Citystate of the Invincible Overlord

Caravan Skirmish!
The Battle at the Oasis

Desert.jpgTwo days of unremitting heat, biting sand-flies and hot, duty winds out of the cool breezes of Khal’s port lies a small oasis. It is here the heroes take a break in their travels just before midday, perhaps to nap during the high heat, water their mounts and prepare to push on.

They awaken to see a dusty caravan arrive from the south. The caravan master hails them and begins arranging for his mounts to be fed and watered, and his guards begin preparing tents to spend a few hours resting during the heat of the day. Just as they are about ready, a shout from the men gets the guards scrambling. A raiding party approaches!

Despite the heat and fatigue, the party split up to take the attackers — tribesmen mounted on camels. Ophelia skirted the watering hole to engage on foot while Lux and Thorn mounted up to meet the enemy. Cora guarded the camp with ranged attacks while positioning herself to heal her friends.

The battle was hard-fought, the tribesmen assaulted the heroes as well as the caravan. One of the guards, a statuesque warrior with a greataxe, seemed to be holding the attackers at bay and preventing any looting until she was overcome.

In the end, with Cora and Thorn badly hurt, the party won the day. They gathered new mounts and helped the unconscious warrior, who asked to join the party. They agreed, and Freya became the fifth member.

Next: Ahgram
Previous: Khal
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Khal
The City on the Sea

The port city of Khal lies on the southern shore of the Homeward Sea, built atop the low, sandy cliffs astride the Ellaham River. Its port is heavily guarded, not only by sleek, lateen-rigged galleons, but also of two pillars of stone, topped with giant statues. Around the bases of these plinths are brass bombards pointed out to sea.

The city is built of stone and wood, and exotic palm trees sway in the hot, dusty desert breezes. The sound of industry and commerce float in the air, and as the Sea Sprite pulls between the entry plinths it enters a large, circular port area with docks ringing its perimeter. At the far end, near the entrance to the river, are located drydocks on which strange vessels are being repaired and refitted.

A haze of smoke hangs about the docks, smelling of spicy wood and soot. As the ship pulls into port, an inspection team wearing flowing robes and turbans board the vessel.

Cora

Instructed to find the Temple of Corellon in Khal, she wanders a few streets until she finds a small throng of robed figures standing before a large, burned structure.

  • The senior priest, Eldritch Venefix, greets Cora and asks about her business. He apologizes for the sorry state of the church, but offers whatever aid he can.
  • The Temple lies in smoking ruins, having burned to the ground the night before the heroes arrived. The event was no accident, since a column of desert sand was apparently used to batter through the main doors of the Temple. The lay members are searching the ruins even now, trying to save whatever art or relics they can.
  • Venefix is surprised to hear that the Citystate Cathedral suspected Khal for the theft of Glade Whispers. Such an act would be unthinkable to any of the faith.
  • He does feel that others should be alerted to possible vandalism. There have been rumors of raids during the night, and with two Corellon temples defiled, he fears another attack. The nearest Corellon shrine of any size is in the city of Ahgram, to the south.

Ophelia

While wandering the dockside market-stalls, Ophelia sees a flash of light from the corner of her eye. Looking, she sees a large Dragonborn sentry using his belt knife to reflect sunlight her direction. He isn’t glancing her way, but he shrugs his shoulders to indicate an alleyway nearby. He looks towards her and nods.

  • Mehut reveals that the man known as the Subtle Prince was named Rashem Ta’abi. He reiterates that two centuries ago, Rashem Ta’abi was an assassin of such skill that he could infiltrate an armed camp of elite guards, pass through a secure cordon and murder not only the Caliph of that land, but all his retinue as well before leaving the camp as unnoticed as when he arrived. When he eventually died, his secrets were rumored to be buried with him.
  • Legends say that his rewards for the Caliph’s murder was so vast that it took several carts to move it. Fearing for his life with such a burden, the Subtle Prince and his treasures simply disappeared one day. He hasn’t been seen since.
  • It is thought that his tomb is hidden somewhere near the city of Ahgram, to the south. No map exists to show its location, but there is rumored to be a secret road to it. A book called Desert Shadows tells of this road, but it is kept in the palace of the Caliph of Ahgram.

Lux

Lux and Thorn are tasked with securing transport to the city of Ahgram, some days to the south across many miles of desert. It is said the journey is hard, but made much easier by the presence of a hard-packed road with inns and oases along the way.

