This is play-by-email story completed long ago; it is finally finding a (hopefully) permanent on-line home here on Obsidian Portal.
As originally written, this story was placed in a collectively-created world whose setting I have not imported here. As a result, some of the background information for the two lead characters – Laurelyn Hillrover and Thomis Parch (as well as some other characters) – has been modified slightly to eliminate setting-specific references to that background.
In the original story, Laurelyn and Thomis were part of a resistance group opposing an alliance of a totalitarian military junta and an oppressive church in a city called Montfort. At first, Laurelyn worked for the military leaders, thinking she could change the system from within. Instead, she found her work as a bard/storyteller used to promote the military dictator’s ideology. She became an “inside man” for the resistance for a time, until things went to hell in a handbasket.
In this slightly re-cast version, Laurelyn and Thomis became caught up in a local struggle in a town on the border between two warring powers: a military dictatorship and a league of trading cities. The League seeks to expand its control of inland territories well beyond their historic coastal boundaries. The military dictatorship, Seldez, sought to prevent the League’s inland territorial expansion. Laurelyn and Thomis worked on the side of the local resistance advocating continued local independence.
At the beginning of this story, the resistance has lost at a terrible price. Many people were killed, large parts of the city were destroyed, and League forces are going to arrive any day. Laurelyn has decided to turn to a original quest to find a legendary ship – The Star Dreamer – which much like the Flying Dutchman is manned by a ghostly captain and crew. It is said that anyone who can amuse the captain can earn a boon – but anyone who fails must become part of his crew for eternity.
Along the way, Laurelyn and Thomis pick up a motley crew of fellow adventurers, all looking for something. Some characters drop out along the way (as the players found real life more pressing) and new ones join.
As you’ll see (if you make it into the story itself), the players loved to “role-play tying their shoelaces.” They’re a talky bunch. Although one player – Cathy Mosley, player for Laurelyn Hillrover among others – acted as the lead architect of the plot, all players had the option to throw twists into the storyline, come up with story arcs, create and run NPCs, decide what their characters did during fights (and how well or poorly they did it), and generally contribute to how the story developed. At some point after I have gotten the text of the adventure posted, I will put up a cast list. As an interim measure, however, I would like to recognize the following bunch of imaginative folks:
Cathy Mosley: overall story designer and creator of (among others) Laurelyn Hillrover; Acair, her father and chieftain of the Hillrover clan; miscellaneous clansmen and women; and many folk of the smuggler’s sea port, Morrow’s Hold.
Myself: Thomis Parch; Fionn Fhaolain and his fey clan mother Luatha; Maeve Calhoun; baby Rue; Nora; Westry; and miscellaneous other folk.
Martin Cox: Jacques the jester and Fiend, his troublesome pup
Gary Couch: the “I’m not a halfling, dammit, I’m a Hortus,” Keir
Armand Banooni: Rudolpho, the gypsy boy with a gift for voodoo and shape-changing
Angie Fenner: Darron Innes, an artist with some odd telepathic powers
Marie Kelly: Pierre, a young bard
Nick Takayama: Brendan, a young man with some strange friends; and Ulric, a Viking-like sea-raider with a deadly warhammer
Barb Gardner: Tirlina, a sprite
Dave Womack: Enris, a mage whose history has been re-written slightly to make him an officer in the Seldez thug squad
Blake Sinclair: Eric Dunn, sea fisherman and widower
Years after it was done, this is still one of my favorite campaigns to have played in. I hope you find the tale diverting.