[The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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[The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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If I may break the Fourth Wall for a moment, this game has been kind of tumultuous, given that I can't find a setting I like enough to base a full-fledged campaign on. I give up. For now on I'm running this game in a semi-original world that's sort of like Western/Eastern Europe, but not really. It's kind of based on Jack Shear's World Between (hence the name), but not beholden to it. I'll take inspiration from it, Ravenloft, Dark Albion, Krevborna, and any other Gothic horror thing I find and like. I swear this is the last thread I'm making for this.

The beginning of the campaign starts in the Ravenloft forum, and can be found here:

viewtopic.php?f=6&t=22690

If you start there and follow the links, you'll eventually come back here. I should get some actual content here soon.

Thanks for reading this far.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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Arriving at Dale, Abigail us welcomed warmly by the locals, still grateful that she and Emily rescued Nathaniel those months ago. After fielding some uncomfortable questions about the missing Emily, she enjoyed a warm meal and a night's sleep before she made her way to the Cottswood residence the next morning.

Finding the old man distracted, she coaxes out of him that his son, an advisor at Blackmist Keep, home of the Barony, had sent him a disturbing letter about the Baroness' sudden change of personality after the the death of her father. The Baroness has now turned into a bloodthirsty tyrant, holding public executions for trivial matters and crushing any sign of dissent. At a loss of what to do he wrote the letter in hopes that his father would have some advise for him.

Obviously concerned, he asks Abigail to check on his son and maybe investigate this troubling turn of events. She agrees, if he'll consult his tomes about the dreadful dreams she's been having at the Sutton house in Creedhall. While he doesn't much deal in superstition, he promises to look into it. Science doesn't have all the answers she reminisces, but thinks better of stating her thoughts out loud. Besides, she has a journey to prepare for.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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It was a fairly pleasant ride from Dale to Blackmist Keep, only meeting a small group of pilgrims making way to the Cathedral at Chancel. Wishing them luck, Abigail presses on until the Keep is within viewing distance. Her approach, however, hadn't gone unnoticed. Two riders rode to greet her and get a statement of intent from her. While they seemed surly at the beginning, Abigail's innate charisma smoothed over some of the suspicion, plus her family name bought her some consideration as well. Now with escort, she arrives at Blackmist Keep.

After entering the Keep, she first made her way to the market in an attempt to contact any family that may be there. A risky move considering her background with Douglas Ambrose and their unpleasant parting, but after finding them they seemed none the wiser of her personal issues. They instead, were seriously concerned about the attitude of the Keep and its affect on the bottom line. Shrugging she listened to more gossip, like the immanent peasant uprising in the works. They suggested that she keep her head down and wished her well.

Making her way to the Keep, she used Nathaniel's seal to gain an audience with his son. Once the two were alone, he accepted to letter, which wasn't much more than regular correspondence introducing Abigail to him. His story wasn't much different than the one presented by his father. The few details the advisor provided were that the new Baroness (one Aileen Braddock), was formerly a somewhat flighty youth with a penchant for poetry and swooning over pillow books. After her father's death during a hunting accident where he was mauled to death by a great beast, she became, well, despotic and somewhat neurotic, often walking alone through the halls lost in thought.

One night he followed her to the family crypt, where she disappeared within. Not having the bravery to follow, he wrote to his father in hopes he could offer something approaching help. He never considered he'd send a flesh and blood hero to help! Smiling in relief, he gives Abigail a hastily drawn map of the Keep, focusing on where the family crypt would be. Wishing her luck, the advisor made his exit, leaving Abigail suddenly on her own.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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Leaving Blackmist Keep proper, Abigail meandered the streets, wondering what to do. She was no sneak, and following the Baroness would almost certainly be folly. Still, something needed to be done soon; as her family had mentioned, the air was thick with anger and resentment. It wouldn't take much for this to turn violent she thought, eventually deciding to shore up in her family's estate to plan her next move.

