Please post to attach your character to the thread, and then delete the post. Otherwise this thread will not be officially open for another week or so.
The Archmage Nex, founder and ruler of the country named for him, has been missing for thousands of years. Nex's archrival, the dread necromancer Geb, still rules his own evil land - a ghost who cannot rest until he knows his ancient foe's fate, and is assured of his victory.
For centuries now the countries of Nex and Geb have enjoyed peace, and been able to recover from some of the horrors caused by their master's apocalyptic spell battles. But within Nex many factions stir, and the Council of Three and Nine are gathering any with the Archmage's blood, "for their own protection". A single phrase has stolen into the countries consciousness, seemingly from the ether; "Hand of descent extended, I shall return to deliver my people." Rumors speak of the warp storms of the Mana Wastes waxing in violence, of the twisted monstrosities that dwell there growing more frenzied, and of the undead legions of Geb massing for war!
Can the dissparate descendants of Nex prevent tragedy, and uncover the fate of their famous forebearer? Let us see...
1. Keep OOC comments to a minimum in this thread, please use the discussion thread for them.
2. Use tags when you need to, generally for giving grid positions, spelling out your action usage if you feel it might be unclear.
3. Ensure all die rolls are clearly marked, giving optional modifers abbreviations such as PA for power attack; for example, Greatsword PA vs B6: 120 + 6 = 126dAMAGE: 2d6 + 7 ⇒ (6, 5) + 7 = 18. You do not need to spell out automatic modifiers, such as bless, or bardic music, unless asked to do so, though you may if you wish.
4. Use italics for inner monologue, and thoughts.
5. Include the following information in the class line of your alias profile plugging in the appropriate numbers for your character, (HP 10/10; AC 16, Touch 12, Flatfooted 14; Fort +5, Ref +3, Will +7; Init +8; Perception +4, Sense Motive +4)
6. Please try to keep your information current, so if you take damage, lower your current hp in your alias class bar, if you charge lower your AC, etc. Its not the end of the world if you don't but its helpful so yours truly does not have to refer to your character sheets constantly.
7. If something bothers you bring it up! Please do so in the discussion thread, or by PM if you feel more comfortable doing so.
Try to look at the jpeg, its much fancier ;)
our research, and/or, divinations have revealed to us that you possess the blood of our beloved founder. As a descendant of Nex himself we are delighted to be able to extend you certain privileges, above and beyond those of the general populace.
These privileges include residence in the Bandeshar Palace, if so desired, free admission to any establishment of arcane education within the borders of our great nation, as well as access to a scholarship fund for such facilities in the world beyond.
In order to make these privileges possible we require a nominal fee of three thousand gold pieces be presented to your local Magistrate, or an Inquisitor Inductus no later than the first day of the year 4713 AR, Abadius 1st, by noon. We trust any with the blood of our illustrious founder will have little difficulty acrueing such a sum.
Yours Khalman Voth, Grand Inquisitor
A few days ago you received a scroll from a courier dressed in the black and gold livery of The Council of Three and Nine - Nex's ruling body. Its contents are troubling, and rumor runs rife that thousands of Nex's citizens have received similar missives.
Then as you went about your business, a drunkard reeled into you, reeking of stale ale and piss and pressing something firmly into your hand.
"You wanna, uhh, watch where yer a goin' friend, you need te be careful, don't look at me like I'm scum! See this pin its solid silver," he points at a silver scorpion upon his collar, "you see, I'm a great man, I help people. You wanna push off and learn some manners, they might come in handy some day! Even save your life! Ha!"
Then the filthy fellow staggers off, before doubling over and wretching noisily against a wall.
In your palm in a thin strip of rolled silk with words sewn upon it,
In Dehnet life and liberty are there for the taking, and new year's doom may be forestalled. Wealth and power for the taking, for even those who pay will not escape the true toll.
Everywhere there is talk of Geb's undead armies massing near their borders, and three of Geb's Vampire Artistocracy - the Blood Lords - are known to be negotiating with The Council of Three and Nine in Quantium. Fear pervades the citizenry, and many of the more cautious citizens are already preparing to flee to Alkenstar or Katapesh.
Danton's face was impassive as he read the missive from the Council of Three and Nine. He received it while supping on a cold stew of leeks and chickpeas from a run down tavern near his birthplace. He smiled at the mention of thousands of gold he didn't have and tossed the letter in the nearby fire.
Danton stood at his mother's grave, no tears touched his cold cheek as he stood vigil from dusk until dawn, finally laying down the Chelish tulips down at the small memorial as the sun's first rays touched it he allowed his mouth to quiver ever so slightly. Turning he went back to his tavern. As he entered the tavern the drunkard stumbled into him. Cold eyes met the filthy man's gaze. Feeling the strip in his hands Danton went and took the seat he had the morning before.
