been traveling for hours!” He raised loudly over the bar chatter.
His shield hung on his back, jerking to the shift as he stood up to see Minalia over the gathering of heads. He didn’t forget it about it when they left…this time.
Kalii’stra coughs, interrupting the conversation. “I am glad that one of the watchers who cheered for you has decided to join us.” she said, offering the armored male a kind smile. She wasn't sure how well a drowussu will contribute towards her task, but seeing as that these were the only two mercenaries that answered her sister's call... Kalii'stra had no choice.
“But as I have mentioned before, the District War has turned friends into enemies, and neutral parties into bitter subjugtors. It is my mother’s wish that her family find ways to keep our clan from falling to these evils, and she has sent her daughters to fulfill their tasks. Mine is to guide you to our home, of course.”
Kalii’stra turned towards the door, and left
Scene 2: Southern War Ruins
Upon leaving the Last Chance bar, you explore the immediate vicinity: war ruins of the Borderlands that were looted, blasted apart, and now abandoned, in the 15 years since the District War began. The street is eerily silent and a darkened, making it hard to notice what could be hiding behind the corner. Minalia Elects to just keep on walking, not to attract any attention. Kalii’stra is not familiar with the surroundings, but this is still her homeland, and she is confident in her ability to read the signals.
“I will show you the way I took with my escorts, if you’d like.” She asks, while keeping an eye on the shadows.
She momentarily turns to the two mercenaries with a stern look. “As you may have guessed from my clan’s signature ability, I am a master of the Shadow arts. But I won’t use it on my own people unless the situation is dire.”
Well it might be best then. Just try and stay in between us two. Last thing we want is our employer to get a arrow on that precious neck before we get our first pay.
Least I was able to sell off those furs I brought back from the surface.
Horaven scanned around the area quickly. Blade and shield ready to fly up in a moment’s notice.
“Don’t worry. If something goes wrong, we’ll do what we do best.”
(All players rolled for Spot or Listen check)
(Minalia: 20, Horaven: 6, Kalii'stra: 20)
The trio begin their journey by walking between old, crumbling buildings and onto a main street that goes north and south. The cracked road leads to a ruined plaza, where commoners would have once gathered to draw well water from. There is indeed a well in the center of the plaza—uncovered, and recently used—but the smell of rot and death waft up from its depths.
Both Minalia and Kalii’stra remain on alert; Kalii’stra catching sight of movement in front of them, and Minalia picking up footsteps belong to several people behind. The two are put on guard and spread out.
Unfortunately, Horaven is slow to react to the new information, and quickly finds himself surrounded by smelly, ragged bodies. He accidentally trips over one and falls to one knee.
A group of desperately poor commoners are gathered around you, some giving your weapons a wide berth, some clinging to your clothes to beg for food, work, or simple shelter. These individuals clearly don’t have the look of Beldrobbaen citizens, so they are probably homeless squatters from the old Illhar’dro districts to the south, or runaways from the First Landing battle.
Kalii’stra moves towards the edge of the plaza and is careful to do a body count. “There must be about 5-8 commoners here. I guess we weren’t as stealthy as I had hoped.” She calls out to the mercenaries, while keeping herself visible to the people. Kaliis’tra needed to convey that she is a Val of the land they reside in.
“Please let us through, citizens of the district! We are on an urgent matter!”
"Hey you want money?" the dark elf shouts, then throws the coins she got back from the bartender to the floor a fair distance away from their position.
"Lady we best run like hell before they start begging for more change."
Kaliis’tra looked at the wood sorceror with astonishment. “But the commoners.. They look so famished—I want to help them!”
She continued on with her train of thought, citing several reasons for wanting to restore this section of the ruins, helping to feed the poor, and setting up a medical tent to relieve the sick.
Clearly, Kalii’stra is a very nice Val. Some of the commoners stop for a moment to listen to her ranting.
Horaven had to ward a few away with his shield as he pushed himself back up. It was only until Min tossed ada out into the open, drawing their attention away from them, that he had a moment to breath.
“Nothing wrong with wanting to help, but unless you have a long table’s worth of food under your cloths, we need to get going. Desperation can turn a person violent.”
As a precaution, he drew out his old rusty sword.
Before the coins Minalia threw even touched the ground, a pair of women with emaciated children stepped forward to swipe them up.
