Housekeeping

It’s (shockingly) been more than a year since I last posted something to the blog. I can’t attest to doing anything more constructive over the last twelve months than improving my Xbox gamerscore, but there are a few announcements that I wanted to share with you all.

D&D Fifth Edition Launches Tomorrow!

Kinda. As of 3rd July (probably quite late in the day UK time) the first iteration of the new Basic Dungeons & Dragons game will be available to freely download from the Wizards of the Coast website. For those of you who haven’t been following every scrap of information on this topic: Basic D&D is *not* a simplified version of the 5th edition game – it’s the full game, albeit with less options that you’ll eventually find in the new Player’s Handbook.

Tomorrow you’ll find rules for character creation and advancement for the simplest build of the four core classes, as well as rules on how to play, equipment and spells. As more products are released over the coming months so this free version of the game will expand with more content. Expect monsters to appear after the launch of the Monster Manual, for example.

Following the release of Basic D&D the new D&D Starter Set launches in mid-July, followed by the new Player’s Handbook in August, the Monster Manual in late September and the Dungeon Master’s Guide in November. There’s a few adventures in the mix as well. This is a staggered release similar to third edition in 2000, so will be easier on my wallet.

A new 5th Edition mini-campaign, anyone?

I’m very enamoured with the new D&D rules. I think they’re the best version of D&D to date, and I’d like to take them for a test drive. Therefore I’m going to be a running the mini-campaign presented in the D&D Starter Set. It’s set in the Forgotten Realms and designed to take PCs from 1st to 5th level – about eight sessions worth of adventuring (or twenty-eight at the rate we normally play). I don’t have a specific start date in mind, neither have I decided whether I want to run it on a weekly or ad hoc basis. I don’t want it to drag out too long, though. Basically I’ll be guided by player availability.

Which brings me on the subject of players. I need some. Ideally five, which seems a tall order in these uncertain times. I have had some interest, but any of you who a) live within striking distance, b) feel like some new D&D, and c) I’ve actually met, please drop me an email.

Iourn.com has gone AWOL

For those of you keeping track of such things, access to www.iourn.com has been impossible for month or so. I’m not entirely sure why, but as the site hasn’t been updated since January 2009 I’m not in a big hurry to solve the mystery.

Please don’t worry that we’ve lost any content. I have the entire site backed up in various places. If any of you want a full copy of the site for your reference then send me an email and I’ll endeavour to get one over to you.

My longer term plan is to recreate the old site (including all its content) in WordPress. It would make it easier for me to maintain and update it, although I’d need to think long and hard about the format, navigation, theme etc. WordPress also has the advantage of being equally legible on a variety of different devices, which can only be a good thing in this post-PC world.

D&D Third Edition (Pathfinder) Campaigns

My weekly Iourn campaign, Prophet and Loss, is currently on hiatus due to player availability. I’m in no hurry to start running it again, and am happy to wait until everyone has the time and energy to continue the campaign. I still have all my notes and we can pick up where we left off fairly easily.

The ongoing adventures of the Chosen of Narramac that began back in 2000 will continue with a third campaign, To End All Wars, starting in August. This time our high level heroes are sharing the limelight with a new collection of first level PCs.

The Conversion Catalogue

I did threaten to use this blog as a venue for thrashing out rules for the conversion of old 3.5 material into Pathfinder. I’m shortly going to make good on that threat with an exploration of the third edition Warlock. I have need for warlocks in my ongoing game, and would like to throw out some ideas.

The 3.5 warlock is a bit too focused to stand against other Pathfinder classes. By taking a leaf out of fourth edition I think we can introduce different class abilities based on pacts (Fey and Star as well as the default Infernal); the Warlock’s Curse from 4e is also something worth exploring, I think. I’m also of a mind to make Hexblades and (possibly) Binders archetypes of the Warlock.

Watch this space for more information.

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Prophet and Loss: Iourn Timeline

Go to the Prophet and Loss campaign index


With the restart of the Prophet and Loss campaign almost upon it, it’s time to remind everyone of where the campaign sits in the wider Iourn timeline. So here are all the major events of the campaign in chronological order, with a few other occurances that hopefully put everything in context. And no, we still haven’t caught up with the Hand that Rocks the Cradle timeline. Soon. Soon…

The timeline primarily uses the Urova calendar as that’s what most of the players are used to. Hadradan dates are given in parenthesis.

Zephday, 45 Ember Eve 204 LE (Ekamon’cin, 45 Aviember 1325 AC)

Alarius uses the Gift of Ysberyl to give the people of the Great Dark hope. As a result the blight is destroyed and the Enceinte falls. The forces of Karatath are now free to move to the Northern World. [Game of Souls campaign, session 40].

Vítday, 1 New Year 205 LE (Elyas’cin, 1 Arabeeth 1326 LE)

The Chosen of Narramac are charged with raising a league of light, a grand alliance to face Karatath in the coming war. [League of Light campaign, session 1].

Terday, 2 Scatterseed 205 LE (Vanda’cin, 2 Ésay 1326 AC)

Assassination of Hadradan Emperor Vintavius. Calguru becomes the emperor-in-waiting and is crowned in a lavish ceremony six days later. [discovered in League of Light campaign session 105].

Sunday, 28 Scatterseed 205 LE (Sun’cin, 28 Ésay 1326 AC)

Enormous battle in the Astral Plane, a great alliance of githzerai, clerics of the Arcanum Incognita, and the Chosen of Narramac succeed in defeating the Githyanki Lich Queen and reopening the plane’s borders. [League of Light campaign, session 69].

Caladay, 32 Scatterseed 205 LE (Saladun’cin, 32 Ésay 1326 AC)

With the support of Mortis, Khargan Batukhan of the Maldomoori and the once-gods Alluvian and Dracanish repair the Soulways, redirecting them through the Shadowfell. Othea, the Queen of Ravens, becomes shepherdess of the Dead. The Erewhoi cease to exist. [League of Light campaign, session 78].

Morday, 34 Scatterseed 205 LE (Timani’cin, 34 Ésay 1326 AC)

Lokan Kalharn, Kiplex, Malcus, Elleya and Zin arrive in Junos. [League of Light campaign, session 117].

Sharday, 47 Scatterseed 205 LE (Cassiah’cin, 47 Ésay 1326 AC)

An earthquake strikes the island of Angleburg in the Sasheenie Sea, opening up access to dangerous caverns beneath the island. [revealed in Prophet and Loss campaign, session 15]

Sunday, 49 Scatterseed 205 LE (Sun’cin, 49 Ésay 1326 AC)

The Second Battle of Pesh. Orcus escapes Barathrum, and Asmodeus is ‘destroyed’. The changelings are forced back to Pandemonium. [League of Light campaign, session, session 103]

Zephday, 10 Firststeps 205 LE (Ekamon’cin, 10 Callabron 1326 AC)

Death of Cezallatānshae and the Jabberwork. Karatath’s hold over the Land of Dreams is disrupted. The Vikallians and the elves of the Greymere join the League of Light. Raza is imprisoned in Shallambor. [League of Light campaign, session 116].

Caladay, 11 Firststeps 205 LE (Saladun’cin, 11 Callabron 1326 AC)

The Council of Korvast is held. [League of Light campaign, session TBA].

Vítday, 1 Gentle Days 205 LE (Elyas’cin, 1 Úsagar 1326 AC)

A vision of the future predicts Karatath’s main force will land on Belsinor’s Girdle on this day. [discovered in League of Light campaign, session 33].

Zephday, 17 Gentle Days 205 LE (Ekamon’cin, 17 Úsagar 1326 AC)

Ariel, Durral, Eradina and Hector are released from the Immartis Pennetentiary by Wayfarer Thotik. They are given a mission to deliver a mysterious box in return for their freedom [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 1].

Caladay, 18 Gentle Days 205 LE (Saladun’cin, 18 Úsagar 1326 AC)

The party discover they are transporting a Sashelan Seeing Stone, and they see a vision of the destruction of Daukoth. The stone is returned to the sea-elf Amendra. The group then battle the demon Ravnos. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 2].

Morday, 20 Gentle Days, 205 LE (Timani’cin, 20 Úsagar 1326 AC)

Ariel, Durral, Eradina and Hector confront Thotik over their mission. They are told that someone in the Sasheenie is collecting artefacts that foretell the future. They agree to help Thotik. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 2].

Morday, 34 Gentle Days 205 LE (Timani’cin, 34 Úsagar 1326 AC)

Having found a new lead, Thotik sends Hector and Durral to rendezvous with The Barracuda. Durral immediately reads the secret correspondence he is entrusted with. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 4].

Morday, 41 Gentle Days 205 LE (Timani’cin, 41 Úsagar 1326 AC)

Montes, Jumah and Talon arrive on Taratega. Montes is mistaken for noted thief Don Spiritus, and employed by Antoine DeTrois to steal a necklace from pirate captain Eleyna MacBride. The party betray DeTrois and side with MacBride leading to an upleasent encounter with DeTrois’s employer: a sahuagin priest. [Prophet and Loss campaign, sessions 3-4].

Sunday, 42 Gentle Days 205 LE (Sun’cin, 42 Úsagar 1326 AC)

MacBride’s ship, The Barracuda, sails from Taratega. Montes, Jumah and Talon are now part of the crew. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 4].

Vítday, 43 Gentle Days 205 LE (Elyas’cin, 43 Úsagar 1326 AC)

The Barracuda rendezvous with The Endurance. Durral and Hector join the ship and the party. They are all now en route to the island of Kalindon to find the wreck of the Tomfoolery and the statue of the Weeping Emperor Ocheeb that it carried. Thotik hopes they can get there before the sahuagin. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 4].

Terday, 44 Gentle Days 205 LE (Vanda’cin, 44 Úsagar 1326 AC)

Landfall on the wrecks that surround the Bitter Shoals. Montes has a nasty fall – something to do with giant crabs. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 4].

Zephday, 45 Gentle Days 205 LE (Ekamon’cin, 45 Úsagar 1326 AC)

Montes is restored by local healer Shantalah, and the party investigate the main town on the island discovering much about the arrangement between the village elders and the pirate captain Balmec, the lighthouse and the beast of Kalindon. Jumah gets jiggy with a local girl named Dori. After lunch the party battle the beast (an owlbear) and head to the lighthouse to speak to the keeper, Antonus Zerif. He is revealed to be an undead menace, and is eventually put down by the party. [Prophet and Loss campaign, sessions 5-7].

Caladay, 46 Gentle Days 205 LE (Saladun’cin, 46 Úsagar 1326 AC)

From the lighthouse, the party spy sahuagin arriving on Kalindon. They then return to the village and meet with chief elder Jonos, the seductive Elise (assumed to be a spy for Balmec) and Allie, the lighthouse keeper’s daughter. Montes tries to negotiate acquisition of the missing statue, but Jonos says that it is in Balmec’s hands. Discussions go south and the party are forced to battle (and kill) the town gendarmerie. After order is restored, Elise agrees to take the party to Balmec’s hide-out and hopefully recover the statue. Shantalah blesses them. [Prophet and Loss campaign, sessions 7-9].

Sharday, 47 Gentle Days 205 LE (Cassiah’cin, 47 Úsagar 1326 AC)

The party arrive at Balmec’s secret cove HQ and discover that the pirates are unkillable due to a bargain made with Umberlee. Hiding in a large pyramid (which has a connection to the shadow plane) they find a conch that symbolises the bargain Balmec made. The Fortunate Son arrives with prisoners from the village, although Balmec is immediately distracted by the theft of the conch and the appearance of sahuagin. After many discussions and fights with the undying pirates and the sea devils, Durral smashes the conch causing Umberlee’s magic to be undone. The pirates are transformed into hideous undead creatures and the sea claims them. But the Statue of Ocheeb is revealed as a fake. [Prophet and Loss campaign session 9-14].

