This is a mid/high-fantasy campaign with elements of horror.
It is two years after the conclusion of the Ur campaign. Kojax occupies his time hunting for evil in the Plains of Ur with a small squad of Wolves, leaving the governance of Talathees to Brad and the elected civilian Talathesian Council.
It is a time of peace and prosperity along nearly the entire south coast of Kara-Tur, and in the fall of '09, as another rich harvest of grains is being wheeled into Talathesian granaries, ambassadors from several faraway lands have convened at Brad's invitation to discuss topics of mutual economic interest and security.
The foreign dignitaries include:
- Lord Camthalion representing Elven Queen Wendella of Alatyth
- Trade Minister Kamuzu, representing the interests of King Abdullah of Osiris
- Exalted Priestess Zaliki, representing the Pharaoh of Ra
- Commander Aishani of Sri
- Ambassador Vaselios, representing the loose federation of islands southwest of Talathees
Each is accompanied by an entourage of bodyguards, negotiators, tacticians, priests, servants, stylists, publicists, and other unspecified "assistants" to ensure their respective leader's interests are looked after.
You are part of one such entourage.
Seven days into the proceedings, which take place on the third floor of the recently rebuilt grand white marble halls of the administrative buildings of downtown Talathees, Brad makes an urgent announcement:
Hear ye, my distinguished friends. I bear this message with a heavy heart. In a short time, a disaster will befall my fair city, and likely yours as well. My sages tell me an ocean wave of great proportions will soon strike our shores, and I trust this warning. We have begun to plan for its arrival; there is no time to move 15,000 souls to high ground. I ask that you and your people remain in these upper meeting halls; do not attempt to return to your lodging or your ships. There is no time, and me and my staff trust that this Talathesian marble and our Talathesian architects will keep us safe.
The room breaks out in distinguished chaos, with murmurings of treachery and debates among the tacticians and bodyguards of whether to take violent action, or flee.
Minutes later, the wave hits, and the deep thundering of its arrival draws the assembled dignitaries and their councilors to the open-air windows on the south side of the hall. Several great wooden docks of Talathees are upended and splintered like kindling, many boats flipped over and crushed against the fortified seawalls, and millions of gallons of seawater plummets over the stone defenses and gush through the streets of the city, bowling crowds over like beetles in a river.
Scores of people and livestock drown, winter stores are ruined by the seawater, and half of all the Talthesian navy ships are destroyed. A gray-bearded man called Saul wades through the flood, pulling injured children out of the debris-littered water.
Late that evening, as the immediate effects of the crisis are ascertained and addressed, Brad and all the visiting leaders convene in a private meeting. The leaders emerge shaken, ashen-faced, but resolute.
Each leader then convenes their entourage to explain what must be done:
The tsunami was not a natural phenomenon. A ship must sail south towards the source of the great wave and prevent a recurrence. Aishani will provide a swift man-o-war vessel and crew, Brad will provide a small squad of Wolves, and each leader will send a representative along if desired.
You are those representatives.
This is likely to be treacherous journey, and so the leaders probably won't select their concubines or stylists for this mission.
Non-humans (except for elves representing Elven Lands) need to take a 10-point unusual background and develop a story that explains their position of trust and influence. Non-human races include elf, dwarf, goblin, orc, ogre, and halfbreeds thereof.
Since you are serving the interests of a political/religious/military regime, be sure to select appropriate traits like: Patron, Duty, Sense of Duty, Status, Military Rank, Police Powers, etc.
250 point max 80 points in advantages 60 points in disadvantages 15 max attribute
Check with the GM about any cinematic or supernatural traits. Some will be accepted.
- Kriger Hellig, appointed by Aishani, played by User:Jesster
- Sanura, appointed by Kamuzu, played by User:Mel
- Aryia, an acquaintance of Saul, played by Traci
- Damon, appointed by Exalted Priestess Zaliki, played by Dan
The appointed, and one volunteer, convene on an intact pier along the Talathese harbor, board Veruna's Crown, a sailing vessel and its crew provided by Commander Aishani of Sri, and are addressed by Aishani herself, looking radiant in a flowing ruby-red skirt and billowy white blouse and bedecked with gold and jewels:
Ladies and gentlemen, we are grateful for your service. We do not know what caused the great wave, but we believe that the dark forces that created it were unsuccessful in their goal, and will attempt it again soon. We can only guess what new disasters that will bring about.
