Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Here they found the King in his black scale armor. Archibald studied the party, flanked by Cormac, the royal battlemage, and Ander, the leader of the Agents. "You don't have to do this" whispered Ander to the King.
"Why did you bring us here?!" demanded the foreign dwarf Yurgrim. The royal advisors were stunned at such disregard for royal authority, but Archibald answered calmly nonetheless. "I require your service," he said, and went on to ask how he might reward the party in exchange for joining his Agents. Each hero demanded a price, and each was promised what they asked.
Archibald then told the party their mission: they were to help prepare Arena for war. They were to go to each land of Arena and gather whatever alliances they could. To help in this task he gave the party the Daelon Mark, a large golden coin that served to identify high-ranking officials of Tyrell. When asked why he chose the party, he seemed almost embarrassed, but replied that it was due to "a divine vision". He offered few details, and with that, he left the party in Ander's care.
If the King seemed skeptical about the party's abilities, Ander was downright incredulous, but he kept his discussion to the business at hand: deciding the party's first destination. A map was laid out, and each land explained. A long discussion ensued. At various times Cravith, Artha, and Rakhosa were championed. But after a suggestion from Cormac, the party decided upon the mysterious and misty land of Ashara, which seemed to be everybody's second choice. Ander gifted the party with a Basket of Everlasting Provisions, a Bag of Holding, and +1 magic weapons. Cormac then drew a circle around the party and cast a ritual, opening a portal beneath them to Highrock, which they all promptly fell through.
They did not land in Highrock, however. Instead, they landed on an infinite plane of swirling red and purple smoke. Before they could examine their surroundings, smoke swirled and the forms of skeletons took shape, rising from the ground.
The party fended off a horde of skeletons, but more kept coming. Soon, they were surrounded by powerful skeleton warriors and burning skeletons that threw orbs of fire. At this point, the party also noticed a bright light from above, centered on a dot that seemed to be plummeting to the ground. But they could not investigate, and fought on. Dela Amori welcomed the fire attacks of the skeletons, protected by her Tiefling heritage. Yurgrim did his best to heal the party and fight off the undead with his holy powers. Alfred defended the party as best he could, while Addy fired dozens of arrows at the skeletons and Winter snuck behind them to deal devestating blows with her katar.
As the battle raged, Winter, Yurgrim, and Alfred fell to the skeleton hordes, but the last burning skeleton was vanquished and the dying heroes saved before they succumbed to death. It was then that the plummeting object above them arrived, revealing itself to be an angel. It struck the earth with a pulse of holy energy, but no skeletons remained to be affected. Puzzled, the angel disappeared.
It was replaced by four figures: a dwarf in plate armor with a warhammer, a dragonborn in scale armor with a greatsword, a young woman in leather armor, and an old man in white and yellow robes, all radiating immense power. They approached the party, talking amongst themselves about being "found out". The dwarf sized up Yurgrim and announced "You'll do fine". When the old man smiled at them, the whole party felt healed and uplifted. The party attempted to ask questions to the figures, but only the dragonborn would answer. Soon the other three figures disappeared. It was only as the dragonborn began to speak that the party realized that these figures were none other than Moradin, Avandra, Pelor, and Bahamut.
The Platinum Dragon spoke to them, explaining that gods rarely intervened in mortal worlds, for doing so sapped their strength and made their actions visible to other gods. One year ago, he explained, Asmodeus intervened, which caught Bahamut's attention, leading him to inspire Archibald to travel to Tyrell and thwart the plans of the prince of devils.
Since then, the gods of Good had noticed many subtler interventions of the Evil gods in the other lands of Arena. It seems likely that they will try to disrupt the other lands as Asmodeus tried to attack Tyrell, eventually leading Arena to be as unstable and monster-ridden as most other mortal worlds. Bahamut had a divine premonition that the party, if brought together, had some hope of stopping these plans, though success was far from guaranteed. It was he who inspired Archibald to bring them together and send them on their mission.
Unfortunately, Vecna, the Evil god of the undead, had noticed Bahamut's action and sent his undead forces to slay the party during their teleportation. He only sent his lesser minions, however, so Bahamut suspected that Vecna did not realize the party's importance to him, and hopefully just presumed that they perished.
Bahamut left the party with one warning: the unaligned gods could play a deciding part in the coming conflict over Arena. He implored the party to avoid angering them, and to curry their favor if possible. With that, the party abruptly vanished from the plane and reappeared suddenly and unceremoniously in a dark, crowded room full of barrels.
After determining that the barrels were full of ale and not gunpowder, Dela used her Everburning Torch to light the place, and they reached for the door. The door swung open before they could open it, though, revealing an eladrin who immediately cursed and fell on his back. Winter sprung upon the eladrin and covered his mouth, but released him at the urging of the other party members.
