Second Darkness

What happens inside the mental fortress of Serp?
A stream, no, river of thoughts in a mind like the ocean

With the drow pushed back out of Celwynvian, Serp feels like he has decisively accomplished his objective of becoming a “hero” – which is to say the naive people of the area will be impressed, giving Serp a leg up in the inevitable conflict when he returns to Riddleport. Serp lies on a cot in the elf encampment staring off at the tent in the dark. Going home to finally kill fucking Zincher after all this bullshit will be amazing and liberating. After all, he owes Zincher at least one death following the pickaxe incident… and the numerous other times Zincher has tried to kill him. And for bringing that “ghost” around to haunt him after the pickaxe… But tearing Zincher apart one tiny piece at a time will show that arrogant piece of shit who really runs Riddleport.

Serp closes his eyes to enjoy the fantasy. With Zincher dead, he won’t need his old posse of bodyguards anymore, and they’ll probably just bugger off to go murder-hoboing somewhere else, like every adventurer that passes through Riddleport. After all, he has the resources now, those adventurers don’t have a way back, and by the time they come back to Riddleport he’ll be securely a Crimelord in Riddleport… if they ever decide that shithole..well, his Shithole… is worth returning to.

His enjoyment of the fantasy sours a bit. But what then? Don’t fool yourself, he thought. Riddleport’s Crimelords don’t sleep soundly, just like the beggars in the streets of Riddleport. Crimelords tend to end up just as dead in their expensive villas as the poor sods left dead in the gutters. It’s not like those rich bastards in Absalom who can just walk around in the streets unarmed and enjoy their money on hookers and fine Qadiran cigars. Absalom is both so alien and so serene… maybe just enough trouble there to enjoy but enough security to sleep soundly. His pile of wealth might not be as impressive by Absalom standards as it would be in Riddleport, but at least he would wake up every morning. Most likely with some young new prostitute. Absalom is probably awash in young new tiefling prostitutes…

The fantasy was nice, but turned slowly to reality: even a new young tiefling prostitute every night isn’t quite going to replace her. Serp has, at this point in his life, spent as much money on prostitutes than he’s made selling girls into prostitution – which was not an inconsiderable sum. But his new fixation on tiefling girls is no coincidence, and it wasn’t the Calistrian hookers that made his first day in Absalom his best day. He had realized that his fortress of ego has been breached. His control of his emotions has been violated and he’s been too deluding himself to not admit it. As hard as he tries to deny it, his mind keeps going back to one woman. He has caught feels, and he’s a bit disgusted with himself.

Serp has seen the stupid things people do after they catch feels. Hell, he’s played quite a lot of money off of naive girls who have fallen for his charms. But one thing is inevitable – the victims of these emotions get robbed of wealth and health and they justify it as being some noble sacrifice for the preservation of their emotional delusions. Serp has already seen himself do some dumb shit because of her. Charging into battle just to look like a hero to impress her? What the fuck were you thinking, man? That’s how idiots get killed. But he had done it, he couldn’t deny the fact that the feels were already taking their toll on his mind.

The thought of surrendering to it crosses Serp’s mind, which makes him nauseous. Love is the most sinister four letter word. He’s seen the look of heartbreak and betrayal in a girl’s eyes when the man she was in love with turned out to be using her. Look what happened to Krog when he thought he was loved by a family. He’s seen how devotion to the ideal of love played out for Avay. His stomach turns.

She got lucky to escape, but her belief left her willfully naive, making sacrifices for others, and soon enough left her dead. His sister probably thought herself blessed to escape, not thinking of the shitstorm it left Serp in when he was left with her debt. Avay was young and pretty, and thus valuable. The girls Serp sold to the whorehouse to cover that debt were not as blessed, and so it took charming and deceiving quite a number of them before the knives were no longer out for him. Of course, the days where you get down to no one threatening to kill you is always a short interlude in Riddleport when you don’t have wealth and power. Still, Avay doesn’t think about how many others paid the price for her “luck”, Serp included. Serp just can’t think about her anymore.

Catching feels is a deadly disease, and not to be underestimated. Certainly, Serp had thought about ditching his bodyguards and running off to find Zhania many times. Though that might complicate things for her and her coven, in addition to leaving Serp vulnerable. Diviners only know where she had run off to anyway. She clearly didn’t care enough to stick around, so why must he be the one stuck with this debilitating emotion? He had heard the expression that “absence makes the heart grow fonder”… like poverty makes you fonder of money, like starvation makes you fonder of food. Is that to be celebrated? “Yes, let’s all starve ourselves so we can enjoy food more!” said Serp’s strawman as he smirked to his superiority.

Yet here he was, thousands of miles and weeks away from her, with piles of valuables heaped around his cot, risking his life and thinking about her. He knew he should be loading up the horse, and riding off to market, and what happens after that… and yet, here he laid.

