I have always been a fan of RPG’s and TTRPG’s, but never had the actual chance to play. So in 2016 I saved up some money, got some of my awesomely nerdy friends and started to DM a campaign set in the world of The Witcher. This was the first campaign for the whole group, and it shows more than once.
I had only read the first two books and hadn’t even played the games, and I only knew the Forgotten Realms setting from playing BG 1 and 2 and both Neverwinter Nights games. Little did I know how much love I would develop for both the campaign, the setting and the characters we made. Also, as you will see, we played fast and loose with some elements of that world. We took so much time that I managed to read the books and play all 3 games before we were even by the halfway point of the campaign.
Our campaign took place some 30 years after the ending of The Witcher 3. Yes, I know, not canon and what not, but I enjoyed the ending I got while playing so, yeah. Our cast of characters is:
1- Keira, a Witcher. Yes, female witchers are not a thing and that is explained extensively. We found a semi lore friendly explanation and ran with it. She was taught by the Witcher Eskel.
2- Esaban, an elf druid looking for his daughter that joined the Scoia’tael, elf rebels in the setting.
3- The Hawk, our resident murderhobo and diablo-like character, a mercenary interested in money and loot. He belonged to a mercenary company lead by a dwarf named Crow. This player told me he didn’t want to craft a backstory from the get go, which let me make it and weave it with the world. He was tons of fun.
4- Khenroy, a dwarf bard that joined after the others. He liked to hum, whistle and drink. He had a short run and was later replaced by a female human sorcerer played by the same person.
5- Avalar DMPC half elf monk that hailed from a clan of monks that came from another dimension.
6- Our other DMPC, Sain de Aldersberg, the bland human paladin born in a noble house in the city of Aldersbeg, and a warrior from the Order of the Flaming Rose. Instead of being a racist bastard like many of this order, he adhered to the original tenets of protecting the innocent, killing monsters for the good of the people and a healthy belief in the Church of the Eternal Fire, distilling the ideas that were prejudiced against non-humans and taking only the facets of the Eternal Fire being a light in the darkness. Basically a heroic fantasy character in a dark fantasy setting. He was a corny dude that spewed ¨die monster, you don’t belong in this world¨ each time he could.
This story starts at the beginning of the campaign. After a monster attack in a banquet in the city of Beauclair, that the PC’s (except Khenroy) were attending, they were contracted to hunt and kill the monster to avoid more casualties. The Crow and his mercenaries were killed in an ambush. They examined the scene and found the almost dead paladin, Sain de Aldersberg. My players, being also avid players of other videogames, said right away that he wouldn’t make it until the end of the quest. Granted, that WAS the intent, but it pissed me off a little that they guessed it so quickly that I decided to let him live for a while. That quest was their first encounter with a strange evil creature that was basically a dementor that fled at the sight of fire but they couldn’t seem to defeat it, for it alwasy seemed to regenerate when damaged. Being the dementor expy that it was, whenever it appeared there was an unntural mist and the surrounding areas turned cold.
Skip forward a couple of quests and stuff. Khenroy had joined us and Sain was mocked relentlessly by the rest of the party for being a goody two shoes. He lost his cool by trying to prove to them that he could be an asshole too and murdered some prisoners in cold blood. He lost his powers due to his sins (instead of the classic DnD idea of being an Oathbreaker, his loss was because HE considered himself unworthy). He regained them after a week of praying and fasting to the goddess Melitele. He also had a vision of the things to come, and seemed like a new man, at peace with himself.
The PC’s arrived in their travels to Aldersberg, Sain’s hometown. They met his family, and both his father and mother wished for him to stay home and be the heir he was supposed to be; even if they were proud of his accomplishments as a knight of their order. He declined, saying that he had a greater purpose and that he honored his family by continuing of the path of their ancestor, a great knight by the name of Kent de Aldersberg, the Crimson Knight (wink wink).
