Sojourn to Oblivion
|Status||Explored March 889 TA|
|Campaign||The Elven Watch Campaign|
Overview of Oblivion
In the dusky twilight of a foggy autumn night, you may see the visage of a lost brother or mother at the edges of the forest. A brief glimpse of familiar movement, a long unseen but not forgotten face just as darkness envelopes the land. Many believe that what you are seeing is a shade - a projection of your loved one into the land of the living. As if they wander the land in turmoil. What few know is two other worlds lies on top of our world of sunshine and life. The same mountains and rivers run through these other lands - they are merely washed out views of the same landscape. Muted in greys and browns, perpetual twilight engulfs them. In this oblivion, the souls of the dead wander - some unknowing that they are no longer a part of the living world. And, when the moon is dark and wind howls in the trees, sometimes they can emerge into the land of the living - although those moments are rare and fleeting. For the most part, these souls look down - hoping one day to sink below their grey world into a black world. A world without life, the land of the dead.
Philosophers call the grey land Oblivion, the Land of Shades. The black land is the Land of the Dead. While the latter is locked away from contact with the living, sometimes the fabric of the world lets the shades walk.
In the Land of Shades
- There is no natural healing.
- There is no need for sleep.
- Spells are not recovered.
- Some spells (especially divine spells that require a deity to respond) are weakened.
- Time moves at a different rate.
- Etherealness and magic attracts creatures here.
In the Land of the Dead
- There is no natural healing.
- There is no need for sleep.
- Spells are not recovered.
- Some spells (especially divine spells that require a deity to respond) do not work.
- Time moves at a different rate.
- Etherealness, magic and life attracts creatures here.
From Evil's Perspective
With the recent defeats in the Realm, the forces of evil are taking one last desperate grasp to turn the tides of war. After their defeats during the last few years, the supply of troops is waning. In fact, it is unclear whether the tide of Knights of the Realm can be kept from invading Sandal itself, the last bastion of the Baron Valdemar.
To that end, the forces of evil have made a desperate ploy in order to swing the balance of power. They have sent Nightshade and his minions into Oblivion, the Land of the Shades. They have two major objectives (each is a multiplier for the party's experience):
- One group will head towards the Elven Pool which stands frozen in the center of a large forest. In the elder days, upon death, an elven soul would travel through the pool into the land of dead. From this, there was no coming back (aka, no resurrection). However, with the pool frozen, the elves have enjoyed the ability to come back from the dead, thriving in population.
- One group will head towards the Dock of Eternity. There they will board a boat that will carry them to the Land of the Dead. Once there, they will attempt to break a Lesser Ward, a stone seal that keeps the inhabitants of the Land of the Dead contained.
In Oblivion, the party must stop the Bad Guys from melting the Elven Soul Pool. The freezing of the pool has allowed the elves to be able to be resurrected (since the First Age). If the party fails, the elves will become mortal again, unable to be resurrected. This is a multiplier quest.
Characters must gather 6 Dead Man's Coins to journey into the Land of the Dead. These disappear when they make the journey. Somewhat like paying coins to Charon. The passageway is not obvious and impossible to traverse without the coins.
The bad guys have split up with Nightshade and Nathalia making the journey to the Land of the Dead to break the Seal. Cabell and Ione have journeyed to the Elven Soul Pool to do the deed. Death and fire rocks. They have also brought with them a legion of Chaos Warriors. These will turn into Shades if killed. The Chaos Warriors are moving towards the Elven Pool, as they are quite unable to find enough coins to make it to the Land of the Dead. The warriors, however, carry great stores of oil and firewater with which to light the water on fire.
Oblivion is filled with Nigglers. These small creatures attempt to suck the magic from one item. They are non-corporeal, flying and tend to come up through the ground or through dungeon walls. Items not given freely are allowed a saving throw. They will scream to stun. Then kiss an item to drain it. Random (pick a card).
