Here’s the situation: The crew I’m judging is a cult who worship an old god called The Reconciler (taken at random from the list of forgotten gods at crew creation). We know that he is “sinister” and “radiant” but honestly, not much more than that, which is okay because the crew has been busy with plenty of other things just surviving in Doskvol.
Anyway, one of the crew is a Cutter named Finn, and Finn was pretty ambivalent about the whole cult thing for the first part of the campaign. He was just kind of in it for the money. Until… he had a near death experience (he traumaed out). He took Obsessed as his trauma and decided that he is now obsessed with the Reconciler. Finn is now a true believer.
So he’s decided that the Reconciler saved him for some higher purpose and he wants to know what it is. To that end he’s spent quite a lot of downtime activities (long term projects) in prayer and rituals, etc, to get an clear idea of what the Reconciler wants with him.
And the thing is, I don’t really know!
So I thought I’d ask out here. I like the idea that the Reconciler did save him for a reason, but I can’t quite come up with what that reason is. Any input or ideas would be greatly appreciated. He finished out his long term project clock last session so I need an answer for him this coming session (Thursday).
He’s not really cut out to be the leader of the cult, and besides, one of the other players already fills that role. I was thinking he might be the Enforcer, sort of a Sword of God type, but he’s already the cult’s muscle, so I don’t know how different or special it would really be and I’d like for there to be a singular, distinctive purpose.
So… what do you think?
I mean, what are the sorts of things the crew has already done for the Reconciler? Are there any more concrete details, imagery, or at least vibes you have for them?
I think it’s fair to leave it vague until something comes up in the narrative that you can point to and say, “Yep, that was it.” Maybe a future score is something that Finn needs to be critical for - like, assassinating someone, or the one who carries a relic back to the altar to give the Reconciler power.
From the name and the adjectives, in a D&D term is sounds like a very “Light Is Not Good” type of Chaotic Good deity, so perhaps Finn can be nudged towards vigilante-style murders of drug pushers, slavers, and corrupt officials?
So the game has gone on for 17 sessions at this point. Early on they found themselves embroiled in several faction conflicts, but they did manage to grow their cult. They have a small group of adepts that are out proselytizing on the corners, converting the odd citizen here and there, and collecting coin for the cause. They also liberated a ring that is, in fact, a key to a mysterious Reconciler temple called The Stark Pyramid that is out in the dead lands. They have a pretty good idea of where it is, and have also recently come into possession (via taking a piece of enemy turf) of an Ancient Gate, so pretty soon I expect them to make an excursion into the dead lands to see what the Pyramid holds.
They are also at odds with another cult (The Silver Fire) and are at war with them, although actual conflict beyond the odd skirmish has yet to be initiated.
So far the Reconciler has been kind of abstract. I think of it as a sentient force with an agenda. We know that it desires to be worshiped again and take it’s rightful place as a recognized god again, and also it is all about upsetting the status quo. The more we play, the more details we add about the Reconciler, but much of It is still a mystery to even It’s most devout followers.
The only problem I see with putting the reveal off is that Finn has spent quite a lot of downtime and coin to fill his LTP clock to get his answer, so I feel like I owe him something worth that time and money.
On the one hand, there’s quite a few narratives in fiction about wasting your time, money, relationships, and possibly your entire life, in the pursuit of something that you will never, ever catch. And certainly this could be one for Finn - his white whale, if you will - the kind of thing that Doskvol destroys him over.
On the other hand, this isn’t a book, it’s an RPG, and unless the player is on board, there really is a limit to how far you can string him along with an “I’ll tell you later” kind of situation, so I feel for you. My answer wasn’t meant to be an endorsement of never giving the character that payoff, but rather, how the perfect moment might come up as a result of other characters’ actions or an as-yet unforeseen moment of insight from you, the GM. Maybe ask some of the other players, offline, what they feel would be a good twist for Finn, and use some of that for inspiration.
Also, the Stark Pyramid leaves me hopeful that it’s filled with unmanned Hulls, left cast aside from the Cataclysm, and will be useful for your eventual campaign transition to the MCU.
Since they’re called the Reconciler, it seems like they should be reconciling something. What if their ultimate goal was to unify the ghost field with the material world?
I had a similar situation in a game, where the crew jokingly named themselves Zhuul’s Hounds (a Ghostbusters reference), and then I started asking who Zhuul was in the world of Blades. We had a fun collaborative chat, and it turns out he (it?) was a forgotten god, specifically a psychopomp trickster that ferried souls into (and sometimes out of) the land of the dead. Great inspiration for a crew of smugglers!
I’ve continued asking questions and pitching ideas as the campaign has progressed, and now we have a plot line that’s wrapped up in some serious cosmological consequences, all of which evolved organically at the table, from our conversation. (Turns out the trickster god who could slip through the gates of death may have had something to do with their breaking…)
One of the key tenets of this game is playing to find out what’s going on, and also letting the conversation be the place where that happens. All of this to say – I’d ask your players, at the table, for their ideas. Discuss what sounds fun to them, add your inspiration, and see where you end up. You’ll still be able to drop things that surprise them, and they’ll be even more engaged because you created it together.
I would echo all of the above advice about talking it out at the table.
Having said that, I know that table cultures differ and also that sometimes as a player, even a collaborative one, it’s fun to really “discover” something about the world and not make up the answer myself.
So, because you asked, a few ideas…
I’m always drawn to the special playbooks and advanced permissions. Because they’re not “standard” choices there’s something tantalising about them. What if the Reconciler wants to use Finn as a vessel? Either because of something intrinsic to his soul, or simply because he’s a big beefy cutter and his body can take it?
What does being a vessel mean? Well, maybe the Reconciler intends for Finn to become a hull or a vampire. For example, this could start a quest to gather the necessary items to create the hull body - perhaps something is in the pyramid, as alluded to in a reply above. I like this kind of thing because it’s not just a reward for Finn - it’s actually a terrible purpose, since he will have to be killed/sacrificed in order to become either a vampire or a hull.
It also introduces some nice tension into the crew dynamics, since someone else is technically the “leader” of the cult but Finn has this holy chosen purpose.
Final thought - check out the “advanced permissions” on page 234; they’re all relevant, but particularly the Forgotten Gods ability tree. It starts with “When you open your mind to the thought-tendrils of a forgotten god, you suffer 1 trauma and become an adept of its cult. You gain access to the following special abilities as veteran advances.” Perhaps Finn has actually already suffered this trauma (near death experience and “Obsessed”), and what he discovers is that he can gain these abilities now?
That ability tree ends with “When you suffer your fifth trauma, you transform into an avatar of the god, losing your human mind and will as the thought-tendrils of the god fully manifest within you. Retire your character to their dark fate.” which is an extremely fun thing to have hanging over the crew, IMO. I think you’ve got a great chance here to bring this into your game.
Oh, I like that idea about the hills in the pyramid!
This is more or less what I’ve been doing so far to flesh out the Reconciler, although I’d say without as much luck as you’ve had in terms of really getting a solid handle on the god. Although, it was only last session that I put up a handout on our roll20 board asking specific questions about the Reconciler, so hopefully that will spark some solid details.
A lot of excellent good for thought here. Thank you! I’m going to dive into the section on forgotten gods tonight. Probably should have started there! Lol