The Dark is Rising - WotW Part I (COMPLETED) (Inactive)

Game Master Darkness Rising

"No one ever became extremely wicked suddenly."

-- Juvenal


Talingarde is the most virtuous, peaceful, noble nation in the world today. This is the story of how you burned it to the ground.

Group XP: 115,000/175,000

Feats of Evil:

The linked 3rd party (FMG) Feats of Evil are permitted

Damnation Feats are permitted now that you have signed the contract.

Contract Bound Feat Chain

The Deal (1st Feat)
You have made a deal with Asmodeus himself and are infected with the blood of a devil. As you begin the transformation, your senses heighten and you become profoundly aware that every day, you are changing into something both more and less than mortal. You have only begun your transformation into a devil.

Prerequisites: You must have signed a contract with Asmodeus.
Benefits: You gain darkvision 60 ft. and the see in darkness ability, however you gain the Contract Bound weakness.

Contract Bound (Ex)
The PC has signed a contract of service in return for this feat. Asmodeus must reveal its nature as a creature of Hell when it offers a contract, and it can't hide the details of the contract in any way. The PC must enter the agreement willingly (without magical compulsion). Usually the PC must perform one or more tasks for Asmodeus, and in exchange the PC gains access to this feat and others that may require it. The contract always includes a clause that damns the creature's soul to Hell when the creature dies, with credit for the act and possession of the soul going to Asmodeus himself. When the creature dies, its soul is automatically imprisoned in a gem, which immediately appears in Hell as one of Asmodeus's belongings. If Asmodeus is dead when the PC dies, the PC's soul is destroyed, and can't be restored to life except by miracle or wish. If the PC fails to perform the tasks in the allotted time, its soul is still damned and Asmodeus is not obligated to provide the promised abilities.

Many contracts state that Asmodeus, his agents, and his allies will not attempt to kill the PC. This doesn't protect against all devils, but does offer the creature a measure of protection against treachery from Asmodeus himself.

Breaking a contract with Asmodeus is difficult and dangerous. Furthermore, as long as the contract remains in effect, a slain victim can't be restored to life after death except by a miracle or wish. If the contract bound PC is restored to life, Asmodeus immediately senses the name and location (as discern location) of the PC or creature responsible.

The Change (2nd Feat)
You are changing. You can feel it in very core of your being. Your mortal blood is failing and the devil's blood is overtaking you. Soon, you will transform fully into hells creation.
Prerequisites: The Deal, 5th level
Benefits: Your natural armor improves +2, you gain a +2 racial bonus to saves versus Poison and you gain fire resistance 5. Your eyes now glow anytime you are upset or angry, your skin takes on a reddish hue and you begin to grow horns and a tail. Further, you radiate an evil aura as if you were an evil outsider. Holy Water now harms you and you are susceptible to all other attacks that would normally harm an evil outsider.

The Ascended (3rd Feat)
Your Devil blood has taken hold of you and has overtaken your racial blood. You are now a devil. However, you are still unsure of your powers and only begun to understand the full repercussions of this dark gift. Still, you are full of fury.
Prerequisites: The Deal, The Change, 5th level
Benefits: You gain the spell like ability 3/day—bestow curse, detect thoughts, locate creature, alter self. Your Cha score is improved by +2. You are now an outsider (devil, evil, extraplanar, lawful). You gain resistance to fire 30.

The Learned (4th Feat)
You have been a devil long enough that you are beginning to be able to control your powers.
Prerequisites: The Deal, The Change, The Ascended, 7th level
Benefits: Your Natural Armor bonus is increased to +4. You gain a +4 (formerly +2) racial bonus to saves versus Poison and regeneration 5 (good spells, good weapons).
Special Attack: You gain the summon universal monster ability and can summon a devil once per day with a 100% chance of success. The devil remains for 1 hour. The PC's caster level or Hit Dice, whichever is higher, determines the most powerful kind of devil it can summon and the effective spell level of this ability, according to the following.
5th level - Lemure, 9th level - Bearded devil, 11th level - Erinyes, 13th level - Bone Devil, 15th level - Barbed devil, 17th level - Ice devil.

Contract Devil, lesser (5th Feat)
You have mastered your condition and are now a lesser contract devil in every sense. You are allowed to seek out and make contracts of your own.
Prerequisites: The Deal, The Change, The Ascended, The Learned, 9th level
Benefits: Infernal Contract (Su)
As a full-round action, a contract devil can produce an infernal contract for a single living mortal creature. This contract can grant a wide range of abilities and effects, as detailed on the following page. To receive any of these bonuses, however, the mortal must sign its true name to the document of its own free will. Upon doing so, that mortal's soul is sworn to the contract devil, condemning the soul to an eternity of servitude in Hell rather than whatever fate would naturally befall it upon the mortal's death. Breaking a contract with a contract devil is difficult and dangerous; as long as the infernal contract remains in effect, the victim cannot be restored to life after death save by a miracle or a wish. If a mortal is restored to life in this way, the contract devil immediately senses the development—it not only knows which soul has been restored to life, but also gains the benefits of a discern location spell targeted on the character or creature that restored the damned soul to life.

Evil Wishes: Upon signing this contract, a mortal is granted one wish, as per the spell. (The wish also has to be approved by Armodeus himself for the wish to be granted.) It must use this wish within 24 hours of signing the contract—if it does not, the wish is wasted but it remains bound to the contract nevertheless. While the mortal chooses the intention of the wish, the lesser contract devil decides upon the specifics, allowing for its own diabolical interpretation of the results should the mortal imprecisely phrase a wish.

Channel Hellfire (optional feat)

Your devil's blood gives you access to many of the powers of Hell, as well as its wrath. It fills you, and shapes all aspects of your being - including your spellcasting.

