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AliceTheOwl

Via Rebooted - 15 Years Later

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Our story begins with the arrival of Gilian, the daughter of the bards Aralden and Rinandra, who followed in her parents' footsteps, in Shadowdale, the former home of the villainous Aciarren. She is delivering a message to Daris, who has stayed behind to clean up the town and rid it of Aciarren's influence.

 

There, she meets Aaron, a boy apprenticed to Daris to learn the art of locksmithing, and Hope, who is the daughter of Salem and Flora, the former heroes. She is learning The Art of the Balanced Sword from Daris. She washes up for dinner, and returns to find that Aaron has slunk away to go home for dinner, and Daris is accompanying Gilian's song on his flute. Gilian compliments his playing, then heads to a bard-friendly inn, where she's hired to play in exchange for room and board.

 

Hope decides she'll go watch the performance and eat at the inn, and arrives to find a packed common room. Word has, apparently, traveled fast. She spies Aaron on the crowd, and takes an empty seat near him. Hope has the ability to feel the emotions of others, and is well aware that the 14-year-old has a crush on her, though he's never been anything more than distantly polite. So, while she accepts his offer of a drink, she buys her own dinner, and is careful not to seem overly friendly.

 

In the middle of Gilian's performance, Aaron suddenly slips outside.

 

Meanwhile, Connor, a former slave, returned to Shadowdale seeking his long-lost family, is stabling his horse when he overhears a conversation indicating the speakers are plotting a kidnapping. He sneaks around to get a closer look, and trips over Aaron, who's also listening in. Aaron dashes off, and the menacing figures ask Connor how much he heard. He answers honestly, and is attacked. Aaron gets Hope, who helps run off one bandit, but the other is trapped. They call the guard, who dismisses the bandit, believing his story that Connor attacked him without provocation.

 

When Gilian is done playing, Aaron tells her of a kidnapping plot he overheard. She laughs, and informs him she isn't worried. She, along with her newfound friends, set out to prevent her kidnapping. Connor takes the room next door, and Aaron and Hope accompany Gilian in her room.

 

It's a long wait, but, eventually, Gilian's room is opened with a stolen key. She sends a blast of music at the intruder, who falls unconscious. The other is taken by surprise by Hope.

 

Connor, meanwhile, attacks those in the hallway, driving off two, as well as their leader, a man with half an ear missing. Through all of this, Aaron hides under a desk, fearful and helpless.

 

The innkeeper is most apologetic about the attack, and offers them all a free stay and meals for their trouble. Gilian accepts breakfast, but insists on repaying the rest. Connor is only too happy to accept as much free food as he can eat. At breakfast, he gorges himself on enough food to feed a hungry family for a week, having not eaten in some time, himself.

 

They search the town for clues about the would-be kidnappers, having found out from those captured that they call themselves The Children of the Vampire. The captive explains that they weren't supposed to harm Gilian, but that she'd fetch a handsome reward for her return, and the Children require funding. Their goals are to bring Shadowdale to its former glory, when Aciarren was ruling it.

 

Gilian receives a note at lunch, saying that they have "the boy," and that she should turn herself in at the caves five days' journey away to see to his safe return. The young heroes send word to Aaron's mother, through Daris, of what's happened. They go back out to look into a lead Hope has stumbled upon, indicating where the leader lives.

 

The lead turns out to be true, and they capture two injured Children while they sleep. The leader escapes out a window, and blends into a marketplace crowd to lose Gilian, who tries to track him. The captured bandits are surprised at the news of Aaron's capture, and are no help in locating him.

 

The heroes set out the following morning to rescue the boy. They travel without any trouble, and sometimes seeing evidence that someone had passed that way recently. On the third night, while Connor is on watch, he hears the rustle of dead leaves, and, upon investigation, sees Aaron ambling over.

 

He asks how Aaron got away, but Aaron only says that he needs to sleep. He curls up in his bedroll, which the heroes had gotten from his mother, along with other supplies of his, and goes right to sleep.

 

The following morning, Aaron is confused and disoriented, and is under the impression he's been rescued. He is unable to remember the night before, much less the circumstances of his rescue.

 

After some talking, the heroes decide to move on, to roust the bandits and find out what happened. They find a horse about half a days' journey up the path, who has no saddle or bridle, but is shod. They trace the horse's tracks back, and find the campsite of the bandits who'd kidnapped Aaron. It is the site of a bloody massacre. Aaron loses his lunch (a LOT), and Gilian investigates. She finds coils of rope in one unbloodied corner of the campground, lying in front of the body of a man who died of apparent head implosion. The man was holding a dagger before he died, but it fell out of his hand when he fell backwards. The ropes were clearly tied around Aaron, but there's no sign of his rescuer. Aaron, when his stomach has settled, guesses it may have been a bear, and Gilian suggests an owlbear, even though they're long-extinct.

