I've been a dungeon master/storyteller for decades now. Each game and gaming group in my experience has had its ups and downs. Its good players, great players, and nightmare players. Now, initially, I give each and every story/campaign my all. Over the course of many a great adventure, I and my husband have created this fantastic world we've used for every fantasy game and every D20 system we've learned/played.
Now that you've got the background.
A year and a half ago I moved, changed my life, and while it's been a bumpy and scary road it's been quite fulfilling. One of the perks was that I met this group of 6 – 8 people whom, every Saturday (or Sunday) afternoon come over my house and play Pathfinder. We've grown from acquaintances to great friends and they're slowly becoming like my second family.
Saturday; 01/28/2017 was the night I made half of them cry/tear up. I'm talking literal feelings.
So. The second chapter of an ongoing campaign reached its climax and resolution this weekend.
The short version: Our intrepid heroes (Crew members of the Airship 'The Rat King's Folly'), following a series of terrifying events, ventured into the Dimension of Dreams and Nightmares (In our world: A realm ruled / beholden to Luna (kinda like a goddess)) in order to stop an evil mage from affecting the Prime Material plane (Read: their world) with devastating magics.
In this often whimsical, sometimes nightmarish Alice-in-Wonderland-like Dreamscape they discovered that the Magus is, in fact, a literal source of magical energy that was (by way of Godly interference) ripped out of an archmage some millennia ago and thrown into the Dreams and Nightmare Plane which caused this font of magical energy to, eventually, gain sentience.
In comes Alpha (Whimsical, fae-like. Mage.), Beta (Primal, animal-like. Ranger.), Gamma (Tormented, hero-like. Warrior), and Delta (Monstrous. Furious. Nightmare.). The party finds that the cause of their problems is Delta. Supposedly a brother of the four who went mad from too much time near Luna (The Moon can literally drive people insane in our world.). Resolving to stop him once and for all, steal back a magical item which allows him to influence their Prime Material plane, and head back home our party joins forces with the other three 'pieces' of Magic.
During their travels, they get to know the three brothers. While, of course, none of the players trust them, some of the characters grew rather fond of them. Alpha especially. While he was a bit of a selfish, mischievous prick, he was also warm and kind hearted and often reminded them – really – of a child.
So, the big showdown ensues. Everyone's ready with spells and weapons and their game faces.
Mid-battle they notice that every blow dealt to Delta does just as much damage to each of the other three brothers. Alpha, who got knocked out pretty early on, is unaware that Beta and Gamma both resolved to kill Delta once and for all – no matter the cost but needing 'Planeswalkers' to do so (they can't harm one another) told no one of this side-effect of the fight. If Delta dies. So do the three.
The party was torn. Half of them wanted to kill Delta, be done with it, while the other half wanted to find a way to save the three others and still kill Delta. So you have half a party doing non-lethal damage and the other half doing lethal.
They knock out Delta.
A fight of morals ensues.
Alpha wakes up just as Gamma reveals to the party this horrifying truth:
When the magical energy of the Archmage was torn from him and sent into the Dreams and Nightmares Plane it split into 2 not 4. Alpha and Omega. Alpha was so gripped with grief and shame over what his 'real' self had done that he created Alpha and Beta who each held 'pieces' of the overall memory so he wouldn't have to remember it all. Omega, on the other hand, sought after Luna herself and in turn went mad. Alpha – now calling himself Gamma – imprisoned Omega (whom he renamed Delta) so he would harm none of the 'sleepers' in the realm. Realizing he could never keep Omega imprisoned forever, and still tormented over guilty feelings stemming from his Originator, Gamma decided enough was enough. This mission was a suicide mission. He and Beta knew that. Alpha, however, who loved all three of them in their own way, did not.
When Alpha learned of this he pleaded with the party not to kill him. Begged them. Talked about how much he wanted to see the sky, the ocean, and hear the laughter of children. How the dreamers were all – in a strange way – like his family. That they had no right to decided who got to live and who got to die. He was in tears, even said he'd be willing to die if – for just a moment – they brought him to the Prime Material Plane so that he could see the REAL world one time. Just once.
The party was in tears. Half of them suddenly hesitated in their plan to kill Delta while the other half was so gripped in the moral dilemma they choked up.
Delta, eventually, woke up (He has greater regenerate.) and as he was gearing up for another round against the party (Most of which had only 20 (or less) hit points left) the party sorcerer (and the one most gripped with sadness over this) impaled him with his spear. Ending Omega/Delta's life.
Beta, who had grown intimate with the party's female fighter. Held her, thanked her, and told her that he was grateful to know someone so strong and kind. With his dying breath, he enchanted her hammer then faded.
Gamma fell to his knees. He cried and thanked the party – finally to be free. No more pain and suffering over the memories of a life he never had. No more grief. No more violence and death.
Alpha held onto Nathaniel, whom he'd grown to (in his own impish and childish/fae way) love and with tears in his eyes told him he forgave him. That he wanted Nathaniel to promise him he'd never forget him, never stop enjoying the most out of life, and – if he could – dream of him. With his dying breath, he expended all of his magic to open up a portal to the Astral. (Their only way out since an enemy of theirs sealed their original way back home)
By the end of the session? Tears, because they were invested. Because they were wholly engaged and cared. Because, hot damn, I've leveled up – my GM-Game is on point.
I've never been so damned proud.
I'll eventually jot down the total story of DREAD MACHINE (Chapter 1) and DOOM QUEEN (chapter 2) so ya'll can have the scoop.
This has been some of the most memorable shit though – these players are amazing. Time of my life man. Time. Of. My. Life.