View Full Version : Gamer Tales (BitWC) BEFORE it WAS COOL- Ravnica Homebrew Campaign Story

2018-07-27, 11:48 AM
Hey guys! I'm a long-time lurker and I finally made an account to post a D&D 3.5 story that's been going on for over 5 years....that I'm just now starting to write up! I hope you enjoy, and please leave feedback and comments down below!

About the Campaign

When I first started creating the backdrop for this campaign, I decided to set my campaign in the Magic the Gathering universe of Ravnica: The City of Guilds. Yes, I know that it was just announced that D&D 5th Edition is going to release a Ravnica campaign setting, but this “homebrew” Ravnica was started in 2012. That’s why I’ve named this campaign story “Before It Was Cool” or “BitWC” for short. It’s more like an adaptation of Ravnica instead of that world exactly, but it’s still Ravnica, even though at times only somewhat so. This is perfect for my rookie players because they’re also not familiar with MTG, which leaves them without any bias towards stereotypically evil or chaotic guilds such as the Dimir or Rakdos. Plus, there are a lot of cool characters, creatures, and possible storylines involving strife and intrigue between the factions that are in power. It’s really freaking fun. If you’re unfamiliar with that universe, the city of Ravnica is a massive, diverse metropolis that consumes the majority of the Ravnican planet. It is thousands of miles wide and dozens of miles deep - from towering cathedrals, lofted gardens, and bridges that seem to defy gravity, to the complex network of sewer tunnels and catacombs referred to as "the undercity." For countless millenia, 10 guilds have ruled Ravnica together according to an ancient agreement called the Guildpact. The Guildpact dictates that each guild has their role to play in governing the city, making sure that the responsibility is shared - even though without it, the city would burst into chaos caused by the unstable politics and lies forged over the years. The players all picked a guild and incorporated that into their back story. However, if you’re a fan of big, booming magic then this campaign might not be for you. Only one of my players chose to be a spellcaster, which makes for a rather martial campaign. Fun, but not magical. There are some important magic items that come into play later, but there’s not really a lot of magic being generated from the characters.

There are far more experienced DMs out there in the world (this is only my 3rd campaign as DM), but I do have a key advantage - a background in theatre. It might sound less than impressive, but my improvisational abilities are keen. This is obviously very important with a group of rookie PCs. I love putting my players in hilarious or hair-raising situations, and will oftentimes roll percentage dice on the fly just to see “What are the odds of ___ happening right now.” I also oftentimes use timers to represent problem-solving situations that need to be dealt with in real time. (You have 60 seconds before the guards arrive…what will you do?) The ‘rule of cool’ is also very much in play, and it prompts me to grant extra rolls, even if the rules don’t really call for extra rolls in those moments. I also don’t enforce XP penalties for multi-classing because I want my newbie players to “spread their wings” and mix classes to their heart’s content. This freedom has led to higher player engagement and some really cool combinations.

Only 1 out of the 5 players in our playgroup has previous D&D experience. In fact, that particular player is a genius. He has been in some of the most death-defying predicaments I’ve ever seen and somehow thought of ways to escape virtually unharmed. In fact, his personal role-playing exploits may warrant their own thread. Thus, I dubbed him my “assistant DM.” He’s helped me coach the others, who are very nerdy in many other ways but have never played tabletop RPGs before. The fact that the players are so green means that some mistakes are obviously made, and that the quality of the role-playing definitely suffers. There are times in which, when presented with new plot information or obvious clues, my rookie players will utter a weak, “Ok” and sit in silence. This does not make them stupid - no, on the contrary. To put it simply, they are just incredibly inexperienced role-players, but they slowly get more comfortable with it as the campaign moves forward. When it comes to combat, though, my players truly excel. This is a bunch of guys who I grew up with playing marathon games of Risk in various parents’ basements. Also, some of the players were initially very hesitant to play D&D. I suppose at first they were reluctant to take that final step into full blown nerdiness. In order to speed up the combat, which I knew would more than likely be their favorite part, I gave them all the Quick Draw feat as a free bonus. They thoroughly enjoyed the increased flexibility!

Some players are scattered across several states, so play sessions generally happen over summers or Christmas holidays (several of us are teachers and it's usually the only common time we have). This leads to intense, rapidly moving chapters of the story that happen over several days. I treat them like seasons of a television show, with the individual daily sessions being the episodes. At the end of each chapter, some sort of epic battle or story event occurs to mark the end of the week…and hopefully keep them hungry for more action until we meet again. Each of my posts down below is a "Chapter", each with several updates. It also shows when we RPed it, starting in July of 2012. Anyways, updates to the story will hopefully come once every 2 weeks, but I won’t make any promises! Being a high school drama teacher makes for an interesting schedule, but I’ll try to keep em’ coming!