One of them turns to address the trio. “Thank you, kind lady Val! The Beldrobbaen have not forgotten us, and we won’t forget them, either!” The other woman and children bow and run away before the other beggars try to maul them.
A handful of beggars stay behind and shoot the trio angry looks. They clearly want more of where those ada coins came from, but the Drowussu pulling out an old sword was enough to send them scurrying into the dark alleys.
Kalii’stra sighs, and remind the group that they must keep moving. She leads them down one alleyway, climbing over pieces of fallen rock and overgrown weeds. As the group moves on into another main street, they start noticing some signs of life. The homes that are still intact are lit and occupied, however ragged they looked.
But Kalii’stra points out that she had discovered blasphemous Sarghress symbols painted over some of the doors. It seems that the Beldrobaben clan is having trouble trying to reclaim this residential section. The Val insists that they stop to investigate, because this could be vital information for her clan.
“Motherkilling Sarghress! They harried us at every turn on the war front, and now they send their dogs to terrorize our lands!” Kalii’stra growls. “We must find someone and determine what’s happening here!”
She is clearly not happy seeing citizens being affected by the roaming gangs spotted in the area.
Horaven frowned at the painted sign that he came to associate trouble with. With everything that was going on, he expected more Sarghress related news spreading about.
“So you want us to find a red and have a nice chat with it?” He looked over to Kalii. “Or just find…anyone?”
Minalia did the simplest thing she could think of: she went into house that seemed occupied and used a very polite, very respectful greeting...
She knocked on the door, and when the residents opened the door she instantly decked them in the face and then ask them a few questions with Horaven's sword to their neck.
(gm rolls a d20 Diplomacy check for all players. Needed at least 10 to succeed)
(minalia:5 horaven:7 kalii’stra:8)
Minalia’s harsh action to the homeowner prompts a swift reaction from Kalii’stra, in the form of several shadowy hands grasping Minalia’s arms tightly. The grip is surprisingly strong, and leaving a curious bloody impression on various parts of the clothing.
However, the family is terrified by both Minalia’s actions and the Beldrobbaen Val’s shadow arts, so they calls for help, and several other neighbors arrive on scene…
It seems that the Beldrobaben clan is having trouble trying to reclaim this residential section. The trio gains the ire of several families living in the area, some whispering about the Sarghress coming to clean up the Belds soon…
(Minalia’s action prompts an additional intimidate check. You need at least 10.)
( Minalia:6, horaven:13, Kalii’stra:2)
But at the sight of the imposing drowussu male in full plate, the woman suddenly convulsed in Minalia’s grip. Her mates screamed in the background. The atmosphere suddenly turned very strange…
“S-S…Sarghress! Please! I only have a few ada left saved up, I need to feed my family! I swear, that’s all I have left to me name!!” cried one of the males behind the woman of the house. More drow were peeking out of their windows—no doubt afraid of showing their faces at the mention of the hated clan.
The family reveals that they pay Sarghress soldiers a daily “protection fee” to ensure their safety, as did other families still in the area. General faith in the Beldrobbaen clan has fallen, but Kaliis’tra promises to deliver this new info to her dev’ess so that aid from House Ka’Shatriya can be sent here. However, the family doesn’t believe her sweet words.
The group continues to question other people who had come out to see them, but most are reluctant to speak about the Sarghress that roam this area. They are afraid of retaliation.
“Yeesh, Min. You think that might have been a bit much?”
Horaven kept his sword sheathed for the moment, but a hand rested on the hilt as a precaution. He watched valiant over the group as more of the commoners gathered around.
“I remember once upon a time that the Sarghress were championed as saviors for the people. Funny how things go sometimes.” He merely watched as Kalii’stra spoke with a few of the residence, waiting for her to make their next move.
We got the info. We must leave now.
Little val girl, remember this, your kindness will be your undoing. nature despise when the weak is protected by the strong. They do not become strong they fester and blister and eventually you must amputate in order to save the whole.
“There is nothing wrong with showing compassion for your fellow neighbor,” Horaven said. “But I do agree, we should get moving. This commotion is bound to draw in more onlookers.”
Kalii’stra retracts her shadow hands, leaving tiny droplets of blood trailing back to her body—an unusual display of a bloody shadow art not seen before. Minalia remains unharmed but covered in blood prints. The Val’s face looks rather strained and stressed, but she is otherwise still healthy.
