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[Coldforged: Tabletop Campaign]1: Prophecies of Redemption

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Ancient Gamer:
Please help me out on this one. Don't be afraid to criticize, I am confident in my abilities. I also realize that I sometimes miss the target completely :D

Ideas would be received with thanks, give me everything you got.  :D

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This campaign is the first of three campaigns describing the prophecies and the coming of Camhol, the mortal son of the sun god. It is a high level campaign.

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Near the summit of mount Arak’nui, the remnants of the elven race still lingers. Their hearts darkened, their spirits broken, they have turned to evil and embraced demon-worship.

Once they dwelt in the forests of Mir-en-Tarnil, unknown by men, protected by superstition, nature and illusions. But when the dead god Natal returned from his millennia of banishment everything changed. The seers got ill and one by one they died. Strange raiders clad in black leather killed and abducted elven watchers in the outskirts of the forest. The spirits of the elven nations, from before the coming of men, were defiled in their temples.

A band of elven warriors, priests and mages were assembled, led by the 8000 year old white mage Sildurion. Together they cleansed the temples, visited the ruins of the elder nation and travelled the dimensions. At last they succeeded. They confronted Natal with the relics of the ancient heroes and they banished him back whence he came. In the end it was all a failure. Sildurion had his own, hidden, agenda. They had failed to see the signs and they had to pay with their lives. Sildurion ascended and became Sil’Durhon, the traitor god, the creator of the half-elves.

The elven nation was broken by Natal’s armies, and then sacked, raped and murdered by the roaming soldiers and brigands. The newly assembled church of Sil’Durhon organized raids into elven country and abducted the elven maids. They became imprisoned in the inner sanctums of the Sil’Durhonian temples. Nothing more than birth-machines spawning the blasphemous half-elves.

But one seer escaped. She is now followed by an entourage of broken elves and their last surviving noble. For three centuries they have been on the run. Loathed and feared by the human populace, hunted by the Knights of Sil’Durhon and the clergy of his church.

Darkness and bitterness has consumed them, and they have turned away from their gods and summoned demons to inhabit the flesh and souls of the willing. Shadow dancers these elves are called, and they are an instrument of revenge, wreaking havoc wherever they dance into the midst of the enemy. It was an alliance hastily made in those desperate days three centuries ago, but as the elves witnessed the agony and change visited upon the shadowdancers they regret the decision more and more.

Now Lumaratha, the goddess of wild nature and elves, has once again visited the seer in her dreams. For 300 years the goddess abandoned her race, starting the minute they embraced demon-worship. Now the seer has had visions of a saviour. A human saviour even, Camhol, the mortal son of the Sun god, Fhalgharod. It is the only chance for the elves to redeem themselves and lead their surviving kin to the last sanctuary.

The prophecies cannot be mistaken. They have all foretold this moment. The seer is to lead a group of guardians down into the kingdoms of men and retrieve the sword, demontongue, from its demonic owner and deliver it to Camhol at his hiding place, the ruined city of Bluarc which is partially buried in the northern glacier.

Defeating the demon-lord, Xolthog, who is the owner of the weapon will not be easy, and will require all of their abilities, as well as three lesser artifacts.

The first artifact is a crystal bell. Its name is “Beloth” and it lies somewhere beneath the college of higher magic. When it is struck, it dispels all magic, mundane as well as divine as long as the tone lingers. It is the only way so few individuals could break the arcane defences of the demon lord.

The second artifact is “Cuirath” and is actually a tallow candle. When the wick is lit, it protects everyone within 10 yards from scrying and detection by magic, eyesight or other senses. But when others come within 10 yards, they are all as visible as the conditions normally would allow. Being a candle, it has a highly limited duration and winds could easily extinguish it. Using it is the only way they can enter the dark lord's citadel unnoticed.

The third artifact is a dagger fashioned from the hip-bone of a Satyr. Only by thrusting such an item into the demon-lords chest, can he truly be defeated. Everything else would only banish him temporarily for a year. Alas they do not need to defeat him in order to steal demontongue, but not doing so will have serious consequences in the following campaigns.

Strolen:
I am going to assume that this is the overview and the players won't have all this knowledge. If they do then it is just A to B to C kill D the end.

There is a lot of references, but not a lot of background so I find it a little hard to follow because I don't have the whole picture. For instance, demontongue wasn't mentioned till the last sentence, I assumed they were just suppose to kill a baddie but then I see a weapon is mentioned, but not explained why near the top.