Prerequisites: The Change, must be an arcane or divine spellcaster.
Special: this feat may be taken in place of a bonus feat for any spellcasting class that gets bonus feats as a class feature.
Benefits: you can alter spells that deal energy (acid, cold, electricity, fire) damage to instead deal hellfire damage. Hellfire is 50% fire damage and 50% unholy damage (no damage to evil creatures, double damage to good-aligned creatures). You can do this as a free action a number of times per day equal to your Charisma modifier (minimum 1). Spells altered to use hellfire gain the lawful and evil descriptors.


1 Town Centre

2 Lord's Dalliance

3 Town Hall

4 Manor House

5 Mama Rosie's (not open until lunchtime today)

6 Church

7 Graveyard

8 The Mott residence

9 Town Market

10 Bookshop

11 Alchemist's

12 Smithy

13 Watchtower

14 General store

15 Brewery

17 Jasper and Edith Iverson's house (servants at the fort)

18 Warehouse (owned by Tereth Caldwyn)

19 Manor house


1 Dwarven-built vault. Secret passage from here to the cellar of the Lord's Dalliance. Only known by the party and the innkeeper, Bellam Barhold

2 Armoury and forge.

3 Captain Barhold's quarters

4 Captain Varning's quarters

5 Captain Mott's quarters

6 Captain Eddarly's quarters

7 Garderobe

8 Main passageway

8a Servants' entrance. This is how Felrin entered as a servant (compared with the gatehouse 22 for Etna)

9 Barracks & Sleeping Quarters

10 Kitchen. Leads up to great hall via trapdoor in ceiling

11 Pantry

12 Mess Hall

13 Stores - cotains ropes, pitch, torches, lamp oil, lumber, bricks and other supplies required to keep the fort running

14-17 The priest's and acolytes' quarters. They look after themselves and so servants don't wander in

18 The bridge. This hundred foot bridge spans the River Tyburn and connects the gatehouse to the watchtower.

19 Portcullis. This stout latticed grill of iron forbids entry to Balentyne and is never kept open. It is the first line of defense for the gatehouse. The portcullis is spectacularly heavy and effectively unliftable without the aid of the intricate counterweight system housed within the upper levels of the gatehouse. The winch on the second level (25) raises this portcullis.

20 Gatehouse Northern storage. This lower level of the gatehouse has arrow slits that can fire in the entryway (room 19). It has also houses some of the long term provisions for the gatehouse – iron
rations, root vegetables and dried meat mostly. There is also a cistern that leads straight down into the river (which cuts through rock here).

21 Gatehouse Southern Storage. This the southern storage area and is largely identical to room 20 except it lacks the cistern and has more provisions for the gatehouse.

22 Aldencross Gate. This is where Etna came in as a guest

23 20 feet high walls, with crenellations on both sides

23a Mechanism for deploying stone seal to block doors 8a in event of invasion

24 The Bridge of Death. This hundred feet long crenellated bridge overlooks the main bridge (18.) below. If an army were to penetrate the gatehouse, this would be the second line of defense. Archers would fire volleys and drop stones on to the invaders on the bridge below.

25 The gatehouse second level. This level is a defensive keystone of the gatehouse. Archer slits line the walls. Two great cauldrons filled with heated sand are tended day and night. The sand is kept
blistering hot and ready to be poured through the murder holes (M) onto anyone caught in the gatehouse entryway (19) below. Two stout winches are here. One raises the porticullis (19a). The other raises the drawbridge (18a). There is a single reinforced door in this
room that leads to the so-called “Bridge of Death” (24).

26 Choir hall. Etna believes that some Celestial creatures (possibly Lantern Archons?) may live here

27 Fountain and Courtyard

27a Discipline platform for floggings and suchlike

28 Statue of the Victor - King Markadian I

29 Storage Shed. Contains tools for upkeep of the grounds

30 Stables

31 Great Hall

32 Flag room. Banners and honours of the garrison are draped across the walls

33 Gatehouse battlements. This is the open air crenellated roof of the gatehouse. It is dominated by siege engines and munitions of war.
The banner of Talingarde flutters from a flag pole mounted in the center of the west battlements. Two fearsome ballistae point out across the rocky approach to the gatehouse. They are loaded with great barbed missiles that convey the message “death to any who approach unbidden”. Beside each ballista is a rack full of ammunition for the siege engines. Two stone droppers overlook the portcullis of the gatehouse (19a). These lethal war machines allow stones from great troughs to be hurled on the heads of any invaders who approach. The troughs are loaded down with old masonry from various building projects

34 Guardroom/Hall of Honour. Inscribed on the walls is the name of every soldier who has died defending Balentyne (hundreds of names). A large stone cap is next to the staircase and can be moved to seal the stairs in case the lower level is invaded

35 Prisoner Cells. Currently empty

36 Stairwell to upper level

37 Interrogation room. Still bears evidence of torture mechanisms installed during the time of the Zealot king, now long dismantled.

38 Archers' room. Arrow slits in the wall provide perfect cover and field of fire over the gatehouse. Thousands of arrows are stored in quivers hanging from racks

39 Upper Guardroom

40 Magister's laboratory

41 Magister's private quarters

42 Entrance hall to the rookery

43 The rookery. Home to hundreds of ravens - and Mad Martin, who tends them and has given them all names. Martin takes his meals in here and almost never leaves.

44 Upper landing

45 Guest room where official visitors are housed. Currently unoccupied

46 Council chambers

47 The Lord's private chambers. Nobody has seen inside this

48 The keep's roof. The space is dominated by a (currently non-working) trebuchet which the dwarves are working on. The trap door leading down has a large stone next to it which can be moved to block access.