“It is my… duty to protect these citizens. To show them that my family and my clan still want to protect them from the chaos.” She said, shifting her gaze to various commoners around them. “Some of my kin may not care, but I do! How can I sit in the towers and watch our people suffer like this?”
Kalii’stra turns back towards the family in the home, and sighs. “I am the fourth daughter of the House, in my fourth century, and with many healthy daughters sired by a loving Sulissin’rune husband. So many people of this district cannot say the same…”
“That’s why we’re here right? So we can work our talents that will translate in some way and make things a bit better for ya’ll.” Horaven offered, but he realized it may have been foolish to say anything before hand without even hearing what the job was about. Still, he figured it couldn’t hurt to say.
“When we get there, I really need something to drink…” He swallowed, trying to clear some of the dryness in his throat. He never did manage to get something while they were at the inn.
“Yes, you are right, that is why you accepted my family’s plea, being foreigners and drowussu of all things…”
Kalii’stra then approaches Minalia to straighten out her clothes, as if they were ruffled up.
“I’m very sorry for my sudden behavior; I don’t mean to frighten you or anyone else. I just get… passionate about the poor.” her lips right, these next words struggle to come out: “Its about all I can do, helping others…”
Speaking of things foreign and Ssu, there was an individual who was both hiding among the hovels. He was wearing the darkest garb he could find, which under good light would reveal itself to be navy blue in color, and a dark brown cloak which did much less to hide his face than he believed. In contrast to the darkness surrounding it, it almost seemed to glow given how white it was.
His activity for the moment was observing the source of some shadows moving independently of the lights that should be producing them. He’d heard that the Beldrobbean could manipulate shadows as a part of their family arts, but watching it in person was something both fascinating and terrifying.
He could hear voices from the source and saw what appeared to be a confrontation in the general area. As a man who was rather fond of peace, he did not like to get into confrontations, but once outside the walls of his compound he realized that so long as he did nothing, the conflicts would rage on without him. He knew he couldn’t do much about the wars at large, but maybe if he could prevent the smaller street fights, he hoped he could inspire others to do the same.
He approached the cluster of twisting shadows just as they dissipated, using the large handle of his headless mace as a walking stick. He was pretty certain of how he was going to introduce himself until he noticed that a fight was not actually going on, at which point he found himself at a loss.
Horaven turned to the voice, ready to draw the sword on a moment’s notice, and was surprised to see another of his kind present. The grip on the hilt lessen a tad.
“Hi…” He returned, cautious. “Who are you?”
Great another strangers joins the fray. Min ignored the stranger who seemed to nice for his own good.
“Not to sound like a bad Kyonne song that keeps repeating itself.”
Putting her head to the ground with her ears she began to concentrate to see if she could hear that typical noise of plate metal resonating when it hits the floor and she could hear it but it was faint but getting closer.
“We need to leave now. The noise we made will attract even more unwanted attention and trouble is gonna be on us in less then a minute at best.”
Horaven looked over to Min with a worried look. Oh no…he had figured the commotion would have attracted attention, just not this soon. He hurried over to Kalii’stra and gently motioned her with an encouraging hand to her shoulder.
“C’mon, we need to get moving, now!” He told her. “Worry about people when we’re safe beyond Beldrobbaen walls.”
A fight now would have been a bad idea. If the Sarghress were coming, they would most definitely be in a group larger than a noble and two mercenaries could handle.
As they passed Kale’shido, Horaven gave him a hard look.”Run!” He warned.
Kale’s first instinct was to run as indicated, but a thought occurred to him, eliciting a deep breath and an odd instance of forced resolution.
“Run if you want. For my part, I’ve done more than enough of that. I’m tired of my life being nothing more than a pitiful attempt at prolonging it.”
Deep down though, he sure hoped that he looked and sounded about a thousand times braver than he felt.
“Another drowussu…?” Kalii’stra asks, raising eyebrows at the grey-skinned drow.
Surely, the Beldrobbaen lands would be the last place for Kyorl expatriates to make a living in… But he does not have the look of a Sarghress dog, and the Val woman decided not to ask too many questions.
She picked up her skirts and strode over to the newcomer to examine him. “No matter. Join us and earn the right to serve the Dizen’ralith House, and you will be rewarded accordingly. I don’t turn away help regardless of skin color, and it would make me happy if you did!”