The eladrin recognized the name of Ander and mentioned that he never quite got used to finding Agents in the closet like that. He introduced himself as Gosling and offered free ale (wine for Dela) and food for the party. They were seated amongst the sailors, merchants, and captains, and given plenty to eat and drink. Gosling joined the table and asked how he could help. The party explained that they were on their way to Ashara. Gosling was intrigued and mentioned his own "adventures" of seeing the docks of Silverport, but asked no questions and soon left the inn. Winter followed him stealthily, but saw nothing out of place and soon returned to the inn. After some time, the party took to their rooms and slept.
Gosling woke them up the next morning to a breakfast of eggs and a ticket for five on a merchanter to Silverport. They found the captain, boarded the ship, and set sail at noon. The journey featured good winds and weather, and the seasoned crew paid them scant attention beyond a few curious glances at the shifter. After about a week of sailing, the ship finally reached Silverport. The clean, bustling dockside district stood before them, and beyond that, flanked by steep cliffsides, a massive silver gate stretching up to the sky...
Next Session: ASHARA BEHELD
Monday, September 27, 2010
This central land is named after is capital city, which rules the entire continent under the guidance of King Archibald Daelon. It is mostly populated by humans, but elves, eladrin, halflings, dwarves, tieflings, and dragonborn are common enough.
The cities of Tyrell include:
- Tyrell, the capital city, huge and important due to the government's presence, confusing since it shares a name with the continent as a whole. Player characters Dela and Alfred hail from Tyrell.
- Highrock, a smaller but commercially critical port city known for its charm and the pride of its residents.
- Balenor, the old seat of kings and the second-largest city, long since in decline but clinging to its grand heritage. Addy, a player character, hails from Balenor.
- Revo's Crossroads, a trading post that has, in the past few decades, grown far too quickly for its infrastructure to keep up.
- Port of Esser, a lavish port city ruled proudly by the most powerful noble in the nation (aside from the king).
- Sammic, an industrial city serving the mainland, famous for its crafts but often in poverty due to a poor trading location
This small land is isolated and shrouded in mist. It is mostly populated by fey creatures such as elves, eladrin, and gnomes. Merchants make runs from Highrock, trading commodities for magical items and residuum. Few outsiders are ever allowed to proceed past the great silver gates of Silverport, and those that do rarely return. They are usually remembered through tall tales and rumors that claim they find heavenly bliss in the island's interior.
It is believed that the entire island serves as a sort of joint monastery for clerics of Melora, Corellon, and Sehanine, though even clerics of those orders are not allowed inside.
The desert on Eszayr defines the continent. It is populated mostly by extensive seminomadic clans of shifters. Each clan has a proud, strong identity. Winter, a player character, hails from the desert of Eszayr.
Recently, the colony of Reeveold was established from various enterprises funded by the assorted nobility of Artha, Tyrell, and Rakhosa (although no nation claims or offers protection to the growing city). The colonists seek to "reclaim" the desert, which has resulted in much tension with the native shifter clans.
This fertile continent is often thought of as a "younger brother" to Tyrell. Its people, a mostly even mix of dragonborn and human, are civilized and fairly wealthy, and trade between the two continents flows constantly. Rakhosans often visit Tyrell, and vice-versa.
The continent, however, is not unified, and for centuries the land has been divided between various "strongholds". The largest strongholds are cities unto themselves, while smaller strongholds amount to no more than a simple keep and garrison. Some smaller strongholds serve larger ones as vassals. Although the strongholds are almost always at war with one another, it is extremely rare that any faction is ever completely destroyed or toppled. Still, the constant battle has infused the people of Rakhosa with a strong sense of martial honor and duty, which influences nearly all parts of life.
"Cravith is a wilderness," it is often said in Tyrell. While this is true, it does not mean that the land is unpopulated. In fact, large numbers of elves make their home in the treetops of the Cravith Forest, while vast underground fortresses of dwarves dwell in the Cravith Heights. Orcs wander the mountains above, and it is rumored that a village of Goliaths lies nestled amongst the highest peaks. Yurgrim, a player character, hails from the Cravith Heights.
Most visitors and traders know of Cravith only from its sole city, Proudrest. The city is built within the forest, and is populated almost entirely by eladrin, who mediate between the human traders from Tyrell and their more wild cousins, the elves.
Artha has been the traditional enemy of Tyrell for centuries. The mage lords of Artha lorded over Tyrell with a heavy hand, demanding taxes and tribute. Eventually, their cruelty and ignorance grew too great, leading to the rebellion and subsequent Unification of Tyrell.
