Sæmyyr is a harsh mistress - Sæmyyr is an enormous and dangerous place. Wildernesses are expansive, undeveloped, and filled with dangerous creatures. The animals and denizens of the wild are made stronger by the enormous planet and more ferocious by the need to survive in a savage environment. The wilds are all about survival of the fittest, and the peoples who manage to survive are made more potent – and more dangerous - through their experiences.
Cities are full of intrigue and armed factions pursuing their own agendas. In most places the magistrates and law enforcement are little more than personal guard for desperate nobles clutching on to their share of the power.
At its worst, many of Sæmyyr's nations are only just above despotism. While many of these nations are made more powerful by the union of religious and secular dominion, political machinations are the norm. Raw greed hides itself behind a veneer of poverty, while power is entrenched in obsolete and oppressive religious practices and beliefs.
But at its best, Sæmyyr's nations and heroes are hopeful promises of a potential future. They are fertile places where the destinies of individuals, communities, and whole peoples can rise through the dangerous machinations of a mammoth and savage world. The distant memories of the past can open memories of the future. Sæmyyr is a place where knowledge is power, and that power is available to anyone and everyone. The secrets of the ancients are available to anyone who can shape and realize their own destiny.
More than meets the eye - Sæmyyr is a colossal world filled with traditional roles, but players will soon discover its face is not always genuine. Nothing is as it seems in the Shadowlands. Be it the beggar in the streets of Mtol Dærine (who is actually a three-hundred year old priest) or the slender, quiet warrior (who is really a spy for a powerful group of mentalists and sorcerers), every NPC has a potential story and role – and those rarely come plainly advertised.
Wheels within wheels - Sæmyyr is a world of machination, intrigue, espionage, and conspiracies: of designs within designs. Plots swirl and lay dormant for years before the right set of conditions conspire to bring about a desired result. The many factions, groups, nationalities, and power-seeking individuals of Sæmyyr recruit, bribe, and assassinate each other in order to uncover plots and plans, thwart them, and put themselves in positions of control. Intrigue is a part of life in Sæmyyr and permeates every facet of daily existence. While the kings, senates, and magistrates write the laws, various independent factions, merchants, and organizations make sure the laws that are enforced are ones which benefit their group the most. It is a world in which lords plot against each other, clerics plan against their liege lords, and “removal” through the intrigues of courtiers, assassinations, or poisonings is the norm.
Heavy footsteps on the wooden planks, accented by a slight jingle of chain, are heard outside of the Inn, walking towards the door. Oddly, the pace seems fast, but the producer of the menacing steps doesn't get to the door in a time that would seem to match the pace. Eventually, the steps stop and all eyes are focused at the entrance, waiting for whoever is outside to finally enter.
Suddenly, the doors swing open and the patrons continue to stare at an empty doorway, until their eyes drop down and lock on a gnome, who barely meets the height of the tables, with sun-colored hair and piercing violet eyes, staring back at them.
“Gezzo Wrathforge, reporting for duty!”
|Nästród, Oracle of the Dasun|
We begin our story in Náströnd - a land of many peoples, faiths and nations. Much of northeastern Náströnd is marsh and swamp, trailing off into lush coastal plains to the south. The region’s interior is fairly heavily forested, while the easternmost peaks of the imposing Abarsean Mountains form Náströnd’s entire northern border. You can locate the area in the extreme northeastern portion of the map found in the Shadowlands Conversion Guide.
The Grand Duchy of Yutian rests entirely within the dismal Mæotian Marshes, one of many nations to do so. The expansive capital, Kuturka, possesses the good fortune to host a Brotherhood portal, as well as the bad luck of being utterly unable to raise city walls in the marsh, and so it has the dubious distinction of being perhaps the most frequently invaded kingdom in Náströnd, as various interests periodically attempt to seize its invaluable connection to the rest of Sæmyyr.
The Brotherhood of Magus is in tight control of Kuturka, but it is not in control of the surrounding marshlands. The Mæotian Marshes are a mixed blessing. On one hand, they make life difficult with persistent foggy weather and difficulty traveling its expanses. On the other hand, the Marshes teem with unique and valuable flora and fauna, both highly useful in crafting exotic products and components.