Why? Sorting through the lies in his own mind was like walking through the thicket at night: a mire tangled in thorns in the darkness. Was he really doing this to impress her? Or was it that he just needed an excuse to continue to go on with a halfling Zhania would most likely seek out before she looked for him. Was he jealous? Could his emotional mess be unrequited? Those were questions he chose not to pursue. Was he vulnerable without their protection? Or were they merely the most profitable long con he had ever seen? Was it really a con if they don’t even care how rich he gets off them? He should leave this place today and do what he wants, which is to find Zhania.

And of course, what if he doesn’t find her? She’s off on coven business which is presumably pretty damned important if they’re asking her to stop this “saving the world” nonsense. Of course, the world has never ended yet, so Serp doesn’t think this adventure is quite so grand as that. But what if he can’t find her? Is he stuck waiting for her to come back to him?

But say he does find her: what then? When he finds her, what will she say about him leaving the others for dead? Sigh. She’s too softhearted. If that halfling dies she’ll be quite upset, and if she thinks it’s Serp’s fault, well, that’s just like becoming a dead crimelord. Fuck. Serp realizes that he’s now trapped, and this addiction of feelings is becoming as ugly as the drug addicts whoring and killing in the alleys of Riddleport. How does one escape from this? Serp realizes he’s shaking in his cot. He needs answers for how people survive like this, but trusts no one. He’s trapped, and needs to exert control to prove his superiority over this internal weakness.

How does he get out of this? One way is to make sure the halfing, wizard, psycho and mercenary are all dead and never to be found. Destroy the portal so there’s no return? Perhaps, but there must be another exit where the drow came in. And if they get back to this plane, that damned wizard will probably just teleport them to wherever the hell they want. And Zhania hasn’t used much of her power yet, but when she decides use divination she’ll figure out what she wants to know. And whatever the truth is, that must not look bad for Serp.

Make the elves love you so that when Zhania comes looking word is you’re acting like a hero. Keep that retarded halfling alive so Zhania thinks you’re a decent person. Fuck. When does it end? It’s not his fault those idiots ran through a portal to some weird world full of drow – could Zhania really blame him for that? What about the next stupid, suicidal thing they do? When would he need to stop keeping them alive?

But they are useful. So useful, in fact, it’s possible Enderil might be able to figure out what that coven is up to, and cheaper than it be if Serp were to try to find her himself. If Serp knew that, he could find Zhania, end the coven’s needs of her, and take her back to Absalom with hookers and happiness forever.

He wished she would just come back already so he didn’t have to play this more complicated game. One against the world is easy. This is not so simple, and he didn’t have the answers. Or know where to find them. Or if there were any answers.

So just take control. Make your own way back to her, and charm the shit out of everything in your way. Get Enderil to answer your questions. Start by getting through that stupid portal. If the elves’ pathetic wizard relied on Serp of all people to fight off these drow, wouldn’t it make more sense for Serp to open this gate himself? Serp prepares his bags, leaving the heaviest loot in the saddlebags in the tent, and sighs at leaving such un-carryable wealth behind with these unreliable elves. No time like the present.

View
Enderil's Musings 003

A story was told to me whose validity I can’t verify but warmed the soul. A traveling merchant was traveling as traveling merchants do. He found himself in need of repairs and was quite angry. He didn’t have the proper tools but found a properly shaped rock that could take place and bear the load of his wagon. He packed it with glue and small strip of wood to secure it. It held well enough and he continued on his way. The next day around noon, he found himself beset by wolves. He whipped his horses into a fury but the pack was rather large. In trying to run some over with the cart wheels, he misjudged his surroundings and found his wagon flipped. The wolves immediately beset the horses. Fight as they may, they couldn’t hold off an entire pack nor could they flee still being bound together. As large as a couple horses can be, a few wolves found themselves without and started to look toward the merchant as their next meal. He reached desperately for anything he could use as a weapon and found his hand on the rock he patchworked earlier. The glue made it much easier for him to hold as a weapon as he was able to kill the wolves that were coming after him.

Seeing an out, he simply ran and ran and noticed he didn’t hear any wolves behind him. Interestingly, he found himself still grasping the rock. Looking at it, he saw a fissure had formed and the sunlight revealed a slight glint from within. Figuring he would take it to a jeweler if he survived to make to his next stop, he set out steeling himself. He was faced with hunger, thirst, and nearly freezing to death but made it, barely, to the next town. He about collapsed at the gate and the local watch carried him to an apothecary. Having been nursed back to health, he remembered the rock. Taking it to a gem cutter, it was found to be cored almost entirely of a singularly large diamond worth many more times than the wares he had on the road. Taking the money he secured from that diamond he went on the found a fairly vast trading emporium. One day during the height of his success, a priest came to him and told him that should he like to enjoy more wealth and success, he should give thanks to Abadar and devote him and his trade business to him. Incensed, he challenged the priest and even threatened to have him killed if he threatened his businesses again. The priest simply said, “my lord has given me but one phrase to tell you: it is I who placed the rock along your path.” The merchant converted immediately and his trade empire lasted the whole of his age.

