Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Some helpful maps

We can use these regions as they are highlighted to indicate areas of control or influence.

Distance from west coast of Madagascar and east coast of Africa 519 miles.  So for our purposes 500 miles works.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Staff of Saint Astraea

Miralda was an eccentric woman, devout and disciplined as well as executioner of evil for her dragon-liege, an aspect of one of the seven virtues. Her mail was mithril as was her bracers; her cloth padding, boots, and cloak were all fashioned from the finest elven craftsmen; and her weapon... well, that was her current dilemma. Her Guillotine Axe, a weapon that had once served her well, put to use severing many heads of half-devils that infested the realms around Nimbus was stolen during her battle with the Twin Fangs of Baalzebul and cast into the dire volcano that smoldered everlastingly to the east. It was a victory for the agents of sin. 

Her vow would not be compromised however so she searched and, with the help of a Nimbus visionary named Freke, they found a legacy weapon that would serve as a viable replacement for her lost Guillotine Axe. 

The Staff of Saint Astraea is a quarterstaff once used by its name sake during the Dawning when this plane was in transit and in danger of being infused into the one of the lower planes. Astraea utilized this staff on her many planar quests to ultimately defeat her diabolical enemy on its own plane of Hell thereby opening its legacy abilities along the way. Her return to this realm was short lived because she began to age at an alarming rate and died within that first year of the sun. 

Now, after weeks of searching and unlocking the clues to the legacy's resting place Miralda discovered the staff lying in repost deep within Nimbus. In recovering the staff she hefted her new weapon to test its weight and balance; she would need to become as familiar with it as her former weapon if she hoped to send her new enemy back to The Valley of Defilement on the Seventh layer of Hell. 

The devil, labeled 'the Adjudicator' because of its role in dispensing infernal justice to those contracted who turn their backs on sin and embrace virtue, was a recent menace to Nimbus, the realm and an enemy of virtue. The Adjudicator was a obese, slimy creature bedecked with veils and tassels that gave it the look of a pasha or sultan of sinful countenance. It spoke with a silver tongue, possessed powerful magic, and carried a bent and serrated black blade that had no hilt, cross guard or pommel, and continuously wept blood. 

With the Staff of Saint Astraea in her hands Miralda went in search for the visionary and her next step along the path to the Adjudicator. 

Author's Note: The Guillotine Axe was not destroyed, but was corrupted and cast among Mother's vast hoard; a legacy weapon now diametrically opposed to the Staff of Saint Astraea. 

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Review 5/21/2014

After a lengthy rest period that lasted a day and a half we wake in the ominous and dreadful presence of our mother Avaricia in her royal court surrounded by six titled adult dragon servitors within a volcano so hot it threatened to burn the scales from our bones.

Avaricia (large as a fleet of trade ships set end-to-end) was immense, terrible beyond description, and very pregnant with gods knew what. We felt, for the first time in our albeit short time since our awakening in Twilight House, insignificant in her regard. We could feel her ponderous occupancy in our minds searching our thoughts with virtually no effort on her part. Master of her domain she affected her environment more so than the environment affected her. All about the lair large lava tarns reflected images and scenes like molten scrying pools, tailor made rock formations to suite her needs added to the d├ęcor, as well as a hoard so vast and amazing no single item of treasure came into contact with another. It was impressive.

It was clear that we were the first half breeds allowed in her sacred court. We were summarily introduced to her six dragon servitors as the ‘architect’s mistake’ but were nevertheless treated as royal princes and were not disrespected by the six.

Her plan for us: Avaricia would claim the volcano dwarf’s islands to expand her personal domain and Kazzurog the elven lands as her dowry. If successful we will have offerings to Tiamat in the way of souls to buttress her goals of retaining the first layer of Hell. Then we will be duly rewarded with the task of returning to Stormhaven to kill Kazzurog’s current queen Katarina. Lucky us.

Two of Avaricia’s red servitors were assigned as guides and advisers to us, each with devil-possessed riders: Vovere and Expugnatio who took us on a tour-de realms to the seat of the Dwarven kingdom and then to the mysterious forested elven lands.

The dwarves proved to be stout and sturdy creatures in a volcanic region rife with stone and earth creatures, constructs, and machinery as well as areas of dead-magic.

Then it was off to the elven territories where we discover a canopy of forested lands so thick the ground evaded our notice. Flight would be near impossible were elves (akin to assassins) waited with deadly bows and deadly skill. After all, mother’s retinue once numbered twelve. The elves were also masters of their environment and held a special hatred for our kind with some individual elves being immune and resistant to dragon magic. The elven population was spread out through a large area and it is not known by our guides of any central civilization.

After a short respite in the salt flats where Sarosh rejoins us. He arrived speaking of a trap laid for us and where only a being of air had any hope of escape. The Rakshashas and their devil masters were angry with us it would seem. We then travel to a Temple of Tiamat, a plinth-like structure in the middle of a burned out area of destruction bordered by enemy druids on each side. During our travels we observe a preternatural land untouched by civilization and populated by dinosaurs, titanic spiders, and strange flying menaces.