Uncoiling a tightened fist gingerly takes out the strip of silk and reads it carefully. His eyes play over it again and again as he memorizes the message and then he lets it to fall into the fire. That evening, his vigil finally done, he washes his face with rose water and dons the black leather mask of the Armiger Signifier. With the rising sun he departs Quantium and heads to Dehnet, his mind alive with questions.
Dehnet is far from the population centers of Quantium, Ecanus, and Oenopion in the very heart of the untamed twisted wilds created by centuries of magical warfare between the Archmage's Nex and Geb. Journeying there is an adventure in and of itself, but fortunately a great many caravans appear to be making the trip carrying supplies for the new town's expansion.
Upon reaching the town the first thing you see are imposing circular stone walls, that seem to be created in one seemless piece, save for the squat towers which every couple of hundred feet. Beyond the walls ragged individuals - primarily wild looking men, and strange twisted creatures that seem to be made up of a curious assortment of parts - labor creating what is obviously the foundation for a second outer wall. Here and there the massive forms of stone golems can be seen accompanied by robed figures. And a great plume of dust can be seen coming from a burrow like hole some twenty feet in diameter, from which echo occasional booming roars of protest.
The gate to the completed wall is manned by twelve fresh faced young men, in uniforms of deep blue with gold patterning. Two of their number carry guns, the rest are armed with glaives, save for one fellow who wears blue robes and is seated upon a folding chair making notes in a large leather book with a quill while a raven upon his shoulder peers about suspiciously.
There is a small line at the gate, which includes a couple of caravans at the fore. Each person is questioned as they approach, and though he guards seem to be well mannered, they will not be rushed. its easy to over hear the conversations ahead, and they take a fairly standard form,
"May I take your name please? Excellent. And your business in Dehnet? I see. Have you arranged for lodgings? The Handy Haversack has rooms for those with coin, if you are on a budget The Shelters will give you a bed if you don't mind the company you keep."
Ignatius is intrigued by the letter, but hardly enthused by the nature of the document's fine print. The mysterious message on the other hand stirs his sense of adventure and he gladly sets out for Dehnet.
At the gates of Dehnet, he gives his name and indicates the letter of privilege as the reason for his arriva. If the guards have no other questions he will head to the Handy Haversack to secure lodgings.
As you give your name the blue robed man closes his book with an audible snap and hurries over, his raven extending its wings to balance upon his shoulder. Close up he must be in his early twenties, and his features have the doughie quality of one who avoids physical labor, but not pastries.
"Ah, excellent we've been hoping you would come. I am Xavan, and this is my familiar Crax, allow us to welcome you to Dehnet. Please follow me."
"Welcome arrrrk!" Adds Crax.
You follow Xavan through the gate into a bustling little town that still looks new and orderly with wide streets and boxy utilitarian buildings that have yet to acquire much character. He leads you to a nondescript building besides a butchers, identified by a small plaque as The Nex Environmental Survey Office.
Inside the building is faintly musty, and you can see numerous offices piled high with paperwork. Taxidermy examples of strangely twisted animals line the hallways, as Xavan leads you up a flight of stairs to a cluttered office with a large map of Nex mounted on one wall covered in pins notes, and arrows.
Xavan steps up to the map and reaches up to the top of the wooden frame that holds evidently tripping a catch of some sort. The section of wall the map is on swings out into the room revealing a faint shimmering sheen in the air, directly before a wall,
"My Masters did not wish to draw attention, nor expend resources upon the construction of a frivolous headquarters. Please step through the barrier, I assure you it is quite safe," so saying he steps through and vanishes.
Upon entering you find yourself in a magnificent foyer, the air cool and pleasant with the faint scent of flowers in the air. A translucent woman, dressed in blue and gold servants livery glides over to you proffering a tray of sweetmeats, and another with glasses of white wine,
"The room off to the right there has been set aside for your use, you will find a bath, a bed, and a "seen" servant - pardon the pun - at your disposal. Please make yourself comfortable I am sure you have had an arduous journey. If you want for any food, simply ask the servants and they will accommodate you. My Master, Akil Akanarton, will fill you in on the details, but for now he is one of the Arclords of Nex, and a former member of The Council of Council of Three and Nine - specifically the nine. He will meet with you tomorrow morning, until then you have free rein of the mansion, and may leave of course leave if you so desire."
Xavan moves back towards the door, and after a answering any questions you have takes his leave.
