Did they ever explain the Doll?

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Postby garrison » October 15th, 2014, 2:39 pm

First of all I would like to say THANKYOU for bringing the podcast back. I was so happy to see a new episode I almost jumped out of my chair (everyone at work thought I was weird).

Second of all did Arath's doll ever get explained? I remember it turned up at the end of the Paragon Tier campaign but I never heard it mentioned again. Did it ever get explained?

Thank you again for all you guys do.

T
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Re: Did they ever explain the Doll?

Postby Kowal » October 16th, 2014, 5:44 am

My understanding is that the events are:

The gang pulls a bunch of bad cards from the Deck of Many Things, including a betrayal

The deck spawns a scroll detailing a ritual that can splinter off bits of your soul to let you inhabit multiple bodies (but it makes you chicka-cray-cray)

Arath finds the scroll after it's changed hands quite a bit, and becomes intrigued

Arath opens a shop in Skyclave, finds out about the Imaskarcana, and somehow also determines the existence of the Crown.

Arath hires Baden to help him figure out how to pierce the wards protecting the Crown and utilize its powers, but Baden eventually picks up on Arath's becoming completely crazypants, and pays the price for it.

Arath goes to Deep Imaskar and convinces the Blackened Swords to give him the Throne in exchange for his help in their political struggle.

Arath continues using the ritual to splinter off more and more chunks, resulting in all the Araths they fight in the big showdown.
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Re: Did they ever explain the Doll?

Postby Ceraph » October 20th, 2014, 12:43 pm

The doll actually is addressed again in the final episode of the paragon tier campaign. Just listen for Greg doing a high pitched crazy voice with a lot of manic laughing X_X

It happens after the confrontation with, I don't know what to call him... Arath prime? X_X, is over.
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Re: Did they ever explain the Doll?

Postby Greg » October 31st, 2014, 7:01 pm

We talked about this during the show and (not a surprise) Sam was the only one that remembered the explanation! Including me!

Arath originally split part of his soul in to the doll so that he could have the power of the Throne even while he was not physically sitting on it. That was he was able to do all of his crazy stuff and still move around the world.

It also theoretically gave him some measure of protection against death, a la horcruxes from Harry Potter, but that was a secondary benefit to him.
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Re: Did they ever explain the Doll?

Postby Kowal » November 3rd, 2014, 8:37 pm

I guess the idea that somehow Arath came across that ritual is where my brain is stumbling trying to piece it together. It's kind of fun that the podcast didn't outright explain everything because it lets us do a little deduction. I was just re-listening to the older to some of the older podcasts and I've revised my timeline.

3 years+ before the Battle of the Broken Soul: Aurom, Arora, Wrenn, Hugh, and Melek find themselves pulling terrible cards from the Deck of Many Things. Aurom pulls the betrayal card, which creates the Crown scroll.
3 years BBS: Arath takes the Silvery Orb and battles Imix at the Temple of Elemental Evil, frying up his soul extra crispy and also physically injuring him severely.
2 years, ~10 months BBS: Arath leaves Hommlet and sets out to do something other than lay in a bed all day. He's attacked by thugs who he roasts up, and discovers the Crown scroll among their belongings.
2 years, ~9 months BBS: A lot seems to happen in a very short period of time. First off, it seems that Arath arrives with the scroll at least mostly translated. The evidence is sort of spotty from what we know for sure, but we know he consulted Seruf for his opinion on what the language was without revealing its nature to him, and we also know that Baden's role was primarily in piercing Oghma's wards to protect the Crown. From best we can deduce, Arath posts his looking for assistant ad in cipher, trying to lure someone who can help him translate the scroll, so he can't be finished by then. Regardless, it seems Arath's path is as follows: He enters the city, opens his shop, posts his ciphered ad, consults Seruf, meets up with Baden, and the two of them work tirelessly to translate and then to break the wards. At some point in this transaction, Arath becomes aware of the Throne of Omanond from someone in Skyclave. Some of the specifics elude me here. It sounds from the letters like Arath has bribed his way in to the citizens' only section of the library, but it seems more likely he's abused his friendship with Baden to gain access to it. Presumably this section is where he discovers the Throne exists. Further, he states that he "has some advertisements to produce" when he's opening his shop, but presumably this isn't an ad for the shop and is instead the ciphered ad to find an assistant. These two points are contradictory, but both of them are roughly equal in the size of the logic leap it takes to make them.
2 years, ~7 months BBS: Arath murders Baden and a child, and gets a copy of Baden's invite-list for the theoretical academy Baden dreamed of opening. He closes his shop, presumably to dodge the authorities investigating a double homicide, and opens an Academy. At this point it appears to be legitimate. Arath doesn't yet have control of the Throne, and likely lacks the magical expertise to create the demiplane that his academy would eventually come to rest on. Frankly, he might have even used Baden's other notes at this time, including architecturally. Alternatively, he may be lying in the letters, and talking himself up. He does say he's "already begun taking applications" so clearly classes have not yet begun.