Now, over 30 years later, Artha hardly stands as a threat to anyone. The mage lords of Artha are divided into five Towers, each with a color, specialty, and title. While Artha is nominally ruled equally by the Towers as a single nation, in fact the factions are constantly at odds with each other. Open warfare between Towers is unheard of, but scheming, subterfuge, and assassination are common and expected.
The mage lords are mostly composed of humans, tieflings, and gnomes, but the majority of the population is composed of the human underlings living in the shadows of the Towers and the goblin slaves that act as ubiquitous servants in the Towers and tortured slaves in the mines.
Addy is in Tyrell from her hometown of Balenor to ask her more prosperous relatives there for money. She has a noble family and also holds honor and family in high esteem.
Akohsera:ke Okwaho (Winter)
[First person] Hello fellow travelers! My name is Akohsera:ke Okwaho, although every time my name is said I am stared at and peoples mouths make my name funny...so you may call me Winter. There are many stories and things why I live not in my village but I want to be a guide and this is why I am in Tyrell. Other small stories why I left included my future mate Kaneniano:ron...but this is actually a rather long story, but as his name implies he is a very hard Ron:kwe to be with. Ah right ummm his name is the very hard shiny rock that has great value. Ha ha sometimes I hate how right the elders are with name giving.
But without saying too much, I am here and I am Winter. Oh and my family name means Wolf in common.
Yurgrim is training to be the high priest of Yurarr. He is about 30 years away from becoming the high priest, and is about 10 years into his training. It need not be said that Yurarr is a fortressed, mining and smithing oriented clan from the southern continent of Arena, Cravith.
Yurgrim has traveled from Cravith to converse with the Tyrellian dwarves about his high-priesthood. Unlike some clans, Yurarr is accepting of the dwarves who live abroad, whom other clans may consider exiles. Yurgrim is supposed to spend a few months visiting the temples of the Tyrellian dwarves and speaking with them about their homeland.
Apostolos Alfred Hadad
The house of Hadad is known for its distinguished, ambitious, and extremely successful nobles whose presence is felt in many (usually illustrious) areas of Tyrell's history. Of late, they are in a diminished period, certainly with a presence in court but without the influence of their glory days. Sotiros Khiry Hadad, the current head of the household, has spent his time carefully building up the Hadad name, positioning himself and his family into increasingly powerful and impressive positions and saving the surname from the occasional scandal. For evidence of the former category, you need look no further than his own offspring. For instance, his eldest son Alexis Efren, works very closely with the king's financial advisors, and Thea Akektica, his eldest daughter, is a handmaiden of the queen herself, and most skilled in the business built up around the subtle protection of royals. Even his flighty third Tasia Inez, his third child, seems to be seducing some higher-ups and might have her sights set on the prince himself.
For evidence of scandal... you need look no further than Sotiros' offspring. Apostolos Alfred Hadad, fourth child, was nothing but trouble and shame when he was first born into the Hadad House. A mewling baby who never gave the matron a moment's peace, Apostolos (who insists on going by his middle name, for some reason) soon became a troublesome child who insisted on exploring the grounds and always needing to be chased after and bathed and possibly fished out of trouble. Why, at the young age of four, he found his way outside the walled and quite exotic garden behind the Hadad villa and roamed the streets for nearly six hours! Had it not started to rain an hour after his disappearance, he might have been lost forever. Strangely enough, the child was not the worse for wear for his time in the city- he was calm and curious, despite the presence of a raging thunderstorm, and seemed to have found some dropped food in the marketplace.
In any case, when Apos- Alfred got large enough to start getting into some real trouble, Sotiros and his uninterested wife Elayna had a stroke of luck: the temple of Corellon, an hour's journey from the city, was looking for young men to take into their ranks and train as knight-templars, serving and protecting those in the service of Corellon. (The temple was quite surprised, as they were expecting- and for the most part, got- middle-class young men looking for a trade, or poor yet hearty youths looking for a more regimented life.) It turned out the large youth- by now with nearly thirteen years upon him- was suited to this work, and he worked hard to learn the sword and the shield, becoming quite skilled in the mastery of both. Though at first younger than most of the other boys, his size made him an equal to the other boys. When someone did seem intent on picking a fight, his seemingly careless and jovial nature more oft' then not diffused the situation. His superiors found this attitude most unseemly, yet at other points the boy seemed so serious and well-thought that they could rarely catch him doing anything remotely punishable. They sensed his devotion to Corellon was as wry as his wit, and yet the boy seemed to deliver heartfelt prayers and excelled at the religious aspects of his training in addition to the physical ones.