The magic items are awesome and I like the way they tie in and are required to fight Xolthog.

Shadowdancers are cool and have a good history as to why they become. There has got to be at least a small group of good elves somewhere though. I think they would have a role to play in all this. Lumaratha would have probably stayed true to them and now finds it time to try and rescue the rest of her children. Perhaps the good elves are keepers of the Seer (of whom I would like more of).

I am sure you know exactly where you are going with all of it, but for me, I need some more details to give more input. Very interested.

Ancient Gamer:
This is something I have just recently started fleshing out, so all details aren't clear yet. But here is what I had in mind.

The plot: The players won't know all the details. They will have a prophecy, probably very cryptic and slightly poetic, to follow. They will rely on the visions of their seer to advance further, and those visions will only be invoked in certain places and under certain conditions.

The seer can try to strengthen the visions, but doing so will require a terrible sacrifice. The benefits will be tempting, but the sacrifice will be awful. I have not worked out the details of that sacrifice.

If the seer dies, then the players will have failed.

The weapon: Demontongue will be referenced in the prophecy. It is a weapon of pure evil, an artifact even. It has chaos mutilating effects* and will twist and test the will of its carrier. It will be an awesome weapon, but will inflict terrible grief upon the elves.

Something will happen to the weapon, to Camhol or to both after he receives it. I haven't fleshed out what yet, but he will heal the carrier-elf somewhat, although not completely. (Beyond his powers?)

*Chaos mut. effects resemble burn-wounds. Often fangs and the like protrude out of the wounds, and sometimes the wound seem to boil very slowly. Sometimes other effects, like the skin becoming translucent, will also be visited upon the victim.

The seer: I haven't fleshed out this lady properly yet. I have ideas concerning her though; perhaps she uses herbal potions to induce the trance-like state in which she receives her visions. Perhaps the visions require her to be chaste... (If she loves someone (a player?) this could complicate things...) Of course the player that agrees to roleplay her would have many wishes for her traits too... She will certainly love her people and despair for their fate. She will also be sensitive for the captured elf-maidens held prisoner in the temples. If she nears one of these unfortunate ladies, she will sense her pain and anguish.


Strolen: Yes, good elves... I agree. Unbeknownst to the players there are elves on one other continent, but perhaps there is a clan of good elves hidden somewhere on this continent too? They could have protected the seer, and she could return with promises of salvation and a quest?

This introduces the possibility of dissent. Some of the fallen elves may be in opposition to the return to the light. That could require the players, the seer in particular, to persuade the elves that this has to be done? Perhaps the leader of the opposition would be willing to resort to murder where he failed to persuade?

Ancient Gamer:
The cast:
There will be seven players. They will never play more than 4 at a time. Thus they will travel in two groups, where the game centres on those attending the gaming session.

The seer: Ilyanathila
Described above

The conjurer: Mabulon
-Responsible for the pact with the demons. He has spent the last couple of centuries regretting that decision. Often he gets sick with despair and he hates what he has become. His rage has long since abated.
-He is a skilled conjurer and has great mastery over the darker aspects of magic. He can summon and bind many darker entities but loathe doing so; indeed he will only use his abilities as a last resort. (he started delving in the darker arts as a desperate countermeasure in the conflict versus Natal)
-In his youth he received some training as a temple guardian of Lumaratha
-His primary field of expertise used to be tree-gardening. He nourished the elven homes and gently persuaded the trees to grow as to provide shelter for the elves. He absolutely loves trees and can communicate emphatically with them.

The Lord: Carcassul
-Was one of the advisors of the King and Queen
-Was the warden of the westernmost part of the elven nations and was responsible for the defence of those woods. To his shame he ran away, leaving his men behind. Not a soul knows of this, but Carcassul has hated himself every second thereafter. (He ran in sheer terror when he saw the carnage that Natal's Slayers (Undead elves clad in black leather armour) visited upon his men)
-Is a skilled (and he is an elf) bowman and a master with the rapier and main gauche.
-Has a great love of books and can only find peace when he buries himself in musty old tomes.

The scouts: Haulin and Zulieth
-Twin brothers. (Something almost unheard of among the elves).
-Highly skilled at subterfuge and archery
-Contested over the love of Ailanye, the daughter of high Gardener Tremoyl. She disappeared during the battle of Silver Gap (Against Natal) and the brothers often ponder about her fate.
-Spoke out against the alliance with demon kind, but was alone in this protest. They would not, however, go against the rule of lord Carcassul.