I will attempt to keep the story as narrative as possible, but there are some moments where what is happening OOC is simply too good not to put in the write-up. I’ll add those OOC thoughts or moments in parentheses, as well as any supplementary information. I hope the constant jump between IC and OOC doesn’t bother people! Also, this isn’t Tales of Wyre or another amazingly beautiful campaign write-up. I’m not the best writer and I don’t have the best players. However, those of you who can just relax and brave the delightful cliches sprinkled throughout the story will be rewarded!

Talon Cross - a male CG Human Fighter 2 who grew up orphaned and poor. He joined the Boros Legions quite young, but after serving as an enforcer (think policeman) has since deserted that militaristic lifestyle and retired into the overgrown ruins on the outskirts of the city. Talon now lives on the land and enjoys a simple and lawless existence among the Gruul clans, having found the decaying shell of an old family dwelling to fix up. However, he doesn’t participate in the clans’ barbarism. His extroverted lust for adventure combined with his conflicting introverted need for privacy reminds me somewhat of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly, with a little bit of Jolee Bindo thrown in. Will (Talon’s player) wants his character to be left alone to be free and live in peace, but will always interfere when someone is in need. Something inside of Talon longs for a grand adventure, but his desire to be left alone directly conflicts with that yearning, and he ends up convincing himself each day that life’s little challenges are enough of a substitute for that larger adventure when in reality they are not. Talon owns several minor items that he’s salvaged or stumbled upon, the most impressive being his sharkskin armor and a +1 Defending Fullblade.

Adolamin Nops - a male CG Human Knight 2 who still is employed by the Boros Legions. In fact, he and Talon used to share a commanding officer, and it is implied that their occasional partnership, although rare, was a catalyst for Talon’s departure. Although he still acts accordingly to a code of ethics, the strength of Adolamin’s conviction and overall ambition have dropped to all time low. Depending on the amount of alcohol in his system, he teeters back and forth between Neutral Good and Chaotic Good. Adolamin’s alcoholism is probably fueled by the difficult grind of working as a beat cop day in and day out, and has led to him being near homeless. When not sleeping on various bar floors or cots in the storage rooms of taverns, Adolamin sleeps inside of a broken-down Izzet steam carriage he parks by an Azorius district aqueduct. His player, Drew, is delightfully sarcastic (and can occasionally be difficult to work with), but that attitude also can make the character sharper. The way he is played, most notably his nonchalant “don’t care, bro” attitude is reminiscent of Hyde from That 70’s Show. Adolamin’s equipment is standard issue Boros military gear - breastplate armor, heavy shield, short sword and light crossbow.

Saethwyr the Strangehunter - (pronounced “sy-thoor”) a male NG Human Ranger 2 who, like Talon, lives amidst the barbaric Gruul clans. Unlike Talon, however, Saethwyr thrives in that barbaric culture and does not shy away from it. He embraces the savage wild, and has even made a living off of his skills with a bow. There are some clan members who call him the Strangehunter because of the work he does for the Simic guild, either tracking exotic creatures or hunting down the Simic guild’s failed biological experiments. Saethwyr is generally friendly towards others, but prefers to maintain his privacy since he is used to a hunting and stealth-oriented solitary lifestyle. In terms of how he is RPed, Saethwyr is played like a combination of Clint Eastwood and Jack Sparrow, if that’s really possible. Most of the time Saethwyr touts a perpetual scowl and speaks in a serious, hushed tone, but then there are moments, particularly when he is presented with a unique challenge or a possible weapons upgrade, that he goes wide eyed and childish goofiness takes over. Saethwyr begins play with leather armor, a battle axe, and his trusty longbow. It should also be known that Saethwyr’s player, Dun, did not want to play a Ranger with spellcasting ability. We both found the alternate non-spellcasting version of the Ranger to be lacking. So in lieu of spells, I gave him a Paladin-style “lay on hands” ability (I believe it’s from a Pathfinder version of the Ranger, which heals HP equal to class level x Wisdom modifier), and a “ranged precision” type attack (full round action = add 1d8 damage to your attack, damage increases by 1d8 at levels 5/10/15/20).

Drace - a female LN Aasimar Cleric 2 who works as a jailor and bounty hunter of sorts for various Azorius lawmakers. Drace has a particularly strong intolerance towards lawlessness and disorder, especially men who would discourteously violate the typical rules of engagement for approaching attractive women such as her. Those over-masculine advances are often met with painful confrontations where Drace can demonstrate her skill in combat. Her player, Mike, is the one true veteran in the group and plays Drace very similar to how I would imagine a valkyrie would act - strong and unwavering. Think Karin Murphy from Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files books. Drace has access to the Law and Metal domains. She has normal breastplate armor, a light shield, and a unique spell-storing warhammer that she uses to bring criminals to justice. To this date, Mike has never told me what spell he was saving!

2018-07-27, 11:49 AM
Chapter 1 (July 2012)

Abraxas ran.

The centaur did not know what he had just witnessed, but he knew he had to get to safety. Now. If he could only reach the nearest Boros garrison he might be safe, but somewhere in the back of his mind he knew he was already dead. As his powerful hooves clip-clopped on the soft ground and the overgrowth rushed by him, he noticed that the shadows were drawing closer. Those… things were all around him. They rushed forward in two columns on the right and left, and Abraxas suddenly became aware of what was happening.