What was a boy has now become a man- an unorthodox man who could certainly never ascend the ranks within the temple, since he does not incorporate prayer into his fighting itself, but a man of great fighting prowess whose reputation the Hadad house is happy to promote- from a distance. Years of temple service have not managed to vanquish Alfred's unnecessarily frivolous attitudes. He tells out-of-place jokes in high company. He seems not to take anything seriously. His now-muscular frame and rather roguish good looks make him quite a target for the ladies as well, and he has taken many to his bed on various nights. Despite this seemingly brazen sexual attitude, only a few of the female persuasion have ever seemed upset with him (though many claim heartbreak), and those who have made a scene often quietly stop shortly after, usually from female peer pressure. It seems too good to be true to many of the other men in Corellon's guard. When asked for his secret, Alfred tells his friends to "Just be honest". No one is sure if he is joking or not.
Between his exploits, his skill, and his easygoing manner, Alfred is quite well-known, and well-liked, among the fighters of the various cities he's travelled to under the command of Corellon's priests. He is currently in Tyrell with an emissary of Corellon there, and though he is known in that city for other reasons as well, he stays away from his father's house. "It is a successful place. Every cornerstone and tapestry breathes success and ambition,which makes it cold and loveless," explains Alfred quite freely, though he will likely not go into the story unless he is drunk and/or feeling quite sorry for himself. When he is drunk, he lets go and seems a little angry, something that leaves the tavern uneasy. It's strange. No-one speaks of it, but more than a few men have noticed strange winds arise when Alfred is angry, or when he seems perfectly in sync with the rhythm of battle. He becomes quite intimidating, as though energy is crackling beneath his skin, as though at any moment he might change into something else.
Alfred has noticed as well, though he makes no mention of it, and wonders if he knows the cause. He can't quite keep the image out of his mind- a spirit of primal energy, lightning and wind and thunder and rain, dancing through the streets of Tyrell--behind the marketplaces and in the deserted alleyways of course, but right there, right there for everyone to see- if only they were looking! He was only four in the image- dream?- but he knows what he sees, sees it- looking at him?-sees it wild and beautiful and kind. He sees it blow bread off the tables in the marketplace for him, he sees it coming so close his hair crackles, before it dances back into the sky. He is wet but the rain is warm and beautiful. After that the world is beautiful- the world was beautiful before but only as his four year-old mind was trying to learn it and now it is beautiful even after it is learned. People and cities are sometimes beautiful but they are cold, and lack the love that the wilds hold, the love and life that nature thrives in. And yet,he can see it in people, beautiful people, beautiful women, he can see the wilds within them and he loves sharing it, calling it to life, letting them know their beauty and while he will often deflect seriousness, loveless seriousness with jokes, beauty is serious, and he does not lie about it does not lie at all about anything that matters he will share spread beauty Corellon knows he understands even though his men do not understand they do not need to understand he is forgiven by God and by Nature she is beautiful and powerful screaming relentless blistering angry only for a good cause angry so that beauty may be preserved for beauty love magic I am not of Corellon he is not I am Mine but We respect each other He is seeking and keeping and it is good, it is beautiful
Dela has smooth cream-colored skin, small gold eyes, and small horns curling around the side of her head. Her deep black hair falls two feet behind her head. She typically wears it down, though will sometimes braid it. Her tail is tinged slightly red and is all but invisible when Dela wears long dresses. She can easily pass as human from a distance, her horns looking like ornate hair pins. She is exceptionally beautiful. Her horns--which detract from the beauty of most Tieflings--simply serve to accentuate her perfectly proportioned face. She is renowned amongst the nobility (and envied by many young ladies) for her beauty.
Born into the nobility in Tyrell (the city), Dela's life as a child was one of ease. She was waited on by servants, fed sumptuous food, and educated in the ways of nobility alongside her older (by 4 years) sister, Lara. Dela's parents were both incredibly intelligent. Knowing the importance of the subtle game played out at court, they ensured that Dela received an education in politics and statecraft.
From the day she was born Dela had a talent at manipulating people, even before her parents taught her formally. She could almost always convince her parents to do whatever she wished. Young noble boys were at her beck and call constantly. The first one professed to love her at age eight. Her parents thought her to be a gifted young woman. Her sister (and many others) thought she was a brat.
When she was nineteen, though, things changed. One of the young nobles with whom she had toyed when she was younger asked her to marry him. She had been receiving these proposals for years, but this noble was different. He was the son of the very influential Master of Coin. The Master of Coin was getting old and was expected to retire soon, and his son was easily qualified to take his job. Additionally, the king trusted him, which practically guaranteed him the position. Dela accepted the proposal almost immediately.
Two months later, though, Dela disappeared. Her fiance was murdered and her house was burned to the ground, her entire family (including her) presumed dead within. Oddly enough, the family's wealth in gold was not found in the ruins during the investigation and was presumed stolen. A massive investigation was mounted, but no leads were turned up. When Dela reappeared in court a year later at the summons of the king, it was quite a surprise.