Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Of Fire And Circumstance

Balthaazar, aka Laduga, aka the Burning Man started life as a simple, human Cleric who worshiped the idea of Irreverence.  He was hired by a group of Elven adventurers from Clan Nailo to help them face the horrors of The Purgatorium, a dungeon that adventurers braved for fame and fortune while their trials were broadcasted by scrying pools back to the nearby city of Troltsk for the amusement of the masses.  Among their many adventures in the dank castle dungeons, almost all of the Elves perished, he met a witch name Raden who was plucked out of time, he made a deal with death, found a statuette covered in a strange script, and stole an artifact called the Worldstone.  He, Raden, and a cannibalistic elf named Lomulith escaped The Purgatorium into the wilderness with precious little loot and their lives scarcely intact.

It was something like this.  Something.

This was when the campaign took off.  We met a Oak Spirit Folk Ranger named Corlin and his goat, Barry, and traveled with them for a time. The Worldstone was found in Balthaazar's backpack by Raden, and a fight ensued as the Worldstone was an object under her family's protection.  Two hulking figures, a pair of Gibrael (Goliaths if you are familiar with the D&D 3.5 race) heard the fight and broke it up (and broke Balthaazar's nose).  The Worldstone, they said, was too powerful for us to handle and they took it from us.  We were chased by slavers.  We found a lost city, hid within, and were attacked by a creature calling itself the Zebouat.  It was a creature like a man, but half covered in clay with strange writing etched into it.  

The Zebouat demanded the statue with writing on it from Balthaazar.  Balthaazar refused, stating that it was his, because he was pretty much done with people taking his things.  The Zebouat killed Corlin and asked again.  Balthaazar handed the statuette over, and the Zebouat took Lomulith, Raden, and Balthaazar prisoner.  They escaped in short order, and headed off into the wilderness again, much the worse for wear.

The reason Bathaazar worshiped an ideal and not an actual god was because the gods had been excised from the world three years prior along with all memories and trace of their existence.  I told Jacob, the DM, that Balthaazar had no memories of anything prior to three years ago when he woke up naked in the desert.  That meant he had been a priest in a past life as well, and when we were attacked by a burning figure wreathed in Hellfire named Smiling Jep, Jep recognized Balthaazar as a man named Laduga.  A man who had betrayed Jep to his current fate.  Jep passed the curse to Balthaazar, and he was wreathed in painful flames, forever doomed to burn.  

Yep, like this.

A cult of rats they found dubbed Balthaazar "The Burning Man," a creature from their legends, and used him to burn a wooden effigy of their object of worship, a creature called Thakkula.  They escaped again, this time into the mountains, where they found Corlin, who, after death, had returned to seed and grown again as his people are wont to do.  The earth he had sprung from was the clay of the Zebouat's arm, which had caused the creature no little amount of discomfort. They fought a clan of Bulette's (landsharks) led by a half dragon denmother.  Balthaazar shattered her carapace in the fight and killed her children, but she escaped.  In dreams, aided by a lost city of dreams they found in the mountains, Balthaazar discovered some of his past from before the event when the gods were thrown out three years prior known as The Hole.  

For the uninitiated, this is a bulette.

He had been a priest of a dark god and a slaver too.  He'd sent his partner, a man named Jep, on their first boat run, and cut a deal to sacrifice all the lives on board for more power and wealth.  The boat and Jep sank, and Balthaazar was captured on his trip and sold to a cruel prince.  Balthaazar escaped and was chased through the desert by the prince, saved by a lion, then lost all memory.  That was also three years ago, just before he woke up underneath a cactus with no memories of his past.  

Fun fact: Balthaazar originally spoke with a Mexican accent.  However, I cannot reliably speak with a Mexican accent, so he started speaking with an Irish accent.

