My story for Paladin Week
I attended the fortnightly board game day at my FLGS this morning, and suggested to a group of regulars that I introduce them to dungeon world. (They are all regular Pathfinder Society players) I printed the character sheets off the internet and we generated characters.
My story hook was the old one (Based loosely on the module “Dungeons of Avanor”): You find yourself in a prison cell, to be executed in three hours after the coronation of the new king. What did you do to be arrested? Who are you? What are your bonds?
So the one chap says: What do you mean?
Me: Tell us about yourself!
Chap: You mean, I must just make it up? Like that?
Me: Yea… Duh…
Chap: I’m Augustus the paladin.
Me: OK, thats nice. Tell us about your god.
Augustus: I worship Cthulhu.
Me: No you can’t. You see your alignment there? It says either LAWFUL or GOOD!
Augustus: I tell you, I worship Cthulhu.
Me: OK, you are Chaotic Evil. You are not a paladin but an Anti-Paladin.
Augustus: Cool! That means my healing spell becomes a “Inflict harm” spell?
Me: Err… OK…
Augustus: That means instead of taking damage when I heal somebody as it says here, I heal when I inflict harm?
Me: (Getting a sinking feeling) Errr… Yes?
So the other guy introduces himself as Bob the Cleric of the god (something like) Pzzztriffleplick, the elder god of secrets and – I forget the second thing. Bob’s bond with Augustus is “I am working on converting Augustus to my faith.”
OK. That will be interesting.
The party also has a Wizard: Abra, (His family name is Kadabra), Celoine the Ranger and Walton the Fighter.
So they escape from prison using maximum violence and the descend into the dungeons to escape from the castle. But the dungeons were sealed off for a reason. They find a skeleton who refuses to be turned by the cleric (In fact, he relieves the cleric of his holy symbol) and deals quite a bit of damage to everyone n the party before Abra makes his rib cage explode with a Magic Missile.
So while Bob is searching for his holy symbol Augustus sidles up to him, saying “I need healing…” He touches Bob, harms him for 6 and since he rolled 7-9, heals for 6 himself.
I describe the feeling to Bob as the life is sucked from him by the vampiric anti-paladin. When Walton hears what’s going down he says, as Augustus touches Bob again, “I cut off his hand! (He hits and rolls 4 damage.)
Me: Your hand falls writhing to the floor.
Augustus: But I just healed another 5 points!
Me: Your wrist stump miraculously heals over with skin. Even the stump of your severed hand heals over with skin. There it is, a perfectly healthy hand, lying on the floor, its severed end covered with healthy skin.
Augustus: I’m going to reattach it. I touch Bob again.
Walton: I cut off his other hand!
So he does.
Bob: I have sworn that I will convert this evil infedel to my evil god. I am going to re-attach his one hand!
OK, I hear what you are saying. The general GM wisdom is that if a player goes rogue, just let the others kill his character and continue the game without him.
I seriously considered it, but then, for better or worse, decided it would be boring and would end in the players being unhappy with each other, and not enjoying the game.
So I decided to open a gate to another world (the dungeons were sealed off for a reason, remember!) and let the great Cthulhu himself teach the paladin a lesson. So with the right amount of grim portents and visions of impending doom, a lone tentacle of the great one breaks through a rift in space-time and grabs the paladin.
Then I realised I made a HUGE mistake. Cthulhu is evil. He would reward, not punish evil. So what now?
Play to find out.
While Cthulhu has a little one-on-one with his paladin, Bob frantically starts a ritual to banish Cthulhu and seal the gate. His god says: For the ritual he needs three secrets divulged (He is the god of secrets and whatever else, remember.) So while Bob and the others play Truth or Dare, Cthulhu makes a deal with Augustus: Re-attach his hands (nice new silver ones, as per Harry Potter), a boon (Impervious to edged weapons) and a promise from the paladin to be even more evil in future.
Bob’s god wants a last thing before he closes the gate: Bob has to convert Augustus to his religion in six weeks or Bob will die and be sent to the abyss.
The next moment Bob completes his ritual and the gate spits Augustus, now at 0 hit points and insane, out as Cthulhu retreats to the other side.
Walton wants to kill the paladin immediately. But Bob’s life now depends on Augustus staying alive and converting, so Bob defends Augustus and convinces Walton to let him live.
So we have a paladin and a cleric hating each other, but the cleric absolutely has to keep the paladin alive and convert him to another religion, while avoiding being killed by that same paladin.
Now for the aftermath.
When I decided to pull the stops and go into “call in the elder gods” mode, I was doing it with the idea that this was a once off. No consequences.
Wrong. They all want to play again.
That sucks. How do I handle this rogue anti-paladin in future?