A flourishing market exists in Kuturka buying and selling these products, and in crafting spell materials, alchemical potions, and exotic components for armor and weapons. It functions primarily because of an uneasy truce between the Duchy and the humanoid residents of the marshlands. The flow of gold pieces helps to motivate city residents to keep any negative opinions of “outsiders” to themselves. Things seem calm in Kuturka, but trouble is brewing, and the Brotherhood is determined to root out the problem – quietly, if possible.
The sudden increase in noise when the gnome introduces himself causes a dark-haired man to look up in surprise, disturbed from whatever thoughts he was having. After a few moments of nothing else happening, he looks back down at the table, muttering something to himself.
Gezzo eyes the boy and snatches the parchment from his hand. He spins around on his heels, while breaking the seal and unrolling the sheet, and reads the missive silently with his back turned to the messenger.
"Hmph! Indeed! My request has finally found the hands of someone with the appropriate position."
He quickly rolls the parchment and slides it into his satchel. Once again he spins around, this time towards the door, brushing the boy's expectant hand out of his way, he heads out the door and turns in the direction of the Tower of Magus.
|Fener of Valgaard|
|Fener of Valgaard|
Watching the mismatch array of individuals entering the bar, Argyros finds himself a seat at an empty table where he can keep his back to the wall and an eye on the door.
Serving wench, Argyros shouts as he wave an arm to attract the waitresses attention. The best food this place serves and a flagon of ale.
Barkeep (at Fener): (He produces a wooden club from under the bar, and waves it in your face). You want free drinks? Well I want a million gold pieces and a new straw hat. I guess we're both going to be disappointed, aren't we? Pay up, or get out!
Waitress (to Argyros): Our special of the day is a wonderful cut of swamp boar, cooked to your expectations for doneness, and served in a bread trencher with an assortment of vegetables. Might I suggest pairing the meal with honey-mead instead of ale? It greatly compliments the subtle flavor of the boar steak.
Waitress (to Flug and Thorgrim): What can I get for you?
Waitress (to Nastrod): Ummm...I'm not certain we serve your kind in this establishment...
Waitress (to Imowen): (Whispers) Honey, if you know what's good for you, you'd not hang around these louts for long. What can I get you?
Gezzo freezes in place as soon as the boy touches his arm and cocks his head, over his shoulder and stares at the boy with a steely gaze.
Hmm! He says in a high pitched, but obviously annoyed tone.
Perception: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (18) + 11 = 29
Waitress (to Throgrim): Your ale will be coming right up. As for that man, I don't know who he is. Maybe some stranger passing through?
Waitress (to Argyros): I'll bring you your drink right away, and your meal will be ready in a few minutes. That will be 3 silver pieces please.
Can I assume Thogrim and I are sharing the same table?
Flug jolts again when the waitress speaks to him. He seems out of it but responds in an unsteady voice. "I'll ha—have what you recommend."
The waitress brings two ales to the table where Thorgrim and Flug are sitting, and places a mug in front of each person. Here you go, gentlemen. Let me know when you need more drinks, or if you would like something to eat. That will be 4 copper pieces each, please.
Gezzo turns and stares squarely at the boy. A grimace moves across his face and he raises a tightly clinched fist in front of the boy's face. With a flick of his finger, Gezzo produces a few copper pieces.
I don't think I will be able to be rid of you without the compensation you believe you deserve. Here are your coin, but I demand more of your service. Obviously, you know the Tower of Magus, take me to Ferdin Grenling and not through the front door like a common peasant. I desire to make my meeting within the Tower, as discreet as possible.
If you comply with my request, you will surely be well rewarded. Do you understand?
Gezzo drops two copper in the boy's hand without breaking his stare.
Once he drops the coin, he will take a step back and discretely cast Detect Magic in the direction of the boy.
The boy looks at the two coppers in his hand, mutters eep, and motions to Gezzo to follow him. After about 15 minutes of walking they arrive at a walled compound constructed on one of the higher elevations in Kuturka. In the center of the compound, surrounded by outbuildings, a large tower juts into the air.
The boy leads Gezzo through the gate of the compound, waving at the guards in passing, and stops at the front entrance to the tower. He bows to Gezzo, and again holds out his hand.
