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Unread 25th of November, 2011, 23:00
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BigRedRod
A One-Winged Angel [Epic Admin]

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Long, off the top of my head, ramble about the plot and where the game was going.

The cosmology
The non-standard cosmology of the setting was at the heart of the story I was trying to tell.

Just as souls move to the Netherworld when the Red Moon dawns they move on from the Netherworld in due course. If you follow them from world to world you end up back at Aos. The nature of souls and their movement changes from plane to plane. If you go back a world you'll find a vast tower. It's a world which for the most part has no concept of death. There are cities and towns on the different levels, but at a certain point "The Call" becomes too strong and an individual which start to ascend the tower. They will slowly climb the spiral steps until the "Winged" arrives. As the winged flies upwards through the centre of the tower, "The Called" vanish. It only takes a few minutes, and it utterly devastates the tower, towns are destroyed, lots of uncalled are vaporised and generally it's regarded as an inevitable semi-regular apocalypse. They invest lots of time and resources trying to stop this from happening.

The souls from that world trickle into Aos at all times (as the Called reach the Ebony Gate at the top they move on) but when the Winged arrives it causes a huge surge in the available souls. These unborn souls just kind of hang around uselessly but peacefully until a host arrives (i.e. is born). Birth rates increase when the soul surge arrives, but nobody has really noticed this before on Aos. And then they live happy lives and eventually their host dies and they drift aimlessly searching for a way to the next world, the Netherworld. The way only opens when the soul of the Winged arrives (having been born and died).

The general idea that it's undead with souls who are causing the moon problems is therefore not so far off. If the Winged (or keysoul as we'll call it when it's in Aos) were to become a lich, then the moon would not arrive until its phylactery was destroyed.

Winged? That sounds vaguely familiar
Yes, the game started with the party chasing a little girl. A little girl with black, feathered wings. Over the course of the original game, the players found and lost her a few times as the Moon Cult also wanted her for its nefarious schemes.

She'd been taken from the Tower before she could ascend, allowing the people there to live in peace. so long, story short, if the little girl had at any time died, then the moon would have dawned.

The nefarious schemes of the cult, were in fact to make sure that the girl was kept alive at all costs. And as she wasn't a human, and didn't need to eat this could be achieved by just locking her in a cage.

So the Tower people were behind it?
Not entirely. They helped, but it's always more complicated than that. The Tower people wanted to avoid the Winged's destruction and they were more than happy when a mysterious stranger turned up and offered them a way out.

A mysterious stranger that the party from the first game once met, Amides Hone. As I'm such a wit, that name is an anagram rather than a Shakespeare reference (He Is A Demon). Amides Hone wasn't from the Tower or Aos. He's from the Netherworld (there, the souls are sort of currency, contracts and a workforce, with the various Angels/Demons trading them between themselves). There's no major blockage for souls there, but there is a complicated bureaucracy and with no Red Moon there's also been a major economic crisis. Not that Amides Hone is doing something as simple as manipulating the soul-labour market for his own profit.

He took the Winged from the Tower and planned to take her to the Netherworld (this would be the safest place, it's furthest from the Tower and Aos where it can do something if it broke free). Interplanar travel is, however, more or less impossible and so he ended up stranded on Aos (due to the existence of the fissure around the Broken Tower in no small part) and had lost track of the Winged. He quickly met a useful individual, who also happened to be a master of disguise. And set about reviving the Moon Bringers as his personal force of misguided zealots (he used his right hand man to do the leg work, often appearing as somebody with just one eye and a pet orc).

So what was he trying to achieve?
This ring-shaped universe is actually a prison being the chains that hold a higher being in place. And Amides Hone discovered this and managed to commune with that being. I wanted there to be layers of reality, so this universe which has arrived within the beings chains is incidental. It's not some great monster or primordial chaos. It's just some guy being held captive. The world (which includes Aos) in his chains is just a result of the magic they use on that level of reality, and if he's ever freed then the universe would likely be destroyed.

This is the terrible truth that Amides Hone discovered. So, he had one option, make a deal with the captive. He breaks the chains and the captive gives him an existence outside of this accidental world. To destroy the universe, all he has to do is stop the flow of souls and let them build up somewhere. And that is what he did.

So what about the hole in the universe?
That was an unexpected direction for the game brought about by the players taking unexpected action (i.e. when they were at the Broken Tower talking with the rats and then decided to go and get a coffee rather than protecting it when every peasant with a pointy stick was intent on claiming some rat heads). The rats were split into three factions on Aos, and when the guardians (i.e. the big ones and the deformed tiny ones in the sacks at the tower) all died, the other two decided to bring all their friends through (because here, they would gain souls - they actually gained the souls of the dead, i.e. the restless ones that were building up due to a lack of moon, not the unborn ones). This widened the rift and every new rat tugged on it a bit more. There was a critical point approaching where this would destroy Aos entirely, which would break the chains and destroy the whole universe.

That didn't suit Amides Hone, as if it wasn't carefully controlled he might not get his own freedom. The exodus from Edinway, however, caused the Moon Bringers to split, with a majority abandoning their previous mysterious leadership to throw in their lots with the remains of Pelor's Cathedral. The Moon Bringers were generally not bad people, so much as scared and ignorant (on the whole that is).