Morday, 48 Gentle Days 205 LE (Timani’cin, 48 Úsagar 1326 AC)

The party return the liberated islanders to their village. Jumah is married to Dori in a service conducted by Montes, and promises to send her to his palace in Jahalabah to live with all his other wives. Knowing that the fake statue of Emperor Ocheeb was sold my a merchant called Lychelle of Angleburg, The Barracuda departs on the evening tide for that island. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 14].

Vítday, 1 Brightday 205 LE (Elyas’cin, 1 Antovius 1326 AC)

Birth of Elias’s second child. Death of Alessandre. [campaign TBA, session TBA]

En route to Angleburg, the party spy a sea-elf being pursued by three great white sharks. They rescue her, but Jumah is killed in the battle. He awakens en route to the underworld, where a death giant Motorri extorts from him a promise to seek out the missing goddess Naefaetarin in return for returning to the land of the living. Meanwhile, the sea-elf is introduced to Montes, Durral and Talon as Museio and tells the party that she has seen a force of sahuagin plotting to attack Angleburg and retrieve something called the Stone Which Abides. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 14].

Terday, 2 Brightday 205 LE (Vanda’cin, 2 Antovius 1326 AC)

Jumah retreives his body and is taken to Angleburg by Captain Balmec and the Fortunate Son. He arrives just as The Barracuda docks, and at the same moment as a vicious attack by the sahuagin: town guards, pirates and the party unite to drive them off. The party are introduced to Pierwarden Marley Rinnow (daughter of the Potentate who rules here). She explains the island has been beset by sahuagin-trouble since an earthquake two months ago. Jumah informs the others of his resurrection, and tells his eidolon Mazin El-Kahir of his great new quest. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 15].

Zephday, 3 Brightday 205 LE (Ekamon’din, 3 Antovious 1326 AC)

The party in Angleburg meet with the Potentate. Montes gains leave to investigate Lychelle, who apparently died in a cave-in while excavating caverns opened up by the recent earthquake. Talon sends a message to his home to report one of Balmec’s crew (Irduin) was trained as a magus like himself. Jumah books passage for Dori to Jahalabah. The party investige Lychelle’s shop and meet her father, Ulogor. It seems the statue was dragged out of the back into a creepy house. The inside of the house is painted as a giant moving fresco, and Jumah, Talon and Montes are drawn into the painting where sahuagin cultists are worshipping the Abyssal Lord Dagon. Durral leads the local guard into the house to rescue his friends. Montes begins his inexplicable suspicion of guardsman Bertram, shortly before the guard’s house explodes. Montes requests to exhume Bertram’s mother. Why? The party continues their investigations into the sahuagin and Lychelle. Jumah discovers the sahuagin are using the sewers to gain access to the town. That night, the sahuagin attack Angleburg in force and the party help defend the town. Two thugs try to rough up Montes in a dark alley. He kills them. After the fighting is over Elise suggests to Durral that they seek out the Witch of the Waves to remove the curse Captain Balmec has placed upon them. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 15-18].

Caladay, 4 Brightday 205 LE (Saladun’cin, 4 Antovious 1326 AC)

Bertram’s mother’s body is exhumed. The explosives that destroyed Bertram’s house are traced to a local alchemist called Remeldus, but it is his young assistant Delilah Tyde who tried to kill Bertram. She blames Bertram and other guards for the disappearance of her brother Salish, who was going to inform on them for petty corruption. Montes feels vindicated, and shops for equipment to follow Lychelle’s ill-fated expedition. Digging after Lychelle takes a long time. Jumah swims around the island looking for another way into the tunnels and sees a huge force of sahuagin and a summoned demon (a hezrou). Jumah tries to stop them but the hezrou attacks and destroys Kahir, ripping the eidolon from his body. The other party members join the guard in defending the town. Durral asks for help from the local blackcloak, Merry, who raises an undead army to oppose the Sahuagin. The demon is heading to assassinate the potentate, but the party intercede and Talon eventually manages to kill the monster. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 18-21].

Sharday, 5 Brightday 205 LE (Cassiah’cin, 5 Antovius 1326 AC)

After a long rest and slap-up lunch the party descend into Lychelle’s tunnels in the early afternoon. They find a number of dead bodies (all members of Lychelle’s party) but they do not find Lychelle herself. The party find Delilah’s brother Salish, who is a cursed lycanthropic seawolf. Earning his trust, Salish reveals that the sahuagin were in the tunnels but left earlier today, presumably having found what they were after. Heading into the lowest levels, the party find a weird and alien city of considerable age. There was something down here, presumably the Stone that Abides, but now it is gone. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 21-23].

Morday, 6 Brightday 205 LE (Timani’cin, 6 Antovious 1326 AC)

Returning to the main town in Angleburg the party report to the Potentate. They are not expecting any more trouble from the sahuagin. The real statue of the Weeping Emperor Ocheeb is found by tiefling shopkeeper Calamedes in a backstreet in town and taken to his shop. Excessively puzzled, the party liberate it for Thotik. Talon receives a message from his family calling him home to Elrathis to speak about Irduin. Jumah mistakenly books passage on The Barracuda for Dori, and hires a bodyguard to go with her to Jahalabah. [Prophet and Loss campaign, session 23].

Sunday, 7 Brightday 205 LE (Sun’cin, 7 Antovius 1326 AC)

The Barracuda leave the island of Angleburg and heads south to take the statue of the Weeping Emperor Ocheeb to Daukoth.

Caladay, 11 Brightday 205 LE (Saladun’cin, 11 Antovius 1326 AC)

The Barracuda arrives at Taratega, and the party divides. Dori and her masked protector search for a boat to take them north to Jahalabah. Meanwhile, Talon bids a temporary farewell to his companions as he returns to Elrathis. Durral, Hector, Jumah and Montes continue south with Captain MacBride.

Morday, 13 Brightday 205 LE (Timani’cin, 13 Antovius 1326 AC)

Captain MacBride orders the Barracuda to pursue a heavily laden trading vessel. Both ships fall into an bizarre hole in the ocean and plummet to the sea bed. The pirate ship cannot be salavaged. The crew of the other ship are revealed as Hadradans from Mandatum Veritatas led by Prelate Orrax Dandanaeo and Castellan Morikai Gargano who are transporting sixty orphans for indoctrination. As the crews bicker Jumah, Durral, Montes and Elsie follow a passage that has opened up. They travel to a temple of Yeathani where the cleric, Isker, has called for their help. His clergy disturbed something terrible in the Shadow Plane and now he wants to pass on the knowledge of the temple and dire warning of the future. Fleeing the tenebrous worm that erupts from Isker’s body the party return to the ships and float back to the surface on the Hadradan vessel. Both crews are now adrift on broken ship. [Prophet and Loss campaign, sessions 24-25].

Vítday, 17 Brightday 205 LE (Elyas’cin, 17 Antovius 1326 AC)

Talon arrives in Elrathis and meets with his mentor, Sadron.

Vítday, 43 Brightday 205 LE (Elyas’con, 43 Antovius 1326 AC)

Dori arrives in Jahalabah.

Morday, 48 Brightday 205 LE (Timani’cin, 48 Antovius 1326 AC)

A vision of the future predicts Karatath’s forces will land unopposed at Kannalas in Norandor, Heliobar in Junos and Palidines in Sorostrae. [discovered in League of Light campaign, session 33].

Vítday, 1 Suntask 205 LE (Elyas’cin, 1 Khayember 1326 AC)

It is the sixteenth birthday of Queen Caemlia of the city-state of Alotha in the Cradlelands. During the celebrations, she is brutally murdered. In the absence of the court wizard, the career politician Orsik Corundum guides the coutry. [Hand that Rocks the Cradle campaign, session 1].

Vítday, 1 Lollmeadow 205 LE (Elyas’cin, 1 Sharif 1326 AC)

Cyr Kallaine, Alrik Gunlaugsson, Will Docket, Ennui, Nebble de Chesiré, Thornval Stormshield and the inimitable Bane are shipwrecked on the goblin-infested island of Ao-Rach. They have no memory of the past month. [Hand that Rocks the Cradle campaign, session 1].

Sharday, 5 Lollmeadow 205 LE (Cassiah’cin, 5 Sharif 1326 AC)

After escaping Ao-Rach, the Cradlelands party are back on the mainland in the village of Dardellon. They encounter prophecies regarding the end of the world, the extraplanar Abeyance of Cold Flesh, and a evil cult known as the Aastercorians. They also discover dragonborn returning to Iourn – being born in the bodies of humans. [Hand that Rocks the Cradle campaign, sessions 5-8].

Zephday, 10 Lollmeadow 205 LE (Ekamon’cin, 10 Sharif 1326 AC)

The Cradlelands party discover that Queen Camelia is dead, and that they are the killers. They travel to Dymon’s Farr to find out the truth and get caught up in a mobster’s scheme to sell a group of elven fortune-tellers to the sahuagin. [Hand that Rocks the Cradle campaign, sessions 9-12].

Zephday, 17 Lollmeadow 205 LE (Ekamon’cin, 17 Sharif 1326 AC)

On the road to Alotha, Alrik and Nebble are arrested. The other PCs head into the city to commence their investigations. [Hand that Rocks the Cradle campaign, session 13].

Morday, 20 Lollmeadow 205 LE (Timani’cin, 20 Sharif 1326 AC)

The Cradlelands party arrives in Aloth and makes contact with Nymphaea Vyrn. [Hand that Rocks the Cradle campaign, session 19].

Sharday, 26 Lollmeadow 205 LE (Ekamon’cin, 24 Sharif 1325 AC)

The Cradlelands party discovers that Queen Camelia is still alive. They affect a rescue, and it is accepted that they were dominated by aberrant Aastercorians during the original attack on the Queen. The motives of the Aastercorians and their obsession with quintessence (the tangible manifestation of Fate’s tapestry) is yet to be revealed. [Hand that Rocks the Cradle campaign, sessions 20-27].


Go to the Prophet and Loss campaign guide

Prophet and Loss: Session Two

Go to the Prophet and Loss Campaign index


Delivery From Evil

Part Two
17 November 2010

Starring: Adrian (Hector III), INdran (Ariel), Marc (Eradina Darkwood), Neil (Durral)


Caladay, 18 Gentle Days 205 LE

At dawn the party decide that enough is enough and the time has come to open the box. Durral examines the artefact carefully searching along its smooth length for anything that might resemble a lid or a lock. Hector opines that it is obviously a magical box, and it will take more that five minutes of long-fingered tomfoolery to gain entry. He hasn’t finished speaking by the time Durral has undone the latch and is sliding the lid off.

Inside the box, and wrapped very carefully to keep it from moving about is a large opalescent sphere roughly a foot in diameter. It looks like a giant pearl of some sort, although Ariel says that it is much more than that. A cursory look with the detect magic spell reveals strong divination magicks. Durral, who is holding the orb looks over his shoulder to the sea. What would happen if they did get it wet?

The conversation bats back and forth, but in the end they decide to wrap the thing up and carry on hoofing it south to Ellasensa. Durral seems a little disappointed.

South of the Wall, Daukoth is transformed. It is no longer a verdant tropical paradise, but a land of rock and sand and mangroves that stretches out into the Sasheenie . This is a fractured land, divided into hundreds of tiny islets, and at the mercy of the tides. Areas of solid land disappear at certain times of the day, and even the land that is high enough to survive the tides is cut through with shallow salt water channels: an easy avenue for ocean predators to approach the shore.