You arrive in posting order, Ignatius, Danton, Vance. You are each given a luxurious room - in a faintly Egyptian style. You may ask questions of Xavan before he leaves, and will likely encounter one another if you choose to leave our rooms.
Ignatius Spellcraft: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (18) + 5 = 23
Danton Spellcraft: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (17) + 5 = 22
Vance Spellcraft: 1d20 + 9 ⇒ (1) + 9 = 10
The thin man in black and red robes takes great care to hide his face behind mask and hood as he speaks, "Yes, quite. We seem to be a rather disparate group, and that cryptic missive was not the greatest source of information, I suspect the only commonality between us is that we are uncommon."
"I cannot say much save that we have reason to fear those with Nex's blood are in great danger. The Council of Three and Nine has been dealing with Geb's ambassadors, and we believe they may allow their own interests to supersede those of Nex as a nation. I will allow my Master to give you a fuller picture."
The next morning you are awakened by much chatter and soon see a number of scribes speaking with an exhausted looking gaunt man dressed in a robe of thin white fur. He is plainly a wizard, and just as clearly advertising the fact, from his rune carved staff to his braided black beard.
Shortly you are summoned forth to an audience with the Akil Akanarton, 317th Arclord of Nex. A transparent servant guides you to one of the formerly locked doors and into a neat white room, with nothing in it save a beautiful large desk, behind which is a comfortable red leather chair where the Arclord sits. He regards you with slitted eyes, kneading his wrinkled forehead and sighing heavily as he does so,
"Gentlemen I shall keep this brief and to the point, I have little time for niceties, and little patience. You are here because I wish to use you, I wish to use you because I think it is in your interests to be so used - and in mutual self interest lies our trust. You have the blood of our Lord Nex, who we Arclords have been loyal to for these thousands of years, but that does not extend our loyalty to you. We believe that some of Nex's direct descendants may be able to bring him back, there are thousands of such people, so do not overestimate your import. But out of those thousands only a few hundred seem capable, we judge you amongst their number.
Now we believe that the Council of Three and Nine will deal with Geb. We believe that some of their number will betray our nation, in exchange for becoming new Bloodlords who rule over these lands. We have little proof of this save suspicions and inferences, but such an offer was made to one of our number - who is no longer with us, but managed to relay the information before his assassination.
Geb's first demand was that those with Nex's blood be given over to him. This tax is a net to gather those with the blood, they are paving the way to move, and we Arclords would oppose them. To do so we must mount a clandestine war. We must gather evidence to stir the populace, we must oppose the agents of Geb, and we must safeguard as many as possible of Nex's descendants. And most important of all we must find Nex, for only he can oppose the vengeful ghost of his ancient foe.
Aide us and we will reward you well, oppose us and you will soon find every hand turned against you. Forgive my lack of eloquence, but that is the simple truth and no garnish will improve its bitter taste.
If you would aide us I have several tasks which need completing. I need men I can trust in the so called Debtors Camp. I need men to travel into Geb and strike at the Bloodlords to buy us time. And I need men to treat with the wasteland tribes and gain their allegiance. Tell me that I can count on you, and tell me to which task you think yourselves best suited. Try to keep any questions brief, I must restore myself and leave shortly."
Brenys nods as Vance says the man could have cut down his speech. "I agree we should strike at the bloodlords but we must tread lightly..."
Mathpro's character putting in her two cents. Hope you don't mind me playing a female Carpe
Akil nods slowly,
"That is... unexpected, but I will not deny it pleases me. I will not be taking part in the planning for such an expedition we have operatives better suited to such covert missions, and I shall leave you in their capable hands. As such I would have you seek out the settlement of Agra upon the edge of the Mana Wastes, there are guides there who can circumvent the more deadly portions of those blasted lands though you will have to travel through the savage infested coast lands. Seek out the dwarven camel seller Dungosh Rustdawn and take the meanest of his camels, despite his objections."
Stifling a yawn he opens a draw and pulls a flask of slowly pulsing purple liquid which he throws back before wiping his mouth and shuddering.
"Our resources are stretched to breaking point, so we can only afford to make a minimal investment in your efforts until you prove yourselves. But I offer you 500gp each as a show of good faith, if you wish I can have my apprentices transform weapons or armor into masterworks - they have been doing little else, such a spell will take one hour. The cost of doing so would come from the 500gp, some 300gp for a weapon, or 150gp for armor. I shall also personally speed your travel with a working, so long as you are ready to leave before I depart in some three hours."
You each receive 500gp and the offer of a free Masterwork Transformation - you must pay the component cost of 300gp for weapons or 150gp for armor.