The crew hops to it, commanded by Captain Haresh Vindra, as the party observes the debris and livestock floating in the harbor and a cloud of flies buzz.
Late the next day, guided by Gaius Oberon, the island of Skirros is spotted and appears relatively intact. The ship docks at the sole deepwater pier of the town of Soronikos as dozens of small fishing vessels enter the aquamarine lagoon with nets full of fish.
Gaius, Kriger, Aryia, Sanura, and Damon disembark to find a cool drink and warm meal at the Salty Bow, where licorice liqueur, local wines and ales, and a variety of seafood specialties are available. They learn that the wave did damage to their eastern shores, and locals wonder about the fate of their friends in Lemnos to the southeast.
Unfortunately, Argos the Butcher interrupts the meal, and demands a "roll in the hay" with "slave" Sanura. Sanura attempts to defuse the conflict by offering a dance, which Argos seems to enjoy, but his appetite is not sated. Tensions rise when Argos grabs her again, Kriger rises from his seat, and Damon climb up on the table to give a short speech. Aryia dazes one of Argos' crew after he draws a dagger.
Just as the conflict is about to boil over, Damon urges the crowd to prevent any bloodshed, and the crowd responds by calling out to Argos to simmer down. No longer admired by the masses, Argos stomps out into the warm night to find another quarry.
The next morning, the party disembarks for Lemnos. In open waters several hours later, dolphins swim alongside the vessel, and soon the crew spots an object several hundred yards ahead, which turns out to be a large section of ship's hull, piled with 22 human corpses, and propelled by a dozen Merfolk.
As Veruna's Crown slows, several of the party disembark on the sole lifeboat to get a closer look and speak with the merfolk. They learn that the merfolk know that humans prefer to be buried on land, and have collected these people of Lemnos so that they may be put to rest. They have no knowledge of the source of the great wave.
The party volunteers to finish the transfer of the deceased, and cause the platform to be rigged to the back of the ship.
On arrival in the village of Kalamatos on Lemnos, the wave's destruction is evident. The pier is tilted thirty degrees, pools of water are evident high on the rocks, what remains of entire town appears drenched in mud, and mud-caked hungry-looking people come wandering out on the pier, peering morosely at the stack of bodies.
Aryia begins tending the the wounds of the injured while Kriger, Damon, and Sanura meet with the village elder and start a tremendous pot of rice cooking. The elder has no idea where the wave came from, but admits that its arrival coincides of a series of disappearances of young women and girls recently, causing some rumors that the village is being punished for some unknown sin. However, even Eminiscu the sage knows not what that sin may be.
That night, Kriger and Sanura's makeshift soup kitchen serves hundreds, while Aryia wanders among the wounded, helping all she can, and Damon rounds up a pack of children to collect sulfurous deposits from a nearby valley.
As the elder warned, Eminiscu tests the party with her troll servant, which is dispatched with some difficulty. Aryia's magical firelight proves invaluable, while Damon's peaches seem not to help. Sanura is injured in the melee, and falls to the beetle-crunchy floor of the cave, but Kriger Hellig smashes the beasts skull a second later.
Eminiscu, in her riddle-riddled lilting style, says the party, whether they know it or not, seek Batzharikahn, as well as the "Unspeakable", which Batzharikahn himself also seeks. How ironic, she muses. She says the Black Ether is rising again, reconsituting on the isle of Kythria to the southeast.
Of Batzharikahn, she mutters:
He has a library of dark works bound in skin flayed from living human victims, and he traffics in the powers of darkness, trading screaming slave girls for unholy secrets.
Patched up by Aryia's healing incantations, the party treks back to Kalamatos, arriving after dark, exhausted. There, Damon begins a promised fireworks display while Sanura starts another pot of rice and Kriger and Aryia rescue a sulfur-collecting child left behind in the jungle, bitten by a cobra. They save the wee lad's life.
The next morning, Nienna stalks into the village and finds Kriger just waking up. Unaware of the party's trek to Eminiscu the previous day, she demands to know just what the group is doing in this demolished little village. Kriger assures her of forward progress, and the ship disembarks as soon as Damon believes he has the raw materials to fashion new explosives.