Forgot to ask, but I assume we're all speaking in Valiunt (no dialect) unless specified otherwise?
"My—my thanks," Flug says, watching the man seated next to him pay for the drink. His whole body seems to twitch for a few moments, his head jerking once or twice to the side, until he abruptly calms down. When he speaks again, his voice is steady, almost monotonous. "You did not have to pay for me, but I appreciate it. I am Flug. May I have your name, sir?"
You should learn the value of a deal kept, boy. Gezzo mutters mostly to himself.
He glares at the boy for a second and turns his attention to the entrance of the tower. He strides through the front door, leaving the boy with his hand out stretched and empty once again, and slides to the side of the entrance hall, briefly standing in an inconspicuous place to allow time to take in his new surroundings.
The boy scowls and follows Gezzo into the tower, and passes him into the main entrance chamber. In the center of the room a man sits at a large desk, writing in a book with a quill pen. The man is wearing a highly polished breastplate, and has a rapier with gold filigreed pommel strapped to his waist.
The boy walks to a chair placed along the wall and sits, exchanging some hand gestures with the man behind the desk. The man grins at the boy, puts the quill down, and stands to greet Gezzo. My adopted son says you are a cheapskate and varlet, and keeper of empty promises.
Glancing around the crowded room I spy an empty chair at a table where a dasun in a red cloak is seated. I walk over and ask, May I join you? and promptly sit down without waiting for a reply.
Turning to the waitress I say, Please bring me 2 honey meads.
Turning back to the red-cloaked dasun I ask, What's with the cards?
Fener Casts Negate Aroma on himself.
Casting Time 1 standard action
Components V, S, M/DF (a pinch of alum)
Range close (25 ft. + 5 ft./2 levels)
Targets one creature or object/level touched
Duration 1 hour/level (D)
Saving Throw Fortitude negates Spell Resistance yes
With a gesture, this spell allows you to dismiss even the foulest or most distinctive scents. When cast, the targeted creatures or objects lose all natural and unnatural odors. A creature under the effect of negate aroma cannot be tracked, located, or pinpointed by the scent special quality. In addition, this spell prevents the target creature from using the stench special ability and similar odor-based abilities (such as those possessed by troglodytes).
Negate aroma does not prevent the target from acquiring outside smells or odors. Dowsing the creature with a pungent substance effectively negates the benefits of the spell until the substance is neutralized or washed away.
Thank you my fellow Valgardian. I am know as Fener. I have spent many moons studying the habits of the forest creatures, and am grateful to be amongst my fellow humans for a time and share some stories before I return to the forest
Fener continues to pick leaves, moss, twigs out of his beard.
Your son... Gezzo begins, flashing a look at the boy, as he walks over and loudly drags an empty chair across the room to the desk, received appropriate retribution for the services rendered.
Once the chair is facing the desk, he hops up on the seat, so he is eye level with the man.
And his personal opinion is of no consequence to me, I am here to speak with Ferdin Grenling. Is that you?
The man smiles at Gezzo. My son has learned a lesson today, but I hope you have as well. Many things are not as they seem upon first glance. I am Ferdin Grenling, and you are expected. Follow me please, a senior member of the Brotherhood wishes to speak with you.
Ferdin leads Gezzo down a hallway to a large room which contains a round table surrounded by a dozen chairs. Inside the room two people are waiting, an elderly man dressed in a purple robe, and a young woman dressed in worn leather armor and outfitted with weapons. Ferdin requests that Gezzo see him after the meeting, and leaves the room.
Greetings, and well met Mr. Wrathforge, says the elderly man. Despite his advanced age his handshake is strong and firm. You may call me Armoden. Let me introduce you to Sirena, who is employed by our organization as a field agent. I understand you are interested in working for The Brotherhood, and I am interested in employing some people who are not well known in this area to conduct a...let us say "discreet" inquiry mission. Before I provide additional details, I desire to hear your intentions.
The waitress brings Argyros a large mug of honey mead, followed by a steaming hot boar steak sizzling right off the grill. The steak is surrounded by potatoes, carrots, and sprinkled with a green herb. The aroma is utterly fantastic!