Brenys smiles and happily takes the money. She then turns around for a second and takes her studded leather armor off. When she turns back around she has one arm draped over her undershirt clad chest. She sets her armor on the table next to Vance's gun. Looking at it with a strange sense of awe she turns to Vance. "My I?" she asks as her hand moves towards the gun.
The wizard counts the coins out of a too small purse and gestures for the trasluscent servants to take the gear - four carrying Breny's armor between them,
"Very good, say an hour and a half for your equipment to be augmented, how much time will you require after that? Once you are ready head to the gate where you will be lead to meet your transportation - Phantom steeds. Keep low, hold on tight and they should bear you for eight hours. This will get you a substantial part of the way to the border, with perhaps three days travel remaining. Remember that stealth should be your watchword."
"My I?" she asks as her hand moves towards the gun.
"Hold on." Vance says, picking up the gun, breaching it and pulling the round out, snapping it closed and handing it back. "Here."
The gun was a beach-loading pistol of fairly simple design. It showed signs of long use and was definitely due to be polished and repaired. Unlike normal firearms, this one had arcane runes etched in a spiral pattern down the barrel, and some kind of personal seal burned into the wooden grip.
Brenys very clumsily picks up the firearm and starts to inspect it and you can tell its the first time she's ever held one and Vance becomes very happy he unloaded it as she points it at several of the other people around the room unintentionally as she looks it over.
"Interesting..." she says as she looks it over. "How does it work?"
Vance holds up the round he'd removed. It looked like little more than a sling bullet with a wad of paper wrapped around it.
"When one of these is in the chamber, you point it at something and pull the trigger. That hammer-shaped lever on the back makes a spark that sets off a chain reaction inside the chamber, which forces the bullet out the barrel at impressively lethal speeds. Think of it like a loaded crossbow. You only want to point it at things you want to put a hole in."
As Brenys and Vance discuss the workings of firearms he moves a hand to his thigh. Through the robes he can still feel the puckered flesh of an old scar, left over from a harsh trainer of the order of the rack.
"Yes, treat them just like a loaded crossbow. More carefully in fact as with the enclosed fire chamber you can't see the round. So imagine it's always loaded, even if you objectively know its not."
"hmm interesting" she says as she sets it back down on the table. "Mother taught me never play with anything I don't understand how to use but thanks for letting me take a look. I think I'll stick to my curved blade."
Akil largely ignores the conversation about the firearm, save for a brief grimace of disapproval. The ghostly servants wait until the weapons are placed back down and then take them up departing.
Akil then removes a long scroll from a draw, along with a number of smaller wooden tablets,
"Please leave now. Xavan with provide you with a map, and other rations and sundries for your journey," he says engrossed in his work already.
In an hour and a half Xavan arrives flanked by translucent servants who hand over newly gleaming sleeker versions of your equipment.
"My Master has completed his spell working for you, we must hurry now, for every second sees the spells duration ebbing away. You should have approximately eight hours, which should equate to roughly 180 miles. Head south east, please attempt to stay away from anyone, and keep low enough to the ground that a distant watcher might think you are upon it. You will have a little under 100 miles to go to the border. So we recommend you head for the Yakari Oasis, which should mean about a half days travel from the point your Phantom Steeds give out, there you can purchase mounts to get you to the small coastal village of Geresh. Try to avoid the mutant tribes, they raid the caravans around the oasis frequently. We have provided a weeks worth of rations and water. Now come."
He leads you hurriedly out of the offices, muttering a spell which changes his appearance to that of a scruffy cloaked trader and leads you back out of Dehnet. Four linen shrouded horses are tethered behind a section of partially constructed wall, only careful scrutiny reveals something strange about the hooves of the black equines, they are smokey and insubstantial.
Mounting up the animals feel normal enough, and you are soon galloping off across the sand. Following instructions you wait until you are well clear of Dehnet before trying out the spells powers. the creatures move like velvet lightening, and at a tug of the reins canter easily into the air still racing along at twice the speed of any normal mount. Their astonishing pace forces you to ride around six feet from the ground simply to avoid the billowing cloud of sand your passage causes.
The next eight hours pass in a blur of ravaged landscape, sand, dark scrublands, and bleak blasted hills whip by. And everywhere there are ruins, cities melted into slag, where a few last buildings stand like half melted candles. You see the remains of a stone giant engraved with eroded runes locked in the skeleton of some indecipherable horror. In the far distance you see a crude town sized camp, with crude hide yurts and longhouses that look like they take advantage of old ruins with new roofs of poorly tanned hide.
