EarthDawn - The Age of Legends
Flametongue is the Name Trostlos gave to his alternate personality, which eventually manifested as a separate entity during the Iopan War. Flametongue is the Horror side of Trostlos’ parenting, and for many long years existed only as a voice in his head.
When the Horror Yrsgrathe decided it wanted to try it’s hand at fathering a child, it disguised itself as a Name-giver and visited the home of a farming couple in the hinterlands of Barsaive. The husband was not home, but the wife granted it hospitality, unaware of it’s true nature. While she slept, it planted it’s seed within her and then disappeared to watch the child’s growth from afar.
As Trostlos grew older, he began to manifest strange abilities and physical forms. These manifestations frightened and disturbed him and his parents, especially his father, who knew something was amiss with his son. In time, rather than accept those parts of himself that were so terrifying, Trostlos submerged his burgeoning Horror abilities and projected them onto another “self” within his head, which he Named Flametongue. On occasion, mostly when his life was threatened, the Flametongue personality would take over, and it gained more and more access to it’s Horror nature, a nature which Trostlos still denied.
In time, Flametongue decided that it wanted to be the dominant personality, and began to try and subsume the Trostlos personality entirely. This resulted in a constant struggle between the two for control of their physical form. Once Trostlos realized what was happening, he began to try and learn to control his other self, and possibly gain access to the powers wielded in Horror form. He found that the more good and selfless acts he performed, the easier it was to control the alternate form, but the less power it had. Alternately, whenever he caused pain, suffering, or death, the alternate form grew stronger, but harder to control. As he traveled, Trostlos learned more about Horrors than any other Name-giver due to his condition. He learned that more positive emotions, such as love, forgiveness, and peace were anathema to them, and could even drive them away. During this time he also learned of something called The White Kingdom, which Flametongue was destined to rule.
Flametongue had a bad habit of manifesting at the worst possible time. Whenever Trostlos was wounded or under extreme stress, Flametongue would initiate a contest of wills, attempting to take over. In some cases this was a boon, as when Flametongue damaged The Executor so badly the Passion’s Champions were able to escape. In other cases it was disastrous, as demonstrated by Brimmel and Flametongue’s duel after the battle with the Titans in Marac. Flametongue enjoyed these difficult times, and regularly taunted or even attacked Brimmel the moment it gained even temporary control.
After the incident in Marac, Trostlos decided to learn the techniques of the holy men of Indrisia, and attempt to regain full control over his mind. He left the group for a time, and entered into a state of deep meditation. The revelations he received during this time eventually led to him achieving enlightenment, and fully driving Flametongue from his mind and body by forgiving it of all it had done to him and his family and friends. Flametongue fled Trostlos’ physical form in a pillar of flame, driven back to the only refuge it could find: the duplicate Trostlos back in Barsaive. Once there, it fully dominated Trostlos’ mind and personality, unwilling to suffer defeat a second time.
Finally in full control of a body, it set about creating as much chaos as it could. Using it’s greatly increased power, it kidnapped both Krathis Gron and King Neden, shattering their minds and preparing to sell them into slavery in Vivane Province. When the Passion’s Champions returned to Barsaive, it taunted them and tried to draw them into fighting it and a legion of Horrors on the shore of Death’s Sea, giving the slavers time to escape to Theran territory. However, it had not foreseen the effect that the Denairastas’ cloning magics would have on it and it was locked into combat with Trostlos. After a brief battle, it defeated Trostlos’ physical form but was no match for the unconditional love and forgiveness Trostlos now possessed, and was defeated in the spirit realm. In a final act, Trostlos’ forgave his “brother” one last time, and laid his body to rest in the fiery depths of Death’s Sea.
Flametongue was an experiment for me in having a character with a split personality, as well as split powers. The original inspiration for this was out of GURPS Supers, where it was discussed that a character with the split personality disadvantage could be entirely unaware of their super-nature and unable to access their powers. I took this a step further with Trostlos being a Horror-kin and having access to Horror powers and abilities. The other inspiration was Dante from the Devil May Cry series of games, and his ability to shift into Devil form for a short while, making him more powerful.
I created a wide variety of game mechanics to reflect the constant struggle between Trostlos and FT. I spent a very long time building up to the revelation of FT’s existence, even hinting for a while that FT was someone separate who had it in for Trostlos. Whenever Troy would have to miss a game session, FT would be the one “in control” that week, and possibly causing serious chaos and death. As often as Troy missed games, this ploy worked well.
I thought it would be amusing to have both a Half-Horror and a mighty Horror Stalker in the party, and would create some enjoyable tension. For a while, it worked, but it went on too long, and finally resulted in a rather ugly confrontation both in character and in real life. I realized then that I had pushed it a little too far, and while I had a mature and intelligent group of players, the inter-party stress was getting to be unpleasant for everyone. I decided I needed to find a way to remove Flametongue from the picture.
I had originally planned that Trostlos would learn to master Flametongue, and be able to integrate his Horror nature into his Name-giver nature. After the conflict in Marac, I decided to eliminate FT entirely, and I created the rules Trostlos now uses for his “enlightenment”. This turned out to be just as fun anyway, was a good exercise in creating/modifying game rules within the system, and gave me a better scenario to use when the PCs returned to Barsaive and encountered their doubles. That allowed Trostlos to confront FT directly and conquer his own demon, healing the unpleasantness between him and Brimmel, as well as between Jeff and Troy.
In the end, I count Flametongue as an enjoyable character to have run. He did his job exactly as I wanted him to, although it turned out to be an experience I don’t think I’ll repeat in any other game.