Inverting the Chosen and Broken?

Has anyone played around with the Chosen and Broken identities, changing which are on which side?

For my second playthrough on the Skydagger Keep campaign, I’m wondering whether to present the new players with all six rulebook Chosen and ask them which one is with them, and which two others are now Broken pursuing them…

So, for example, keep Elenessa as Chosen, with Breaker and whatever-fallen-Shreya-becomes as our two Broken?

It would need a bit of alternate history, back to Ettenmark Fields and before, and it adds complexity… but I do quite like the symmetry of it.

(I guess the follow-up question is whether anyone’s explored the existing Chosen being Broken - or possibly even a Broken somehow being repaired - in play? Although those feel like big plot points that’d derail the first campaign…)

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Someone was working on an (unofficial?) expansion that did this a while ago, but 1) it’s been a while so I have no idea if they’re still working on it and 2) multiple interpretations are always welcome - seems like an idea rife for exploration!

You’d have to come up with new abilities, monsters, and rivalries. Totally doable, but a lot of work.

Also, what horrors would ChoBroken represent? The Horned One, okay, body horror, animal phobias, the fear of the wild, maybe cannibalism. But Zora and Shreya?

While all of the Chosen are divine in nature, Shreya seems like the most conventionally religious, and many of her tropes specifically reflect Western Christianity. For Shreya as a broken, I’d lean into a church-horror aspect. Evil Nuns, Inquisitors, Corrupt Angels, Animated Gargoyles. Penalties to Religious Missions and healing actions, and loss of Morale.

To differentiate the horned one from the Breaker, I’d give them the unique ability to create undead from animal corpses–so their troops are mostly reanimated animals. Elites are weird druids in skull masks that act like Horror Movie slashers. Lots of jump scares. Penalties to Recon missions and the acquisition of food, and causes deaths while advancing.

Zora is toughest, because she as a character is so much about her long backstory that hints of a connection with the events that brought about the Cinder King. I feel like she’d be the Cinder King’s favored champion, and lead troops that are more directly tied to him and/or to older history. Line troops that are skeletons from old tombs instead of recent zombies. Cinder Guards. Flaming Skulls. Just like her Chosen version, Broken Zora would be fixated on setting tests for the legion. Her abilities should break the rules of what a Broken ability can do. While Blighter or Breaker might make your downtime actions less rewarding, Broken Zora straight-up kidnaps your Quartermaster. She steals relics from special mission you don’t take and uses them against you. She employs apocalyptic rituals that might destroy entire cities and perhaps even the legion unless she’s stopped.

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(ARGH I had notes on this but I kept them on paper and now I can’t find them! Here’s what I can remember)

I had a very strong mental image of Broken!Shreya called something like Executioner or, hah, Slayer -
Shreya the Mercygiver twisted right round into Judge Death - “Only the living can suffer. If no-one lives, suffering ends” She might be the Cinder King’s favourite over Render, given that Render still has some other goals than absolute annihilation of the living, but that depends how you read the King and what he wants.

Her strategic genius and personal skills are at least the equal of her old self, and her tactics focus on precision strikes, assassination, and reducing morale.

Slayer has no living minions whatsoever. Her basic undead are either silent or weeping, and maybe blind. They can be distracted by opportunities to show ‘‘mercy’’ to the sick, injured and dying.

Infamous: The Mourner. An undead creature dressed in traditional funereal garb of the followers of Asrika. It stalks burial sites, defacing grave markers and removing names and faces from memorials to the dead.

Horror themes: Nihilism, loss of hope, bleak silence. Murder of the innocent, the helpless. “The party arrives too late”. Suicide (though that’s a difficult theme to play with respectfully even by a lot of horror standards)

Also, if you swap the two of them you probably want to change how Mercies and Alchemists work somewhat. Our group discussed the idea that you might just swap them over with a bit of tweaking - Mercies now have a Corruption clock but can heal more often, Alchemists basically tire out and need to recover or make more ingredients or something.

@Salient Love the idea of Broken!Shreya

If I had to do Broken!Horned One, I think I would focus inverting the Horned One’s instincts and animal affinity.

Horror themes: body transformation into different animal parts, dark predators, animals spies and always feeling watched, men consumed by primal and bestial instincts, the terror of always being vulnerable to an ambush or surprise attack. Unremitting howling, punctuated by unnatural silence.

Bonegnasher (Gnasher for short) themselves (the Chosen likely would not be a former priestess of Nyx, and possibly in this variant Nyx would not be broken and the moon not shattered) could see through a myriad of animal eyes and would operate from the shadows, not like any sort of invading army. Towns and military units, instead of being conquered and attacked, would be steadily raided and gradually overrun. Men would be driven to despair and lose their humanity, giving in to their basest desires.

