Without a Trace Epilogue

The Long Journey Home

So we’ve finally resumed a decent schedule over the past couple weeks, and played out the first adventure in the next section of our campaign. Felt good to get going on this again, I have to say, and all my players seem really interested in exploring different aspects of my campaign setting with their character ideas.

We started the first session by resuming where we left off; everyone had passed out as intense pain drove their Bondings, Talents and Powers from their minds after their killing of the possessed boy Hector. Jun Xi awoke first, and after soothing the mother and child that had been traveling with him, went back to check on the others after sounds of a heated argument drifted up to his ears.

He found Warrik and Tarm facing off against Eli and Mully. Warrik, unwilling to accept that the Council would order this, has begun to believe he destroyed the Leylines at the whims of a traitor to his nation. The web of lies they’d snared him in was slowly falling apart. It’s a sensitive issue for him, as his loyalty is fueled by guilt over the murder of his brother. He was forced to slay his sibling after he led a small uprising and then fled the country; if he believes the Council can make mistakes, he loses his justification for that action. Thus, Eli must not have been what he claimed.

Tarm on the other hand was just enraged at his powerlessness, as his family back home was reliant upon him to provide for them. His mother, with her husband’s permission, had seduced a Highborn lord in order to birth a child that would be given access to the Leylines. With the position he’s only managed to hold due to the nature of his birth and the Talent he had bestowed upon him, he was the only one in his family that could earn enough to provide for them.

The pair of conjoined skill challenges surrounding this situation had the PCs making separate checks for each of the NPCs; they got 1 check per round, and could choose who to direct it to. So they had to be careful who they focused on with Aid Another, as anyone they didn’t address in a turn accrued an automatic failure. Using Insight, they uncovered Tarm’s worries and drew them out into the argument, but they failed on Warrik’s skill challenge and were forced to flee as the young squire held Warrik back long enough for them to escape.

The group fled to the surface, and then headed back to Danton to escort Anne and Susie, the mother and daughter, to the only other survivor of the ruined town of Araval. As they camped the first night, the emaciated wolves Eli and Mully had faced before attacked. Without powers, and now that everything deals double damage to them without their talents, they still managed to put forth a strong front against the Elite Minions(2-hits). Stunts became huge for acrobatic/athletic characters, while the weaker Mully used their campfire to their advantage as he began to prey upon the wolves’ fear of the flame.

The following day, they found a discarded campsite and a corpse that indicated he had suffered the same Bonding disruption as they; only when he’d fallen unconscious, he fell into his campfire. They finally found the Merchant’s Way, the main road to Danton, after that. They followed it into the Sentinel’s Forest, but quickly found an overturned carriage with a dead guard pinned beneath. Accurately gauging the danger, Mully recognized it as the work of an Ankheg, which without Bondings they were in no position to fight. Jun Xi located where it hid beneath the earth, and the party tried to skirt around it. . . but came 5 feet too close and it sensed their footsteps.

Eli and Jun Xi held it for for a moment while Mully fled with Anne and Susie, both becoming bloodied in a single hit due to the increased damage everything has. They fled after bloodying the beast, realizing they couldn’t win a prolonged fight, and in another skill challenge managed to lose it in the woods before catching up to Mully and the women.

That night, Mully told a bit about his life story, explaining to Eli that he’d been a close friend of his grandparents during the war. After Eli’s parents had been killed by bandits, Mully had entrusted him to another who could feed and care for him before leaving. He came back and bonded him to the Leyline illegally because he knew it was what his grandparents would have wanted.

The next morning, Mully didn’t awake. He’d been using his Talent to keep himself alive into his old age, and now without it his body is failing him. I constructed a near-impossible skill challenge to develop tension as Jun Xi and Eli tried to get help for him; they needed 12 successes before Mully got 3 Endurance failures, and Mully sucked at Endurance. They could remove Mully’s failures with successively harder Heal checks, but they had to stop to do so, and Mully still had to make Endurance checks during those turns. The progressively harder difficulties eventually tipped the challenge into failure after several tense rounds.

As the player intended, Mully passed away in Eli’s arms with his final words telling the younger man to remain strong. Wanting to give his body a proper burial, Jun Xi and Eli morbidly set out again with Anne and Susie, the city of Danton now just a few hours away. . .

All in all, it was pretty cool working with one of my players to create a strong death scene for his character. He had wanted to try someone new, but wanted to have Mully leave the group in a meaningful way. So we did this! It worked really well, and now that they’ve reached Danton, we can finally start including our new players and characters. . . alongside Jun Xi and Eli, we’ll now have four others. “Snowfox” the Rogue, who left behind her family despite all her training due to her dislike of their business of assassination. Gandrake the Warden, a wanderer in search of his family’s killers. Sed, a Highborn of Eldin and former devout religious man who left his homeland in search a former friend who took from him everything he’d ever loved. And. . . Shadowfax, who has a name but no backstory as of yet. Haven’t gotten a chance to talk to the player about it yet.



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