Campaign of the Month: March 2009

Denizens of the Nentir Vale

Through the Looking Glass

The young man nervously walked into the darkened room. “Come, sit, sit,” a kindly voice beckoned. Pushing his way through the curtain of hanging beads, his eyes adjusting to the dim light, the lad saw the lady, dressed in the garb typical of the wandering gypsies, sitting at the other side of a small plain wooden table. A single stool was on his side of the table, and it was here that he sat. The lady smiled; it was hard to tell her age in the soft light, she could be as old as the ladies that quilt the blankets back near home, or as young as the farm girls that delivered the milk. For what felt like a long time, neither of them spoke. The gypsy first broke the silence, “You wish to know your future, yes?”
“Um, yes, that’s right,” stammered the lad, far from being a full man. He dropped a handful of coppers on the table, “How much can I know for this?”
The gypsy frowned, “That is not a lot, I can give you one series of connected events, but nothing before or after. Is that OK?”
The boy nodded, “Can I get a series that involves me dying, well almost dying, so I might know what to do when it happens?”
This time it was the lady who nodded. “Be warned, I have no control over what the cards tell me, I only read them. If you do not like what the cards say, it is not my fault. Do you understand?”
“Yes’m”
“Fine, let’s begin.” The lady pulled a worn deck of Tarot cards from a small drawer beside the table. She shuffled the cards exactly three times, then had the lad shuffle the cards another three, telling him to think of his death whilst doing so. Then she had the boy cut the deck once. “All is in place, let’s see what your future holds.”
She began by flipping over three cards, placing them in an even row, the first, the 10 of Cups, the second, the 10 of Swords, and the third, Death. The fortuneteller looked confused as she stared at the cards. “Strange, it would appear you lay dying at the beginning of this, but the really odd part is that the cards are saying that the wind and the water are also wounded. I am not sure how wind could be hurt, but the cards do not lie. I wish I could be there to see how these events come to pass.”
“How did I get there? What tried to kill me?” the boy gasped.
“That the cards do not say yet. You might have to discover that on your own, I am afraid.”
The lad sighed, “Ok, go on. Do I survive, and how?”
The seeress dealt two more cards, one at each end of the original row of three; the Sun and the Star. “Still strange,” she muttered, and then speaking louder, “A friend of your either gives you something of vitality, or,” she pauses and stares at the cards, “Or this person sings you to health.” Both people look at each other, then at the cards, then back at each other, confused. Two more cards at dealt, the Ace of Cups and the 4 of Pentacles. “This is becoming stranger with every card. Now they say that Air and Water are hurting your friends, Air turns invisible, as if it were already not, then is forced back into visibility.” Shaking her head, she warily turns over two more cards, the six of Wands, “Ok, now this means attacking with fire,” then the five of Cups, “And the fire kills, no that is not quite right, evaporates the damaged Water. At least that kind of makes sense.”
The boy leans far forward, over the table, “What about me? Am I still lying almost dead?”
“Careful young Zenithar, do not disrupt the energy of the table and the cards.” She waits for him to sit back in his chair, aware that he did not notice her recognition of him. She adds another card to the tableau below Death, the Hermit. “Not only do you recover, but you go on to make an example for your friends, damaging the very wind around you. And this signifies knowing a name, an important name.” The gypsy then places a stack of three cards down, face up; the only one the boy can see is the top card, the seven of Swords. “Someone, not you, is crawling, although I cannot tell if they are hurt or doing it on purpose. Regardless, from prone this person destroys the Air, whilst you somehow heal your friend in much the same way you were just healed.”
“I have to sing?”
“No, one of the gods helps you, no singing required.”
“Good!” then sheepishly he adds, “My singing voice has not yet come in.”
The next card, placed above the Death card, is the Tower. “Not good, not good at all,” the gypsy shakes her head. “You are dying again, some evil being is doing terrible damage to you.”
The card that is dealt to the left of the Tower is the Moon. “You are healed by the crawling one, but in the process, that person vanishes.”
“How do I know these other people? Are they my friends?”
“Yes, very much so, you will have shared much with these companions at this time. If you fall a third time, I fear you will die for good, but will at least die amongst those you count most dear.”
“Do I know any of them know, is Jordy there?” he asks eargerly.
“I do not think so, but that is vague.” She stops for a long drink of a clear liquid from a blue bottle. “Let’s continue,” she says placing the Knight of Pentacles. “There is a rift, but the relation of this card to the others says the rift is alive, and is moving into a dark pool of magic.”
“You can tell all of that from one card?”
“Not from just the one card, but from where it lies and its position relative to all the cards previously laid.” Another stack of three cards is set down, this time with the King of Wands showing on top. “Oh my. You are fully healed now, but one of your friends, with a significance to the colour red, is now laying dying. There is a lot of dying happening here, it is no wonder this series of events came forth when you queried on death. Your god also heals your red comrade.”
The next card down is the Fool, “Uh oh,” the young man squirms, “Is that me?”
The gypsy laughs, “Not this time, but there will be other times for you. No this time the evil being you are all fighting makes a mistake, thinking that dragging your party to a different location will help him.” The Judgment card is next placed above the Fool. “The evil being ends up in the very spot he is trying to put all of you, not only getting hurt but healing all of you instead.”
“Is he dead? This, this thing?” the boy sputters.
The Nine of Wands is revealed, “No, not only is he alive, but he knocks one of your friends into, I am not sure, into a well?” Another card is turned up, the Ace of Pentacles, “A human friend is empowered, by walking on or activating something.”
A two-card stack this time, with the five of Pentacles on top, “The human saves another, a smaller, or at least shorter, companion, lifting it by part of the short one’s hair.” She chuckles and shakes her head, “This has to be the oddest reading I have ever done.”
“Not many cards left, I wonder if anyone will survive?” The three of Pentacles is placed next to the five. “The one that vanished, maybe into the rift, suddenly returns. Maybe you and your friends will survive after all.”
Above the five, the next card turned up is the World.
“That looks promising,” they boy more asks than states.
“Indeed,” the gypsy replies. “Working together, you and your companions finally defeat the evil being. Its place above the five states that the human was the one to give the killing blow.”
“Wooh, I live!”
“Yes,” she smiles, “this time. But be careful, this does not mean you can do anything you want before these events come to pass and assume you will always cheat death. Stupidity can easily override the will of the cards.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me? Does anything happen after we kill that thing?”
“There are four cards left in this reading, so something must happen.”
The Ace of Swords, “Weapons of great power, but I cannot tell if you, or one of your friends get to wield these.”
The Page of Pentacles, “Now see the three discs in the picture on the card? Those signify three magic rings.”
“Ooh, magic, I like magic!”
“Magic is nice, but remember, all magic comes with a price. Only two cards left.” The penultimate card is the Magician. “Aptly enough, in this case this really does mean a magician. Someone appears and either conveys you to safety or makes your surroundings safe again. Either way, this story is over.”
“But there is one more card, you said there were four more!”
“Ah yes,” The fortuneteller lifts one more card off the top of the deck. She looks at it, pauses yet again, and then reveals, the Hanged Man.
“Oh no! More death? Am I dead this time?” the lad wails.
“Fear not, this is an abstract card. All it means is that everyone in your party is experiencing something different, something important to each of them. You will find out what your experience is when you reach this adventure. That is all for now.”
The young man nods, exhales, then stands up and leaves lost in thought.
The gypsy turns over one more card, “Very very strange. It appears there are two ages given for your final death, 20 some years apart. Very strange indeed.”