But before our guides depart they inform us of only one encounter with a Virtue in the last ten years- a being allied with the elves: Industria (diligence); as well as teaching Jaren and Auge an invocation to Tiamat in order to identify a fallen soul for her purposes.

Sunday: Arriving at the Plinth of Tiamat we were approached by an honor guard of fifty half dragons/half devils led by the High Priest of Tiamat Galazel who greeted us with a prayer to which we responded in kind.

The temple zealots proved to be heavily militaristic and completely structured, speaking exclusively in infernal they laid out the red carpet for us, held a feast in our honor, and indoctrinated us with gifts and tokens of Tiamat. The Plinth temple housed over thirty humanoids that served as ambassadors from other lands and city-states including one from Kazzurog.

During a banquet we were introduced to the guests, converts, zealots and builders of other future temples: Gulam Laqueo’ from Nimbus, Fruges Sazo from Shabad, and Morantem Mero or “Diem” from Darkell (who was able to ‘see’ Versel). Jaren gifts these builders with a 1,000 gold gem for finery and improvements to the future temples- however each react to the ‘monetary’ gift differently.

During the banquet the sermon from Galazel was non-stop; for them it is not about faith but about absolutes against Barbatos and the war for Avernus. “Life here is a means to victory in Hell.”

When asked about information on the lands and culture we were introduced to three half-elf prisoners. Mapmakers who were forced to work and then punished for it, captured while running trade out of Shabad along the north east coast of the continent. The map they provided was exquisite and provided invaluable information including the territories of three nearby druids: Artol (fighter), Damid (sorcerer/fighter) and lastly Foxel a rogue who did all of the groveling.

After talking with Foxel and appraising his value we agreed that they should be allowed to live for now hoping they could be of some future use.

High Priest Galazel, doing his best to keep his composure, uses our interrogation with the three slaves as an object lesson into the wisdom that our mother has in enlisting our aid in this war. He gives his Tiamat’s blessing, however without her mark the blessings benefits are lost to us but we are protected from the pain and suffering others would have experienced. It does however ‘recharge’ our rings of sustenance and will thus provide its magical benefits even on Avernus.

We begin next session Monday as we arrive to Nimbus (100 miles NE of the Temple), a human city of 5,000 among the mists atop a ridge where all manner of gargoyles, flying horses, and drow lived along with other races of culture. It is here we hope to establish a base of operations and to discover where the dwarves get their supplies and learn more of the elves who we must bring to an violent end.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Sarosh's Fate

Indira and Sarosh

Sarosh didn't believe in luck nearly as much as he did fate. He had always known his return to Nobility was inevitable, but he could not deny how quickly everything seemed to accelerate after he decided to join Jaren, and his brothers by association. At first, he thought he was wise and deduced that these dragon men were riding their own weave of Fate , and they had met on a common tapestry.

But here of late, Sarosh has seen much to make him realize the company he keeps are very much more than just riding a weave. The tremendous growth of the cinder block, the flocks of followers wanting to be involved with Sons Commodities, feats such as the reconstruction of the lifts, the navy building a new flotilla of warship patrols. He shook his head, again, at how ...flippantly Jaren unleashed the magics he controls. The public display of the completely  re-engineered dockyards, made of stone from the sea floor and the heaviest timbers shipped into Stormhaven , masterwork quality was what most craftsmen and dock men have called it. And he just acts like he is supposed to do it.

No, he thought to himself, these were different kind. Men such as these gather strings from the tapestry they're woven into. They gather and hold tight, and drag threads tight and force the tapestry to react, or else lose something to the takers. These dragon men forced action, forced those threads to be strummed. They wrinkled the tapestry. They are the reason, he thought to himself, things are about to change

He looked over to Indira, cozied nicely on a plush couch in her Black Crown office, adoring a young tigress cub. Sarosh had called on his command of natural law and awakened the beast for her. The intimacy of the gift was not lost on her, and she was getting overwhelmed when the code red was called. They both knew the importance and split. Sarosh spent the fight summoning fire to consume horrific undead being made by the vampires we thought trapped behind a wall. Then it was on to the plan to end the mystery of the rakshasas in the Van Fleet Manor.

And then those fearless bastards did it. He had never been in a combat like that. The conquests in these type of battles are legends, Epic tales, of Mythic deeds. It's funny, he thought, how often a fiend of Hell steps out in the middle of shitstorms like this.

Now, he was readying to depart again. The mythic battle had opened a legacy within the blade he carried made from his enemy forge fiend, and he was anxious to wield it their next endeavor. The young tigress pleased Indira greatly and she accepted it as a formal courtship gift. The staff of fire he thought of as a premonition , a sort of warning 'if you're gonna go, take a gun'.

It was then that it him, and he knew. Fate, the undeniable tapestry, would be set based on what they did, their brotherhood, their....sins.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Review 5/14/2014

With the routing of the devilish Rakshashas came the failing of the many illusions that not only disguised the creatures but also masked the dilapidated conditions of the VanFleet estate. Hence the four responding Black Crown wizards, confused by the reveal, decided to evacuate the battle- but not before providing aid to Jaren in the closing moments. However one, Kokoro Reese, is a wildcard and may prove to be problematic. He is an enchanter with psionics who is most ambitious.

