Chaotic Crew:Campaign/Chapter 01
Chapter 1: Chosened in the Head
As we start our story, each one of our potential heroes has received a sealed message through the mail, asking them to report to the Church of All Worlds for "A mission of the utmost urgency, as commanded by the Gods themselves. So don't even think about ditching," with a little scowly face drawn in crayon.
Wolfgang Fredericks meanders into the Central Mass Mistak... er, Room, dressed in his lightly-used armor with a misshapen lump hung at his side. Sporting blonde hair and blue eyes, the young adult is scowling while looking vaguely confused, fine features locked in an annoyed expression.
Reginar walks into the room as well, staring at his note intently and stroking his beard, wearing plain, rugged adventurer's clothes that look like they've been patched in several places. He's rather tall and thin for a Dwarf... though this still makes him short and stocky compared to everyone else.
Eleihoff, a Gnome that's very tall for his kind, leans against the wall inside the room, idly stroking a toad that rests in his hands. He has a blank expression on his face, as if deep in thought. Or just totally spaced out.
Off in the corner, Gideon, a tall, imposing man, also leans against the wall inside the room. His demeanor seems to be as dark as his hair, with his gray eyes twinkling dangerously.
Credance glances back and forth at the strangers now in the room with her. "So -uh- what god did -um- did you all -uh- come to worship?"
Gideon, with heavily-tanned skin and plenty of muscle, scoffs. "I didn't come here 'cause I wanted to."
"Oh. Right... Well, do you -er- plan to -um- make use of the opportunity?"
"Always do. But I don't like havin' some god twistin' me 'round their damn pinky finger."
Reginar looks up from his note finally, blows out a breath, sets his hands on his hips, and says, "Well, this looks like a good crowd, it does. Did y'all receive a summons as well?"
Wolfgang sighs and folds the summons into a neatly ordered paper airplane. "Ayup, got a summons, a'right. I'm about as happy about it as a crocodile robbed of his dinner, but I got it."
Eleihoff lifts his head a bit higher to peer at the taller folk. "Yes, I certainly did. A very... friendly one at that, too."
Credance fiddles nervously with the many chains and symbols around her neck. "Um, my master just -uh- just told me to come here."
Gideon cracks his knuckles. "Whatever god summoned me owes me one."
"They all summoned you." A cleric dressed in ceremonial robes steps out from behind a door and strides to stand behind the podium at the front of the room.
"Well, that's just well an' dandy, ain't it? They all owe me one."
"I -uh- usually find it best to -um- to -uh- do whatever the gods tell me..."
Reginar shifts the backpack on his back, while holding up the plain brown bag he's also carrying. "Well, I fer one don't mind coming here... most of the assignments I get have me out in East Nowheresville for some reason. Nice to be in town again." He opens the bag and says into it, "Isn't that right, Grandpa? I know you hate the wilderness, too... you gave me a lamppost the last time."
The cleric picks up a magic microphone from the podium. "Greetings, and-" SQUEEEE! Ear-splitting feedback echoes through the room... he taps the mic with his finger and turns it down a click. "Oops, sorry about that. Greetings, Chosen Ones!"
Gideon snorts. Eleihoff idly rubs his ear as the feedback reaches him. The cleric continues, "I'm sure you're all wondering why you've been summoned here. Except for Credance, who's probably wondering why she was told to report here after breakfast cleanup."
Reginar responds, "Ours is not to question the gods why, just to do or die."
Wolfgang taps his foot, grumbling something about this church not being able to remove the curse from his weapon when he asked before, so what good are they, but the grumble is mostly low-key and not really audible.
"Just get to the damn point already."
The cleric blinks at Gideon. "...hookay, tough crowd. All right, folks, here's the gist of it." He produces a yardstick from beneath the podium. "Over the past few days, theological communications across the world have begun to break down." The lights dim, and the wall behind the cleric suddenly lights up with a blown-up slide of a bunch of confused priests.
Eleihoff goes, "Ooo."
Wolfgang brightens up. "Popcorn?"
"Prayers are not reaching their intended deities, and miracles aren't getting properly directed." The slides change, showing images of warring armies, wanton looting, and politicians losing their right-wing religious fervor. Reginar strokes his beard more vigorously.
"As you can imagine..." a slide pops up of a town burned to the ground, "...this is proving disastrous for the world at large, and for our lands in particular. We here at the Church of All Worlds have long relied on a strong pantheon of interacting gods to maintain order... this breakdown has hit us hardest of all."
