Saturday Seeds – 5 (Palladium Fantasy)

This week’s seed is for Palladium Fantasy.

This is one to hold in reserve until the players seem to be nearing the end of a quest or adventure. Timing is everything. Unlike previous entries in this section – this one will be substantially vaguer, as there is just so much to work with in PF that it is highly unlikely the regions I have focused on are anywhere near the ones readers may have chosen to use.

The seed: One of the characters, reaching for the item of treasure, person, book, scroll, loved one, sandwich, nail, or what-have-you which defines the conclusion of their quest, suddenly vanishes through a small portal which opens around them.

What the others see: The best time to spring this is at the end of a session when the rest of the party is looking directly at the character. In the middle of the closing moments, when the tired, battered, and jubilant characters are enjoying the culmination of their efforts, suddenly the character you have selected, vanishes. Those making a perception check (if you are privy to the arcane knowledge of how that was intended to be conducted in Palladium, or if you are the type that can figure out a good way to do it on your own based on your vast experience, even temper, consistent judgements, and personal flair) will be entitled to some extra information.

Everyone not currently blind sees the character stop moving as they are enveloped in a bright red glow. From… nowhere comprehensible, a portal of reddish light expands outward around the character, twisting through space to end up moving away through time and space with the fading image of the character.

Everyone not currently deaf hears screams of torment coming from the distance – obviously through the portal – and an involuntary sound of an appropriate in-character emotional response from the pc as they vanish.

Those who succeed in their perception checks may notice the following details to get them started on a quest to rescue/retrieve the corpse of their missing companion.

  • In the distance, behind the character, you can clearly make out a geographical feature that you think you recognize from legend, story, personal experience (eg: White Rock Mountains, A certain pass in the Old Kingdom Mountains, Dragons Gate Mountains, etc)
  • A distinct smell from whichever region might also be noticed (eg: the smell of pine trees common to the White Rock Mountains)
  • Those who were in the process of sensing the presence of magic at the time of the disappearance may detect the sudden release of mystical energies in the normal fashion for any strong spell effect.
  • Any summoners present will recognize the effect as that of a potent summoning circle or ritual, calling the characters away.

With luck and good timing, you can end the session here, with everyone thinking that one of their number has been stolen away, and no one – especially the player of the vanished character – knowing what will happen next.

Close the session by asking them to think about whether they will seek the missing character, and if so, how they will undertake the search. Answer no questions, and give no hints. Smile cryptically if you can, or at the very least wink knowingly, but tell them nothing.

When you start up again, give them time to discuss their plans, work out any disagreements, and decide to act. Just for fun, if at any point they turn again to the item of treasure, person, book, scroll, loved one, sandwich, nail, or what-have-you which defined the conclusion of their quest, have the next person disappear in the same way as the first. That’s right – a second person. It is really unconnected, but it can be fun and rewarding to sow coincidences into stories. If the group comes to believe the item of treasure, person, book, scroll, loved one, sandwich, nail, or what-have-you which defined the conclusion of their quest was in actuality some form of trigger for the effect, so be it. It’s not, but do they really need to know that? The same clues detectable the first time may be perceived again.

While the remaining party members are experimenting with whatever reaction they employ to deal with these two disappearances, the two missing characters return. They look visibly younger by several years or perhaps more. They also look healthier, cleaner, and while carrying similar equipment identical in form and function to what they were carrying when they left,  appear to be carrying new and unused items. They have no injuries, and in fact look better rested and fed than they ever have.

They have no memory whatsoever of what happened. No mind probes or other means of recovering memory will glean details for there are none there to be gleaned. It as though nothing happened, other than the sudden rejuvenation of the characters.

What happens next, and what happened to the two PCs is really dependent on the type of tale you are telling, and the sort of characters and players you have. I might prefer it if the characters try and try to determine it, but never find out… but then again, it might be nice to have the details slowly reveal themselves over long years of play. Perhaps they were needed to complete some incomprehensible course of action for some ineffable reason, by some unfathomable entity, in some unknown place, or perhaps their forms were cast anew by the power of a mystic ritual.

What they have to work on are the clues they detected during the disappearances. What they find when they get there is a choice for you to make.

The choice is yours. Make it magical.

Speak your piece~

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