He was being hunted.

The creatures sent ripples of terror through his consciousness. There was something foreign about them. Dark. Alien. Unknown. Some instinct at his very core told him that they did not belong here. They did not belong on Ravnica. He had to escape to warn someone. Anyone.

Strategies and thoughts raced through his mind. The chieftain was a proud and noble warrior. He had seen the battle before, and had always stood triumphant over his enemies. But here, now, against these terrible...things, he could not turn and fight - there were too many of them. He could not outrun them - they were too swift. And he could not escape - he was flanked on both sides. Already close to running out of breath, Abraxas knew he had to think of something. His unknown assailants were close to corralling him. He had no other option. As the shadows blitzed in from all sides, Abraxas did something that no Gruul clan leader had ever done: he called for help.

His call echoed far through the trees and the ruins on the outskirts of the city. He begged Skarrg that someone would hear him, but no one came to his aid. The space around him grew smaller. What light remained in the evening sky turned to darkness, and his cries for help turned to screams of agony. Claws and teeth bit into him again and again.

Abaraxas, mighty leader of the Gruul clan Ghor, was dead.

The moment the sun rose, Talon was awake. Even though he slept better these days, it seemed like all the right things would still wake him up - elk in the underbrush nearby, an early morning scavenger trying to rummage through his loot, or a warm bath of light peeking through the gaping hole in his wall.

It had taken Talon months to get his place to where it could almost pass for acceptable. The building was on old city housing project for Gruul workers who wanted to work in factories or warehouses in neighboring districts. It was an attempt to re-integrate the “barbarians” who had for so long lived as “savages” on the outskirts of society. To him, notions of barbarism and savagery were garbage. He has seen his share, of course, but of all the Gruul clans the people of the Ghor clan behaved far more peacefully than their neighbor rivals. They were stubborn, but nothing else about the Ghor really bothered him.

(The Gruul guild was originally comprised of environmentalists and horticulturalists, but has since devolved into barbaric clans. There are dozens of clans, but the three main groups are the Burning Tree, the clan that is currently in power, the Scab, and the Ghor. Most of the time, the groups are fighting each other for control over the Gruul name, but the Ghor clan usually stays removed from those squabbles. This is what attracted both Will and Dun to this group since they’re both lovers of the outdoors but weren’t interested in rape or murder on a nightly basis.)

At first, the experiment worked. The Gruul workers living in the building enjoyed being a part of society, but only for so long. Eventually they felt stifled and desired the freedom that they had grown accustomed to enjoying. An angry forest giant smashed one side of the building to pieces, and a Scab-clan witchdoctor had cursed the entire block. Rats moved in, and the building became uninhabitable, even for the people of the slums. But where others saw a lost cause, Talon saw an opportunity.

He used some old connections of his from when he was a Boros enforcer. First he asked a Golgari death-priest to remove the curse (which was very difficult). Then when the building was purged he had paid off an Azorius clerk to keep the building’s condemned status unchanged (which was very expensive). Next, he had scoured the slums for bricks that were still mainly intact to rebuild the wall (which was very laborious). Talon had traded and bartered for various materials to use as mortar, and he had the wall almost complete. Only a section of wall about five feet or so long remained unrepaired. The end was almost in sight - a small, politically immune, personal villa at the edge of the city with a small nearby stream, some thin wooded areas, and neighbors who mostly kept to themselves. Deserting the Legions was the right choice.

Talon had to find enough adhesive for the remaining bricks - this was his day’s task. Unfortunately, the day passed like most days. Some people were unable to trade, and others were unwilling. The stubbornness of the Ghor people never ceased to amaze Talon. He used up the entire day searching and with nothing to show for it. It was time to go into town.

He needed a drink.

(Will RPed a little bit, since I trusted him to start things off, and of course the bar he eventually goes to after RPing some chores around his land is the place where he’ll meet up with the others. Tavern beginnings cliche! In the meantime, we’ll switch to Dun’s perspective and his character Saethwyr.)


Saethywr had been waiting the entire day. When would it show itself? When he took this job, he had no clue that it would take so long. Being around all these people made him nervous. Then again, maybe he had already failed his mission. He hadn’t the slightest clue because he had no idea what he was supposed to be looking for, no thanks to his employer’s vague ramblings.

The Simic had sent him to this bar, The Lucky Ogre, to track down one of their experiments. He was familiar with their process, but this was different. Even the Simic didn’t know a lot about what he was hunting. “Look for a rat,” one said. “However, it may not look like a rat,” another added. “It may look like something else entirely,” the third squawked, “but it will most definitely be on fire.”

Saethywr scowled when he remembered the look on the first scientist’s face. “Or maybe it won’t be on fire at all,” he muttered to himself dryly.