You cross the river Ustradi, flying high over its three mile width and watching the bizarre mutated creatures that inhabit its fertile length in wonder and disgust. You see three headed hippos, white crocodiles bigger than the largest stage coaches, and a herd of antelope whose horns have all grown around their heads like bizarre skeletal helms. Closer inspection reveals that many of these beasts are covered in knotted ulcers and growths, though few seem debilitated by them - only the strong survive.
Then you are past the fetile lands and in a black desert where unpleasant fumes rise from the land, where patches of what looks like black soil bubble and boil before your eyes. And finally you come to a more conventional desert of sand, though even that is clay red.
With fifteen minutes or so remaining you begin to see several hawks keeping pace with you from a distance. Your steeds power begins to peter out as they sink to the sands finally vanishing to leave you alone with only red dunes visible upon every horizon. Several of the hawks veer off leaving only one of their number watching you from the skies.
Some thirty minutes alter you hear the distant echo of a horn... The sun is just beginning its descent below the horizon and everyone casts long shadows across the red sand.
My apologies for the delay here. I've been having fun with flu, and would not normally go for such a long post without letting you have your say, but wanted to speed things along and get you into an encounter ASAP.
Anyone with Knowledge Local, or Knowledge Geography may roll it. If you are curious about anything seen along the way feel free to ask me to elaborate and offer up appropriate knowledge checks, etc.
Danton rides mostly in silence, his featureless mask hiding any emotion he might have. Once stopped his is quick paced, moving with authority. Upon hearing the horn he calmly unhooks his morningstar from his belt and readjusts his mask, searching the dunes with his eyes.
Perception1d20 + 8 ⇒ (16) + 8 = 24
Your supplies include a map of Nex, a Compass, 7 days of trail rations each, and three full waterskins each. If each character takes their share this equates to 19lbs each. Please note if this increases your load, or if you wish to abandon any supplies, etc.
The riders steadily advance upon the unmounted group spreading out around them and slowly closing in. They are swathed head to toe in ragged cloth, much of it poorly dyed black, and even their wraps cannot hide obvious bodily deformities. One has a misshapen leg that ends well before the knee, and cloth wrapped bulges upon his back and side, another has a prominent hunch back and has three hawks perched about his person, and the last moves slowly in towards you.
He has four arms and two heads, one head being much smaller with one milky white eye,
"I am Yaran Twice. You trespass on Hidari lands, you must, pay, fight, or challenge. Pay is all wealth, but keep food and water. Fight is die. Challenge is fight, with honor, you loose you pay, you win we give you the bone tokens with freedom to travel Hidari lands and an honor gift," the man says reigning in what looks like a musclebound goat the size of a horse some fifty feet from you.
Please feel free to act retroactively if you would like to preemptive strike, etc., I'm more than happy to pulls things back, just trying to push the pace.
Brenys approaches the strange form with caution and her hand slowly and subtly moves towards her blade. She concentrates on the form before her before slowly speaking. "There is no need for violence here. My friends and I are simply exploring and I'm sure we have nothing of value to you. If you are looking for a challenge however, I might be able to give you what your looking for. That is if my companions agree."
Diplomacy check:1d20 + 6 ⇒ (7) + 6 = 13
When she concentrates on the creature before her she is using her detect undead ability. She's pretty sure nothing that looks like that can be living so she wants to double check.
Yaran Twice shrugs, "If it is true you have nothing of value then your price will be a small one. I cannot take the challenge from my brothers, such is not a man's way. If one of you wishes not to fight they may pay the price and step aside."
Brenys looks a little shocked at the man standing before her. "I could have sworn..." she whispers to herself and she readies herself for the challenge. Turning to the others that have joined her she says "I am willing to face this challenge alone if you don't wish to fight" she then pauses for a moment "though I wouldn't mind the help."
Yaran twice, nods,
"We fight, without our mounts, save for Mujembai," the one legged Hidari raises his spear in acknowledgement, "we fight as hard as we may, but seek to stop deaths after the fight, and strike none who are felled. We begin on three, from thirty feet apart."
Yaran dismounts, awkwardly, and moves to a relatively flat spaces between two dunes where he uses the butt of his spear to draw a long line in the red sand. Then he carefully strikes forward and draws another line and moves back across to measure out another line.
"We begin here, you here. I count when you are ready."
Yaran gives Vance a puzzled look,
"If you wish you may cut off one of your legs and you may both crawl, but Mujembai will only use his mount to move. We are not soft city folk like two sides in a mirror we are Hidari, the broken people, broken but up bowed."
"Broken but unbowed," the other two black clad figures intone in unison.
The guy in question has only one leg.