The following blog post is Part 3.5 of the Dungeons and Dragons 5th Edition campaign, Dreadstorms Lost. These blogs are intended for other game masters who might want to use this campaign setting and the scenarios to inspire their own role playing games. (Free for noncommercial reuse.)
The Backstory of the Backstory
At one point in the D&D game, my players wanted to get more information about the adventuring group, the Deadly Omega 6, the group that made the Dreadstorms famous and won them the champion post in Berlstrum. The group tracked down a bard and a known friend of the Dreadstorms, Jester Red.
I had a vague backstory for the Omegas, but was now forced to flush it out. Since they went to a bard, I wanted them to feel like they were hearing this from a great storyteller. I wrote out the basic story. Then I contacted my brother, Robert Boylan, and pleaded with him to do his ninja-writing magic on my story and make it more bard-like. He accepted the challenge. With a few back and forths for clarity, I was delighted with the final version of his labors.
Next I cajoled Paul Willman, with his melodious baritone voice, to record a reading of the Deadly Omega 6 story. He was patient and an awesome sport. We downloaded a free audio editor and recorder called Audacity, that worked great without any special equipment. The reading ended up being 17 minutes long. So I edited out as many pause where I could and upped the speed. Sadly, Paul’s beautiful baritone isn’t even recognizable anymore. The final version is 13-½ minutes long. Below is the link to the YouTube
YouTube audio with static image
The Members of The Deadly Omega 6
- Samora Ganzee – warlock/sorcerer– human, female
- Foreshot [formerly Forest Norborough] – ranger – human, female
- Gorshuk Planke – rogue assassin – half-elf, male
- Kazel Dreadstorm – wizard – dark elf, male
- Ames Albrecht – cleric – halfling, male
- Laibazarbit “Bit” Graystone – fighter – tiefling, female
The written version:
The Origns of the Deadly Omega 6 as told by Jester Red
by Heather Boylan & Robert Boylan
Give cease to the wagging of your tongues and the slurping as your teeth pull meat from bone. Stifle too the clanking of tankards, the chinking of plates, the shifting of chairs, and the noisome passing of gas from either throat or anus. Be still and attend this humble word-smith. Tonight, I shall paint a history of the group now known as the Deadly Omega Six.
Ah, I see from your faces the deeds of these heroes are not unknown to many of you.
Let me take you back, long before they achieved a modicum of fame.
Our tale begins—
Hey, barbarian in the back! Yes, you! Shut your yammering ale-hole or take it outside.
Now, where was I?
Yes, our tale …
It begins in the sleepy village of Westend, where dwelt Samora Ganzee, her parents, and her four siblings. Their days of idyllic living came to abrupt end with the arrival of the Torken Raiders.
Yes, I see some of you shudder at the very name, as well you should.
It was a gloomy autumn morning when that foul assemblage of humans, orcs, hobgoblins, and ogres set their sights on Westend. By evening’s fall, the village was a wasteland of embers and ash mixed with the lifeblood of livestock. Fortunate were the villagers who perished that day, for the survivors had to endure the raiders’ lusts and needs for violence, day upon day.
As you may have guessed, Samora and her family numbered among these unfortunates.
I shall not curl the food in your bellies with descriptions of the cruelties the Torken visited upon their captives or the games of bloodsport they were forced to participate in. Suffice it to say it was a precarious existence of despair, misery, and pain.
It is no wonder Samora’s parents sought to escape with their children. Their bid for freedom, however, failed. For this offense, the Torkens publicly flayed the youngest of them. Samora could shut her eyes to that grisly spectacle, but nothing could keep the girl’s screams from her ears.
In the days and months that followed, those screams continued to echo in Samora’s mind as she did what was necessary to survive. Powerless and without agency, she could not hope for more. In such conditions time loses its meaning. Days blend into an unending blur of agony and horror.
Eventually, though, something unexpected occurred.
It came in the form of strange man. With a well-groomed salt and pepper hair, neatly trimmed beard, and spotless clothing, Samora took him for a noble. No way he was one of the Torken. Odd, then, he had strolled through the raiders’ camp without drawing the least attention.
He came up to Samora as she sat stroking the hair of her sleeping sister Zandoval, her only family member attrition had not claimed.
He squatted next to her and whispered in a low voice that sent shivers down her spine, “Would you be free of this rabble? I can make that happen for you.”
“How?” she managed dully. Hope was not an emotion she possessed any longer.
The man pulled two sickles from behind his back. Unlike the simple farming implement she knew, these were not made of metal. Instead they seemed formed of crescents of obsidian. Sluggish green lights danced in the depths of the material.
