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God No More

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God No More

And on the eighth day, he grew bored, and wished he didn’t have to do it anymore...

Prologue:

The first part of this story is one of unparalleled success. Jarill Morpho was a human warlord from one of the countless primes, and as such was nobody important. However, he had ambition enough to elevate himself beyond his fellow men, and was instrumental in joining the barbarian tribes of his world into a great kingdom. A kingdom he ruled, as beloved and undisputed tyrant (in the original meaning of the word, a government of one). But his ambitions were not sated.

Now, Morpho wasn’t an evil man, he merely sought to become what he could. His successes always brought prosperity to his people, although that wasn’t exactly what he was seeking. He was restless, always on the lookout for a purpose in life. Where other men would have made do, Morpho sought for greater things. And as it turned out, he had not only his share of ambition, but also uncanny luck.

By a twist of fate, he discovered the ruins of an ancient civilization, whose secrets made the wise men of his kingdom into great wizards. He himself was one of the first to master the arts. Under his control, magic brought the barbaric kingdom into a golden age...and gave Morpho another option for self-expansion: Godhood.

People worshipped him...not at all strange, considering what he had done, and he didn’t really tell them not to. Quite the opposite, actually.

Eventually, he became a demigod. He cast off his mortal coil, and rose to new heights of power as a deity of conquest, ambition and luck. He became privy to the secrets of the multiverse, he learned of the planes and of the afterlife, how to find and manipulate the forces that control reality. A thousand years later, he was bored out of his immortal mind.

Gods don’t bore easily. A god’s mind is beyond understanding. Mortals cannot hope to understand such a thing any more than a worm can hope to understand humans. But before he was a god, he was mortal, and a central part of his very self was to strive for greatness. To find a purpose, and follow it until it was fulfilled. But godhood brought mostly responsibilities, and even though he now knew the secrets of existence, he didn’t really find the meaning of them. What can a god hope to become?

-A ‘holy’ quest-

Morpho sends his followers a last vision. It’s a sort of ‘Dear John’ vision, stating that they’ve been great followers, but 'hey…every good thing must come to an end'. He wishes them all well, and hopes that: “whoever takes over this god status thingy will treat you well…”

Obviously, his followers aren’t all too happy about this. About half of them are convinced that something has gone terribly wrong. The other half think their god is testing them. After long and arduous discussions, they decide to send an emissary to find out just what that last vision meant. Their oldest and wisest member, a saint of a man called Matik, is chosen for the job. A plane-shift and a portal later, their champion arrives in Sigil.

“So,

what else is there to do?”

-Morpho, a god-

Soon enough, he figures out that this mission is beyond him. The Outer planes are overwhelming (don’t we all know that feeling?) and filled with dangers which clueless bashers don’t know how to avoid. He decides to hire local help. This is where the PCs come in.

-“Without you, we are doomed.”-

After asking around a bit, Matik comes up with the PCs names, either as inexpensive locals who are known to be resourceful (for low level PCs), or well-known planewalkers who’ve already made a name for themselves (medium to high level). He approaches them tentatively, begging them for help. He tells them of his quest, to find the meaning of the cryptic vision, and also the story of his god’s ascent (if they wish to hear it). Soon enough, it becomes clear that Matik is not as afraid of his god’s ‘retirement’ as he is of the unknown. After all, what happens to a god’s power when he simply leaves it behind? Can anyone claim it for herself? (This might get the attention of power-hungry players.)

He admits that he cannot pay them much, but if the mission is successful, his superiors on the prime can award their heroics in a proper way (actual award up to the DM, although Matik’s story should be interesting enough to draw true planewalkers into the adventure, if they care about beliefs at all).

He has little information on the whereabouts of his god’s realm, but can recite stories and myths on how the afterlife is supposed to be. The descriptions should sound familiar to the PCs…’an infinitely tall mountain, reaching straight into the sky’…’the in-between the extremes, where everyone is equally accepted’…’the place beyond human concerns, where good and evil do not matter any more, and neither do law or chaos’. All clues point to the Outlands, probably on the good/lawful ‘side’ of the Spire.

Also, he tells them how to reach his prime, and the name of his superiors, in case something happens to him. If something does happen to him, he begs them to try anyway to find out what happened, and bring that information to his home world.

-A god’s ambition-

Shortly after they arrive in the Outlands, the old man’s heart fails, and he dies. Raising him won’t work, as he has lived his natural life-span. He simply dies of old age, at an unfortunate time for the PCs. But the motivation remains: The god who wants to quit is still out there, and somewhere out there the prime sods (with the award promised) are waiting to know why.

However, the primes aren’t the only ones who are curious…

Two groups in particular are interested in Morpho's descent from godhood: The Bleak Cabal and the war-like and covetous Rakshasa, although in very different ways. The Bleakers didn’t take notice as a faction, but a few individuals got together and decided to have a little wigwag with the bored god. Perhaps to see if they can convince him that there’s no need for external meaning. Failing that, they want to talk him into suicide. Mad, they are.

The Rakshasa have sent an emissary to offer Morpho to ‘oversee’ his godly might until such a time that a suitable candidate for godhood appears. Of course, that would mean stopping any others that offer the god different options for his powers.

Quite unfortunately for everyone involved, they all arrive at the same time: the Rakshasa emissary and his slaves, the Bleaker factotums, and the PCs.

-savage diplomacy-

The ensuing challenge is almost purely role-playing in nature. The goal of the PCs is to ensure that Morpho’s followers retain some sort of divine aid, either from Morpho or his successor. This could be done by convincing Morpho to hold on to his divinity, perhaps out of a sense of duty, perhaps by showing him that life’s greatest goals are not the ones of conquest and power. They could enlist the aid of the Bleakers if they decide to go that way. Or they could convince him to hold onto his powers long enough to choose a proper successor by himself.

If the Rakshasa notice that Morpho is being swayed away from giving them the power, they will cheat. The emissary will dispatch its servants to assassinate the PCs and/or the Bleakers as soon as things seem to be slipping out of its grasp. Most probably, the PCs will have to defend themselves and slay the Rakshasa.

If they decide to find a successor for Morpho to choose by themselves, they should really be careful. Not all are fit to be gods (it could be argued that Morpho himself wasn’t), and the one chosen better fit Morpho’s portfolio. If they decide to go the way of the Rakshasa and get the power of the demigod for themselves things will go badly for them (and for the Rakshasa, if it manages to get it).

As soon as someone new is granted Morpho’s godhood, she will be summoned to a conclave of gods from the Outlands. They then proceed to judge the individual’s worth, and if they find that she has taken the demigod’s power out of greed, they remove the newly granted divine status and punish the individual by throwing her into Carceri, for an eternity of regret. Don’t mess with powers.

-all’s well in the end-

The adventure is very open-ended, and can result in many different conclusions. If the PCs ensured that Morpho’s power went to someone worthy, or stayed with him, then his followers will be very grateful and pay the reward to full.

Morpho himself will also be grateful (unless the Bleakers managed to talk him into taking his own life, of course), and would gladly resurrect any PCs that were slain in battle with the Rakshasa and it’s slaves.

The Rakshasa will seek revenge if it survives (it will flee if the PCs seriously threaten its existence) and return to collect in time. If it doesn’t survive, word might reach its kin in Acheron and they might try to avenge their emissary.

The Bleakers won’t bother the PCs, whatever the outcome. What do they care, anyway?

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