He sighed and leaned back a little further in his chair. The hunter had chosen a spot in the corner of the bar - easier to observe the crowd, of course. A strikingly beautiful blonde woman in armor entered the bar, and he had to force himself to not stare. He continued to absent-mindedly drum his fingers on the axe resting on the table in front of him. The Simic biologists seemed to imply that the creature had shapeshifting properties, and this divinely beautiful woman was certainly out of place. He needed to keep an eye on her.

Aside from the woman, the only other truly odd thing was the man at the end of the bar with a massive sword. Only people with serious balls carry a weapon like that casually. Saethywr smirked. Whoever this guy was, he liked him, and he could tell that the blonde woman was admiring the giant blade as well.

The hunter took a small swig of his ale. He had to continue waiting, no matter how long it took. Then he could go home. It was quieter there.

(I made Dun get used to rolling d20 spot and listen checks for his target, as well as hide rolls to try to blend in with the crowd just in case his shapeshifting prey noticed him. It was uneventful, but good practice. Next, Mike’s perspective with the character Drace)


She felt eyes on her as she entered the tavern. Disgusting place, she thought. Sloppy. Drunk. Drace wasn’t here for ale, or the company of these slovenly pigs. She was looking for an Ibixian. His name was Rocilico, but his street name was simply ‘Roc.’ He had been playing the intimidation game in this part of town, and thanks to his ruthless gang of gnolls**, had avoided capture for too long. Rakdos thugs like him deserved nothing but the cold stone floor of a prison cell. And Drace was going to give it to him.

(Even though Ibixians and gnolls working together isn’t the craziest of ideas, I figured I would take this time to point out something crucial about this campaign. In this story, typical quarrels between species are still there, but for the most part they are very subdued. Ravnica is a huge city. You can expect there to be racial tensions on the streets, but it is such a diverse mixing pot that the most important allegiances are to your guild, not your race.)

The barkeep welcomed her and offered her a drink. All she had to do was shoot one look in his direction, and instantly he understood that he would not bother her again. He quickly went back to tending to the loudmouth, drunken Boros at the center of the counter. She sat down at a table in the middle of the room, turning her back towards most of the people there. Drace felt comfortable that she didn’t need to watch her back. She was focused on her mission - she did nothing but watch the door.

(Now for Drew’s perspective- the stereotypical down-on-his-luck drunk beat cop, Adolamin)



Adolamin lazily pushed his mug towards the barkeep, who seemed temporarily entranced at something towards the middle of the bar. When his ale didn’t magically refill itself, he pushed his bartender further towards the mug.

Eventually he got his fourth drink. Or sixth. Eleventh? He’d lost count. His head was swimming. He should probably sleep eventually. His shift started in a couple hours, and at that time he would probably come back here - just to make sure any trouble wasn’t being caused. A Boros enforcer can’t ever be too sure with places like this. Adolamin wanted - no, needed - to make sure all the beer was safe.

What he really needed was rest. He put his head down on the counter. An idea struck him. Was it possible? Could he do it? Could he drink and sleep at the same time!?

“Let’s found out!” he exclaimed sluggishly. He held his mouth open while trying to drink sideways.

For the record, the answer was…kind of.

At that point, the bar became eerily quiet as the door opened and a baritone guffaw filled the room, accompanied by several tenor chuckles. Uh-oh. Trouble! This looks like a job for drinking.

Adolamin stared at his arm and at the surface of the bar, listening to the situation unfold. The moment he heard the bigger voice speak he knew exactly to whom it belonged.

“Listen well, weaklings!” he heard Rocilico bellow, “Give me all of your possessions or you will die tonight, here in this pit. My friends will be collecting your precious items now.”

His instincts screamed at him to prepare himself, so he took several deep breaths. He squeezed his eyes closed as hard as he could and opened them wide over and over, repeating the process several times. This wasn’t the first time he’d been caught in a rough situation and had to somehow return from the brink of complete and utter drunkenness. Call it an old Boros trick - going straight from your favorite bar to your least favorite patrol, all without broadcasting the amount of ale in your system to your CO.

With his forehead still pressed against the rough wood of the counter, he slowly moved his right hand down to his lap, where his crossbow rested. He tightened his grip on the handle, but then the enforcer heard a chair moving, several armored footsteps walking closer to the center of the room, and a strong woman’s voice hanging on the air like a beautiful trumpet.

“Rocilico of the Rakdos guild,” Adolamin heard the woman say, “You will put down your weapons at once and surrender yourself to the custody of the Azorius Senate.”

Ooooh, she sounds hot, Adolamin thought. It was unfortunate that she probably wouldn’t live very long, though. No one dared to challenge Roc’s gang on his turf. This broad would need his help - and soon.

“As you wish,” Roc in a neutral voice, as if he was in a daze.

(This is why I trust Mike to help the newbies learn the flexibility and creativity of D&D. He tried a Diplomacy check to ask if Roc would give himself up without any trouble, and he rolled a natural 20. So this bombshell, armored Aasimar strolls up, asks, and Roc says yes. First actual roll of the campaign!)