"So fix it yourselves," Gideon suggests. Eleihoff ceases stroking his toad for a few moments, making what seems like humming sounds for a bit.
"...those poor politicians." Wolfgang grins with a slightly canine grimace.
"Our greatest experts have researched the problem..." an image of three Gnomes in lab coats looking through a photo album, "...and determined that the problem has something to do with the Great Divine Switchboard."
Wolfgang interjects, "The Great Divine What?"
"...Great Divine Switchboard?" Eleihoff looks a bit confused at this.
"The Great Divine Switchboard." The slide changes to a crude crayon drawing of a phone-switching console with a halo over it. "A holy artifact kept hidden in a pocket plane, responsible for the trans-planar routing of all outgoing and incoming prayers, miracles, confessions, atonements, and all other forms of theological communication."
"It sounds very nice," Eleihoff says gamely.
"Fascinating..." Wolfgang says, "So, does this mean that you need... Gnomish Switchboard Technicians?"
"Give it a swift kick and it'll start workin' again," Gideon suggests.
Credance wonders, "Did something happen to the Operator?"
"We're not sure, exactly. All we do know is that with the Switchboard out of commission, our prayers go unanswered or misunderstood, and the gods' attempts to fix things keep getting misdirected. The board must be found and repaired if the world is to be returned to normal. According to our research..." The slide changes to another crude drawing of several people of various races, each with an arrow pointing at them from the Switchboard. "...only the Chosen Ones, selected by the gods themselves, are allowed access to the Switchboard.
"Why this is, exactly, we're not sure. We'd ask the gods what their reasoning is for sending strangers to repair such a holy device, but... well, we can't get in contact with them."
"Um... since the Switchboard is busted, does that mean that the wrong Chosen Ones were... chosen?"
"NO, you dumba$$! WE'RE the Chosen Ones!" Credance looks suddenly disturbed. "Oh -um- sorry..."
The cleric swats Credance on the hand with the yardstick. "Watch your language, young lady!"
Credance looks hurt and rubs her hand. "S'ry."
The cleric then points at Wolfgang. "No, no, no... no. The Chosen Ones have had their names listed in the Great Big Book of Chosen Ones since the beginning of time. All we had to do was look up 'Divine Switchboard', and we found you folks."
Gideon snorts again. Reginar goes over and claps Wolfgang on the arm. "Don't worry, laddie... whether we're chosen by the gods or pure chance, we'll get the job done. I've made a grade-A working squad out of sorrier-looking folks, so you'll be all right."
Wolfgang blinks several times, glancing back at Credance, then down at Reginar. "Are you suggesting that we're a sorry-looking..." He glances at the other occupants of the room, then looks back at Reginar. "Never mind." Reginar chuckles.
Gideon complains, "If you're gonna insult me after I came all this way, I'll just leave. The gods should be able to take care of their damn selves."
Reginar looks over at Gideon. "Don't have much of a sense of humor, do ya? But it ain't the gods we need to worry about, lad, it's the poor souls that have lost their divine way we need to help."
"That's not very nice," Eleihoff tells Gideon.
"I ain't here to be nice."
The cleric raises the yardstick... it suddenly grows incredibly long, reaching all the way across the room to rap Gideon on the knuckles. "Watch the language! You're in the Gods' house, you know!"
Gideon glowers. "You pickin' a fight?"
Reginar shrugs slightly and grins a bit. "I find it's usually not a good idea to tick off the right hands of the gods. They have a way of bringing down holy unpleasantness."
"Things can get -er- get kind of 'confused' if you- if you don't -uh- use properly directed curses," Credance agrees.
The cleric composes himself. "Anyway... since the Gods have commanded it, so shall it be. You must set off to find the entrance to the Switchboard plane, discover what has become of the device and/or its operator, and attempt to fix it."
Eleihoff asks, "Where is the entrance to the Switchboard plane, then?"
The cleric pauses. "We... aren't sure, exactly." He shrugs. "Well, we know where the portal is, but... we don't know where the key is. In fact..." He scratches his head. "...we're not even sure what the key is."
"Do we have a vague idea? Say, a description written in a forgotten tongue? Ancient tomes? Anything?" Wolfgang asks.
"The only clue we have is this." The cleric holds up a book. "Planar Portals for Dummies. Brother Svenson picked it up at the Holy Word bookstore this morning."
"Planar Portal..." Wolfgang doesn't even start, except sighing and mentally saying, "We're doomed".
Eleihoff asks, "Is that the only copy?"
"No, it's a best-seller. I've got my own copy, but I didn't want to risk you people losing it."
