The /What/ Knight?
The Seer of Ceylon has had an ominous vision. A warrior clad all in black armor, a horde of demons at his back, and a woman equally vile at his side shall assault Ceylon in the coming weeks. Ceylon shall fall, and burn, and a darkness such as man has never known shall fall upon the world. To prevent this, he has called the PCs forth, and ordered them to slay the man in his vision...
A flash of lighting, the explosively tearing sound of the thunder crashing, the scream of the winds of Hell, the sticky , coppery taste of the sky's tears, tears of blood. Upon the horizon, a vast army, stretching from rim to rim of the visible world, a horde of foul things whose names time has not forgotten, but blocked from memory. And at their head? Two knights, beautiful of contenance but with expressions carved of pure evil, the man with a mane and beard of golden hair, a patch upon his left eye, the woman with a long stream of sirver and dusky skin, though obviously inferior to him in command. As one, they raise their hands.. and the legions of darkness pour forth.
The Seer bolts upright within his bed, a sweat arisen upon his brow. This is no nightmare. It is a True Dreaming, sent upon him for action. And so he begins to gather the tools of destiny, as many parties of adventurers as he can lay hands upon. Their orders? To find and kill the commander of the dark forces before he can marshal them.
The only problem is thus: Of the seer's clear vision, only one face even comes close to matching up with the description and sketch drawn. The Lord Archael Validor, the commander of the near by Fortress of Truth. A valiant, humble paladin, to imagine him at the head of the legions of evil is nigh impossible.. and he has both his eyes.
In the coming days, Archael shall have a meeting that may well change his life. A harsh skirmish between his fortress and his city shall be his introduction to the woman of the vision, the black knight Arathena Sa`Riik. Each is precisely the balance of the other, and though their men fight and die, the commanders remained locked for almost an hour in perfectly matched combat. In the end, their forces both depleted, they nod at each other, and they withdraw, each uninjured. In the weeks that follow, each finds that they can think of little else except their foe, entirely obsessive in nature. Each wishes not to kill the other, but to defeat them entirely... and convert them.
Unknowing of the Seer's vision, the Paladin will do his best to ferret out information about the black knight, seeking to find her and defeat her - adventurers are a prime choice for this, and he will describe her almost exactly as the Seer has.
If interference does not occur here, some weeks later, he will receieve a report from a scout, revealing the location of a hidden fortress, the location of Arathena. Archael will mount a sortie, all of the men he can lay hands upon in order to raze it to the ground, an abomination before the eyes of the gods. Once again, Archael will meet Arathena in battle, but this time, there will be interference from outside. A stray arrow will graze his face, destroying his eye, and in a blink, he will be swept from her in the tides of battle, and without his full combat abilities, the Paladins will soon be forced into retreat. As one, however, they will call to each other, 'And the next finishes this, forever!' Here, adventurers have several chances by which the seer's vision can be averted. If Archael should survive the battle unscathed, the balance will be preserved, and the vision shall not come to pass. Should Arathena be crippled or slain in some fashion, the vision shall not come to pass. Should the Paladins be victorious, the vision shall not come to pass. Should the battle take place elsewhere, or not take place, the vision shall not come to pass.
A week hence, once their individual wounds have healed with the tending of their fellows, they shall arrange to meet, alone, in a duel. Should this duel come to pass between the half-blind Archael and the uninjured Arathena, Archael shall fall, and in falling, he shall not die, but rather, his will shattered, and he shall be seduced, swiftly turning towards the shadow and darkness in order to rise as a key figure in the forces of the Dark Knights. With their combined power and ability, the two knights will be able to overcome the guardians of the seal upon the Plane of their master, and the vision shall come to pass, unless one or another is slain before the seal is opened. Should the knights enter the duel as complete equals, the vision shall not come to pass. Should Archael's will be bolstered against Arathena's serpentine voice and burning touch, the vision will not come to pass. Should the duel be prevented, or should Arathena fall somehow, the vision shall not come to pass.
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? Responses (12)-12
Yeah, I know it's not precisely my best, however, I really wanted to do something with these characters, and they seemed a little to cliche for character entries.
Very good - one sees a future, and must keep it from coming true, a Damocles sword over the lands that must be stopped from falling.
Certain care must be taken around less that optimal PC parties, who might settle for backstabbing the palladin for the greater good.
Still - I ike it. A lot.
Perhaps it's my bias towards the epic, nonetheless 4.5, ergo 5.
I still give it two thumbs and a tail up. Good idea. It would be more fun if one of the characters, of the clerical or paladinial persusasion would also have a similar dream. But that is just me.
