You have been summoned to the Pathfinder Lodge of Katheer, the capital city of Qadira. The lodge is a high-ceilinged estate with elegant arches and colorful tile mosaics, and a young man brings you cool tea for drinking and water for washing away dust before leaving you to relax and introduce yourself to your compatriots while he notifies the venture-captain.
Despite the heat, Natty politely declines the lemon water for washing and lets the sweat that drips from his dirty brow, clean the dust from his face. He does take a delicate cup of his tea in his large dirty hand, holding it awkwardly and spilling it as he slurps noisily the warm brown liquid. His large squashed nose, drips and a sleeve comes across to wipe the viscous liquid into a shining line along his arm.
The half-orcs eyes turn down to the half rusted looking weapon, a blunt hard piece of metal with a red leather handle, death has been introduced to it's edges more than once. "S'pose you don't have some beer in this devilish hot place or a running river close by to cool in?" He turns away as the young servant continues with his duties.
He turns around and the leather strap across his chest holds a grubby crossbow on his back, the glint of the trigger is the first indication that the critical working of the weapon are kept clean and in excellent condition. The bag by his feet shows the tops of a couple of glass stoppered bottles and other adventuring equipment.
The half-orc smiles a rough toothy smile as his black eyes look over each of the other occupants of the room. His deep gravel infused voice continues "So, it looks like we are to be tasked by the society to increase our wealth by succeeding in some job or other. So to help you if you miss me, shout for Natty and I will appear."
As he walks around the shake your hand in greeting, it seems inconceivable that the heavy looking humanoid should float and move so fluidly across the ground, with barely a sound from his nimble feet.
Umberto is a brutish man in his late 30s. He wears a breastplate with a few nicks and dents and a light mace hangs from his belt. He rubs a scruffy chin as the tea is offered. He waves the server off and points to his trusty tankard with a wink.
Umberto raises an eyebrow when Natty asks for a beer. He leans over and offers a small prayer to Cayden Cailean. Natty's cup fills with a slightly hoppy but potent ale. The Lucky Drunk provides, friend... Umberto, disciple of Cayden Cailean and occasional bartender at your service.
Anyone who looks at Luke will see a half-naked strong man. His face is dyed in color. He carry his large Bastard sword. "Sorry! I did not introduce myself. My name is Taman! Taman Hornraven!"
Accepting the beer, Natty smiles, drinks, burps loudly before he nods at Umberto, "So 'tis the Lucky Drunk that grants you beer on tap, seems I've found another god that deserves my honour. After Calistra who provides succour for those in need." The smile widens to a grin as he remembers, "Riddleport, The House of the Silken Veil, what a female. Ever come across Shorafa, the High Priestess there, what a babe!" His eyes glaze over at the memory and his nose lets a glob of snot fall to the floor, before he asks the servant, "And is there a holy whore house here, where one might pay tribute to Calistra?"
"Come Taman, you look like a man who likes a drink, here meet Umberto, purveyor of ale." he slaps the man across the shoulders, manoeuvring him towards Umberto.
"Gladly my friend, Natty!" he walks with Natty.
A Varisian man in his early twenties wearing full plate armor and wearing a scarf about his neck steps up beside Umberto. Shorter than his companions, he seems undaunted by the differences in height.
"Good to see a brother in arms here as we await our quest!" the man exclaims. "Taman, Natty: you as well. My name is Idruzi Zarshai."
"Now, while it's poor form and even worse luck to turn down the overflowing treasures of the Accidental God, the correct answer is always more." As he finishes his statement, Idruzi sets a gallon of ale on the table in front of the assembled group. "Drink up, friends! I made it myself," the Caydenite states proudly.
|Mörök of Darkland|
Pale, muscular half-orc wearing a breastplate with greataxe and longbow strapped to his back enters the room staring others with interest.
"Greetings, I trust ye are the people I was told to meet here? Me name's Morok, got lost a bit on the way if ye be wondering why I'm late. he groans
"Ah, ye have little more to drink than just water, eh? Always a joy to travel with faithful of Lucky drunk!" he laughs loudly
With another half-orc in the group, Natty extends the hand of friendship, "So my friend, it's always good to travel with another that understands hardship and gratification. And we have friends that provide ale for our gratification. 'Tis gonna be a fine time." He beams as he makes a load sniff, wiping his sleeve across his nose once more.
"A gathering such as this wouldn't be complete without some stories!" Idruzi exclaims as he gestures to the whole group. "Tell us something of your exploits so far. What victories have you won? What history have you uncovered?"
|Mörök of Darkland|
Mörök sits down to bench dropping his backpack to floor and pauses to think for a second, they like to hear stories, this is too good opportunity to pass.