  • The stockyards are filled with dozens of jostling, annoyed animals and colorfully-clad people from many lands, haggling in loud voices. Two large pens dominate the area: one for sleek horses, and the other for surly, dusty camels.
  • Seh-ta, the horseman, has a selection of mares for sale. If asked why no stallions, he spits and explains that mares are more biddable to commands and less prone to excitability. He will begin bids for riding horses at 100 gold coins, but he can be bartered as low as 60 (Diplomacy +6, Will 15). His warhorses start at 1000 gold coins, minimum 550.
  • Ahmet, the camel-trader, has a fine selection of camels for sale. These beasts start at 90 gold coins (minimum 55) , and Ahmet himself has Diplomacy +7, Will 14.
  • The market-stalls in town have a fine selection of goods, both common and exotic (list is a separate attachment).

Once properly outfitted, the party left the oasis of Khal for the blowing sands of the desert.

Next: Caravan Skirmish!
Previous: Pirate Attack!
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Pirate Attack!
Confrontation at Sea

Once on deck, the boatswain pointed across the Homeward Sea to the horizon. He told Lux that they were being chased by a Brig of War, possibly from the Red City, by the look of her. She was faster, better-armed and closing fast.

Captain Valyra seemed to shake off her drink, sharply issuing orders and efficiently turning the ship’s best aspect to the wind. The sails cracked as they filled with air, and the ship smoothly raced across the waves. Even so, the boatswain grimly informed the captain that the enemy was gaining.

After a beat, the captain hollered for the crew to prepare for boarding. She turned the ship to turn the enemy’s prow into the wind to slow them. She spoke with Ophelia, telling her that the enemy was likely to board. Her crew would hold off the enemy, if she and her companions would attack the enemy ship. If they could capture the powder magazine, they could force the pirates to surrender.

The party hid themselves behind the rail, waiting until the pirates grappled and boarded the Sea Sprite.They then swung across to the lightly defended enemy deck. After a brief battle, Cora seized the magazine. Calling across to the pirates, they threw down their weapons and surrendered. Captain Valyra claimed the pirate vessel, changing its name from Greyhammer to Sea Sprite.

Next: Khal
Previous: Blackport
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Blackport
Boarding the Sea Sprite

barque.jpgOnce outside the walls of the Citystate, the party find the horses Huggy procured for them, and set off south. While traveling along the edge of the Deepmurk Forest, they were accosted by a band of brigands. Before they could decide what to do, the would-be thieves were ambushed, shot with arrows. Looking around, Ophelia spotted Brakki the goblin, who waved at the party before disappearing into the wood.

The heroes arrive at the bustling mercantile port town of Blackport. The town itself nestles in a low bowl of land surrounded on three sides by low cliffs, on the crests of which are built watchtowers, ballista defenses and a fine lighthouse. Sea birds wheel overhead as a half-dozen ships lie at anchor, teamsters and crews busily moving crates and kegs.

Beyond the port the Homeward Sea stretches endlessly, crystal waves alight with the brilliant sunlight from a clear blue summer sky. Somewhere far to the south lies the mysterious lands of Qalia.

Pushing their way past hawkers, tinkers, merchants and craftsmen, the party winds its way to the docks. They are brought up short by a garishly-dressed halfling with a pipe in his mouth. He is Davin Stoute, the first mate of the Sea Sprite. He points the way to a weathered-looking vessel being loaded with cargo, and explains that she sails with the next tide, in two bells’ time. The captain, he says, will be along presently. In the meantime, Davin shows them to their bunks and helps them stow their gear.

Once at sea, Davin shows the ship’s routine, and invites the party to join him at the Captain’s table for dinner. He seems hesitant as he does so, and does nothing to encourage them. When Cora asks, he explains that despite her mastery of seamanship, Captain Valyra “… can take some getting used to.”

At dinner, the captain is already sloppy drunk. She slurs her words and tells off-color jokes, and Davin looks genuinely apologetic. He explains that Valyra is an excellent ship’s captain, but when there is little to do, she tends to drink. He begins clearing dinner plates, when…

The alarm sounds!