The approach to Kythria is harrowing, with many sandbars, reefs, and atolls. Gauis hangs overboard from a rope, to be closer to the water for a better view. Kriger shares and gathers intel with the wolves before practicing spear and swordplay with them as the lizardmen are rumored to use spears. Damon fashions grenades and dons armor.
In the late afternoon on approach to the west coast of Kythria, Veruna's Crown runs aground on a sandbar 500 yards from the shore. The Captain begins shouting orders, the crew scrambles, and soon it is ascertained that it will take many men many hours to get the craft floating again.
The party loads into the rowboat with Nienna and the Wolves and starts rowing towards shore. Just before landing, they spot a slender waft of smoke coming from an inlet along the beach 100 yards away. They land and scout it out.
Two lizardmen and five black-robed men have apparently kidnapped two young women and have landed their black-sailed boat here on the beach. One of the women is being mistreated.
Just after sunset, the Wolves fan out silently into the jungle to take up positions surrounding the tormentors while the party creeps noisily along the rocky beach.
Aryia cannot tolerate listening to the woman's screams without taking action, and hustles her petite frame down the beach to assist. The black-robed acolytes spot her and demand to know who she is, just as Nienna pierces the arm of the man holding the victim's head under water. Aryia responds with a fireball, the Wolves fire at targets, and melee ensues.
Seconds later, the lizardmen have been slain by bolts and slashes and bashes, and three injured priests have been captured. Aryia kills one captor with multiple stabs of her small knife, a Wolf beheads the next, and Kriger Hellig interrogates the third, who resists stoically but foolishly.
One of the Wolves, Agrippa, was selected to sail the women back to the ship as the party debated their next actions.
Then Kriger noticed the remaining captive peering into the jungle expectantly. Danger crackled in the air and several in the group readied weapons for an impending attack. Damon prepares a grenade.
Finally the captive shouts into the jungle, "ATTACK, YOU FOOLS!" Kriger face-planted the black robed prisoner.
Spears hurdle through the darkness at the group, injuring several people and piercing the brain of the unfortunate Florian who was caught unaware. Damon hurls a grenade into the trees.
The lizardmen rush out of the darkness, surrounding the beachside camp. In a panic, Damon drops his second grenade into the campfire as the murderous foes approach with their spears. Aryia hurls a grenade into the jungle as well.
Brutal firelit battle ensues, and when the grenades go off, friends and foes are knocked to the ground, shards of ceramic shrapnel embedded in arms, legs, chests, and groins. Kriger alone, encased in steel, escapes their effect.
Mop-up is savage, with injured allies fighting from the ground, Kriger Hellig swinging his mighty maul through the ribcages of attackers in the darkness, and Aryia crawling from injury to injury trying to assist. Sanura, gravely injured, swings her mighty scimitar towards victory, while Natalia Modesta cradles her spear-shattered hand and applied pressure to her shrapnel-torn leg.
In the aftermath, an earthquake shakes the now-quiet battleground, causing the injured captive to assert that the summoning must now be complete.
After chaining the cultist to the tree where they had the young woman secured, the wretched party sleeps on the beach, wondering whether more lizardmen will attack in the night.
In the morning, Agrippa returns in the sailboat, ready to assist. Florian's armor was given to Damon. The injured Cato and deceased Florian stay with the boat and the chained captive. Babu identifies a path, and the remaining party marches for hours through the jungle, swatting mosquitoes.
They wade through a snake-infested bog and enter a huge natural cavern with many bedrolls and extinguished cooking fires. A bruised and battered woman, chained to the wall, is healed and set free, sent with a torch back to Cato. With some trepidation she agrees to hike down through the jungle alone to find the waiting sailboat.
The party lights torches and starts ascending an ancient lava tube that twists and turns up into the heart of the mountain. The earth shakes again, leading Kriger Hellig to joke that it sure would be tragic if this tunnel collapsed.
An hour of ascent later, the tunnel ends with some hastily constructed wooden stairs leading up to a great stone door. Babu scouts, and then Kriger pushes the door open, to reveal the forgotten monkey temple within. Ancient columns hold up a high ceiling, and beyond a giant monkey statue is a snoozing lizardman guarding a door. He awakens and begins to rise, but is too late. Kriger's spear soaring across the room, pierces his torso and he slumps to the stone floor.
