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Oerth Incursion (Nate's Adventure)

Posted: Sun Nov 06, 2016 9:19 pm
by Hardcorhobbs
Cast:
Tegonwal of Phaulkon (Eric)
Aaron Windstalker (Ken)
Thrax (Cory)
Hogarth Middenfeldt (Lance)
Cutheric (Damon)
Gavin "Two Cups" Gallows (Tom)

Re: Nate's Adventure

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 12:42 pm
by setanta14
After the meeting at the Obsidian Manor in Sigil, you are directed to what appears to be a painting of a dark room with an irregular shaped window overlooking craggy hills. As you get closer to the painting, the details become more defined, and the perception of its depth makes it appear as if you could practically step through it. To your amazement, that is precisely what the wizards who are guiding you do, and beckon for you to follow. As you step through, you can feel the very air change from the thin, odorous atmosphere of Sigil to the thick, humid air of the Pomarj. You are greeted by Graylen, who welcomes you to the Obsidian Tower.

Once through this magical portal, you reconvene in a small audience chamber that seems to have been cut out from a solid piece of polished obsidian. The walls and ceiling are more roughly cut, while the floor is perfectly smooth, and partially covered in ornately woven carpets. A long table crafted of an exotic wood is pushed against a wall beneath a row of smaller windows, while the opposite wall has a row of high-backed chairs. Dominating the center of the room is a large crystal sphere maybe 4’ across, and set into an intricate silver armature. In attendance besides Graylen are the wizards Alec Oldin (Guildmaster, Griffins Guild), and Corwin Aldroc (Guildmaster, Guild of Wizardry). You are bid to take seats while Graylen remains standing, and explains Oerth’s connection to the slaadi scheme recently uncovered. The crystal sphere swirls with multi-colored smoke that forms into various images as Graylen speaks.

“The slaadi seek to obtain an artifact of great antiquity known as the Ember of the Serpent. It is being sought somewhere within a ruined city in the jungles of Hepmonaland. Divinations have revealed that this artifact is linked to an ancient and nearly forgotten goddess named Ranet. What little is remembered of her comes from a legend carried to the Flanaess by Suel refugees of the Invoked Devastation.

When the Suel were still a young people, and fire was an important tool for survival, the goddess Ranet watched over those men and women who used it. They called her the Kindler, and the Lady of the Hearth. She also laid down the laws of hospitality, for those who made the fires hosted many around its warmth. She was beloved of singers and tellers of tales, who plied their trade by the flickering lights of Ranet’s fires.

Ranet had many allies among their pantheon, especially Fortubo with whom she built great forges, Wee Jas who admired her adherence to tradition and sense of justice, and Phaulkon who loved her fierce spirit and warm heart. However, lurking in the shadows of Ranet’s flames was another god, lesser in power, and less friendly to humankind: Pyremius, demigod of poison and murder. Pyremius disdained the life sustained in fire’s warmth, and loved rather its power to destroy, to reduce life to charcoal and ash. Though he was skilled at killing quietly in the shadows, he envisioned a great conflagration that could devour thousands at once, erasing all living things in its reach. And so Pyremius hated Ranet, who withheld from him any dominion over fire, and he grew to covet her power, and when he had the opportunity, took it by force.

It was at the height of the Suel Imperium, a time when the Suel had grown wicked and depraved, and the old customs of hospitality were at their lowest that Pyremius struck. He took advantage of Ranet’s hospitality and then drove his poisoned dagger into her, even as she invited him into her heavenly abode to observe the customs she had prescribed among her brethren. As Ranet lay writhing and gasping from Pyremius’ poison, he stole her fiery breath and inhaled it into himself, but it burned his skin black. He left her withering form where it lay as he crept off into the night to abuse his newfound power over flames, and caused great infernos to engulf many cities of the Suel, causing the deaths of many souls.