The bar erupted into a chorus of confused, hushed whispers. What in Razia’s name just happened? Adolamin’s eyebrows shot up. Wow. One sentence is all it took? This chick was undoubtedly hot.

“What!?” one of the gnolls to Roc’s left shouted. “It’s the girl! She did something to the boss! Let’s get her!”

That was all the permission the enforcer needed. Still collapsed on the bar, Adolamin used his right arm to aim the crossbow out from around the left side of his body and shoot blindly behind him. A split second later, he heard a bloody gurgle and a thud to the floor that spelled the end to one of Roc’s gnoll henchmen.

(This was another STUPID roll. Drew had readied an action with his crossbow, letting me know that he wanted to fire at a henchman the moment there was trouble. Because he’s a rookie player, I gently let him know that firing blindly behind him while drunk would have ALL SORTS of negative penalties attached to it. He didn’t care. A high roll, combined with the seemingly thousands of modifiers that were in play, was exactly enough to break the gnoll’s AC. The damage was exactly enough to kill it. First two rolls of the campaign, naturally. I love and hate my players with every breath because of awesome crap like this.)

More gnolls came rushing in through the door and others jumped through the windows. Innocent bystanders ducked underneath tables or tried to run out, and were quickly cut down.

Adolamin spun around on his stool and drew his short sword. In the back right corner he saw a lightly-armored Ranger stand up behind his table and smoothly notch an arrow. To his left he saw the swordsman he noticed earlier rise to his feet without his fullblade, still resting against the counter. And in front of him and in the center of everything, was Rocilico with a idiotic smile on his face, completely content and obedient. He had already dropped his greataxe and was beginning to take off his armor. Standing beneath his huge frame was a fairly short, beautiful blonde carrying a shield and warhammer.

He smirked. Whoever these people were, he knew he wasn’t alone. This was going to be fun.

(So that was everyone’s pre-combat actions. In the next update I’ll post the fight with Roc’s street gang, while Roc just stands there complacently. Hope you all enjoyed!)

As the characters surveyed the room, they saw several hostile threats. There were already two gnolls near Roc that were still standing, two more had just come in through the door, and three had poured in through the windows - two on the left and one on the right.

Talon’s initiative roll was the highest, so Will decided to go straight for the nearest gnoll and grapple him. This was a plus, too, because he was in the front left corner and no one had really noticed him. There was a gnoll facing away from him near a table in a position to flank the blonde warrior woman. He needed to take it out so she wouldn’t be caught off guard from behind. Talon moved quickly behind the gnoll and tried to put it in a chokehold, but the gnoll quickly spinned away from the move and kicked Talon straight in the balls. In retaliation, it swung its axe towards Talon and the blow bit into his upper arm.

(After two straight ridiculously high rolls, the Diplomacy 20 and the greatest crossbow hit ever, Will rolled a 1 for an instant failure on his grapple. Something humiliating had to occur, of course, hence the balls kick.)

Saethwyr moved next and hopped up on his table to have a better view of the fray. He saw the gnoll that busted through the right window right in front of him, but decided to fire an arrow at one of the henchman who had just come through the door. It was hit squarely in the chest, but didn’t go down. That henchman turned towards Saethwyr and ran towards the hunter. The gnoll who had come through the window slashed upwards, but Saethwyr moved backwards. Unfortunately, the table started to tilt backwards, but he managed to hop backwards off of it and land on his feet with the table in front of him.

Adolamin quickly closed the gap between him and the gnoll in front of Roc. As he moved towards it, the gnoll lashed out with it’s battle axe but couldn’t get passed his shield. Adolamin slashed at the henchman with his sword, but it easily dodged the blow and slashed back again, which deflected harmlessly off of his armor.

Drace swung at the other gnoll in the front and hit a glancing blow off of it’s side. The gnoll struck back but it missed.

Roc the pacified Ibixian completed the task of taking off his armor.

The two gnolls that came in through the left window ran down the side of the room towards Talon to join the henchman who had kicked him. One of them was hit by a razor sharp, flying disc that came from one of the tables against the wall - it staggered, and dropped to a knee. Talon didn’t know who had threw it, but it was one less target for him to worry about. The swordsman wasn’t about to try his luck grappling again, especially now that he was facing two opponents. He turned around and quickly moved towards his sword, but the gnoll he tried to grapple slashed him in the back as he moved away. He picked up the giant’s blade and spun around again to face the now two gnolls focusing their attentions on him.

Saethwyr swapped out his bow for his axe and moved to the side of the table to put the gnoll closest to him in between him and the angry, charging one with the arrow sticking out of his chest.

Adol finally landed a hit on the gnoll he was fighting and did quite a bit of damage. The henchman fell to the ground, blood gushing from the neck.

Drace landed another hit with her hammer, this time right on the side of it’s head. That creature also fell to the ground. Then, she moved slightly around to Roc’s side to face the last remaining gnoll in that part of the bar.

Roc continued to stand there smiling, waiting patiently for his soon-to-be captor to take him to prison.