The Land of the Dead is a grim place. The party will need 6 more coins to get back. In the Land of the Dead, the party must stop the Bad Guys from breaking the Lesser Ward. This is what holds the dead back from visiting too often into the world of the living. Undead legions will spew forth from Loftwood if the Lesser Ward is broken. If a Greater Ward were broken…
Oblivion: The Land of Shades
The Town of Duskwillow
Inside the command tent lies an odd stone sculpture which is a Keystone to the Land of Shades, known in the Reaches as Oblivion. The sculpture has been in the center of town longer than any of the locals can remember. For the most part, the villagers tolerate the army, as they pay good gold and provide protection from the Elves that have been creeping into town. BTW, they will report any dwarves, etc. to the commander of the garrison, Lord Commander Fiske.
Fiske hates dwarves more than anything. At Fiske's command are several dozen wyvern who patrol the skies at night. During the day, harpies watch from the treetops for any "visitors". Fiske's orders from the Baron were simple, "secure this area until Nightshade has opened the Ward of the Dead. Then, he is to lead the army of Sandal into the elven territories and crush them while they cannot be resurrected.
The townsfolk will talk about the elven massacre that killed many of the locals and all six of the town elders about a year ago. Elves. Bah. I would rather deal with the orcs.
Tracing the following pattern will activate the statue. Stepping into the shadow of the statue will teleport the party to Oblivion.
These are the souls of the shades of townsfolk killed in the recent battle with the elves. They seek retribution against all that is good. They will attack good party members first. Once the battle gets going, six specters will appear out of the ground. These were the town elders. They will drain 1d4 points of constitution if the hit. Save to lose only 1 point.
Almost immediately, the party will notice a number of ghostly shapes in the air above them. These are the riders from the Keyhole who have spotted the activity and come to see what all of the fuss is about.
The Dock of Eternity
The Return Trip to Oblivion
To reuse the Docks to return, the party must get another coin and jump into the water, allowing themselves to "drown". They will wake up again on the shores of Oblivion.
The Return Trip to the Land of the Living
In Oblivion, the statue has changed slightly. The old man is now looking up instead of down.. The verse carved on the base of the statue has changed.
The Seal of the Land of the Dead
In the Land of the Dead, the old man in the statue is now lying in effigy. His staff is crossed over his chest. There is no inscription on the base of the statue.
- Nightshade, General of the Tomb Kingdom - If a skeleton could be considered handsome, this one would fit the bill. He is tall, almost seven feet, and his bones are bleached white, almost glowing. He wears a crimson cape that is dark and luxurious. Two red eyes are the only sign of his true nature. Across his back is slung a bow made of what looks like bone and arrows made of the same substance. On his head, a gold crown hovers unnaturally just above his brow.
- Nathalia Valdemar, Duchess of Sandal - Clearly a warrior, this figure is as deadly as she is beautiful. Dressed head to toe in glimmering chain mail that clings seductively to her body, at least six weapons are visible. Not the least of which are two magical matched rapiers. Each flickers with a deep purple light and radiate an aura of palpable evil. Surrounding Nathalia are typically four chaos warriors of the first rank, battle tanks dressed in full plate standing almost seven feet tall.
- Cabell, High Wizard - Misshapen compared to his companion, this small creature appears at first to be a monkey. Dressed in brown robes, this creature carries a small gnarled staff. While small and ungainly, this creature moves with great speed." Hylax recognizes this figure as Cabell, a high wizard who is known for his ruthless death spells and his love of outrageous fire conjurations. He was considered a danger by the Council of Wizards and was always watched closely for signs of insanity. He has not been heard from in a long while.
- Ione - This creature is almost impossible to see, as she has a permanent invisibility cast on her. If glimpsed, she will appear as a thin, young women with flowing hair." She can phase shift and will walk inside a person to attack them. Her attacks do not do much damage, but they are annoyingly effective. She uses two Daggers +5.
