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Author Topic: inspiration from Ivid the Undying  (Read 5997 times)
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
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Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
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« on: August 09, 2006, 03:36:32 PM »

Below are a few excerpts from the free download at the WotC website “Ivid the undying”. I found these pieces as potential inspiration for a Midnight campaign. I posted a short comment under each excerpt to provide ideas for incorporating these concepts into the Midnight setting.

1) “Floods, Disease, and Treason!
Many buildings in Rauxes are unstable and hazardous. Flooding has been a major problem in Rauxes for several years, with significant rainfall causing water tables around the Imeda-Flanmi rivers to rise to record levels. Extensive areas of the Undercity have been flooded, as have the cellars and basements of many buildings.
Wall foundations have collapsed in some buildings, and rotted in others. The buildings which have collapsed and not been rebuilt for lack of funds are the obvious hazards. It is the buildings on the point of collapse which are much more dangerous.
Pursuing a quarry into a rundown area of the city, or even an abandoned mansion, can invite the possibility of a structural collapse almost anywhere. The only good thing about this is that the Town Guard know which buildings are unsafe and don't enter them. Therefore, avoiding their pursuits can be easier than one might expect.
Second, disease is endemic in the city. Sewer flooding and water pollution, coupled with the rapid growth in the vermin population, are the major causes.
Player characters in Rauxes must make a Constitution check every week to avoid catching some form of disease, which will have the effect of reducing Constitution by 1 point per month until a cure disease spell or similar is used. Lost Constitution points can then be regained at the rate of 1 point per week if the character rests, 1 point per 2 weeks otherwise. If the disease causes the victim's Constitution to reach zero, he dies.
The DM may decide that if PCs enter an exceptionally filthy area, such as the Viper Tenements or the Undercity, any exposure above 12 hours means an automatic check for disease.”

This would be a good example of a city governed by a traitor prince, who does not care much for the city maintenance…


2) “The Screaming Column was prepared for traitors and others the overking wished to have publicly, and especially unpleasantly, punished. It appears as a 30' tall column some 8' in diameter, made of red-veined marble-like stone. All around the column's circumference, faces are frozen in grimaces, screams, and expressions of dreadful anguish.
When a new victim is to be cast into the column, he is publicly beheaded (with a blunt axe, often needing two or more strikes). The severed head is then magically treated by priests of Hextor using a powerful and unique enchantment (the unholy bloodshield is vital to this). The head then becomes alive, sentient, capable of experiencing pain. The officiating senior priest then plunges the head into the column, where it is frozen into the stony mass (not unlike a meld into stone spell).”

Maybe Izrador’s clergy can use such a treatment for traitors in large occupied cities?


3) “Halfhigh—a male halfling—always drinks a sample of each keg before Ivid, to demonstrate that it is not poisoned. The halfling is terrified, of course, but he is no faithful servant of the overking. Should anyone be able to smuggle him out of Rauxes, he could give a very accurate account of the internal layout of the palace—since he has on occasion cooked for royal banquets and the like and has thus seen many areas of the palace interior.”

I like the concept of the halfling slave who is obliged to taste the food for his master in case it is poisoned. I see a very nice story hook here, in order to allow a group of resistants to be able to stage a raid against a traitor prince (or worse).

4) “. The Viper Tenements
The houses between Viper Row and Watch Lane (and also eastward across Watch Lane) are especially decrepit and many are half-collapsed, with their cellars and basements flooded or at best half-filled with foul, stagnant water, sewage, vermin and the like. Perhaps as many as 500 wretches live here. They are orc soldiers escaped from their barracks, beggars, people dying of disease, those hunted by Town Guard, and others in similarly dreadful predicaments. No militia enter this area; the risk of disease is simply too great. Because of the water-sodden conditions of so much of the area, two attempts at burning it down have failed (and the risk of the fire spreading elsewhere in the city has mitigated against any further attempts).
The current plan is to use massed ranks of zombies to murder the occupants, although a first attempt at this failed in part because of the stupidity of the undead and their inability to traverse obstacles effectively.
Those exiled here are desperate enough to attack anyone and anything entering—and their blows, by weapon or just fists and bites, are 25% likely to cause disease. That this area hasn't been entirely decimated by disease might cause some to wonder, not least because diseased bodies are not found lying in the streets and brick-strewn back alleyways of this area.
In fact, a young channeler hides out in a dry basement within this area, curing disease for all he can. He tries to convert as many as he can to the need to resist the oppressors. While he has little success with that, the wretches here are grateful to him for their lives. They don't inform the authorities about him for the simple reason that only people utterly terrified of summary execution by those authorities come to live here.”

Now that could very well describe the underbelly of any very large city in a state of near-chaos. Maybe a large city under occupation in the North?


5) “Karellford
This village of 600 souls was once an important, if small, trading post for the fruits of the eastern Grandwood forest and for goods headed south from Eastfair and Delaric. Goods were then taken on to Rauxes and also used for provisioning The Phalanx.
Karellford was appropriated as a Royal protectorate under Ivid IV's ownership some 50 years ago in response to a trumped-up charge of treason against the local landowner, a mage. The mage was publicly burned, but not before he issued an appalling curse on his executioners.
The curse appears to have had some effect. Within a year, four of the Companion Guard who had stood beside the pyre died in "accidents." The next year, the Flanmi flooded and the fields around Karellford sprouted a growth of poisonous blue algae which rendered large swathes of good land infertile for many years. Local folk learned that the bite of a rat, ferret, or similar animal was almost always fatal. Domestic animals sometimes broke out into paroxysms of inexplicable violence, or else they wasted away and died. Stillbirths and premature deaths became increasingly common.
Despite an attempt at a ritual cleansing and lifting of the curse by a priest of Pholtus, these effects did not entirely abate, and in the past 30 years the population here has fallen from 1,200 to its present number. It is not just the decline of trade which gives this place its air of gloomy resignation. The local administrator, Branwenden, tries his best to cow and beat the villagers into sullen servitude. However, lately he has developed a severe neuralgia and a paralysis of the right side of his body. Even he fears to explore what might lie below the long-burned ruins of the mage's cottage and tower.”