Gideon spits. "You can always buy another damn book."
"I think he just did, lad. For us," Reginar points out.
"Joy an' the rapture, that is."
Wolfgang nods in agreement with Reginar on this point. "Well, then... sounds like someone has to sit down and read the book, then write a one-thousand-word essay describing the plot."
The cleric places the book on a nearby table. Eleihoff walks towards the book and takes a look at the cover before picking it up.
"You may read it at your leisure. At any rate, good luck, may the gods be with you, yadda yadda yadda." The cleric handwaves the rest. "Sister Credance, you're to go with them as a representative of the Church. Should you succeed, the gods will undoubtedly shower you all with divine favor. Not to mention you'll be famous."
Gideon scoffs, "Tch. All of them gods'll owe me a favor by the time we're done here."
"Of course, I imagine that given the chaos out there, there will be many, many evil souls and horrible, monstrous creatures waiting to try and kill you along the way."
"An' that's the best news I've heard all day," Gideon says.
"Could we possibly get a down payment of this divine favor? It sounds like we might need it."
The cleric looks at Eleihoff. "Well, that's what Sister Credance is for. Her... unique prayer abilities still function, despite this interference. Should you need divine favor, she can attempt to call for it. Just be careful, 'cause that's exactly what you'll get."
The cleric scratches his back with the yardstick. "Anyway, I tee off at noon, so I should motor. Good luck out there, and if you ever need healing or other such things, our medical staff is always here. Goodnight, and have a pleasant tomorrow." He picks up a cup of coffee and shuffles away into a back room, sipping it idly.
Gideon says, "Good riddance."
Eleihoff rolls his eyes. "I rather liked that yardstick. It must be very convenient!"
"You should see what Dwarven teachers do to the students who mouth off. Hoo."
Gideon responds to Reginar, "Before or after I break their face?"
"More like before or after they break yours."
"If they could reach it."
"Ever get the feeling that the book they looked in was The Big Book of Easy Marks?" Wolfgang sighs deeply, then rises. "I guess we need to get introduced. I'm Wolfgang Fredericks, I'm good with most weapons that man has created."
"I'm Eleihoff Tiltor AlmondEyes. I cast spells, and they usually do what I want them to do."
The tall man grumbles, "Gideon."
"I'm Reginar Dunstonn, former Commander of the Clan Reconnaissance 42nd Squadron."
"The 42nd? Wasn't that one of the crack units of the Dwarven military?" Wolfgang mentally adds, "Or was it just cracked" after his last statement.
"Indeed it was." Reginar puffs up proudly for a moment, then deflates a little. "Alas, the clan has needed me more in field work lately... deep field work. Been a while since I had a squad."
"Deep. I haven't seen a city in months." Reginar frowns. "Or much in the way of daylight, for that matter." Reginar sighs, then holds out the plain bag. "Oh, and this is Grandpa Dunstonn. He's my chief advisor."
"Your Grandfather is a bag?" Eleihoff scratches his head. Gideon leans against the wall silently.
"No, my Grandpa is in the bag, you see. His spirit guides me. Say hello, Grandpa." Reginar reaches into the bag to pull out the item contained within. Wolfgang rises to look at the item, positioning himself behind Reginar.
"Still don't understand why gods can't fix their own damn machines," Gideon complains.
Wolfgang says, "Maybe they signed a service contract and they don't want to void the warranty,"
"Could be that it's another god causin' the problem." Reginar continues rummaging around in the bag.
"So they should beat the **** out of that god."
"They're gods. They're sort of immortal y'see, lad. Ya beat the **** out of them, they stand up, dust off, and have some tea."
Eleihoff says, "Ooh. I'd like to have some tea." Wolfgang turns his finger in circles somewhere in the vicinity of his ear. Notably, he's still standing behind Reginar's back.
Reginar finally pulls out of the bag... one of those little paper umbrellas you see in fruity cocktail drinks. "There. See, Grandpa's giving you all a fond tropical welcome, and suggesting we all go have some drinks to get to know each other better." Reginar tucks the umbrella in his beard.
"Now that actually is a good idea." With a heavy tread of armored feet, Wolfgang trods out of the building, headed for his horse.
"Let's go, shall we, lads and lass?" Reginar follows Wolfgang out of the room, as does Credance.
"Yes, that sounds good." Eleihoff follows the departing group. Gideon spits again for good measure and heads out.
Glancing about when he exits, Wolfgang looks for a pub, bar, or other drinking establishment.