This left a few factions in Edinway. The Cathedral with its Moon Bringers, the Magewright's Guild (who could now try and seize control of the city now that Lord Edinway had abandoned it), a ragtag group of former peasants living in the former noble houses, Amides Hone and his remaining cultists and the rats.

Which brings us to putting up the anchors
The Anchors would stop the rift was expanding and slow the growth of the rats. This suited just about everybody. The Magewright's Guild were avoiding helping where possible because they wanted the other factions to use up all their resources establishing a stable equilibrium and then they could pounce - annihilating the rats and all the other factions to leave behind an ancient city built in a place of power that could rival Hollowfaust (the Necromancer city far to the south).

Now, you guys got zapped over to the outside of Aos. That was because you put the anchor in a structurally unsound place (tower that was pretty damaged after a certain aspect of an entity beyond time and space attacked). The game diverged massively at that point - option one was dealing with a frantic rat war as they tried to destroy the anchors. Option two was what you opted for.

What was the deal with the trees
Each soul's lifeforce was represented by the leaves on the trees. Eating those leaves would keep anything alive but it would hurt (and possibly kill) somebody on the other side. The rats existed as a kind of inevitable, natural force of entropy. They ate the leaves out of the need to fill the gap they had instead of souls. But you'd pretty much figured that out.

What was the deal with the Sigil-bearers and Kings?
A King is kind of a proto-God. Some great entity that was drawn to Aos from the void and managed to gain a little feeble power from the worship of the rats (by using a Sigil-bearer as a sort of avatar). Worships without a soul is a hollow thing, so when the rats started gaining souls they started making the Kings more powerful.

The Sigil-bearers were given an artificial soul of sorts by the King to be more effective tools, but when Grimjaw and Kjetil decided to bear Bargrivyek's sigil they already had souls, which gave the King a lot more power. Even better, if they managed to get back to the interior of Aos, it would give Bargrivyek a way in. He could become a true god (this would have led to some fun interactions with the cathedral of Pelor). On the other hand it stopped you dying of thirst and hunger and would have let you take a Prestige Class to try and temper the influence of the King.

The rule about not killing rats, was due to the fact this had a fairly negative effect on the stability of Aos. Kill too many and not only is the nature order of death subverted, but you're also damaging the plane itself - which is bad.

And the dragon?
Untended, unloved objects can cross over. It's a one a billion chance, but it can happen and it does. Somehow, it happened with abandoned dragon's egg (there's a lot of very old stuff under Edinway). The egg matured outside of Aos and so it took on some aspects of the plane, despite being a real creature with its own soul. It was acutely aware that in its present location it was quite powerful, whereas inside Aos it would be a small fish in a big pond.

Giving a dragon a story of yourself willingly, gives it power of you to a tiny degree which I was holding in reserve as a potential plot hook down the line once we'd seen where things were going.

The Illithid was doing his usual unfathomable experiments which involved the keystone you needed (which was actually an ancient artifact of LeeCHeSS' old character's patron spirit). You'd run into a few of his various thralls (all partially replaced with bits of metal and whatnot) and then come across a strange full-colour area that was the Illithid's lab. This would be Chapter 3 - dealing with the Illithid. I was angling for a kind of vague horror aspect here and really trying to push the "his motives are so alien that any dealing with him is not going to work in the long term". The area was going to a mechanical fortress lab with lots of running water as the basic rules of this world were broken without effort and for no obvious reason.

So, with the keystone and the dragon's tokens it would all work out fine then?
Pretty much. Karthas would step out here, as he sacrificed himself to open a temporary door (although he's less dead and become a sentient part of the membrane between the two sides of Aos). Importantly, however, there's been a huge time slip between the two sides from your point of view. So, it's been over a year (it was late winter, now it's late spring).

You'd have arrived and been attacked by a band of elves. All of this has finally drawn them out of their homes to come and deal with it. They're hostile and superior and they've been systematically improving the anchors (generally killing any guards stationed around them too), so that they now not only prevent the rift from getting wider but also gradually close it (although this works on an Elven timescale and would take about a thousand years). The elves link together the anchors with their mysterious magic and set up a camp.

After dealing with the elves, the party return to Edinway to find things have sort of stabilised with the various factions becoming entrenched. I've only got super vague notes here, as it really depends on how the elves were dealt with and how you respond to the strange communist former peasants, the arrogant mages (and their Warforged servants) and the Cathedral who are increasingly compromising their own morals (first allying with the Moon Bringers, then by welcoming in the mysterious Amides Hone(who was still controlling both sects of Moonbringers by now) and then by becoming more and more combative in their approach to dealing with the Edinway situation.

Using the influx of rats to control the soul problem would also be brought up here. And then the idea would have been to let the players move along the chain of worlds, heading either backwards to the Tower or forwards to the Netherworld was the situation dictated to try and gain some insight as to what was happening.

What about Rosencrantz and Guildenstern?
Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are dead!

Yes, it was literally me introducing two characters as a rubbish joke. These two mysterious characters who turned up every so often to help out the party in the first game would have reappeared. Not allied with any particular faction and yet seemingly with full knowledge of what was going on in the world. They're ancient, long dead and bound to serve and protect the city although forbidden in exactly what they can do. They were kind of an emergency "get out of a sticky situation" button for me. They've managed to evade a few Red Moons despite being ghosts.
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