Out of the corner of his eye, Talon saw a black-cloaked man step out from behind a table, catch the flying metal disk that he had seen before, and use it to slice the near-defenseless gnoll open from chest to chin. He shook off any confused thoughts and heaved the fullblade in a sideways arc towards the gnoll that had came all the way from the window. The massive wall of steel cut the creature clean in two in an explosion of blood and flesh and fur and bile. The ballsy gnoll saw what had just happened and was having some serious doubts about continuing this fight - it froze in it’s tracks right where it stood.

(Talon does NOT have the Intimidating Strike feat that allows him to make an Intimidate check and an attack simultaneously, but the image in that henchman’s mind? Seeing his buddy who had JUST ARRIVED being sliced in half? That was just too good. I ruled that the minion in question was instantly shaken.)

Saethwyr hacked at the gnoll in front of him with his battle axe, but didn’t strike him down.

Too lazy to move all the way to the other end of the room, Adol turned back towards the bar to grab his crossbow and fire upon targets from a distance. Unfortunately, he was having some trouble reloading it. (The OOC reasoning for this is that Drew was upset because he hadn’t realized he needed the Rapid Reload feat. The IC reasoning is that Adolamin was suuuuper drunk.)

Drace saw an opening in the last gnoll’s defenses and slammed the henchman with her hammer. Then, there was suddenly a sharp disc in the creature’s chest. Drace looked to her left to that side of the room and saw a black blur moving in her direction. Whoever it was, they were moving fast and didn’t seem to be attacking them, only the gnolls.

Roc eagerly held out his wrists, readying himself for Drace’s shackles.

Talon closed the gap quickly between him and his original target. The gnoll feebly swiped at the swordsman with his axe, but Talon easily dodged and brought the sword straight down on the creature. Bone crunched and warm crimson sprayed from the massive gash, which started at the shoulder but stopped somewhere around the gnoll’s hips. Frightened in more ways than one, the gnoll let out a few desperate breaths (not easy when there’s a human-sized sword where one of your lungs used to be) and then expired from shock before the wound could kill it. It slumped over, the steel blade still supporting some of it’s weight.

Saethwyr finished off the gnoll in front of him and then, as it was charging, slashed at the still angry henchman he had hit with his arrow. He dropped that one, too, the combined damage from both of the hunter’s attacks being too much for it’s body to withstand.

Adol finally reloaded his crossbow.

The fight was over, though. Talon cleaned his blade. Saethwyr kicked away the bodies that had accumulated in the corner. Adolamin sat down on his usual stool. Drace shackled the Ibixian. The stranger stared at the doors and windows, poised for any more combatants.

“I,” Adolamin boisterously announced, “think that calls for another drink.”

“I agree,” Saethwyr chimed in. The hunter made his way to the bar and sat down next to the legionnaire. “Good work!”

Adolamin grunted. “Yeah. That was a fun fight.”

The hooded stranger made himself heard from near the bar entrance. “Now is not the time for celebration. There could be more of them waiting.”

“Relax. I know these lowlifes,” Adolamin explained, albeit with his speech slurred. “They’re not the type of people to wait out a fight. Whoever Roc brought with him? That’s who jumped in. They’re not smart enough to sit there and not charge in recklessly.”

He looked over at the Ibixian and raised the half-broken bar glass he had been sipping from. “Right, buddy?”

“Correct. They’re all dead,” Rocilico said before he turned to Drace. “Before we leave, bounty hunter, could I have an ale?”

“I’m not sure that’s a good idea,” Drace warned.

Eventually, everyone except Drace joined each other at the bar for a drink and to converse about the fight. Talon took a seat on the far end of their cluster. Even the stranger joined them, although his instincts were politely informing him to not relax. But Adolamin’s assessment of Rocilico’s men had proven more reassuring than his instincts, and he sat down next to the men as well. They invited the female cleric, but Drace was insistent about her duty to return Rocilico to the custody of the Azorius prison system. However, Roc was eager to have a final drink before he went to prison and Drace did not want to upset him. It would be a shame if he were to struggle now, especially after such a effortless arrest.

Drace used her surprisingly hypnotic voice to tell Roc to sit on the ground off to the side so she could sit with the rest of them and watch him while he drank. They all thanked each other, exchanged names, nursed their small wounds, and learned they had more in common than they first thought.

“Wait a minute,” Adolamin said as he looked Talon over, “Don’t I know you?”

“Yes,” Talon winced, “Unfortunately you do.”

“Oh yeah...the orphanage! You’re the guy who-”

“Don’t even start with me. YOU’RE the one that-”

(To be honest with you, I don’t even remember what was said. Apparently Will and Drew improvised the entire thing. They both knew their characters were connected to the Boros in some way, Talon being an ex-enforcer and Adol still working with them, but I had no idea that something like this would happen. All of a sudden they were screaming at each other about some terrible incident at an orphanage that made Talon quit the force. IC it was very somber because apparently something horrific happened to a whole lot of children. OOC, however, we couldn’t stop laughing. There was, I kid you not, about 15 minutes of escalated fake shouting and chuckling before we could actually get back to things.)

