- Plane Weaver
The Magisters of Rom seek dedicated and competent citizens to investigate the cause of the extensive conflict incursions that are currently destabilising the district. Planar experience preferred.
This adventure takes place in the wake of persistent torrential downpour and a significant uptick in the quantity and severity of conflict incursions in the district of Rom.
The party arrive at the quarantine perimeter to find huge connection wards being maintained by the Grand Magister and her cadre. Isabella's secretary, Elena di Graza, explains the situation to the party. Large-scale military action just causes conflict to grow in response, so small parties of adventurers have been sent in. None of them appear to have had any success thus far, and the wards grow weaker by the minute. When they fall, the incursion will spread across much of the city.
Given a small dial to check the strength of the wards, and rocketed towards Magister Audata's mansion by a connection ritual, the party appears in a horribly warped Rom, populated by monstrous scavengers of teeth and ivory. Occasionally, the conflict denizens begin to emit strange white flames that Mordecai, Quinn and Gidie recognise as non-standard for Conflict. The stress of battle causes several of the party to lose their grip on their sense of self, and they feel a strange, bright entity clawing at their minds.
Pushing on into the ruined streets, warped and impossible to navigate under the influence of Conflict, the party ascend a tower, fighting the husks of people now hollowed out by the same affliction that they are struggling to fight off. Reaching the top of the tower, they find a Scavenger Hag picking over the bones of the dead, and a great floating castle high in the sky above them. The party and the Hag pester one another while Mordecai uses a feat of strength to leap high into the air and get a better look at the castle. Finding it to be covered in weeping faces, from which the torrents of rain are emanating, they are forced back by flying creatures like draconic dogs, which pelt the top of the tower with fireballs and force the party to move on.
Having used their height advantage to chart a course to Audata’s estate, the party arrive to find it sunk into deepest Erosion, with a huge wormlike Conflict creature devouring all that remains. Fending off the Devourer, the party are joined by Magister Idris of Rom, who helps them in defeating the creature and leads them to safety closer to his tower. Idris complains of a mass of Conflict-based wards between him and the Castle, and having exhausted most of his powers in a futile attempt to reach Audata, resolves to take the survivors he has and make a dash for the border. He offers to transfer the wards he would place on the survivors to the party, but is universally turned down. He also makes an arrangement to link the consciousness of a Perfection denizen to one of the party, in the hope that both parties might learn something. After some haggling, Sofia takes him up on the offer, and gains a fragment of Glory in her mind.
Idris sends them straight through the wards and into Zaboul’s lab, where they find a scene of mass destruction, a headless, runed skeleton on an examination bench, cryptic notes referring to ‘the Burning’, and a pair of the guard dog creatures from before. In the brutal fight that follows, strange conflict entities enter the minds of every member of the party, and Quinn is killed, finding herself in the waters of Erosion and unsure if she even wants to return. Sowe reaches into her mind in an attempt to convince her to use her Blessing to come back to life, while the rest of the party discover a spiral staircase leading up into the floating castle, and Mordecai nabs the skeleton to deliver it to the Lord of Flame.
Climbing the staircase, the party must pass through wards linked to the four congruent planes, and a silent, hooded figure - the Erosion denizen Ajrail - examining their progress. They immediately hit a stumbling block when the Erosion ward demands the sacrifice of a positive quality; Gidie is having difficulty remembering under the effects of the affliction, while Quinn refuses to play this game and tries to use her weaving to rot the ward away. This draws her into conflict with Ajrail; the two have a discussion before Quinn finds herself in psychic combat with a colossal Erosion denizen that looks like an unknowably huge maw. She ultimately succeeds in forcing a tiny crack in the ward that will let her through; as the crack is made, though, a white light shines from the barrier and a scream of rage is heard. The rest of the wards cause similar trouble - Sowe collapses under the sheer psychic force of her missing identity, Mordecai ends up in combat with an unstoppable Forest creature, and Sofia deals with her old (imaginary) enemy, the Legatus. Ultimately, they all make it to the other side, and enter the Weeping Citadel.
Inside, the party are joined by manifestations of their own repressed selves; Sofia is angry and vengeful, Quinn is indecisive, Mordecai is altogether more pleasure-focused, Gidie is full of self-doubt and Sowe is entirely confident of her sense of self. Ajrail appears, baffled by the fact that the players have skipped the extensive wards that Idris sent them through, which reportedly involve lengthy personal quests and the acquisition of a series of important items. The party get the sense that they are taking part in some sort of ritual or game, and Ajrail tells them that they are to act as jailers. Sofia uses a Throne Embrace to reach into Sowe’s head and successfully restore her repressed memories, but she isn’t exactly careful in the process, leaving Sowe’s head more of a mess than before she started. A series of deals are made over lunch, as Ajrail demands that if they’re not going to go along with the predefined narrative they can at least strive to make their stories satisfying. Finally, he tells them to head further into the castle if they want to stop the incursion.
Further in, the party are confronted by the Heirophant, a screaming, monstrous city-creature built out of their fears and concerns for Rastaban, which they narrowly win out against. Opening the book left behind by the Heirophant, the party discover a repeated mantra that appears to be missing the name of the creature it is intended to summon. After some confusion, Gidie uses a ritual to open up Mordecai's connection to the Lord of Fire. The Lord of Fire claims that this is designed to commune with a creature that no longer has a name, and that, as such, they should try simply using silence in the invocation instead. Forming a circle, the party summon the creature to speak to them, and though they keep their eyes closed as directed by the ritual, they feel the room around them grow hot and hostile as something arrives.