Next: Pirate Attack!
Previous: The Escape
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The Escape
Into the Storm Drains

Sewer5.jpgIn the storm drains below the streets of the Citystate, a bounty hunter and his crew seek to earn the Overlord’s coin by capturing the fugitives. Pragus Shaan, a notorious Tiefling bounty hunter, has set a trap for the heroes. One of his men, Qasim, was the man bearing the shield to give to Lux.

Shaan sprung his trap by collapsing the drain behind the party, forcing a confrontation. Now well-rested, the party sprung into action. Despite poor visibility and unsure footing, they managed to overcome the opposition. Despite various cuts and bruises, the team was in high spirits.

That lasted only as long as it took Lux to recognize Qasim as Lady Ashyra’s manservant. At this revelation, Thorn speculated that Lux could be walking into a trap. Lux disagreed, arguing that outside the Citystate he had no enemies, and that Ashyra had no reason to lure him out. If the Overlord wanted him dead, it would be better to keep them in the Citystate.

Cora and Ophelia agreed, and pointed out that there was no evidence that their quests were suspicious. Thorn reluctantly agreed, and the party continued to leave the City’s storm drains.

Next: Blackport
Previous: The Inn
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The Inn
Prologue

The heroes have a spacious but spartan area in the attic of the inn, some four stories above the ground. While unfinished, it is comfortable and food is brought up from the kitchens. Each person has their own bed, locker and small but private space.

Throughout much of this time, Thorn paces constantly but says little. He is obviously confused and seems angry, but refuses to talk. His conflict comes from the fact that with all the buildings and people he cannot sense the spirits. He is deeply troubled by the cruel slavery they encountered in the mine.

Ophelia

mystery-man-gun-legler.jpgShortly after settling in, Ophelia finds a mysterious message in her things. It invites her to a secret meeting late at night outside the cathedral of Corellon. She is to come alone, but to bring a small sample of the ore she helped liberate.

  • When Ophelia arrives at the meeting site, a coach rolls up and the door opens. From inside the dark coach, her mentor beckons her to climb aboard. The coach takes off moments later.
  • The mentor examines the ore and informs Ophelia that it is as he feared: bone iron. He explains that weapons formed of it have necromantic properties, or can cause necrotic damage. It can also be distilled into various poisons. These were the discoveries of the Subtle Prince.
  • Two centuries ago, in the land of Qalia far to the south, there lived an assassin of such skill that he could infiltrate an armed camp of elite guards, pass through a secure cordon and murder not only the Caliph of that land, but all his retinue as well before leaving the camp as unnoticed as when he arrived. When he eventually died, his secrets were rumored to be buried with him.
  • For the next stage of her training, Ophelia must discover the location of his tomb and recover what she can.

Lux

Ashyra.jpgThe next morning a small party arrives, requesting a meeting with the paladin Lux. In a draped-off booth, the leader reveals herself to be an exotic, dark-skinned woman with wealthy and colorful clothing. With her is a servant who bears a covered shield.

  • The woman identifies herself as Lady Ashyra Shade-Blossom of Khal, and she has come with gifts and a commission. First, she uncovers the face of the heavy shield her man carries. On its face is painted three links of chain, the center one giving way. She presents it to Lux, naming him Chainbreaker for his valiant actions in freeing the slaves.
  • She explains that her late husband, General Decius Gladium Sicerem, served the former Caliph of the city of Ahgram loyally for many years. Seven years ago they won a great battle against the Orc city of Martok, but the Caliph had been struck with a poisoned weapon. It was rumored that on his deathbed, the Caliph expressed his desire that his General rule Ahgram, rather than his cruel wastrel of a son.
  • As the army returned to the city with the Caliph’s body in state, a party of guardsmen intercepted them and arrested General Decius for the murder of the old Caliph. He was captured and enslaved, and since then nothing was known of his fate.
  • Lady Ashyra wishes to hire Lux to restore her husband’s good name by recovering something of his: his helmet or armor would be ideal. If she has proof of his death, she can petition to have their lands restored.

Cora

fantasy_elf_person_face_ear_hair_abstract_hd-wallpaper-1334707.jpgLater that afternoon a lay member of the Church of Corellon arrives and asks for an audience with Sister Cora. After making introductions, she presents the Priestess’ Seal, indicating that she is on official business. She requests Cora’s presence at the Cathedral at her earliest convenience, where she is to meet with the sacristan. She can say nothing more, other than to add that it is a matter of some urgency.