 

That night, a shout wakes the campground, and Aaron has to explain, sheepishly, that he's prone to nightmares, and walks and talks in his sleep. He apologizes for waking them, but, as he's unable to go back to sleep after his nightmare, keeps Connor company for the remainder of his watch.

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Re: Via Rebooted - 15 Years Later

 

I thought it was a much stronger beginning than my last campaign, and the PCs are much more fleshed-out. There was a lot more roleplaying this session than in the last several of the first Via campaign, which suits my style nicely.

 

Aaron is an NPC, which you might've guessed from the fact that he's sort of in the background. He's a pacifist, a little afraid of violence, and provides some plot hooks. He's there as a contrast to the heroes, as something of an everyman, and to provide certain pieces of the plot. He's an only child, his father having died during The Battle of Shadowdale. He's fascinated by bardic tales, works hard to be considerate and kind to everyone around him, and comes across as innocent and shy.

 

Gilian is a PC, played by Josh. Hope is being played by Mandy, who was Flora previously, and Lina before that. She's deliberately playing her as quite different in outlook from her previous characters, and is having a lot of fun with her. Connor is played by Todd, who played Rastal (who, incidentally, gave Connor most of his training) and Gerard (who trained Rastal). Connor is the oldest of the group, at 21 years old. Gilian is the next-oldest; she's 19. Hope is 18. Aaron is only 14 (14 1/2, to be precise), and was born after the liberation of Shadowdale.

 

Some other background information that came up in the session is that Aciarren's money was never found. His castle was dismantled brick-by-brick, and Daris did find a journal indicating that Aciarren was deliberately undermining his own efforts, having regained his sanity after the loss of the soul-sucking sword he posessed. He burned the journal, though, so no one knows that Aciarren would've worked for a second chance, if he'd lived.

 

Most of the plot hooks lie in a little book Aaron inherited, which is filled with maps and directions and secret hidden places. He leafs through said book when he's bored, and is very protective of it. What none of the party knows is that he's already followed the first part of the directions, and found a small stash of money. He keeps this money sewn into the lining of his clothes, and uses it for emergencies, and to take care of his mother when they're low on funds. She assumes the money is a loan from Daris, who Aaron is apprenticed to, so he can learn to be a locksmith.

 

Little does the party know, the Children of the Vampire have unwittingly set up their headquarters just a little distance from stash location #2.

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Re: Via Rebooted - 15 Years Later

 

I've decided I'm going to do something cool with Gilian. I'm going to recap each week's session by adding to a musical ballad. It is meant to be sung in they way you'd sing a drinking song with people slapping their legs or stomping their drinks. I'm going to start off with a couple of stanza's to start as there is a lot of information to get it established. Each week we run, I'll add one or two stanzas depending on what happens.

 

 

Sit right back and pour another ale

I'm going to tell you a great big tale

Its of the Heroes from Shadowdale

 

It starts off with a bard it's true

Who wanted to be a hero and do a thing or two

But her honesty kept getting in the way

Twice she found herself taken away

Once by bandits who felt kind of bold

Once by a baron that was cruel and old

 

Off Gillian set on a simple errand

And there she met a young boy named Aaron

He desperately wanted to hear the young bard play

So he, to the tavern, went on that day

 

But he did hear some men plot and conspire

They called themselves Children of the Vampire

Aaron left to warn Gillian of the plot on her

But before he could, out stepped Connor

 

He threw up his fists as they drew their swords

And to the floor they went like boards

But Connor was one and outnumbered 's he

Even though a few of 'em had started to flee

 

But along game the third hero of our tale

Hope, daughter of Flora, whose skin was rather pale

She game to him and fought by his side

It wasn't long before they turned around the battle tide

 

Having defeat all of the men they fought

off to the bard the heroes went and sought

She listened intently to the evil plan

And they worked together to defeat the earless man

 

Late at night did the Children strike

But never before an ambush had they seen the like

Pretty soon they were once again defeated

And their evil plot was completely unseated

 

This hardly concluded the end of the tail

For these persistent men were made of fail

They came back later and abducted the boy, Aaron

Why is it all bad guys seem to behave like an evil Baron?

 

 

 

 

 

/ yeah, its crap but who cares. :)

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Re: Via Rebooted - 15 Years Later

 

After some traveling, the heroes spy some bandits, laying a trap for them to stumble into. Gillian spots them, though, and counts a dozen of them. Two move into trees and aim bows at them, while eight stay on the ground. The other two stay hidden, preparing to flank the party.

 

However, some well-placed spells, handy swordsmanship and some shots from Hope's bow slow them to the point where the heroes are untouchable, and the heroes break up the would-be attack. The bandits reveal that the heroes are close to their hideout, which they were supposed to be guarding. Gillian takes their shoes and saddles, making it harder for them to follow, and leaves them be.