The party establish that this creature was sealed away by the Courts of Strife and Discord in a (very) rare joint venture, and that some mechanism of the Courts is designed to keep it trapped in a series of hosts. Asking what it would do if released, the creature replies that it would lay waste to the Courts and reclaim its rightful dominion. Sofia and Mordecai consult their muses for guidance; The Throne senses an opportunity to make a deal, but notes that the Courts are clearly more bound to rules and technicalities, and already have a deal made with Rastaban, while the Rod simply proposes that if this creature wants to be free, it will have to fight for it.
As Sofia proposes a deal, the creature insists that they prove themselves in ‘the old ways’, and the party find themselves in a surreal dreamscape, surrounded by their repressed components from earlier. The creature demands they battle until only one is left standing. Some attempts are made to prevent a bloodbath, but thanks largely to anti-Mordecai and anti-Sofia, a fight breaks out. Refusing to play by the creature’s rules, Mordecai calls down an embrace of the Rod to fight the creature directly. The others witness both halves of mordecai vanish in a flurry of burning cinders, leading some of them to conclude that they were atomised. The fight goes on until anti-Sofia ultimately emerges victorious.
Mordecai awakens in what looks like the surface of the sun, watching as a great entity of burning white plasma emerges to meet them. In the fight that follows, it transpires that fighting the Forgotten One in its own domain is a very bad idea. It bats them around until Mordecai invokes the power of the Lord of Fire, which drives the creature into a rage. Mordecai nonetheless refuses to surrender, and in the fight both halves seem to recohere. The Forgotten One marks Mordecai as a sign of respect, then blasts them back into their body, now once again of one mind.
The party recover to discover that Mordecai and Sofia are now both marked with molten pentacles, a manifest connection to the Forgotten One. They push on to find a squad of bureaucrats facing off with some of Magister Zaboul’s weavers over the skull of the skeleton from earlier, and are able to discover what is actually going on. The skeleton - an abandoned host of the Forgotten One - was experimented upon because it was strongly aligned with the plane of conflict, and it spread the mind-eating affliction with it. The experiment was designed to turn that affliction into a weapon, and the Weavers intend to throw the skull into Conflict and be rid of it for good, unwilling to use such a dangerous and cruel weapon. The party side with the bureaucrats, killing one of the weavers and subduing the rest, before pushing on further into the fortress. Notably, both Quinn and Gidie quietly fail to raise a weapon against the Weavers.
Here, the party find the Blacksmith of Discord, a conflict entity that moulds the molten emanations of the Forgotten One into weapons for the Courts. Though the Blacksmith’s sense of self has deteriorated greatly, it transpires that it has experimented with the creation of artificial hosts, conflict denizens that can more effectively trap the Forgotten One. The party discover, if they hadn’t guessed already, that this whole setup exists to channel hosts toward the Forgotten One, to subdue it as it breaks free from the old one and then to take its place. There is some understandable reticence to offer up an infant denizen as a host for a brain-melting forgotten monster. The Blacksmith proposes that, if the party do not wish to make that sacrifice, they could always use their own conflicts to force their way into the Forgotten One’s domain and take it on more permanently. Mordecai feels quite strongly that this is a bad idea given how that went last time, but Sofia is keen to try and negotiate, and ultimately the Blacksmith is convinced to reforge the party by focusing on the conflicts that drive them, allowing them to manifest those conflicts in the form of a weapon that can damage the Forgotten One.
Finally, ascending to the pinnacle of the Citadel, the party confront the Forgotten One in the ruins of its own fortress. The pitiful, burnt-out body of its old human host isn’t much to look at, but the force inside it makes it a terrifying fighter that kills Quinn, Gidie and Sowe, alternating between screaming threats and begging for help as the last part of the host tries to assert itself. The Forgotten One incapacitates Sofia and makes a beeline for a battered and beaten Mordecai. Sofia makes a deal with Glory to get back up and try to make a deal, but as she does Mordecai manages to briefly incapacitate the host. As the Forgotten One begins to tear the body apart, they connect the new Host.
The two paladins watch as the chains around the citadel grab the new host, drawing it into the centre of the chamber and binding it. The Forgotten One screams, but those screams are soon muted. The host has no mouth with which to scream.
The conflict incursion immediately begins to fade, and the remains of the party gently drift to ground level as the clouds finally clear. Sofia and Mordecai argue briefly about the viability of having sex on the floating platform they are on. Sowe awakens quickly; Quinn takes far longer, but ultimately does so. Gidie does not awaken, and it remains to be seen if he will pull through at all.
Though most of the efforts of the Rom authorities are devoted to repair and relief efforts, Elena still manages to find time to thank the party. A crowd of cheering survivors promptly inspire a deed name - ‘Clear Skies’. Quinn rejects this. Sowe uses her Forest skills to erase her Dark Heart. Mordecai delivers the skeleton to the Lord of Fire, and is indeed rewarded with a BOON.
Finally, the clouds disappear for good, and the people of Rom can tend to their losses.