Thursday, April 20, 2017

If you could play on Critical Role....

(Fate/Stay-Night (Zero) spoilers.)

.....so this question gets brought up on the Facebook fan group quite a lot: "If you found yourself playing with Critical Role what class and race would you play?" And I've decided to go ahead and give a potential answer here but it is more in the neighborhood of a story development I would like to see happen in gameplay using Critical Role's current situation as a framework for explaining the idea.

I feel safe in posting this because:
  • There is no way I am ever going to get to guest on Critical Role. I live in Japan and am in no way connected to either Geek and Sundry or the cast of the show outside being a fan.
  • Even if I were to end up on Critical Role it would not be the sort of long-standing appearance I would need to pull off this storyline.
  • If I were to somehow in the future get to know the cast and be in a position to play with them where they would want to invite me on, by then the circumstances of the show's story would have changed and likely will have invalidated everything in this set up.
  • I am currently planning to be playing this character but all the other players already know her backstory and thus there is no chance I'm going to be able to pull off the Reveal moment that all of this would be working toward. There's nothing to reveal, they all already know about it and the circumstances of the setting are such that this sequence won't work anyway. Thus there's no harm posting my fantasy of a great reveal for public view.
  • In all likelihood, a long-game style dramatic reveal like this is almost impossible to get to come off the way you plan it to outside of fiction because there are numerous variables involved including dice and other players.
  • If fate gave me the opportunity to play on Critical Role, or Eric's TBD, or any other G&S production, I would likely end up creating some completely separate character concept because the situation would be different, I would be different, and different things would occur to me.This concept is just top of my mind right now and since this question at its core is less about playing with Crit Role specifically and more about what ideal game would you like to play, it seems a perfect concept to perform the thought exercise around.
That said, here goes the character development.Again, this is the sort of thing that's a lot easier to pull off when writing a novel and even then is very delicate to get done precisely right. Trying to pull this off in an RPG would be amazingly unlikely and is the main reason I am deliberately trying to keep things vague.

Start with a guest appearance as one of two things:
  • A "good" priest or other sort of caster able to summon a celestial.
  • A celestial warrior summoned by said priest who is rather warm-hearted and easily likeable.
This character would probably be playing in a sequence involved in breaking a horrible artifact of evil, likely a horn of Orcus since my guess on the marble of death is that it is more of a neutral phenomenon despite seeming to have Vecna on the other end.

Either way, the priest would be largely unconcerned with the safety of the celestial in question and about the time that artifact is destroyed will have had the celestial in way too close to the thing. When said artifact goes boom, it comes with a wash of horrific vile evil flooding over the area. Think the destruction of the Grail in Fate/Zero or Fate/Stay-Night (this character is based on Saber in any case...well, Saber-Alter....at about 3:24 seconds is the relevant destruction scene, but leading up to that you get to hear Matt Mercer's Kiritsugu.).


The celestial is washed away and seems to be unsummoned or banished as normal when a summoned creature is defeated save that her sword clatters down to the ground after she vanishes.

At this point, Vox Machina (or whatever high level characters I'd be guesting for a campaign at the end) would likely either assume that she was banished and tell off the summoner for being a bastard or maybe realize something else happened and try to punish him. Either way.

I would not like this to be campaign climax, this is set up for character down the line, not usurpation of the current campaign. That's why I'm thinking Horn of Orcus or similar artifact. I expect the climax to be Vecna and/or Orcus rather than one of their artifacts. The fact that VM is high enough level that destroying something on the level of F/SN's grail is a stepping stone allows for a lot of high drama between now and the climax.

However, there's tons of problem points here not the least of which being that it is really easy for the other players to accidentally make my entire set up situation here fail. It might actually be better in retrospect to have the Summoner and Celestial duo show up for some lesser adventure and then have the artifact-destruction and Celestial overwhelming bit happen just barely on screen as VM arrives just in time to see it happen and revealing that whatever the summoner did that sacrificed the celestial just really made things worse and VM or other group now has to fix matters.

Regardless, this would lead to me starting a new character when the cast starts up the next campaign.

