A while back now I played in a Homebrew Campaign with its own unique class/leveling system where we could come up with the powers, passives, and skills the character had in an attempt to make unique characters. We had a Satyr Barbarian-Esque class where they dual-wielded axes and caused a lot of bleed damage to living enemies, a Dark Elf Wizard who had a maddening amount of spells ranging across all of the disciplines (or spheres, in this case) who had a penchant for diving first into combat, a Merfolk (who formed legs when they were on land) who used magical spears/tridents to attack people both at range and melee, a Human Alteration Wizard who specialized in melee, but also could convert their blood into acid for some powerful AOE damage, and my character: a Human Fighter named Trisha Reinhardt who I dubbed as a "True Weaponmaster," where her ability was being able to pick up and use almost any weapon with little to no training, and eventually got to the point where she'd swap weapons multiple times in combat to disrupt the momentum of the people she was fighting, making it harder for them to defend themselves, and for her to hit harder because they couldn't predict what was coming at them next, be it a spear, rapier, greataxe, or even a longbow.
I'd like to talk a little more about her backstory before I get too into the story and feel like I'm backtracking in the middle of it. When she was 11, a Warband pillaged her hometown for supplies and put most of the population to the sword and then burned down the buildings for good measure. This included her, but not before she had (mostly accidentally) killed a soldier with a sword she had picked up as she tried to run away. While they ended up slitting her throat and leaving her to die, she did manage to survive from the encounter with only a scar that left her mute. When she did regain consciousness she swore on that day that she'd do what no one else in history had ever attempted: kill the god of war.
Unlike traditional D&D or even Pathfinder, the gods in this Homebrew setting are living people who can actually be met and interacted with in the world itself–although such instances are very-very rare. Some are easier to find than others, as they are more sedentary in their chosen lifestyles than others, so there was some possibility–however small–that Trisha could gain enough strength and power to best him in combat. She spent the next decade of her life devoting herself to the art of war, to which she found her almost supernatural ability to pick up a weapon and within minutes how to wield it to at least basic proficiency, if not outright mastery. Which is where our story actually begins.
The party had been contracted to investigate an 'abandoned' Wizard's tower, as the land around it had started to slowly wither and die within an ever-increasing radius around it. While the journey itself was perilous enough to the place, we were scarcely aware of the dangers we'd find within it. After each room and floor, we'd find out more and more about whoever occupying the place at the time–or had managed to slip past what the original maker had set up as a defense: ranging from extraplanar creatures such as demons, devils, and powerful predators that hunted from forgotten planes of existence–to shades, spirits, undead abominations, and other necromantic horrors that could send shivers down the spines of even the bravest of warriors.
During this time, Trisha had difficulty getting close to any individual members of the group due to the fact that no one but her was capable of sign language, putting a not-so-insignificant barrier between them all. While Trisha was able to pantomime what she was trying to get across most of the time, there wasn't much time to do such amidst combat, making coordinating with her difficult as she became a mix of Tank and DPS, switching between the two when one was required more than the other. She didn't really have a chance to confide with anyone when the party barely managed to survive combat and they were all incredibly injured–as we lacked an actual healer in terms of character abilities.
Eventually, we managed to reach a section of the tower where the only way forward was through a portal. We didn't know what we'd expect on the other side of it–where it could range from inhospitable environments where we'd be unable to breathe, to it simply being a trap where we'd all find ourselves plummeting to our deaths or assailed by all manner of deadly instruments. After a bit of bickering and debating back and forth with one another, my character simply decided that this was an ultimately pointless discussion and simply walked through the portal, where it took her to what looked like a completely abandoned and dilapidated city. The party did eventually follow her through and chastised her for her recklessness, to which Trisha only gave a dismissive shrug right before our party was ambushed by a veritable horde of ghouls.
While we did clean up the ghouls rather effectively with minimum damage to us, the thought of her being reckless and potentially harming the party tempered a bit of the anger in her, and made her much more cautious during future encounters and focused more on defense and protecting the group rather than going out with the purpose of directly striking down any foe that got in her way, leaving most of the damage to the range DPS members of the party–something their players greatly appreciated as it gave them a chance to have the spotlight for a change.