The Shadowdancers: Formerly Curthyn and Epiron
-Although both are shadowdancers, they retain their former skills as border-hunter (Hunted intruders) and forest watchman
-Curthyn saw Lanathaie, the love of his life, ravaged by a large group of human brigands. With his ghastly wounds he was unable to help her, and he saw her will to live fade away at the hands of the brutish thugs. He was rescued against his will by Prince Falathol. The prince supposedly fell shortly thereafter while defending the heart of the capital against the human defilers. Curthyn was the first to volunteer to become a shadowdancer.
-Epiron lost all of his friends defending the western forest. Later he discovered that Lord Carcassul had also survived, but that was to be expected of a man with his abilities. (Epiron believes). Epiron later discovered that his two sisters had been taken away to the southern human empire.

The shadowdancers will be worked more out in detail. They will also have the fiendish part of themselves to play out. They could easily become a liability for the group, and I will certainly keep the group on the edge and wary about these two elves.

What do you think? Any ideas or suggestions?

Ancient Gamer:
Episode: The citadel of Xolthog

When the pc's approach the area of the citadel, they will probably be confused that it is not there. What they do not know, is that the citadel exists on another dimension that is only accessible through a rift in this area.

The rift is located at the base of a large tree with strangely grey bark and blackened leaves. They can find the location of this rift through the conjurer's tree-empathy or the seer's visions. They could also stumble upon it by pure luck. It is not visible by normal eyesight, except that they may detect instabilities, almost like ripples through water. The rift creates ripples when there is a shift between the planes of existence, i.e. when something happens on the other side of the portal. Thus anyone on the other side would see a lot of ripples when the characters investigate it and/or travel through it. Travelling through the rift takes approx. 10 seconds.

To activate the rift, they need to utter a certain phrase. This phrase Xolthog's brother Galaruz whispered to the tree when he created the rift. (The purpose of the citadel is to keep Xolthog trapped in one place (the brothers have warred for an eternity)). The phrase can be learnt in several ways. 1) If they free Celemion from the depths beneath the college of higher magic AND tell her of their quest, she will provide it. 2) If the seer attempts to discover it through visions, she will be granted a sight. In the vision she will see some ruins of a mansion nearby. In the cellars of that mansion will be a tomb, and in that tomb lies the iron-bound tome known as the Tome of Origin. She will get a sense of general direction and proximity to the ruins.

The ruins are not haunted, nor infested with monsters and abominations of any kind. Of course the ruins are old, and some natural hazards exist. For instance parts of the building might easily collapse, but the real danger is the tome itself. It is legendary and all of the elves will have heard the name. Those who succeed their history or magic lore checks will know that it is a volume of great scholarly value. Within its iron-bound pages lie many of the secrets of creation. Many of those secrets are terrifying and will shake the very sanity of the readers, while other is so marvellous that they will enthrall the reader utterly. The seer will know exactly which page to open, and indeed she will open that page at first attempt. The players should know that continued reading is of great risk.

3) The tree itself knows the phrase, but is unwilling to share it. Only if the conjurer makes a critically successful check against his persuasion skill, will he be able to play "guess the phrase" with the tree. (He is only able to communicate empathically).

The citadel:

Once through the rift, the elves will arrive in a darkened room. It will be cold, uncomfortably so, and investigations will reveal that there is an iron door out of the room and an iron hatch on the floor. The iron hatch is in reality a window, and if opened, will reveal a drop which has no bottom. Indeed they can only see dark blue sky beneath them. The citadel clings to a large city-sized rock with reversed gravity, which is suspended in nothingness. The rock is filled with holes in which winged creatures nest. If anyone in any way tries to travel outside the walls of the citadel, they will be harassed by these hungry creatures.

The citadel is large but there are some distinguishing factors:
- Xolthog is obsessed with the war against his brother and underlings of Galaruz will be chained, stretched and hung in various places. If the pc's allow themselves to be detected, they will assume the pc's are agents of Galaruz.
- The interior seems strangely abandoned, but when they do meet the inhabitants, it is either a chaotic host of fiends storming through the halls, on their way to some rift to wage war on Galaruz, or it is a few individuals silently walking around on some unknown business. The situation should stress caution. (Some lonely imp as comical relief?) It should be clear that they would benefit from good tactics if they are to go to battle.
- Xolthog is situated at the "(BBottom" of the citadel. A central shaft will go directly into his quarters and stairs skirt the edges of that shaft.
- If the tallow candle extinguishes, the PC's will soon be assailed by a host of fiends. The fiends will be relentless until the candle is lit, or the PC's leave.


