Saturday, April 11, 2009

Quick Overview of Some Lands

Assume your characters know the following. Anything else you'd need to research a bit. Mostly this is here just to get your brains in the game and make some decisions on next steps.

Lying on the eastern front of the Endwall Mountains and the long expanse of The Dragonreach it is easy to see why Q'barra remained untouched by civilized settlements for so long. The steamy jungles and sprawling swamplands that encompasses most of the landscape is a perfect habitat for dire and horrid animals as well as dinosaurs. The small shard of land is not completely inhospitable, however, as a small strip of fertile land lies in the southeast and other open expanses peel away from the jungle in places around the country.

The Bone Yard
The Boneyard is an area in the Talenta Plains filled with many skeletons of dragons. The halfling clans of the Plains consider the place to be cursed and will not willingly enter it. It is extremely ancient and may date from the Demon Wars. Filled with all manner of aberrations, it seems to lie atop a Xoriat manifest zone.

Fist of Onatar
The Fist of Onatar is the name of a volcano in the city of Mroranonhold in the Mror Holds.
The dwarves of the clan protect the site and think that it is a sacred place tied to Onatar, god of fire and the forge. The volcano radiates magical energy, which some Aundairian scholars believe is the result of powerful dragonshards beneath the lava.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Meanwhile, Back at the Guildhall...

8 Sypheros - 999YK
Clifftop Adventurer's Guild

"It is good to see you all again. A toast to safe travels."

Ragnolin raised his mug and drained it to the bottom. Without a signal the barkeep set down a fresh ale and cleared the empty. The entire guildhouse had been closed for the afternoon for this meeting. The barkeep was happy to have something to do aside from restocking his wares.

"Thank you for taking the time to bring me to speed on your adventures. I know you were tired when you arrived two days ago but I needed that time to act on your words. I must give you my utmost thanks and respect for acting the way you have since you left. As members of the guild you have were not bound to follow through with Jaryn or any other portion of the Phoenix Regalia situation. Your actions have not gone unnoticed. It is time some of your questions surrounding the whole situation are answered. After that I have some further news for you that you may or may not wish to act upon. Siberys knows your earned a rest."

With that Ragnolin signaled to the barkeep who then led an elf from the backroom. His eyes gave away his old age but his body looked as strong and spry as any warrior elf. His frame was covered in a flowing green and brown cloak. As he approached Ragnolin spoke.

"Gentlemen, this is Kal'ser. It was he who hired Kartenix and his group in the first place. He is here to fill in some of the gaps to this point."

Before he said anything Kal'ser took a moment to shake everyone's hand. "You have my deepest gratitude for all you have done. Even the loss of the items in question to that fiend Skamos has not been for naught. However, before I go further I wish to offer some recompense for your efforts." He reached into his cloak and produced a bag. The unmistakable sound for gold pieces filled the area as he set it upon the table. "In it you will find 1000 gold pieces and 5 jade worth 100 gold each. I trust this covers your fee."

He took a moment to look at the people sitting around the table.

"Please take no offense when I say that I will now tell you all I can. Nothing more. The words I utter are all I am allowed to say. Even I have an employer. I have sworn oaths in his service that nothing can make me break. Let me begin."

"The Order I belong to is sworn to keeping the items of the Phoenix Regalia safe - and separated. As you already know, their powers of the wearer increase as more and more of the items are wielded. So much so that they can stave off death itself through rebirth."

"Nearly twenty years ago we learned that our Order had been infiltrated and the secret of each item's location had been compromised. Almost immediately our members began to disappear or turn up dead. We were being systematically eradicated. Now only I remain in the service of my master. We have become extremely secretive and usually employ individuals such as yourselves when our small numbers preclude our ability to act."

"With our numbers dropping we were unable to defend the items. Each was eventually stolen and taken to a variety of locales. We lost track of some for a time before they resurfaced somewhere else. Each was stolen and restolen."

"As you well know the first item was reobtained from a Mezzodemon by Kartenix and his group. I hired them to do so. How they accomplished the task I still have no idea. However they must have been followed since each was assassinated before returning to Sharn. Had I known that danger would follow them after they retrieved the item I would have met them in Flamekeep."

"The second happened to be in the possession of the hobgoblin Sinruth. From your report and my investigations I don't believe he actually knew of the power of the item he possessed."

"Of course someone else did. The tiefling Skamos has been tied up in all of this. He has murdered your comrades. Dogged your trail and committed an untold numbers of evils in his pursuit of the items. I can not seem to determine his motives but I do believe he is in the employ of someone much more powerful who seeks the items for themselves."