Burning Balentyne - progress report:


*Timeon told you about the four captains
*Timeon told you that Captain Mott's wife Kaitlyn is having an affair with Captain Eddarly
*Timeon told you about the rookery, which is how the Fort communicates with the rest of the Watch Wall
*All the servants who work in the fort live in Aldencross


*Met Bard of Barrington
*Booked rooms at the Lord's Dalliance
*Overheard dwarves talking about a map of fortress in their room
*Felrin met Corporal Grant and found out Balentyne is guarded by 1 regiment (100 men or so)
*Felrin found out about Varning's rangers and patrol
*Felrin noticed cash exchange between soldiers and some women, followed by exit to upstairs room
*Erevan and Etna found out dwarves not well liked
*Ottakar found secret door in cellar of Lord's Dalliance


*Ottakar copied map plans from dwarves' room
*Ottakar made first successful roll to create map (2 more required)
*Etna sold the ivory and furs for 1575 gp
*Etna heard that the stone saints in the chapel of Balentyne sing
*Etna heard that Balentyne's wizard, Magister-Captain Tacitus, has been spending a lot of time in his laboratory, studying something allegely brought out of the Frozen North on the last expedition
*Felrin found Captain Mott's town house
*Felrin encountered the priest of the church in Aldencross, Brother Justin
*Erevan heard that Lord Havelyn almost never socialises and disapproves of his soldiers coming into Aldencross.
*Erevan heard about 'Mad Martin' - apparently a semi-hermit like figure who lives in the raven's loft and looks after the birds.
*Etna and Erevan found out about the 'reverse drawbridge'
*Etna and Erevan found out about the walkway above the bridge
*Felrin found out about Jasper and Edith Iverson, servants at Balentyne


*Ottakar made second successful roll to create map (1 more required)
*Felrin got to know Jasper and Edith Iverson and was invited to go to Balentyne with them on Moonday
*Etna and Erevan met Dominik and Vanessa Vallinson, the mayor and his wife
*Etna found out about the Celestials (lantern archons?) which reside in the chapel
*Felrin and Tkaara found out that Mama Rosie makes stew for all of the garrison every Fireday
*Mama Rosie offered Felrin a job helping her to make the stew next Toilday evening (i.e. Toilday 11 Kuthona)


*Felrin met the wizard, Magister-Captain Tacitus
*Felrin discovered that the wizard is Lawful Good
*Felrin discovered ice golem in wizard's laboratory
*Ottakar completed map of Balentyne
*Tkaara encountered the alchemist
*Tkaara discovered the alchemist's shop is unusually well stocked
*Tkaara discovered that the alchemist is hiding something
*Tkaara found that the Illuminated Scroll shop sells arcane scrolls (1st and 2nd level only, no evil or chaotic spells)
*Etna discovered that Kaitlyn Mott lives in town even when her husband is on duty at the fort
*Tkaara discovered that Varning's rangers go on patrol tomorrow for two weeks


*Varning's rangers leave for patrol
*Tkaara arranged dinner with alchemist Caldwyn on Starday 6 Kuthona
*Ottakar commissioned spear; cost 300 gp and ready Toilday 9 Kuthona
*Etna arranged dinner with Kaitlyn and Captain Mott Sunday 7 Kuthona
*Etna discovered Kaitlyn Mott 'otherwise engaged' on Fireday 5 Kuthona
*Felrin discovered Captains' duty roster


*Felrin explored most of Balentyne
*Everyone else tracked the rangers
*Death of Captain Ryan Varning (2VP)
*Death of 10 rangers (including Lieutenant Smithers) (2 VP)


*Buried rangers & looted equipment
*Return to Aldencross
*Felrin explored Captains' rooms
*Felrin discovered love letters between Kaitlyn Mott and Captain Eddarly
*Etna, Tkaara and Erevan prepared forged letter


*Kaitlyn Mott has evening 'assignation'
*Death of Captain Zack Eddarly (2 VP)


*Trial and sentencing of Captain Franz Mott (2 VP)
*Tkaara has dinner date with the alchemist
*Ottakar located poisons at alchemist's shop - decision needed on whether to go for something less conspicuous or more deadly
*Felrin found deeds to warehouse and invoice from dwarves to alchemist
*Felrin and Ottakar found flesh golem and notes in Caldwyn's secret laboratory


*Etna has dinner date with the Motts
*Funeral of Captain Eddarly
*Tkaara has further date with Caldwyn
*Planning session reveals how much more there is to do


*Death of Edith and Jasper Iverson
*Etna worked out how to command the golem
*Felrin sabotaged the seal of Balentyne (1 VP)
*Ottakar stole ingredients for poison from Caldwyn's shop
*Felrin released the flesh golem
*Death of 5 soldiers (1 VP)
*Death of flesh golem
*Death of Captain Samuel Barhold (2 VP)
*Death of Tereth Caldwyn
*Death of Tkaara Fiakben


*Ottakar's new spear ready and paid for
*Funeral of Captain Samuel Barhold and others
*Funeral of Tkaara Fiakben
*Burial of Tereth Caldwyn
*Bard of Barrington invited you to play on Fireday after lunch


*Etna & Felrin learned that the alarm was up and the garrison knows they're under attack
*Etna re-programmed golem
*Ottakar prepared poison for stew and for raven feed
*Death of Magister-Captain Tacitus (4 VP)
*Discovery of the Iversons' murder
*Felrin assisted Mama Rosie prepare the stew and added poison to it
*Erevan, Etna, Felrin & Ottakar invited in for questioning
*Resurrection(?) of Tkaara Fiakben
*Death of Colour-Sergeant Erasmus and his detachment (1 VP)
*Death of Engineer-in-Chief Captain Barnabas Eisenbauch (2 VP)
*Death of dwarven engineers (2 VP)
*Death of Mad Martin and the ravens (3 VP)
*Destruction of the arrow store (1 VP)


*Earliest date Sakkarot's horde will be ready
*Mama Rosie's stew (now poisoned) due to be served at 12 p.m.
*Death of 5 guards from poisoning (1 VP)
*Incapacitation of 6 guards from poisoning (1 VP)
*Bard of Barrington's play due to be performed at 2 p.m.
*Death of Lord Thomas Havelyn (5 VP)
*Death of Father Althus Donnagin (3 VP)
*Lantern archons banished (2 VP)
*Took the Gatehouse and raised the portcullis (5 VP)
*Sabotaged the siege engines (4 VP)
*Blocked the murder holes (1 VP)


*Varning's rangers due back from patrol

Talingarde: Basic Facts:

Alignment: LG
Capital: Matharyn (105,000)
Notable Settlements:

  • Ghastenhall (82,000)
  • Daveryn (59,000)
  • Havelyn (21,000)
  • Farholde (9,500)
  • Aldencross (1,800
  • Varyston (1,200)

Ruler: King Markadian V called the Brave, Protector of the Righteous
Government: Religious Monarchy
Languages: Common, Dwarven
Religion: Mitra, the Shining Lord. And no other.

