What is the idea of The Shadow Council?
I started Tiny Gork on the idea that i would take one of my biggest campaign stories and see if i could shape it into something other GMs could use.
There are a few reasons why i was so fascinated by this idea, one was most likely one that all GMs have thought “get my stuff published woooow!” the other was the way i had constructed my story, the elements i wanted to use allowed it to be very flexible. I used the story and its elements one way and got one story with my group, but i could easily see how it could be used in so many other ways and tons of different stories could be built upon it.
While it is a story in itself, i feel that it could also serve as a setting, yet it is not geographical in nature like our standard campaign settings. When i think about the Shadow Council as a setting it is a much broader way, like a huge background story for your player characters, villains and artifacts. So for lack of better words (that i know about) i call it a story setting.
So i have begun writing it up, getting all of those ideas out of my head and into a document. When i was creating this the first time it was for myself as a GM so much of it was not set in stone and some was even improvised on the fly. I was creating all this while we were playing another campaign and i began laying my new Shadow Council campaign ontop of the ongoing campaign.
My biggest worry is that i will fail in correctly showing you my vision, that i will fail in showing you what it is that i find so wonderful about this idea.
My biggest hope is that GMs will take this story and lay their own versions ontop of it to create brand new stories. The basis of it all allows it to be used with anything and anywhere, fantasy most propable though.
Each chapter i have written has a intro that kind of sums up the chapter itself, this i have written in the form of a conversation with an old sage. These intro’s have been released as free pdfs, something i lovingly call FreeGs (free gorks).
The very short version
- A group of deities discovers how to defy the laws of the multiverse, but cannot exploit it for themselves.
- The group names themselves The Shadow Council, what sets them apart from other mercenary bands is the fact that they are deities themselves so they often take jobs from powers that want to affect the political structures of gods and the like. But their proxies, chosen immortals, are able to retain all the power of their deities nomatter how far from the deities home plane they travel.
- A selffulfilling prophecy of betrayel leads to the excommunication of one of the council members and he begins plotting revenge.
- All across the timeflow seeds are planted, seeds that will result in a most powerful artefact being created unknowingly by both the forces of law and chaos.
- The artefact is used in an attempt to usurp the Shadow Council of it’s powers, but only manages to trap them forever.
- The artefact is shattered into pieces, the proxies of the Council was cast down to the prime material plane, the powers of law and chaos battling to control their destiny. They are now doomed to chase down the pieces of the artefact, re-assemble it and decide what to do with it. They will continue to re-incarnate and by strange twists of fate they will always end up questing together for the pieces.
- The artefact pieces does not lay still, they teleport seemingly randomly around the multiverse, in particularly they seem to be attracted to lawful beings. They can take any shape and form, one was reported once to be found within the notes of a song after the song was performed in a ritual.
- The artefact is know to some as a mythical item of power and many factions seeks to claim control of it, especially forces of law and chaos. Good or Evil does not enter play much in the power for the artefact.
So what i take from this mix of background ideas is that you got your heroes, they have been re-incarnated X number of times and strange forces keep making sure they end up together and questing for the shattered artefact pieces.
Given that the shattered pieces can be anywhere AND anytime in the multiverse, you now have every setting you can think of as an option. Fantasy genre might work best, but i see no reason for not making a “masters of the universe” where fantasy meets modern day. But you basically have a foundation for implementing this story into any setting. You can even lay it ontop of a campaign you got going on already, slowly begin to reveal clues/signs that something larger is going on and then begin to reveal flashbacks from previous lives or have outsider npc’s recognise them as the ancient group of Shadow Council proxies with hatred or reverence.
Use Past Events
I also see the possiblity of going into the background story and explore events there. Maybe during a campaign the group travels back in time and to another plane(place) and experience an even from the background story about how The Shadow Council was foiled and shattered. Maybe they witness the use of the artefact or their nemesis sowing seeds in ancient times for the creation of the artefact.
Then there is the whole meet yourself in another incarnation thing, we did a twist on that with a guest GM. I filled him in on the story and he decided to have the group transported to another place (we still don’t know where) into other incarnations of us. The characters retained their memories but lost all equipment and skills, we were handed new sheets and equipment. This place used black powder guns and we were investigators for the king. When the scenario was finished the characters would also retain the memory of that incarnation and were allowed to keep one or two skills when they came back to their “original” character. Sort of like what The Strange does with ‘translating to a recursion’ but not quite.
I had someone appear out of thin air, kneel before one of the heroes and extend a hand which held a letter and as she took it she was hit by a flashback of handing the letter to him in another place, as if watching out of someone elses eyes.
Due to the artefact shards being tossed all over the multiverse, you could also use this background story to propel your heroes into the multiverse and explore new things. Use the artefact shards as an excuse to go and do things and meet strange new beings.
Hook your characters
The Shadow Council story gives you a framework for mingling your players characters with your campaign story on an individual level. You have a reason for giving them strange flashbacks, meet people they dont know but who knows the PC, injecting the PC’s into dreamworlds that shows them past events, travel back in time and so on.
You can either go the mysterious route and reveal the story piece by piece or you can clue the players in on it from the start. I can see both work but it also depends on your players 🙂
When i have told The Shadow Council story, the idea was to expand upon it with locations, npc’s, magic items, monsters, organisations, specific events extrapolated into adventures. I have already attempted to do some of this with Time Hunters Sourcebook i told a little story about an organisation in the multiverse that tries to police the timeflow and stop time meddlers from doing harm. With one of the Warlocks Journal contests we found a description of one of the artefact shards.
I also see the possibility of alternate Shadow Councils, a council consists of a number of deities/powers who have joined forces to hire themselves out to other deities and powers to do the things they cant due to the ancient laws of the multiverse. I see a Folio of Shadow Council members, maybe they even change from time to time. The story remains the same, but the players could change.
The artefact itself is shattered into several pieces, the number could vary, the powers each possess could be anything along with their shape and form. A folio of artefact shards could also be a possibility.
Then there is the oppertunity to write one or more campaign(s) based on the Shadow Council. Not to mention a campaign that takes place in the Shadow Council story, where the players get to play the story about the shattering of the council.
So thats abit about the whole idea of The Shadow Council.
Gork ya later!