A stay with metal men in an mechanical city under assault by intelligent apes caused Balthaazar to start controlling his fire.  Jep came again, and their assault was quickly halted by the metal men and both were imprisoned.  Raden, along with a magical gun that could kill anyone known as the Malleus Malificaerum, killed Jep in his cell.  They left after a short stay, and journeyed on, meeting the elder earth elemental known as Thakkula in the process.  Balthaazar killed a Dugadarats (say it slow, the rats spoke a pidgin) and took his bone sword.  They killed trolls, and used magic to turn one of the corpses into a flying carpet.  Balthaazar killed a tribe of goblins and redcaps by using magic to trick them all over a cliff just to spite their leader, a horrifying redcap named The Bearded Remy.  Corlin left, and eventually, their misadventures led them to a great oil refinery in the mountains.  After battling through the refinery, they came to a room in which every hero and villain they had met on their travels stood applauding them.  Their exploits in The Purgatorium had earned them much attention in Troltsk, and they had been followed by scrying ever since.  They were the new face of entertainment in the civilized world.

They burned that damn refinery down.  

And then they died.  

This picture makes sense if you keep reading.

They woke up by a stream.  Lomulith wandered off up the stream, leaving into the afterlife.  Raden and Balthaazar stayed by the stream, and watched as a woman approached.  She identified herself as Rondalias, the goddess of life, and told us that she too was dead.  She also told us that she was sending us back to the land of the living, but at a price.  Raden was to lose her memories in penance for the evil she had done (she'd done some evil, we all had).  Balthaazar was to watch over the Zebouat, ensuring that no harm would come to him so that he could rape, pillage, and murder his way across the land and have his way with whatever woman he wanted.  This, Rondalias explained, was because one of the women the Zebouat would rape would birth her reincarnation.  Then we woke up on the flying carpet troll.

We also converted to Pathfinder, which has a wonderful class called the Oracle who have a mystery called Flame.  It fit exactly what I wanted from Balthaazar.  Since we had a dearth of magical items, Jacob also gave me a template for my fire form (death and coming back to life allowed him to control it).  

Dealing with Raden's memory loss the easy way, Balthaazar just filled her in on the events of the past several months, and the two set off in search of the Zebouat, who they found.  He sent them right off after expressing interest in Raden, telling them he wanted them to find stories for him and that he was perfectly able to protect himself.  They ran into an enclave of lost boys guarded by a giant, magical toad and were told to go to the Bad Man City.  Off we went, fighting some aquatic trolls near a lake with a shore made out of antimagic sand.  Balthaazar was dragged into the water and boiled most of the lake and the trolls.  Shortly thereafter, they found the Bad Man City, a wretched hive of scum and villainy who were terrified into functioning like good, normal people.  Their leader was a lion headed angelic being of potence and virility named Vrarl, and he immediately took a shining to Raden, pronouncing her his consort after a night of torrid lovemaking.  Feeling like a third wheel, Balthaazar left, heading back to the Zebouat.  Out of jealousy, loneliness, and betrayal, Balthaazar told the Zebouat to have his way with Raden and set the Zebouat on the warpath towards Vrarl and the Badman City.  Then he wandered off into the desert.

There, the stories of Raden and Balthaazar split for a time and I played a second character for a time.  Balthaazar fought the half dragon bulette again in the desert, helped a warband fend off a famine demon, then wandered for a time.  One morning, he woke to claws snatching him and being carried aloft in the claws of a young, loquacious cloud dragon named Wynn.  She talked endlessly on their flight about how she loved the burning man and watching him in her scrying pool and how now that she had him, she had a matched set and they would all live in her castle together.  They came upon a palace floating in the clouds, and Wynn, unable to fully navigate, dropped Balthaazar off in the courtyard and made him walk to the top of the tower.  

The cloud castle.  It was tethered to an adamantine golem who towed it.

Raden was at the top with a man named Iago, and they had just finished a human sacrifice to raise a demon (Yes, the Raden story line escalated like that.  The human sacrifice was my other character, by the way). Raden was pregnant with Vrarl's child, a being called The Golden Sun who would restore order to the world.  The demon, properly summoned, questionably contained, and ready to deal, wanted to make us an offer we couldn't refuse.  We didn't refuse.  Iago, Balthaazar, and Raden, newly imbued with new powers, set off to mess with the world, and we stopped playing that game.

So that is the story of my favorite character, thus fulfilling question number eight.  That game was one of the best I've ever played and cemented some of the best friendships I've ever made.  Thanks, Jacob.

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