10 Things everyone knows about Talingarde:

1. Talingarde is an island. It is about the size of Britain in the real world. In the south it enjoys a temperate clime, but the north of the island is quite cold and often blanketed with snow. Most people avoid this part of the island because it is populated by monsters. Talingarde is an isolated place far from any other nations and outsiders are something of a rarity. Very little trade takes place between Talingarde and the rest of Golarion (Avistan is off the Eastern coast of Talingarde). This is in part due to the rough seas around its Eastern coast, but there are also rumours of a dire sea monster that attacks not merely ships but entire fleets. Certainly more ships go missing than can be entirely accounted for by bad weather and mere misfortune.

2. Talingarde is a lawful good nation. Talingarde is a place of law and order. Violations of the law are punished severely but fairly. Talingarde is also a place that reveres the ideals of goodness. Clergy tend to the sick, often for no pay. Knights seek to protect the weak. Paladins are fabled individuals often featured in stories and songs. Talingarde might be, in all the world, the nation most committed to the ideals of law and good.

3. Talingarde is a monarchy. It is ruled by good king Markadian V called the Brave. Markadian is a much beloved ruler from a well-established royal family known as the House of Darius.

4. The King has no son. He does however have a daughter, the beautiful princess Bellinda who is twenty years old and still unmarried. The king and the princess are the only full-blooded members of the royal family, though they have lots and lots of cousins and more distant family. The King’s wife Lucinda died in child birth and he has never remarried.

5. The Victor was the first Darian king. Markadian V is actually the great grandson of Markadian I called the Victor who established the House of Darius and defeated the former royal house, the House of Barca, at Battle of Tamberlyn. The Victor remains beloved in Talingarde even decades after his death and you still see statues of him everywhere.

6. The only god you are allowed to worship in Talingarde is Mitra. Once other gods were worshipped, but that all came to an end under the House of Darius. Worship of Asmodeus, arch-enemy of Mitra, is outlawed and punishable by death by burning. Worshipping other nonevil gods is technically allowed but highly discouraged and very rarely seen.

7. Mitra is the Lord of Light. Mitra is the god of light, healing, goodness and leadership. He is usually depicted as having three aspects – a king, a healer or a living flame. Mitra is benevolent god and the arch-enemy of the First Tyrant, Asmodeus.

8. The Church of Mitra is everywhere. No town in Talingarde lacks a church of Mitra. The priests are almost always important men in their community. The second most powerful man in the kingdom is the High Cardinal of the Church, Vitallian of Estyllis. There word is not law but it is heard and respected and ignored only infrequently. The House of Darius and the Church of Mitra are allies dedicated to keeping Talingarde the bastion of goodness, law and Mitran devotion that it is today.

9. Talingarde is defended by the Knights of the Alerion. The Knights are a storied and legendary order of warriors who uphold the right, protect the weak and work to see justice done. They are a religious order and everyone has sworn oaths to Mitra. Uniquely, they are not all nobles. Even those of common blood may become a knight if they are deemed worthy. Not every Knight is a paladin, but their order has produced more paladins than any other.

10. Talingarde is protected by the Watch Wall. Twelve fortresses mark the northern border of the kingdom of Talingarde. These fortresses control every point of access from the Savage North and defend the land from incursion by the bugbears and other monsters that live there. Markadian V called the Brave earned that name defending the Watch Wall.

The Knights of the Alerion:

This venerable brotherhood of knights dedicated to Mitra’s service was once a minor order. However, during the war of succession, they were the only order to side with House Darius. All the rest sided with House Barca.

With Markadian’s victory and the elevation of House Darius to royalty, this order has risen to become the greatest and most prestigious order throughout the land. To “fly with eagles” (the heraldric symbol of the Alerion is the eagle) is used as a synonym for joining this order. Fiercely religious, all its members must swear oaths of service to Mitra and support the Mitran Church. Oaths of chastity and poverty are not uncommon among the more devout members of this order but are not required.

Uniquely, this order of knights does not require noble blood. Any commoner who can pass the rigorous tests of membership can become a member. Of course, the overwhelming majority of its members are highborn. How often do farmers train with the horse and sword? Still, some of the most prestigious members are common heroes who have answered the call of the Shining Lord. Nowadays one could be forgiven for thinking this the only knightly order in the land. This is untrue of course (see below) but what is undeniable is that the Order is the most influential military organization in Talingarde.

This Order is led by no less august a personage than the King himself. Markvadian V called the Brave is the highest ranking member of the Knights of the Alerion.

A phenomenal number of Knights of the Alerion have passed through the trials of Mitra and have pleased the Shining Lord greatly. They are now no longer merely men at arms, but holy warriors, valiant and fearless: Paladins.

Sacred Brotherhood of the Gryphon:

The other major order of knights in Talingarde, the Brothers of the Gryphon are actually a coalition of older orders that banded together after their membership numbers were shattered eighty years ago in the war of succession. Largely secular, their order requires no divine oaths to join. They do however require noble blood.

Since the war of succession and their pardon by the Victor, the Brothers have proven their loyalty to Talingarde again and again. Numerous Brothers have served as commanders on the Watch Wall. They have held every possible military position of any prestige. Still today, there is no doubt this is an order in decline.

Led by Lord Vastenus of Barca, the king’s most trusted commander, there remains some jealousy amongst the Brothers of the great prestige the Knights of the Alerion now enjoy.