At the same time, the sacred hearth fires of Ranet’s shrines and temples across the Imperium went dark and cold, signalling the fall of their patron deity, all except for the cauldron of her chief temple in the capital, which instead began fuming with acrid smoke. Her worshippers appealed to the other Suel gods for answers when Ranet would not answer their prayers, and although many gods are angered at what Pyremius had done, none are permitted to take action against him, for Lendor, chief god of the Suel, judged that Pyremius was fulfilling his aspect. Finding no justice from the other powers of their pantheon, the Suel who were among Ranet’s devout followers turn their back on their wicked empire, taking a vow never to return. They gathered for their exodus and first went south where they reached a port city of one of the Imperium’s many colonies, carrying with them the still-smoldering cauldron from Ranet’s last remaining temple. From their they boarded ships and departed the Imperium for parts unknown, never to be heard from again within the annals of the Suel.
Here is where the legend ends. Our divinations have been unable to pierce the mystery further as to what befell Ranet’s faithful after leaving the Imperium, or whether the smoldering cauldron spoken of which was taken from her temple is indeed one and the same as the Ember of the Serpent, but to our great fortune, we obtained an adventuring journal which may provide the missing links, its importance only hinted at before now.

This journal belonged to a paladin of Heironeous named Fairburne, who died during the Greyhawk Wars fighting for the County of Idee just before Ahlissan forces drove the Scarlet Brotherhood out and renamed the province the Principality of Naerie and annexed it as a fief of the new United Kingdom of Ahlissa. It was found in Obsidian Bay among the effects of one of the Brotherhood members sent to rule during their occupation following the city’s fall in CY 587 to the freed Suloise Arch-Mages and their army of humanoids and savage Suel tribesmen from the Amedio and Hepmonaland. It is clear from the notations made by the previous owner that the Brotherhood had taken special interest in the journal’s contents, but it was obviously left behind in haste when the occupiers fled from the demonic forces unleashed from the abyssal portal beneath the Blackrazor Guild. When the city was finally liberated by our armies led by the demi-god Krovis, the journal was found and secured by the Griffin’s Guild and brought here to the Obsidian Tower for safekeeping.”

At this point, Graylen gives the floor to Alec Oldin, Guildmaster of the Griffin’s Guild and also a member of the Obsidian Tower. Alec places what is obviously a well worn, leather-bound journal upon one of the armatures of the crystal sphere, and the device immediately begins reproducing its magnified pages within. He then begins relating the next part of the story.

