View Full Version : Gamer Tales Campaign Journal: the Children of the Sun

Bobby Baratheon
2017-03-18, 10:14 PM
This is a journal for the ongoing campaign I'm DMing. We are using very simplified D&D 3.5 rules in a modern setting, but the campaign itself is a cosmic horror story set in a slightly modified Cthulhu Mythos.

Notable points of difference from normal 3.5:
-Players are restricted to NPC classes and are functionally under the E6 system
-Some skills have been replaced by modern equivalents (ie Ride -> Drive)
-Sanity points are in play, with the severity of each loss determined situationally by the DM (me)
-Psychological disorders are also in play (with enthusiastic player support)
-Weaponry and equipment have been modernized (little to no effective armor available to players, generic firearms/improvised explosives now being a part of the game, etc)
-The game is set in Spokane, Washington
-The main idea here is for relatively weak protagonists and a narrative campaign based more on skill use. Combat and action is frequent, but not nearly to the degree of a standard D&D campaign.
-Since all three of them chose to be aristocrats, I let them select ten skills provided they could justify them within the characters' concepts.

One thing I do want to make note of is that the antagonistic cult group they are investigating, the Children of the Sun, purports to be a Buddhist offshoot but is not in fact a Buddhist sect. I mention this just to establish that any malfeasance which they get up to is in no way a comment on Buddhism.

The players are all new to D&D, though I ran them through a short practice campaign beforehand to get them acclimated to it. I'll use fake names for them cause it's the Internet. All three of them are level one aristocrats.

"Jeff" is a cunning player who despite his inexperience has proven to have a good understanding of the mechanics of the game and how to exploit them. He often ends up leading the group by default, and seems to be a bit more of a rollplayer than a roleplayer (though it's hardly egregious). He has a distinct fondness for explosions and firepower, and often provides quite a bit of the group's combat punch. He's playing Bud, a 33 year old divorced man from Louisiana who works in a local university (the Arkham University of Science and Engineering) as a lab supervisor and has quite a bit of education in the field of chemistry. He also has a few firearms stashed around, as befitting an avid hunter. His wife left him years ago to get involved in a commune, which has left him embittered towards religion (and especially those he deems a cult). In fact, he moved up to Spokane to get away from all that cult business that he left behind with his ex-wife in Louisiana.

"Ingrid" has some prior experience with D&D, but tends to enjoy the social aspect of it more than the mechanics of the game. She is, however, very good at keeping the rest of us on point when the inevitable jokes/memes/etc pop up. She very much enjoys burning heretics, and is playing a college student named Alli from fantastically wealthy parents (and is even the grandchild of the great Louis Sois, a famous archaeologist who went missing a few years back). Alli is the youngest member of the party and is very much focused on her grades. She has a close relationship with one of her Professors, a certain Dr. Benson who was close friends with her grandfather. She's been very concerned about her grandfather recently, and privately holds out hope that he's still alive despite the general consensus that he's dead. He was last seen in at a dig site in Indonesia that is supposedly connected to a radical offshoot of Buddhism called the Children of the Sun.

"Mika" is new to roleplaying, but is very enthusiastic and enjoys creating a character and inhabiting their skin for a few hours. She isn't especially fond of all of the mechanical rules associated with the game, but enjoys the often insane adventures had within it. Her characters are very eccentric, as shown by Todd. Todd is another wealthy student of Arkham but has spent years there without ever really progressing towards anything. He's had problems with substance abuse, and doesn't seem to have much direction or meaning in his life. Recently his girlfriend Camina was inducted into a strange sect of Buddhism called the Children of the Sun, and she's grown very distant from him. He's more than a little disturbed by this, and it's been taxing on his already frail mental health.

I'll get a write up of the full first session once I get a chance. We are about two months in, so there's plenty of material to catch up on. Also, feel free to comment plot ideas or suggestions in spoilers. I'd love to hear the playground's feedback and ideas :smallsmile:

Bobby Baratheon
2017-03-25, 01:15 PM
Session One: Exposition and So Forth

A newer religion in Spokane Washington has come to prominence lately, and has even managed to convert some locally important figures. The religion, whose followers are called "the Children of the Sun", is promoted as an offshoot of Buddhism with some elements of mysticism and even a little bit of Gnostic belief, and has a large international presence despite some denouncing them as a cult. They tout themselves as servants of true enlightenment, and promise serenity and knowledge to those who follow their tenets. The buzz about them has reached the point that the local university (the Arkham University of Science and Technology, or AUST) has invited them to send a speaker to campus. The group obliged them happily, sending a recently converted priest (under the supervision of a long time member) to explain their doctrine to the audience.