He takes a long sip of ale before answering, "Mmm, yes, my victories would take far too long to count, but I'll mention two. Me and Zarta were once in Hell. There we saved some poor souls who were wrongly condemned to suffer eternity. Recently I explored Hao Jin where we encountered giant flame bird, me hit it hard and somehow it made me appear back in Absalom. But that was, of course, just a few of many glorious memories.
Leaning back and raising the cup to his lips he asks "Do ye want to tell next story, Idruzi?"
Less than a week to start...making sure everyone is still here and dotted. Will post the full opening on 9/9. Continue to mingle.
As the door opens to Venture-Captain Esmayl ibn Qaradi’s office, he sits behind an imposing desk and concludes an elegantly penned letter with a flourish of calligraphy. He smiles, stands, and spreads his arms in welcome. “Welcome, my guests and colleagues. Let my family’s hospitality be your pleasure in this time we have together.” He fans the wet ink on the letter before setting it aside and taking a seat.
"It will have to be some other time, Morok. It seems our Venture Captain is ready to speak to us." Idruzi takes a large swig of his ale before striding into Esmayl ibn Qaradi's office from the lounge area and presents himself.
"Idruzi Zarshai, at your service," he says to the Venture Captain.
Natty shrugs when the Venture Captain speaks, "Here we go again" he mutters to himself. "Give the lads a little food and drink, tell 'em we got a real easy job and watch them bleed when they struggle back. Still best make good use of the fare on offer." Turning to Venture-Captain Esmayl ibn Qaradi’s office, he says loudly, "I am gonna take you up on the offer, happily I will take pleasure from your hospitality." he smiles a toothy grin.
"Hey Idruzi, you know it's rude not to accept the hospitality, but don't worry I'm sure me and Morok can make up for you!" he laughs and winks Morok.
Umberto won't turn down a full mug from the Venture-Captain's hospitality. Just sit anywhere? Umberto clips a shoulder on the door jamb as he walks in. I better cycle a light ale between these rounds. There's some high ranking types around here. Don't want to embarrass myself. he looks for an open seat off to the side, close to some food maybe.
|Mörök of Darkland|
"Oh great, we're going to be so full and drunk when we must leave for the job." Morok mumbles to Natty. He turns to face the Venture Captain and greets him politely "It's a honor to be your guest, sir."
And so It begins...
With the letter, the Venture-Captain waves a hand to call you to order.
“To an outsider, it may seem that gold drives Keleshite society,
but in truth it is a complex network of favors and patronage—who
you know and how you have helped them are key. The Society is
in a position to pay a very dear favor to a powerful and righteous
demigod, yet our leaders require extraplanar expertise in order
to perform said favor. Through my family, we have found such
an expert who lives on the Plane of Fire. Her name is Qalkami
Mishalq, an efreeti information broker in exile who also prefers
favors to gold. The fire genies are notoriously shrewd negotiators,
yet I believe the Society has secured a fair deal: four tasks of her
choosing, and additional support thereafter to help her reestablish
herself in the City of Brass. “
Looking around the room for questions.
”The Society and I ask that you fulfill these favors and earn
Qalkami’s assistance. Kelesh maintains a significant embassy in
Zjarra, the trade city Qalkami currently inhabits. With my family’s
connections, I have secured you passage to the embassy and the
assistance of a liaison to help you get settled. From there, meet
with Qalkami and do what you can to fulfill her requests. Please
report to the palace first thing tomorrow so that you do not miss
"Is it hot on the Plane of Fire? And one more thing is it Zjarra far?"
Idruzi grins widely as the Venture Captain delivers their mission to them. "It has been some time since I traveled to another plane. It will be good to do so again! I've already seen the Plane of Earth and the Plane of Air, so travelling to the Brass City will make three."
"I'll be here first thing in the morning. In the meantime, this calls for a celebration!" Idruzi states with a wink to his fellow adventurers.
|Mörök of Darkland|
The half-orc listens with blank face thinking hard Hmm, Plane of Fire.. Cleric can protect from heat with spells if I recall. If we had a wizard with frost magic, we could make short work of some enemies we may have to fight.. But anyways, we should have an idea of possible allies and challenges on Zjarra.
Morok raises voice "Me assume the Zjarra is not so hot as the rest of Fireplane? And has Qalkami revealed anything specific about these tasks? I mean do we have fight lots of her foes?"