Left normal, right with Necrotic Shroud active
The character would be a fallen aasimar paladin but if possible I would conspire to keep her race more or less secret from the other players for a while. Not terribly hard to do, aasimar now seem to appear almost completely human until they go angel on people. In any case, she would appear grim, cynical, rage-filled and move about with grimaces very clearly in pain with every movement. Have high Strength and Charisma along with decent Constitution but low Dex. I would avoid using Necrotic Shroud until a certain event occurs.

This is not altogether impossible. Default D&D cosmology is that the Prime is the result of essences from the Elemental and Outer Planes coming together and mixing. A flood of malignant, fiendish energy might kill or curse a mortal, but if they survived such an affliction might be more or less easily remedied by high level casters. But a celestial is already a pure soul and it's possible a mixing of fiendish and celestial energy would result in the celestial becoming imperfectly incarnated as a mortal. Hence human, but with a flawed angelic seed (aasimar being mortals that carry a celestial seed by Volo's) and a curse of rage, pain, and despair. This, of course, depends on the blender of reincarnation metaphysics of default D&D and/or Faerun being applicable to the setting in question though I imagine there are plenty of ways to fluff it out in other metaphysical realities.

In appearance she would have visible dark veins along her face and other parts of the body so that basically she looks like she is afflicted with some kind of disease. Give her gear and clothes and manner a subtly malevolent cast to them as well. Shadows seem to fall somehow wrong, it looks like there's bloodstains that she's never managed to completely clean from her armor and weapons. Et cetera.

As I level I'd take the Unearthed Arcana Paladin Oath of Conquest as the idea of adapting Saber-Alter (or at least the version that appears in a fanfiction) came out of an interest in doing a heroic version of the Conquest oath which WotC intended to be villainous. Her case, with all her lighter and positive emotions buried under the spiritual filth she's been cursed with, she tries her best to serve good by directing her rage at evil things.

To paraphrase said fanfiction "If I cannot feel the light, I can at least look at it from the darkness."

Anyway, go adventuring with the new party as one of the group. Eventually the sword from the celestial who was "banished" in the previous campaign (aka the character's old sword) will show up in the game. Either hanging in a position of honor in some church with a highly glamorized version of her sacrifice which paints it as entirely necessary and heroic with her summoner now in some high position of esteem...or in the hands of some minor villain or another who can't really attune to it but gets a kick out of wielding the blade of a celestial to do evil things. Or a combination of the two with some actual hero going around and using it.

The sword is the crux of the Reveal moment. If it shows up in the place of honor in the church, the character will at first try to ignore it, because she doesn't want to taint it, until some dramatic danger moment occurs that makes her decide she needs more power and she runs to get the sword and does so in such a way that reveals to everybody watching that she is the celestial of the story.

If it is in the hands of a villain, try a sequence where she shoves and disarms the target and then picks up the sword herself. Again, making it immediately obvious that she is the celestial who used to own the sword.

If in the hands of a hero, she'd only claim it if the hero were to fall, possibly simply unconscious.

Regardless, upon taking up the sword she'd activate her Necrotic Shroud for the first time. I wouldn't expect this to happen at less than 10th level. This would simulate a little bit of her awakening herself and or make it a real power boost over earlier performance even though in the scenarios indicated above, only one of them really has any chance to give her time to attune to the weapon and use its actual abilities.

Of these, I actually kind of like the idea of her temporarily taking up the sword from a hero who falls unconscious and then passing it back to them afterwards so she doesn't have to attune to it and taint it.

Ideally, Vox Machina, or members there of, would be among the witnesses of the revelation that the celestial of that event wasn't banished but rather rendered mortal and given a horrible, just about incurable, curse.

This would just be a reveal, the story arc of the character is still primarily about breaking free of the curse and while returning to being a celestial is unlikely (though some epic rewards might allow her to ascend back or even become a god) I would find settling in as a mortal woman and hero would be just as much of a triumph. Which is the story I'm going to be playing toward when this new campaign goes off. Hopefully. We've had some bad luck with campaigns off and on recently.

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