- Battle Priest Marcala - Marcala is a slim, impeccably dressed man with gray hair and a thin, tight mouth. He is known for his cruelty and love of torture. His weakness is that he likes to take the souls our of his mace and "play" with them. He took the lives of the priests on Chapel Mount before the arrival of the party. He is known also as the Mace Wielder.
Encounter One: The Knot
A number of small wooden huts can be found throughout the area. These are typically abandoned woodsmen's huts. Some are populated by goblins who are trying to capture giant spiders (to become spider riders).
SHADE: The forest is filled with a slowly moving fog that obscures almost all vision.
DEAD: The mists and trees appear to be animated, moving against the wind. Loud creaking sounds come from the forest.
- Goblin spider riders - spiders shoot webs, riders shoot poisoned arrows. The spiders would know the way to the queen's lair.
- Phase spiders - will attack by the dozens. They are drawn by the smell of magic and spells.
- Woodsmen Ghosts - Died lonely and alone in the woods. They seek a loved one in a far off place. Maybe they will help if the party offers to help find their body in real life and bury next to their lover. Otherwise, they will attack as specters.
The webs will not burn and can barely be cut, sticking weapons that try. Phase spiders can move through the webs without any pause. Normal spiders cannot move through walls, but are not affected by stickiness. They can burrow through a spot, making a tunnel as they go.
Wigga will speak with the party. She is actually a human (from Teufeldorf) cursed because of her fondness for poisoning paladins after she lured them to her home to help with some domestic affair. She would them rob them, and wrap them in linen bandages before burying them in her back yard. She was cursed by a gift of a shawl which has a magical star which must be removed by picking out the stitches and extracting the star from the other portions of the patchwork. Wigga can't see it.
Wigga guards a coin (in the Oblivion or Land of the Dead). It is kept with her other treasure which she will part with if threatened with death.
If it is removed, the chest will disappear (phase out), only to return when the shawl is put back.
The chest contains: 2000 gold, Potion of Phase Spider Control, Periapt of Proof Against Poison +3, Spool of Endless Rope, Dead Man's Coin.
Encounter Two: The Wailing Waters and the Manse
There are two anti-magic shells around the castle. They will temporarily drain all magic items (sv. vs. 20th) and kick off any spells.
SHADE: Shadows flit about the exterior of the castle. An intense sorrow can be felt here. All saving throws for wisdom or intelligence are at a -5.
DEAD: Wailing can be heard almost constantly as it is carried on the wind. It causes madness in those who miss too many saving throws. 1: uncomfortable, 2: nervousness, etc.
- Werewolf - will attack by the dozens. Alternate forms, curse of lycanthropy, wolf empathy.
- Vampire bats - will approach as a fog bank. Drain blood (1d4 constitution).
- Banshee - wailing women. If the castle is approached, they will sing. They are the dead lovers of Ivor and will be released if the vampire is killed.
- Harem - vampiresses (6) - in the Land of the Dead will come to the aid of Ivor.
Ivor - "A handsome man, thin and regal, Ivor has a thick mop of brown hair and boyishly good looks. His smile is engaging and his eyes, a deep crimson, are mesmerizing. He is dressed in the finest purple silk cape and linen mantle and carries an ivory handled walking stick (which draws into a +5 Lifestealer rapier). Ivor appears graceful, quick, and sure of himself."
Gaseous form, resistant to mundane (except silver), cold and electricity, shadow jump, blood drain (1d4 constitution), domination (gaze), energy drain (1 level).
The answer is 1, 4, 1, 5. It is the sound of the chimes of the grandfather clock.
The chest contains: 3000 gold, Sword +5, Vampire Slayer, Potion of Mana, Ring of Gaseous Form, Dead Man's Coin
Encounter Three: Dragon's Tongue
This is where dragons in this area of the Reaches go to die.