“Um...wow…that was...wow...” the stranger mumbled.

Drace looked up from her water, where she had fixed her gaze in order to avoid the scorching heat from Talon and Adolamin's confrontation that blossomed violently next to her. She glanced at the stranger, who had just uttered his first non-serious words, and right when she was beginning to think the stranger would never relax.

“So what's your story?” she called down the bar to the stranger, desperately trying to change the topic and reclaim some sense of civility. Plus, the stranger had yet to remove his mask. As she examined him, she noticed he bore an Orzhov insignia on the side of his belt - his weapon! That was the disc he was throwing during the brawl. She straightened her posture carefully and dropped her hand down where her hammer fell at her side. The Orzhov didn’t get their hands dirty.

Unless they were going to kill someone behind closed doors.

“Me? Oh, I'm...just a messenger,” the stranger began, “please, call me Samazel.”

(He is going to be my DMPC for the campaign. Since he works as a messenger, he more than likely knows a lot of Ravnican lore that the players would not know and is experienced enough to know when to step in and help guide the other characters. However, he’s not independent or overpowered enough to tip any scales. He’s basically a giant ball of plot advancement needed for rookie players who are unfamiliar with possible ways to advance the plot themselves.)

“Alright, Samazel,” the bounty hunter continued, “What’s someone like you doing in a place like this? I thought the Orzhov liked to keep to their side of town.”

Behind his mask, Samazel paused. His eyes flared.

“I’m not sure I like your tone,” he replied slowly.

“So what were you delivering?” Saethwyr chimed in, cheerfully unaware of the sudden suspicion in the air. The hunter just seemed to just be glad to have some new friends.

As Drace ignored the ranger’s comments while she watched Samazel carefully lean forward on the bar with one arm and lower the other arm to his lap. “I’m sorry,” he emphasized cautiously, “But I can’t tell you that. You understand. Client confidentiality.”

By the time, Talon and Adolamin seemed to have forgotten about their recently re-opened history and were focused entirely on the possibility of a new threat. They both were tense with anticipation.

“No seriously,” Talon asserted, “what are you delivering? I think for our sakes it’d be best if you told us.”

(To their credit, they 100% RPed my DMPC as a possible threat. It made for some pretty fun RP. Thanks to some insightful charisma checks on my part and some detect lies on theirs, things moved on smoothly.)

Samazel glanced from person to person along the bar and saw the heightened insecurity in their eyes. He knew he had lost whatever trust that had been gained already. “It’s clear to me to that we have not been communicating properly,” Samazel observed, “in an attempt to redeem that error I will tell you that the name of my client is ‘N.M.’, probably their initials.”

“Show us the letter,” Adolamin retorted, not wasting any time on being political.

The stranger slowly raised his hands in a motion of surrender, then carefully opened his shirt and pulled out a letter and set it down on the counter. The others visibly relaxed.

Now that the dust had settled, Saethwyr related that he was also sent here on a strange errand by the Simic, and Drace chimed in with the tale of how her superiors suddenly changed her current assignment just hours before, telling her to go apprehend a small-time Ibixian gang leader at this exact bar. Three of them had been led here, but why here? The best theory anyone could come up with was that it served as a frequent watering hole for off-duty Boros, and whoever orchestrated this knew that Talon and Adolamin would probably be here.

However, there was something about this group that made them glad to be together. Despite lingering tension between the two ex-squad mates, there was actually a lot to celebrate in meeting each other. The mostly introverted hunter Saethwyr really didn’t mind being around any of them because they matched his quiet personality (except for the loud-mouthed Adolamin), Samazel may have found the change of pace from his life’s monotony that he had been craving, Talon quite liked Saethwyr’s free spirit, and Adolamin admired the way Drace had stuck to the trenches with him, so to speak. They decided they would have another round of drinks together.

After all, it was hard to believe that they were in the center of any sort of conspiracy.

That’s when they heard slow, ominous, cliched clapping coming from the hallway leading to the storage room.

The stranger’s deep violet tunic was pristine, his fiery red hair slicked back. Ruby and sapphire cufflinks set in gold matched a beautiful amulet emblazoned on his neckline. He carried himself with a practiced strength that seemed to echo through the space around him.

“Good evening, gentleman and lady.” He moved behind the bar and began carefully perusing the available selection, but didn’t say another word.

Adolamin stared. “Um, OK…”

The stranger finally selected a jade-glassed, twisted bottle from a high shelf and poured a bottle of a pungent, bright orange liquid. He grabbed several glasses and poured a few fingers into each, passing one to each of the characters sitting at the bar. While Drace refused, Talon, Saethwyr, and Samazel cautiously accepted. Adolamin greedily clutched at the glass.

“Quite a performance,” the stranger mused, “I must say I’m impressed.” He took a swig and rolled the liquid around on his tongue, enjoying the rich flavor. Adolamin shrugged. A drink was a drink, he thought. Right? How bad could it be?