Now replace the “mage” by “unsanctioned channeler who secretly practiced dark rituals”, and Brandenwen by the local legate that tracked the channeler and killed him, along with his astirax. You now have a ready- to- serve plot, with evil rulers looking for help to save their skins, and good-aligned PCs who might consider lending a helping hand, not to save the legate, but the fearful populace…
Logged

"Il n'est pas besoin d'espérer pour entreprendre ni de réussir pour persévérer" - Devise de la famille d'Orange
smeagol
Bane of Legates
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Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2006, 03:38:32 PM »

6)“. Orc Quarter
Part of the reason for the overcrowding in the rest of Old City is this district, which is in the process of being walled off from the rest of the town. The 3,000 troops of the Euroz Angry Army have had barracks hastily constructed here. At the present, the town guard tries only to patrol the outskirts of this zone, but the orcs have taken to kidnapping ordinary people in Old City and taking them back to their barracks for supper (as it were) or just to torture and kill them out of boredom. The orcs also act as jailers in the city prison directly opposite Spider's Gate, which allows them some opportunity for indulging their sadism and brutishness.
The orc warlord, Snaggrip Grekk, swaggers about Eastfair as if he owned the place, and there are many humans in Eastfair who would like to have the general population rise up and slaughter him and his men—no matter how many casualties might be suffered. The situation is very tense, and Grenell knows that while the orc leaders want to be in Eastfair to have a very definite presence in Grenell's capital city, their soldiers grow rebellious and irritable, needing the fresh stimulus of battle. Grenell's problem is deciding where to send them, and constructing a good cover story for it.”

This raises the concrete problems that should arise in occupied human cities, with orc contingents struggling for power against human puppet traitor princes who discover they’re not the real rulers…


7) “Bellport
Bellport is a walled town on the point of explosion. The city ruler is Patriarch Halldrem, whose response to any problems here is to impose curfews, execute a few people in public, and crack down with ever more repressive dictates and laws. The 8,500 people of Bellport are close to rising up and rebelling, but they face overwhelming military strength.
In addition to 2,000 Rakersmen, Bellport has 1,200 orc troops who are officially stationed here to make sure that no banditry occurs along the northwestern Electrum Trail to Horgren's Mine and Pyre, the two mines in the uppermost Blemu Hills. They also play a role in defending the town against naval raids by the Frost Barbarians and (to a lesser extent) the Snow Barbarians, although the orcish militias are of little value in naval warfare. The Bellport navy now comprises a mere two war galleys, with the shell of a third being desperately repaired in the naval dockyard.
The town is wide open to another barbarian attack, and since the Rakersmen are needed to defend against such a possibility, Halldrem increasingly allows the orcs here to maintain day-to-day public order, acing as a town guard. Since there are probably another 2,000 orcs within a day's march of Bellport, and a few hundred hobgoblins, gnolls, and ogres with them, Halldrem can hardly afford to give the orc war leader in Bellport any offense. Indeed, from time to time Grimkun Threehand (a reference to two fingers lost from his right hand) actually seats himself in the patriarch's throne for city council meetings, and is in no hurry to get up to let Halldrem have his rightful place when he arrives.
Just as the navy is decimated here, so is Bellport's fishing fleet. This was never very sizeable, but now more than half of the fleet has been sunk by barbarian ships, and many sailors are simply too fearful to fish the Solnor Ocean. Many Bellport folk are without work and getting close to starvation. Bellport is desperately reliant on supplies from Luvern, since the lands immediately south of the city are very poor, supporting only scrub grass and some grazing sheep and the like.
Bellport seems like a town under siege. The Rakersmen here like the orcs little more than ordinary townsfolk do, and they might even join a civil insurrection against them. Then again, the orcs might sweep down from the Blemu Hills and besiege the city. Certainly, marauding bands of orcs and other humanoids have raided the lands southwest of Bellport, and it may be that they are testing the strength of supply lines supporting Bellport before mounting an all-out attack. Since the destruction of Greenkeep, there is little to stop them crossing the upper Tessar, and an increasing number of farmsteads in these lands are deserted as folk flee to the relative safety of Stringen or the eastern towns and cities.
Bellport itself is still a city of grandeur, built into the rising Blemu Hills with great walls some 45' high facing the sea. Good, exceptionally hard gray Blemu stone was used to construct it, and the town is known as "Gray Steel" by many. The town is strong enough to withstand a very long siege, and the barbarians could not truly hope to take it. But the orcs, with so many of their number on the inside, would find matters much easier.