This continued throughout our journey in the destroyed city where we quickly found out that there was an army of undead patrolling around looking for anyone living to strike down and add to their ranks. While we did manage to give the majority of the undead the slip, we were unable to avoid the odd stragglers of the army as they picked apart the nearby alleys and buildings for food or even simply having lagged behind due to physical injuries that hampered their movement.
While we were searching around for supplies ourselves, we eventually came upon a small group of survivors who were trying to make their way to the one safe place in the city that they knew of: a temple dedicated to the Elarion: the Centaur God of Peace, Love, and Healing. We decided to help them get there if only to have a safe place to rest our heads amidst an undead horde.
We, eventually, made it to a point where we saw that Elarion's temple, which was in pristine condition and looked like it had never been touched by the undead. We then found out that the priests who lived in the temple were able to safeguard it from the undead with the help of their god and were simply trying to hold back the undead long enough that whoever controlled them would give them up as a lost cause and leave the city.
While we were getting everyone settled, though, a patrol of about 15-20 skeletons found us waiting outside of the temple as we were getting the last few people inside. What concerned us was that the skeletons looked far more than simply being animated bones and were instead kitted out with strong armor and weaponry. Which is when our reckless wizard did something very brave, but also very foolish.
Instead of running into the safety of the temple with us, she had decided to make a short teleport directly in front of the squad as it began charging toward us and unleashed a powerful spell that, to give her credit, did take out about 4 of them and damaged the rest. However, we now had a very squishy caster in front of a line of very proficient undead who would have made very short work of her if they had a chance to hit her–which some of them did. Miraculously, she managed to get back to our line at the only chokepoint we had to the temple as we tried to hold them there long enough so everyone could get to safety… which is when one of the skeletons with a longbow crit my character. When we rolled for what location on the body she got hit, we found out that the arrow had hit her straight in the neck. Full HP to dead in one action, making Trisha the first character death in the entire time we've played that system up to that point and my first character death for myself in one.
Needless to say, I was rather upset about the whole ordeal because of the nature in which it happened, and the fact that our reckless Wizard friend said they had the power to return Trisha to life. While at first, I wanted to reject the idea out of sheer spite as I didn't want his character to get away with being so reckless and putting the group at risk for no reason (the irony was not lost on me), the more I thought about the situation the more I began to realize that Trisha was reluctant to return to a life where she felt she had squandered.
She had come to learn that despite the power she had gained, the people she had killed and stepped over to advance her own selfish goals that were formed out of bitterness and hate had destroyed herself in the process. That, in the end, she saw herself not as a valiant warrior who stood up and protected the people around her, but instead as just another murderer invoking their own ideals as an excuse to end someone's life. She was tired of killing to gain power and that, in the end, if she continued down the path she had already started, she wouldn't destroy the god of War, she'd merely replace him and cause just as much death and devastation as he had ever done.
"I'm tired, friends," she admitted finally to her companions as a spirit, which was the first time they heard her voice as the cut along her neck no longer hampered her ability to speak. "I'm tired of killing and I'm tired of fighting. I've fought, bled, and killed for more than half of my life and what has it amounted to? Another destroyed soul who thought they could change the world by killing the old one."
It took a bit more convincing and a bit of back-and-forth between her and the rest of the party, but they eventually decided to accept her decision and let her pass on like she wanted to. Which is when the unexpected twist happened in that game. Elarion himself presented to her spirit and asked her if she truly wanted to stop fighting and that she was alright with her story just ending right then and there. Trisha simply nodded her head and said, "The world is better off with one less warrior adding corpses to the pile of dead, even if it's only by a small amount."
It turned out that ever since Trisha had focused more on defending her friends and those around them, Elarion had begun keeping tabs of her choices and eventually came to the conclusion that she was worth forgiving for her crimes, as she had come to see the darkness within herself before she had died. He allowed her to find respite in his own afterlife and worked with her to find peace in herself and come to terms with the trauma she had sustained through the actions of others and even herself.
At that point in that game, however, I brought in a new character called Liliana the Red, a Fey who had been raised by a fairly powerful red dragon and, in their eagerness, wished to emulated their adoptive parent by using their natural ability to shapeshift into any species they want to turn into the closest creature they could get to an actual dragon: in this case, a Red Half-Dragon with a goal to find a means to the means of permanently becoming a dragon, like their parent. I could write a whole tale about them (they switched genders frequently), but that's not what I'm here to talk about.