Unfortunately, she would not have much time for preparation. Not a day later, a popular peasant leader was executed, for sedition. It wasn't much longer before a full-fledged riot broke out. Cursing her luck, Abigail attempted to stick to the shadows as she made her way to the Keep once more. Once there, it was no problem disguising herself as a rioter, helping to break through the confused and unprepared guards. Once inside, she stole her way away from the the group toward the family crypt. Arriving without trouble, she took a torch from the wall and made her way down the winding staircase.

What awaited her was something to a shock. Among the dead and rotting corpses was a beautiful woman of raven hair and alabaster skin resting upon an alter, holding a rose across her chest. What was this she thought, praying it was no sinister undead waiting to tear its way to consciousness and attack her.

She need not have worried. Fast approaching footsteps suddenly broke the silence, racing down the stairs. Hiding among the shadows, she could hear a woman's voice carrying through the room. Don't worry my love, we'll away from this cursed place and escape for places unknown to these unwashed brutes. Peeking over a crypt, Abigail was shocked to see the same woman as on the alter rushing into the room. An audible gasp alerted the walking woman to her presence. Who are you she cried. I'll not let you take her from me!

Coming from her hiding place, Abigail drew her sword, stating that the woman remain still until she could figure out what was happening here. Screeching with anger, the woman's hands grew into claws, and charged her. After a fierce battle, Abigail arose victorious. her relief was short lived though, as the woman's body shifted and morphed into a naked thing. Humanoid but grey and lacking features except a mouth full of teeth and claws instead of hands. Doppelganger she thought! Somewhat disturbed by this turn of events, she ran up the stairs, leaving the girl for later, hopefully after finding her contact before figuring out what to do.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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Upon reaching the top of the staircase, Abigail began making her way toward the sitting area she met Cottswood in. Unfortunately, it was not to be. There's one of them she heard a woman call. looking toward the voice, she saw a maid leading a small mob in her direction. I saw her meeting with the advisor! Attempting to explain herself to no avail, Abigail ran away, finally escaping from the keep into the burning streets.

After nearly being trampled by a crowd of rioters, she eventually arrived at her family's residence, where she laid low for the rest of the night. What if the woman was the real Baroness she opined after getting settled. What of the doppelganger was the real source of Blackmist's troubles. Realizing with horror that she had left the sleeping body of the Baroness to the mercies of a rampaging mob, Abigail started getting sick to her stomach. Maybe they'll see the monster's corpse and come to the same realization she hoped. Regardless of what she told herself, she was unable to sleep the rest of the night.

The next morning there was unbridled cheer in the Keep. Hiding under a hooded cloak, Abigail made her way outside to be greeted by what looked to be an execution. Asking what was going on, a reveler told her that the Baroness and her court were captured last night during the uprising. This morning they were all to be hanged. Making her way into viewing distance, she saw a row of nooses, one holding a confused Baroness Braddock and another holding one of her advisors, Cottswood's son. Watching in horror, she almost attempted to protest their innocence, but eventually deciding that her life was more important, she held her tongue as the innocent were sent to their deaths.

Not wanting to stay any longer than she had to, Abigail left Blackmist later that afternoon towards Dale, not having a clue of what to tell Nathaniel. Hoping the words would come to her, night fell, matching her dark mood.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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Abigail's trip back to Dale was uneventful, which was just as well considering the unhealed wounds from her fight with Baroness Braddock's doppelganger. Her first stop was at the inn, not ready to speak to Nathaniel quite yet. Still, it was only a matter of time before he'd know of her arrival, so she swallowed her fear and made her way to the scholar's address.

Unfortunately, her visit went about as well as she thought it would. Cottswood cried, yelled, and ultimately blamed Abigail for his son's death. Wasn't she a student of the Art? Couldn't she had done something? Anything? Not willing to explain herself, the scholar eventually reminded her of his position in Dale. She should leave at first light he said, and perhaps it would be be best if she not return. Ever. Heroes, he spat, were best remembered and not seen he cautioned. Not wanting to test her popularity against his, she numbly nodded and let herself out and returned to the inn.