Bellport Mines: Horgren's Mine, Pyre
About 600 miners work at each of the vital electrum mines. The miners are slaves, criminals, and captured demihumans, brutally treated by the orcs who carefully guard the mines. The orcs are given a percentage of the value of ores extracted, with payment in kind—which means weaponry. The garrisons of Imperial Highlanders here (150 at each mine) loathe this  posting, and many would happily defect to join the bulk of their army to the west.
Horgren's mine is notoriously unsafe because of frequent flooding and the many sinkholes. Pit props rot swiftly here, and dozens of miners die in cave-ins each year. Pyre is so named because a strange stone formation atop the mine resembles the funeral pyre of some old barbarian tribes, and there are the usual tales of a curse being laid on the place. The highlanders have an additional reason for hating dispatch to this place. Both mines occasionally suffer monster attacks from xorn, horgar, and the like, but each highlander garrison has a small number of junior priests and mages among its number and can usually deal with such problems swiftly.
There are also several unnamed, small slate and stone quarries in the hills northwest of Bellport. These are guarded by relatively large garrisons (400 or so orcs each). The laborers here are zombies, animated from those fallen in the wars. No living humans are allowed to enter these quarries, and as a result all manner of rumors have grown up concerning what fell evils lurk there.”

Now this could be any city close to the Pellurian sea. Replace the barbarians by Jaden’s priates, and the Rakersmen by human collaborator mercenary troops, and you have a rather clear picture here.

8) “Bilebrine
Nearly 1,400 people live within the sea cave complex of Bilebrine. This town, if it can be called that, is owned by a Torquann princeling—as are most of the lands of the northeast beyond the Trask. For many years, an above-ground village was plagued by barbarian coastal raids and attacks from sea monsters, until the weary folk decided their best chance of survival was to stay within the confines of the caves, once they had been explored and mapped and made safe. The ruins of the original village still lie close to the shoreline above the caves themselves.”

Interesting idea of human refugees who flee the vilage and hide in the underlying sea caves. Maybe this could work in a small town near Baden’s bluff…

9) “Rinloru
Delglath's current policy is to gradually convert all ordinary folk into zombies. Skilled artisans and the like he must keep alive, since zombies are useless for skilled work, and of course people with adventuring abilities are important to his armies. However, Delglath is not wholly mad. He knows full well that the Rinloru Light Regiment, elite infantry, are important to any campaign of conquest, and their morale will hardly be improved by seeing all their families turned into zombies. Thus, Delglath concentrates on foreigners, orphans, the poorest folk of the city, and the like as initial targets. With about 3,000 zombies in the city already, he is making good progress.
What has happened to those surviving is the result of intense shock and a paradoxical passivity reaction. One might think that, faced with a charnel house of a city and the priests of Nerull in control, people would go to any lengths to flee. By now, exactly the reverse has happened. Many folk think they are virtually living dead, eking out the days until their turn comes. Their fate is inevitable. Resistance is futile.
Obviously, little trade flows through Rinloru now. What comes from the west detours southward to avoid this horrific city. Balancing this is the city's diminished need for money and food (an advantage of having undead legions as armies). Very few approach this place now.”

This might show what a city ruled by a necromant legate could quickly become…

10) “Reaperkeep
This mage's tower (and fortified garrison houses) acted as a supply base for the eastern Sea Keeps, though these have declined in importance. The Necromancer of Reaperkeep (renamed from its pre-war title of Ratkeep) has thrown in his lot with the priests of Nerull who now control the base. The vermin which infest the dank, fetid dungeons below the keep grow fat and sleek these days, feeding on the remnants of the necromancer's researches. A command to peasant farmers to bring supplies here is dreaded, since many do not return. Reaperkeep has more powerful undead than in most outlying areas, including a group of 20 or so wights controlled by the necromancer and priests. It is said that the necromancer has somehow obtained a blackwand from the Lands of Iuz and is researching it, hoping to duplicate it in a form he and others in Delglath's service can use. Obviously, any concerned with checking the spread of evil in these lands would strike a powerful blow if they prevented this from happening.”

Now imagine an evil channeler who just offered his dark powers to Izrador in exchange for his life. Or a channeler-legate specialized in necromancy. I like the idea of a rat invasion as a result of his dark practices. And what if this dark character had just plundered a long-forgotten dungeon and found an evil artefact that he will try to study in order to unlock its secrets?
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
****

Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
Gender: Male
Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2006, 03:40:42 PM »

11) “Elversford
The fortified village of Elversford has nearly 1,000 people behind its wooden walls and network of flooded ditches. Built on the bank of the river, a shallow moat has been created around the village. The waters are no more than four feet deep, deliberately to tempt any force attacking the village to try its luck wading through. The submerged metal-tipped spears beneath the moat waters would then inflict most unpleasant injuries on those entering. The iron tips have rusted, of course; but that's all the better for inflicting blood poisoning on anyone suffering a wound from a spear. The village has a wooden gatehouse with a drawbridge which is lowered to allow access to Elversford from the land.
Elversford is the major trading post for the Adri. Of course, there is little trade now, but a precious trickle of armor, weapons, and a handful of minor magical items makes its way here by one means or another. Mages such as Nukirien can teleport here. A few brave souls from Nyrond, who may have Adri relatives, even risk the Harp River from points west of Innspa or head down the southern spur of the Flinty Hills. These latter visitors are rare, however, simply because of the severe threats such travel poses. Few try these routes, and considerably fewer survive. Only those with magical protections (invisibility 10' radius and the like) come back more than once.
Elversford is well defended by Parren's ranger patrols, and the forest bowmen atop the wooden walls of the village are deadly shots (Dexterity scores of 12+1d6 for the 25 elite bowmen). There are two young mages (3rd and 5th level). At any time, their mentor Nukirien (a 10th-level mage) will be within the village. There are also a handful of priests of Ehlonna and other powers in the village, so that low-level spell defense is strong.
The people of Elversford are forced to forage into the forest for days at a time in search of food, simply because a settlement this size cannot support itself by fishing and livestock keeping. In a 20-mile radius east of the river, there are forester's huts along some of the most-traveled trails which are used by such foragers to rest and sleep. They always leave some food and water behind for those who come after them. Some of these have tiny, hidden chambers below the ground which have been laboriously dug out. A trapdoor, concealed below straw or matting above, gives access. Some foresters sleep in these tiny, lightless chambers, hoping that any raiders who might happen by will open the hut, see no one is there, and just take the food and depart. One or two lives have been saved this way, though the forest orcs have tumbled to the trick by now and know to look for such hidden trapdoors. Anyone caught in the chamber beneath is not necessarily a sitting target, for there are usually crossbows beneath them which can be set to fire at anyone opening the covering when a woodsman is asleep inside.
Elversford is the first place to come for characters in search of important Adri NPCs. Parren is usually here, and he knows where others such as Prisstyne, Lisara and Lukan can be found if they are not actually in Elversford when characters visit. Any characters who bring weaponry or similarly prized goods will be very welcome in Elversford—though Parren and the village elders will certainly want to know where any visitors come from and what their business is. Anyone approaching will be detected well before they get to the settlement.”