Comments

Demonslayers, you have traveled and trouped through the City of Brass breaking into the city Governor’s mansion and causing an arcane explosion that dwarfs the power of minor gods. From there you dealt with a shady Djinn that unfortunately could not grant wishes, but lead you to the painting you were searching for. It was in the hands not of a devil, but the Devil: Asmodeus. It was him that you signed a contract with where you would kill a Lieutenant of a Demon Prince: Mal’Ganis in exchange for the very painting you were seeking. The Devil snapped his fingers and sent you tearing through the fabric of the cosmos into a place even gods know to fear: The Abyss. It was here that you defeated and destroyed the right hand of the Demon Prince Jaraxxus. You recovered powerful magical artifacts and purged the Warglaives of Azzinoth, the weapons that lead to Illidan’s original corruption. That future is now gone. For your conquests you have earned 147,600 XP or 29,520 XP each. This brings you to 236,093 XP each. Congratulations! You are now level 22!

Heroes: welcome to a new path of time.

Through the Looking Glass
 

Though they have escaped the Abyss, Erik knows that one day they are destined return, and unlike last time they may not have the benefit of being sent and returned so easily. They will have to survive for an extended period of time. To stand alone, in such a dark place, what skill and courage will be their only hope?

With that thought weighing on his mind, Erik studies the Warglaives of Azzinoth for their shape, balance, and sharpness. He ponders the techniques he would use with them in combat, slowly weaving them through the air against an imagined foe. Finally, he presents them to the others for examination of their magical properties.

[OOC: What do Erik and his comrades discover?]

Through the Looking Glass
 

Rift ponders the mysteries of fate, that have left so many of her former comrades dead on the battlefield. Luckily, she and her current companions have escaped that ill luck.