Following the hallway down, the party will be subjected to whatever type of damage would normally be dealt by the dragon (to which they are immune).
SHADE: These tables will be filled with dragon riders, here waiting for the arrivals of their dragons. They will attack the party as specters, although the party may be able to befriend one if they promise to slay his dragon and release him from oblivion.
DEAD: The tables are empty. The dragon riders have all met their dragons. However, the sky will be filled with the ghosts of dragons and riders.
- Ancient dragons.
- Spectral Chazor. (Shade). Real Chazor (Dead).
Chazor the Bringer-of-Ashes
Breath weapon, frightful presence. If the party is smart, they will wait for a dragon to enter and seek the coin while a battle is raging. Or, we could play a battle of wits for the Coin.
I will be torn to small pieces. If this were true, he would under the terms of his sentence be eaten. That would be contradictory. If this were false, he would be eaten - also contradictory.
Six. Five from the original 25 butts, and one more once he has smoked the five cigars.
Treasure in horde: more gold than you can carry. Dead Man's Coin, Staff of Frost, Ring of Demonic Obedience, Plate Mail +4 (small)
Encounter Four: The Keyhole
Land of the Living: In the Land of the Living, the Keyhole on the north side is home to a particularly nasty red dragon, Emberbrood, who lives in the pit atop a mound of gold. She hasn't been seen of late because she is sitting atop a clutch of 5 red dragon eggs. On the south side are a vile tribe of trolls led by the Troll Giant, Toothshock the Rancid. The trolls control the hallways although they have posted several charred skulls before you pass through the tunnels into the southern keyhole.
Oblivion: In Oblivion and the Land of the Dead, the Keyhole is home to the shades of Admund, the Highway Man. Admund and his followers ride winged nightmares throughout the land, demanding magic for passage.
As a shade, Admund and his men are cursed to roam the land for their greed. Their treasure was taken by Emberbrood who left them to wander the Loftwood. They all starved to death in a snowstorm, and their bodies still lie heaped in a jumble somewhere in the forest. They seek just a single piece of gold or item from that treasure. The nightmare steeds live in the nests above the pit.
Land of the Dead: In the Land of the Dead, the Keyhole is occupied by spectral dragons in both the South and North chambers. These breathe a cone of death which causes fear and a drain of constitution from those failing to make their saving throw. Their damage is non-corporeal, but it still smarts.
Hidden in a chest in the block are: 2000 gold, Dead Man's Coin, Potion of Mana (3), Darkskull, Earrings of the Wolf
Hidden in the dragon's lair: Wand of Magic Missiles, Potion of Mana (3), Potion of Grievous Healing, Hand Axe +1
Encounter Five: The Elven Soul Pool
In the center of the meadow is the stump of a massive tree. As you approach you can see the ghostly outline of an oak growing out of the stump. In the rotted center of the trunk, a small chest can be found.
It contains: Unguent of Timelessness, Bottle of Endless Sand, Dead Man's Coin, 600 gold pieces.
In fact, these are living elves. They are guarding the lake from thawing. They fight with cold bolt arrows. It may be that Cabell and Ione are here fighting. Or they may just be waiting in the wings for the perfect moment to strike.
Around the base of the tree a number of elven ghosts flitter, dressed in the garb of First Age soldiers. They are outraged that none of their brethren have joined them for a thousand years.
Encounter Six: The Village of Windshorn
The party will find the bodies (now bones) of the human villagers scattered throughout the high grasses of this area. They were left where they were killed during an orc raid. The orcs are led by Rogdish of the Blood Claw. Rogdish was a minor sub-commander until he lead the raid on the village of Windshorn. Now, he claims the title garrison commander.
The town is filled with ghosts. The town hall is still intact, and is the location of the Dead Man's Coin. The ghosts want to be buried. Sigh.
In the Land of the Dead: The town is empty. Instead a Revenant lives here, feeding off the misery of those who died before. It will quickly move to suck the life from the party, using a mass of tendrils that come up from the ground. The revenant itself is in the library of the Town Hall.