If you wanted an example of human refugees settlement in Erethor, this description could come in handy with a slight adaptation work.


12) “Sharpwall
Named after the palisade wall logs with their sharpened flint tops, Sharpwall boasts a strong central keep with a dozen wooden cabins. The Johrase bandit Kavern Egriassen, a 9th-level fighter, has set up camp here with some 25 equally vicious men from the Bandit Kingdoms, fleeing the forces of Iuz far to the northwest. Kavern and his men are well-armed and equipped, and among their number is a bandit with a good knowledge of forest plants and preparations from his days in the Fellreev Forest. He brews paralyzing and disabling venoms which the bandits use on spears and arrows. They make regular patrols looking for foresters, who they subdue with their venomed weapons and nets. These unfortunates are then sold as slaves, usually in Edge Field.
Kavern is tolerated as an opportunist by Hastern of Edge Field, because he brings a steady trickle of slaves into the city and offers no threat to Hastern's forces. Indeed, Kavern even sells them food when those forces enter the Adri, and sells information to the leader accompanying them.”

Now nobody ever said that only good people try to find a shelter in a forest (I don’t think the elves would let them operate, but what about finding this group in, say, the Forest of the Sahi?).

13) “The Deep Forest
As shown on the map, there are three tracts of deep forest; the Coldwood and two other, smaller, tracts of tangled heavy woodland. The Coldwood is a special, fell place of great peril. The other two areas have their own dangers.
In deep forest generally, monsters such as ettercaps and lyrannikin are a menace, and in one or two boggy places will o' wisps are likewise dangerous. There are more benign faerie beings outside of the Coldwood, but they shun human contact save for a few druids of Obad-hai whom they trust. These lands were once part of a much greater tract of deep forest, and the faerie beings blame humanity for the terrible fate which befell so much of their home.
The key to this hostility lies in the tale of the Coldwood, which reaches back into pre-history.

Darnakurian's Doom
At the heart of what is now the Coldwood, a great and majestic elven city once stood. Crafted from living woods, marble, silver, and even ice, the City of the Summer Stars was home to perhaps 2,000 gray elves. They were an introverted, studious, mystical people, and they sought no dominion outside their homelands. The spells and lore known to them is virtually beyond comprehension in the Flanaess now. By a wave of her hand, Queen Sharafere could make winds ripple through all the endless miles of the great forest, and summon unicorns, treants, and the beasts and birds of the forest to her glittering palace.
The demise of this race is a dreadful tragedy which few alive today know of. Those who know the tale do not speak of it. Mordenkainen, Philidor, Gywdiesin, Calendryen of the Vesve, Immonara, and the Silverbow Sages of the Lendore Isles are among that rare few, and perhaps one or two other mortals.
The City of the Summer Stars received emissaries from the Ur-Flannae. Those necromancers and wizards spoke honeyed words, but Sharafere saw the lust for magical power in their hearts and sent them away. In their rage and desire to possess the magic of the elves, the Ur-Flannae brought their own magic to assault the city. Fire and acid rained down from the skies. Fiends stalked the forests. Bulettes, xorn, and other monsters erupted from the very earth to strike at the foundations of the city.
Sharafere knew the city could hold against this assault, but the forest around was screaming its agony at the defoliation and slaughter which covered thousands of square miles. The undead and monsters of the invaders seemed countless in number; the elves slew thousands and still the Ur-Flannae mounted wave after wave of attack.
Sharafere's eldest son, Darnakurian, could take no more. A peerless enchanter, he called on many sources of power, even across the planes. From corners of the void dark voices came to him, seducing him with the promise of supreme power—power which could destroy the Ur-Flannae and save the city and the forest. Darnakurian grew gaunt and sleepless, barely ceasing his work to memorize more spells he needed in his race against time. Finally, he crafted the appalling sword the elves named Hunger. Marching to the throne room, he presented it in triumph to his mother as the instrument by which the elves could triumph and banish their evil foes.
Sharafere was appalled. The weapon's evil was apparent to her, hidden beneath the waves of magical power which emanated from it. She ordered him to destroy the malign sword, at which Darnakurian was aghast. Driven half-mad with bitter anger at what was happening to the forest and frustration at the thought that his endless work was valueless in his mother's eyes, he raised the sword and slew her in the Palace of the Heavens. Looking down at her body, the enormity of his crime came over him and the elf-prince was plunged into madness, his mind broken. He fled into the forest and came upon a conclave of necromancers. Then his doom came upon him in earnest.
Darnakurian slew thousands in a matter of hours. The circle of destruction his sword emanated cut a great swathe of horrific deaths before him as he charged the Ur-Flannae and drove them in terror from the forest. Finally, the elf-prince took himself back to the city. So weak was he by now that the sword controlled him utterly, and it drove him to slay his own people in the hundreds. Every gray elf alive in the City of Summer Stars either fled, never to return, or perished in that single day.

