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So I know it’s been a long hiatus and it’s probably going to be a long one again after this post. Still, I couldn’t resist posting this video.

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This weekend was commencement weekend at the university I work for, and since I work in the Registrar’s Office, I had to work the ceremony all weekend long. Because of this, there will be no entry this week. Sorry.

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Adventure Background

It’s been nearly two years since the Worm God Kyuss was defeated, and the prophecies of the Age of Worms were prevented from unfolding. With the destruction of the Writhing Tabernacle, and the defeat of Prince Zeech, a new ruler of Alhaster has been appointed, and life appears to have returned to normal.

Unfortunately, not everything is as it seems. While Kyuss’s plans have certainly suffered a serious blow, they have not been completely thwarted. Retreating deep into the Underdark, the spirit of Kyuss has made its way back to the plane where it was originally imprisoned and there, it has begun to reform.

Meanwhile, Kyuss’s minions have been gathering in the blighted lands of of the ancient empire of Sulm. It was in Sulm, where Kyuss was born, where he first learned the ways of magic, and where he first joined the clergy of Nerull. It was also here that he first began dabbling in necromantic powers so vile, that even the wicked people of Sulm could not tolerate his actions, and for that he was banished from the relam.

Now, Kyuss’s minions have returned to the area, to seek vengeance against the only remaining descendants of those who banished him in the first place. While they may have been transformed into horrid creatures known as scorpionfolk, Kyuss still knows who they are, and he will stop at nothing to destroy them.

Adventure Synopsis

The PCs uncover new information that leads them to believe that Kyuss has survived and that he has returned to the plane of his apotheosis. Knowing only that the plane is an alternate, Material Plane, called Zana, and that it resides somewhere in the Plane of Shadow, the PCs must travel to Magepoint to recruit the help of Manzorian. There Manzorian tells them that in order to travel to this alternate Plane, they will need to recruit the help of Shildhran, a wizard that helped in preventing the Age of Worms from coming to pass. Unfortunately, Shildhran is away on an expedition to the ancient city of Kyuss’s birth, in the hopes of finding out more information about the Worm God’s origins. The PCs must therefore travel to Sulm in order to recruit the mage’s help.

When the PCs arrive in Sulm, they discover that the city has been overrun by scorpionfolk, and that the wizard they are seeking has been enslaved by these creatures. They also discover that the scorpionfolk are battling with the vengeful minions of Kyuss, which have taken up residence in the ruins of an ancient temple dedicated to Nerull. Depending on how events unfold, the PCs can either agree to help the scorpionfolk defeat Kyuss’s minions in exchange for the safe return of Shildhran, or defeat the scorpionfolk and help Shildhran find the information he is seeking in ancient temple of Nerull where Kyuss was first rose to prominence.

Regardless of the PCs’ decisions, if Shildhran is ultimately freed by the PCs, he agrees to help the PCs, and by the end of the adventure are ready to make their journey to the plane of Zana.

Adventure Hook

One of the PCs has been plagued by dreams of Kyuss. In the dreams, they have seen the plane where the Worm God has been imprisoned for the last several thousand years. They have seen what will happen if the Age of Worms prophecy comes to pass. In addition to this, they have also heard the name Shalara repeated again and again. While the meaning of these dreams is certainly mysterious, they appear to be a sign that the Age of Worms prophecy is not yet done unfolding.

Understanding the Dreams

The dreams are cryptic, but there is at least one clue that opens up the investigation for the PCs. In the dream, the name Shalara is repeated again and again. The PCs can make a Knowledge (religion) check to learn more.

Knowledge (religion)

  • (DC 15) Shalara is the name of an obscure goddess, no longer worshipped, who was once associated with the movements of the sun and the moon.
  • (DC 20) Shalara is actually a contraction of the names of two goddesses, Shal (the Sun) and Ara (the Moon). The two were often worshipped together.
  • (DC 25) Shal and Ara are twin deities. Shal, the goddess of the sun, is associated with life, and light. Ara, the goddess of the moon, is associated with death, and darkness. While many worshipped these two goddesses as separate deities, others worshipped them as part of a pantheon. Still others worshipped these two goddesses as aspects of a single deity, a goddess who presided over both life and death.
  • (DC 30) Worship of Shalara did not originate on the Material Plane. Rather, Shalara is a deity from another realm, an alternate plane called Zana.

Knowledge (the planes)

If the PCs learn about Zana from their Knowledge (religion) check, they can use a Knowledge (the planes) to learn more.

  • (DC 15) Zana is an alternate, Material Plane that exists somewhere in the remote reaches of the Plane of Shadow.
  • (DC 20) Legends say that the Spellweavers- an enigmatic race that today wanders the planes in search of magic items- were originally from the world of Zana. The truth of these legends has never been officially validated, for the Spellweavers are a bizarre, and alien race that rarely communicate with outsiders. Neverthess, the scant evidence that has been pieced together from writings left behind by the Spellweavers over the last several thousand years remains persistent.
  • (DC 25) Long ago, the Spellweavers traveled from Zana to the Material Plane through a magical portal. This portal is located on the Plane of Shadow, somewhere in the vicinity of the city of Alhaster.
  • (DC 30) In order to reach Zana, the PCs must either be able to cast the spell plane shift, or travel through the portal originally created by the Spellweavers. In either case, the PCs will need a small, forked metal rod, in order to cast the spell, or activate the portal. This rod, which must be keyed to the plane of Zana, is exceedingly rare, and requires the skills of someone who is intimately familiar with the nature of the planes in order to create it.