It is not long before the party get a glimpse of such a monster. A huge predatory whale perhaps fifty feet in length drifts past them in the clear water. It is a peculiar thin beast, sleek but still ill-adapted for the narrow channels. Its presence makes the occasional wading between areas of higher ground all the more dangerous. Halfway across one channel the party are alarmed by the chatter of tree-dwelling monkeys announcing the approach of danger. Eradina is about to throw the box in the water and draw her axe, until she realises it is not the beast but Ariel’s crocodile companion, Rippersnapper, returning to his mistress.

A little later the party comes face to face with its first obstacle. Their route through high ground takes them across a small sand-bank and across a wide but narrow channel and onto the rocky beach beyond. The tide is coming in and the sand bank will disappear in a few hours. This would not be a problem, but for two things. Firstly the whale is circling the area, and would have no issue in attacking them as they tried to cross the channel. Secondly, the reason for the whale’s appearance is a trapped brontothere in the middle of the sand-bank.

The amphibious, rhino-sized creature had evidently been trapped on the sandbank by the whale that is now waiting for the tide to recede. Ariel says that brontothere’s are notoriously violent creatures, and one in such a state of agitation will only be marginally less dangerous to the party than the whale. She doesn’t fancy her chances of calming the creature.

Time is not on the side of the group, and they discuss their course of action. Eradina is not surprised when Hector announces that he has no magic that will get them out of their current predicament. But Ariel notices something. The whale is not particularly patient. It is making a number of runs at the sand-bank trying to get at its meal. Even though the brontothere can (for the moment at least) easily evade such clumsy attacks, they are enacted with such vigour that the whale is in danger of grounding itself. Ariel says that they need to pick their moment, and then make a run for it.

By any standard, it’s an appalling plan. However, with nothing better on offer the group decides they’ll give it whirl. Hector is confident that he’ll be able to outrun Eradina while she’s carrying the box, after all.

Soon the moment is upon them. The whale makes a rush at the beach that is so violent, that it beaches itself on the sandbank. As the great beast tries to fidget itself back into the water, the party charge across the sand bank. The brontothere, which retreated from the attack of the whale, sees them coming and immediately interprets them as another attack.

Hector and Ariel manage to dodge nimbly across and get to the water on the far side. The slow-moving Eradina makes more of a target. Fortunately, Durral is on hand to distract the brontothere. Bouncing a rock off the beast’s forehead he draws the massive herbivore toward him.

Eradina stares in disbelief as Durral runs at full-pelt toward the charging brontothere in a game of chicken that can only end with Durral as little more than a damp smudge on the sand. But Durral has a plan. Using his uncanny acrobatics, he intends to somersault over the beast wrong-footing it and dashing to safety. It is a bold plan, and one that immediately fails.

Mistiming his leap, Durral instead jumps straight into the waiting horns of the brontothere. His three companions watch has he is catapulted several dozen feet into the air, and lands on the far side of the sandbank with only his chin to break his fall. Eradina scampers over, picks up the unconscious Durral in the arm that isn’t carrying the lead-lined box and proceeds to wade across the channel to join her fleet friends.

She just manages to get across before the whale frees itself, and drops her burdens to the ground. She leaves Ariel to pump some of Thotik’s healing potion into the acrobatically-challenged rogue. Once revived, Durral seems more disappointed than traumatised.

After recovering from their near-death experience, and noting that if they were being followed by the red kobold, he can’t possibly be following them now, the party continue their journey south. It is not long before the next obstacle is upon them.

Further down the beach, the sand looks as though it is moving. A closer inspection by reveals that it is heaving with thousands upon thousands of crabs. The swarm seems to be picking over the remains of a number of humanoid figures who are lying sprawled on the beach. The ravenous little creatures are too busy to notice the approach of the party, but they are acting as a barrier to further progress.

Hector smiles an oily smile and says that this time he has the means to rescue them from their predicament. Rummaging in his becoming man-bag he produces a tattered scroll that seems to have seen better days. The wizard reveals that this is a scroll of fireball that he has been keeping for just such an emergency. Normally he wouldn’t be able to cast such potent magicks, but he thinks he can summon up enough of a boom to deal with these crabs.

While the rest of his companions take shelter behind some rocks, Hector unrolls the scroll and successfully casts the incantation. It is, without doubt, the least impressive ball of fire that anyone has ever seen. A burst of flame barely strong enough to light a barbecue engulfs the carnivorous crab swarm. Fortunately, they are very small crabs, and the blast is enough to pan-fry the lot of them. Smugly aware that he has not only destroyed their foes but also provided a wholly superior midday meal, Hector hoists his staff onto his shoulder and swaggers in the direction of the bodies.

It becomes quickly clear that the bodies on the beach were not killed by crabs. Although now slightly charred it is still obvious that these are the bodies of nenedhel, or sea elves. Although amphibious they seldom venture onto land, and these seem to have come read for battle. They are wearing coral armour, and carrying an assortment of deadly weapons: short swords, tridents and crossbows. Eradina crouches down and picks up one of the corals. All of the weapons are coated in a form of alchemical silver. What were these creatures coming to fight?

Durral is checking the bodies more closely. Each sea-elf has been disembowelled by some sort of heavy bladed weapon, possibly an axe of some kind. It is then he hears a groan. It seems that one of the elves has survived the axe-attack, the crabs and Hector’s fireball. Ariel has heard it too, and she is helping a female nenedhel to sit up. And application of Thotik’s healing potion later and she is ready to speak.

The sea-elf is called Amendra, and she and her five companions had come to shore to do battle with a terrible devil. “The monster had been responsible for the murder of many of kin, including by brother Cassim. We discovered that it is bound to the old tower on the island of Ellasensa and cannot leave it for long. We thought that we had the numbers to face it. What brings you this far south?”

The party exchange worried looks. Eradina makes an executive decision to tell Amendra everything. She explains the mission to the tower, and the delivery that they have been commissioned to make. Amendra is shocked. “I know nothing about the Wayfarer, yet I would not have suspected he was a devil-worshipper.”

Eradina says that she wouldn’t have thought that either, and shows Amendra the contents of the metal box. Amendra immediately knows what is within. “This is an Sashelan seeing-stone,” she explains. “How did you come by one?”

The party shrugs amiably.

“The seeing stones,” Amendra continues, “are gifts from Sashelas. They warn us of danger and threats even if they are far away. Of course, they do not work in the open air.”

Taking the hint, Eradina picks up the stone and before anyone can stop her she dunks it in the surf. As the sea water covers the stone, she, Amendra and the rest of the party are struck down by a profound and disturbing vision.

Each finds themselves standing back in the Old Village. The white mansion house is burning, and the village is village with dark-skinned assassins who are indiscriminately slaughtering villages. Thotik is fighting them, armed with a sword in each hand, but all seems quite lost. In the sky there is a celestial alignment. Two stars shine brightly in a circle of seven other stars. And then the vision is over.

There is confusion, although Eradina is fairly sure of what he saw. “It was a vision of the future,” Amendra confirms. Hector agrees. The two stars in the centre of the circle were Khirad and Zhudun: both harbingers of doom. They do seem to be moving into alignment, although they are not there yet. A worry for the future and not for now. Hector makes a mental note to be very far away from Daukoth when this celestial alignment occurs.

“You cannot take this stone to the devil,” says Amendra simply. “It needs to be returned to the delphions of Sashelas. I can return it, if you will permit it.”

Eradina is all for this. She thinks the party should take the empty box to the Tower, entice out the devil and then kill it with the silver weapons that the dead sea-elves left behind. Then they’ll head back across the island and have things out with Thotik. Durral isn’t entirely sure that they have the power to take on a devil, even with all these silver weapons. After all, they didn’t do the elves much good. Ariel sides with Eradina in this matter, they can’t suffer a devil to live even if it means Eradina’s untimely death. Hector thinks the world has gone mad. His spells won’t work on a devil, which largely reduces his combat effectiveness to one wooden stick.

The decision made, Amendra thanks the party. She sounds a little ashamed when she says that she cannot help them against the devil, although more nenedhel will come to collect the bodies of their fallen comrades. The sea-elf then departs leaving the party with an empty box (which is just as heavy) to lug to the tower.

An hour later they have waded their way out to Ellasensa. It is a barren, rocky island no more than a few feet above sea level and a few hundred yards in length. It is testament to Hadradan engineering that the Tower has stood for as long as it is. It is a windowless cylindrical tower, standing about a hundred feet in height. The exterior walls would once have been covered in the intricate iconography that is common in Hadradan architecture, but that has long since been worn away by the elements. There is no door, but one large open archway at ground level. The interior is dark.

The increasingly alert group move as furtively as they can into the interior. There are no floors above them, only a stone ceiling high above with a single hole in its centre that would once have been covered by a trap door. The ground floor is suspiciously clear of detritus. In the middle is a round dais, about ten feet across. At the centre in an indentation that seems the exact dimensions of the box that Eradina carries. The dais is surrounded by a foot-wide moat, filled with a strange off-pink viscous liquid.

Approaching the dais they notice a small idol stands in front of it. The icon is carved from coral and depicts a monstrous shark. Ariel recognises this. It is a representation of the barbarous sahuagin god, Sekolah. Its placement here only deepens the mystery.

Standing well away from the altar, Durral, Ariel and Hector watch Eradina move forward. She steps over the moat, drops the box on the altar and then jumps back. The moat begins to ripple and hands that seems to be made of liquid flesh extend from it and try to grab Eradina. Fortunately, she is already out of range. Unfortunately, a dark shadow has fallen across the party. They turn and see standing in the door that creature that made such short work of the sea-elves.

The creature that stands before them is seven feet high with fetid green skin, and elongated mockery of a face filled with uneven teeth. A sickly beard matted with filth and woven with jagged razors hangs over its hunched torso. It’s limbs are long and end in vicious claws, and in its hand is a saw-toothed glaive that it swings with worrying precision.

It smiles at the group. “Prepare yourselves,” it urges. Puzzled by the creature’s sense of fair-play the party quickly make what preparations they can before battle is joined. The fight does not start well.

Eradina charges the beast only to be impaled on the glaive and flung aside. Durral ducks under the weapon but his attack is singularly unimpressive. Hector fumbles with the silver quarrels, and quickly uses his crossbow to pepper the walls. Ariel makes use of a potion to wake up Eradina, who leaps back into the fight.

Using Durral as a distraction, Eradina closes into mêlée range and scores a palpable hit. The devil drops his glaive and fillets Eradina with his claws, finishing with a ostentatious sweep of the head that draws his wicked beard across the diminutive paladin’s body. She falls to the floor again.

The battle now settles into a familiar pattern of Eradina wounding the beast, being almost killed and then being revived by Ariel as Durral distracts the beastie and Hector demonstrates his utter lack of skill with the crossbow. It’s touch and go whether the devil’s resolve will run out before Thotik’s healing potions, but in the end Eradina prevails and the devil is despatched.

As he falls Ravnos gives a whoop of triumph, as if he was really quite pleased that he was defeated. His body then explodes in hellfire almost killing everyone.

Morday, 20 Gentle Days 205 LE

After an uneventful trip back across the island, the party return to the Wayfarer’s Mansion in the Old Village. They are standing in Thotik’s plush study, and wayfarer has just spent the last five minutes listening to all the nasty things that Eradina has to say about him. It’s infuriating that he is still grinning.