The Sentinels
At the heart of the Coldwood the old City of the Summer Stars has simply disappeared. The magic of the elves has faded, and the city with it. Some say that its ruins can be found within the Fading Grounds, but the portal to it within the Coldwood is unknown. All of the city is gone from Oerth—save Darnakurian's own keep. The elves named this Bitterness, a word with a more intense double meaning than in the Common tongue. It refers both to the dreadful tragedy of the prince, and also to the intensely bitter chill which gives the Coldwood its name. The Coldwood generally has temperatures below zero, but within five miles of Bitterness the temperature is virtually unbearable, all vegetation is frozen into stark, leafless forms—killed by the black permafrost which covers everything here. Spells such as control temperature 10' radius and magical items such as boots of the north are powerless to negate this bitter chill, or to protect characters from its effects.
No living man has ever entered Bitterness. Within it, Darnakurian's form is still alive—in some sense. A powerful temporal stasis spell, crafted by the last of the great gray elf wizards before they fled the city, imprisons him inside. He still holds Hunger on his lap as he sits frozen, staring out blindly into the great marbled hall of his home.
 No living man (or other sentient creature) is going to get anywhere near Bitterness if the guardians who prowl the margins of the Coldwood have their way. These gray elves are known as the Sentinels. There are 20 of them around the Coldwood, each a fighter/mage of great power (20+ levels split between their two classes). They have special magical defenses, with base 80% magic resistance and complete immunity to illusions and disabling spells such as hold, charm, domination and the like. They possess formidable magical items, with many holding rings of human control to keep potential intruders at bay. Some of these Sentinels are gray elves from the old city itself, which brings them close to the limit of their years. When a Sentinel grows old, and the time comes for him to pass from the world, another takes his place, usually sent by the Silverbow Sages of Lendore.
The Sentinels warn intruders not to enter the Coldwood, telling them of the dangers. Monsters such as remorhaz and white puddings prowl the intensely cold permafrost area. Elementals, golems formed of ice as hard as steel, and many still more dangerous magical guardians stalk the wood. Great necrophidii (4-10 HD) are the most numerous. The Sentinels invariably know when anyone approaches within a mile of the Coldwood, and they can teleport instantly to any point on its margins to ward off such folk. Great owls spy the margins and talk to the Sentinels, but the frozen spider's webs around the Coldwood are also said to be a magical detection system alerting them to visitors.
The Sentinels do not speak of themselves, nor exactly what the Coldwood contains. They say simply that great evil and danger lurk within, and that the magical stasis containing that evil must not be disturbed. They will not permit entry. Their own enchantments make it impossible for any to enter the wood by planar travel, teleporting and other magical means. If need be, the Sentinels will fight to prevent any entering. They prefer to use disabling spells such as charm, domination, hold, wall of force and their magical rings, but if there is no alternative, they will not hesitate to use lethal attacks by spell, device, or weapon. If a Sentinel is seriously endangered, he will flee using his teleport ability. However, in a short time other Sentinels will arrive to join the fray.

Additional DM Information
Player characters should not be seeking Darnakurian or his appalling sword! This is an intensely evil and very, very powerful artifact. Its powers are not specified here, and have waned a little since Darnakurian first crafted the relic, but it is known still to inflict destruction on any it strikes. Gywdiesin would say this is the least terrifying of its powers; there are fates worse than death, and Hunger can bring them to those to seek it. In addition, any character holding Hunger has his alignment immediately shifted to that of the bastard sword itself (Chaotic Evil) and becomes a pawn of the sword. Not even a wish (nor indeed any number of wishes) can prevent this, or release a character from the control of the sword. Rather, for adventures which involve the Coldwood and the Sentinels, see the Whispers and Ventures chapter for challenges to high-level characters!”

I think the whole Coldwood plot idea is great. Now imagine that such events took place in a long-forgotten glade of erethor, with a secret society of Whisper adepts trying to hide it (on behalf of Aradil of course)… Maybe the sword was one of the last artefacts that Ardherin crafted before departing for his last demon-hunt?
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
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Spell Energy / Taint +9/-2
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Posts: 635


Hiding from Shadow


« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2006, 03:42:33 PM »

14) “The Shuttleford Villages
Among the many small villages and hamlets along the lengthy, winding Flanmi River, High and Low Shuttleford are the largest, with some 1,200 or so folk in each village.
They flourished in the past as folk headed for Loutharn for the markets of the Wind Fair during the first week of Harvester, and coaching inns and taverns sprouted like weeds here. Now, however, the villages are avoided by most. There are two reasons for this.
 The first reason is the innate unpleasantness of the people. They seem to revel in clutter and filth; the contents of chamber pots are dumped wherever is convenient, and many people here suffer unpleasant diseases as a result.
Shuttleforders are dishonest, vicious folk. In the past, the landowner of the two villages, Prince Kobasten of Naelax, held this in check by virtual military rule. However, he fell foul of Ivid's priests. Now an animus, he has fled the lands, and his fate is unknown. The villages thus exist in a state of virtual anarchy, since none of Kobasten's relatives dares to assume control less the unpredictable animus-prince should return and show displeasure at another assuming his place.
The second reason for shunning these villages is that they have come, by virtue of their lack of rulership, to attract evil and vicious exiles from many Aerdi lands. Thus, the village herbalist may well turn out to be a disguised priest of Incabulos who will sell the innocent purchaser poison with a toothless grin. The butcher will have fresh meat as well as maggoty hunks for the poor, but one should not enquire too closely which type of creature the meat came from.
 The architecture of the villages, with crowded slum cottages and narrow, dark alleyways, adds to the crime and violence of the people. Throats are cut not just for a few copper coins here, but in a fit of rage that an ambushed victim has nothing of value to yield up to his assailant. These are places to avoid (which is an invitation to the DM to force PCs to seek someone hiding in one or the other village).”