Spotting his peculiar armor, Kalii’stra guessed that he must have been some kind of Kyorl'solenurn runaway. “What can you do for me?”
Out of the darkness called a young voice; one brave youth steps forward and wades through the crowd to address Kalii’stra.
“I’ve got something you might want to hear, lady Val.”
He tells them that the raiders are just playing a racketeering game with their lives, spouting nonsense about protecting commoners from Val imperialism. His family is just one of many in the area that are being shaken down for what little valuables they’ve got left. Anyone who resisted would be dragged out of their homes and beaten savagely until someone gave in. Grumbling from the crowd around the mercenaries confirms sentiment.
He thumbs down a darkened, disused road to show you where they usually frequent—an old well in the town square. Faint paw tracks trail around the area, and farther beyond to the east—it appears that a handful of wolves passed through this area not long ago.
“The dogs scurried off for now, but they like to hit up this area a lot. The people are tired of war, but if the Val’Beldrobbaen still care about us, we want to see the Sarghress outta our hair for good!”
Unfortunately, it seems there were tale-tellers among the commoner group who ran away during the commotion to tell their Sarghress masters. Not a moment after you step into the area, you are greeted by three Sarghress scouts on wolves, and unable to escape. Boy, are they pissed!
(You can choose to fight head on, or take a chance to use a Bluff, Diplomacy, or Intimidate skill of your choice [indicate on your next post]. However, if you roll for a check, you have to succeed the roll for all enemies, which is to get 15 or higher.)
“You boys go and tell em to piss off. Win me some time so I can cast a good useful spell or 2.”
Checks her bags to find that little leather gourd full of seeds she bought from a old vendor on the surface
“Ok my little sweeties time for you to grow and be useful root tentacles to bind those puppies for Mamma.”
Min’s preparing to cast a binding ability.
Kale’shido turned to face the Sarghress scouts. It was time to put his convictions to the test. He didn’t want to fight, but if he merely fled here, he would literally be discarding the peasants here before the wolves, and their lives were miserable enough as it is. He put forth the best smile he could manage.
“Hello there, friends. We’re all quite a long way away from home, aren’t we? Do you mind telling me what you’re up to here?” (Kale'shido succeeds on Diplomacy attempt)
Horaven turned to the reds as they rode up on their trademark mounts, and knew any chance of getting away was immediately shot. Fingers overlapped the hilt once more. At the corner of his sight, he could see Min already preparing something with a cautionary warning to them. Yep, there was going to be no easy way out of this.
“Well, now’s a good time to step up.” He said over to Kale’sido, and then looked over to Kalii’stra to make sure she was standing back.
“So I heard you talking shit bout my turf?”
The female of the group, the crossbow-wielding wolf rider, tosses back her head in defiance and fires off a string of insults at the mercenaries and lady Val. Her cronies, a male wielding a dented spear and another male wielding a notched sword, hang back, waiting to set their snarling wolves on them.
(Kale’shido rolls Diplomacy check on Sarghress Scout x3. Must succeed 15 or higher on rolls.)
(Spear Scout: 20, Sword Scout: 11, Bow Scout: 1)
The drowussu Kale’shido steps forward to try reasoning with the aggressive warriors. The spear user and the sword-swinging scout actually pause for a moment to think, much to the crossbow woman’s anger.
“You know what?” The spear user says while turning to his pals, “Fuck this. I’m tired as Hel and my wolf is injured. We’ve already done enough fighting guys, and I don’t want to risk making my wolf’s wound worse.”
The sword-wielding rider is somewhat on the fence. “Well I dunno… That Val is a Beldrobbaen, she could be a handful… you heard the rumors about their Illhar’ess, man…”
The crossbow woman just about screams at the two. “Are you two fucking kidding me?! They could be from another crew trying to set up shop in our territory! We need to get rid of them now!”
“Yeah well, you chucklefucks are always hogging the loot and you never want to share!!” The reluctant rider shoots back. “So fuck you, I’m going back—have fun getting your heads ripepd off!”
The woman is astonished with her companion’s sudden reversal and departure. The sword-wielder merely shrugs and decides to stay.
Without warning, the woman knocks her crossbow and fires on Kale’shido for causing her men to doubt her! Kale’shido takes a critical hit!
(combat is now initiated. Kale’shido takes -2 to total HP)