He held them out to her. “Take the Ebonairre Twins and learn.”
With the handles pressed so close to her, Samora instinctively gripped them. In that moment, she felt a terrible power suffuse her body. Her vision tinted green, and she sprang to her feet with a boundless, hungry energy.
Grok, the ogre who was her chief tormentor, spied her sudden movement. He lumbered over to her. “What you got there?”
Without conscious thought, Samora slashed with the sickles, crossing them just under his chin.
The ogre’s head flopped back as the muscles in his neck separated and blood fountained. Someone screamed, and others shouted angrily. After that, things became hazy as she sank into a manic frenzy. All she knew was a pounding in her head like tribal drums and a flash of faces too quick to register.
When she finally regained her senses, the sun peaked above the hills.
She stood amidst carnage, drenched in blood, none of it hers. Raiders and captives alike had been cut down. The unholy weapons still in Samora’s hands dripped gore. There could be no doubt she had been the source of the devastation.
She found Zandoval among the dead. Numb beyond the reach of grief or guilt, Samora could do naught but stare down at the body. A jagged stroke had nearly cleaved her head from her shoulders.
“Master is most pleased,” an icy whisper tickled her ear. She turned to see the strange man standing there. Nary a drop of blood marred his pristine suit. He gripped her by the elbow and pulled her along. “Come, pet. I have work for you.”
Behind them, the dead began to twitch. In moments, they rose and shuffled off in all directions.
[pause … drink ale … ]
It would not be until much later that Samora learned that this event constituted a binding pact as far as the demon lord Orcus was concerned. Over time, she gained strength and confidence and sought ways to subvert his thrall.
Perhaps her most significant step towards ridding herself of his influence came the day she learned she need not face the struggle alone. That revelation came about in a tavern in Skalia, so insignificant it did not possess a name.
Upon entering, Samora’s eyes were immediately drawn to the barkeep. By all accounts the lad was possessed of an allure that many women found desirable. He certainly filled Samora’s mind with randy thoughts. She sidled up to the bar and in her direct way said, “When you’re done serving drinks, you and I should set my room a-shaking.”
This proposal found favor with the lad. However, a lady who called herself Foreshot had just spent a half hour flirting with the barkeep intending to take him back to her room. Having invested that time, Foreshot was not well disposed towards this interloper. The two women exchanged heated words. Tempers flared, and fists flew. This spark of violence quickly precipitated an all-encompassing tavern brawl.
The local watch broke it up in due course and deposited the combatants in jail cells to cool off overnight. As fate would have it Samora and Foreshot were dumped in adjacent cells. Instead of fueling further animosity between them, this proximity gave rise to an enduring friendship.
Just in case any of you are curious, Foreshot later found opportunity to return to that tavern and sample that barkeep’s bedroom skills. She found the experience completely unsatisfying, telling Samora, “By the Great Stag, for all those pretty muscles, he was hung like a halfling.”
Seems there’s a life lesson in that for all of you, yes?
So anyway, also in attendance at that tavern on the same night as these two women first met was one Pasha Hassen bin Miluk. A man of his self-perceived importance would normally never be caught dead in such a dive. But on this particular night, he had it in his mind to engage in a bit of slumming and debauchery. He got more than he bargained for.
During the brawl, one of Samora’s wild elbows caught him in the mouth, and he lost three teeth. For this grave assault upon his person, Hassen hired the assassin Gorshuk Planke to bring back Samora’s head. Now it should be said, Gorshuk despised the Pasha and wanted nothing more than to rid the simpering fop the rest of his teeth.
Unfortunately, work had been scarce, since Gorshuk had botched his last kill. He needed the coin. More importantly he needed to salvage his reputation.
With great care, he selected an ambush site just outside of Skalia. He did not have to wait long for his quarry to appear. The moment was perfect. The sun was angled just right to shine in the women’s eyes. What little breeze blew flowed directly towards them. No crowds were present to distract them or him.
He sighted down his crossbow, exhaled, and squeezed the trigger.
And the bolt whizzed over their heads by more than three feet. It stuck some poor ass in the hindquarters. The poor beast raised quite the ruckus, as you can quite imagine. This is why later the champions would often grouse Gorshuk about “pinning the tail” on their foes.
Legend has it that Samora and Foreshot exercised some deft diplomacy to convince Gorshuk to forswear his commission and join with them. That’s complete bullocks. Truth is the half-elf was flummoxed and mortified with his dismal aim. In that moment, he suffered a crisis of professional confidence. Reaching such an emotional crossroads, a lesser man might have sought suicide by adventurer, but Gorshuk was instead moved to change the course of his life.