Don’t know too much what to do with that one… It has some appeal but would need severe adaptation. Maybe a medium town whose legate has just been discovered to be a traitor and executed? No replacement has yet arrived and the whole place has turned to chaos… This could be a way to implicitly show the players that human people are already perverted in their daily behaviour in great masses by Izrador’s teachings and their own despair.

15) “Tar Hill
Tar Hill is a dangerous place; far more dangerous than all but a very few people know. Its surface appearance is strange enough, for below the slopes of the 500-foot peak lie many pits of resinous tar which are excavated for their special bounty. The thick, gluey tar pits are littered with the bones of huge animals, dinosaurs and the like, and some folk frighten rebellious or naughty children with tales of how the terrible great lizards which still lie far below the hill, trapped alive in tar, will come and feast on their flesh if they don't stop behaving badly.
What very few know is that, below the hill, there is indeed a hidden terror; the Cauldron of Night itself. Basmajian is the only one on the isles who knows of this, and the entrance to the Cauldron—fully 600 feet below ground and accessed through winding and dangerous mineshafts. It is protected with very powerful glyphs and other warding spells. The Cauldron is a great natural amphitheatre of ebony stone, with a central depression 50 feet across and seemingly endlessly deep, for it is filled with a magical darkness no scrying spell can penetrate. Radiating intense evil, the Cauldron is almost a sentient thing. Mages of great power who have come seeking stone for making artifacts have had the very marrow in the bones frozen and their bodies shattered into dust here, while others of much lesser attainments have been able to take one of the spine-like stalactites of the Cauldron by simply reaching out and breaking it off.
The Cauldron almost seems to choose who it will allow to harvest its dark riches and craft them into works of evil power. Yet, those mages who take something from the Cauldron always pay a heavy price for it, driven insane by their own creations or dragged off screaming by some gloating fiend, to endure untold horrors in the Abyss.
 Basmajian maintains a mercenary force of 100 well-armed and equipped warriors, with his most trusted adjutant in command, ostensibly to guard the tar pits (which yield much money for him) but also to make sure none enters the shafts leading to the Cauldron of Night. In truth, any who did so unprepared would meet a swift and grisly end, either fried alive by detonating glyphs or consumed by the monsters which prowl the shafts, among which xorn and earth elementals are perhaps the least dangerous.”

A source for an evil more ancient and mysterious than even Izrador? This could be an evil power nexus which the legates never really managed to harness. Or, this has become a place of piligrimage for a dark order of independent evil hermetic channelers. But its powers could maybe be used against Izrador as no-one knows which entity really controls this place… Maybe it is sentient. Or maybe Izrador was not the only evil god who was cast away on Aryth? (this one was weakened by Izrador but plots his revenge against him: just another possiblity). This whole plot is food for thought. The more I think about how I could integrate this into the Midnight setting, the more ideas come to my mind…

16)  “Mentrey
After the crushing of Pontylver, Mentrey was the next city of Medegia to be crushed by soldiers. Only a fifth of its original 16,000 people are left alive. The soldiers who sacked this city were predominantly orcish, and the cruelty with which they put commonfolk to the sword appalled even their evil human leaders.
Mentrey is now a city divided into occupied zones, east and west, by two armed groups who regularly skirmish in the city center. One group is a faction of Euroz orcs led by a one-armed orog said to be as strong as a cloud giant. The other is a force of around 800 mercenaries, bandits, and army deserters with no effective leadership. In truth, the humans lose as many men in drunken brawls and slayings as they do to the orcs they outnumber here.
City folk still mostly side with the humans, of course, but the orcs have enslaved the people in the areas they occupy and force them to construct barricades.
Mentrey had some warning of its fate after the fall of Pontylver, so many escaped in time. Learned men, of whom the city held many, were able to depart with many of their most treasured tomes and works. However, because of unusually high rainfall which made carts and wagons unable to travel the muddied roads heading northwest, much had to be left behind. There is many a private library, collection of art pieces, or even some magical items stashed away in some sealed-off cellar or basement which the raiders have not yet found. And there are many exiles who would pay well for the retrieval and return of the items.
Since this city was once the capital of Medegia, there is much in the way of hidden documents and archives of information, not to mention some of the contents of the city treasury which may yet be unlooted.”