Gretchen, surprised that the attack came so soon, was eventually forced to flee only to be chased by Versel into the open air above Stormhaven as berserk house constructs surfaced and the remaining Rakshashas ran with their tails between their feline legs. 

"Adin-lir" a word in truespeech spoken by the first commander of the Archdevil of Stygia imprisoned Gretchen's soul within a gemstone ending her 500 year reign, fulfilling the Keeper's (Adalwin Joscelin) pact with the devil of Stygia and ending Gretchen's pact with Tiamat's rival for the first layer of hell. 

After an hour of cleanup and securing the VanFleet's with agreements between Arkiel, the Keeper and Nefertiti, the Sons of Nissian return to the Cinder Block for some brotherly hoard builing where a map and a wand of restoration greeted us. 

While the Sevens, the Rakshashas, and Gretchen were not 'working with' the alien jailer they shared the same playing field and seems to repect each other's place in Stormhaven. The capture of the VanFleet's and the personalities therein is a boon for the Keeper and his/our allies including monies, the prestige of a founding house, as well as bountiful shipping resources. 

It was revealed that Zeran Vanfleet (third in line) is a true Vanfleet and that Alvord VanFleet (major domo) is not a true-blood family member but also not a Rakshasha (but had one as a stand in). He is believed to be a aboleth prisoner. 

The after effects of the combat resulted in advancements in legacy items, our character level as a bonus to intimidate to reflect our draconic aura, and Versel to become mirage-like due to the overwhelming magic used to aid our endeavors in combat.

Unrest abounds within the Black Crown after every contract with a wizard was called in to protect the agreement holders due to the VanFleet battle. Many know that Gretchen was killed as well as some individuals around the world. As far as most know we (sons of nissian) were fighting Rakshashas not the VanFleets, which is to our benefit.

The battle won us new prestige in the city with Jaren and Auge becoming famous craftsmen with a 'house brand', Versel with is new aura, and Durg feared as a true mage slayer.

We begin next session Thursday with a couple of plane-shifts in and out of the world closer to mother and a teleport that should complete the journey. Very fun battle!

Friday, May 2, 2014

Flashback: Wellspring


After months of darkness the eyes, Rantal came to discover, became sensitive to light of all intensities. The cleric could easily distinguish, even with eyes closed, the soft glow of a candle against the flicker of a torch. This new light, a radiance that Rantal Gundwynd knew well, was the azure glow of his soulspark creature.The wellspring has opened! Rantal silently rejoiced realizing what the return of his soulspark meant. 

When the power of the gods was cast down on the Realms certain magics went awry while others failed, and so it was with the wellspring and the source of incarnum; but since the advent of the godsfall the wellspring had closed and Azuth had disappeared for Rantal.

In the time that followed, Rantal did not know how long he prayed to the High One for a sign but the need for sustenance forced the cleric to break from his intense reverie and forage only to stumble across a Seer who would lead him to months of darkness, drudgery and grueling slavery.
And he was not alone.

Time became meaningless as scores of men from town mined and labored in dark tunnels for days between rest periods for unknown masters who never entered into the meager torchlight and therefore could never be seen. Instead they used orcs to enforce their demands, and visited the depths only to create new tunnels as more slaves were added to the operation.

The soulspark began to brighten and bounce in excitement at their reunion.

To his right Rantal’s brother Hanuman began to stir, the intensifying glow of the soulspark was waking him. Quickly Rantal unshaped the soulspark meld and reshaped it into a thin blue circlet upon his brow purging the area of the azure light. Rantal prayed to the High One and felt his words being received. He began to weep. It was exhilarating to feel the Azuth’s divine regard and the return of his domain powers.

To the left, down the magically excavated tunnel, came a trio of orcs- rest period was at its end; so too it would seem was the godsfall.
He turned to his eldest brother, “Han wake up. It is over.”

Hanuman was the eldest Gundwynd son and heir to the family name; he was enslaved while searching for Rantal gods knew how long ago. He sat up audibly, his joints protesting all the while. “What?... Hey you look different, your eyes...” Han said after a brief glance.

“Aye, and you too my brother. Can you feel it? The wellspring has opened and the godsfall is at its end. It must be midsummer.” Rantal said, his voice rising with emotion.

“Control yourself. There are no doubt other meldshapers about who will be anxious to rebel when they realize the wellspring has opened, but we must gather our strength.” Hanuman whispered as the orc slavers grew closer.

The cleric of Azuth listened quietly as his brother spoke and as he did hope sprang anew in the cleric’s soul. “The way I see it we have twenty-four hours to act. After that security is going to get really tight, more orcs or perhaps the 'others', they may resort to killing off some of us with obvious renewed magic. First we must coordinate with other meldshapers and gather the weapons I know some of us have stashed round these tunnels, then quietly make our move. We want to be in control of these tunnels when one of ‘them’ return to the mines.”