The Church of Mitra:

If there is any organization that may rival the royal house in power in Talingarde today, it is the Church of Mitra. There is no community of any size that does not have at least a church house and a single priest of this religion. They are involved in the daily lives of the peasants like no other group. Every birth, every death, every marriage, and every festival is presided over by a priest of Mitra.

Overwhelmingly, the Church is a force for benevolence throughout the kingdom. Has there ever in history been an organization with such power and influence and yet so untroubled by corruption? This is not to say the Church has not had its scandals. Priests who indulge their vices; bishops who misappropriate funds for personal gain; cardinals who use their office for power instead of holy work -- these happen. But what makes the Church of Mitra so remarkable is how rarely they happen. The servants of the Shining Lord are trusted by the people of Talingarde and for good reason.

Led by the High Cardinal Vitalian of Estyllis, the Church is experiencing a zenith of influence and culture. In Matharyn, the kingdom’s capital, the great Cathedral of the Sanctum Solaris has just been completed. Its soaring frescoes and magnificent statuary are without equal on the isle.

Oddly, by comparison with almost every other organised religion within Golarion, the majority of the Church's priests are not clerics (blessed with Mitra's favour and magic), but non-spellcasters. They may be wise, learned, persuasive and indeed holy, but (for reasons known only to Mitra) not blessed with his healing powers. This is of course no barrier to service and advancement, which is based on a number of other factors.

Thus, one may rise to High Cardinal without ever casting so much as an orison; and conversely one may be holy in power without ever rising even so far as Bishop.

The Blessed Order of St. Macarius:

This monastic order has dedicated itself to healing the sick and relieving the suffering of the people, thus following in the footsteps of the founder St. Macarius the Mendicant. They do this without charge or any expectation of repayment. This has earned them the gratitude and love of people throughout the domain.

Further, in times of war, the brothers of this order accompany the army into battle. Healing both sides, they do their best to minimize the loss of life. There are even tales of these monks healing bugbears who attacked the Watch Wall in hopes that these acts of kindness will eventually lead the shaggy invaders to reconsider their violent lives.

This order has another claim to fame. Most of the clergy who follow Mitra will never cast a single divine spell. Most priests, though they worship Mitra, are not direct channels for his will. Of the rare priests who can actually use divine magic, the overwhelming majority are members of this order.

The leader of this order prefers to remain anonymous but is doubtless located at the Monastery of St. Macarius, the order’s central base of operation and founding site.

History - The Rise of House Darius:

Talingarde may be a peaceful and prosperous kingdom at the start of the campaign, but the nation has certainly had a troubled past. Only eighty years ago, the kingdom weathered a bitter war of succession fought between the largely half-elven nobility of House Barca and the human dynasty of House Darius. Both had claim to the throne and their supporters amongst the fractured nobility of the isle. On the Plains of Tamberlyn just north of the capital city, two great armies met and decided the future of this dominion.

One army was commanded by King Jaraad of House Barca, a great half-elven hero mounted on a griffon, the symbol of his house. The other was led by Markadian of House Darius, a young upstart paladin who would not bow before all the gods of the Talirean pantheon (in particular Asmodeus).

The Battle of Tamberlyn remains the most famous conflict in all of Talingarde’s history. House Darius was gravely outnumbered but far more fiercely committed to their holy cause. Much of House Barca’s army was paid mercenaries fighting for nothing more than gold. The Battle was fought between two large stone spires (the so-called Lords of Tamberlyn) that rise from otherwise level ground. A small brook splits the spires crossed only in one place by an ancient stone bridge. The brook is not deep but still would be difficult for men in armor to cross.

Markadian took to the field first, seizing the bridge with his knights and positioning infantry on both his right and left flank. The famed archers of Barrington and Embryl, with their mighty longbows of yew, were positioned behind the infantry. Outnumbering his foe many times, King Jaraad hoped for a quick victory and sent his mercenary crossbowmen forward to bombard the knights on the bridge. The hope was that a few volleys of crossbow shot would kill many of the knights and paladins of House Darius. Deprived of their leadership, the rest of the soldiery would likely flee from the battlefield when the king moved the bulk of Barca’s army forward.

However, the crossbowmen advanced too close and the infantry on Darius’ right flank performed a surprise charge. The charge caught the mercenaries off guard and they fled with hardly a shot fired.So disgusted was the knight commander of Barca behind the mercenaries that he ordered his knights to charge forward through the “cowardly retreating rabble” to attack the relatively exposed Darian infantry. The result was a chaotic muddle of panicked mercenary and tangled knights.

It was then that the Darian archers begin to fire their volleys. The arrows rained down on the knights and took a princely toll on the Barcan force. King Jaraad saw the muddle that his left had become and ordered the other pincer of his army forward. They moved swiftly at first along the banks of the brook but soon found themselves equally bogged down in mud. They too began to receive a hail of arrows.

Finally the Barcan left pushed through the mercenaries and charged the bridge. It was here that the heaviest fighting of the battle took place. On the bridge of Tamberlyn the knights of Darius met the full might of the Barcan army and held the line. The Barcan army was packed in so tight trying to cross the bridge that there rear ranks were at the mercy of the Embryllian archers. King Jaraad could watch the slaughter no longer. He flew his elite personal command – a dozen knights on griffons to the other side of the bridge hoping to flank the defenders and break their line.

What he encountered instead was the young Lord Markadian and his personal guard. The battle between Markadian’s knights and the griffon riders has been immortalized in several songs and plays. Suffice to say that after a great battle, a dozen dead griffons littered the field and only Markadian of Darius and King Jaraad of Barca remained combatant. They fought fiercely and in the end, Markadian slew Jaraad upon the banks of the Tamberlyn brook and claimed the throne of Talingarde.

At the end of the day, the battle had proved to be a slaughter. The military might of House Barca was broken and House Darius came to power. It would have been easy then for House Darius to seek revenge against their former enemies but instead King Markadian I called the Victorious showed mercy. He allowed the nobles of House Barca to keep their lands if they would only swear loyalty to the new king and bow before the great god Mitra.