Venture-Captain Esmayl ibn Qaradi looks directly at Taman
“Certainly, the Plane of Fire is hot, as should come as no surprise. Zjarra has a protective dome that makes it merely warm, making it a rare place for fiery creatures to interact peaceably with combustible foreigners. Step outside the dome only at your peril.”
“Ah yes, travel from Katheer to Zjarra occurs fairly regularly despite the distance. There is a special dais in the palace linked to an identical one in the embassy in Zjarra, allowing their spellcasters to arrive exactly on target. Part of our arrangement with Kelesh includes your return passage.”
Responding to Morok, he adds
The venturecaptain nods in understanding. “This might involve some dirty work. The contract prohibits impossible tasks, yet it doesn’t account for ethical concerns.”
He takes a polite sip of date wine before adding with a smile,
“Though I’d note that just as efreet often twist wishes, you are free to interpret her instructions to fulfill the letter of her request, if not always the grisly spirit. Just be careful not to warp her demands so obviously or blatantly that you invalidate the Society’s deal. The isle of Jalmeray sometimes challenges its greatest minds to outwit an efreeti, and Pathfinders are among the greatest thinkers. You be the judge based on the opportunities that arise.”
You may also recall some relevant information based upon your past experiences.
Quite possibly the second largest city on the Elemental Plane of Fire, Zjarra is devoted almost entirely to trade, and it is one of the most popular destinations for extraplanar merchants traveling to the plane. In order to accommodate these travelers, the city boasts a massive, crystalline dome that protects the inhabitants from the plane’s broiling temperatures.
Designed to accommodate travelers from all kinds of locations, Zjarra has embassies representing a number of different planes and worlds, many of which host creatures even stranger and more alien than the Plane of Fire’s own inhabitants. The city features a diverse array of climates and conditions to support these unusual guests.
Regarding Plane of Fire
Almost everything on the Plane of Fire is made of fire, lava, or something else that burns. Outside of rare safe spots where powerful magic keeps the plane’s flames at bay, it is extremely dangerous.
The main inhabitants of the Plane of Fire are azers, efreet, fire elementals, magmins, mephits, and salamanders. The City of Brass, a magnificent hub of interplanar trade and the capital of an efreeti empire, is the plane’s largest city by far.
Efreet are among the most powerful of the plane’s inhabitants, and they consider themselves the plane’s rulers. Most efreet are cruel and callous, and the City of Brass is renowned for its extensive slave markets.
Are there any other questions? I am sure I have missed something, so feel free to ask.
Umberto pulls his fur cape a bit closer, suddenly realizing the protection from cold it provides is now the least useful item in his inventory. He looks around at the group again and chuckles, Clever? You might have the wrong group.
"Yes, wrong group! Ha, ha!"
You are being much too modest, I am certain.
His face now displays more concern than confidence, as he scans the roster he was provided to make sure there was not a mix up on agent assignments.
Nevertheless, dinner will be served promptly at 6 bells. Explore. Report. Cooperate.
|Mörök of Darkland|
Morok wakes from his thoughts and clears throat "Haven't been on any of elemental planes, but me know bit of outer worlds, though not always up to date."
Knowl Planes: 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (3) + 5 = 8
"Uh sorry guys, can't say much for certain, but it's hot there."
Know (Local) 1d20 + 5 ⇒ (11) + 5 = 16
Natty, scratches his head and after a line of snot descends to the floor, says in a scratchy voice, "Now, not that I've been to Zjarra, but if my old mentor is right, it's definitely sandy, or at least surrounded by sand...hot sand" he pauses as he scratches behind an ear, "No... it is hot, because the of the river of fires ... Or is that one of those other place in that strange firey land or was that a funny dream I had!." Suddenly he exclaims loudly, "Oh I don't know ... just give me another ale, it might help me remember once more!!!"
As the nectar of ale falls into his mouth, the half-orc smiles at the VC, "So you say the efreeti is an information broker, so what information does he broke. I mean, does it attract enemies? That's the trouble with information, it attracts the wrong types." He nods his head, appreciating his own thoughts. "I take it as you have so much knowledge of this place, you can provide us with a little advice on what things we need to take. I might have to do some finger dabbing shopping tonight in preparation?" he winks at the VC.
The Venture-Captain frowns a bit at the wink.
The Efreet is not a he or an it but a 'she' named Qalkami, and from what I know secondhand; you’d be better served learning what you can in Zjarra.
That said, Qalkami’s extended family fell from the City of Brass’s good graces several decades ago or more. She’s kept her head low to avoid her enemies, most of which seem content to let her live in relative obscurity.
