Tuesday, June 04, 2013

Return to Mar Tesaro - The gods must be crazy

In the last installment of this series, I introduced the various factions that would be inhabiting Mar Tesaro for a new campaign.  I want to focus on the founding of the Council of the Nine, the organization of leaders from the major religions present on the island.  This group ends up becoming a major player in the campaign.  Before I can explain the Council, however, I need to talk about the first campaign.

When you run multiple campaigns out of the same setting, I imagine there's a lot of temptation to maintain a storyline for the setting.  Events from the previous campaigns become the stories and legends of the new campaigns.  PCs transition into important NPCs, historical or otherwise.  This can be satisfying for the GM because you're now telling one coherent story, which makes your setting deep and detailed.  Players, on the other hand, probably find this a bit obnoxious.  Homebrew settings can be a pain to learn already, but throwing in multiple campaigns worth of history can really complicate matters.  Add in NPCs who the GM favors, since they used to be PCs, and you can really alienate the players.

Still, the potential to tell an interesting story can make the effort worth it.  I might not have made my PCs from the first campaign part of the canon, had it not been for the actions of one elven cleric:  Amelia Lightfoot.
I'm assuming she's so happy because she just got out of her armor.  Artwork by Mario Pons.
(See the rest below.)

In the original campaign, there were three major faiths on the island of Mar Tesaro, the patron deities of the races of the Triumvirate:  Pelor (human), Moradin (dwarf), and Corellon (elf).  Because the island was under a curse of greed, the various temples were only nominally functional:  Sparsely attended, few and aging clergy, relegated to pragmatic work (weddings, burials, etc.)  When Amelia and her companions (whom I'll cover in another post) ran into trouble, she sought out the temple of Corellon for support and wisdom.  What she found was a shadow of itself, a dusty museum of decayed glory.

The only active temple to Corellon on the island had one elderly cleric to keep the cobwebs from growing too numerous, and his health was failing. Amelia took care of him for a time, but had to continue her journey.  He taught her some spells, but he would die before the campaign was over.  The PCs were strangers to the island; I figured that once Mordan was defeated they would want to leave.  I even intended to have them return to one last adventure and end up with a fortress to call their own.  When it was time to say goodbye, the cleric did something that surprised me:  She decided to stay.

Amelia would not abide by the abandonment of the faith by her people across Mar Tesaro.  With the curse lifted and the war over, instead of returning home, she resolved to travel across Mar Tesaro as an evangelist, sparking a revival amongst the elves.  
I tried to find a picture of Jonathan Edwards in a chainmail bikini.  I think it broke Google.
The faith of Corellon rebounded.  In time, the others did as well, as new adherents flocked to the island and helped restore their respective temples.  Other faiths were brought to the island as well.  In the beginning, Amelia had an informal network amongst the faiths that helped direct visitors to the island to the temple of their choice.

When construction began on the coliseum that would house the tournament, something else happened as well:  The elven Queen converted to the faith of the Raven Queen, patron deity of fate and death.*

The Queen already had a testy relationship with Amelia, who had refused offers to become an advisor.  Amelia believed the Queen to be after the location of Mordan's phylactery, and believed herself to have more important work to accomplish.  The Queen also refused to return to the faith of Corellon when Amelia began her missionary work.

After her conversion, the Queen began efforts to persecute the growing church of Corellon.  Ceremonies were disrupted.  Public events were delayed or not permitted at all.  Deliveries of ritual reagents often went missing.  Amelia gathered the leaders of the other largest faiths of the island and formed the Council.  It's initial member faiths were:  Corellon, Pelor, Bahamut, Ioun, Moradin, Avandra, Erathis, and Kord.* Their combined will and influence gave pause to the Queen; it was difficult enough maintaining balance when hassling the faith of her primary supporters. Were she to punish every other major faith in Mar Tesaro, she might foment rebellion.

The Queen agreed to leave the temples of the island to their own devices, on the condition that the church of the Raven Queen be granted a seat on the Council.  Amelia was reluctant to allow an obvious agent of the Queen into their midst, but found it a far better solution than open conflict.  Thus it became the Council of the Nine.
* - The new campaign was run using the 4th edition of D&D, so these deities are some of the primary gods listed in the 4th edition players guide.  While the first campaign, like Shamus's, was run using D&D 3.5, I'm pretty adamant about not returning to that system.  At some point, I'll have to write a bit more about the system conversion issues, the cosmology, and a variety of other items that don't really warrant a full post.  

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