Character Portrait – Aeduin

Cauldron

If I’m remembering correctly, as the 4th edition of Dungeons & Dragons came to the public, our group was left with a dilemma. Like many, there were things about the 3/3.5e versions of D&D that we weren’t particularly happy with. Neither did we particularly like what we were seeing from 4e. It was too much like a card game or MMO and too little like D&D. While opinion varied a bit in our group, my view was that it wasn’t D&D at all. It was more like Magic: The D&D edition. Well, we eventually settled on a decision to move instead to Paizo’s Pathfinder RPG. Many referred to this rules set as D&D 3.75e. It cleaned up a lot of what was wrong with late 2e and 3/3.5e D&D. One of the first campaigns (might have actually been 1st) with the Pathfinder rules was the Shackled City Campaign Setting. For that campaign I played a bard/cleric name Aeduin Tharn.

“Now, wait,” I can hear you saying already. “Shackled City wasn’t Pathfinder rules! It was 3e/3.5e”. Yes, that’s true. And the fact that you know that off the top of your head means you really need to get out more. But that alone was a reason to pick Pathfinder over 4e. It also helps that anything written for 3/3.5e was extremely easy to convert to the Pathfinder rules and not easy to convert to 4e. That meant going in there was already a huge amount of material available. And most of us being fans of D&D from the very beginnings and 1st edition, we were among those that were not impressed with 4th edition. So on to Pathfinder we went.

The Problem with Aeduin

Shackled City was probably the first time we were planning on taking characters from 1st to 20th level. While we sometimes re-visited characters, none of them had yet to achieve the topmost levels of the game. For my part, I’d played pretty much every core character class in the game except barbarian and bard. For Aeduin, I chose bard. Mostly I made the choice because we already had a couple of tanks in the party and I was fine with either one. 

As the campaign progressed Aeduin grew as a bard and I pushed him along. But I also grew more and more bored with playing the bard. There were a few reasons for this. First, I found myself with a “meh” attitude towards the skills and abilities that bards have in higher levels. It just seemed like more of the same and increasingly less useful to the party. Second, I wasn’t really happy with the interpersonal dynamics that my character had with the rest of the party.  And third, bards are supposed to be exuberant, outgoing characters, the voice of the party. That is 100% the opposite of me and I found it very difficult to draw a sufficient amount of that attitude out of myself as a gamer.

Sacrifice
Occipitus
Occipitus

There comes a moment in the campaign when the characters are on a plane of existence known as Occipitus. There they face several tests. The last test takes place around a pillar of flaming plasma. Kaurophon is attempting to gain control of Occipitus. Here, he must sacrifice a soul to the pillar to gain that control. During the battle, Kaurophon used his magic to lift up one of the party and begin shoving them towards the pillar. The party fought to prevent the sacrifice, but we were losing the battle. We had but a round or two remaining before our foe was victorious.

In a moment of decision, Aeduin determined to throw himself into the pillar and gain the control for the party. Despite the fact that I was unhappy with Aeduin, it was also not in my nature to just throw a character away. I just thought that here was an opportunity for him to make a difference, something that I didn’t feel he had done in quite a while. Mostly I was totally happy with Aeduin not coming back. I was already starting to plan a new character out in my head before the end of the session. But as we were packing up, our GM told me he had an idea.

Opportunity for Change

What I didn’t know at the time I made the sacrifice is that if a character sacrifices themselves instead of someone else, they are not killed. They instead gain the Sign of the Smoking Eye template and become the heir to the plane of Occipitus. Between my GM and myself, we came up with an additional change. Instead of just becoming the Smoke-Eye and heir to Occipitus, Aeduin would become a cleric of Occipitus. All of his existing levels of cleric were replaced with an equal number of levels of cleric of Occipitus. Aeduin found new purpose and I found it enjoyable to play him once again.

We eventually finished the campaign and Aeduin reached level 20. Having completed his original purpose in finding his missing father and restoring their family’s trade empire, he left Cauldron behind to return to Occipitus to begin molding it to his designs. Among his changes are taking ownership of the World Serpent Inn and giving it a permanent home.

D&December 2017 – W2D7 – Oddities – The World Serpent Inn

DnDecember2017

This is a really tough one. The fantasy universe is full of oddities of various types and sources. In creatures we have strange beings such as the were-mole and aboleth. In magic items we have things like the belt of gender change. The list of odd planar locations seems to have no end. But there is one oddity that has endlessly fascinated me since I first came across it: The World Serpent Inn.

About the Inn

There is a TV trope referred to as the “Inn Between Worlds“. This is a place that wanders from place to place. A building that appears and disappears, seemingly at random. It serves as a portal between worlds and in one variety or another is often used as a means of crossing over between realities. The World Serpent Inn is the D&D equivalent of it. 

