When we left off last time, the PCs had been returned from an interrogation at the Dark Tower, but with Tim’s memory of said interrogation still intact. I informed the PCs that the next session would open sometime in the year 20 A.R., giving the characters nearly 20 years to grow and develop as the players saw fit. To facilitate said growth, character budgets were raised to 200 points and the players were given license to remold their characters as they wished. This is what they came up with:
Okay, so I’m only partly joking. The area they were resurrected in after their Dark Tower interrogation, I informed them, had a minority population of Tang Dynasty Chinese. So, the cagey PCs reasoned, Shaolin monks were about; they therefore contracted with a hermit monk in the hills and spent 20 years turning themselves into combat badasses skilled in unarmed combat as well as sword and spear techniques. All prior character development and ties were abandoned (including Alex’s ally, Robert E. Howard) in favor of (for the most part) maxing out combat-related skills and advantages.
The goal was a simple one: become covert assassins of both those directly serving “the Others” as well as those who would inflict violence and misery upon their neighbors. A sort of “fight fire with fire” response to the Church of the Second Chance’s avowed pacifism, the PCs were determined to never again be someone else’s patsy. They departed their home of 20 years in search of a kingdom called New Bohemia, which they suspected was actually the mining camp they had helped found and which was apparently still churning out lots of metal equipment for trade.
The PCs’ first opportunity to put their new skills to use, however, came with the arrival of a large nickel-iron meteor impact event. Surviving the resulting tidal wave that swept the Valley, the PCs traveled upRiver to find the impact site. They arrived three weeks later to find a kingdom already coalescing around the meteor, which bore literally tons of unrefined iron ore and other metals. The kingdom was led by Samuel Clemens and his Viking companion, Erik Bloodaxe. The PCs were also startled to meet their old Sasquatch traveling companion—the one the Egyptians had called Thoth but whom Clemens had re-dubbed Joe Miller. Clemens had even started teaching Joe the English tongue.
After finding out that the Clemens/Bloodaxe kingdom, named Parolando, had been founded after the duo had chased away another group of would-be settlers, Tim and Alex marked Clemens for death as yet another would-be conqueror. “We’ll observe for a while, lay low, and then we’ll take out Mark Twain,” quickly became the Quote of the Campaign and sums up everything that’s wonderful about Riverworld. Tim and Alex insinuated themselves into Clemens’ good graces (Tim having actually reserved a few points to put into interpersonal skills like Diplomacy and Detect Lies), but in getting to know him they discovered a man wracked with guilt and grief. They secretly set their sights instead on Bloodaxe, whom Clemens was fairly certain was planning a double-cross. One rainy night they raided Bloodaxe’s hall and killed the Viking, making off with his eponymous iron axe which was left with Clemens as a silent message. Tim and Alex then slipped away in a canoe, leaving Parolando behind.
During their three-month stay, however, they had seen a kingdom advancing by leaps and bounds. The meteor strike was common knowledge up and down the whole length of the Valley, and thousands of people flooded in every week, quickly turning Parolando into the most powerful kingdom on the planet. The resources provided by the meteor (or the trade it enabled) and the brain trust provided by the influx of people from across human history meant that Parolando was soon synthesizing plastics from plant cellulose, electricity from copper wiring and steam turbines, and firearms that shot a special large-caliber plastic rounds. Clemens’ ultimate goal was to build a side-wheel paddle steamer to make its way to the River’s headwaters—he too, it seemed, had been visited by a Mysterious Stranger. Whether his plans would be foiled by neighboring kingdoms like Soul City (a coalition of black nationalists and African natives) or the realm of King John Lackland, remained to be seen.
As they departed, Alex bore a pair of Parolando-steel swords and Tim had two Parolando Mk.I pistols strapped to his belt. What adventures remained for them to discover remained to be seen…