Friday, July 10, 2009

Charge of the Avatar (Encounter/Plot Hook)

Written by Justin Mason

Late one summer evening, after the characters have set-up a light camp in the forest and a preparing for bed, they suddenly find themselves caught in one of the most massive and violent storms they have ever witnessed. The weather is fierce and arrives with unnatural speed with torrent winds blowing in nearly every direction. Seeking shelter, the characters stumble upon a circle of standing stones.

Suddenly lightning strikes the stones and the scent of electricity and ozone fills the air. The characters will have to make a Reflex Save (DC 20) be knocked to the ground and blinded 1d4 rounds. When their vision recovers, they see before them a tall, dark-skinned man carrying a glowing spear and wearing an antlered helmet. The man’s eyes are fierce and vivid blue, and he is surrounded by a pack of massive dire wolves.

The man is actually the Avatar of a good-aligned god (25th level Outsider/Druid), who has been sent to seek out the adventurers to aid in ridding this forest of an evil cult of demon worshippers. However, as is often the case when it comes to deities, requests often come in the form of commands. The Avatar will shout the characters in a booming, echoing and baritone voice, “Come with me, and rid this forest of its filth!

Any good-aligned character will have to make a Will Save (DC 25) or be overcome with the sense of duty, and accept the charge from the Avatar. In an instant, all who failed the saving throw will follow the man and his pack of wolves as they run off deeper into the forest. Anyone affected by the command will be able to run at twice their normal speed, and easily keep up with the man, those unaffected however can only run at normal speeds. Though, it won’t be hard to track any of their comrades who run off with the Avatar: they can easily follow the distant barks and growls of the leading pack of wolves.

Those effected by the command will retain their thoughts and free will, but be filled with purpose that compells them to do as the Avatar askes. Afterwards everything will be remembered by the characters, but seem dreamlike and unreal.

After a few minutes of dashing through the thick forest, the characters and the wolves (8 Dire Wolves), converge on what is apparently a ritual being performed by a large group of black-robed humans. Each of them wears an amulet depicting the sigil of a well-known evilly-aligned god or goddess.

At this point the Avatar will have mysteriously disappeared, but the charge effect stays in place until the entire cult has been slain. The cult is caught by surprise and flat-footed as the characters and the wolves charge in without fear or hesitation to kill them.
When the last of the cult has been felled, the wolves too seem to vanish into thin air as does the storm, and the forest will be quiet and still.

Note: The evil cult should consist of about 3x as many members as there are player-characters, and should be of equal or slightly higher level.

Each of the characters who participated in the combat with the cult (whether or not effected by the Avatar's charge) will eventually notice the mark of the good-aligned god has been scarred into their right arm.

This is a divinely magical mark, and as such, any followers (particularly high level priests or druids) who follow the god will pay the utmost homage and respect to the characters; even going out of their way to assist them whenever possible. They may even be asked to do additional favors for the god by these same followers.

If the mark is divined/identified in any way, the caster will be given a short, concise vision of the events that happened this night. The mark also provides a divine courage bonus of +5 to attack and damage anytime the characters are in combat with a follower of the same evil-aligned god that the cult worshiped.

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