Knowledge (nature)

If the PCs learn about the Spellweavers from their Knowledge (the planes) check, they can use a Knowledge (nature) check to learn more. This check works exactly as described in the Player’s Handbook.

Legend Lore and Vision

What the PCs are unable to glean from the Knowledge checks listed above, they can learn from the use of divination spells, such as legend lore and vision. These spells can reveal all of the information learned from the Knowledge checks listed above. However, it may take several castings to learn the full details.

If the PCs have already succeeded on previous Knowledge checks about Shalara or Zana, these spells reveal additional information, equivalent to a +5 to their previous Knowledge checks. So for example, if the PCs have previously succeeded at a Knowledge (religion) check of DC 20, the spell reveals information that would have been gained by a Knowledge (religion) check of DC 25. The casting time depends on the nature of the information already known by the PCs as described below.

  • If the PCs have not succeeded at any previous Knowledge checks, or have only succeeded at a Knowledge check of DC 15, the casting time for legend lore or vision is equivalent to if the PCs only know rumors about the subject.
  • If the PCs have succeeded at previous Knowledge checks of DC 20-25, or have made previous castings of the spells legend lore or vision, the casting time of these spells is equivalent to if the PCs had detailed information about the subject.If the PCs use legend lore or vision to learn more about the forked metal rod described in the Knowledge (the planes) section, they receive the following information. “The friendship of the mage Manzorian has proven helpful to you in the past. Go to his fortress in the city of mages, and ask him for his advice.”

Manzorian

The PCs have met many colorful characters during their journeys, all of whom have had information that has proven helpful in their investigations. However, of all the characters that the PCs have met, none have been as intelligent and as helpful as the great Manzorian.
By now, the PCs are relatively equal to Manzorian in level. Nevertheless, Manzorian still has access to resources that the PCs have only dreamed of, and therefore can still prove to be a useful ally.

Manzorian knows very little about Shalara, Zana, or the Spellweavers, and if asked, he knows as much as can be revealed by the lowest appropriate Knowledge check. Manzorian does not have the time to delve further into these subjects himself, but is willing to pull some strings at Magepoint’s Library Temple to allow the PCs to use the library’s resources without having to pay the usual fee of 100 gp. Access to the library temple grants the PCs a +6 bonus to all Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (religion), and Knowledge (the planes) checks. Research in the library takes approximately 1d4+1 hours.

In exchange for granting the PCs access to the library, Manzorian asks that the PCs keep him informed about everything that they learn from their research. If the PCs come back to him with incomplete information, Manzorian listens intently, but suggests that there may be more information to find. If the PCs are unsure where to begin, Manzorian might ask helpful questions, provide suggestions, or hint about resources that the PCs haven’t yet considered. This will give the PCs clues as to where to start looking next in their investigations.

At some point in their investigations, the PCs will eventually learn of the forked metal rod they need to travel to Zana and will have to seek the aid of Manzorian. At that point, Manzorian asks the PCs to relay everything that they have learned, nodding as he listens intently. When the PCs are finished with their recounting, Manzorian says to them, “You have done well, my friends. Your research into this matter has been exceedingly thorough. Based on what you have told me, it seems obvious that these dreams are evidence that the prophecies of the Age of Worms are not yet done unfolding. I fear what may happen if these matters are not pursued.

“Unfortunately, I do not have the knowledge necessary to create the rod that is needed to travel to Zana. Nevertheless, I do know of someone who may be able to assist you in this matter. There is a man by the name of Shildhran, who was instrumental in helping us prevent the Age of Worms form coming to pass. He is a gifted scholar, whose knowledge of the planes is virtually unmatched. Unfortunately, he is mounted an expedition to the city of Sulm, the birthplace of Kyuss, in order to understand more about the Worm God’s origins, and I do not know when to expect his return.”

When Manzorian is finished, the PCs can use a Knowledge (history) check to learn more about the city of Sulm.

Knowledge (history)

  • (DC 20) Sulm is an ancient city, whose ruins lie in the blighted region known as the Bright Desert.
  • (DC 25) Sulm was part of an ancient magocracy, known as the Flan Kingdom. Due to the decadent ways of the arcanists that resided there, the kingdom was ultimately destroyed.
  • (DC 30) The city of Sulm was ultimately destroyed when the city’s last king, Shattados, tried to use an artifact, called the scorpion crown to gain perpetual control over his people. Instead, Shattados was transformed into a scorpion, the people of Sulm were transformed into scorpionfolk, and the lands surrounding the city were transformed into a vast desert.
Sidebar
The primary purpose of this investigation is to get the PCs to start thinking creatively about how to use all of the resources available to them. After all, the PCs are now epic level, and there are very few people in the world that they can turn to who are likely to have more information about a given subject than they do. As a result, they will need to start relying more heavily on their own abilities to find information, and less on the information given to them by powerful NPCs. For purposes of experience, treat this as an EL 21 encounter.

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Update Schedule

When I started this blog, I made a conscious decision not to post a schedule for updates, because I wasn’t really sure whether or not I would be able to stick to one.  However, I’m starting to get a readership now, and having done several entries, I feel confident that I can commit to a schedule of one entry every two weeks. I don’t want to commit to any particular day, since this last one took considerably more time to compose than I anticipated, but let’s shoot for some time before Monday, and see how that goes.

As far as updating more frequently, I think anything more than what I’m doing right now will tax my capabilities considerably, since I usually spend the down time between entries reading books on feminism and mythology, and scouring the internet for information that will help me write my next entry. Hopefully, you’re all enjoying what I’m writing. Take care.

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