It turned out that it was actually too strong, even for the drunk enforcer. He nearly vomited right there at the bar the moment his tongue made contact with whatever vile rot-sludge the dragon was guzzling. Adolamin stood up and sprinted outside.

The others decided they didn’t even need to try.

“Let’s cut to the chase,” the newcomer continued, “My name is Niv-Mizzet, Parun of the Izzet League.”

Their jaws dropped. Everyone knew the name Niv-Mizzet. He was supposed to be a huge, ancient dragon. Brilliant, vain, and massively powerful, the Parun was actually as old as the Guildpact itself...because he was one of it’s founders. And apparently could use magic or something else to shapeshift.

“Holy ****!” Rocilico exclaimed from his spot on the ground.

Talon was surprised, but didn’t quite know whether he should be impressed. “You’re Niv? Then why would you-”

Niv-Mizzet’s head snapped towards Talon and locked eyes with the swordsman. Talon shivered and everyone froze. Talon saw the dragon’s eyes narrow and glow a sharp amber light. It was at that moment that Talon inherently knew, just knew, the immense power standing behind the bar counter. It was terrifying, and Talon desperately tried to regain his composure. In his head, he could feel the dragon’s will bore into his consciousness, and he hear a pounding voice-

“You will refer to me by the name I claimed at my birth. We are not equals. Informalities from you are unacceptable. I am Niv-Mizzet, greatest of the Paruns, and you will call me nothing less.”

(I granted Talon a general Will save. His save versus the dragon’s force of will was so low that it led to a situation where, and I quote, “he can pretty much do anything he wants to.” He ended up just compelling Talon via suggestion. Hilariously, Talon is now physically incapable of calling Niv-Mizzet by any other name.)

The dragon’s voice echoed in Talon’s mind. “What I...meant to say...is you don’t look like Niv-Mizzet.” He was careful to say the dragon’s full name this time and avoid any shorthands or nicknames. Talon’s head pounded like a terrible morning hangover. He felt like an egg that had just been scrambled. He sank a little deeper in his stool and tried his best not to show his discomfort.

Niv-Mizzet couldn’t help himself as he let a small smirk escape from the confines of his usually level demeanor. The smirk grew slightly larger still as casually took several steps along the bar and noticed the letter Samazel had put there. The ancient being reached out and calmly took the letter before placing it in his tunic.

Adolamin re-entered the bar and saw how bad Talon looked. He intensely hoped that he didn’t drink the same thing. Fresh air can only help a man so much.

“What’d I miss?” Adolamin half-demanded.

“He’s Niv-Mizzet, a guild founder and actually a dragon in disguise,” Drace offered helpfully, still in awe at the parun’s revelation.

“Oh. Cool.”

The ancient parun took a deep breath and became visibly calmer. The anger in his voice had died down and was replaced by the coaxing, charismatic tamber they had heard before. “My apologies for the deception. I tried to draw as little attention to myself as possible. I wanted to observe the untapped potential in each of you in person. I have learned a great deal, and would like to extend an invitation to each of you.”

He reached into his inner coat pocket and produced a handful of small envelopes. He placed the stack on the counter in between them.

“The envelopes contain an address. If you choose to follow the address, you will find an entrance to a new aerie I have built, not for myself but to serve as the headquarters of a new organization called ‘The Inter-Guild League.’ It was created in response to rising political pressure that each of Ravnica’s guilds have too many secrets and conspiracies between them. The league would hopefully, in time, serve as the chief part of a system of checks and balances to investigate and possibly eliminate threats that are too politically taboo...threats that could be dangerous to the entire planet.”

“You would have political immunity that is near absolute, backed by the power of the guild leaders who signed the league into law. Multiple case files would be made available to you, and you would have the ability to choose which paths to take. If a repetitive and dull existence has begun to wear on you, then this would allow you to leap into a new chapter of adventure.”

“My one condition is this - you would work in tandem, as a team. I know that you are from many different backgrounds, places, and guilds. But together you are stronger than you could possibly know. I have seen many futures, and the path where you fight as one is undoubtedly brightest.”

“Any questions?”

The dragon’s voice still hung on the air. The party sat quietly, not sure what to think.

(“The party sat quietly, literally not knowing how to roleplay.”)

Some stared intently at the bar counter, others savored their ales in silent reflection. All that was truly apparent is that Niv-Mizzet had their attention.

“That is satisfactory. I expect to see you all at midday at the League’s aerie.” Niv-Mizzet quickly finished his near-toxic, glowing Golgari rot-witch’s brew (because that’s what Adolamin swore it was) and began to calmly stroll out of the Lucky Ogre.

And with that Niv-Mizzet, arguably the most powerful being on Ravnica, was gone.

2018-07-27, 11:52 AM
Chapter 2 (December 2013)

2018-07-27, 11:53 AM
Chapter 3 (June 2015)

2018-07-27, 11:55 AM
Chapter 4 (September 2017)

2018-07-27, 11:57 AM
Chapter 5 (Ongoing/TBD)