Troops could include shape-shifters, berserkers run amuck (similar to Firefly reavers), ghouls, a type of corrupted animal predator such as a great cat, blood sacrificing ritualists.

I agree with @arscott that Zora is hard. If I had to do Broken!Zora, I’d focus on blood, destiny/free will, the consequences of failure

Horror themes: Blood, oh so much blood. Blood used in rituals and dark oaths and Faustian bargains. Being put to the test in physically and spiritually untenable positions. Menacing fire. Perverted destiny and prophecy. People broken from terrible experiences, continuing the cycle of violence.

I’d make the Zora the Betrayer the exception (since she always seems to be the exception) and make her the only Chosen to not be broken, but willingly work with the Cinder King. Perhaps even the one that started the Cinder King to start on his path, with the goal for giving the whole world an end boss suitable for the ultimate challenge. She would toy with her victims, putting them through suffering to see, as in the quote from tv show Firefly by Shan Yu, “Live with a man 40 years. Share his house, his meals. Speak on every subject. Then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano’s edge. And on that day, you will finally meet the man.” She would also be willing to share the secrets of blood to those willing to damn themselves with those secrets.

Troops could include blood drinkers/bathers (either undead like vampires or fully human), blood oathsworn, walking flaming undead (either sheathed in flame or discharging flame), the damned who traded their humanity for some type of physical or mystical power, despairers who were tested by the Betrayer with great tragedy and have come out (a bit like Render) angry at the world and the living.

There is less work to do to change a Broken to a Chosen. Probably the best place to start is to start with how the Chosen would affect the story and go from there. Render -> Vlaisim probably would focus on band of brothers type loyalty and what soldiers owe to one another. Blighter -> Elenessa would likely be a campaign full of inventiveness and intricate plans long on creativity and short on brute force. Breaker -> Minika is hardest, mostly in how to both differentiate from the Horned One while still being relevant to a land-based military campaign. My best guess would be to lean into Minika’s past as a traveling protector and warder, so full of stories of how a military order can help civilians, or could struggle with having to constantly leave them behind.

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I had a very strong mental image of Broken!Shreya called something like Executioner or, hah, Slayer -
Shreya the Mercygiver twisted right round into Judge Death - “Only the living can suffer. If no-one lives, suffering ends” She might be the Cinder King’s favourite over Render, given that Render still has some other goals than absolute annihilation of the living, but that depends how you read the King and what he wants.

Oh my God that is so freaking cool. YOU HAVE BEEN JUDGED THE ENTENCE IS DEATH.

And Zora is clearly Judge Fire!

It was my friend Alice, but yeah I think the project’s been left behind (thanks The Apocalypse T_T). It might be a fun thing for us to do at some point. It’s too cool an idea to leave behind :slight_smile:

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Thanks for the replies and ideas!

So far they’ve focused on how the Chosen would fare as Broken, but I’m kind of intrigued by how the campaign’s Broken would fare as Chosen, too…

Vlaisim’s an interesting one for me, as he seemed to have a lot of confidence / pride / arrogance going on, convinced he would bring down the Cinder King right up until he was Broken.

I’d like to play with a version who has the same starting point, but - barely - got out of that confrontation. Still the great warrior, still flawed, but now with some self-doubt creeping in… and a self-scathing fury demanding he do better next time rather than failing the Living God. And himself.

Which is the sort of focus that could be dangerous to those around him. In terms of abilities, I’m not so sure… martial competence, yes. Perhaps something to boost armour. Or to resist fear.

And I’d like to find a way to bring remnants of the Black Oak in - if he’s with the legion, not leading his own knights, then something very bad must have happened to them. And perhaps the Cinder King has raised a few as undead to mock him. But still, writing them out completely would feel like a waste…

The other one that appeals is keeping Blighter as Elenessa. Especially if Shreya’s been Broken, inverting that dynamic.

I like the idea of an Elenessa who no longer has reason to grin, driven to use her alchemical skills to put things right.

Like her Broken counterpart, she’s going to be fascinated by Cinderblood and the way the king’s chain of command works. And she’s going to be looking for ways to subvert and fracture it.

She wants to save Shreya - whether that means reviving her (achieving the impossible!) or simply putting her to rest is another question. But I suspect she’s unrealistically aiming for the former.

In terms of benefits: alchemicals seem obvious. I’ve been running Blighter the Broken as deploying light artillery (Orite mortars seem plausible) now and then, raining down canisters of gas and goo that harm the living but do nothing to her undead. Perhaps there’s a flip side to that - a way to deliver black shot via mortar or grenade. Limited, expensive in terms of resources… but potentially a powerful tool in the right situation.

(As with Vlaisim, I suspect I like the idea of their personality and interactions at least as much as their abilities - and with only one Chosen in play, I wouldn’t feel too bad about poaching some abilities from the ones not in use)