In the city, the PC’s were investigating an evil group, the Cult of the Lionheaded- Spider, that was infiltrating the upper echelons of society. They had so far tracked various experiments and monster attacks to this group and expected a fight. They went to the crypts of the city, only to be attacked and ambushed by a bunch of undead. The deeper they got into the crypts, more and more attacks followed until they reached the entrance to an underground temple of the Lionheaded-Spider. There they confronted a high priest of that cult, protected by an incredibly powerful monk, Avalar’s brother and a traitor to their clan. The evil monk won some time for the priest to escape and, in a heated battle, killed the dwarf bard (if you had forgotten about him at this point, that was the reason for his death, among other things. This let the player create a PC they liked and enjoyed a lot more, that was also better written into the lore and campaign background).
The PC’s were cornered and, like had happened in many places of power by this point, the dementor like creature appeared again. The players were a little scared by this point, they were pretty screwed, their bard friend dead and the resources were low. So, it was time for Sain to shine. He knew what would happen next. Empowered by his belief, he convinced the party to flee and once they were out of harm’s way, he unleashed all his power. The crypt and the temple crumbled and, by the time the party returned to the place, only a flame, burning brightly, remained. After this, Avalar left for some training and stuff, leaving the party free of DMPC.
The plot advanced, quests and twists ensued and the party fought and found a couple of times a knight in black armor, with a sword that made the air cold. He was incredibly tall and menacing. They even complained that he was like the dementor expy, but with armor.
The party gained and mantained a fortress and its surrounding lands (this was shamelessly lifted from NWN2), fended off attacks from their enemies and gathered allies. The campaign reached its climax after they defeated two of the high priests of the cult. They returned to see their fortress under siege, the enemy forces being led by the black knight. They fought, almost lost, then Avalar, his clan, and multiple allied forces they made throught the campaign appeared on the horizon a la Gandalf in the Two Towers. The battle raged on and the party decided to confront the enemy leader directly. An incredible fight started, and boss music was on the speakers (if you want to know, it was the first phase of the Soul of Cinder fight from Dark Souls 3). The knight was giving them one hell of a fight but they managed to give back a lot of punishment. Then, the moment came for the reveal that was so on the nose that NO ONE guessed it. They knocked off his helmet and a familiar face regarded them with hate. ¨Die monsters, you don’t belong in this world¨ he screamed. (At this point, the music changed to that of the second phase of the aforementioned fight in Dark Souls 3. The emotional piano made it a 10/10 moment.).
They tried to reason with their friend, not wanting to kill him. Then, a cold filled the air like it hadn’t happened in real-life years. Cue some OH CRAP faces. The dementor like entity was hovering around Sain, possesing him. At this point the party had discovered that the creature was the fruit of the Cult tinkering with forces from beyond and trying to control them. The creature was only partially summoned and manifested its presence in places of power. Its strength was immense, but it could not be controlled and the experiment was deemed a failure.
Suddenly, they heard a hum. Alonside the spirit of the evil creature, Khenroy the dwarf appeared. He explained to his friends that the crypt, being a place of power, was charged with tons of energy. When Sain sacrificed himself, he did so by imprisoning the enemy in his body using said energy to his advantage. This gave the creature a way to interact with the world and be properly controlled by the Cult, but also diminished its powers greatly. Khenroy told them that Sain was fighting and that he would hold back the spirit, so they could free Sain and finally put an end to the creature, for its power was less and less everyday due to being cut off from the energy that the places of power gave it. The fight turned into a battle of wills between the party, the creature and the spirit of the dwarf, until they finally managed to defeat it. Sain was unconscious, but free. When the creature died, Khenroy the dwarf finally passed on, thanking his comrades for the memories and hoping they rose a flagon of ale to his name.
That’s how I redeemed my blandest characters. I’ve learned a lot since then and this campaign ended properly. We’re now playing two other campaigns, but we will all remember our adventures in the land of the Witcher really fondly.