“I’m not a devil-worshipper,” he says simply, “and I am glad that none of you were killed. If you want to know any more then you have a decision to make.” He opens his desk draw and retrieves four heavy pouches that he throws onto the table.

“There’s 250 sestiri in each of those bags,” the Wayfarer continues. “You can take it and our association ends here. You take the money and you leave Daukoth – I can get you on a ship to Crimstott. You can live in the lap of luxury for as long as it lasts…. but you never come back to this island. If you don’t take the money then you can stay here, you can hear what I have to say and you’ll work for me. I promise you that I’m not the bad guy here. I only want to protect this place. What’s it to be?”

There’s something in Thotik’s manner than induces the party to accept his proposition. Hector takes a while longer to warm to the idea to the others, and he has the bag of gold in his hand and is halfway out of the door before he changes his mind. Assurances that he will never have to work with Eradina again are required to assuage his misgivings.

Thotik puts all the gold back in his drawer, pours the party a drink and begins his tale. He says: “The creature Ravnos came to Daukoth months ago. It said that it had a force of devils under its command and it would refrain from wiping out all life on the island if I was to provide him with certain items. I don’t like being blackmailed, but I needed more time to assess Ravnos’s power, and also figure out who he was working for. Someone summoned him, and I still don’t know who. Now I may never know.”

“The items the creature wanted were all foretelling devices of some sort. The Sasheenie Seeing Stone – which I bought on the open market, and didn’t steal incidentally – as just the latest in a long line. I sent a box of Aegir casting stones, a very nice set of gub-gub sticks…. you know the sort of thing.”

“Of course, I’m concerned about why these items were wanted in the first place and I’m still looking into that. It doesn’t bode well for the island and I’m going to get to the bottom of it, and not you’re going to help me. Won’t that be fun?”

Next Time
Welcome to Taratega!


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Prophet and Loss: Session One

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Delivery From Evil

Part One
20 October 2010

Starring: Adrian (Hector III), INdran (Ariel), Marc (Eradina Darkwood), Neil (Durral)


Zephday, 17 Gentle Days 205 LE

The Immartis Penitentiary was not built as a prison. An old Hadradan fortress, wider than it is tall, time has taken toll on the cylindrical stone structure. Refitted as a prison in the time of Wayfarer Gorneesh, very few of the rooms are habitable and fewer are suitable for use as cells. It’s a cold, drafty and generally depressing sort of place – not least because of its cruel juxtaposition to the tropical beauty of Daukoth and the Sasheenie beyond.

The warden of Immartis is an ageing Larethi elf called Gallimedes. A fixture of Daukoth through the last eleven Wayfarers, Gallimedes is a model bureaucratic who has used the long-life span of the elves as a means to master the shuffling and filing of paper in a way that a mere human could never hope to match. He takes his responsibility for the seventeen in-mates of Immartis very seriously, and sees assiduously to all their needs except, of course, their liberty.

At dawn on this day, as the full moon of Zephyre quits the sky in favour of the Hadradan sun, the elf collects four of his prisoners for a special meeting. They have each been in Immartis for the best part of three months. Hector III is a heavily mustachioed wizard of small skill; loquacious and happy to be out of his cell, he is delighted to partake in what he considers to be engaging banter with his female companions. The pint-sized Eradina Darkwood does her best to ignore him. The half-elven beauty has had no trouble in concealing her knightly calling: such higher ideals seem entirely at odds with her  violent and generally psychotic demeanour. She joins the elven druidess Ariel in berrating and mocking Gallimedes: neither having any respect for their gaoler. In turn, Gallimedes ignores the pair – he has little affection for Ariel after her pet crocodile ran amok in the village and almost ate his daughter.

The fourth prisoner is another half-elf, called Durral. Rather than being put-out by his incarceration he seems politely curious at this turn of events, and wonders openly where they are being taken, and who they are going to meet. Gallimedes replies that the Wayfarer asked to see each of the four by name, although the warden does not know why. “The whims of the Wayfarer are not for me to understand,” the elf says with masterful finality. Durral nods as if this all the explanation he requires.

The group is led into a fortified circular room in the centre of the prison. Eradina stares at the white stone walls. There is no easy escape from here. The windows are small, high and barred. The far door is closed and locked. In the middle of the room is a large table with four chairs on one side and one on the other. Before Gallimedes can bid the party to sit Durral has already vaulted over the back of one of the chairs and made himself comfortable, putting his feet up on the table and appearing for all the world as if he’d prefer to be nowhere else. Gallimedes looks a little put out.

“Please be seated,” he says tersely, “Wayfarer Thotik will be with you shortly.”

As if on cue, the door in the far side of the chamber opens Wayfarer Thotik enters. He is a half-orc of middle years, who has managed to retain the vigour and energy of his youth. Handsome is a not a word that is often used to describe half-orcs, but it applies here. He is dressed every inch the privateer (or pirate, thinks Eradina), bedecked in all manner of glittering jewelery, his elegant red doublet is open revealing an expensive silk shirt beneath, and the elaborate hat of his head has a colourful keopys feather in it. Removing the hat, he suavely tosses it onto an iron peg in the far wall before dropping into the seat opposite the party. Rearranging the ostentatious hilt of the sabre he wears at his waist he puts his foppish boots on the table and smiles broadly at the party.

Eradina meets this smile with a scowl. She’s seen his sort before. So has Durral, which is probably why he is smiling back equally broadly. Hector and Ariel seem to be reserving their judgement. At the point when the silence becomes slightly uncomfortable, Thotik nods as if he as decided something. He then dismisses Gallimedes from the room, ignoring the elf’s protestations regarding his master’s safety with a bunch of no-good low-lives. Once they are alone, he speaks.

“I have a proposition for you,” says the Wayfarer in a warm and charming voice. “A little job that I’d like you to do on my behalf. If you agree then you will be freed from gaol: the slate will be wiped clean and you’ll be able go about your lives without looking over your shoulder.”

“And if we refuse?” asks Ariel.

“Back to the cells, to serve out the rest of your stay here. Quite dull. And quite long in some of your cases.”

Durral agrees immediately. This makes Thotik chuckle. Eradina is less keen, and asks the obvious question: why ask them? If he doesn’t want to do this job himself, then obviously the job must be dangerous and he needs someone expendable to do the deed. She wants to know more before agreeing to anything.

Thotik raises his hands in mock supplication. “I need to you deliver something for me. A box. It needs to be taken here in the Village to the far south of Daukoth. On the islet of Ellansensa there is the shell of an old Hadradan watchtower, the interior has been cleared. In the centre of the tower there is a plinth, in the plinth is a groove that will fit the box perfectly. Leave the box there and come back. During your journey do not open the box, and under no circumstances get the box wet.”

“Why? What’s in the box”?

“This is more of an ‘ask no questions’ sort of job. I won’t tell you any more that I have. You either agree or you don’t. It’s up to you.”

“So it is dangerous.”

“Any journey south of the Wall is dangerous. I doubt you’ll face challenges you can’t rise to, as long as you stay together and remember how to run.” Thotik pauses to regard the party. “I came to Immartis because I need a certain degree of deniability in this quest, I choose the four of you because of all the prisoners you least deserve to be here. If you are concerned that this job somehow imperils innocents then I can assure you that quite the opposite is true.”

Hector speaks: “What’s to stop us just making a run for it as soon as we’re out of town?”

Thotik smiles as he shrugs, “Nothing, I suppose. But consider your position. If you agree then abandon the quest you’re still stuck on my island. It’s fifty miles from here to Crimstott, and you don’t have a boat. If you consider the difficulty of evading recapture, stealing a boat and navigating the Dantallus channels for several days… well, it would be less hassle and less dangerous to simply do as you are asked. Don’t you think?”

This argument, and a desire to be free moves the rest of the party to agree. Thotik stands immediately. “Excellent!” he exclaims, clapping his hands to summon Gallimedes. When the elf reappears the Wayfarer says: “These four are now my trusted employees. Have them fed, bathed and give them a change of clothes. Then send them over the mansion.” Nodding good day to the party, the half-orc turns and leaves.

Gallimedes is aghast that the prisoners are being released early. Ignoring their jibes he sets about fulfilling his masters wishes. After a hot bath, a good meal and a change of clothes the group’s belongings (such as a they are) are returned to them. Among the belongings is Ratty, Hector’s dastardly familiar. Hector is horrified by at the state of the rat, who has at least doubled in weight in the last three months. “My grand-daughter, Olivia, has been looking after him,” Gallimedes explains by way of explanation as the rat wheezes to its feet and staggers over to his master. Hector uses his mental bond to reassure himself that Ratty has not been mistreated, only to discover the rat is extremely put out to be reunited with his Hector. The wizard gets images of warm nights sleeping in a comfortable doll’s house, being fed honey and having high tea at a little kitchen table with other dolls. It is a life of ease that Ratty had got used to, and he is somewhat bitter about leaving it.

As the party leave the caverous Immartis and blink out into the bright Sasheenie sun, they are met by a singular individual who introduces herself as Ankheru. She stands about six feet in height, but her body is extremely slight and rust red in colour. She has no body hair at all, and her eyes are ivory-white with a barely discernible pupil. Her hands and feet are bare, the digits elongated and webbed. At her side, Ankheru carries two viciously curved blades, and she gives the air of someone who knows how to use them with frightening efficiency.

Ankheru explains that she serves Thotik, and has been charged with taking the party to see him. They begin the short walk from the penitentiary, and are soon in the Village. It is mid-morning by now and the bustle of the day has begun. The jungle here has been long cleared, and party walk among the tall wooden houses (many on stilts) that surround the large stone cairn to Domordis that rises from the centre. The Wayfarer’s mansion dominates the town, a whitewashed wooden home on three floors made more charming by its uneven windows and steep roof.

At questions from the party, Ankheru explains a little more about Thotik. She says that despite his foibles he cares deeply about the people under his charge. She owes him a debt that she can never properly repay. Before he came to Daukoth he was a great captain and privateer who made his fortune from the sea (from piracy, thinks Eradina). That changed seven seasons ago when Thotik came to this island. He won Daukoth in a game of cards from the last Wayfarer, Criplin; then banished the one-eyed dwarf and took over in his place. The most trusted members of the crew from his lost ship, The Dragoon, became members of the Council of Captains and help to run the island.

The more perceptive members of the group notice that throughout this speech Ankheru keeps her eyes firmly fixed on the mansion ahead. She shies away from looking at the sea, and Hector determines that the water scares her. He asks her where she comes from. Ankheru replies that she does not know the name of her but knows that more of her people live in the north of Lareth, brought here long ago by Hadradan marauders. She is a child of the sand and a daughter of the desert.

While this talk continues, Durral notices that they are being followed. He thinks it is a kobold, but he has never seen one bright red before. He mentions this to his companions, but they can’t see their pursuer. “You are describing Chubanya,” says Ankheru wearily, “he is an agent of Delmarcus, we should avoid him.” Such a statement requires greater explanation, and while Ankheru explains that Delmarcus is a the only member of the Council of Captains to serve Warfarer Criplin, and how he is always working against Thotik’s interests, Durral slips away to have a word with their pursuer.

Chubanya is surprised when Durral appears as if from nowhere with cheerful “hello” and a handshake. The kobold, moves like a cat, but is obviously possessed of more sense than most of his kind. Durral politely asks why he is following them. At first Chubanya denies that he was doing anything of the kind, but when it becomes clear how bad a liar he is, he comes clean. “Captain Delmarcus is concerned that the Wayfarer may be up to something,” he says, “something that might harm Daukoth.” He smiles a toothsomely.

“Why does he think this?”