 

They discover the cave later that afternoon, and find that it opens into a makeshift stable. They hitch their horses, and leave Aaron behind to keep an eye on their back, and to keep their horses from being stolen. When they encounter guards, they lie their way in, claiming to be the newest recruits. They're led straight to Matthias' room, and take out the guards leading them, as well as the ones guarding Matthias, who shouts for backup.

 

Gillian sees they have things well in hand, so she sneaks away to hide in a nearby darkened room, behind the privacy-curtain. Matthias, who is far more skilled than he looks, knocks Hope out, but Connor proves to be his better, and Matthias falls, bleeding. Meanwhile, Gillian throws the privacy-curtain onto the first wave of reinforcements, then sets it ablaze with her torch. This doesn't harm them, but does frighten them badly, and they start yelling about a ghost. Gillian pitches her voice to sound dark and menacing, and they run off, screaming.

 

Having cleared out all of the bandits, they explore the cave, while Connor goes back to get Aaron. He finds the "stable" a scene of chaos, with signs of horses having broken their hitches (some were cut) and scattering. He heads outside, and finds Aaron in a trancelike state. He is standing outside, shirtless, arms outstretched, soaking up the warmth of the sun. Connor goes to find their horses, and discovers two beheaded, bloodied bodies, lying near horses who seem remarkably calm, considering the nearby massacre.

 

When they join the others, Hope immediately detects that Aaron is calm, almost blissfully so, which is unusual. He points out, still speaking dreamily, that he found a symbol which is written in the book he inherited, carved into the side of the mountain. He claims it leads to another cave, but, when they find it, they see no sign that a person could enter, until Aaron touches another of the symbols, well-hidden on the rock face.

 

They enter the cave, and set camp. When Aaron wakes the next day, he remembers nothing of how they got there, nor how to open the cave wall. Nonetheless, his book reveals clues which indicate they should press on, and they do.

 

As the journey wears on, Hope sees what looks like a bat descend from the ceiling. As it gets closer, however, she sees it has human features, and, even closer, she recognizes the horned countenance of a demon with female curves. The demon lands in front of Aaron, and, when Hope tries to shield the boy, flies over her and extracts the terrified young man from Hope's grasp. She flies above the heroes' reach, chattering in her native tongue to a bewildered Aaron. He manages to convey that he doesn't understand a word she's saying, and she frowns and sets him back down.

 

When the demon makes no sign of wishing violence upon the party, they introduce themselves, and she tells them her name is Gift. They ask if she knows about this treasure Aaron's book hints about, and she nods, repeating the word, "Treasure." Then she flies off, illuminating herself and the surrounding cave in cold blue fire. They realize that Gift is the ghost of the caves.

 

Though they share no languages in common, they're able to communicate with some broken Fae (a language Gillian knows well) and gestures. Aaron is no less afraid of the demon, though, and so Hope holds him close to protect and comfort him. He's too terrified to count himself lucky in this.

 

They reach another opening, behind which is a male demon. Gift talks him out of attacking the party, though, and communicates to the party that they can go home, if Aaron opens another doorway. Gillian wonders if it's a two-way portal, but doesn't communicate this to party until they reach the next door. At this point, they decide it's worth the risk, and Aaron opens the door. The male demon goes rushing into the swirling vortex. The party holds back to see if anything emerges. When nothing does, they step forward, but Gift blocks the way so only Aaron can enter. The door swings shut. When it opens again, Aaron is embarrassed to not even have noticed that they didn't follow behind him.

 

They find a small trove of money, a jewelry box, and a wardrobe full of mens' clothes. While they take stock of these items, Gift kisses Aaron (he's too surprised to recoil), then vanishes through the portal. Aaron seems dazed and dreamy once more, and, the following day, thinks the party is joking when they mention Gift.

 

They get back to Shadowdale without further incident, and Aaron's mother is most grateful to see him. Everyone bathes and relaxes, When Gillian is playing at the inn the following night, however, she spots Gift's face in the window. When she goes to her room, she finds Gift on her window ledge. Gift demands, through gestures, that Gillian play more music. Gillian plays a lullaby, and Gift happily curls up, and falls asleep.

 

At a loss of what to do with the demon in her room, Gillian enlists Connor's and Hope's help, and they talk Arachne into coming by to work a change on Gift. They manage to communicate their intent, and change her into a youngish girl. She is, for the moment, satisfied with the change, and curls back up to go to sleep.

 

The following morning, upon discovering that she's too young for Connor's tastes (and that Aaron is just weirded out by the whole thing), she demands, once again through gestures, to be made bigger. Once again Arachne is fetched, and she works changes to Gift's satisfaction.

