Obsidian Portal Campaign of the Month Feb 2016 – Rise of the Durnskald

Today we are joined by GM Abersade to discuss Rise of the Durnskald – the first epic chapter of his Wrath of the Fallen Goddess story arc – and February’s Campaign of the Month! So come along as we interview the “Resident DM” and explore the world of Ahn-Azzex.


First off, feel free to tell us about the person(s) behind the GM screen. Where are you from? What do you do both aside from gaming? Wife and kids? Where can we stalk you on the internet, that sort of thing!

My name is John and I’m from Toledo, OH. I’m thirty four years old, and I’m a gamer in just about every sense of the word. I work in the telecommunication industry. When I’m not gaming or working I’m generally spending time with my wife and/or two daughters. As for the stalking bit, I’m basically the only Abersade on the internet so if you want to chat just let me know.


So…tell us about the Rise of the Durnskald, Dax, and the Story

Rise of the Durnskald is the first campaign (of three) of the Wrath of the Fallen Goddess story line, chronicling the introduction of the Durnskald race from the fabled continent to the east and Xax, their goddess of corruption and disease. Durnskald society is strictly class based and is split between three main groups, the Champions of A’ki, the Fateweavers, and the common folk. In the first few sessions Summer (a woman with a strange appearance and odd powers) was introduced, the party escorted her to the capital city and after many sessions and much strife found out that she is in fact one of the Durnskald.


Interestingly, she exhibits none of the corruption that is typical to the Durnkald. This fact and further research led the party to the conclusion that the Durnskald are a race of people that have been twisted by the corrupting influence of A’ki and Xax. The party has mixed feelings in regards to the Durnskald possibly being redeemed in some fashion should this corruption be removed. To complicate things even more the party has been both hunted and assisted by Whisper Mayfevr, the Prophetess of A’ki and the head of the Fateweaver caste. Some of the party is sympathetic to Whisper while others are extremely wary of her.



Meanwhile a whole different scenario has been unfolding on the floating continent known as Crinoa. The Tsochar (a race of parasitic mind controlling worms) have been left to infest the countryside while The Consulate (the governing body of Crinoa) is locked in a civil war with the agents of The Institution, a group of rebels being lead by Dax Orbidal (ex-Grand Arbiter of The Consulate), the Mechromancer (head of the Crinoan warforged) and Linden Windborn (the last member of the old Crinoan nobility).


Things have been heating up in the Elemental Kingdom of Old Organith as well, the adventurers have made several new potential enemies and allies. They’ve befriended a massive manticore and his tribe of kobolds, they’ve slain a lesser avatar of Jubilex, covered up the evidence of an Aboleth’s influence, and accidentally let loose an obsidian shard breathing dracolich whose intentions are entirely unknown. Next up? Yuan-ti vampires!


On top of all of that is the rumor that the Barrier of Souls is powered by some sort of foul and aberrant magic stemming from the Far Realm. The Barrier of Souls is the only thing keeping the last bastion of civilization on Galavan from succumbing to the horrors from the Plane of Shadow and the Far Realm so this presents a rather large problem. House Eltrus and the Chapter of Everlasting Growth are in control of the Barrier but won’t go into details on how the Barrier is maintained; some of the other Houses have begun calling their loyalty into question.


You have been playing this game for a while now- what is the most memorable thing that happened for you, the GM? What is the most memorable to your players?

We actually just passed the two year mark. A lot of memorable things have happened but I think the event that had the largest impact would be when the entire party died and found themselves in Arborea. There had been a combat with a Druid who had a rather unique ability, he could assume the form of a large pile of sand (like a sand mummy). Not realizing this, the party scooped the sand that was the druid and his belongings into their Bag of Holding.


This was problematic because the druid had his own extra-dimensional storage item, a portable hole. The party didn’t survive the ensuing explosion. Once in Arborea they managed to strike a deal with Bacchus, in return for agreeing to help seed his religion on their home plane he would restore them to life. The players took the deal and were resurrected.



There was one other “catch” though. Bacchus couldn’t restore them to life in the exact same state that they had been in due to their home plane being so corrupted. Instead they were resurrected as if they had come from an alternate reality where the corruption wasn’t present.


This lead to a new problem, they weren’t the exact same people that they had been prior to dying. Scars were erased (in one case removing a flaw that a player had taken), memories were different, and they were brought back in the exact same spot that they had died in which meant that they found little bits of themselves scattered around the woods. It was a very interesting session.


All of this was made even better by the fact that they all chose to get resurrected again once they made it back to civilization. This created a duplicate of each character (since the original version of each character wasn’t what was resurrected by Bacchus). As the GM I had a blast as the players played through the very confused conversations between the duplicate characters, each voicing both halves of their respective conversations. It was complicated and would have resulted in a whole second party being created if it weren’t for the fact that one of the characters couldn’t live with there being two of herself and killed one of them off after they came to an agreement about which one should continue living.


I see you had a player death- how did that go?

https://db4sgowjqfwig.cloudfront.net/images/2661673/item-plaguestone.jpgWe’ve had a few deaths but the most game-changing was when our Killoren monk died while in the affected area of a Plaguestone. In our setting, Plaguestones are lesser artifacts created as portable fonts of negative energy. Larger Plaguestones tend to reanimate those that die in their vicinity. Our monk died (he would say that this was because he lacked discipline) and was immediately resurrected as a Necropolitan. He quite enjoys the special perks of his undead body and I’m actually uncertain if he’ll ever pursue resurrection at this point.