View
Enderil's Musings 002

There was a wedding ceremony for a poor couple in a small countryside village. It was put together by one of the benefactors of the village. The festivities were quite elaborate and spirits were high all around. The bride and groom had a genuinely good time and were immensely grateful. When night came, everyone saw to their homes and the happy couple did as newlyweds do. After everyone was fast asleep, assassins swarmed the town and killed all within, old and young, man and woman, beast and bird. The village was subsequently burned. You see, generations ago, that benefactor’s forebear was evicted from the village over a deep shame. All had forgotten who he was.

View
Enderil's Musings 001

I once came upon a small child who was throwing rocks into a stream. I asked him what he was doing. He said simply that he was fighting demons. Curious, I looked into the water and found fish weaving to and fro. I remarked jokingly that his fight seemed fraught with difficulty and that perhaps he might consider another weapon. The boy turned and I saw half his faced simultaneously bulged from gross sores and eaten away from dead flesh sloughing off his bones. The boy simply muttered that he wished his village had done so before it was wiped away from a disease carried by these fish. Quickly after that, the boy, the rocks, and the fish diffused into black smoke.

View
Serp's market adventure

In planning the trip to Devil’s Elbow, Serp considers a number of potential risks and opportunities.

0) Difficulty getting onto the ship
1) Getting stranded at sea
2) Getting lost at sea or on the island
3) Someone finding skymetal and getting violent about it
4) No one finding skymetal and getting violent about it
5) Not having a way back to Riddleport
6) All these skymetal rushers failed to bring appropriate supplies
7) Underwater combat

And some possible purchases to address those thoughts:
Folding ladder (2gp, 16 lbs) 10’ long ladder or plank for boarding or climbing that straps onto a backpack.
Grappling hook (1gp, 4lbs) and silk rope (10gp, 5lb) to board a hostile ship
Cork Vest (25gp, 1 lb) wearer only goes underwater if they fail their Swim check by 10 or more. +4 save against fatigue from swimming.
Flotation device (1gp, 2 lb) +1 bonus to Swim
Swim fins (1sp, 5 lb) +10 to swim speed
Compass (10gp, 1/2 lb) +2 to not get lost
Row boat (50gp) carries 2-3 medium creatures
Ioun torch (75gp) hands free light that functions underwater
Sun rod (2gp, or .67 to craft) provide 6 hrs of light underwater
Air crystals (50gp, or 16.67 to craft) provide 1 min of breathable air when chewed
Compressed Air (50gp, 10lbs) breathing apparatus with 10 minutes of air
Fishing kit (5sp, 3lb) a way to waste time while waiting to starve to death by the sea
Net (20gp, 6 lb) useful in non-lethal combat, underwater combat, and for fishing if needed
Short spear (1gp, 3lb) useful in underwater combat
Potion Sponge (2gp) can contain a potion for use underwater
Donkey (8gp, 600lb) pack animal ideally suited for rough mountainous terrain

Mining gear and basic provisions (varies) could sell for a lot more on Devil’s Elbow if there’s lots of people betting their wealth that they will find skymetal

Feather token: Swan Boat (450gp) – 24 hrs of magic boat (move speed 60’) that carries up to 32 medium creatures
Elixir of Swimming (250gp) +10 Swim for 1 hr
Potion of Alter Self (150gp) 3 minutes of 30’ swim speed and breathe underwater (polymorph effect)
Potion of Water Breathing (750gp) 10 hrs of breathing water
Wand of Touch of the Sea (750gp) 50x 1 minute of 30’ swim speed and +8 swim bonus (but no water breathing)

Ring of Sustenance (2500gp) useful if you’re left for dead on an unreachable island, or out at sea
Cloak of the Manta Ray (7200gp) unlimited breathe underwater, 60’ swim speed, plus other stuff while in salt water
Necklace of Adaptation (9000gp) breathe anything or nothing

View
Welcome to your campaign!
A blog for your campaign

Wondering how to get started? Here are a few tips:

1. Invite your players

Invite them with either their email address or their Obsidian Portal username.

2. Edit your home page

Make a few changes to the home page and give people an idea of what your campaign is about. That will let people know you’re serious and not just playing with the system.

3. Choose a theme

If you want to set a specific mood for your campaign, we have several backgrounds to choose from. Accentuate it by creating a top banner image.

4. Create some NPCs

Characters form the core of every campaign, so take a few minutes to list out the major NPCs in your campaign.

A quick tip: The “+” icon in the top right of every section is how to add a new item, whether it’s a new character or adventure log post, or anything else.

5. Write your first Adventure Log post

The adventure log is where you list the sessions and adventures your party has been on, but for now, we suggest doing a very light “story so far” post. Just give a brief overview of what the party has done up to this point. After each future session, create a new post detailing that night’s adventures.

One final tip: Don’t stress about making your Obsidian Portal campaign look perfect. Instead, just make it work for you and your group. If everyone is having fun, then you’re using Obsidian Portal exactly as it was designed, even if your adventure log isn’t always up to date or your characters don’t all have portrait pictures.

That’s it! The rest is up to your and your players.

View

I'm sorry, but we no longer support this web browser. Please upgrade your browser or install Chrome or Firefox to enjoy the full functionality of this site.