She also ponders the many treasures that she has acquired over the years. Like her, they have grown old, worn down by time and abuse. She feels the urge to shed many of these ill-gotten rewards, and to start over with a few simple weapons and artifacts.

In this vein, she examines the crystal shard, hoping to replace her staff, which now feels heavy and clumsy. “Hmmm,” she says to herself, “what do I need to do to build a new staff?”

Through the Looking Glass
 

Erik hands the weapons over to Z’alden, who seems to think the items are of even more religious significance than arcane. As Z’alden turns the weapons over and over in his hands, he can sense the shattered remains of something. Something conscious… alive. Within these weapons there was once a powerful being. Z’alden’s mind shifts back to the task at hand. He examines the weapons and is able to determine the powerful properties they contain.

Right

Left

Through the Looking Glass
 

Z’alden turns to Erik. “My friend, these are truly items out of Legend. With these in your hands, Justice has a chance.”

The cleric turns his attention to the three rings they acquired. He studies them carefully, both for their arcane and religious significance.

Through the Looking Glass
 

After his studies are complete, he hands the rings to Rift to see what her deeper knowledge can uncover.

He then feels along the edges of the Deathsteel armor he is wearing. Its scales are made similar to those of the storm gorgon. “My friends, I must confess that in our battle with that foul demon, I longed for the old Dwarven armor I once wore. The old chain was neither as thick or hearty as this, but it had the property to restore one’s health even with a thought in the midst of an attack. I believe if I had had such armor during the battle, perhaps I would not have slipped between the realm of the living and the dead. I have heard tell that the Dwarves have experimented well beyond chain to scales of the type I have, or even scales of the Naga. If this City of Brass has any such thing, I would like to put the astrilium ring we found towards such a set of Dwarven armor composed of such masterwork scales.”

OOC: astrilium ring is worth 500k gp. Nagascale Dwarven armor should be 325k. Anyone need anything at the 175k level before we consider selling the painting to get something major?

Through the Looking Glass
 

“A consciousness?”, puzzles Erik, “These weapons had a sentience to them? I wonder if within there is still a remnant of what once was.”

Erik then pulls out his trusty swords – two pair – and declares with a sigh that they too are now for sale. Here’s what he has to sell:

Jagged Long Swords 4 (two of them)(level 17)
Dancing Long Swords +3 (two of them)
Serpentskin Armor (
3)(17K gp)

OOC: What can Erik fetch for these in the City of Brass?

Through the Looking Glass
 

Rift turns the odd stone over in her hands and senses great arcane energy within it. The stone seems as though it wants to jump away, and bring her along. She can feel how it is attracted to every plane with energy that seems about to tear it apart.

Portal Stone

Z’alden examines the three rings and concludes that while each of them is quite powerful in its own right, none of the rings have very much religious significance. These are simply quite powerful rings.

Ring 1

Ring 2

Ring 3

Through the Looking Glass
 

The half-elf turns each ring over in his hand. “These are indeed mighty rings. While I would find a benefit from any of them, I hope to obtain a new suit of armor to shore up my defenses. I also believe we should divide these spoils as fairly as possible. Erik, you have gotten the powerful warglaives. Rift, you have the crystal shard and the portal stone. I propose that the Ring of Regeneration and the Ring of Influence go to Tira, who wields several powers that attack the will of the weak. We will all benefit from her strength. And, while Barrick rarely misses, overcoming a singular occurrence could turn the tide of a battle. I propose that the Ring of Action Reversal go to him.”

Z’alden then turns to the painting. “Such a piece of art deserves study, both as a work and for its religious significance. Rift, perhaps there is more arcane power here than just its beauty?”

OOC: after studying the painting, do Z’alden and Rift learn anything?

Through the Looking Glass
 

Rift ponders the portal stone. “This is indeed a powerful item, and I would be honored to carry it for the party. But, I wonder, how can I fashion this into a staff?”

“Z’alden, regarding your other suggestions, I happily agree. We should sell as much of the magic as we can, and see if we can find some scale mail as you desire.”

Rift then examines the painting, using all of her arcane skills. Is there any innate power, or is it just a pretty picture?

OOC: The “portal stone” and the “crystal shard” are one and the same item, yes?

Through the Looking Glass
 

Rift feels a sudden shift in the arcane currents. “Wait, never mind. I don’t need to make a staff. I’m, um, happy with the one I have?”

She sits down, confused.

Through the Looking Glass
 

Erik glances over at Rift, shrugs, and goes back to examining his new weapons.

“Hmmm. Intelligence,” he ponders.

Erik then sets out into the City of Brass to find someone who can tell him more about the war glaives, especially with regard to their sentience. (He is willing to pay a modest sum.). What does he find out?