At the first light, she mounted her horse and left Dale forever. Not knowing where else to go, she decided to go back to Creedhall as she felt she had business at the University Library to attend. She did resolve, however, to stay at an inn despite her dwindling funds and stay for as short a visit as possible.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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Arriving back at Creedhall, the grim reality that the amount of research would drain her last few coppers if she were to stay at an inn for the duration set in. Steeling her nerves, Abigail made her way to Sutton House, feeling both sullen and timid at the same time. The house was as it ever was, though she'd never spent any appreciable time in it alone before. Steeling her nerves, she bedded down for the night.

The next week was mostly spent at the University Library researching her Art. Even though she woke early and stayed late, the dreams consumed her sleep, stronger than ever before. She held out for the required time for her research before madness overcame her. Using her enchanted dagger and her magics she tore down the newer constructed wall in the basement, revealing a secret room. Carefully stepping over the rubble, she approached the alter hidden within, upon which lay a desiccated corpse covered by a light blanket. The floor and body were adorned with arcane symbols and writings that made her slightly nauseous.

What in the World Below is this she whispered, carefully circumventing the lines and writings as she stepped closer. A voice whispered back, I am of your blood centuries past. Taken aback, Abigail almost fled until the voice spoke again, soothingly. It knew her. It knew about her quest for power, about the amulet, about the death that surrounded her... it could help, it offered. All it required was sacrifice. Blood sacrifice. After all, true power was not for the faint of heart...

This time Abigail listened to the small voice inside her pleading to flee this insanity. She fled Sutton House, Creedhall, and her dreams into the morning light. It was hours before her horse gave out, leaving her to rest her mind and ponder her next move. Black Diamond Hall she thought; the perfect retreat. It was a family estate overlooking one of her family's interests, a coal mine, served by the township of Duston Hills. There she could collect herself she thought. Suddenly filled with a sliver of hope and relief, she closed her eyes as she rested against the truck of a tree, allowing her horse to recover from her mad retreat before setting off for coal country.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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The dust of the road was thick on Abigail as she approached coal country, specifically Duston Hills, home of Black Diamond Manor. Her haunted look and signet ring got her into the manor proper, and soon the family was falling atop each other to meet her. Literally. It seemed her arrival had interrupted some sort of revel, and her inebriated relatives couldn't help themselves as they attempted to appear both proper and sober. They were successful in neither. Still, after some gossip and a few glasses of wine, she as allowed to away for a long bath and a soft bed to rest in.

She would soon learn, however, that these family revels were not uncommon. In fact, it seemed like the Duston Hills Suttons were managing practically nothing, devoting their lives to debauchery. Their pleasures were simple and unimaginative, but effective in dulling her pain for a time before the events became somewhat trying. Just when she was about to give it up, the head of the family invited her to a secret rite, where the haze of the purple lotus, a powerful drug of mystical properties, hung thick in the air. Abigail even remembered Douglas Ambrose, her former mentor, imbibing on occasion, which, coincidentally, allowed her access to the tower's hidden places where she stole the forbidden book and amulet that spurred her life of adventure into being.

Not quite believing that her family would dabble in something so arcane, she joined her relatives in their excess, allowing her senses to expand and spirit called to further planes of existence. The effects lasted for hours, and when she came to she felt more connected to the universe than ever before. With this new resolve, she drug herself out of the mire of self-pity and mindless numbing and began seriously contemplating her next move toward exploring the mystery of her amulet. Throwing herself into research and contemplation, she saw less and less of her family, until she half wondered if they remembered she was there at all.
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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Even though her family had moved on, the servants had not, and when farm animals started going missing they came to her for assistance. Apparently showing up in town with sword and spell led them to believe she was somewhat more competent than the rest of her family. Agreeing to help, they led her to the field, where it looked like the poor beasts were slaughtered on the spot, with a trail of blood leading sporadically toward an old mine. The locals told her that they tried mining for copper there, but the ore turned out to be more unpromising than they had originally hoped. They closed it off to discourage children from getting inside and promptly forgot about it. Nodding her head, she lit her lantern and proceeded down into the depths.