The fibers are its tendrils. They will strike at an opponent attempting to drain its life. Each hit requires a save versus Wisdom, or the victim falls into a gibbering state of depression and fear. Simply sitting and waiting for its ultimate fate. The Revenant cannot move without losing its food source. It can fly if the need arises.
In the library, pulling a book called The Joy of the Simple Life, A Pilgrimmage to Nature causes a secret drawer to open revealing a small chest of finest filigree silver. On the top is etched a strange design. Eight buttons surround the design. They are numbered 18 through 25 inclusive. The chest is trapped with a puzzle. Failing to solve the puzzle will cause it to disappear and reappear somewhere in town (the mayor's house?).
The chest contains a number of gems and the Dead Man's Coin.
There are eight buttons around the edge of the square numbered 18 through 25 inclusive. The answer is, of course, 23.
Encounter Seven: Chapel Mount
This is the training grounds of the Knights of Sandal. They are currently in the field on maneuvers. This will be a killing spree that only U-Gene could love.
The chapel has been warded against Silence spells. Attempting to cast one will cause an alarm to sound and the caster to take 20d4 worth of electrical damage (save to half).
The commander has a Dead Man's Coin in his pocket.
A secret door is undiscovered, and lead to a small two-room chamber beneath the crypt. It is currently empty. The lintel above the secret door is carved with a skull relief.
In Oblivion: The crypt is empty, although the sarcophagi have not been despoiled, showing effigies of men and women, mostly dressed as townsfolk and woodsmen. A number of candles lie burnt upon the tombs.
Above the secret door in the south is now an inscription.
The skull relief now states "His Martyrdom Bound Evil".
Entering the chamber room causes some to be sickened, although most find the room very peaceful and almost warm to the skin. The walls of this room are filled with letters carved in stone,
In the Land of the Dead: The chapel will be filled with priestly ghosts who will try and stop any who attempt to enter the crypt. They will wail for their souls taken by the Knights in the Land of the Living.
The inscription will be above the door.
Encounter Eight: Leper's Brood
Diriel: "A kindly old man with white flowing hair and a neat blue robe greets you. He smiles broadly, showing impossibly white, straight teeth. His blue eyes match his robe, and he radiates an aura of warmth and love."
Diriel is actually a demon. He actually keeps the town poisoned by added a few drops from a vial in his bedroom into the town well once a week. The vial is kept in a secret compartment along with a Dead Man's Coin and the Master's Ring.
If challenged, Diriel will flee and follow the party. He is adept at summoning demons to his aid, and he is not shy about using domination to bend the party to his will.
A metal guardian waits at the end of the hall. This is actually, a solid block of iron. It is impossibly heavy and does the requisite damage. Ramming one can cause the player to black out. It is impervious to damage and will cause weapons to dull or potentially break. Obviously, it can't go up stairs. It will not leave this room, although the wall could be used against it.
Oblivion and the Land of the Dead: The lepers are dead, although they still serve Diriel. They know that they have been poisoned and need the party to set them free.
Encounter Nine: The Twisting Trees
Most recently, the Twisting Trees have become the home to a commune of peaceful outcasts, free folk who have left their families to be with each other, journeying here from the far corners of the Reaches. They have set up a small commune on the western edge of the forest. The commune is called Lone Flower.
As you travel east into the Twisting Trees, the propensity for corpses dangling from trees increases dramatically. In many cases, frayed ropes swing crazily above small piles of whitened bones.
The main hall of Lone Flower is built upon a much older structure, as a set of stone steps lead up to the current hall on all four sides. The older structure was the gallows. All prisoners were taken to the gallows to be hung before being taken into the forest for display. If the party spends the night or much time in the Lone Flower hall, they may have visions of the hanging at the hands of an massive, brutish giant.