During the same trip, he sells his two pairs of swords and old armor.

Through the Looking Glass
 

OOC: Where can the party meet up in the City of Brass?

Through the Looking Glass
 

Z’alden also looks to sell his Death Steel Armor (level 17) while he is purchasing the Nagascale Dwarven armor he hopes to find in the city. With the remainder from the astrilium ring and the armor sale, he’ll get a Potion of Life to replace the one that was used on him, and two potions of Cure Critical Wounds.

Through the Looking Glass
 

Tira looks at the rings; hmm, white gold with sapphire, that could complement her colours well. She would happily take the Ring of Influence. But plain silver? Even with the ruby, not really her style. If no one else wants the Ring of Regeneration she would take it and wear it when needed, under her gloves, but if anyone else wants it, Tira would easily let it go.

Through the Looking Glass
 

Wandering the city, the party eventually comes together in the shop of an older looking efreet (although it is rather difficult to discern an efreet’s age). The efreet, who introduces himself as Jorge, happily takes care of the party’s needs. As you take a closer look at his shop, you realize it was not the metallic hut that it seemed to be. Each wall is made of tiny portals that Jorge pulls various items in and out of while going about business.

OOC: All items can be sold for one-fifth of their book value.

After the party’s transactions have been completed, Erik and Rift elbow up to Jorge and ask him about the blades and the painting. He pushes his spectacles up his nose and first takes one of the warglaives in hand, “My my, what is this we have here…” he muses to himself and takes the other blade in hand, “these are unique, I have never seen craftsmanship of this kind. It seems as though it is a single piece of shaped metal. I know not what metal that may be, though.” Erik presses him for information on the warglaives sentience, and the old efreet chuckles, “These were once inhabited by a spirit, not of this world or any other. It was something twisted and vile. A creature from beyond the broken gate. The planes could not have long endured its wrath and perhaps it is best that whatever it was is simply now a shadow, a whisper, but no more.”

With Erik’s warglaive business complete, Rift steps forward with the wondrous painting. She sees the efreet’s eyes grow wide and sparkle as a breathes sharply in. In a soft tone he ponders, “Where in the planes… did you come across this magnificent thing. It matters not. It only matters that it is here, in front of me, and I can see it!” He runs his hand over the painting’s frame, and pulls a small glass item out of one of his many pockets. He looks through it at the art piece and holds it mere millimeters above the paint, his old hands perfectly stable. “This, I hope you have realized, is no ordinary piece of canvas and oils.” Jorge says to Rift. “It shows whoever is viewing it whatever it is that they most want. Yet, it is not a lie. It seems to be only that which can truly be. I wonder…” He holds his palm over the painting and breathes deeply. His eyes begin to glow a dangerous green and sparks play between his fingertips. He slowly moves his hand across the painting with his eyes shifting through every color and sparks darting about. “Yes, indeed. It seems that it could be used as a scrying device. Perhaps it could even be used to view other possible futures, beyond one’s own.” He places the painting back in Rift’s hands and sits down seeming far more weary than a moment before.

Through the Looking Glass
 

The cleric marvels at the plain silver ring of regeneration. “I will gladly put its powers to use. Perhaps, it can help maintain my strength even when it would flag.” Z’alden takes the ring from Tira and puts his ring of protection into a plain sack.

As they traverse the city, Z’alden rubs the point of his right ear. With the new regeneration ring and the hoped-for armor, he wonders how the battle with the demon might have been different for him. His near-death still stings.

After the transactions with the efreet, the half-elf listens carefully to the appraisal. Z’alden’s eyes grow wide at Jorge’s assessment. He wonders at the future of the Nentir Vale if they had not succeeded in purging the war glaives and turning the young Ilidian to path towards a better life for all. He wonders what the new future holds for his beloved mother. Perhaps in this future, his elven father still lives. The value of such an item may be beyond measure. He proposes to his compatriots that they keep it rather than sell it. Their use of it to advance the cause of Light will have far more value that having it hang in the throne room of some wealthy despot.

Through the Looking Glass
 

Z’alden stares long and hard into the painting, hoping to see the future that Bahamut is calling him to.

He can almost see a letter in response. Or, perhaps it is voice.

Z’alden,

Sometimes it takes a long time for a piece of art to reveal all its secrets. One must stand back, move closer, or perhaps throw an unplanned glance to see something in it that they have never seen before. Perhaps different light or shade will reveal nuances not yet seen.

With your eyes new to this painting, you see what you want and expect. Orcs. Blood. Death. But you are not sure who is the victor. You are a man out of time. The road forks for many.

Sincerely,
The (future)

Through the Looking Glass
rplayer SirEdward

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