Chubanya shrugs and tries to smile (fairly hard for a lizard). “Your guess is as good as mine. You and I we are alike, no? Following the orders, never seeing the whole picture. I mean you no harm, of this I assure.”

Durral manages to catch up with the others at the steps of the Wayfarer’s Mansion. Ankheru ushers them inside. They wait for a moment outside a plush study as Thotik finishes his conversation with an ancient no-legged and one-armed dwarf who sits defiantly in an ostentatious bath-chair in the centre of the room. A comely human nurse stands behind him.

“… I will say no more on the matter,” says the dwarf in a voice that is filled with deliberate portent – Thotik rolls his eyes in a manner suggests he doesn’t believe this to be true – “Except this!” the dwarf continues, “We are all the creatures of the sea, Orianna more than most. We all hear the call. You hear it too. Mark my words!” he then fondly pats the hand of his nurse, “Come on Aleisha, elevenses.”

Aleisha wheels the aged dwarf from the room, Ankheru instinctively steps back to avoid his wandering hands.

“Ah, there you are!” exclaims Thotik, sitting at his desk. Durral immediately notices the open bag of gold on the table, as if it was put there deliberately to tempt him. “Don’t mind old Chindik, the shark took his mind when it took his legs.”

“And his hand?”

“Lost in a game of chance with a sea witch… or at least that’s the way he tells it.”

Ankheru makes a quick report of Chubanya, but Thotik seems unconcerned. He is keen to get the matter started, and gestures to a large metal box in the corner of the room. The box is about four feet long, two feet deep and three feet high. It looks as though it weighs a ton. There are no carts available from Daukoth, and Thotik’s instructions expressly forbid taking it anyway by boat. There might be some wading involved in getting to Ellensansa, but they must keep the box out of the water. However, he does give the party a small box that contains a collection of healing potions, and promises to give them each 50 coin (by which he means gold pieces) on their return.

Eradina is anxious to get on the way immediately, and is amused to see Hector and Durral struggling with the box. Ushering them aside she picks it up and puts it on her shoulder with ease. However, they do need to find something water-proof to cover it in. Bidding farewell to the Wayfarer and Ankhueru they head back into town. As soon as they are out of earshot they all immediately agree that they should open the box and see what is inside it, however, they should wait until they are a goodly distance from the Village before they do so.

After a brief shopping trip to buy a tarpaulin to wrap the box in, the party leaves the Village and heads down towards the coast. Ariel is increasingly concerned that her crocodile companion, Rippersnapper, has not returned. She hopes that he hasn’t gone native like Ratty. The oily Hector doesn’t like this notion, and is slightly ashamed of his porky familiar, deliberately stopping the rat from raiding a keopys nest that they pass. His snark-laden comments, particularly directed toward Eradina, cause a certain degree of tension that Durral suspects is likely to explode violently.

Forunately, the beauty of their surroundings help to mollify the mood. The party pass down a the rough track that leads to the lagoon, where dug-out canoes are perched on the sand and the sounds of a hobbit’s snoring can be heard emanating from a reed hut. In the distance a troupe of monkeys are risking salt-water predators to make the short swim to a rocky island to raid it for bird eggs. The sky is blue, the sun hot and the sand golden… but these tranquil surrounds belie a dangers.

As the group puts some distance between themselves and the village, and heads south down the sandy beach, they come across the remains of a sea turtle in the surf. The shell is at least ten feet in diameter and has been cleanly bitten in two by some vast marine predator. On a far-off spit of land they see a crab the size of a shire horse searching for food amongst the dunes. They give it a wide berth.

By dusk they have reached The Wall: a confusion of rocks and caves that effectively mark the end of the civilised and relatively safe north of Daukoth, and the generally less agreeable south of the island. Beyond the wall the island narrows and fragments into a series of tiny islets and spits; the tropical jungle of the north turns into dangerous mangrove swamps where any path takes the party all too close to whatever bit that turtle in half. Not a place to traverse at night.

As they break for camp, verbal hostilities between Hector and Eradina recommence. Having had enough of the poisonous paladin’s rhetoric Hector decides to cast a charm spell upon her, believing it would be an amusing jape for his memoirs. The sight of Durral waving his hands and mouthing NO, or Ariel diving for cover does not dissuade him. The spell is cast and promptly fails. One second later Eradina flies into a homicidal rage. She quickly stabs Hector with her enormous sword and looks to be moving in for the kill when fate intervenes.

A sticky strand of something appears from nowhere and jerks Ariel off into the darkness. Another strand just misses Durral, then a third grabs Eradina. Hector knows what they are dealing with. There must be cave fishers at the top of the wall in the darkness – he tells Durral they are cross between crabs and spiders and feed by shooting out their barbed tongues. He suspects it is too late to save Eradina and starts to pack his bags.

However, nothing is ever quite that simple. Battle is soon joined, but the party find themselves particularly hard-pressed against two of the beasties. Both Durral and Ariel nearly meet their end in the ensuing conflict, but thanks to Eradina’s sword and Hector’s animated quarterstaff they just manage to win the day.

Her anger spent in the conflict, Eradina is happy to ignore Hector instead of kill him. The wounded party press through the narrow canyons of the Wall before finding a save place to camp on its southerly side. There they use some of the potions Thotik gave them, and settle in for the night making a resolution that tomorrow they will open the box. Hector determines that, once this adventure is over, he will never get within a hundred miles of Eradina again.

Caladay, 18 Gentle Days 205 LE

The party awake early the following morning to a worrying site. The box, that sat in the middle of the camp all evening, has been moved and the tarpaulin has been removed from it. It had not been opened, nor had it been stolen but some creature came into the middle of the camp and rifled through it without waking any of them. Looking around for tracks, Durral sees foot-prints in the sand that could only belong to a kobold. He suspects Chubanya, but why would the creature have followed them all the way out here?

NEXT TIME
The box is opened!


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Pathfinder House Rule Summary

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It’s taken be a little long to put everything together, but please see below for a PDF compilation of all the Pathfinder house rules that we’ve been discussign over the last few months. This is the version I aim to print out and bring to the gaming table. It’s the first time that all the house rules have been together in one place, and it’s quite exciting to see it finished.

Current version: 1.2

Version History:

  • 1.1 (24/01/2013): original upload
  • 1.2 (06/03/2013): lists of domain spells updated to include material from Advanced Player’s Guide, Ultimate Combat and Ultimate Magic.

To reiterate: the purpose of this exercise was remove as many house rules from the game as we could. The document is still 98 pages long but the bulk of that is specific material for the Iourn setting like gods and spell lists. There’s actually very few house rules in there, and I’m quite proud of that.

So please have a look through and tell me what you think. There have been a few small changes from the posts I’ve added to the blog. The changes to the way divine spellcasters gain new spells meant that druids, rangers and paladins needed a mention as well as clerics. The changes to the cleric domains also affected druids with domains. There are some more druid archetypes. I’ve decided to stick with the rules-as-written when it comes to teleportation spells, and the house-rules around summoning spells have been cut to a bare minimum.

The document also refers to something called the “Conversion Catalogue” which will be my next project. I intend to start converting old third edition material into Pathfinder. That won’t kick off until later in the year, after the Spell Filter is updated to my satisfaction.


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Gazetteer of Lareth

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There are said to be thousands of islands in the Lareth archipelago: too many for a human to visit in one lifetime. Each has its own unique stories, history and customs. Here are but a handful of particular significance to the campaign, along with some other interesting sights of Lareth that are worth drawing you attention to.

Cinderfels

Many of the islands in Lareth owe their existence to volcanic activity. The same force that makes the islands so lush and fertile, is also the force that is preparing to wipe them off the map at a moment’s notice. Many ascribe tectonic activity and the eruption of volcanoes to be the work on Domordis and his clergy. The Sixfold Faith think otherwise. They can imagine no greater example of Calafax’s power than the might and majesty of a volcano.

The Cinderfels is not one volcano, but a series of eighteen volcanoes that trace a north-south line over fifty miles of open ocean. All are active to one degree or another, and are happily oozing lava out of various orifices into the Sasheenie. Various cults of Redcloaks have built temples on the islands, relying on their own immunity to fire to protect them from the environment. This tactic meets with only mixed success.

Few beings who are not Redcloaks can stand to be on any of the Cinderfels for very long. The heat is extremely intense. However, the Cinderfels is the centre of Calafax worship in Lareth, and a good place to go to seek audience with the oddly approachable clergy. In a world of water, the uses for fire seem few, but it is only the foolish that ignore the power of Calafax.

The nominal leader of the Red Cloak is a dwarf called Magarrus Magenti, who refers to Calafax as “the fire behind the forge”. An ex-priest of Moradin, Magenti sees no contradiction between the religious teachings of the ancient dwarves and the Sixfold Faith. Calafax evidently sees no contradiction either, as he has blessed the dwarf with surprising powers even by the standards of the Redcloaks. Magenti is said to have tamed a flock of phoenixes that dwell in the volcano.

Crimmstot

The most populous of the southerly islands, Crimmstot is large by the standards of Lareth. At almost fifty miles across, it is the home to more than 100,000 people and large enough to support three main ports: Vidala, Sunset Ridge and Timbala. Each of these ports has its own governor, and the three of them purport to work together for the good of Crimmstot.

In practice, the Scriverners Three (to use the common parlance) tend to pull in different directions, leading to strife and trouble in Crimmstot. Each port competes with one another to attract trade and coin: sometimes this means by offering lower taxes, more services and making themselves more attractive; but more often it means nobbling the competition by blockading other ports, spreading rumours or introducing dangerous diseases.

The inhabitants of the three ports are highly militant and proud of their own town. They welcome foreigners but they don’t like people from elsewhere on Crimmstot. There have been a number of alarming battles and skirmishes over the years, but as no port has sufficient manpower or resources to have a standing army of any great size, these have all come to nothing.

The reason why people put up with the strife on Crimmstot is because it is the last safe harbour for ships embarking on the final journey to the Fabled South. Crimmstot has become an endless source of legends and stories (most of them untrue) about what lies in the seas to the south of Lareth. Stories of the Hadradan Hell are still popular, while others speak of a massive ethereal continent called V’Qarin’s Land, that only appears to travellers at particular times of the year.

Crimmstot has become one of the most urbanised of the Larethi islands. The three ports have encroached far inland with little reason or planning. It is an urban sprawl of rickety housing and farmland. Much of the tropical rain forest has been felled to provide wood and grazing land for cattle and goats. All that is really left is the Barrier Forest – thin strips of jungle designed to mark the boundary between where one port’s dominion ends and another begins.

Dantallus Channels

The Sasheenie is a shallow sea – sometimes very shallow. There are places (even far from land) where the ocean is not deep enough to permit the passage of a heavily laden vessel. Therefore, many safe routes have been mapped out between the islands – deep water channels where ships can navigate safely.

These channels were mapped out by the Hadradan, Dantallus, many centuries ago and the name stuck. These Dantallus Channels provide an easy road between all of the larger (and many of the minor islands). Of course, their presence is a double-edged sword as there are plenty of pirates who also know of the presence of these channels, and who can therefore lie in wait for those heavily laden trade vessels.

Of course, not all the potential Dantallus Channels have been mapped, and there are plenty of islands beyond the reach of the channels. Those who go off the beaten track, away from the charted channels are in danger of running aground.

Daukoth

Daukoth is a autonomous community of about two thousand souls to the far south of the Lareth archipelago. It is unusually isolated from its fellow islands, the nearest being Crimmstot roughly fifty miles to the east. The bountiful waters around Daukoth allow the community to survive without the need for trade, although many flat-bottomed vessels and dug-outs still ply the trade lanes around the island. Given the colony’s isolation, the government of Daukoth is unusually autocratic; led by Wayfarer Thotik and the council of captains. Thotik is a middle-aged half-orc renowned for his military acumen and romantic conquests.