 

Meanwhile, Connor sells his part of the treasure (a gift from Aaron, really, as they all consider it his treasure) to Arachne for five gold, and the heroes plan a journey to recover more of Aaron's inheritance, and to go find the only human in Via who speaks the demonic tongue - Hope's mother, Flora.

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Re: Via Rebooted - 15 Years Later

 

She's an NPC. I can't imagine allowing a player to run a character who couldn't really communicate with the party. I figured that would make her more disposable, so that I could have little cameos of her.

 

Silly me. :doi:

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Re: Via Rebooted - 15 Years Later

 

Aaron buys supplies for the party, including a wagon, so that Gift doesn't have to go near any horses, who are made rather skittish by her presence. Once they're out of civilization, the party discovers that Gift is averse to clothes, and has very little tolerance for sunshine and heat. Though they can't understand what she says, her complaining tone makes it quite obvious that she finds clothes stifling and oppressive. Nonetheless, they manage to make her wear them, some of the time.

 

They catch up with a merchant caravan, made up of a large extended family. Gift is so fascinated by the children that she forgets to complain about her clothes. The party gets a respite from her acting-out the entire time they're around the caravan. However, as soon as they part, she throws a fit, deliberately scattering her clothes and dive-bombing the horses. When this nearly gets Aaron and Hope hurt, Gillian administers a spanking as punishment for Gift. The demoness is vastly amused. Connor hauls her off for a talking-to, and, though she doesn't fully understand his words, she is better-behaved as a result.

 

Shortly after, Gift vanishes in the middle of the night. Gillian follows her tracks, and finds her with a male demon, keeping him occupied. Gillian keeps calm long enough to return to the camp and inform her companions of what she's discovered. leaving out any scarring details.

 

Gift returns the following morning at daybreak, limping, covered in scratches and bites, and looking more like she's been in a fight than been enjoying herself. She goes to sleep. When she wakes, the party is setting up to depart. She insists they go kill the demon she was kind enough to wear out for them, and they dutifully trek off to where she left him. The demon is fast asleep, and doesn't so much as stir as the party debates what to do about it.

 

Connor contacts Rastal, his mentor, and persuades him to lend Connor his demon-slaying sword. Rastal sends a Cherubim messenger with it, who struggles with its weight. Connor is rather surprised to find the cherub wasn't exaggerating; the sword is heavier than it looks. But he manages to heft it, and cuts into the demon. One slice doesn't quite do the trick, but he's able to hack into the demon again before the creature is fully awake, and it dies.

 

They all breathe a sigh of relief, and travel onward.

 

They reach the town of Valmount, which has only sprung up recently, since Shadowdale's liberation. They find rooms for everyone, and sit down to enjoy a hot meal and some music. Gillian ends up dancing with a man who calls himself "Argent," and Connor dances with Gift, who, it turns out, is quite talented at drawing every eye in the room with a few shakes of her hips. Connor is affected by this talent, as well, and rents out an unoccupied room, so as to keep from disturbing his roommate. Gillian, meanwhile, is seen slipping off with "Argent," and Hope flirts with a young man, but ultimately rejects his advances.

 

The rest of the trip to Filo is uneventful, for the most part. They arrive, and Hope is greeted warmly by her mother, Flora, and her stepfather, Lyrien. When Gift learns that Flora speaks her language, she prattles on at length. Ultimately, though, the party does get the answers they need from her.

 

While they're in Filo, Connor looks into records at the church to see if there is a record of his sister's coming to Filo. While he's there, he bumps into Ryllis, who seems cryptic and morbid. She shows him where the records are kept, and he does, indeed, find his sister listed, and it shows that she had been sent to Asini, the capital. As he leaves the church, he sees a Seraphim flying in through the bell tower, and departs hastily.

 

They leave Filo and head to the site where Aaron says his journal indicates there's treasure. They find an underground tunnel, and travel through a network of caves. They encounter rats (handily dispatched by Gift's command of fire), wolves (a bigger challenge), and sneak by gryphons' nests. Finally, they reach the final test, which is a large chess board. Aaron steps onto the board, but the walls start to close in, until he wears the necklace (with a symbol that matches the one on Gift's) as he shouts out moves.

 

With Gillian and Hope's help, he's able to checkmate the final test, which makes the floor drop out from beneath him. The rest of the party dives in after him, and they slide down, eventually landing on a fresh pile of straw. (How fresh straw, or, for that matter, ever-burning torches got down here goes unexplored.) They reach the treasure room, and Aaron opens the door.

 

Getting out with their hard-won treasure seems to be a bigger matter, as the only way up is a ladder, and climbing while holding a treasure chest is difficult. Gift carries one chest, while Connor makes a sling from a cloak sitting in a wardrobe in the treasure room. Gift then retrieves rope from the wagon, and they're able to haul up the last chest. The rope also comes in handy in getting out in one piece.

 

They emerge from the cave, catch their breath, then head back to Filo.

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