Lone Flower is run by Lotus Blossom, a buxom wench who is dressed in peasant's garb and has a garland of flowers in her hair. As the inhabitants of Lone Flower have no metal, they have adopted a large family of rust monsters which they use for protection against knights and other who might come to cause them harm.
Stonethroat - "This creature appears to be an over-muscled human standing about eight feet tall. His face is covered by a black executioner's hood, although most of the rest of his massive frame is exposed. He carries an axe that blurs as he moves it, making a vaguely nauseous whirring sound. A coin is set in the pommel of the axe."
Oblivion: Lone Flower is gone. Stonethroat stands upon the dias of the hangman's platform. Unmoving, it is difficult to tell if he is a statue. Around the dias whirl spirits of the dead who were wrongly accused and sentenced to die.
The Land of the Dead: The forest here is filled with specters and wraiths of the dead. They wait here for the arrival of Stonethroat. His axe rests against the uprights of the hangman's apparatus. Trying to remove the axe will cause the ghosts to attack. The axe, you see, is their bait.
Encounter Ten: Braken Dale
If more than one party member tries to advance, the trees will animate to hold the party back. As long as the party complies, they will not fight. Otherwise, they act as ropers.
In your mind, you hear the following: "I know what you seek, and I have it within my powers to grant your desires. However, first you must face a Shade from your past and defeat it in single combat. Do you agree? Decide or begone forever from my sight."
If they agree, the water will boil sending up great clouds of steam. Suddenly, a half-elf druid appears in front of you. Malice is in his eyes. "How dare you disturb my slumber by calling me hence. Now, you will pay for your transgression." The half-elf carries a Dead Man's coin.
This scene is the same for all three "locations". It's just darker and danker in the Oblivion and the Land of the Dead.
Oblivion - the party will get simultaneously attacked by the shades from the pool who will attack non-corporeally.
Encounter Eleven: Shadeshore
This is the tower of Asargat the Forlorn. Asargat is a mad wizard in the employ of the Orc King, Gruumsch. He is working on a cloning device to create an army of warriors from a single orc. So far, his experiments have been unsuccessful with each clone being slightly madder and less perfect than the original.
There are actually 10 copies of Asargat running around the keep. Each is dangerous in its own right, and the clones share a very limited form of telepathy.
His servants are succubus that will attempt to charm the party. They will also summon lesser demons to do their bidding. In the cells on the upper floors of the laboratory are eight orcs
SHADE & DEAD - Filled with duplicate shades of past victims.
In the master's dressing room is a steel door set into the stone. It is approximately 3 feet square. On it are two rows of symbols. The bottom row are clearly buttons.
The chest contains: 3000 gold pieces, Potions of Grave Healing (2), Beer of Eternity, Halistra's Comb
Encounter Twelve: Scarmoral Mount
It is rumored that a great black dragon lives in the largest of the caves, sitting atop a vast horde of gold.
Indeed a black dragon did live there. But now he is a stone dragon.
The stone dragon sits upon a cache of treasure, but it seems uncannily that anything that is loose is missing. Sets of human-sized prints move along the passageways. The outbound footsteps are deeper than those returning.
This is the room that the medusae and basilisks will flee to if need be. Most of their treasure is in the alcove marked on the map with the X. Several basilisks are always on guard here.
Two statues of Moradin the Forger and Angmar Deepstone, the Miner. Both are exquisitely done.
If the party blesses the dwarves, Oblivion will be empty. Otherwise, Oblivion will be filled with the angry shades of the dead dwarves.
Moving the dragon reveals a hefty pile of gold, silver and copper. What catches your eye, however, it a large golden chest that flickers with the unmistakable aura of magic. Upon the chest is written the following verse:
The chest contains: Dead Man's Coin, Shrouds of Disintegration, Memory Crystal, and Potions of Mana (2).
Nightshade, General of the Tomb Kingdom
Crimson Cape of Nightshade