It’s been around since the days of AD&D and received a big treatise in Dragon Magazine #351 (which I still have around somewhere). The Inn can be used by travelers to easily get from Krynn to Greyhawk to Faerun or to just about any plane that exists in the D&D cosmology.

There’s a large common room that changes from time to time. Numerous passageways filled with doors. Some of the doors lead to rooms and some of them lead to various otherworldly destinations and times. The passageways and doors are not fixed constants, either. They seem to change at random, appearing and disappearing and changing where they lead.

The Dragon magazine article detailed a number of cool side quests and adventure hooks that could be undertaken from the Inn. One example was a door that leads to Istar just days before the gods of Krynn blasted it into oblivion.

My Usage

The Inn is something that I’ve co-opted for my own purposes within the Wyrmfang Chronicles. In my usage, the Inn has a new co-owner, Aeduin (my cleric of the Smoking Eye from the Shackled City adventure path). He has given it a permanent home on the plane that he now controls, Occipitus. Much remains the same, but there are a few notable differences.

The bartenders who work behind the bar are three medusae, sisters that he rescued from somewhere. Neither he nor they talk about the where or how of it. New patrons may wary at first, but the sisters never turn anyone to stone unless they are causing problems. They are, in effect, the bouncers. 

Another change is that there are many more hallways and doors than there were previously. Aeduin has turned the Inn and the plane of Occipitus it now resides in, into a place of neutrality where friends and enemies may come to negotiate, discuss, or just drink together. Fighting is strictly prohibited. One may see elves from Silvanesti seated around a table with those from Evereska. Or mind flayers and githyanki negotiating over some piece of the Ethereal. Even the occasional avatar or demi-god may drop by for a drink or two.

Red Dragon Inn by Fish032
Red Dragon Inn by Fish032

D&December 2017 – W2D3 – Abyssal/Fey

DnDecember2017

I may have mentioned once or twice that I hate fey. They’re nothing more than an annoyance. As for abyssal creatures, my favorite is probably the glabrezu demon. There’s just something about a half demon, half crab that can cast spells that is oddly amusing and appealing at the same time. 

Another part of it is the experience that my bard turned cleric had on Occipitus during the Shackled City adventure path. We had some fun interactions with a glabrezu, among other demons. 

D&December 2017 – W1D5 – A Moment of Triumph

DnDecember2017

Hmm, this is a difficult one. I’ve been a part of many moments of triumph over the years. Most, sadly, I have forgotten, but one does stand out. We were running the Shackled City Adventure Path. As with many modules, we re-located this one into the Forgotten Realms setting. I don’t remember exactly where now. It was somewhere in the far south or southwest, perhaps Chult or Halruaa.

My character was a bard named Aeduin Tharn. The son of a merchant from Raven’s Bluff, his father had gone missing somewhere in the Cauldron region during a trade expedition. As a result their family came upon hard times. Aeduin set himself the task of finding what had happened and restoring the family’s name.

Fast forward several in character months of adventuring and several class levels later. The party found itself in the Plane of Occipitus. There was a great pillar of fire from a massive skull. Within the skull, the party found itself battling for control and their lives. A sacrifice was required, a part of the Test of the Smoking Eye. A life would had to be sacrificed to the pillar, either willingly or unwillingly. The victor would gain control over the domain of Occipitus.

The party’s foe was going to make one of them an unwilling sacrifice. As the party fought against the enemy’s minions, one of their number was being dragged helplessly toward the pillar of fire. Try as we might we could not stop our companion’s progress toward it. We had only a couple of rounds left before our friend would die in flame.

Aeduin (and I for that matter) saw no other solution to the problem. He was in a position to save their companion, so he made a decision. He threw himself willingly into the pillar of fire. At the time, I fully expected that was the end of Aeduin. I figured he was dead and the party, having defeated their enemies in Occipitus, could go on and I would create some new character to join them back in Cauldron.

Chris, our DM, told me afterwards that he knew that if anyone was going to willingly sacrifice themselves in the pillar, it was going to be me. Over the next few days, he gave me the choice to restore Aeduin to life. Aeduin was reborn. I converted all of my existing character levels from bard to become a cleric of Occipitus, complete with the Smoke-eye template. Aeduin returned with his left eye replaced with a smoking, smoldering fire instead. Gave him an ominous look.

That moment, even more than when we eventually returned to Occipitus and Skullrot to defeat the forces of Adimarchus, are what stand out for me about Aeduin. He eventually completed the path as a 20th level cleric of Occipitus and now holds dominion over that plane.