Drumming from outside echoes through the dimly lit temple as the party approaches the other door. Babu reports that the drumming is coming from further down a forest path outside the temple, and that beyond the stone door are steps leading up. Believing this to be the way to the demonmaster's chambers, the party takes the door and the stairs.
At the top of the stairs, they can now hear the drumming both in front of and behind them, but they also hear the sounds of a woman in ecstasy. Around the next corner, Babu takes a peek and reports there's a young woman atop an old man, and they are not wearing any clothes, and the woman is moving wildly, and they are possibly procreating.
Through the Portal
Kriger prepares a grenade to toss at the fornicators, and hurls it down the passageway. It strikes a mirror halfway to his target, and drops to the ground before exploding.
Picking locusts from their hair and backpacks, the party comes into the room. GM Notes:
Flickering braziers sprinkled with incense, thundering drums, screams of the girl below, rumbling ground, salty breeze, tinged with brimstone. A jade pedestal at the center of a magic circle (pentagram). Other trappings of demonology. Torture tools, books made of human skin, curved daggers inscribed with runes and embedded with jewels, pens made of slender arm bones, a 10-point powerstone, a potion of fatigue renewal and several empty bottles of unknown stinking fluids and slimes. In the room is a naked body, hanging by her ankles covered in arcane glyphs cut into her flesh, dead, her throat slit from ear to ear, face crimson, her long dark hair trailing down into a ceramic amphora, covered in mystic runes and half-filled with a gallon of blood. Two silver goblets sit nearby, wet with blood.
There are also two other young women apparently intended for sacrifice, and a fleshy wound portal on the wall. Calling for Aryia to help the injured, Kriger overturns tables full of arcane paraphernalia and tips shelves of occult books into burning braziers. Sacrificing the dark tools in the name of great justice.
The savage scene is too much, and several succumb to their fright checks. But then it gets worse.
At first, a rocky island appears to be rising in the center of the broad, boiling lagoon. No, it is the head of a reptilian beast. The head must be 150 yards wide. It continues to rise. The broad scaled shoulders, covered in yards-long snake-like writhing tendrils, are 500 yards wide. The water of the lagoon bursts in great thunderous fountains against the coasts of the lagoon, sending spray high in their air. The island shakes, and great waves roll out to the north.
Party members faint, retch, and curl into fetal positions, shaken.
Kriger Hellig and Marcus Marinus of the Wolves keep their feet, and Kriger watches the drumming acolytes below the balcony of the demonmaster's chambers scatter in panic as the mile-tall demigod rises from the boiling lagoon ominously and a bank of swirling clouds forms above the island.
Minutes later, Kriger convinces the core of the group to pursue the Batz and Katrina through the slowly shrinking wound portal. Shaken and sickened, Natalia and Agrippa are ordered to stay behind and collect the surviving women and take them back to the shore. Marcus alone accompanies the core group, diving into the bloody wound. The elven archer, Nienna, was the last to follow, and failed to accompany the party through the boiling blood.
On the other side of the gory portal, the group finds themselves within a meaty tunnel, huge arteries pulsing, web-like tendons holding out the walls, and occasional pools of burning fat casting scant light.
Further along, they find emaciated children, one of whom reports he grew up in Argyle 120 years ago. Aryia discovers that normal food causes their skin to melt off their flesh. Another warns of the "devil dogs", and soon the beasts make their appearance.
Two of them rush down the tunnel out of the darkness, and with considerable difficulty are defeated, but not before one of them devours 75% of the boy from Argyle.
The tunnel eventually emerges from a great blackrock cliff, and skull-sized black rocks lead 100 yards down to a red river over which a narrow band of black rock traverses. The far side features a similar slope and blackrock cliff. The "sky" above roils with flames.
Standing at the bridge atop his faceless, hairless black steed is Abigor. The man, in gleaming silvery armor, has two faces, one of a handsome man, one of a beautiful woman. In his right hand, a writhing viper. In his left, a pointed lance, oozing florescent venom from its tip.
