For the Hex campaign, our group uses a rotating cast of characters and something of an “urban West Marches” model. We’ve had a total of 15 players, some who’ve played only a session as “guest” characters, some who attend almost every session. Sessions are scheduled in a relatively imprompu manner, and prospective members vote on a rough direction to take the game before each session, giving me a leg up when it comes to prep. As in West Marches there is no overarching story, just an overarching environment, although there are a handful of plot threads the party can pull on when they feel like it.
Here’s a list of the player characters we’ve had so far.
Alabastor Quan, a gnome rogue-turned-warlock and failed circus ringmaster; wielder of a cursed dagger and member of the Ravenswing Thieves’ Guild.Alabastor’s emerged as a very crafty and conflicted individual. He keeps his allegiances hidden and has an inclination to paranoia, but he also wrestles with moral questions in a way some of the other characters don’t. His signature magic item at this point is an incredibly creepy sack he stole from the manifestation of one of his nightmares, a kind of bag of holding that traps creatures inside it.
Armand Percival Reginald Francois Eustace de la Marche III, a suspiciously pale, apparently human noble and sorcerer, and certainly not a ghoul (how dare such a thing be suggested). Armand is one of the most experienced adventurers in the group, and also the richest. Over the course of the campaign he’s accumulated a huge collection of magical plants which he does alchemical experiments on – he’s always got some sort of eldritch crabapple or enchanted tincture up his sleeve. He’s also the guardian of a large country estate the party cleansed of monsters last year.
Bjorn, a gnome bard, a former industrial worker in the Boiling and a somewhat deranged inventor of clockwork instruments; in posession of demoniac bagpipes. Bjorn has the honour of being the only character so far to die, killed by the numinous centipede-monster in the Whorl known as the Dweller, in the very outing of the company. He seems like he could have been a very memorable adventurer, but alas, sometimes the dice of fate fall cruelly.
Highlight: Blind panic in “The Ultimate Contagion, Pt. 1.”
Caulis, a homunculus warlock liberated from its master; has made a pact with certain Faerie Powers. Caulis has a kind of quiet genius to it – like one might expect from a former servant, Caulis often hangs in the background, only to produce a solution to whatever problem the party is facing. Caulis uses its familiar, the pseudodragon Eleyin, to excellent effect as a scout and spy. It’s also responsible for a pretty big change in the geography of the setting, growing a gigantic forest to the north in the name of its Faerie patron.
Highlight: Sneaking an entire Faerie forest into Troll Country in “Harrowgast.”
Cephalus T. Murkwater, a dagonian barrister and monk, specializing in martial arts and magical labour law. Cephalus is a wonderful blend of opposites – probably the brawniest adventurer apart from Hurogg, but also a professional and intellectual. His addiction to ghostdust, procured from the Marionettist’s lair, has produced some hilarious interactions. His “fish-out-of-water” approach to the setting – a dagonian struggling to integrate into Hexian society – has been compelling to watch.
Comet the Unlucky, waspkin ranger, a dreamer and an idealist, longing for the restoration of the Elder Trees and the liberation of his people. Loathes the Harvester’s Guild, parasites and destroyers. Comet’s a fairly new character, but he’s proved himself extremely useful, especially for solving puzzles and handling ornery animals. One of the more explicitly political adventurers, he’s grown attached to a magical hammer, Chainbreaker (which the next log will see him acquire), which shares his desire to smash the unjust hierarchies and organizations that govern the city and oppress its marginalized citizens.
Garvin Otherwise, a human rogue and burglar of the Ravenswing Thieves’ Guild, with a very, very peculiar past and a zoog pet, Lenore. Garvin’s intriguing back-story implies he may originally hail from our own world – and possibly that all of Hex may be a hallucination, simulation, or other mirage. As a character, Garvin is often a highly cautious, deliberate, and tactical in his decision-making. Garvin keeps meticulous records of every Librarian artefact, portal, and feature found in the Old City, and now has an impressive array of thieves’ tools, allowing him to walk on walls, see through doors, and similar feats.
Viridian “Grove” Greengrove, changeling druid, exile from his former druidic circle for unknown transgressions. Grove has joined the party on a handful of adventures so far, and has proved to be something of a wildcard, with a highly flexible moral compass. He’s an inventive, outside-the-box thinker with perhaps a tinge of megalomania. His penchant for transforming into bizarre, monstrous beasts ensures his presence in the group is always memorable. In many ways, Grove subverts expectations for a druid, his mismatched eyes fixed on worlds beyond the natural.
