Our 13th Age campaign is blossoming into one of the most amazing, highly improvised RPG campaigns I’ve ever played. So much so that I consider it one of the high points of my GMing career. I decided it was a good time to share some of its highlights and show you how we made the 13th Age Dragon Empire our own.
The campaign started last fall, I’ve forgotten many of the details. I’ll focus on the story rather than what happened around the table and behind the screen.
Myrmidon: Tiefling Bard. Born of the Diabolist, stolen at birth by the Prince of Shadows, and left at the door of the Priestess orphanage at the Cathedral.
Hades: Half-Elf Fighter. Killed while in the service of the Crusader, only to become an undead warrior of the Lich King. Very recently raised by the Blue (Dragon) of The Three.
Three-Teeth: Half-Orc Paladin. He was unable to prevent the murder of the Emperor’s youngest daughter Mirandella. She died in his arms.
Nysal: High Elf Sorcerer. Sentient magical guardian of the Prince of Shadows’ treasure hoards given physical form.
Chapter 1: The Funeral Dirge
The adventure started with Three-Teeth being hired by agents of the Priestess to act as Myrmidon’s bodyguard. The bard had to travel to a Drow settlement near Santa Cora to perform a post-funeral ceremony. Such ceremonies were necessary to prevent the dead from falling under the influence of the Lich King and become restless. Of course, due to outside influence, the ceremony failed and the dead arose. Among them were 2 ancient heroes of the Court of Stars: Hades and Nysal (although it later turned out Nysal was only “borrowing” the hero’s body.)
After clearing out the undead milling in the funeral mound, our new band of heroes were confronted with two problems: A new Hellhole had opened up in the settlement and dead orcs, dry bones and rusted weapons started raining from the sky…
Chapter 2: SkullForge Keep
Deciding to deal with the nascent Hellhole later, the heroes investigated the rain of dead bodies and bones. They discovered a flying fortress, an ancient war relic of the Lich King, drifting high over the forest. Orcs and undead were fighting for its control. The players explored the fortress, looking for the Beacon of Solidarity, an artifact that could supposedly protect an area from the fortress’ influence. As they explored, they found several “forges” producing hundreds of skeletons and zombies under the supervision of a necromantic engineer. The Lich King was building a new army! The orcs had somehow found a way to invade the fortress through graveyard-based portals from all over the Empire.
During the fighting, the party lost Hades to the undead forces. The remaining heroes infiltrated the deepest levels of the fortress to confront the Necro-gineer and save their new ally about to be sacrificed to some dark ritual. Soon after destroying the necromancer and freeing their ally, an orcish officer recognized Three-Teeth as one of the True Heroes of Orcdom, much to the Paladin’s chagrin. Thus, the party was able to obtain safe passage off the fortress after retrieving the Beacon through one of the graveyard-bound teleport portals.
It’s worth noting that during the infiltration of the fortress to recover the captured Hades, Nysal apologized and said she was needed somewhere else. Then her body disintegrated into dust…
Chapter 3: All Hell Breaks Loose
The recently teleported heroes found themselves in a bone and seawater filled crevice. When they climbed out, they found themselves on the back of a Koru Behemoth who had recently returned to land. They also found a newly erected halfling village sitting on it. A battered but otherwise fine Nysal was there, being treated by the local healer. When quizzed about her disappearance, and the many burn scars on her body, she was unable to provide a coherent explanation.
Faced with many options, the group decided to make their way back to Santa Cora to seek help to deal with the newly hatched Hellhole in the nearby drow settlement.
On the way, they passed by Drakkenhall where Hades was contacted by the Circle of the Blue, a secretive organization of Agents of The Three. He was given a magical shielding ring that signaled his loyalty to the Blue Dragon and the Circle.
Once in Santa Cora, Myrmidon obtained a copy of a special book of metaphysical prayers written by the Priestess. He was told it could help close the Hellhole. Once back at the settlement, Myrmidon attempted to decipher the exceedingly complex prayers but failed. Fighting both demons and undead, the party organized an evacuation from the condemned site. Myrmidon used a song he deciphered from the prayer book to establish contact with his mother, the Diabolist.
Instead of reaching her, he experienced a vision set both in the past and the future. She was holding an infant Tiefling while looking out on a forest ravaged by eternal fire.
“I made this for you, one day it shall be yours…”
Chapter 4: The Rescue
With the burning drow settlement in the paws and claws of Hellhounds and Dretches, the heroes orchestrated the evacuation of its former citizens. They crammed a few dozen families, including elders, soldiers and the settlement’s Spider God priestess onto a few riverboats and made their way to Santa Cora. The heroes agreed to escort them to New Port. From that point on, the drow leadership would take over and book transport to the Court of Stars.
During the journey downriver, the dark elves broke into factions. The soldiers, angered at seeing their home taken over by demons turned to Hades (ex-Crusader soldier) for guidance. The priestess, weary of serving an uncaring god of malice and death, approached Myrmidon (Divine Bard) and started asking question about life at The Cathedral. Finally, the settlement’s elder overcame his hostility against the heroes and approached Nysal (Sorcerer and Vault Guardian to the Shadow Prince). He told her about The Secret: all of the settlement’s drow shared the burden of a great secret of the elves. They were obligated to reach the Court of Stars to report to the Queen so they could transfer their burden unto others.
After much debating, Hades gave instructions to the drow soldiers who wanted to join the Crusader to reclaim their home. He directed them to First Triumph, against the wishes of the elder. At the same time, having decided to join the Cathedral, the priestess gave The Secret to Nysal who promised to keep it safe (as safe as giving a secret to the Prince of Shadows can be). The Breaking of the Oath caused chaos and fighting among the drow.
When the dust settled, the heroes and a contingent of still-loyal drow soldiers escorted the remaining survivors to the Court of Stars. Not wanting to attract undue attention by the obviously angry Elf Queen, the heroes tried to slink away before meeting her… but were soon tracked down by a drider Assassin. They barely survived and fled the forest.
What was the secret about? We don’t know. Nysal turned to dust again, right after taking it…