The offer was accepted and peace once more came to Talingarde. The crisis of succession was over and the religion of the isle was decided. Mitra the Shining Lord became head of the Talirean pantheon.

History - Markadian I: The Victor:

When Markadian I came to power there was great uncertainty of how capable a king he would prove. While he was a great warrior, he had never ruled and there was reason to doubt this young paladin could control this divided land. He soon put those doubts to rest. Markadian I called the Victorious (usually simply The Victor these days) was the sort of ruler that only comes once every thousand years. At the battle of Farholde he dealt the bugbears of the north a savage defeat and scattered them for a generation. He confronted the pirates who had made the western coast of Talingarde their stronghold and burnt them out. It seemed that the Victor was undefeatable upon the field of battle. So fearsome was his reputation that by the later years of his reign, he merely sent a letter to a rebellious warlord in the west that read, “Must we meet on the fields on war?” The warlord relented and became a loyal subject.

By the end of the Victor’s reign, almost all of the island south of the Watch Wall was firmly a part of Talingarde. Only a few parts of the great and trackless forest, the Caer Bryr, remained wild and unmapped.

More than a soldier, he also proved a great builder and statesman. He raised the capital Matharyn from a small city into a great metropolis. He reinforced the watch wall, commissioning three new fortresses. He eased tariffs bringing merchants from the mainland to the oft-isolated isle once more. He personally visited the Lands of the Yutak tribesmen in the north and made peace with their great chiefs.

And though the paladin spread the religion of Mitra and discouraged devotion to Asmodeus he tolerated the Prince of Nessus’ temples as long as they were discreet. For forty six years the Victor sat upon the throne bringing a golden age to Talingarde. Today, his statues are to be found in almost every town and hamlet throughout the kingdom. He did have his faults though. Like so many great rulers – he was a great soldier and king but a poor father.

History - Markadian II:The Scholar :

After the death of the Victor, his oldest son Martius ascended to the throne as King Markadian II called the Learned. More a scholar than a king, Martius proved largely uninterested in affairs of state. He commissioned the great library at Matharyn and began renovation of an old family castle into the great palace known as the Adarium.

As the first wing of the Adarium was completed, he retreated there and was rarely seen in public.

The other son, Prince Hallen, was not so reserved. Though he had no official power, he often ruled in the king’s absence and commanded great loyalty from the knights of the realm. This might have been an acceptable arrangement. After all, Prince Hallen was a soldier and an heir of the Victor. He could have become the de facto ruler while the official king sat in his distant pleasure palace and library.

Alas, that Prince Hallen was also mad. Prince Hallen became convinced that his mother (who had died in childbirth) was not the queen but an angel of Mitra. He believed himself a demigod and incapable of wrong. At first the Prince’s madness was subtle. He often dressed all in white and even had a magic set of wings made for himself that allowed him to soar over the capital. But in time the visions began. He communed with these so-called angels and they whispered that he should replace his brother and become the true and immortal master of Talingarde. The king received disturbing reports of the prince’s madness and plots but refused to believe them. “My brother but jests,” is famously what Markadian II replied to the reports.

History - Markadian III: The Monster:

Finally the “angel” prince would wait no longer. He flew to the Adarium and with a flaming sword slew his own brother amidst his books and proclaimed himself Markadian III called the Immortal. His brother’s six year reign was at an end.

For a brief time, it was possible that Markadian III’s claim of kingship might have been acknowledged. His brother after all was little loved and tongues wagged that getting rid of the absent king was a blessing. Maybe the new king was a divine messenger of Mitra’s will. But within days the mad decrees began from the Adarium. The king decreed that Mitra’s high holy day would no longer be the summer solstice but instead would become his own birthday. He ordered the military to prepare to invade Hell and commanded his wizards to research opening a great gate. First, he explained to his flabbergasted advisors, the army would go through the gate to the shining realm of Mitra himself to call forth an army of angels. Then he personally would lead the host to invade the nine hells and overthrow Asmodeus himself.

Finally the people had enough of this madness. Officially, the histories record that after only five months in power Markadian III called the Mad tried to fly from the highest spire of the Adarium without his magic wings. More likely, he was thrown from the spire by paladins who would tolerate no more of this madman’s blasphemies. Whatever the truth, his reign was over.

History - Markadian IV: The Zealous:

Fortunately for Talingarde, Martius (Markadian II) had a son -- Marcus. The grandson of the Victor was neither mad nor a recluse. He had been clever enough to avoid the Adarium and the capital during Prince Hallen’s angelic rampage. Marcus was a handsome knight twenty nine years of age and closely resembled his grandfather the Victor. Thus was Talingarde spared another disastrous war of succession.

Marcus returned to the capital and was crowned Markadian IV called the Zealous. The new king quickly realized that he needed to solidify his power and explain away the difficulties of the last six and a half years. In short, he needed an enemy to unify this fractured Talirean nation. He found one – in the Temple of Asmodeus. King Markadian IV blamed the cult of Asmodeus for using their black magic to summon a devil to possess the former king thus driving him mad. It was a brilliant political solution (though an utter fiction). It removed blame from the royal house of Darius and instead placed guilt squarely upon a small, unpopular, marginalized cult.

This was the beginning of the Asmodean Purges. The Knights of the Alerion took the lead in destroying the temples. High priests were burned at the stake and the sect was driven underground. For twelve years, the Zealot sat upon the throne and during that time he did his best to annihilate the cult of Asmodeus. He very nearly succeeded. Markadian IV died comparatively young, only 41 years old of a mysterious illness. There were rumors that the Cult of Asmodeus had placed a curse upon the king. These rumors only fuelled the purges further.

Present day - Markadian V: The Brave:

Markadian IV was followed by Markadian V, his son. Twenty-two when he took the throne (the same age as the Victor), he has ruled for sixteen years as a capable, energetic king who has done much to put bad memories in the past.