It was a disaster from the start. Abigail not only fell into a pit after the ground gave way under her feet, but not long after parts of the ceiling fell upon her head, drawing the attention of strange white subhumans armed with primitive swords. She shot at one, but it went wild, and soon she was overwhelmed and beaten into unconsciousness. Her last thoughts were of the World Below, and how surprisingly light her soul felt.

Then there was pain and darkness. The light was faint, and she started hearing sibilant voices mouthing familiar secrets to her. A woman's voice broke through her consciousness, focusing her attention. Abigail, it said reassuringly... how did it know her name? Ignoring her question, the voice introduced itself as Octavia, an artist and keeper of secrets. Lolling her head to the side, she saw the woman's silhouette: shapely and athletic, but unquestioningly serpentine, from the head of writing hair to the missing legs, leaving only a long snake's tail. Unable to stop her self from gasping in fear, Octavia laughed. Yes, she said, it's as bad as you think. But this is no garden of stone, and we have much to discuss.

And talk they did. Somehow, the gorgon knew just about everything there was to know about the goings on in Black Diamond Manor, from her family's drunken revelries to the petty intrigues of the waitstaff. Confused, Octavia revealed her most prized possession: a large crystal ball! I knew you before you ever stepped foot in my home, the gorgon related. You're not like them she said, running her hand over Abigail's leg. You're special. Now, about these...

Again they were lost in conversation, about her magic dagger and the tree-cultists to, surprisingly, her amulet, which sat safely in a locked box in her room. Such a lovely trinket she remarked. I'd love to have such a thing. Octavia also interrogated her about the purple lotus and its effects. Abigail talked it up, not that it needed much embellishment. This only served to pique the gorgon's curiosity. I'll have these she determined, and Abigail will get them for her. And in case she decided to run, a townsfolk child was being procured at this very moment!
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Re: [The World Between] Beyond the Pale Curtain [Solo Campaign]

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Not long after Octavia made her threats and demands, one of the blind subhumans entered the room. It spoke in its gravelly tongue something, to which the gorgon reiterated in the secret language of snakes that they had, in fact, not been able to kidnap the human child after all. Actually, just the opposite, as one of their own had fallen in the attempt. Octavia quickly regained her composure and, like all good serpents do, lied about the outcome, not knowing Abigail knew her secrets. You'll get these things for me or I'll turn the child to stone! Nodding numbly, Abigail agreed, and was let loose to gather what prizes Octavia wished.

Returning to Black Diamond Manor, Abigail hand waved concerns for her health and the incursions of the subhumans, retrieving her amulet and, with some effort, a dose of purple lotus. Quickly returning to the mouth of the mine, she waited for the gorgon's servants to welcome her in. Through the caves they winded until reaching double doors. It was there that once again the sorceress screamed names best left forgotten, beseeching aid and demanding service. Through a rent in the fabric of reality, a sickening puddle of red and black slime rolled, attacking her enemies, lashing tendrils and biting with mouths. While her guards were being destroyed, Abigail spoke another spell, this one of protection, before scooping up one of the subhumans' crude swords and moving on.

The complex was lavish for a cave, but crude in design. She and her... thing... made quick work of more subhumans and even some sort of mutant carnivorous ape before meeting the quivering form of Octavia. Shielding her eyes, she ordered her creature to attack while preparing her magic once again, unleashing destructive energy, crackling purple and black lightning, at the gorgon. I LOVED YOU the monster screamed as she loosed an arrow from her longbow, striking Abigail in the shoulder. Gritting her teeth, she risked all as she charged Octavia, impaling her through the stomach with her sword, killing the beast. Grimly smiling at the corpse, she hacked at its neck until the head came free! Allowing her beast to continue wrecking havoc across the lair, Abigail made her way, head in hand, to the gorgon's lair, scooping up the crystal ball and a septet of gems.

Leaving the mine, she recalled that Octavia seemed to know her secrets. Now, staring into the dead gorgon's face, you'll reveal yours! At the thought, Abigail started laughing to the evening air.
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