You have players do journals- how do you motivate them to do so?

My players don’t complain but that’s likely due to the fact that they earn Roleplaying Points for each journal entry that they write. In our game the journal entries are important because they really serve as what people would generally think of as adventure logs, since after the first few sessions I changed up how I was doing the logs to include mainly information that the players wouldn’t have. This allowed me to include backstory, lore, and conversations from characters that the players couldn’t have witnessed.


The Roleplaying Points that they earn for writing the journals can be used to buy all sorts of abilities for their characters, it’s similar to Player Rewards, Karma, or Prestige Points on a basic level although it’s evolved a bit now that we’ve been using it for roughly a year.


You are playing D&D- what edition? What do you like about it? What don’t you like? Are you considering changing editions, and if so, why (or why not)?

We play 3.5 with several house rules. I take issue with the limitations that 3.0 and 3.5 placed on characters from alternate races so I’ve come up with my own system for balancing things out. I feel that 3.5 offers the most robust class, skills, and feat choices; the rules basically cover everything that’s likely to come up and many things that aren’t. With 3.5 you can basically make any kind of character you want (GM willing, of course) and the rules are likely already there to support it. That does have a drawback though as it can take a significant amount of time to locate a rule if it’s for an uncommon circumstance. Still, it beats dealing with Thac0.


I won’t be changing systems for this game but from the time I’ve spent with fifth edition it looks promising.


Who does the wiki?

I handle the wiki nearly exclusively.


What inspires your game play?

https://db4sgowjqfwig.cloudfront.net/campaigns/62189/assets/371536/dark-forest-moon.jpg?1410986955I pull inspiration from all sorts of things really. The setting itself started off based loosely on a campaign I played in almost twenty years ago. Since then I’ve pulled elements from other games I’ve played and books I’ve read, molding the setting into what it is now. I was creating a page for this very topic on our wiki sometime last year as a sort of “behind the scene” thing when I realized how heavily influenced the setting was by Final Fantasy 6 and the other RPGs from the Super Nintendo glory days. Physics theories involving multiple dimensions plays a large part in the plot line and history too. Warhammer 40k, the older World of Darkness stuff, and the Legend of Zelda have all influenced things too as well.


How do you know your players, how long have you been gaming with them?

The original core of our group consists of myself and three players; my wife and two of my friends from work. As a group we’ve been gaming together for around nine years now. Roughly four years ago we took on another member from work who has stuck around for multiple campaigns. Our other two players are new to the group having started playing with us for this campaign.


I can’t say enough good things about my players, honestly. I can trust that they can break the rules but also that they know where the line is and they are patient with me when I have to adjust rules and situations to match what we refer to as “D&D Physics”. All of them are dedicated gamers who understand not only the rules of the game but also how their characters work so things run really smoothly for the most part. They are also very good at knowing when and when not to be silly, which is something I’ve had issues with before. I’m really lucky to have them.


How long have you been using Obsidian Portal? What brought you to the site and what keeps bringing you back?

I’ve used Obsidian Portal for five and a half years now spanning two games as the GM and one as a player. The linkable wiki is what convinced me to try it out and I’ve been hooked ever since. One of my favorite features is the ability to customize the CSS, having a cohesive theme really helps set the right tone.


Who has helped you on OP in designing your site/CSS/Advice?

Many GM’s have helped me immensely along the way, although I’m not sure many of them actually know it. Specifically Adoraith who helped me get the CSS started by having a great starting point to tweak from (I “borrowed” so heavily from his CSS at first that I’ve left a comment in my own thanking him there too), and Jotaro1313 (a web developer whom I used to work with) who was really helpful when I would get stuck on certain problems. There are many more people I’d like to give a shout-out to (in no particular order): Basileus, BBPlainwell, Onsilius, Arsheesh, Killervp, SkidAce, Thorvaldr, Billy_Blackerby, Saethone, Ketherian, the ever-inspiring ChainsawXIV, Bortas, Alex_Redeye, Maesenko, GuyKilmore, Twiggyleaf, Jerry, and literally everyone else who ever answered one of my questions on the forums. They’ve all been amazingly helpful.


Lastly, any Pearls of Wisdom for using OP? For a DM?

Learn to customize your site’s CSS, then do so. A few months ago I decided to disable all of my CSS just to see what the site would look like, it was completely unrecognizable. The changes I make to the CSS never really seem like anything that big: a different color of font here, a drop shadow there, it all seems so small. Turning it off made me realize just how much of a difference I was making. This was further reinforced when I needed to reference some history and lore from the previous game that I used Obsidian Portal for, The Book of Destruction. I wasn’t an Ascendant member when I initially created it and never really bothered with the CSS once I switched to Ascendant. As a result that site is ugly and poorly laid out, I never want to go back to that.


I look at it this way and this really applies to both GM’ing and using Obsidian Portal: If you are going to bother doing it at all then you should put the effort in. Go Ascendant and build your world to the best of your potential.


And there you have it; that’s all for this month. Be sure to check back soon and find out what March has in store.

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