Beloved by his people, he has proven again and again he is the true heir of the Victor. Early in his reign, he personally led the army to relieve the Watch Wall after another bugbear incursion. It was on the watchtower walls that he earned himself the title The Brave.

Markadian V has continued the prohibition against the cult of Asmodeus but does not pursue the purges with the same vigor as his father. After all, that battle is largely won. No one has heard of an Asmodean cultist in Talingarde for years. Instead, he turns his attention to the west and the north hoping to be the king who brings the entire island of Talingarde under his dynasty’s dominion.

He has failed in one duty however. He has failed to yet produce a son. Instead, he has only one child -- a beautiful, brilliant young princess named Bellinda. Twenty years of age, she is already a prodigy of arcane magic. If her father produces no heir it is an open question whether the men of Talingarde will follow a queen instead of a king. Her story is yet to be written.

Basic Geography:

Talingarde is an archipelago consisting of more than a hundred islands. This archipelago may be divided into six regions each with their own unique character: The Cambrian Ports, The Heartland and the Borderlands (firmly under Talirean control), and the Caer Bryr, the Savage North and the Land of the Yutak (which are not).

The Cambrian Ports

This is the center of the nation of Talingarde and the apex of its culture and power. This region is defined by three great metropolises – the capital Matharyn, the northern city of Ghastenhall, and the western port of Daveryn.

The Heartland

This is where most of the population of the nation of Talingarde lives and works. Seemingly one quaint village after another, this is a land of endless farmlands broken up only by small stretches of well-managed forest. Those who truly understand the nation understand that the Heartland is Talingarde’s strength. The cities may create its riches and culture, but without the stalwart yeomanry, country knights and hearty folk of the field, Talingarde would be only a dream.

The Borderlands

Located between the Heartland and the Savage North, this border region represents the limits of Talirean power. Unable to fully conquer the north after centuries of incursion and brutal conflict, it was King Accarius IV of House Barca called the Architect who constructed the first version of the Watch Wall. In more educated circles it is still called the Accarian Line.

Accarius constructed nine castles guarding the border. Later Markadian I called the Victorious would add three more. Whoever controlled these castles could effectively prohibit access to the Heartland from the North. The Watch Wall was intended to contain the monsters and savages so that eventually the rest of the isle could be conquered and pacified. It was never meant to be the permanent measure it has become.

The success of the Watch Wall has bred complacency. Why invade the north when the south is so prosperous? The Watch Wall does such a fine job of repulsing the illled assaults of the barbarous humanoid invaders. Thus today, the Watch Wall is little regarded as a pressing military concern. The twelve castles are garrisoned and maintained but little is done to capture the Savage North.

The Caer Bryr:

Pronounced “care briar,” the Western frontier of the island is dominated by the massive forest that gives this region its name. Small Talirean border towns flourish in the less wooded south, but the north remains a land of mists and legends. The Caer Bryr is reputed to be haunted and filled with monsters. There are tales of dragons and ancient evils that still haunt the woods.

The only ones who are able to travel here with impunity are the barbaric Iraen, a primitive human tribe that reveres the spirits of the woods. The Iraen neither revere Mitra nor pay homage to the king, instead preferring their own crude animistic faith and barbaric chieftains. Worse, in times of hardship the Iraen can be quick to turn to banditry against Talirean settlements. Thus their relationship with Talingarde is strained at best. Still, beside the occasional raid or skirmish, there has never been large-scale warfare between the Iraen and the Talireans.

The Savage North:

Beyond the Watch Wall lies the Savage North. Often this land is said to be nothing but an empty waste of ice and monsters. This is a complete fiction. The north is dominated by forests and plains rich in life. Here dwell three peoples long demonized or ignored by the more civilized folk of the south – the brutal burabar (the name the bugbears call themselves), the naatanuk (intelligent polar bears) and the mysterious ice elves.

Though little is known about the North, this is certain – it is largest unexplored region on the island. Many a Talirean king has dreamt of conquering the North. So far, those dreams remain unfulfilled.

The Lands of the Yutak:

This chain of islands is inhabited by the Yutak, short swarthy black-haired humans. These islands are cold, inhospitable places unsuited to farming or grazing, so the Talireans have left the Yutak to their own devices.

Where the southerners see wastelands, the Yutak see oceans teaming with fish and seals. In their one-man kayaks and larger umiaks, they ply the open oceans hunting for fur and blubber. Occasionally, several small bands will unite to hunt a whale. Rarely, an umiak will appear out of the mist loaded with ivory and furs. These Yutak umiaks will sail into one of the western ports (a few have made it as far south as Daveryn), conduct their business and then disappear once more.

The Yutak never trade for gold instead prizing steel, leather and strong drink. Wise merchants keep a stock of steel harpoon heads in case they encounter a Yutak trader. The Yutak will trade much ivory for a finely made harpoon. Few Talireans speak the strange musical Yutak tongue and few Yutak understand common.

The Yutak, much like the savage Iraens of the Caer Bryr, have their own gods and their own way of life. Still, where the Iraen are secretive and xenophobic, the Yutak are a gregarious people. Travellers along the western coast tell tales of Yutak who without invitation join Talireans around a campfire. The Yutak share their seal meat and sing strange but beautiful songs with strangers with whom they share no tongue. It is said that if you are polite and share your own food, the Yutak may leave a gift to mark their passing.

The 9 Legends of Talingarde:

The Lost Island of Taane-thak

The Yutak tell a tale of a lost island surrounded by dangerous rocks in the far north. The island, it is said, is the home of a tribe of frost giants led by a powerful giant sorceress known in stories as Taane-Thak or She without Mercy. Thanks to a curse lain upon them by good Talirean wizard centuries ago, the frost giants sleep in their hidden halls of ice appearing now to be little more than frozen statues.

If someone could brave the breakwaters of the island and solve the ancient wizard’s riddle it may be possible to free Taane-Thak and coerce her into servitude. Can you imagine servants more powerful than vengeful frost giants and their merciless ice queen? Can you also imagine servants more fickle and likely to betray you?