“Years ago, Fairburne was a shareholding member of the Company of Stormhaven, an adventuring guild from what was then the County of Idee. In CY 576, they took a contract from a large merchant consortium to investigate missing trade expeditions in Hepmonaland, and to explore the Xaro Mountains south of the Pelisso Swamp. All 20 shareholders, and twice as many retainers and servants, set out by ship. After reaching the northern tip of Hepmonaland they learned from coastal natives of a large inland lake east of the swamp which could be reached by ocean-going ships by means of a short river. After reaching the lake, the remnants of a recently abandoned trading outpost were found, along with strange tracks leading off into the jungle. After following the tracks to no avail, the guild encountered another friendly tribe of natives who spoke of snake-men and their beast minions who attacked their village and captured the chief’s own son. The snake-men were known to inhabit a low mountain taboo to the tribe, as they believed the spirits of their dead enemies resided there. The chief and shaman of the tribe convinced the guild to assist in recovering the chief’s son in exchange for guiding them to the very edge of the taboo area, the boundary of which was marked by tall totem poles. The guides led the party along the banks of another small river leading out from the lake, then up a long ravine to the west to the foot of the low mountain before they turned around, stating they would go no further when a final set of totem poles was reached. After scouting the area, it was found that atop the low mountain was a wide rift a few hundred feet deep with steep sides, and at the bottom sprawled the ruins of an ancient city. There are certainly many more details within this journal which will be useful once you locate the ruins, but what is most important for our purposes here are the following passages:
Passage 1: “One section of the city had curious architecture, different than the rest, with tall spires, onion-domed towers, buildings with peaked roofs, and a temple unlike the other step pyramid styles more common in the rest of the city.”
Passage 2: “We had split into three bands to attempt multiple means of descent into the rift. Our band made entry through the southwestern tunnel, which we located hidden under thick foliage about halfway up the mountain. After our difficulties, we finally made entry to the ruins and encountered the first of the snake-men. We fought them in a stone amphitheatre, and just past this was the Serpent Temple where we rescued the chief’s son, Zura, left as sacrifice to a giant snake. The main entrance consisted of a large set of double doors covered with bronze plates. These plates depicted scenes of snakes coiling about men in positions of great agony. A bas-relief of a large cobra-headed man overlooked all this. Inside, places where other bronze plates once adorned the walls were obvious, but were missing.”
Passage 3: “Under the city stretches the ancient primitive sewer system. In it now live monsters and colonies of creatures of all sorts. But, most common are the jungle-ghouls and what are likely the last human descendants of the snake-men ancestors who somehow evaded Merrshaulk’s curse. Their pale skin, blond hair, and angular features betraying their obvious ancestry as compared to the darker natives of the jungle. The ghouls and humans wage a constant war of attacks, sallies, counter-attacks, and sieges through the underground tunnels. The humans are nearly blind from their centuries of underground existence and rely on their other heightened senses to survive. Those whom we were able to take captive spoke of revering a kindly goddess of darkness who drives away the demons of light. Her hidden temple, bearing the Great Smoke, and guarded by their giant snake-queen.”
And finally, the confirmation that we seek comes from this last set of passages:
Passage 4: “We recovered a number of the missing bronze plates from many of the temples throughout the city. They had apparently been stolen by followers of competing gods. The oldest of the plates contained writing in a dialect of Ancient Suloise before switching over to the pictogram writing more common in the rest of the city. While we are still missing the final plate which may reveal the the full story, we have been able to piece together this: The faithful of a fallen goddess named Ranet who had been poisoned by a fellow deity of her people fled from their homeland far to the west, and braved a perilous crossing of the southern sea. Their homeland was depicted as having architecture nearly identical to that of the district within this city with the spires and towers. They carried with them a holy relic which appeared as a great smoking cauldron. Their High Priestesses had been driven by visions of a serpent from within the smoke who offered them refuge. When they reached the shores of a distant land, many perished to its dangers. They came at last to find the refuge they were promised in dreams within a marvelous city deep in the jungle, where they prospered for a time. This city, which was called Xuxulieto, was ruled by a people who worshiped strange gods, and over time, many of Ranet’s faithful took to worship these gods instead, as her clergy began losing the power to perform miracles in her name. In desperation, some turned to find the source of the visions and whispers from the smoke who had led them to this land. They mistook them for having come from the Slumbering Serpent, a god called Merrshaulk who had dominion over poison in local belief. They swore a pact with Merrshaulk to cure their goddess from her poisoning. In the ritual to consummate the pact, they drank the Blood of the Serpent, and were transformed into hideous snake men. The few remaining followers who remained true to Ranet’s teachings fled to the tunnels beneath the city, stealing away with the cauldron, now known as the Ember of the Serpent. The transformed snake men, now known as the Yuan-ti, seized control of the city and began preying on the populace.”
We can therefore only guess that this artifact is somewhere beneath the section of the city built by the ancient Suel. Finding access to the sewers and other tunnels below will likely lead to your successful recovery of this artifact.

At this point Alec Oldin retrieves the journal from the crystal sphere and gives it to you, then gives the floor back to Graylen.

