This mini-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.
Note: The over-arching meta plot will look very different at the end of the third campaign (The Dark War) than it looks here.
This is the teaser mini-campaign
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 the armies of Natal, and then sacked, raped and murdered by the roaming soldiers and brigands. The newly created 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.
Additional Ideas (5)
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
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?
This scenario had some loose ends. After reading MoonHunters mystery post I realized I had to clarify those.(excellent article by the way)
-The characters have a well of information at their disposal, the seer. Whenever they get lost, she will be there.
-The well of Urthmok. This oracle can be found in the chambers of the arcane at the college of higher magic. It will give some straight answers as opposed to the prophecy and the seer's visions.
-The conjurer's tree empathy. The trees have stood there for a long time and the forest knows alot of secrets.
Finding the convent:
-The characters can ask the well of Urthmok (the prophecy concerning the college will be much easier to interpret and thus the well easily found) or the seer could use her visions.
-They could research the matter, sneaking into human libraries. There they could find references to the red moon and its cult.
Discovering the dagger:
-The characters can eavesdrop and spy on the locals and the coven. Sooner or later they will discover the Satyr and Famina.
-The seer can use her gifts to find Famina and Inuus.
-The conjurer can converse empathically with the trees and be led in the right direction
-The characters can kidnap and force information from the victim(s)
-The characters can burn the forest (not really elf-like) and force a confrontation with natures spirits (and the Satyr)
I will focus on the scenarios and write in between information after, unless something urgent comes up.
-The Satyr dagger is just a bone dagger against any creature not specified as having a weakness against it. It will be of less use than an ordinary dagger.
-The Tallow Candle is consumed by the flame. It has a short duration.
-The Crystal Bell is made of crystal. It could easily break if the characters depend upon it too much. A small crack could be the first sign of overuse and should warn the players against further unnecessary use.
The next scenario will be posted as soon as I decide upon what scenario to create. I am dissatisfied with the coven scenario too. It lacks something. I would be grateful for all advice.
The campaign is a natural consequence of previous campaigns in the setting. 300 years have passed and the elves are not only in decline anymore, they are on the run. I tried to imagine what the elves would do when abused and hunted by a "lesser race".
The campaign was inspired by my older campaigns. The "Dancers of the Dead" elven class in my setting was the basis for the "shadow dancers".
Citadel of Xolthog and the Arcane Chambers:
The citadel and the chambers were made during a sudden surge of creativity. There were no special sources of inspiration, except my previous campaigns.
The Coven of the red moon;
The coven of the red moon was an enjoyable scenario to create. The translated prophecy is based on popular "magic verses" that were common in norway during the 15th century. The witches and their coven is based on norwegian and european folklore. The abbey is inspired by english abbeys.
A Black day for the Black Legion:
This scenario was rushed during a period of intense stress. I had three simultanous deadlines and actually slept very little during the period I wrote it. :evil: The soul candles are inspired by two sentences in Steven Eriksons "Deadhouse Gates" book from the "A tale of the Malazan book of the fallen" series. I guess the intense warfare is inspired from those books too!
Within the dreams of a merchant:
This scenario was also slightly inspired by Steven Eriksons books. In the books a "dead" god lives still in the dreams of a character. Another source of inspiration was London during the late 18th century, I intend to make Belodon a "Jack the Ripper" kind of character with a peculiar twist. Most of the adventure will occur within the dreams of a seriously disturbed and broken murderer. I am still pondering on how to pull that one of successfully,..
This campaign will foreshadow the second and third campaign. The players will experience much they cannot explain, much they will understand better in the future. I want to confuse them a bit, leave them bewildered but with a general understanding that "something big is brewing". More foreshadowing has occured on friday evenings and on the online sessions, and I will include those in later posts.
2. The Redemption of the Elves
I have played upon the shortcomings of the elven race in this campaign. Too perfect for creation, cursed by the god of the sun and betrayed by their own. The elves are on the brink of extinction, being slaughtered by humans, the very "cattle" species that exhibit only flaws where they are perfection. Then they embrace darkness, invite demons to share their flesh and souls. When they realize their error, it is too late. Some souls are already trapped with the shadow demons, and still now, 300 years later, they remain as if to remind them of their folly. The shadowdancers are broken beings, more animal than elf and nothing they can think of justify the sacrifices that were made.
Then there is a flicker of hope. An elven maid, unspoiled by the fall of her brethren, appearantly returning from death and guided by the prophecies of old and her own godgiven visions, has returned to deliver them to their salvation. But first they must embark on a quest. A saviour must get his symbol, the demon tongue sword. With evil the good shall cleanse the world.
This campaign will harden the elves and two of them will have to continue after the campaign. Which two will be left in the hands of the players and the choice must not be made until the third campaign.
Thus I am finished with the main events of the first campaign. The second campaign will concern the guardians of the newborn saviour and their flight from evil. It will slowly build up momentum and hope, and will end when they arrive at the sacred sanctuary of the elves, the last retreat of that race. Here the two first campaigns are vowen together and answers will be given. And as ever with answers, new questions will arise.
The first and second campaigns are relatively simple and are the two prequel campaigns to the third campaign, which will be the most elaborate and devious one. In the third campaign, the full meaning of what they have experienced will gradually dawn on the players.
The players must escort the saviour on his quest and several unsettling discoveries will surely crush the illusions they nourish about the world, the gods and the very quest they pursue.
Edit: Moved from comment to scroll