  • The sacristan, Melina Loske, shows Cora to the sacristy. The door has been demolished, and the room beyond littered with a great deal of sand. She brings her to an ornate chest which has been crudely battered open, its contents missing. Sister Melina explains that an ancient book of holy poetry, Glade Whispers, had been secured there and is now missing. The reason this is troubling is that it contains as part of its text potent magical rituals.
  • Sister Melina fears that the book has been stolen by a rival of the Cathedral, perhaps the temple to Corellon in the southern city of Khal in Qalia. She emphasizes the importance for discretion, but it is imperative that Glade Whispers be recovered.

The innkeepers have arranged for passage aboard the Sea Sprite, a Thestran barque, from the town of Blackport which lies two days south by road. But before they can leave the Citystate, the heroes must somehow be smuggled outside the city walls, as the manhunt for their capture is still ongoing.

Next: The Escape
Previous: Epilogue
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Epilogue
Postscript

With their friend Grimm returned to them, Huggy and Warbling Sobrun reward the party by sheltering them from prying eyes. They are offered an attic room in the Light Gale Inn, with free room and board for as long as they require.

The party elected to chain Selis in the wine cellar, to see if they can learn more about the bag of ore they confiscated.

Game Notes

This concluded the first part of the scripted campaign, taking the characters from first to second level. It was primarily intended to offer a taste of the game system and give some insight into the nature of the world and the evils that will no doubt seek to take revenge on our heroes.

Next: The Inn
Previous: Counterattack!
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Counterattack

black_plate_armor.jpgAs the party trudged from the depths, tired, bloody and bruised, they encountered a final obstacle. Four fresh human guards (led by a captain in impressive plate armor) blocked their way at the main gate, the portcullis closed behind them. They demanded the return of the slaves and the foremen, but Lux refused.

The battle was bloody, and the captain’s armor glowed a dull red as they struggled. In the end, however, the party prevailed and Lux chose to take the captain’s armor as a trophy. They exited the Pits into the sewers, waiting until dark before climbing out. The slaves scattered, and the party took Foreman Selis into custody at the Light Gale Inn.

Next: Epilogue
Previous: Revolution!
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Revolution!

Corynthos.jpgThe Workhouse, five levels below the streets of the Citystate, is a beehive of hidden activity. Slaves of every description push heavy carts of ore to a wooden dock, where other chained workers shovel the rocks onto ramps. These rocks roll to various tables, where others use hammers to break them and search for what look to be chunks of ivory-colored metal.

Two guards with crossbows survey the area, and one floor boss with a scourge “motivates” the workers. A final little man with a club scurries from station to station, accounting for all the finds.

Two stories above the floor, a wooden scaffold with iron bars overlooks the operation. The foreman sits there, safe from attack.

A parley must now ensue, with the slaves (led by Farro, an elven scholar) taking up one side, demanding to be released and the death or capture of the Foreman, Selis; or, the Foreman demands to be released with the ore sack. He doesn’t care what happens to the slaves.

Lux, as the most commanding member of the party, led the negotiation. With Cora’s help, he managed to forge an agreement with both sides with some skillful diplomacy. Once Selis came down from his perch, Ophelia seized him and held him hostage.

Thorn seized the sack of white ore, Lux and Cora freed the slaves both in the Workhouse and the Slave Pens. With the assistance of the slaves, the group left for the upper world.

Next: Counterattack!
Previous: The Bone Chamber
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The Bone Chamber
The Workhouse Floor

The party cautiously approached the main chamber of the Pits: the Workhouse. What was once the central hub of a long-abandoned mine has been converted to a labor camp. With a ceiling some 50 feet high, and overlooked by the guard room above, escape or revolt seems almost impossible. And to make matters worse, the center of the room features a stalagmite some 30 feet high buttressed with a wooden scaffold and topped with a shuttered, wooden structure. Ropes from the ceiling connect to the shack, possibly alarm ropes.

The floor of the chamber is crisscrossed with mining tracks and carts, leading to wooden pens filled with stone. From these, rock is removed to tables manned by slaves, who break the lumps and separate chunks of whitish material from the debris.

Four human guards patrol and oversee the operation, one armed with a scourge to encourage productivity.

The party burst into the room, careful to avoid harming the slaves, but quickly overwhelming the surprised guards. In only a few moments the battle was over, and the party turned to deal with the foreman.

Next: Revolution!
Previous: The Chamber of Shackles
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