When Foreshot jokingly said he should slink out of town with them, he jumped at the chance.
Unbeknownst to Gorshuk, even if he had successfully carried out his mission, Hassen never would have paid the fee. At the time of the ambush, the Pasha was busy venting all his blood out through a dozen holes in his chest. He had mouthed off to a gnome in the market square, and she demonstrated just why she was called Agnes the Asp.
Probably another life lesson there, hmm.
Say, barmaid, could I trouble you for that foaming flagon in your hand? I’m not sure I’ll be able to continue if my throat grows more parched. Ah, thanks, you’re a dear.
So, these three worthies set forth with adventure in the offing, and unlike many such adventurers they did not immediately find themselves quick deaths. In due course, they set upon a quartet of ogres in a dank cave. After slaughtering the hapless brutes, they made an unexpected discovery: a naked, angry wizard, trussed-up and soaking in a marinade.
At first, they assumed the spicy sauce had blackened his skin. It was only after they had exchanged names that they realized he was, in fact, a dark elf. (Make not the mistake of referring to him as a drow. He’d like as to shove a wand up your nose and trigger it for such an insult.)
This dark elf, Kazel Dreadstorm, was grateful to have been spared the cookpot and was more than a little smitten with Foreshot. This uncharacteristic onset of emotion both intrigued and terrified Kazel. As such, he felt compelled to study the matter further, like it was some sort of logic problem that would yield its secrets if only he applied his mind to it. However, he could not further his inquiry without proximity to his research subject. So, he convinced the others to let him join their little band.
Kazel is also the one who came up with their group’s name, the Deadly Omega Four: Deadly because it sounded menacing, four because they numbered four, and Omega just because he liked the way the word rolled off his tongue. None of the others cared if they had a name, so the appellation stuck.
Four soon became Six with the addition of halfling Ames Albrecht and tiefling Laibazarbit Graystone. These two sought to rob the Four for their food and water. At the time, both were suffering from the effects of extreme hunger, dehydration, and exposure, so their attempt failed pathetically.
Foreshot took pity on them and offered to let them share their meal. They wisely stuck around after the food was gone. These two city-dwellers never revealed how they came to be stranded in the wilderness without supplies. Some have speculated they ran afoul of a wizard’s teleportation trap. Others are of the opinion they were the sole survivors of an ill-fated caravan or adventuring company.
Personally, I subscribe to the theory that the pair got blind drunk one night, and their erstwhile friends played a cruel prank on them.
In any case, assembling a group of adventurers is not an uncommon thing. I count at least two such parties in the audience tonight. What makes the Deadly Omega Six special is where they opted to direct their heroic intent.
As all you gentlefolk may have surmised from earlier in this tale, Samora found herself shackled to an infernal power. This was not a bargain she had sought or ever actually accepted. More than anything, she wanted to be free of it. And her companions agreed to help her find a way.
Through might and magic, through faith and guile, their quest eventually led them into the Abyss to the demesne of the demon lord Orcus. Now, the Omega Six were not fool-hearty enough to confront such a powerful being in the seat of his power. Instead they infiltrated the foul abattoir of Orcus’ Grand Inquisitor Zerk.
This particular fell being was the one who yanked the chains which bound Samora to Orcus and made demands of her in his name.A direct confrontation with someone as powerful as Zerk would also have been tantamount to suicide. Fortunately, for their purposes, they did not need Zerk dead. They just needed leverage. And they found it in the form of a fell artifact called the Eye of Orcus.
The demon lord himself had charged his lieutenant Zerk with the Eye’s safekeeping.
Zerk could not very well go to his liege and explain that an insignificant group of plane-raiders had circumvented his security, stolen the Eye, escaped to their backwater on the Prime Material, and successfully hidden it somewhere that blocked all the Eye’s malignant emanations. His master would never tolerate such gross failure.
Rather than bring such ruin down upon himself, Zerk acquiesced to Samora’s demands and freed her from Orcus’ service. And to ensure Zerk did not later seek retribution, the Omega Six retained possession of the Eye.
Few are the mortals who can successfully negotiate with the infernal and emerge with both their lives and souls intact. The Deadly Omega Six managed it.
But, if any of you think you might be clever enough to repeat this feat, I caution you against it. Odds are you’ll more likely to find a horrible death or worse.
Of course, it’s only those who dare the impossible and succeed who find immortality in bards’ tales.
On that note, I bid you all a fair evening. May your paths be rosy and your burdens light.
Oh, and one last thing. I do welcome your gifts and donations.
You may resume your revelries now.
Next up: A Non Player Characters (NPCs) grab-no-go list for Berlstrum and beyond!