The heart of darkness

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The heart of darkness

Postby TheVor » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:31 pm

Starting a medieval baltic campaign laying it out here for comments and so I don't forget.

Main charecters

The scholar (sometimes known as Faust): He is a very shadowy figure very little known about him except he used to have a teaching post and is very learned... also not too bad in a scrap. He is theoretically in the service of the knight but everyone knows who has the power.

The Scholar's apprentice: A young student thrown out for killing a man in a duel, it was only due to a stroke of luck he survived the revenge of the killed man's friends.

The Rogue: A master throat-slitter and purse snatcher, was once hung from a tree and left for dead, but was cut down by the scholar, he only passed out from hanging "damn bastards didn't know how to tie a noose right, or didn't care"

The Knight: His elder brother's castle was burnt down in a feud, he can't remember how he got out, the scholar picked him up.

Büchsenmeister: Scholar nursed him back to health after a cannon exploded in his face.

Merchant's Son: survived a shipwreck

Priest: He joined the group via a past employment

Extanious PCs for players that don't play often... or replacements for the dead.

A poisoner

A mercenary captain: technically the employer of the band

A sea- or river-captain

An artist perhaps

Campaign starts: the group is under hot pursuit by a mounted Teutonic patrol, the group is delivering a message on behalf of the Hanse to a besieged city, there is to be no reinforcements, the group is only returning to rejoin with their mercenary company. It should be a tense encounter but doable, the group make into the city, gunners on the wall giving them covering fire as soon as they come within site. One of the Teutons may act as if to provoke a duel with the knight among the group, if one of the other members of the party kill him out of turn this will create a clash within the group.

I think I’ll make the first few encounters in a city under siege that should have given in long ago, strange happenings, the scholar manages to banish a demon or terrible conjured monster in order to gain the attention of the council, turns out one of the councilors is a black magician who was convinced to sell his soul by a shadowy figure, he originally wished to make it a plague-pit that would stop the teutonic order and hold them off using the bargained powers (hence the ratking), but the plan of the demon behind the powers is just to cause more souls to fall into his hands during the sacking, the demon resides within the corpse of the councilors son who fell early in the siege. The shadowy figure then becomes the main goal of the campaign, it may or may not turn out to be the Faust character himself.Boss stage is putting the councillor in the ground as well as the possessed corps. The players can choose to try and defend the city, skidadle and save their own asses or evacuate the place through the salt mines.

Second stage is the dungeon crawl in the salt mines where they find the magician’s cult and his lair. observant players might find something that raises suspicion that the scholar might at least be associated with the scholar… A PC with the correct knowledge will wonder why the mine was abandoned as there is still lots of plentiful salt and no signs of collaps. Lots of whispering in the dark and strange lights and knocking sounds, odd slithering sounds in the canals, on odd whiff of brimstone. Unwary NPC might be found in empty caves with bruises around their necks and there might be outbreaks of plagues. They encounter also teutonic patrols that have been using the mines for guarrilla warfare… depending on diplomacy they might band together to fight the terror… the religious minded Teutons have also been clutching at their crosses for the last few days.

I need a good terror in the deep for them to fight though… should require lots of judicious use of the occult to lure it out into the open and trap it.

White Hare.
The Hare is a prominent figure in much of English folklore, always a symbol of ill fortune. In the mines it had a horrible reputation. It would stare at miners whilst they ate, entrancing them and leading them off into the darkness (Alice in Wonderland anyone?)... Legend has it that the hare is the reason Cornish pasties have a large crust, when you had finished the pasty the crust would be left over, and you could give it to the hare as appeasement. That or throw it at him.

This might do… The party doesn’t think much of a hare… just a bit odd in a mine the scholar takes more interest though starring back into it’s eyes for minutes without blinking. In the end it’s a knocker one of the friendly mine spirits that warns them, the hare is a danger to them as well. The hare I would say is just one form, once cornered it tries to corrupt them turning them against each other… it might even address the scholar as „old friend“. ... ts&f=false

Here are some good monsters, I'm basing this mine loosely off the abandoned mine. As the scholar tries to banish the demon changes form repeatedly, a great smoking beaker, a demonic horse, a great serpent, a poodle. an old man with hand outstretched pleading who kicks his hood to reveal a goat's head, as the banishing pinnacles it reveals a dead body mutilated and covered in occult signs, later gossip checks or searching in connection with the mine or the books of the magician reveal it is body of one of the last mining masters who killed a romantic rival through a collapse that killed many others and didn't stop killing, he was finally discovered and hung but the magician must have exhumed him. The evil spirit was the one that lead to the shutting down of the mine and the inhabitation by the magician. ... n-ukraine/

There should be a sense of urgency behind the finding of the shadowy figure. If the scholar or one of the demons asks what the magician hopes to achieve it answers with "what does a cobbler hope to gain by making slippers for paupers but to master his trade so he may build shoes for kings". Evil entities are always in connection with sickness war and death, they drop hints that the goal is to spread war famine and death across the land so their strength may grow, the wars of man and the greed and lust for power of mankind but aids them in this.

They pursue him north, the adventure here becomes more mundane getting cought up in intrigues and wars, but every gruesome act the party helps towards should add a sense of helping a darker power grow inside them and the world around them.

