Monday, November 12, 2012

Tarlen and Dodd

Tarlen and Dodd were like the Mitch and Murray of several of my campaigns.

"You think I'm fucking with you? I am not fucking with you."
They were benefactors as well as shadowy antagonists.

My players in the early days were big on thieves and assassins, as well as Opal Starr - a NPC fighter/magic-user/thief that only a the fevered mind of a pudgy adolescent raised on Elric, Conan and Boris Vallejo art could have created. Opal Starr would have been the Alec Baldwin to Tarlen and Dodds' Mitch and Murray. Opal Starr would contact the adventurers about some McGuffin that they needed to go find, or a missing shipment of black lotus ("Stygian! The best!") or whatever adventure hook.

I was really into the Fiend Folio, that wondrously reviled book, and for my last, great Tarlen and Dodd adventure, I used the fuck out of it. In the end, Opal Starr revealed herself to be a Pennangalan, the characters fought a Needleman, and eventually they lead the Lava Children in a revolt against the horde of Githyanki that had invaded their home. Shit, someone may have even swallowed a throat leech.

The characters never met Tarlen and Dodd, but they asked a lot of questions about them. What was probably a throw away idea I had became something really fun and engaging for the players. They got to ask around town, learn rumors, false information, and of course, follow leads.

"These are the new leads, these are the Acererak leads..."
After Opal Starr (that name makes me cringe to type) died a grisly death, the players took it upon themselves to go off and kill Tarlen and Dodd too. It never happened, but it's just as well. Vengeance is for closers.

Later, I imagined Tarlen and Dodd were a pair of demi-lich skulls that lay in the corner of a long-forgotten crypt. In life, they were rival wizards who were constantly at odds with each other, now they formed a collective evil consciousness that reached out to people in their dreams, forcing them to gather what they needed to return to their physical forms.

"Psst...over here!" "No! Over here!"

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