I would submit that backstabbing the paladin should well be a viable way to handle the plot. Of course, there will be major consequences, not to mention great difficulties.
Archael (And Arathena) should both be -extremely- high level. They are the heads of their Orders, paragons, champions, and symbols. Each has a literal legion of the finest knights at hand. Higher religous authorities basically boil down to two options: The religion's pope-equivalent, and their gods themselves. To kill one is even worse than killing a beloved monarch. Their death /will/ focus the anger of their entire faction.
Large portions of the town will be unlikely to believe the Seer. It's insane just to think about Archael falling... Which, of course, is why it's so important that the man be defeated, but /not/ killed.
While a party member may well have the visions, at DM's discretion, I suggest that the visions go to VERY few people - If they are too wide spread, the social consequences of acting against Archael are too diluted.
I like it.
Also, I have a solution for those who are worried about the PCs back-stabbing the valient knight :
Allow them to do so, even going as far as suggesting a suitable opertunity : an upcomming battle between the knights forces & his enemies - who would notice a single arrowshot during battle?
Nicer DMs (not me) can now send a new, updated vision.
Let the PCs deal with the consequences.
Of course, if they do 'back stab' the knight (who is possibly doing the God's Will), they might have tortured dreams (minuses to all actions do to lack of sleep), bad luck (Deity's curse), be hunted by other minions of the deity (who are driven by their dreams), be unable to be healed or aided by people of this deity (the Deity withdraws their aid), and any combination of the above.
After all, the Deity is an active one....
You're right Siren, Archael and Arathena are both a little too close to a cliche to make viable character posts, so don't even try. Unfortunately so is the plot (opposing paladins, one dark and light, duel and one is corrupted by the other), which just goes to show that one-dimensional characters only produce one-dimensional plots.
Nonetheless, all is not lost. This could work quite well as the backstory for a more complex espionage type plot. The trick is not to reveal identity of the two paladins too early. This is easy enough to do, simply change the initial vision to indicate that a powerful lord of light/good/whatever will be corrupted by an equally powerful lord of dark/evil/whatever, but not who is involved or how it will and when it will occur. After all, visions are supposed to be cryptic anyway.
1) Archael himself receives the vision and is much vexed by it. Unfortunately he doesn't know that it predicts his own fate (or possible fate).
2) Nobody, but absolutely nobody, believes the Seer. He's ALWAYS having bizarre visions (usually Prophecies of Doom) but they NEVER come true. And everybody knows it. Anybody the PCs talk to will confirm that he is just a crazy old drunk/drug addict/whatever. Even if the PCs believe him, nobody else does, so they can expect little or no help to avert the disaster.
Note that this also neatly disallows the "Kill the Paladin for the Greater Good" option since the assassins (i.e. the PCs) will have a have a seriously hard time explaining their actions afterwards.
3) The seer is one of the PCs (probably my favourite option). In this case keep the visions as cryptic as possible. Also arrange that few if any NPCs believe him, for whatever reason that makes sense in your campaign (allow the other PCs to make their own choice on the matter). PCs are now faced with some fairly complex investigations, possibly in the face of popular, or even official, disapproval. Result - PCs will have to employ their (often underused) brains for a change.
I'll give this 3/5 because it makes a viable backstory
The only problem I have with this is that it makes the breaking of the vision of the future a near certainty, assuming the PCs take an active role. Either one or the other is killed at the hands of the PC's, the game is up.
Personally, I like my 'future visions' to have a much more diffuse picture of what needs to be done, to allow for more true player participation.
Well written, though, and provides all the necessary components for an interesting oneshot adventure, if the bad guys are a bit thin. I honestly can't see this sort of thing developing into an epic goal, though, as some have suggested.
That stinks. I came up with something quite grand for this, and then it got eaten by the poster demons. A 4/5 for Siren, and a good campaign base for any setting.
The thought came from Melvin's Cat's post where he mentioned the opportunity given to the players. That fits so well with the second duel you might make the players the ones that fired the arrow that wounded the paladin. Events roll on unabated, and the players then must find an ancient artifact/something to fight the Cthulhic horde of darkness. A campaign of epic proportions that I think would be awesome to run. This is presented as an alternative for those GMs that like their prophecies to come true no-matter what. Anything the players do just make things flow towards the prophecy. Man I love being a GM!
Bump! Give this post a little bit of love people.
A long delayed additional bump. Yes the characters are a little wooden, but that is really okay a lot of the time. Sometimes subtlety is completely lost on players.
I like the idea of making is so the PC's end up facilitating the fall, rather than preventing it.
Comments really add to this one.