They pick up the trail of the shadowy figure again in the Hanse and some naval adventures begin.

They follow him again this time on the border of Lithuania, the towns around are taken by plague... one night the party is caught up in a wild death-dance one of the party is almost lead away by the ghost of a fair maid that seems familiar to him. The Lithuanian forests are a scary place, the powers here are less occult and more pagan here, they get caught up maybe in "the wild hunt".

I would also here maybe like to work in the stories of the werewolves that sack villages and the meeting at a ruined castle to elect a king.
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Re: The heart of darkness

Postby TheVor » Mon Jan 19, 2015 8:40 pm

Scholar may turn out to be part of the "lizard union"

"I think I’ll try and build some grey in there too once the players shit themselves anytime they see something not quite right, tolerance is all well and good if your first experience is a grey. There will be many different kinds of spirits in the mine I think as well, not all will be evil whether the players trigger fingers wait to see or not could very much make a difference on how many get out alive.

This councilor isn’t necessarily a baddie any more or less then the Teutonic order, I think I’ll layer that in there though, the councilor is part of the plot but trying to sabotage it from the inside or part of the opposition to the turnover of the town."
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Re: The heart of darkness

Postby TheVor » Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:00 pm

“I was for several years by the Emperor’s command, and by my calling, a soldier. I followed the camp of the Emperor and the King: in many conflicts gave no sluggish help: before my face went death, and I followed, the minstrel of my death, my right hand soaked in blood, my left dividing spoil: my belly filled with prey and the way of my feet was over corpses of the slain: so I was made forgetful of my innermost honour. and wrapped round fifteenfold in Tartarean shade” (epistle 18, bk 2).

This quote was actually the catalyst for this campaign, the scholar is basically Agrippa anyway, just that Agrippa was basically my entire party in one man.

I don’t know where I want the „grand Finale“ I think that I’ll decide after the Lithuanian section, I was also thinking of Prague and involving a Golum and jewish mysticism, might be a good place for the showdown with the mysterious figure. I’m not even decided whether it’s the scholar or not though, it’s a little to "easy" if it’s the scholar. The dark figure may just slip away among the Tarters though „the one who’s sword is crowned with a crystal“ ;). So far that sounds like the best answer to me… leave the bastards hanging, doors open and them checking under their beds and gripping that rosary tight. He might make a surprise appearance at the Ottoman Sultan’s court.
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Re: The heart of darkness

Postby Galloglaich » Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:04 pm

here are some links on the occult stuff ... 0271017511 ... in+history ... G8JT83TJGE ... G8JT83TJGE ... G8JT83TJGE

You can try google books I haven't checked. These kind of books also show up online in some places scanned. Or the Kindle versions are pretty cheap.

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Re: The heart of darkness

Postby Galloglaich » Tue Jan 20, 2015 8:56 pm

Olaus Magnus on werewolves in Prussia and Livonia

"Olaus Magnus relates that:

"In Prussia, Livonia, and Lithuania, although the inhabitants suffer considerably from the rapacity of wolves throughout the year in that these animals rend their cattle, which are scattered in great numbers through the woods, whenever they stray in the very least, yet this is not regarded by them as such a serious matter as what they endure from men turned into wolves.

"On the feast of the Nativity of Christ, at night, such a multitude of wolves transformed from men gather together in a certain spot, arranged among themselves, and then spread to rage with wondrous ferocity against human beings, and those animals which are not wild, that the natives of these regions suffer more detriment from these, than they do from true and natural wolves; for when a human habitation has been detected by them isolated in the woods, they besiege it with atrocity, striving to break in the doors, and in the event of their doing so, they devour all the human beings, and every animal which is found within. They burst into the beer-cellars, and there they empty the tuns of beer or mead, and pile up the empty casks one above another in the middle of the cellar, thus showing their difference from natural and genuine wolves. . . . Between Lithuania, Livonia, and Courland are the walls of a certain old ruined castle. At this spot congregate thousands, on a fixed occasion, and try their agility in jumping. Those who are unable to bound over the wall, as is often the case with the fattest, are fallen upon with scourges by the captains and slain."

[OLAUS MAGNUS: Historia de Vent. Septent. Basil. 15, lib. xviii. cap. 45.]

Olaus relates also in c. xlvii. the story of a certain nobleman who was travelling through a large forest with some peasants in his retinue who dabbled in the black art. They found no house where they could lodge for the night, and were well-nigh famished. Then one of the peasants offered, if all the rest would hold their tongues as to what he should do, that he would bring them a lamb from a distant flock. He thereupon retired into the depths of the forest and changed his form into that of a wolf, fell upon the flock, and brought a lamb to his companions in his mouth. They received it with gratitude. Then he retired once more into the thicket, and transformed himself back again into his human shape.

The wife of a nobleman in Livonia expressed her doubts to one of her slaves whether it were possible for man or woman thus to change shape. The servant at once volunteered to give her evidence of the possibility. He left the room, and in another moment a wolf was observed running over the country. The dogs followed him, and notwithstanding his resistance, tore out one of his eyes. The next day the slave appeared before his mistress blind of an eye."
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