Now imagine a city that dared rebel against its traitorous prince and was severely punished… Maybe the PCs played a key role in the rebellion, urging people to fight against their oppressors? And now they will have to live with the guilt of having led these people to their deaths…
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smeagol
Bane of Legates
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« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2006, 03:44:30 PM »

17) “Montesser
This is an extraordinary place. There are 600 or so orcs permanently encamped by the sea. That's not so unusual, but the fact that they are building their own wooden huts using materials from razed villages nearby is surprising.
The orcs have sewn crops (very haphazardly, admittedly) and have two fishing boats which have, despite all the odds, not yet sunk. The orcs even keep a few goats taken from deserted villages, and have a startling pride in them. They have been heard to compare the merits of different cheeses made from each individual nanny goat.
To top off this bizarre picture, the community is matriarchal, led by a priestess of Luthic who espouses the virtues of domesticity and nurturing, at least in the forms of growing food and protecting the young.
These orcs simply tired of war. Orcs are mostly warlike, to be sure, but a lifetime of being kicked around by other, more powerful, orcs got to be wearying. They deserted their brethren in Mentrey and settled here. Their alignment may be considered as verging on Lawful Neutral, since the society is well-organized, but the traditional evil streak is shown up in the harshness with which disputes are settled and other social practices.
These orcs are not weaklings. They patrol the perimeters of their camp and the shoreline, and they are ready to rise up at a moment's notice to strike down any seek to take away what little they have. They have a fierce pride in their little settlement.
Recently a Sea Barons vessel was blown off course and sighted the camp; an initial attempt to loot it was swiftly fought off by the well-drilled orcs, and the captain of the Asperdi vessel was sufficiently impressed to make peace with them. Now, the Sea Barons ship goods here, as the orcs desperately want better weapons and armor to defend themselves and tools to work their gardents. In exchange for the goods, the orcs provide foodstuffs and information about events in Medegia. The captain of the Asperdi vessel is always interested, given his trading with cities north of this troubled land and his periodic raiding of Medegian coastal towns and villages.
Since orcs are fecund, this settlement will grow unless it is wiped out by the mercenaries roaming the land. Should this happen, Oerth may find its first above-ground "civilized" orcish city.”

Now this definitely has some potential. A whole village of orc deserters fleeing their dark masters (and not necessarily converted to  good, simply trying to live their lives out of any military structure)… Just discovering the place might lead to interesting developments!

18) “Pontylver
Before the wars, Pontylver was a great city of some 30,000 people. Secure behind its city walls, built to protect it against piratical raids from Duxchan, it seemed a bastion of calm, culture, and learning.
Now, Pontylver is a nightmare city, only Chathold equalling the horrors here. The people who remain are mad, autistically depressed, or even animated as zombies. The city is stalked by 50 or more fiends of varying levels of power who prey on whoever they find. There are also considerable numbers of deserters, bandits, and orcs who seem consumed by a blood craze inspired by the mass slaughters they inflicted on the city. Horribly, there are several places in the city where great mounds of skeletons or decomposing bodies lie, and vermin, undead, and disease are rife.
Even the temple of Pyremius was sacked, and a thousand souls were crammed into the building which was then razed with fire so that only blackened stone and charred remnants of bodies remain. Even the Abyss itself has few sights as ghastly as this dreadful place.
The horrors of Pontylver impress themselves on any who enter it. The awful sights of the city, and the wretched ghosts who infest some of the sites of massacre, are bad enough.
However, the minds of those who venture here become obsessed by the carnage. Growing homicidal mania, delusional insanity, and worse have afflicted those who have visited even briefly, growing stronger over the months after they leave. Even spells as powerful as heal or remove curse seem only to delay the onset or development of these mental symptoms.
Thus, those entering this ruined place take more than their lives into their hands; their very souls may be lost in this citadel of holocaust. Yet, still people come. Some are those so ineffably evil that they seek to despoil the treasures undoubtedly left in temples, caring not for what may afflict them. Others come to fight with the bandits or orcs of the cities. Some are commanded by fiends to serve them here, though the purposes of the tanar'ri who remain are inscrutable.
Others, however, have a foolhardy bravery which overcomes their natural sense of caution. Pontylver was noted for its cathedral and scriptorium of Wee Jas, and the slain priests and priest-mages of that power had much magic. By no means could all of their wealth and magical items have been taken from the city. Any who come to seek the treasures must face all the hazards already mentioned—and the perils of crumbling and unsafe buildings and many magical traps. “

This could be a description of Cambrial or Cale or Nalford or any other martyr city. I especially like the notion of a place that can turn normal people to madness if they do not take enough precautions.


19) “Spikerift
Hidden away in the deepest forest, Spikerift is a deep natural depression in the forest floor descending some 150 feet to a water-filled rocky crater from which many small caverns and passageways lead, the entry to most of them being submerged. The vegetation is dominated by sharp-leaved grasses and long-thorned bushes, so that skin can be left badly bleeding and leather or clothing severely torn simply by trying to get through the tangle of undergrowth.
The water in the lakelet is inky black and bitterly cold even at the height of summer. Animal life is sparse, although from time to time great bubbles burst to the surface of the water, suggesting that something large is living at the bottom. Great eel-like creatures have been seen slithering into the cave entrances, and at nights a silky phosphorescence has been seen at the entrance to some cave mouths.
 There are many wild rumors about Spikerift and the monsters, magic and evil which lurk in the submerged caves. Even elves and rangers avoid the caves, fearing they might awaken a slumbering evil. The most persistent rumor is that a priest of Nerull has been placed in temporal stasis by rival priests of Hextor. As part of the powerful wards which bind him into that state, a potent good-aligned magical artifact had to be used to neutralize the evil magic which some might attempt to use to awaken the priest. Taking the artifact, variously described as a stave or crook, would free the priest. Any attempting to retrieve it had best be sure they could deal with an enraged and powerful priest of the Reaper, else their meddling would bring a terrible new danger to the Grandwood.”

I like the idea of having to release an ancient evil character in order to be able to grab a good artefact. Is it worth the risks?

