Thursday 11 February 2021

Home at Last

This album cover clearly references The Odyssey - but a version of The Odyssey that has gone severely wrong. As a result, the image would fit pretty well into a Pax Lexque campaign, which is how I am going to frame this. It should be fairly easy for a judge to modify the history to fit their own campaign!

Hellena in Pax Lexque is an elven nation, so our un-dead argonauts will come from Thracia. According the the Pax Lexque Campaign Guide

"Thracia and Macedonia had been at each others’ throats for centuries before they were absorbed by the Roman Empire. After that, they were perpetually Rome’s problem children, frequently needing to be brought to heel. It was no surprise that they both tried to get the upper hand by the use of magic in the wake of the War of Fire. As the years marched on, both kingdoms pushed the envelope with magical research, actively trying to outpace each other in the magical arms race. From time to time, the tension would break out into cross­border skirmishes, which they would try to resolve before Rome would yank the leash. The tension was reaching a boiling point when the Wars of Darkness began."

History and Legend

Long before the War of Fire, Odysseus fought in the siege of Troy, a city now ruined and lost to the sands of time (unless the judge arranges for it to be found - this might be a good opportunity to rework B4: The Lost City or its OAR version). After over a decade of strife, Odysseus and his crew sailed homeward, toward the city of Enez.

Odysseus had many adventures on his journey home, after offending the sea-goddess Procella by dallying with her daughter, the cyclops-nymph Circulla, before blinding her and escaping. In the defense of Odysseus, it is said that Circulla caused men to take the form of animals, and in that form she devoured them.

Judges wishing to expand on these adventures should consider riffing off of Homer's original work, combining and reworking the material to match the aesthetic of whatever campaign milieu they are using. The final adventure of Odysseus and his crew, in life, is known - sailing between the many-armed sea monster Charybdis and six-headed Scylla, the red-painted war galley entered a portal to the domain of Mordines, god of death, where it was said to sail forever on blood-dark seas.

So much for history and legend. Centuries passed, and scholars began to doubt the very existence of Odysseus, of Troy, or even of the elven Gilmar, who had chronicled Odysseus' adventures until thrown from the vessel on that final, fateful voyage. 

But these things actually did happen. Death itself kept Odysseus and his crew hostage, and the perils they faced in death were greater even than those they had overcome in life. Odysseus was famed for his prowess, his cleverness, and his eloquence. Although it took centuries to do, he was able to outwit Mordines himself, deliver to that dread god something that bought back access to the sunlit realms, and sailed again upon the Pisconian Sea for Enez.

Odysseus, Un-dead Lord of Enez: Init +5; Atk claw +5 melee (1d3+3) or short sword +7 melee (1d6+3) or long bow +5 ranged (1d6+3); AC 15; HD 10d12; hp 66; MV 30’; Act 2d20; SP un-dead, half damage from piercing and slashing weapons, immune to cold, regenerate 3/round until slain, d7 Deed Die; SV Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +7; AL L.

Mighty Odysseus knows nothing of Rome when he first reaches Enez, and contests the mastery of others now as he did in life. He has become no less clever for being un-dead, and continues to use his wits to outmaneuver his foes. The coalition he seeks to build in Thracia upon his return may be directed at Macedonia initially, but it will not take long for Odysseus to deem Rome the greater threat. Eventually, Rome will have to send the Hand of the Law to deal with him.

Odysseus regenerates 3 hit points each round, so long as he has even one hit point remaining. He can perform Mighty Deeds with a d7 Deed Die, but this does not add to either his attack rolls or damage. Odysseus has a long bow that can only be strung or drawn by creatures with a 18 or better Strength, but it increases damage by +3.

Skeleton Crew: Init +2; Atk claw +2 melee (1d3+1) or short sword +3 melee (1d6+1) or spear +3 melee (1d8+1); AC 13; HD 2d12; MV 30’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead, half damage from piercing and slashing weapons, immune to cold, regenerate 1/round until slain, absolute loyalty; SV Fort +2, Ref +1, Will +5; AL L.

Other skeletons may be "brittle bones held together by eldritch energies", but the skeletal crew that follows Odysseus are more hardy. By the end of his voyage, 72 of these creatures passed from the dark seas in the land of Mordines. None of them began the voyage with him, but where picked from among the shades on islands beyond the knowledge of the living. None can be turned from Odysseus; all owe him absolute loyalty.

Gilmar's Ghost: Init +2; Atk incorporeal touch +2 melee (1d4 XP); AC 10; HD 2d12; hp 9; MV fly 40’; Act 1d20; SP un-dead traits, immune to non-magical weapons, bless weapon; SV Fort +2, Ref +4, Will +6; AL C.

There have been those who have claimed to see the ghost of an ancient elf haunting the shores of Thracia near to Enez. These stories go back for centuries. Indeed, such a spirit does exist, all that remains of the elf Gilmar, who chronicled the adventures of Odysseus in life and now seeks to prevent his return and ascendency in death. As such, Gilmar can only be put to rest by the destruction of Odysseus. The ghost may thus be a boon to those who would act as agents of Rome, or a bane to others who might wish to see Thracia rise.

The ghost can fade into the ether at will, and will usually avoid combat. Its touch, however, bypasses all armor, and permanently drains living victims of 1d4 experience points. In the case of non-classed NPCs, the judge should assume that the target has 4 XP per Hit Die, and when XP reaches 0, the target dies.

For those characters who seek the downfall of Odysseus, Gilmar's ghost may bless their weapon, a condition that lasts for seven days and seven nights. A weapon blessed by Gilmar causes damage that Odysseus and his crew cannot regenerate. As they cannot heal naturally, this damage is permanent unless magically removed.

You can listen to/watch the music video for Home at Last here.


  1. Timrod left a comment which was deleted in error:

    "but a version of The Odyssey that has gone severely wrong"

    That's saying something considering that the original version didn't exactly come off too smoothly.