This means she’s not bargaining from a position of insurmountable strength, but she’s hardly negotiating from a point of weakness. She could no doubt find other assistants beyond the Pathfinder Society, so don’t assume you’re holding all the cards.”
Once you are done with questions, the venture-captain concludes the meeting
If that is all, I am sure you are all weary, if nothing else but from the vast amount of my pantry you consumed. He chuckles politely.
I will have the servants direct you to your quarters to rest and freshen yourselves before dinner this evening.
Knowledge (Planes) - Zjarra: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (11) + 11 = 22 - yikes, those are high DC. I thought this would get something
Knowledge (Planes) - Plane of Fire: 1d20 + 11 ⇒ (20) + 11 = 31
"I have not yet travelled there, but I have heard much about the fire planes. As our Venture Captain said, they are very hazardous places outside of areas that have been warded for the protection of outsiders. The efreeti rule there, and are known to be callous and cruel."
Idruzi turns to Esmayl ibn Qaradi and gives a low bow. "I thank you again for your hospitality. I shall return for dinner after I make preparations."
Need to do some research to determine if Idruzi will even make any particular preparations other than changing his spell list up tomorrow morning.
Seeing no other questions...moving on.
Dinner is held in a lavious hall, and the VC is the gracious host.
I am sure you will all be most successful tomorrow. As your host, I would recommend you do not over indulge tonight. Save that for your return.
I must impart a final reminder to be sure not to be late, as the envoys won’t wait for you in the morning. Go with good speed. Good night.
The next morning, even though it seems like you only made it to your quarters an hour ago, a servant knocks politely at each of your doors (before pounding if necessary)
Masters, we are running late, please make haste.
Keleshite officials are waiting for your group at the satrap’s palace.
One pulls out a scroll and reads names and descriptions.
Idruzi Zarshai? Check.
Natty Grastik? Check.
Mörök of Darkland? Check.
Taman Hornraven? Check.
and Umberto Ricci? Check.
Very good. We can proceed. This way please. Try not to touch anything.
Two lavishly dressed officials escort you to a dedicated transportation room that features a large stone dais engraved with intricate runes. Here, several important Keleshite merchants and ambassadors prepare to depart.
Arrange in a circle and prepare to be plane-shifted.
Will stop here for any purchases, spell preparations, retcon on dialog etc. Post once you are ready.
I will buy the ring of protection +1 and armor upgrade from +2 to +3
Umberto answers the door with a yawn and nods away the wake-up call. Yeah, yeah. I'm comin.
4 Scrolls resist energy fire. 100gp. Good to go.
Umberto waits for the attendance to be called. He had to rush to catch up to the group on account of his minor lateness. His stomach grumbles from the lack of breakfast. He unhooks the tankard from his belt and passes his hand over the mug. It half fills with a dark oatmeal stout. Umberto takes it down in one slug to put something in his belly. He wipes his mouth with the back of his sleeve.
If we're goin, let's get goin.
4th--Air Walk, Dimension Door (d)
3rd--Communal Resist Energy, Fly (d), Invisibility Purge, Prayer
2nd--Align Weapon, Bull's Strength (d), Grace, Lesser Restoration, Resist Energy
1st--Bless, Enlarge Person (d), Divine Favor, Liberating Command, Remove Fear, Shield of Faith
Orisons--Create Water, Detect Magic, Light, Stabilize
Idruzi returns to the lodge after making preparations. I didn't find anything to buy. I did some reading up, but the Plane of Fire is horrifically dangerous outside of protected zones: more than a cleric of Idruzi's level can be ready for.
At dinner, Idruzi reassures his host. "This is what most outsiders fail to understand about the faith of Cayden Cailean. The fruit of the vine is to be enjoyed with all the senses, not to sodden them with. That would be a waste of precious wine or ale. A devotee never drinks to excess...at least not intentionally. We will be ready for your service in the morning."
When morning arrives, Idruzi presents himself ready for the day: true to his word at least by appearances. After pounding the plates of his armor lightly to ensure its fitting, he grins widely. "Adventure awaits us, fellow Pathfinders! And to another plane of existence, no less! Let's go see what fate has in store for the bold and the brave!"
He joins the transportation circle when instructed.
Taman comes to others. "I am ready to go!"
|Mörök of Darkland|
shopping: potion of ablative barrier and potion of Cure moderate wounds
At morning Morok is cleaning equipment when he hears knock "yeah, I'm awake here, coming soon." He arrives soon after to the transportation circle "Yep, me ready to go."