20) “Tormengrend
Tormengrend is described here as a typical larger settlement of woodsfolk; others of similar size certainly exist, but have relatively little to distinguish them from this place.
Wooden palisade walls with sharpened tips protect the hamlet, which has 28 wooden cabins and 117 people living within. Three rangers (of 2nd, 3rd and 5th level) guard an area of some 100 square miles centered on the settlement. Further guarding comes in the form of concealed pits dug around the hamlet, which have spiked spear traps set within them. Because of these, children are never allowed to leave the hamlet to play unescorted. Only when a child has his coming of age at 14 and shows that he has memorized exactly where every pit is can he leave alone. Even then, that's rare; foraging, trapping or taking fungi, berries, tubers, elderberries and the like is done by small groups of people.
Tormengrend is unusually fortunate in that it has a resident 1st-level priest of Atroa with the herbalism proficiency, able to cure wounds and make poultices and nonmagical potions for all kinds of ailments. The mustard foot baths and inhalations for the colds of winter are the most widely used. She can also extract rotted teeth swiftly and efficiently, and that's no little blessing for such humble forest people.
The hamlet also has a prized armory—a half-dozen elven longbows brought by wood elf visitors one Brewfest and two longswords brought by the oldest of the rangers from a skirmish with imperial deserters. These supplement the staves, spears, and crossbows the villagers have, with the best of the foragers having heavy hunting and skinning knives as well.
This is a humble place. Tormengrend, and anywhere like it, is a good setting to give PCs who take much for granted a reminder of the wrinkles of everyday real life in the Grandwood.”

Yet another model for a human refugee village in Erethor.


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smeagol
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« Reply #5 on: August 09, 2006, 03:45:54 PM »

21) “Citadel of Salt
Here, a castle is being erected on the site of a keep razed by Osson during the wars which once protected an old salt trade route from the east, hence the name. Harnnad has dwarven prisoners taken from Sunndi. He forces them to work on the fortification, their loyalty ensured by the fact that their children are kept hostage at Bluelode against any possibility of sabotage. Unfortunately, since most of the laborers they direct are criminals serving forced labor terms, the dwarves cannot keep up with the punishing schedule for completing the work (which is planned to finish in the summer of 586 CY). The dwarves are regularly beaten and brutally treated by their captors, many of whom are orcs and half-orcs.
The citadel is being built as a defensive bastion and riverboat base to protect the lands from the folk of Sunndi, making their work even more odious to the wretchedly unhappy dwarves forced to work here.”

Now would Midnight dwarves accept to get captured as prisoners? Probably not if they have some choice. Even if their family were captured, I doubt they would bear the burden of captivity, probably preferring mass suicides. But the use of sleep gases to capture whole cities alive whose population would then be  treated as slaves has some appeal… The irony of having the dwarves’ expertise in building be turned for their victors is too big to be dismissed.

22) “The Bonewood
Once known as the Thelwood, this has never been a populous forest. However, its woodsmen have made superb infantry and bowmen, playing a leading role in taking the lands south of the Grayflood in times gone by and demonstrating excellent morale and pride. Now, perhaps only 1,000 of the 5,000 or so original pre-war foresters are left, living only on the very margins of the wood.
Shortly before the outbreak of war, a horrifying change came over the woods. Trees almost ossified overnight, their barks becoming bleached and hard as stone. In moonlight, they looked like ghastly bony sentinels, hence the name of the wood these days. The few treants of the Thelwood vanished; trees were transformed in an ever-wider area from the heart of the forest. Game became scarcer and undergrowth shrivelled. Any who tried to stay alive in this place found themselves succumbing to disease or madness, haunted by phantoms and nightmares.
Now some 80% of the Bonewood is a barren, lifeless shell, with only the yellowy-white "bone" trees remaining. The cause of this change is wholly unknown, but it is striking that the few druids of Obad-hai once here have fled—surely a sign that some truly dire evil is at work now. Likewise, the wood elves and voadkyn have departed, taking refuge in Rel Deven, pondering on what they can do to return the Thelwood to its former state.”

A good example of what happens when the protector spirit of an area is destroyed, if you ask me.


23) “Narsel Mendred
These ruins were once the second city of Almor, not as populous as Chathold, but wealthy, well-built, and a pleasing sight to the eye. Orc armies decimated the city with siege weaponry, so that the semi-deserted city ruins are filled with debris and rubble. Perhaps only a tenth of the city's buildings are still standing in anything like their pre-war condition, and fully half have been razed.
The city ruins are the haunt of desperate Almorian refugees, men turned to banditry, renegade orc militias, and occasionally a solitary fiend prowling for prey (nabassu favor Narsel Mendred as a hunting ground). While there are not the horrors of Chathold here, the inhabitants are desperate and dangerous, and strangers will be attacked more or less on sight. A tiny enclave of priests of Pholtus struggles to survive here, guarding the rescued treasures of their power's shattered cathedral with their lives. A trio of young priests of Ehlonna, caught up in the razing of the city, hides in an undercity-crypt complex, protecting a ragged bunch of 40 young children they ushered out of a school just after the orcs breached the city gates. They must perforce go above ground to find what food they can, from the wild plants growing in the old city gardens, but their lot is desperate.
The ruins of this city contain several such tiny pockets of pitiable folk, hoping against hope for someone to come and lead them to safety. Any who do so would, in their way, further the cause of Good as much as if they retrieved some icon or relic from a sacred site in such a place.”

Now that would be a good example of a fallen elf or dwarf  city in the great war that is raging in Erethor or the Kaladruns.

Hope these excerpts have stimulated your creativity. They are just meant as a spark to your imagination.



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