Our heroes are there, each for a different reason. Bud, still bitter over his ex-wife's involvement in a cult, has come mostly to pick a fight with the priest after the meeting and prevent anyone else from getting swept up in it. Todd is superficially coming out of boredom and a hipster-y sense of irony while concealing a profound desire for meaning in his life and secretly hoping against hope that something the Children of the Sun might say will strike a chord with him. In fact, his ex-girlfriends involvement with this group is what prompted him to come in hopes of finding what she found. Alli is there because her grandfather Louis Sois had been working with the group on an archaeological dig before he went missing a few years back, and is curious if they know anything about his disappearance.

The meeting goes well, with the yellow-robed priest fervently explaining the doctrine of the Children of the Sun and a bit of their history. The meeting concludes with an open invitation to attend a meditation session at the local temple, and the priests present engaging in conversation with the audience members who stay behind. Alli approaches them, and begins questioning them about her grandfather. A lucky Sense Motive check later, she realizes that the priest she's talking to is concealing something and becomes quite nervous when talking about Louis Sois. Noticing the conversation, Bud sees a chance to dissuade a student from getting involved with a cult and swoops in. He in no certain terms tells the priest to buzz off, then strongly warns Alli against going to anymore meetings. Alli, recognizing him as the university lab supervisor, quickly tells him that she has no intention of joining the religion and simply wants to find out what they know about her grandfather. She explains that she thinks they're hiding something, and wants to attend the meeting as an opportunity to speak with someone higher up. Todd, who thinks Alli is quite attractive, joins in the conversation upon overhearing that they might attend the meeting and suggests carpooling. Budd agrees, if only to make sure these two don't get in over their heads. They go their separate ways after exchanging phone numbers, agreeing to meet on the day of the meeting and drive to the temple together.

The day comes, and the three investigators find themselves in the temple of the Children of the Sun. It's much more conservative than they were expecting, and in fact is a simply a refurbished Christian chapel. To their surprise, a number of people have shown up for the meeting and they find themselves in the company of several dozen local people. An usher at the door, wearing the same distinctive yellow robes as the priests, shows them in and directs them to the main room, where they find rows of folding chairs set up for the audience, and a podium for the priests.

The meeting begins with a warm welcome from the presiding priest, who instructs the audience to close their eyes and initiates the chant. There are a dozen or so priests who join in, and another priest who walks down the aisles with burning incense. The players hear this sound, if you're interested:
It's not the right religion or language, but I do love me some Orthodox chanting. This is the video I used to set the mood. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-BpBgU-gUMA

After the chant finishes, the priests use a projector to show a surprisingly well produced video that goes deeper into their history, and discusses quite heavily their founder's life. Their founder was a man from the Indian subcontinent who called himself Pradesh. He was very active in the 1950's before his death, leaving in place a solid structure and doctrinal foundation for his followers to continue preaching his message. They succeeded, and were especially successful in the Western United States during the 80's. The group reached Spokane in 2006, and has begun to proselyte vigorously in hopes of building a strong regional presence. That goal seems ever more achievable, especially with their recent achievements.

Alli and Bud pay little to no attention during the video, but Todd feels something stirring inside that makes him wonder if this group does have something to teach him. The video in particular cut right through his cynicism, leaving him wanting to learn just a bit more. After a brief afterword and an invitation to the temple's barbecue in two weeks, the meeting ends. Alli and Bud stand up to go talk to one of the higher ups, with Todd kind of drifting behind them. To their surprise, Alli's mentor Professor Benson appears from within the audience and begins talking to her in stern terms about staying away from this kind of group at her age. She tells him her real reason for being here - the search for the truth about her grandfather. Having been a personal friend of the great Louis Sois, Professor Benson softens his tone and offers to give her some information about his disappearance if she'll meet with him in his office the next day. Alli happily complies, and she and Bud begin to make for the exit. Todd follows suit, especially after Professor Benson recognizes him from a few of his classes and reprimands him for wasting his time on 'cults' and not on bringing his grades up. Alli gives them the good news - Professor Benson knows something about her grandfather's disappearance! Bud is pleased, and hopes that this means the end of their dealings with the Children of the Sun. Todd, still hoping to make a move on Alli, feigns excitement about the news and asks if he can tag along to the meeting. Alli agrees, and Bud tells them to let him know if they need anything. The three of them grab some dinner at Bojangles (a local biscuit and gravy themed diner) before heading home.

One of the players is from North Carolina, where apparently Bojangles is quite popular. At her request, we transplanted it to Washington.

Bobby Baratheon
2017-03-27, 09:15 AM
Reserved for Session Two: Electric Boogaloo