"We think we have located the last two items. The Cloak of Flames resides in Fernia. Retrieving it will be no small matter. Who knows what guards it now. The final item - the Mace of the Phoenix - is known to lie in The Boneyard in the Eastern Talenta Plains. I hired Kristoff - Jaryn's wizard acquaintance - to look into it for me. I have not heard from him in quite some time. I fear the worst."

Ragnolin interrupted "I have news on that when you are done Kal'ser."

The elf nodded "I am nearly through. I know not who it trying to reassemble these items but I fear their purpose. There is too much power involved for me to believe it is for any good purpose. Not to mention the murders that have already taken place simply to retrieve two of the items. That is all I will say until I hear Ragnolin's news."

Ragnolin took a long draft of his ale, pulled a letter from his pocket and spoke. "I received a note only this morning from someone claiming to be Kristoff's aid. It bears his seal. You may read it but it is brief. He beseeches assistance on Kristoff's aid. He claims that they did indeed locate the mace but its owner's servants overcame the caravan and killed nearly all its people. The Boneyard is now home to some malevolence that commands even the undead. Somehow it turned Kristoff's mind. He is now a servant to whatever the beast is. And - most importantly - it has the Mace of the Phoenix in its control."

A moment of silence went by as Ragnolin looked upon Kal'ser. Finally the elf spoke. "This is grave news indeed. I will now extend an offer of employment to you all for the safe return of Kristoff and - more importantly - the Mace of the Phoenix. You will be paid handsomely. What say you?"

We've got a flying machine!

Alara's Meeting Room - 25 Nymm
It never ceased to amaze Telios how Alara's garments effortlessly accentuated her body no matter how she moved. Today was no different. Her usual flowing black dress drew the eye as she entered the meeting room. With a small smile she addressed the minotaur and dragonborn who waited for her.

"Welcome back Telios. Andred. Was your journey to Arcanix fruitful?"

Telios nodded and Andred spoke. "It was. Great histories are recorded within the tomes of the floating city. Of import to your request we found that unless the Clifftop members wish to wait until Fernia is coterminous in two years, their best option is to perform a ritual of planar travel in Onatar."

Alara turned to look out the eastern window of the room. The morning sun streamed on her face. She remained silent for a moment. Andred felt that she was almost trying to see the volcano located within the Mror Holds. Alara turned.

"My experience with the dwarves of the Holds has not been good. They hold old grudges with Karrnath and my service to that nation places me in a difficult diplomatic position. Our guests will have to figure a way into the volcanic city on their own. I hope they aren't expecting a welcoming party." She paused. "And what of the Symbol of Fire you mentioned before? Is it definitely required for the ritual?"

Andred nodded. "It is. However they are not easy to come by. It was a difficult topic to research. In fact my original lead in the Demon Wastes turned out to be false. I found reports of a changeling by the name of Dox who came into possession of that symbol after duping its previous owners of their prize. It is hardly a wonder that he can not be found what with angry rakshasas after him now." Andred smiled at the wonder of it.

He continued. "I had nearly given up hope that Arcanix could help us when I came upon a record of an adventuring party that had passed through Qbarra. A small passage of the text talked of snaketongue cultists in an ancient temple deep in the jungle. This particular cult seemed to have a particular affinity for fire - as did it's Yuan-ti master. They sent in their rogue to infiltrate temple. As the cult did not possess the particular item they were seeking at the time, the party left the cult alone and moved on. However the rogue did mention in his reconnaissance report that a fiery symbol hung within the central chamber of the temple. The description matches that of what we need for our ritual. Perhaps we can persuade the cult to part with the item."

Alara smiled and spoke. "So if the party wishes to obtain the Cloak of Flames which we think lies within Fernia then they must first seek out this symbol of fire which we think is in the possession of a cult of Yuan-ti worshippers somewhere in the bowels of Qbarra's jungles. Then they must somehow convince the dwarves of Onatar that they must perform a ritual of great power within their domain? Do I have that summarized correctly?"

Andred thought a moment. "An accurate interpretation M'lady. There is one other concern of course."

"Of course." Alara concluded. "Do they have the ability to perform the ritual? Nenia has a natural command of the arcane. I am not so sure she possesses the necessary control yet however. That is yet another bridge they have to cross."

She looked up as Andred spoke.

"But I do. I could go along with them if they wished. I can research aboard the airship you retained as well as here. It will also give me a chance to set some conflicting historical records straight as they dirty their hands with their tasks. I can speak with local leaders and sages. If - I mean when - they accomplish their goals I can perform the ritual to send them to Fernia. It is a win-win situation as they say."

Alara thought for a few moments. "If that is your wish. It is their choice however."

She turned to her skeletal servant. "Tibia, fetch our guests. It is time Andred repeats all this information to them."

Telios shifted his weight on his hooves. He was glad Andred hadn't tried to include him in his grand travel plans.