Daukoth is about fifteen miles in length and two in width. A massive coral reef makes up an impressively beautiful natural lagoon, although it isn’t deep enough for ocean going ships to get very close to the shore. To the north of the island are a collection of moderately sized hills called the Garden Peaks. Most of the island is covered in tropical forest of either palm trees or mangroves, except for an area of about eight square miles on the leeward side of the Garden Peaks that has been flattened and given over to agriculture. The staple food grown here is rice and other pulses. This makes up the main part of the diet of the islanders, along with fruit and fish.

Fresh water comes from the Rose Bowl. A small fresh water lake that has formed at the top of the garden peaks. Dozens of small streams take the overflow from the Rose Bowl down to the sea.

Of the two thousand inhabitants of the island, half live in the Old Village. This is located on the lower slopes of the Garden Peaks, very close to the agricultural area. It is surrounded by a wooden stockade that is designed to keep out any natural predators from the sea, but wouldn’t stop a determined military attack. Homes in the Old Village (and all around Daukoth) are made of wood, and raised off the ground about two feet to stop the lower part of the buildings rotting, and to provide some protection from flooding.

There are three stone structures in Daukoth, made from elderly black stone that was dug out of the old Seltram Quarry generations ago. The quarry itself has long since ceased its work and is now filled with water overflowing from the Rose Bowl. Unlike the natural lake, drinking water isn’t take from the Quarry, but it is used for washing and swimming. Youngsters like to climb the quarry walls and dive into the fresh water.

The three stone structures are the shrine to Domordis that dominates the middle of the village (a cairn of stones about eighteen feet high), the barns where the harvests are stored, and the Immartis Penitentiary. The penitentiary is a rather grand name for a prison that can hold no more than fifty people (and only twenty-two cells are currently filled). It was once the barracks of an Hadradan garrison stationed on Daukoth, and has been maintained over the centuries to the extent that little of the original stone still remains. The prison is a squat tower of cylindrical design about forty feet high, and fifty feet wide.

Also found in the village is the Wayfarer’s Mansion – a very impressive three story structure, that dwarfs most of the other buildings. The mansion is home to the Wayfarer, but also the place where the council of captains meet. Beyond the Old Village settlements are found all around the island. The largest cluster is in a clearing near the beach, where dug-outs and other flat-bottomed trading vessels make rest.

The economy of Daukoth bears a little explanation. Barter is an important part of the economy on Daukoth, with many islanders preferring to do something in return for goods and services. However, this isn’t always possible and the Council presses a number of ceramic trade tokens colloquially referred to as chips. These chips are imprinted with the seal of the Wayfarer, are about half an inch in diameter and have a hole bored through the middle. Many islanders thread the tokens together and wear them like a necklace.

The tokens are traded for goods and services on Daukoth, but they have no monetary value off the island. Trade outside the island – whether it is the buying of imported goods, or the sale of the island’s wares – is controlled by the Council. Individual islanders might be licensed to leave the island and conduct trade, but all the proceedings of such trade goes back to the council. This is because all trade conducted with outsiders is conducted in Coin.

The habit of metal coinage is still engrained in much of Lareth since Hadradan times, although there are very few foundries in the archipelago for the minting of such items. Indeed metal items of any sort (that aren’t weapons) are fairly scarce. The foundries that do exist are located on the larger islands to the far north, but the coinage still circulates widely.

One Daukoth chip is worth about the equivalent of one silver piece in trade. Traders who sail to other islands and sell goods, or sell goods to visitors, take payment in Coin. This coin is then taken to the Council who exchange it for a like amount of trade tokens. There is a temptation to keep a little Coin back of course, but Coin isn’t accepted in any of the local shops. Even visitors need change their currency before they can use it.

The bulk of Daukoth’s habitable space is located in the north of the island. The further you go south, the narrower the island becomes until the plant life is left behind in favour of long sand spits. A collection of tiny islands (collectively referred to as the Daughters of Daukoth) stretch out about fifteen miles beyond the island’s southern coast. However, they are so close and the seas are so shallow that is fairly easy to wade or swim out to any of them. Taking a canoe is even easier of course.

However, the waters around Daukoth are not to entered lightly. There is an abundance of life in and about the reefs, which attracts an abundance of predators. Fishermen in boats and canoes are usually fairly safe but sharks, mosasaurs and huge predatory whales are fairly common in the area. Other sea monsters, giant crabs and amphibious horrors are commons sites in and around the island.

In contrast, the largest predator on the island is a nasty little bird called the Keopys, which is a flightless runner about 2 feet high. The largest mammal (other than humans) are a single troop of gibbon-like primates who inhabit the southern forest, and (of course) the rat. Snakes are also a danger – and they are almost all capable of swimming wide stretches of open ocean. Salt-water crocodiles of all sizes, bask on the beaches, but they aren’t much of a threat out of the water.

Gunakadeit

A lush tropical island about twenty miles across, and noted for its abundance of fresh water lakes and hot springs – many of which are said to have miraculous healing powers. Gunakadeit (pronounced Goona-ka-DAH-tay in Gobbley) is the home to as civilised a society of goblins as one could hope to meet. Unlike the illiterate tribal goblins that pollute many of the larger islands in the north, the goblins of Gunakadeit have a great respect for knowledge, intelligent discourse and, for coin.

The goblins abide in a large stone ziggurat of rumoured elven construction. They are ruled by God Emperor Xutun Niblixus Mashicata. The term “God Emperor” is mainly for the tourists – as is the insistence that his subjects wear feathers and brandish spears. The goblins have carved quite a niche for themselves in appearing as a primitive tribe, who guard their “holy healing waters”, but are willing to lead the sick, infirm and the gullible to the right springs for the right price.

This is not to say that Mashicata and his followers are con-artists. Many of the springs do indeed have strange powers about them – not all of which are conducive to the health of the bather. To their credit, only the goblins seem to be able to differentiate between the good springs and the potentially deadly ones.

The island is shared by a permanent community of Domordis priests – almost all of them elven – who consider that Gunakadeit is of special significance to their god. It is rumoured that the soul of the god resides here, deep below the ground, and that the priests commune with it on a regular basis. Whether true or not, Gunakadeit has become something of a pilgrimage hot spot for members of the faithful.

Although on cordial terms with the priests, Mashicata is watching them closely – if they’re trying to pull a fast one and muscle in on his good thing… well, the goblins will simply have to take steps.

Mandatum Veritatis

A small rocky island with little in the way of vegetation or indigenous animal life. In centuries past Mandatum Veritatis was the seat of Hadradan power in Lareth. The quarter mile span of the island was covered in a massive citadel dedicated to the Hadradan god, Helian. Here the prefects administered the islands for the Emperor. It was the seat of religious and secular power and sported its own great harbour, as well as barracks for thousands of troops.

After the end of the Hadradan occupation, much of Mandatum Veritatis was destroyed by understandably irate islanders. Over the years it has been a haven for pirates, sea witches and even the headquarters of the Cult of Dagon. That all changed about five hundred seasons ago.

Although the Hadradan Empire is now firmly inward-looking and Timinite, the Vandanian church is far from extinct. With less receptive ears to their message of hate and expansion at home, the Vandanians have found themselves cast to the limits of Hadradan influence. And so it was that a Vandanian mission under the command of Melisada Dalnazid came to Lareth, hoping to retake the Mandatum Veritatis in the name of her god.

Ironically, Melisada’s mission was welcomed by the inhabitants of the surrounding islands who desperately wanted someone to drive out the Dagon cultists. And, to their credit, the Vandanians have no love of supernatural evil and those who are stupid enough to worship it. In fact, they saw it as their solemn duty to protect the humans in the surrounding lands from these depredations.

And so the Vandanians found their way back into Mandatum Veritatis. They were a small group, but they have used the intervening years to secure their power base. Missionaries were sent out from Mandatum Veritatis to preach the teachings of Vanda to all the humans they could find, and so the old Hadradan teachings and begun to spread around Lareth. Today there are few islands of any size that do not have a chapel or shrine to Helian, and Vandanian priests who can trace their allegiance all the way back to Mandatum Veritatis.

Mangahouanga

Foolish are the souls who set foot on Mangahouanga. This dense tropical paradise sports no settlements and no indigenous peoples. The reason? They’ve been eaten. Despite its relatively small size Mangahouanga has more predators per square inch than anywhere else on Iourn – with the possible exception of the Thundercrowns in central Tibrai.

Huge lizardine monstrosities, giant apes, dragons, insects the size of houses and misshapen aberrations are commonplace. Even the plant life is deadly. The only semblance of thinking creatures are the undead remains of those stupid enough to set foot on the island in the first place.

Quite why Mangahouanga  has developed such a deadly collection of flora and fauna is a matter of mystery and debate. Some think that all these monsters were deliberately placed on the island to protect something, and that there is an incredible treasure lurking deep in the steaming jungles for the brave soul who is powerful enough to reach it. Of course, that is just the sort of nonsense that encourages people to visit Mangahouanga in the first place.

Moon Peak

The Moon Peak is an extinct volcano that rises out of the ocean in the far north-east corner of Lareth. There isn’t a great deal to the island except the volcano, that rises in traditional conical form for about two thousand feet above the surface of the Sasheenie. The sides of the mountain are covered in vegetation, but too steep to provide home and shelter for large creatures. Most of those live on the plateau.

The plateau is about a quarter of a mile across, and filled with the sort of abundance that is common on Lareth. A large amount of the forest has been cleared by the members of the Sixfold Faith, who consider the mountain to be a holy place – perhaps the holiest in all of Lareth.

At the centre of the plateau is a ring of standing stones that acts as a place of meeting and debate between the disparate members that make up the Sixfold Faith (and in particular the Cloaked Cabal). The area is maintained by a ageing Browncloak called Murkun Hardwick – a dour gnome who doesn’t like visitors.

Hardwick is the only permanent resident, although there are number of huts and chalets for visiting priests who wish to pray, or commune with the moons. Of course, getting to the plateau is not easy. There are no harbours at the foot of the Moon Peak, and nothing as useful as a set of stairs to get to the plateau. If getting to the island is difficult, then the ascent is even harder. That is simply the “way of things” according to Hardwick. After all, if it was easy to get to Moon Peak then Hardwick would be beset with visitors and wet-behind-the-ears acolytes. And who wants that?

Taratega

Lock up your valuables, keep your sword close and leave your wife at home! Welcome to Taratega, most dangerous and yet most visited of all the Larethi isles! Taratega is a lawless haven of cut-throats, buccaneers and pirates. There is nothing that cannot be bought or sold in Taratega, for there are no officials, no laws and no lawmen to get in the way of trade and parley.

Captains looking to hire a crew who would do anything for coin, adventurers looking to sign on for danger, and simply those looking for wealth beyond reckoning… they all start their journey in Taratega. If they’re not careful, they also finish their journey there as well.

Taratega is a flat rock with very little to recommend it. There is fresh water, and there’s a sort of scrubby plant-life, but there’s very little in the way of flora or fauna to excite the interest. The advantage of Taratega is that it sports an abundant number of deep-water harbours, and sits at the centre of scores of Dantallus Channels that can take sailors anywhere they want to go in Lareth. It is an invaluable hub of trade and other more pernicious activities.