After some introductory dialog, Abigor says, "Ah, Countess Anir-tak, you seek. Woe to you, children, for she hath great appetites, and great furies, and great incantations. "
Marcus and Aryia, further back from the monstrous demon-baron, become aware of an amassing crowd of hellhounds behind them, and start running. Tragically, Aryia misses a step and crashes to the rocks, unconscious. Marcus picks her up while Kriger Hellig edges forward to the flank of the smiling Abigor, whose female face remarks occasionally, "you toy with them, get it over with."
Abigor steps aside, allowing Sanura to start making her way across the bridge, but now she can see that the river is not merely of blood, but slaughtered men and women, some of whom reach out to drag passers-by into the gory soup.
Abigor gives a signal, and 20 hellhounds start racing down the rocks. Kriger Hellig goes back towards them to help Marcus carry Aryia, and the entire party ends up on the bridge with Kriger guarding their rear flank as the devil dogs attack. Meanwhile, six skeletons have risen from the scattered bones on the far side of the river and are approaching Sanura at the midpoint of the narrow bridge.
Abigor laughs in glee at the bridge battle. After sending three into the gore below, Kriger is toppled by a 600-lb hellhound and sustains tearing bites to his face, Sanura smashes skeletons from the bridge, Damon fades in and out of awareness while lighting and dropping grenades, and Marcus does his best to keep Aryia from being dragged into the gore by blood-slick hands from below.
Finally, Damon hurls a grenade into the midst of the pack of dogs, scattering them (but felling none). Spooked by the explosion, the dogs do not resume their attack, and a grinning Abigor calls them off.
Sanura slays the last of the skeletons, and the bloodied shaken party makes their way across the bridge to find a place to rest.
Mountains of Hell
The exhausted party rests for twelve hours at the base of the cliff, catching some sleep while Babu sips from the river.
Rejuvenated, they begin the ascent up the steep cliffside switchbacks. At the halfway point, Kriger Hellig reports a cave entrance ahead, and tosses in a grenade to clear it of foes. In the dusty aftermath, he steps into the cave and instructs the rest of the group to file past. Baby spiders, a foot wide, stream out under his feet, causing Damon some consternation.
Then mama appears, the size of an ox, and a precarious cliffside battle ensues, leaving Sanura paralyzed, full of spider venom, before Kriger manages to mash the beast's head in.
Aryia strips Sanura and sucks the neurotoxin from the wound, and after the curious Babu reports there's a man within the cave, Kriger and Marcus go in to investigate. Sure enough, the remains of well-armored paladin (but for his fang-pierced chain leggings) lies within, long since depleted of spider-nourishing juices. The armor and weapons are of fine quality, and are divvied up among the party.
With a Numb Sanura back on her feet, the group ascends the cliff, arriving atop a broad plateau of jagged black rock beneath a heaving, smoky sky. A lone dead tree stands a mile away.
On approach, a petite red humanoid is spotted, as well as the fact that there's a man chained to the tree. This is Kaldor (the Konqueror), and he reports he has been chained to this tree for a very long time, to have his entrails periodically devoured by all manner of beasts.
He's a lusty lad, and immediately begins making advances on Sanura and Aryia, despite his incapacitating bonds. Aryia alone is convinced he must be rescued, and the rest of the party departs to investigate the red-skinned humanoid.
And so Aryia is alone with Kaldor at the tree when his next tormentors arrive: pale-skinned, bat-winged, black-eyed, yellow-clawed infants, screeching with hunger. They begin their work on Kaldor's abdomen, and he shouts out in pain as Aryia blasts the babies away with fireballs.
Aryia rejoins the group and they descend into a nearby ravine in search of the humanoid. In a rocky hole filled with stinking vapors, they find it, and dozens more. These are fire mephits, cowardly red-skinned devils, and they recoil from Kriger's demands, but offer a trade of their information about Katrina in return for meat.
The party informs the little devils about the charred babies back at the tree, and in no time they have sent a scavenging party to seize the meat without providing information. Kriger attacks and slays many before withdrawing.