You link hands, and the mystical words are spoken, and in a flash, the entire group is transported via plane shift to a nearly identical chamber
A woman dressed in blue silks and bearing an air of confidence, speaks.
Welcome, you are now in the Keleshite embassy in Zjarra, delivered to this exact destination by a unique magical effect linking the two stone platforms and allowing them to bypass the usual margin of error.
She bows as she motions you from the circle.
I am Yasmine Zamara. I am your embassy liaison. We welcome you to Zjarra. I will show you the accommodations you may use for the duration of your stay.
She speaks with a blend of Keleshite sensibilities along with a cosmopolitan understanding of extra-dimensional travel, trade, languages, and manners.
I am here to caution you that on Zjarra, many creatures you might consider “monsters” back home are, in fact, law-abiding citizens, and are not to be murdered on the street. Although, if for some reason they should be hostile, you are entitled to defend yourselves, if attacked. Before we continue, do you have any questions for me?
Umberto bristles at “murder”. is that a jab at the society? he shrugs it off. Right then, no murder unless I’m being murdered. Got it. Now in the realm of fire Umberto thinks a cooling drink is in order. He waves his hand over the tankard and produces a crisp cold white wine.
Yasmine continues her conversation and instructions.
I am satisfied you aren’t going to cause a major scandal on the streets of Zjarra—and I am happy to answer any questions, and provide directions to Qalkami’s home at Cinderstone Manor when you are ready.
She pauses for any questions.
I can also arrange for staff at the embassy to procure items for you, if requested, although I unfortunately must require you pay for these items up front.
Once you are ready to depart, she gives one final bit of advice.
“I understand that you have been tasked with serving Qalkami in order to gain information for the Pathfinders. From what I’m told, it’s a worthy endeavor. But you should take care not to underestimate Qalkami: she is cunning, clever, and ruthless, even for an efreeti.
Looking around to ensure no one is close by to overhear.
I’m fairly well versed on the political realities here in Zjarra, and I have a few connections. If you have doubts about any of the tasks that she sets for you, I’m always happy to provide any insight I may have, especially if it means avoiding criminal activity or minimizing chaos.”
|Mörök of Darkland|
Morok whispers to Yasmine: "Excuse me, we are new to this city, could you provide us at least basic tourist map, please?"
|Mörök of Darkland|
He continues "I mean we heard previously that she will give us various tasks and I find it likely that to complete these tasks were going to travel back and forth around this beautiful city, hopefully we are going to remain inside the dome?"
"I thank you Lady Zamara. It is always appreciated to have a capable guide when arriving at a new land. It seems that you are already acquainted with the purpose of our journey: are there any political connections that Qalkami has that we should be aware of before we meet with her?"
To Morok she shrugs. Unfortunately, I do not have a map readily available. I can give you some detailed directions to the different destinations, however.
I must warn you Qalkami may set you to some unethical tasks, and I invite you to discuss any situations about which you are unsure.
Yasmine nods to Idruzi
My primary role is to facilitate to aligning Qalkami’s requests to best serve the Society as you work for her. It is probably in your best interest to give her what she says and not what she really wants.
If there are no other questions
Yasmine bows to your group after providing detailed traveling directions to Qalkami’s home. She sees you to the embassy front doors.
Fare well and please do contact me if you have any questions on whatever the tasks are to be performed. I am here to help.
Outside the embassy building is a bright and bustling city. Far above stretches an enormous crystalline dome, and beyond it a sky of swirling red and orange inferno. The air is hot and thick, reminiscent of a humid jungle. The lush jungle plants that seem to fill every inch of space not occupied by roads or buildings only reinforces the notion. Zjarra’s population is primarily a mix of azers, efreet, mephits, and salamanders, but it is home to members of hundreds of different races from across nearly every plane.
As you travel through Zjarra, you catch sight of all manner of strange creatures going about their daily lives. There is certainly some tension when the occasional angel rubs shoulders with a devil, but any hostility goes no further than a scowl, a sneer, or an unearthly growl. In many ways reflecting the strong ties to the Padishah Empire, Zjarra’s streets as often echo with Kelish phrases as they do Common words.
Once you find Qalkami’s estate, it is a domineering, gothic-style edifice of scorched adobe that towers three exaggerated stories in height and is topped by several spiked spires. A stone path crosses a yard of smoldering coals and leads to an ornate brass door with a knocker in the shape of a snarling hellhound, the ring cast to resemble flames pouring from its mouth.
"Yes try to knock! If that does not work I will smash! Haha!"