Taratega has no government, no police force and no tax collectors. The bubbling anarchy is kept in check by enlightened self-interest. Like-minded individuals band together to protect what is theirs, and to deny advantage to their competitors. Everyone from dockmasters, to warehouse owners, to the proprietors of Taratega’s many inns, taverns and hostelries keep sufficient muscle to defend their patch. Strength (or the appearance of strength) and many well-placed allies and contacts is what makes Taratega tick.

Taratega would not survive without trade and the sea. Everything that the island needs to keep going is imported. This is no great problem, of course, because ships are always coming to the island to either unload their wares or collect new cargo. All roads do indeed lead to this wretched hive of scum and villainy – and that’s just how the locals like it.

The Zaratan Nation

Of all the races that call Lareth home, the dwarves are the ones who fit in the least. With no subterranean realms to call their own, the dwarves find themselves physically and spiritually cut off from their society and the gods. Over the centuries, many have tried to return to the Black Hills in Hadrada, or to the Cradlelands, but there are still many that stay. And of these indigenous dwarves, many belong to the Zaratan Nation or the Aesir as the prefer to call themselves.

The Zaratan are perhaps the largest beings on all of Iourn. They are immense sea turtles, miles across that roam the deep Ramillic Ocean far from Lareth. These beings can live for thousands of years, and spend much of that time in a state of torpor and hibernation that can last centuries. What is little known outside Lareth, is that the shallow Sasheenie is where these deep-water creatures come to breed and lay their eggs. Therefore these monstrosities, many larger than the islands in the archipelago, are more common here than they are anywhere else on the planet.

Quite how the relationship between the Zaratan and the Aesir began is unclear. It was certainly something of a leap from the cavernous Black Hills to that of ocean-going caravaneers, but many dwarves found the tropical life so antithetical to their nature that any change might have been considered a good thing.

The dwarves of the Zaratan Nation live on (and sometimes within) the massive sea turtles. They build massive stone citadels on the backs of these turtles – some as large and as grand as Mandatum Veritatis itself. Thousands of dwarves live and prosper in these citadels, that sometimes cut into the shells of the turtles, allowing the dwarves to venture into the dark warmth of the shell’s interior.

The dwarves survive by fishing, and collecting rain water through complicated guttering, and trading their wares with the more static islanders in return for goods –  particularly iron and stone. Iron and stone are the most prized goods for the dwarves, because it is with them that they are able to improve and expand their citadels, and create many of the signature items that dwarven smiths and artisans are rightly famous for. Of course, iron and stone are fairly uncommon in tropical Lareth, the dwarves often have to set out onto the open ocean to trade with Hadrada, the Cradlelands or even easterly Urova.

The arrival of a Zaratan at any island in Lareth is met with great excitement as it means access to high quality dwarven goods. The dwarves make things that can be found nowhere else in the chain. Weapons and metal-goods are particularly in demand, although dwarven (or Aesir) pottery is also in high demand.

Why do the great zaratan put up with the dwarves? Why do they allow themselves to be steered around the oceans? And why don’t they just submerge and drown all the little hairy bleeders on their backs? The dwarves seem to possess some control over the zaratan. In addition to the normal dwarven pantheon that still gains lip service from the dwarves, a sect of dwarves known as the Testudinians. These are the priests of the god, Aegir, and are said to have psionic powers that give them the ability to master the mind of the zaratan and ‘encourage’ it to do their will.

NEXT TIME:
The Campaign Begins!


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The Religions of Lareth

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As one might expect from a nation built up of ten thousand different cultures, Lareth has no shortage of religions. As you would also expect for a nation so dependent upon the sea, most of these religions are in some way connected with the ocean. Here are some of the most important religions found in the archipelago:

The Auld Faith

The Auld Faith, or the Old Religion, are variant names for the ancient practice of druidism that was once a world-wide phenomena and is now largely only followed on the continent of Urova. There are very few druids in Lareth, and those there are usually pay lip service to Domordis as opposed to following the teachings of Eldagaire. The one great exception to this are the Oceanic Order.

The Oceanic Order are an off-shoot of the druids with slightly altered powers and abilities. They are equally at home in or on the waves as they are on land, and their remit is to protect the oceans and the creatures within it from the depredations of civilised kind.

Long ago the Seawalkers were tasked with restoring life to the seas in the northern world  after the end of the war with Karatath. In order to do this they created hundreds of Towers of Repopulation – submerged artefacts that opened doorways to other parts of Iourn, and even other worlds. This responsibility has been carried with them over the centuries, and they have taken on a highly regimented and structured culture.

Seawalkers are flamboyant dressers favouring long robes of blue and orange. Like the Norandon circles, they answer to an inner circle made up of nine druids, three archdruids and one great druid. The current great druid is a triton named Aramendus.

Domordis

Considered by the Hadradans to be simply an “elven god”, Domordis is much more than that. It (for Domordis has no gender) is the soul of Lareth. It is a powerful spirit of nature that exists where-ever there is solid land in the chain. Domordis is a being of Earth, not of water. He is personified by living creatures, by the plant life of the islands and by the awesome power of nature.

The priesthood of Domordis has a paternal regard for the peoples of Lareth, having worked so hard to defend them under the Hadradan yoke, and helped to rebuild the nation in the chaos that followed the Hadradans’ departure. They are mediators, mentors and guides. They give their powers of healing and magical protection freely to those who cannot afford it, and at a fair price to those who can. They are, at their heart, a great philanthropic organisation that sees a symbiosis between Lareth and the people who live there. By defending one, they defend the whole.

This opinion puts the priesthood into opposition with the Seawalkers, who tend to see thinking life as more of a cancer than something to be celebrated. Clashes between the priesthoods is not uncommon, and there is little love lost between them – the Domordi see the druids as dangerous, and the druids see the Domordi as misguided mollycoddlers.

The priesthood of Domordis is extremely racially diverse, with anyone who shows the talent and the calling being excepted into its traditions. Many are elves, but there are also a large number of human priests – often driven by the desire to somehow make recompense for the behaviour of their Hadradan ancestors long ago.

There are few permanent churches to Domordis. Often a cairn of stones is all that is required as a focal point for the religion. After all, Domordis is everywhere throughout the islands: every island is his church.

Sixfold Faith

The six moons that appear in the sky over Iourn are actually the earthly representations of powerful divine entities. The Moon Gods each represent one of the six fundamental elements that make up all matter: Calafax (Fire), Mortis (Death), Sharrash (Water), Terranor (Earth), Vítaeous (Life) and Zephyre (Air). All objects, entities and creatures are made up of different portions of these six elements, and so the priests of the Sixfold Faith experience a profound understanding of reality denied to others who do not commune openly with the moons. Or at least, that’s what they say.

Unlike in Urova, there are no formal churches that promote and support the worship of the moon gods in the Isles of Lareth. There is no set of instructions or guidelines for each individual priest to follow. As such, members of the Sixfold Faith are a rather unpredictable lot. One Redcloak might be an extremely helpful soul who gives his last penny to help the orphans, while another might be the sort of malicious git who burns down orphanages for the hell of it.

While this gives moon priests in Lareth a degree of freedom that doesn’t exist in Urova, it also removes their support structure. They have no one to go to for help; no one in authority to turn to if they stumble across something that is too much for them to handle. As such, the priests tend to band together with other like-minded priests for their own mutual protection and support (and of a way to learn new spells). There are literally thousands of different elemental cults across Lareth, all of them expressing a slightly different interpretation of the gods’ will.

While all members of the Sixfold Faith worship all six moon gods – they understand that all six are necessary for existence to continue – each tends to favour one god more than the others. This will have something to do with the personal outlook of the priest, but it will often be out of necessity. After all, a cleric living in the shadow of an active volcano might find the worship of Calafax to be by far the most attractive option.

It should come as no surprise that the worship of Sharrash is by far the most prevalent of all the moon gods – in fact Sharrash worship may be the most widespread of any religion in Lareth. Clerics of Sharrash are sought out by captains who want them to smooth their journeys, and island communities are always on the look out for a cleric that can create pure water, and tame the odd tsunami.

Priests of Zephyre with their power over the wind are also in demand by sailing ships. A captain with a priest of Zephyre onboard always has the wind behind him, which can only be a good thing. Priests of Calafax are less represented, but as much of Lareth is heavily volcanic they still have their role to play. Plus, blowing things up always has its attraction for certain types of individual. There are surprisingly many servants of the Flaming God to be found.

Conversely, the open worship of Terranor is a very rare thing. Not only is there very little land in Lareth in the first place, Terranor’s niche is largely occupied by Domordis who has a larger and more established clergy. Clerics of Terranor and Domordis are not necessarily opposed. Some Terranites see Domordis as an aspect of Terranor – and some Domordi see Terranor as an aspect of their god.

Equally, priests of Vítaeous and Mortis are also fairly rare. Much of the work these priests do in Urova (officiating births and wedding, caring for the dead) have found their way into the purview of Domordis. Cults of Mortis who tamper with the dead and research into things man was not meant to know are certainly out there in Lareth somewhere, but they are not the sort of people who advertise their presence.

One would imagine that with no firm hierarchy governing the practices of these priests, that the Sixfold Faith would be utter chaos. And on the whole, one would be correct. They are not a coherent force in the world as the Domordi or the Vandanians are. The only thing governing their activities is the infamous Cloaked Cabal.

The Cloaked Cabal is as close to a ruling body as the Sixfold Faith gets. They are an ad hoc collection of powerful priests who meet periodically at Moon Peak (see the next post!). The cabal generally has a laissez faire approach to the rest of the clergy. You have to go something pretty bad to get the attention of the Cloaked Cabal.

The Cabal is mainly concerned with activity that “brings the Sixfold Faith into disrepute”. Any cleric or cult that oversteps the line can expect the full force of the Cloaked Cabal and their inquisitors to seek them out. Of course, members of the Cabal change from time to time, so no-one really knows where ‘the line’ is drawn until they cross it.

As is suggested by their names, the members of the Sixfold Faith tend to dress in cloaks that exemplify their god, and these cloaks give the individual priests a handy collective noun: Redcloaks (Calafax), Greycloaks (Mortis), Bluecloaks (Sharrash), Browncloaks (Terranor), Greencloaks (Vítaeous) and Whitecloaks (Zephyre). 

Vandanism

Once the state religion of the Hadradan Empire, Vandanism has rather gone out of vogue over in Hadras. Its driving tenants of expansion and subjugation did not sit well with an empire humiliated by stirring up a hornet’s nest of foes they could not defeat. However, Vandanism has not died. The emperor might follow the introspective Timinite doctrines, but the teachings of Vanda are still very much followed at the extremes of the Hadradan Empire. And that still includes the Isles of Lareth.

Vanda was an Hadradan prophet who lived around the time of the first great war against Karatath. He dismissed altruism as a rod for the Hadradan’s own back and rewrote the Laws of Elyas that had been the founding doctrine of Hadrada into something more palatable. Vanda’s thirteen laws are still the core of Vandanian doctrine today, and all clerics are required to learn them by heart.

  1. Every Man has the right to be free in body, free in mind and free in deed.
  2. Fight to protect the weakest of God’s people.
  3. Never lie to one of God’s Chosen People. Such duplicity is forbidden.
  4. Do not lay with the husband or wife of another unless you are also married to them. Marriage is blessed in the eyes of God.
  5. Be hard-working and industrious for the good of Hadrada.
  6. The beasts of the world are a gift from God, but they are less than us. Use them wisely.
  7. Resist the demon of jealousy, for in that is strife and mistrust.
  8. Do not steal from your brother. It is not theft to take from those who deny God.
  9. Always be polite and courteous in your dealings with others, but do nothing that would make you appear weak in the eyes of the heathen. We must all strive to do justice to God’s great plan.
  10. Be generous with your time, your wealth and your love. All of God’s Chosen are equal in His eye.
  11. Be humble in your accomplishments. You strive for the grace God, not yourself.
  12. Be brave. Stand up for our beliefs and challenge those who would deny the true god. Spread the Word of God with no thought for personal safety.
  13. Follow these laws as laid down by God with honour and without deception. God is all-knowing, and expects great things from His people.