“This journal contains much more useful information which will likely be of use once there. Fairburne writes later of dissension within their guild which ended their expedition before they could explore further. They had been infiltrated by agents of what we now know as the Scarlet Brotherhood, and various members blamed each other for allowing this to happen. The Brotherhood had feared the outside world learning of the nearby Hepmonaland Suel cities from where they had begun drawing their armies of savages which they used to great effect during the Greyhawk Wars, and afterwards when Obsidian Bay itself was conquered. Be mindful of their presence in the jungles. Due to the expediency of this mission, we must attempt to teleport you to the area, as the waters around Hepmonaland are heavily patrolled by Brotherhood ships, and even our fastest would put us perilously behind. The slaadi are likely already there, but don’t have the benefit our our information. See that you guard this journal with your lives."

The Ember of the Serpent
https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B4Y-e ... mU3MklMQ0E

The Forbidden City of Xuxulieto
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B4Y-e8 ... sp=sharing

Re: Nate's Adventure

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 2:30 pm
by setanta14
The party successfully teleported to the rim of the rift valley on target based on the description in Fairburne's journal.

They reviewed the journal to discern the best way down into the city, and settled on climbing down an enormous deklo tree which grew to several hundred feet tall, and extended above the cliff edge. While descending, they were attacked by arboreal grapplers, orange-furred oran-utan-like creatures who had unjointed tentacled arms and legs ending in sharp clawed hands.

After defeating them, they reached the floor of the city itself, and noticed that this area was covered heavily in thick yellow pollen that was caked on everything, only the massive humidity of the jungle environment kept it from being kicked up. After reviewing the journal again, the discerned that the pollen was likely from a plant known as a yellow musk creeper which Fairburne described as being able to entrance humanoids to walk into clumps of its vines, and turning them into zombie-like creatures if the vines were able to penetrate the victim's brain. The party identified a large grove of trees infested with the yellow musk creeper and guarded by its zombies between where they were and the section of the city that they needed to infiltrate, and deftly found an alternate route to bypass it using stealth.

When a pyramid-temple that needed to be explored was identified, it was also found to be infested with the yellow musk creeper on its lower levels, but through use of magical flying, they bypassed this as well. After descending into the temple, they discovered some murals which helped complete the mythological background of the story, and then encountered a group of slaadi (red, blue, green, and grey) who had already infiltrated the temple. After battle began, the grey slaad accessed a secret passage deeper into the temple while the others provided cover. The party overcame the other slaadi and pursued, where they encountered an enormous snake-being upon a narrow serpentine walkway. This creature and the grey slaad were also overcome, but not before the snake-being had swallowed Aaron Windstalker and then regurgitated him with his gender switched to female.

As the artifact known as the Ember of the Serpent was rather large, some difficulty was found in transporting it, but eventually a means was found to move it through a magical gate physically rather then attempting to teleport it (as the artifact was found to be resistant to magicks cast upon it). The Ember of the Serpent was kept in Sigil for safekeeping until the Astral Plane plot of Ygorl, Slaad Lord of Entropy was thwarted, at which point it was returned to Oerth and presented to the pantheonic temple of the Jmarva Suel gods (those of Chaotic Good or Chaotic Neutral alignment) in the Keoish city of Cryllor, which has seen a resurgence in popularity in the Sheldomar Valley.

Re: Nate's Adventure

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:37 pm
by Hardcorhobbs
Thanks Nate! Have any particular name for your adventure?

Re: Nate's Adventure

Posted: Mon Nov 07, 2016 8:52 pm
by setanta14
I just used "Oerth Incursion" for the internal docs Ken and I shared, but the adventure is essentially "Return to the Forbidden City" (the 1e module I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City being the original)

Oerth Incursion (Nate's Adventure)

Posted: Tue Nov 08, 2016 2:09 pm
by Hardcorhobbs
setanta14 wrote:I just used "Oerth Incursion" for the internal docs Ken and I shared, but the adventure is essentially "Return to the Forbidden City" (the 1e module I1, Dwellers of the Forbidden City being the original)
Let's keep it Oerth Incursion, and refer to the I1 adventure in the notes section of the wiki.