I spent a large portion of this session mentally in the "what I usually do" position.
Luckily, the three of them handled the game like old pros, i.e. they trashed my plans, mostly ignored the plot, murdered stuff, caused mayhem, and have already burned down a house. I should have never worried about making the plot grab their attention. I should probably not have had a plot, honestly, although it gave Aaron something to do and reasons to be places since he's playing the only character who is not completely out for themselves. Caelin and Tracy are both playing Chaotic Neutral, heavy on the Chaotic Selfish, which immediately means that forcing them onto the plot train is similar to herding cats. I shall adjust my tactics accordingly... We finished up the last tidbits of character creation from last week that we didn't get to, specifically rolling trinkets and making sure everyone's modifiers were in all the right places.
They started off in a small town on the back end of nowhere. Rumors had circulated that the high priest of the country had prophesied that some indistinct bad thing was going to happen. Around one in the afternoon on a random day, silver flames appeared over the heads of all three characters and several other people , and Aaron, playing a dwarven paladin, was in the local church when it happened. It was explained to him that the high priest had indeed predicted doom and had sacrificed himself to cast a spell to mark those whose destinies were entwined with that doom. As the local priests explained to Aaron, however, the now dead high priest had been a bit senile and had misworded the spell so that it literally marked every single person who was tied up in the coming events. That ended up being a lot of people, so the church was rounding them all up, shipping them to the capitol, and sorting out the mess from there.
As part of the church and as a lawful good paladin, Aaron went along with said plan. Chaotic selfish Caelin and Tracy balked when approached by a paladin and a priest in a bar and asked to come with the clergy on a matter of "national importance." I quickly realized that I was going to have problems and told them they would be compensated in a monetary fashion for their time. That got them going after Caelin (the dragonborn wizard) spoke with her weasel familiar and decided that they were comfortable with leaving and Tracy failed her stealth roll and Aaron prevented her from getting away. They were loaded onto a train along with about 30 other people who were marked with these (slowly fading) silver flames over their heads and settled in for a long ride.
Their train car had the young half elf priest from earlier, a few hill dwarves, prissy elf rangers, and a female human bard who I described as a bad mix of Sarah Mclachlan and John Mayer who Caelin decided to hit on. They also went around the table and described their characters and gave their characters' names (which Caelin rolled randomly, because she found out Aaron did and had just been calling green dragonborn wizard Madame Vastra until that point). That delayed the game for a few minutes while Tracy googled tiefling pictures to figure out what her skin color was and Caelin looked up dragonborn pictures. Tracy is now a bluish silver tiefling with silvery hair and violet eyes. Aaron's dwarf is a total ginger with ruddy cheeks. Caelin's character has a bearskin cape and giant scaly boobs, and her weasel familiar does not have a name and is just called "Weasel." Also, a group of weasels is called a sneak, confusion, or boogle.
Yes, that Madame Vastra
They followed the weasel to a house in the elvish outpost where some elves were conferring with the perturbed priests. Caelin barged right in demanding to know what was going on with Aaron on her heels and Tracy peeping through a window, and all of the party caught a glimpse of an illusion map of the country with a giant dark cloud of evil blackness where the capitol was supposed to be. Then the weasel made a stealth check and took a magic crystal off the table without people noticing and dispelled the illusion. They got the priests to give them the full rundown of what was going on, and then were informed that they weren't going to the capitol because a rift in reality had overlayed the area with one of the "lower planes" and the capitol may or may not be there anymore.
Caelin and Tracy said fuck this job. Offering to double the money did not work in keeping them there, and Caelin stormed off down the train tracks back home, Tracy ran off into the forest, and Aaron followed Tracy trying to beat some sense into her that the evil planar overlay was spreading and she'd have to deal with it eventually. Tracy decided the fastest way to ditch a dwarf in full plate mail was to climb a tree and jump treetop to treetop outside of his line of vision and succeeded in getting away. I made one last ditch effort to get Caelin back on the
Caelin was plagued by mosquitoes and "one sharp pointy bite that woke her up before going back to sleep." Aaron dealt with the bard telling everyone else on the train that the capitol blew up and everyone was going to die (thanks to hyperbole and Caelin not telling the bard any of the correct facts of what was going on), slept for a few hours, then was woken by the young priest and told that the "dragon lady" had been captured by goblins and the tiefling was sleeping in a tree above the goblin camp. With a few of the local elves, Aaron and the NPCs ran off to the rescue. Tracy woke up to hear goblins yelling and being goblins, looked down, and realized she'd gone treetop to treetop and camped right in the middle of a goblin camp. Caelin woke up with a headache and realized she was trussed up and the last mosquito bite had been a sleep dart. Her weasel was nowhere in sight, and she immediately jumped to the conclusion that I had made the goblins eat her weasel.
There was also a goblin king sitting on a makeshift throne of random odds and ends and he had all of Caelin's stuff. Tracy slipped lower in the branches and cast Entangle on the goblins below. Caelin's weasel made an appearance and chewed through her ropes as Tracy cast balls of fire from Produce Flames at the entangled goblins below. Aaron showed up with the young priest NPC and three elf rangers and waded in with a warhammer. He squashed six goblins. Caelin gathered up her stuff with her weasel's help, took a blow from a club, and ran off. Tracy threw a few bits of fire, then took off jumping branch to branch again. Caelin was chased down by the priest NPC who healed her before taking several thrown rocks to the head and going down. Caelin used her green dragonborn poison breath to melt two goblins, Tracy failed an acrobatics check to jump tree limb to tree limb and fell on Caelin. They decided they would both run away from the fight together, and Caelin lit a goblin hut on fire with Chromatic Orb, and they ran off into the woods.
Aaron was left in a goblin camp full of burning huts, dead bodies, and general disarray. The girls are running through the wilderness. Caelin's weasel had stolen a few shiny baubles from the goblin's treasure trove under the throne, so I rolled on the trinket table and she got Michael Jackson's white sequined glove (seriously, it's on the table on page 160. it's item 35). All of them were quite involved, after the first few minutes of explanation, and I never really felt that I had to entertain them as I occasionally feel with new players. They all caught on to roleplaying and most of the rules quite quickly.
So, all my plot to get people on a train and take them to exotic locations and have them do heroic things are completely down the tubes, and everyone is now wandering around in the middle of nowhere in the woods and a rift to the lower planes is open somewhere else where they can't fix things and none of them really seem to care (except Aaron). Tracy seemed excited to find out that Speak With Animals means that she can talk to Caelin's weasel, and Caelin is excited that her weasel steals stuff. Aaron's paladin seems exasperated, and now I have to figure out how to work in Brandie and Eric's characters next time we play and plan things for them to do that don't involve saving the world or the greater good or avenging fallen allies or anything that is even remotely altruistic, because those motivations obviously don't work. I shouldn't have expected anything else.