The upper citadel:
Xolthog may not enter the upper citadel, not unless the "(Bloneliness" in the lower citadel is freed.
- Several mosaics throughout the upper citadel provide teleportation points for spellcasters of required magnitude.
- Some portions clearly houses an army while others seem totally abandoned.
- It is so cold, that at some point they may notice frost on their clothing.

The lower citadel:
Here they may meet Xolthog's emotions. These are extensions of the arch-demon that wander the halls of random, constantly emitting his feelings. No other fiend may enter these floors.
- Xolthog's sorrow: Long before they actually encounter this entity, they will hear a slow, lamenting voice and accompanying piano music. It will be the saddest song the pc's have ever heard, and will probably move them to tears. If they get close to this entity, they will witness a strange man playing the piano while a middle aged lady sings the mournful song. They will float slowly through the air far above the characters. Any character hearing this song must check against his resistance to see whether he will be incapable of harming Xolthog. (The crystal bell will dispel this effect).
- The rage of Xolthog: This avatar is the embodiment of the hatred Xolthog feels toward his brother Galaruz. Meeting this avatar will not be pleasant. The first indication that the avatar is approaching, will be a tremendous roaring scream drawing closer and closer. Then the demons within the shadowdancers will begin to respond by dancing faster and faster as the scream grow louder. Then the air before them will suddenly become distorted, and the avatar will emerge within 10 yards in front of them.
- Xolthog's loneliness: This one embodies the loneliness of Xolthog, especially after his brother imprisoned him within this dimension. They will hear the heartbreaking crying of a child and investigations will reveal that within a neighbouring room, there is a hole in the floor. Peering through this hole will reveal a cage suspended in chains above the infinite drop. Within this cage is a child, alone and vulnerable. If they approach the cage, they will sense something dangerous about the child and the seer will scream in pain. For a moment the appearance of the child will shift to something far more frightening. If they decide to release the child, they will be granted permanent bonuses to their statistics, but Xolthog will have been released from his eternal prison. In addition, the chains holding the cage will break, and the liberator may plummet for an eternity. Xolthog will have left with demontongue before the pc's manage to reach him. This will complicate matters terribly.
- The lust of Xolthog: This phenomenon shows the demonic lust of Xolthog, and would have an irresistible effect on weak willed humans. The pc's are elves, and will probably feel revolted by the sin and lack of soul in this encounter. The characters will hear moaning and cheering, feasting and singing long before they actually get to see this phenomenon. If they do get to witness this, they will see an enormous hall, filled with naked men and women, succubi and incubi. Fat men will devour vast amounts of food and will be glistening with fat on their breasts and their faces. It will be a scene depicting all aspects of (human) lust.

Xolthog's Quarters:

When the PC's enter this room, they will not lay eyes upon some terrible arch-demon. In stead they will see a venerable old man, strangely resembling their dead King. (Or father, grandfather, etc.). He will be a charming fellow and he will try to make them feel foolish for wanting to harm him. There will be food and wine and music. There will also be ravens everywhere. On the floor, several large rectangular areas have been removed, revealing the infinite chasm below. Here they can see more ravens circle, some flying through the holes to land on some cabinet, mirror or desk. The room is filled with luxuries of every sort, including some very fine vines of elven manufacture.

Xolthog will be charming and hospitable. If they desire, they may sleep over and he will not harm them while they sleep. They will get their every desire catered for, and after a while he will try to convince them to seek out his "(Bloneliness". He will also warn them against his "(Brage" although he would not describe them as his own.

If the PC's attack, he will still be in the form of a venerable old man, but with an angry expression of rage on his face. He will surely draw the longsword Demontongue, which is actually made of a demons tongue. It is black as sin and full of small hooks protruding from the edge. Ancient runes cover the side of the blade and noxious, black fumes steam from it. During the battle they may catch a glimpse of Xolthog's body beneath his clothing, and it is covered with chaos wounds.

The ravens will take an active part during the struggle. They will harass the spellcasters and archers and viciously attack any that close in on Xolthog.

Without the crystal bell, the defences of Xolthog will be formidable. He will appear invincible and magic will not affect him.

Xolthog will withdraw from anyone carrying a dagger fashioned from a satyr's hip bone. The carrier will get the satisfaction of witnessing panic in the eyes of Xolthog. The ravens will protect Xolthog at all costs against the carrier.

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