Re: The Unholy Trio: Rephrasing the Question

From: Chris Lemens <chrislemens_at_1WeP7y_ET4_qf7UOEWe9hwNtNRB4Riozkbyx4Rr-fCOhMh0CZczTRTO0N1VCXW2t>
Date: Fri, 26 Dec 2008 08:32:17 -0800 (PST)

I think part of what we've been collectively struggling with is to create a story line that allows the players to perceive their characters as positive (noble, worthy, whatever) while worshipping Malia or Thed. Here's a summary of a campaign that Sandy Petersen ran.

We had wandered around for a long time after our homeland, the island of Trond, got nuked by an evil sorcerer. One night, a ghost ship pulled up into harbor. That's obviously bad, so one of our characters -- the shaman -- summoned mom to help find out what it was all about. His magic went off; the ghost ship dropped a rowboat with mom on it. The story was that the nuke nad killed everyone on th eisland and we were expected to (a) repopulate it and (b) drive off the invaders who had come ashore.

So, we went and found ourselves immediately allied to the howling undead. The ancestral spirits were not happy at outsiders coming to the island, so had risen up against them. The invaders, beset by zombies, ghouls, and wraiths, got some big mojo to suppress the undead. Our task was to knock down the undead-suppressing plinths so that the ancestors could eat defenseless peasants. We made lots of allies (Vadeli, walrus-men, insect people) and made some of them naturalized Trondlings (ferret hsunchen, white elves, wakened herdmen -- each one had a story).

So, why is this relevant? Despite the fact that we finally overthrew the "forces of goodness and light" by reenacting the fall of Malkonwall with us playing the Krjalki, we perceived ourselves to be the good guys. We were trying to restore our ancestral homeland, find mates, etc. It helped that our enemies did a few nasty things, like the human sacrifice required to power their undead-suppressing plinths, but that only made them human.

I think you could play a Malian or Theddite the same way. Someone might turn to Thed after being raped. Someone might turn to Malia to avert a horrible plague. If you are born a broo, you worship Thed as an ancestor and Malia as your main weapon. In each case, you are hunted and hated by forces that know nothing about you. And the things that they do are just as bad or worse than what you do. For example, the Orlanthi sometimes engage in human sacrifice. The Lunars take exploitation to a fine art. The Praxian nomads are terribly bloody-minded; they will as likely kill a traveller as offer hospitality. The trolls are worse because they eat you, too. Sure, if you're a broo, you have to reproduce in a way that does not work out all that well for whatever you impregnate. But why do you think that so many broos have sheep heads? Sure, they might rape people who come looking for them, but that's to deter the others who would otherwise follow suit. (Apart from  player characters, whom nothing can deter.) The poor broos just want to be left alone. Etc.

I'd figure out the myths after figuring out the characteristics that allow a player to play the characters in a positive way. Emphasize those characteristics in the myth.

Chris Lemens            

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