Vandanian Hadradanism is a monotheistic religion that believes all reality can be traced back to one god named Helian (although he is most often simply referred to as “God”). Helian has willing entered a cage of fire, represented by the Sun, where he suffers for the sins of his people until such a time they have proven themselves worthy. In the meantime, the Helian communicates to his people through prophets and his clerics, but often through dragons who are considered his special emissaries.

To the Vandanians, proving themselves worthy in the eyes of Helian means spreading their religion as far and wide as possible. It means converting those humans who can be converted and putting to the sword those who can’t. It means destroying non-human races, until only the Faithful remain on the surface of Iourn.

However, these guiding principles have had to be somewhat tempered by the reality of life in Lareth. The Vandanians returned to Lareth about three hundred years ago, where they took over the vast fortress of Mandatum Veritatis that was once the centre of Hadradan power in the islands. From here they sent out clerics around Lareth with the intention of converting the population.

They have made slow progress. The truth is that even after all this time, there is still a great deal of resentment and antagonism toward the Hadradan religion. Although the Vandanians found a fair number of humans who agreed with their doctrines and were willing to join their church, they have not gained the numbers necessary to really crack down on Lareth. Therefore, they have had to adopt more subtle methods.

Most Vandanian clerics are missionaries. They travel to Larethi islands, build a church and start to subtly convert the human population. They don’t spread vitriol and poison, but they gently undermine relationships between humans and nonhumans until the humans seem to have no choice but to join the protection of the church. Of course, not all Vandanians are evil men. Many believe whole-heartedly in what they are doing. They believe that non-humans are already damned, and are simply doing their best to make sure that Mankind is not dragged down with them.

Indeed, the Vandanians have no truck with crime, murder or slavery. They hate demonic creatures and will do their utmost to oppose the undead and other depredations that would attack humankind. Vandanian clerics are often useful allies in the battle against evil. Many spend their entire lives as freelance troubleshooters and monster-hunters.

A rather worrying development (as far as the ruling council of Mandatum Veritatis) is concerned is that some Vandanian priests are in danger of ‘going native’. They are so eager to fit in and serve the human populations, that they forget the guiding dogma that should be at the centre of their lives. To this end a Third Inquisition has been set up, and Vandanian inquisitors are often sent to visit out-of-the-way priests to make sure they are following their religion to the letter.

Vandanian Hadradanism is a religion obsessed with ritual, pomp and appearance. They get through more incense in a week that most other religions get through in a decade. They covet wealth and respect the powerful. A Vandanian cleric would think nothing of spending a fortune having his temple inlaid with gold while there were children starving on his doorsteps. His first duty is to glory his god, after all.

The Daughters of Sharrash

Despite the name, The Daughters of Sharrash have nothing to do with the Sixfold Faith. In fact, they have nothing to do with the Moon Gods at all – although many of the clerics of this religion would want you to think otherwise. The Daughters are an evil triune of destructive water goddesses that are worshipped by capricious and terrible individuals, and placated by cautious sailors everywhere. The three gods of the triune are:

Umberlee: The Bitch Queen. Umberlee is a malicious, mean, and evil deity who breaks agreements on a whim and takes great pleasure in watching others die by drowning or in the jaws of sea predators. Vain and desirous of flattery, she is excessively greedy for power and revels in exercising it. Umberlant temples are mainly vehicles for sailors and merchants to make offerings of candles, flowers, candies, or coins to appease the Bitch Queen’s wrath. Her clerics support themselves with these offerings and sometimes hire themselves out aboard ships as guardians, since sailors think Umberlee won’t take one of her own. Clerics spread respect for the goddess by preaching of the doom she has wrought on those that ignore her. The two main rituals of the faith are First Tide and the Stormcall. The first involves a parade through town with a caged animal, which is then tied to a rock and hurled into the sea. If it reaches shore alive, it is treated as a sacred animal for the rest of its days. Stormcall is a mass prayer to summon or turn aside a storm. Its participants pray around pools upon which float candles on driftwood planks, and throw sacrifices into the pools.

Yeathani: The god of the evil depths, mistress of the gasping last breath and lady of the deep darkness below. It is rumoured that Yeathani was once a water elemental who brooded on darker and more insidious matters until she was warped inside and out with the taint of Barathrum. She is the patron of all things foul and malevolent about the sea. Her temples are always submerged and unlighted, filled with things found only in the deepest blackwater trenches. Her symbol is the hand of a drowned man, its fingers bent in a particular arcane gesture than can vary from church to church. Yeathani’s clerics tend to be quiet, brooding individuals with quick tempers. They wear dark greens and blacks, and are often adept at hiding their presence.

Zeboim: The sea witch, the Darkling Sea, the Monarch of Strife. Goddess of storms and the sea, Zeboim is moody and wayward; she flies into rages that whip the seas into a frenzy and send ships to the bottom of the ocean. She is flighty, however, and may be appeased by sailors who make the right offering. Zeboim represents the sea’s uncaring and tempestuous nature, though she also has fleeting moments of tranquillity. Clerics of Zeboim have the dual nature of their goddess. They are not above resorting to extortion, frightening sailors and ship owners into paying tithes in exchange for good weather. When on land, priests of Zeboim take a ritual swim early in the morning, in any weather condition, to pray for their spells. While on board a ship, a priest of Zeboim is a welcome addition to the crew, leading the sailors in prayer and making offerings to the Sea Queen. On board ship, priests pray for spells at sunset. The Sea Queen’s Share is an extraordinary ceremony that is performed every year on the 33rd day of Stormtide when Sharrash is full. In this ceremony, the cleric sacrifices most of the wealth he has acquired to the Sea Queen. If she is pleased with the sacrifice most of the objects will float back. If not, they are never seen again.

Although temples to Umberlee, Yeathani and Zeboim exist separately the cults are most often found working together. The cults are led by a coven of three priests (one of each of the deities) who direct the actions of the clergy. Although the three gods usually have mutually compatible goals, strife and mistrust are not uncommon within the Daughters. Indeed, clerics of Zeboim actively encourage it.

Despite appearances, the Daughters of Sharrash are not considered an “evil” religion and are, indeed, more readily welcomed in some places than Vandanians. They do not feel the need to hide themselves away, and often their shrine and their clerics can be found operating openly in otherwise civilised and respectable places.

Sashelas

The only member of the Seldarine (the elven pantheon) that is still worshipped on Lareth. Sashelas is the patron of the nenedhel (the sea elves) and in some accounts is also their creator god. Somewhat separate from the rest of the Seldarine, Sashelas decided to stand by his creations despite the schism that created the Greymere.

Sashelas’s actions in standing by his people is in direct contrast to his usual portrayal in literature and song. He is described by bards as a fickle and flighty deity, and many tales involve his amorous exploits with such creatures as mermaids, nenedhel, human females, and even the odd demigoddess. How his consort, Trishina, puts up with him has not been revealed.

Sashelas charges his clergy as follows: Swim the great currents and the shallow seas. Exult in the dynamic beauty and life of the bounteous Undersea. Revel in the joy of creation and increase its myriad aspects. Seek not to hold that which is everchanging, but instead love the change itself. Seek out fellow swimmers who honour the ways of the Lord of the Undersea, and ally with them against those who see only the darkness of the deeps. Follow the way of the dolphin. Promote knowledge and use of the sea by reasonable folk, and fight those that would taint or deplete its beauty and bounty.

The church of Deep Sashelas is a broadly based church organised along regional lines. The clergy is highly organised, largely due to their role as mediators and befrienders of nonaquatic races. Sashelas’s clerics, known as delphions, interact regularly with dolphins who inhabit the region surrounding their home communities, and senior members of the clergy are almost always accompanied by dolphin companions. Although almost all members of the faith are sea elves, other aquatic races sometimes join their ranks. The only prerequisite to join is the ability to breathe underwater. Even some Seawalkers have been known to eschew the teachings of Eldagaire and start again as Delphions.

Delphions do their best to maintain ties and contact with land-dwelling elves, and there is a close union between the Delphions and the clergy of Domordis. Many elves see Sashelas and his clerics as their one remaining link to Arvandor. Sometimes this gives them comfort, other times it makes them terribly angry. Sometimes in trying to foster stronger ties, the Delphions actually make matters worse and stir up terrible enmity in their land-dwelling cousins.

Sashelan clerics consider themselves the mortal enemies of the sahuagin race, and seek to defend the land from the incursions of the sea devils. Delphions also conduct shark hunts, and attack sahuagin communities. These efforts have gained them the undying hatred of the sea devils and their terrifying god, Sekolah.

Clerics honour Sashelas through the creation of works of art and other wonders, and prayers are given to the Lord of the Undersea upon initiating and after completing such projects. Daily observances by Sashelas’s clergy thank Sashelas for his benevolence and the beauty of the undersea world, but the most important rituals are timed to coincide with especially high and low tides, known as the High Flow and the Deep Ebb, respectively. During such ceremonies, the Delphions make offerings of precious natural objects and items of great artistry. Meanwhile, acolytes swim in complex patterns accompanied by dolphins, and sing deep, reverberating songs of praise to the Lord of the Undersea and his creations. While both ceremonies are similar in form, the Hig h Flow is a joyous celebration emphasizing beauty, creativity, and artistry, while the Deep Ebb is a grim, martial ceremony emphasizing the remembrance of those who are lost and vigilance against the enemies of the Undersea.

Aegir

Although the dwarves of Zalak’kûn continue to venerate the Moradinsammen with an equal to fervour to the dwarves of Gunstadtan or Angdor, their unique circumstances have led them to appeal for the help of other gods. Chief among these is awe-inspiring Aegir – known to some as the “lost dwarf”. He is the patron of the Aesir – the greatest dwarven nation in Lareth. He is a god of the seas and of the mind, and he helps the dwarves to control the great zaratan of which they depend.

Aegir is said to be an enormous undersea giant, who dwells in a great castle on the sea bed with his wife Ran and his nine daughters. There he responds to the prayers of the faithful and sea-goers in general. It is said that he throws great feasts for any of the faithful who are able to find his home. In fact the feasts are so enjoyable that no cleric who has ever found Aegir’s great castle has ever wanted to return.

Aegir is the personification of strength. He is often inclined to send an aspect of his power into the mortal world. This takes the form of a dwarf of prodigious size (about sixty feet high) that rises out of the water brandishing an enormous club. Not the most subtle of deities, many scholars have wondered how Aegir’s reputation for strength, destruction and heavy-drinking squares with his other portfolios of persuasion and the mind. Theologians believe that clerics of Aegir who follow his more cerebral aspects are actually granted their powers and abilities by Ran. Beyond such speculation, Ran remains an entirely enigmatic force.

Other Deities

In addition to those religions listed above, there are countless other faiths, cults and sects that are worshipped throughout the Isles of Lareth. Many races continue to pay service to their own gods: Eadro of the merfolk and the locathah, Blipdoolpoolp of the kuo-toa, Sekolah of the Sahuagin. The demon lord of depths, Dagon, is still a strong force in some areas and more exotic gods such as Osprem, Procan, Xerbo and Valkur have their followings.

NEXT TIME:
The Gazeteer of Lareth!


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