While that arc concluded itself, it was a couple of years playing different games and characters before I decided the time was right to return Trisha to the playing field and expand upon her character once again. This time, however, she was going to combat the evil of the world on her terms, not theirs.
After spending time with Elarion and the others who resided in his peaceful afterlife, Trisha had come to the conclusion that there might be some good she could bring back to the world now that she had come to terms with what she had done in her past. Elarion agreed to this and brought her back to life where she could continue the mission she started at the age of 11, but this time going about it the right way.
The next thing she knew was that she was under the care of Elarion's clerics in a small temple near where the majority of the group was about to begin gathering along with another character who was starting in the temple too. It quickly became apparent, however, that Trisha had some amount of amnesia from being brought back in such a matter as her body had long since cremated. She could remember her name and other basic functions like speaking, writing, and reading, but she would only get flashes of her past from time to time–usually when a similar situation happened in her presence.
It didn't take long for her to get the ropes of what she was now capable of, however, as she found that she could heal people with just a touch, summon weapons out of thin air or even pick one up off the ground that couldn't harm anything that lived or was sapient, but could still damage armor, weapons, and the like. Instead of dealing direct damage, she could sap the will to fight out of people to the point where they'd be more likely to either surrender outright or agree to stop fighting so that words could be exchanged.
Also in the group was a Cobalt Half-Dragon who practically radiated with positive energy and the complete and total bane of any undead that happened to cross her path, a gnome who titled themselves, "Master Transmuter Extraordinaire," and liked to play more as a support role in the party by tying people down with webs or making curious magi-alchemic grenades that could alter or transmute matter around them to make them explode with lava and many other whacky things, and another character who for the life of me can't remember much about other than that he was human, as they didn't talk or do much besides hitting things.
The game began with the gnome and the other human going to the Temple of Elarion hoping to contract a healer or two to assist them on a bounty had undertaken to root out some undead who had been attacking farmers and otherwise terrorizing the countryside, which is when my character and the Half-Dragon get recruited to the group and the adventure officially starts.
After a few days of patrolling the nearby lands and cutting down about a score of ghouls, which in this setting are naturally generating undead from creatures or people bitten by them or created if they starve to death, we eventually start to run into other forms of undead like Skeletons and Shamblers–who have to be specifically created by a Necromancer in order to exist.
So now with a target in mind, we began searching the nearby cemeteries and burial mounds for this elusive Necromancer as we did know that there was a licensed one in the area who was allowed to perform his magic by the local government so long as he didn't harm people in the process of it. We did eventually track him down–a Dark Elf–in one of the barrows and cornered him in the room in which he had been studying Necromancy and creating undead to protect him.
Trisha was able to halt any potential hostilities by talking him down first and convincing him that we're only looking for the person who had been terrorizing the area as of late or letting their weaker creations just run around to cause trouble.
As a sign of good faith, my character managed to convince the party to sheath their weapons as a sign of good faith that we were merely investigating and not seeking to immediately pass judgment on the first person we found. This, thankfully, worked as the Necromancer told us that while he wasn't the one causing problems, he had a suspicion who was, as he carefully unwove the magic he had used to create the undead around him, leaving him–mostly–defenseless.
We quickly found out that he had taken an apprentice under his wing, but had recently fallen out with him as he didn't agree with the path his apprentice was willing to undertake to achieve his goals. Since he failed to convince his student, he sequestered himself away and hoped that everything would turn out alright in the end and instead focused on his research, which we also learned was so he could unravel the powerful magic that had warped his sister's soul among many others into a deadly creature: a Greater Shade. While he wasn't completely innocent from the happenings going on, Trisha managed to convince him to join us as we went to deal with his potentially rogue apprentice as we hoped he'd be able to talk some sense into his protege.
Our new Necromancer friend then guided us to where he believed his apprentice to be hanging out, and we worked our way inside to find, perhaps obviously, that the place was practically glowing with necromantic energy and creatures to boot. After working through several rooms of shamblers equipped with weapons and armor, skeleton archers, and even a handful of skeleton wizards guarding the place, we eventually got to a room where we encountered a creature specifically unique to the setting: a Misery, an undead and almost oozing mass of souls that exhibited powerful emotion in those even remotely near it–in this case, misery.