The group goes back to Kaldor, who asserts one must be trapped. Grudgingly, Kriger Hellig and Damon use armory tools to free the barbaric warrior, and begin work on a trap, with Aryia as bait. Damon expertly fashions the chains from the tree, combined with a leather bag and a length of rope to make a crafty snare. Using Aryia as bait, the snare is successful in capturing a mephit for Kriger to interrogate. Kriger also pierced the leg of a fleeing mephit and pointed it out for Kaldor to take out his rage upon.
To the Castle
The little mephit is coerced to lead the party to the Countess' castle. Hours later, as the group approaches the edge of the great rocky plateau, mephits are everywhere, leading Kaldor to challenge them in his manner.
Kriger Hellig pauses to speak with Donblas, and his holy incantations summon another assassin demon. The beast is dispatched, but Kriger's shield will never be the same, and Kaldor is overcome by the creature's scorpion venom.
Only through miraculous mastery of her craft does Aryia bring the hunky barbarian back from the brink of death, and he shows his gratitude with lusty enthusiasm.
The mephit locates a way down the cliff, and towards the great swamp, beyond which a swirling maelstrom of smoke and fire surrounds a 5-spired castle.
After traversing it, the party rests, and Babu brings large toads in from the swamp for a quick roasted meal.
On approach to the castle, with the water-fearing mephit on a chain between them, the party encounters Gulubgrump, a house-sized toad-demon who speaks in a language they do not understand at first. It then switches, and inquiries whether the party is in fact food, or whether they have any flies to eat.
Politely declining, the party passes on, into the perimeter of the swirling smoke and flames. Sensing its inherent hazards, the party sends their mephit guide, motivated by a fake head-exploder device fashioned by Damon. The mephit tells of giant iron men with axes and whips and long faces, and then also of a mephit slave within who divulges that Katrina is below the castle in the lava pits.
Damon suggests returning to Gulubgrump and requesting aid. The thick-tongued house-sized amphibian demon lord offers to provide information on traversing the spinning inferno in return for "flies", and so the party goes bug-hunting.
What they find is a huge pool of black viscous liquid, in the center of which floats an island of watermelon-sized maggots, pored over by a dozen horseflies the size of ponies, each sporting a slimy gray human brain sprouting from its carapace.
Kaldor, indomitable, makes his way towards the island, and stomps his way into the flesh, wriggling pods. the flies attack, and soon several are upon the rest of the group. In relatively short order, three huge juicy flies are slain, and Aryia helps Kaldor haul himself out of the mess.
Gulubgrump honors the bargain, after some shrewd parlay, and the party walks into the firestorm, immune to its effects. Except the pain.
On the far side, before Katrina's iron castle, they face down two massive bronze minotaurs. In the end, Kriger Hellig manhandles both of them off the bridge into the lava moat, but not without the distraction and aid of Sanura's acrobatic combat dance, Marcus' selfless sacrifice, Damon's headlong rush, and Aryia's daring incantations.
Kaldor is thrown by his neck into the lava and incinerates his lower half during the wretched combat, and Kriger Hellig himself pitches into the inferno, saved only by landing atop his 1000 kilo bronze foe.
Katrina's slave fire mephit, elated at seeing the guardians fall, lets the party within the 5-towered metal castle, and directs them towards Batzerikhan. There, they find the demonmaster prostate, wide-eyed, seemingly unconscious, clutching a melon-sized ruby, in a torture chamber bedecked with all manner of unholy instruments, as well as a door-shaped portal that seemed to display the rocking deck of a familiar ship.
Kriger smashes some trappings of darkness, and then the entire group leaps into the portal, demonmaster and ruby in hand. Kriger's obsequious mephit follows.
Kriger Hellig and the party bank on the door of the captain's quarters, and after a few seconds, bash in the door. Kriger drops to his knees in magic-induced agony, and a tense standoff begins. Once the demonmaster inhabiting the hapless captain's body sees his physical form tied up helplessly, however, he becomes more cooperative.
The ship gains on Hastur, and, at the calculated moment, hurls the projectile into the demigod's writhing backflesh.
Seconds later, as Veruna's Crown turns about, the towering figure of Hastur the Unspeakable turns to warm seawater, and rushes down into the surrounding ocean harmlessly.
Within hours, they spot 40 vessels of war, preparing for Hastur's assault, one helmed by none other than Brad and Aishani. They rendezvous and tell of their travails as a swift tern observes overhead.