The Barrow of the First King

Somewhere in the south, long lost and forgotten is the barrow of the first Talirean king. He reigned centuries ago when the first settlers came to the island. Still, he was said to be a great ruler and was buried with the wealth of his ancient kingdom. Surely this must be a legend. How could the barrow have gone so long and still not be discovered?

Still, if it could be discovered it was said that the First King revered all the gods and kept powerful relics to remind him of their power. If that is true, then among his treasures there must be a relic consecrated to Asmodeus. Imagine what that relic could mean in our villains’ hands?

The Children of the White Spider

The barbaric Iraen tribesmen of the Caer Bryr whisper tales of a lost valley in the heart of the trackless forest inhabited by giant spiders wise enough to speak. These spiders call themselves the Skis’raal and though they are not evil per se, they are utterly alien and hostile to any who invade their hidden domain.

These spiders are fanatically devoted to a female priesthood of white spiders capable of using divine magic. Supposedly these white sisters worship a mysterious demigoddess known as the Queen in White. The truth of this legend is only conjecture.

Still, if the Queen in White could be found, it is said cryptically whispered whoever controls her blood controls her brood. Imagine if the PCs could crack that riddle and take control of an army of giant spiders!

The Mead Hall of the Ice Elven King

A powerful elven lord, tales relate, dwells somewhere in the savage north and if you can find his hidden mead hall you will find a true refuge amidst the endless snow. The Lord it is said is a kindly soul who eagerly trades space in his haven for a fine tale.

The truth is somewhat more sinister. While the mead hall is real, it is now a ruin inhabited by a powerful banshee who mourns her lost love. The elven lord is along ago murdered and betrayed . Still, if the banshee could be defeated, she guards the long dead king’s trappings including his jeweled crown and enchanted sword.

The Lost Ansgarian Mine

Today the dwarves of Talingarde maintain few strongholds in the great Ansgar mountain range that runs the island’s length. They prefer to dwell in the cities of men where food is plentiful and the weather more forgiving. Still, once the Ansgar mountains were home to a thriving dwarven culture now all but forgotten.

Dwarven tales speak of a secret dwarven mine of mithral that the dwarven kings guarded so jealously that none was allowed to enter there unless they submitted to powerful magic that erased memory of the mine’s location. Thus when the last dwarven king died heirless centuries ago the secret of the mithral mine died with him.

Still, there are dwarves in Ghastenhall and Matharyn who claim to have royal blood in their veins. If this is true, they may be immune to the amnesiac curse and may be able to rediscover this priceless mine. A Talirean army equipped with mithral weapons would be unstoppable!

The Ice Troll Forges

In the savage north is found an ancient tribe of ice trolls, the degenerate remainder of a once much greater troll civilization. These surprisingly intelligent smiths work strange rare metals and craft magic treasures they trade with the bugbears. These are led by a great ice troll king named Sigarth Iekenhart.

Sigarth is a genius among the ice trolls and despises the Talireans. He could be a valuable ally to any who call Talingarde their enemy. Still, he would have to be persuaded. It is said the trolls value mithral (or ice-steel as they call it) above any other metal.

The Sunken City of Aath-Aryn

Several miles off the eastern coast of Talingarde is a colony of tritons that dwell amidst the ruins of a submerged city. Aath-Aryn, it is said, was once the sister city to the ancient city of Maath-Aryn (now better known these days as Matharyn, capital of Talingarde). However, its last king in his arrogance mocked the god of the sea. Thus the city was hit by a great tsunami and a powerful earthquake that permanently flooded the city. Now the lost city of Aath-Aryn (or just Aath) is merely a children’s tale remembered only in a nursery rhyme:

King Hoopa Loopa said to the sea
Aath’s not afraid of you! Are you afraid of me?
King Hoopa Loopa silly silly he!
He got dragged down to the bottom of the sea!
King Hoopa Loopa said to the sky
Don’t let me drown! Can you teach me how to fly?
King Hoopa Loopa silly silly guy!
Seven miles out and never ever dry!

For the clever, the nursery rhyme does hold a few interesting facts. The last king of Aath-Aryn was named Appalorius (no doubt the origin of the sing-song Hoopa Loopa). He did forsake the god of the sea for worship of a sky god. And there is a rock outcropping seven miles off the eastern coast called the Appalorian Spire very near lost Aath-Aryn.

Now, if only an expedition could be mounted with sufficient magical resources to explore the lost city, who can doubt it still holds ancient treasures ripe for plunder? Of course, there are the pesky tritons and sea elves who consider this a holy site. They will have to be exterminated. What a pity.

The Wreck of the Dawn Triumphant

When a Mitran religious artifact was discovered on the mainland, the Church immediately arranged for its transport to their cathedral in Matharyn. The church fathers contracted the merchant vessel “The Dawn Triumphant” owned by a very pious sea captain. Alas, that just before the entrance to the Cambrian Bay the ship struck a reef and sunk to the bottom of the sea with all her crew and cargo.

The Cardinals of the Mitran Faith have offered exorbitant sums to anyone willing to brave the treacherous waters and reclaim the relic but so far have found no takers. What are they so worried about? What is it about this relic that seems almost to terrify them? And if it were recovered, how could it be used against them?

The Holy Caverns of the Naatanuk

Of all the intelligent races that dwell on Talingarde, the Naatanuk are probably the most misunderstood. Regarded as monsters by the Talireans, these intelligent polar bears are often assumed to be slaves or trained beasts in service of the bugbears. This is untrue. While a few Naatanuk do aid the bugbears, most regard the shaggy goblinoids with disinterest or disdain.

The truth is that the Naatanuk are an independent, proud people who made Talingarde their home long before bugbears, humans or any other race came to this once wild island paradise. The Naatanuk have an ancient druidic tradition and it is in these hidden caverns that the rites and religions of their people are carried out. It is also here that their greatest treasures are stored. It would be only the boldest of thieves who would dare violate these sacred caverns and discover what the Naatanuk have labored so long to keep hidden from the two-legs.