While most of us were able to make the saves in order to resist falling into the same mood, we decided fighting something that would be constantly playing with our emotions was a bad idea–especially if we got to the point where we were completely apathetic and refused to do anything after several failed saves. We ended up just bypassing it by communicating to the souls bound within it and placating the emotion it was constantly exuding for a short amount of time.
In the next room, we finally managed to track down the apprentice, who was apparently a fairly young goblin tinkering with his spells and honing his craft. It was at this point where the party rolled their eyes as they knew what Trisha was going to do then and simply kept back in reserve as she went in to try and talk the apprentice down from fighting us.
"Have you been releasing undead upon the world to wreak havoc among the people who call this land home?" Trisha asked, staring down the goblin with a guarded, but not all too aggressive look.
"I have," the goblin admitted as he continued to tinker with the device he was making. "Or at least I used to."
This confused Trisha a little, but she pressed onward. "Why?"
"Because people like you view my kind as vermin," he retorted, finally turning his full attention to Trisha. "You see us as weak, inferior, and less intelligent creatures akin to pests. My family and the others I've lived with were constantly attacked and brutalized by your kind for simply existing near you. There aren't many of us left now from the hundreds that we once were."
Trisha hung her head for a moment before looking back at the smaller humanoid with a frown on her face. "That doesn't give you the right to harm those who haven't hurt you." She stated, rather matter-of-factly, which made the goblin laugh.
"I know this already, human. I acted rashly while I was in pain and did many things that I now regret. It is why I have shifted my focus toward finding a way to take my people and myself away from this world to one in which we won't be persecuted for simply being who we are."
All throughout this conversation the party and I had been making sense motive checks with relative ease and finding that the goblin was, in fact, telling the truth and feeling regretful about his actions. This is when my character decided that she'd help in whatever way she could to get him and his people to safety, so long as he swore to never harm another person in his life, which he agreed to in an almost anticlimactic moment. Trisha had one request, though: and that was for master and apprentice to work together to release the souls bound to the Misery in the previous room, which they both agreed to do.
While things were being cleaned up with any remaining undead we missed being unwoven from their animating spells and the rest of the party was allowed to take whatever trinkets they desired from the place other than the tools the goblin needed to take his people to a safe place, Trisha stood with the two Necromancers and talked to them both, clearing up any loose ends so the party could go about securing the surrounding countryside and move on to other contracts and adventures. Trisha, however, decided to stay behind, stating that the Dark Elf needed her talents more than the group needed hers. Throughout their short adventure together, she had regained a handful of her memories of her previous life and was becoming increasingly concerned by them and who she had been back then and decided more definitive action needed to be taken if she was ever to achieve her original goal–albeit in a completely different manner now.
She would take the god of war's power, not by killing or besting him, but by starving him out by leading the people of the world down a different path by protecting them from those who would do them harm and have the compassion for their fellows in the world to seek diplomacy before violence can even be brought about.
"I do find it strange that you, a cleric of Elarion, would wish to consort and aid those who work magic in a way which is in the defiance of everything he stands for," the Dark Elf asks with a bemused expression spreading across his face.
Trisha turned to him and asked him a simple question as a smile tugged at the corner of her lips. "Do I look like a cleric of Elarion?" Pointing out the heavy armor she wore and the half an armory worth of weapons she was able to conjure to her side in an instant.
There was really only one reply he could make. "No, I suppose you don't," he chuckled softly to himself as they prepared to go out on their own little adventure. Which is where, I'm sad to stay, where this story ends.
As I've had a falling out with the group I've played her in, I likely won't be able to continue playing her in a game where she'd work out as she's intended to play, as games like Pathfinder and D&D, in general, would require quite a few house rules or mechanics on the DMs part to make her work in those respective systems, but we'll see!
I've also been plotting out a novel in my head that would continue upon her story and if this actually gets popular I might write out a few of the stories from it here to keep people who are wanting to hear/read more about her entertained. I hope anyone who goes through this found it enjoyable! Until next time!