Highlight: Transforming into a zoog during a carriage heist in “The Angel’s Eye.”
Hurogg, a (vaguely) human barbarian of staggering size but seemingly dim wit. Hurogg has only joined the party briefly, but may return in future. Even in the short time he was present, hints of a strange past involving an alchemical accident have been uncovered. Hopefully the party will see Hurogg again; he has been glimpsed at times in Cephalus’ office and in other situations involving the dagonian barrister.
Miri, trollblood wizard, plucked from Mount Shudder and raised amongst Hex’s arcane elites; a recent graduate of Fiend’s College. Liek Comet, Miri is another fairly new addition to the party, but she’s demonstrated considerable resourcefulness and ambition. Her upbringing and university education ensure that she finds the outside world both wondrous and horrifying where other party-members are unimpressed. Her considerable physical bulk and quick draw with a wand have made her an asset in combat, and she has a tendency to cut through intractable situations by blowing holes in things.
Insidia “Sid” Thorn, a cambion graduate student and illusionist at Umbral University; Yam’s office-mate. Like Hurogg and Bjorn, Sid has only had one outing with the Variegated Company, albeit a memorable one trapped within a Librarian artefact. There were hints that Sid has a highly exalted demonic heritage – that she can trace her bloodline back to an Archdemon, perhaps one of the six patron Archdemons of Hex.
An ancient and enigmatic Lengian cleric of the Mother of Spiders, name unknown. She wears bulky ecclesiastical garments covering an uncertain number of limbs and goes by “Sister.” Despite a highly developed sense of mischief and a tendency to take risks (in a “fuck it, I’m old, gotta go out sometime!” manner), Sister has in many ways emerged as the de facto leader of the Variegated Company. Along with Armand, Yam, Alabastor, and Caulis, she is one of the most experienced members of the group, and her unorthodox – some would say heretical – religious convictions balance power with compassion.
Sprigley Gilette, a hardboiled, cigar-chomping human mercenary and veteran of several brutal wars, and a relatively new arrival in Hex. After a series of adventures with the Variegated Company, Sprigley has retired, giving up the adventuring life in favour of a monastic one, as the former gunslinger became obsessed with a biomechanical Cthonic God being assembled in the Underworld. This strange religious turn took place after a series of sanity-shredding experiences in the Old City, perhaps most notably an incident with a time-shifted cell in the Librarian Asylum.
Highlight: Mentally unraveling while penned up in “Asylum.”
Vespidae, a waspkin bard – a sacred dancer with a deathwish, shunned by the waspkin community for complicated ritualistic reasons. Now a devoted follower of the Queen in Yellow. Of all the Variegated Company, Vespidae has had the greatest impact on Hex as a whole, her mysterious disappearance in Faunsweald and the subsequent development of a waspkin hive in Corvid Commons leading to rumours she has become the “Thirteenth Queen,” a renegade waspkin ruler. Vespidae’s discovery of the Queen in Yellow and her pilgrimage to Carcosa to retrieve a Yellow Sign constitue a particularly memorable episode of the company’s adventures.
Yam, an eccentric gnome illusionist and local graduate student at Umbral University. Yam’s antics and penchant for troublemaking and pranks often land the party in hot water (who can forget the infamous Helmet Incident?), and their extreme forthrightness can prove irksome to the party’s enemies and allies alike, and yet, everyone who meets Yam cannot help but find them charming. Yam isn’t happy unless they’re messing with something or someone, but remains lovable nonetheless. A skilled illusionist, Yam’s spellcraft has got the party out of more than one nasty scrape.
Highlight: Patting snow into the remains of Gorgongas victims in the Caustic Wastes in “Harrowgast.”
Zhulaz, a trollblood barbarian, exile of the Twocrown tribe, freed from thralldom. Though Zhulaz only joined the party for a brief period during their expedition to Troll Country, the barbarian was both a terrifying combatant and a helpful guide. His infamy among the other troll tribes put the Variegated Company in a tough spot, but he proved a potent ally in their struggle against the Griefbringer and her Skintaker insurgents.