At this point there's a large gap in the "definite" history. Arath does most of his nefarious deeds here. We know after he kills Baden that he's become obsessed with the Throne, so presumably he goes then to Deep Imaskar. At this point, the teleportation circles are still open, so the travel likely doesn't take him very long. However, in order to make any progress at all he's forced to resort to some pretty desperate deal-making and magic item bribery. In the Deep Imaskar series of the podcast, we know Arath eventually gets the Throne through dealings with Lyddius of the Blackened Swords, but at this point in the timeline both Ilthimum and the Purple Empress are alive and well so it's impossible to know how much power the Blackened Swords really have. The continuity is also a little confusing, as we know the Purple Empress at the time of the Skyclave session is still alive. Part of her political movement was to eliminate the bloodline tradition in rulership, but 18 months of game time later we discover that Suldan and Tervis are warring for control of Deep Imaskar due to Prince Ilthimum's death, and somehow Cucio the Bard has taken control of High Imaskar. The best explanation is that the Purple Empress selected Ilthymum as an heir or died before selecting one. Either way, the Blackened Swords are a group of radicals and the idea of them having direct access to the Imaskarcana is a strange one. It's not out of the question that that was exactly their role prior to the political turmoil in the wake of the Empress' death though - As Isolationists, their entire goal is to keep Imaskar and its secrets isolated from the rest of the world, which could mean until they become a political force all their own they might play a security role instead, secreting away Imaskar's artifacts and dirty past. This is all fun speculation (and frankly "Saving Deep Imaskar" has long been one of my favorite episodes for exactly this sort of thing) but the important highlight is this: Eventually Arath bribes and bargains his way to the Imaskarcana, swiping the Throne and presumably other secrets. He tells Lyddius he'll help put Tervis on the throne, which means he's likely involved in the Empress' death, Mayta's evil schemes, and the would-be civil war. For all his faults, Arath's plans in Deep Imaskar are his smoothest and everything goes off without a hitch almost exactly two years after he makes his bargains.

In addition to this craziness, we can also assume Arath spins a bargain with a mature red dragon. The time frame to go from legitimate academy to arcane zombie factory is very tight (as we'll see) so he must be pulling double duty here to meet the time constraint. It seems unlikely he needs Deep Imaskar's help here, though perhaps he gets his red dragon lead from one of the would-be students at his (still legitimate) academy during this time.

All that in mind, the next events are probably something like
2 years, roughly 4 months BBS: Arath employs the red dragon and its magic to secret away the academy. Arath also relocates the Throne of Omanond to his new secret volcano lair, and raises Baden as some sort of death knight. We know Baden is used as a military unit of sorts, but Arath assures his corpse that his (magic) talents won't be wasted and also seems more than willing to employ Baden as his primary agent in Ulgarth and Ikemmu. We also know during this time Arath is working on two projects, which are the homonculi ritual in question, as well as piercing the wards around the Crown of Oghma. The first of those sounds like his primary project, given his experiments with the finch are still optimistic when the prototype homonculus is active and operational. Over the next two and a half months, his experiments drive him madder as he compares notes with himself. The wards are lethal, Arath has no means of piercing them himself, but if he can get some other schmucks to do it and die for him he can get the Crown that way. Thus, he enchants the wand with his finest piercing magics, and begins writing his final letter.

2 years, 1 month BBS: Arath's final letter arrives, convincing his friends to meet at the Oghman temple to be his martyrs. He insists they tell nobody where they're going, presumably so nobody links him to their deaths. By this time he's the villain we know: He has an academy secreted away in a demiplane, he employs a dragon and a death knight, he is zombifying mages (from Baden's recruiting list), he has the Throne, he has his homonculus prototype, and worst of all he's figured out how the Crown works and where it's being stored due to his translation of the scroll.

2 years BBS: The party gathers, collects the wand from Arath, penetrates the outer defenses, and opens the ward causing catastrophic meltdown. The temple crumbles, its guardians wither and die, and the group only survives because Bahamut himself says "now just hold on a god damn minute..." Arath arrives, collects the Crown, and departs with haste. He taunts but doesn't kill; maybe he still holds some respect for his friends, but more likely he wants to get the hell out of there before the wards reactivate or something.

Between this point and the BBS, Arath repeats his homonculus project multiple times to create Bald Arath, Sword Arath, Tricky Arath, Huge Arath, and so on. The rest of the Arathian activity is mostly on camera.

This project was actually pretty fun. If anyone's interested, I don't mind doing more. It should be pretty obvious that paragon tier 4th ed was my favorite part of TK's archives so far :)
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