So yesterday’s post about what sort of group could work to suppress a Hellmouth conveniently had 12 power types. For a game with 4 players, I rolled: hellspawn, wizard, immortal, and dhampir.
Where shall we put the Hellmouth? I favor a rotting and abandoned urban core, surrounded by still-vibrant city, flanked by suburbs.
WHY ARE THEY HERE?
Each one needs a reason to be there. The Hellspawn is rejecting the role of demonic general, and escaped Hell, but cannot get much further away without depleting the precious energy stockpiled in her necroplasmic form. Sure, she can use the cloak and the chains for free, but healing or energy blasts or other tricks take energy. She stakes her claim to an old church built directly on top of the Hellmouth by grim Freemasons 150 years ago. It is warded and enchanted to suppress the energies, but some rogue agents of the order began using the barred portal as a door again to empower themselves, a few years back. That opened the Hellmouth just a crack. (Nobody knows they did this, and they’ll be coming back to do it again, so that can be an early storyline–they must be stopped.)
The wizard is part of an international consortium of supernatural criminals. His boss runs fights between supernatural monsters, there is heavy betting and the corpses are sold to magical researchers for ritual components and the like. He has been sent here because of the Hellmouth, with orders to manage as many live captures as he can. He doesn’t like this assignment, and has a soft spot for “civilians,” so it is only a matter of time before he goes rogue and consequences follow.
The immortal and the dhampir are connected. The dhampir is a scholar who was looking for a cure for cancer, and experimented with a “vampire serum.” The cancer went away, or rather became irrelevant, but now the scholar is half-vampire. He is searching for a cure, to become fully human (and healthy) again. In the meantime, he studies the energies of the Hellmouth and how they interact with the supernatural; perhaps their drawing powers could be used to draw the supernatural out of an infected person.
The immortal is his bodyguard. She has sworn off the Game, she does not seek out other immortals and behead them for their Quickening. (She will, of course, defend herself if others come calling.) She is with the dhampir because they partnered up some decades ago. She is an excellent monster hunter in her own right (impossible skill with a blade, regeneration, ability to blend in with the herd, centuries of experience) and she hopes supernatural energies can bring something good to the world (like the cure he’s after.) She hates vampires especially, and enjoys slitting them open.
WHY ARE THEY TOGETHER?
The dhampir and immortal are ideal live captures for the wizard. However, the wizard stubbornly decided they would be more useful as a source of lore and research, as they have a massive library hidden in a run down mansion in the urban blight. The wizard’s superiors need not know about that. And the hellspawn is generally regarded as the guardian of the hellmouth.
These ties are loose, so it is up to the first adventure to give them enough shared experience to want to work together. If it doesn’t work out, one or more people can make new characters that CAN play nice together.
WHO ELSE IS NEARBY?
Need some background context for them to tie into, also. These are potential allies, enemies, or contacts.
A nest of vampires is enslaved by an ancient demon that needs the Hellmouth to open. They do everything they can in that direction, but they aren’t well led and they aren’t well fed. They could be converted from threats to neutral, or potentially allies, by dealing with the demon.
A demon is part of a world-wide network of “travel agents” who manage sites of pilgrimage for evil wizards, scholars, and supernatural types. He manages a tidy little fortified way station to offer hospitality to those coming to see the Hellmouth. More or less neutral, great source of gossip, no big fan of the Hellmouth opening (and ending the balance) but also no great enemy of the forces of darkness; untrustworthy but interesting. Also a great source of monsters of the week, but could be miffed if they repeatedly off his clientele.
Various hellblade lairs in the ruins; pull inspiration from X Com’s chrysalids, Warhammer 40k hormagaunts, and Starcraft zerglings. Come up with a great run-and-slash stealthy predator for the urban core, make nests of a dozen or so each, and give the adventurers something to get rid of.
A local chapter house for the crusading inquisition. One burning fanatic who is determined to bag the Hellspawn, backed up by some tough guys with lore and weapons. Perhaps the immortal is an acquaintance, but they don’t know her deviance.
An unknown figure known as the Functionary holds court in several underground restaurants in the business district. He has some strange pull over the city, police, and press. Anger him, and things get hot. Serve him, and things go smooth. They have no direct experience with the Functionary, but he hires lawyers who know about supernatural issues to communicate with those who please or displease him.
WHAT KIND OF ADVENTURES?
So for the first adventure, a vampire biker gang comes into town and plans to take over the church for their new base. There are about 30 vampire bikers, and a cattle truck that has a minotaur in it. Maybe the Hellspawn can take them all, maybe not. This would be a good time to reach out for help; the wizard may be interested in capturing the minotaur, the dhampir and immortal may be interested in keeping the Hellmouth cleared off.
This could be handled with straight-up combat, but it could also be handled in other ways. Check along the back trail to see if these guys pissed anybody else off (yes, prepare a Romany circus they took the minotaur from who would be happy to help bring them down.) Maybe one or two redneck hunters are in their wake too.
The leader is easily provoked, a barely sane egomaniac. His second in command is more calculating, more cruel, and increasingly weary of following orders (also amenable to moving on if the leader is wiped out–without involving her.)
And, of course, the mixed bag of telling the Inquisition there’s a vampire nest. Maybe they clear it out, maybe they don’t, but then they have another data point that may help them figure out where the Hellmouth is. Best not to invite them into the Hellspawn’s home if you can avoid it. But an ambush elsewhere? Something to consider.
Subsequent adventures have lots of plot threads that can be braided.
- Repo demon comes for the Hellspawn’s energy.
- Wizard ships a live capture, but there’s a problem, and the wizard is blamed for the escape.
- The city is going to demolish several blocks to put in a strip mall, including the church that holds the Hellmouth shut. Can they get the Functionary to stop it? Maybe he needs some favors in return. Maybe he started the process so they’d offer him their services.
- The immortal has met lots of other immortals in the past. One shows up playing coy, but has a pair of immortals pursuing her. They cheat at the Game.
- An idol gains the power to grant mutations to those who worship it, when the gang that stole it brings it in range of the Hellmouth energy. Figure out the source of the mutations and get the idol out of range (or destroy it.)
- The wizard is assigned a partner. Can the partner be persuaded to join up, or will the partner wreck the balance?
- The dhampir is offered a cure by a crossroads demon. Or, the cure is so gruesome–but is it worth it?
- A club opens in the cheap mostly condemned area near the church. Lots of factions want to control what goes on there, mortal and otherwise. What kind of influence will the characters exert?
- The Freemasons return with occult Knights Templar who are going to harvest more demonic energy to fuel success in their endeavors, and perhaps other esoteric power. But as they crack the seal just a bit, it degrades, and they might blow it open. How does the hellspawn react when they show up? The leader may tell her that she is a refugee because of what they did–and can undo. Try to force her to work for them. But they risk it all when they tamper with the seal, and others may do well to get involved.
Weave 2-3 of these together per session, and you’ve got a start to your campaign. Come up with more for them to do based on what they really like and dislike as it emerges in play.