Waitress (to Argyros): That will be 3 silvers please.
The waitress brings two tankards of honey mead to the table at which Nastrod and Imowen are sitting, and places them both in front of Imowen. That will be a silver piece madam.
|Nästród, Oracle of the Dasun|
"Fair enough," Flug says, taking a sip of the ale. He nods to the new arrival. "Greetings, Fener. You are from Valgaard as well?" His eyes seem to lose focus for a moment. "Perhaps this is providence."
It’s my pleasure to meet you, Master Armoden and, as well to you, Mistress Sirena. Gezzo says, as he bows deeply. I am Gezzo Wrathforge, as you know; I come from the west, looking to be of service.
I have seen the effects of practitioners of the arcane arts. The damage they can do without the close supervision of the Brotherhood, even accidentally, is a threat to all! My intentions are to work with the Brotherhood, to find these lawless postulants and bring them to safety found within the walls of the Brotherhood.
As well as, root out and hunt down any and all meddlers of the black arts before their actions can harm and enslave anymore!
Gezzo pauses, to take a deep breathe and settle himself, his face was flushed and he was beginning to spit in anger. He smoothes his hair and straightens his cloak while regaining his composure.
I believe my skills and the Brotherhood’s resources would be beneficial in bringing these wayward souls home and protect the people of Sæmyyr from those that refuse.
Aroden nods in a friendly manner. It appears that you have the fundamental attitude we are looking for. I will fill you in on the problem, and how Sirena fits into the situation.
As you might imagine, this city is not located in the most desirous country – we are surrounded by vast marshes and swamps, and the weather is generally despicable at the best of times. But what we do have are natural resources that are generally not found anywhere else on Saemyyr, many of which are very useful in crafting rare alchemical reagents and weapon components.
These rare flora and fauna products come to the city from various sources that live in the swamps, and we have a lively market system based on refining and reselling these items…until lately. Something is disrupting the flow of resources, and certain items have just about disappeared. It is happening on a massive scale, and we have assurances it is not because the resources themselves are becoming scarce. Something, or someone, is disrupting the sources who gather the products, and is preventing them from bringing them to market. That is where you and Serena come in.
One thing we wish to avoid is causing a panic in the marketplace, or actions which cause rumors to fly. We wish for you to help assemble a team of adventurous sorts, people who are NOT known well in the city, to go out into the swamps and investigate the situation. Sirena grew up in this region, and she is very knowledgeable of the swamps and the residents therein, which is why she was chosen to accompany the party as guide and advisor. You are being considered because you may have the skills to assemble the other members of the team.
So, what say you? If this assignment is agreeable, and you are successful, I give you my word that additional prospects for lucrative tasks will be provided in the future. A monetary advance will be provided to provision the team with supplies and equipment before heading out. I should also warn you that if you and your team fail, because of political considerations The Brotherhood will deny any knowledge of knowing you or of using your talents in our behalf.
What is your answer?
I think you misunderstand, I am not some constable for your commerce problems, unless of course there is some sort of unlicensed arcanist at work. But, Gezzo turns from Armoden and strokes his beard, staring off absently in thought; I suspect, if I complete this task, I will be provided the resources to further my investigations? No?
He eyes the old man, waiting for a response.
I take your silence as agreement! Very well then, I accept your proposal and I will gather a team to root the cause of your troubles. Mistress Sirena, if you would meet me at the Laughing Wolf Inn, I believe that would be a suitable place to start our search for able bodied, but appropriately foreign adventures.
Unless you have any other instructions, I make my departure. Once the team is assembled, I will send word of our necessary provisions and requirements.
Sirena (to Gezzo): Agreed. I will be there with a wagon of supplies in approximately 2 hours.
Armoden hands Gezzo a weighty leather sack upon Gezzo's departure from the tower. The sack contains 500 gold pieces. This advance should assist you in recruitment of the other members of the team, or in obtaining additional supplies. To show I am not totally without a heart, Mr. Gezzo. I recommend that you take these as well - there are a fair amount of poisonous creatures who inhabit the places you may find yourself. He hands Gezzo two Potions of Neutralize Poison. Good luck, and I look forward to a favorable report upon your return.