Wednesday, January 06, 2010

In Which The Warlock Posts a Spoiler Alert...

As I mentioned earlier, our weekly "Pirates of the Underdark" game went out with a whimper, rather than a bang. We didn't really reach any sort of climax before the game collapsed, and many of the side plots went unrevealed.

That is, until now! Below are the assorted "tier 2" NPCs that the players helped to create, along with their "dark secrets" which the players were on the verge of finding out...

Durgrek--Dwarf Wizard (Tome) 18

What They Knew:
Throughout the game, the players came upon quite a few mysterious slabs of slate, covered in archaic dwarven runes. The stones radiated a mysterious form of magic, indecipherable by the party's arcanists. And, the more of these that they found, the weirder Durgrek seemed to get, as he lusted over the items. He, in fact, made a deal with Captain Zane to provide the ship with both navigation and alchemical/ritual services, with his only payment being...those enigmatic runestones.

What They Didn't Know:
Durgrek was the last of his clan. After being shipped off to a wizard academy, his clan was defeated in battle by duergar, and sold into slavery. Durgrek returned home on a sabbatical, only to find his home delve totally empty. Enraged, Durgrek turned to his arcane talents to view the past, finding the duergar that enslaved his clan. He rained fiery vengeance upon the offenders, but did not stop there. Durgrek sought annihilation.

Using his arcane contacts, Durgrek began to research the lore of "truename magic". Rumor had always been that the duergar, when they forged their eternal pact with Asmodeus, turned over a set of runestones with their ancient clan's truename emblazoned in it. Asmodeus, seeking to keep the clan subjugated, split the stones apart and spread them across the Underdark.

The Next Step?
Durgrek would have procured the final runestone as the players approached the endgame, enacting a ritual at the Hulks of Zoretha--a series of ancient monoliths imbued with arcane energy. There, the players would have been forced into a terrible choice--trust the seemingly insane dwarf, or stop him. Had Durgrek succeeded in his ritual, the truename linking all duergar would have been erased, instantly slaying all duergar on the Prime Material (including Zendax's comrade-in-arms, Ettik!).

Velenthi of House Nehlet, Drow Dark Pact Warlock 13

What They Knew:
Velenthi ambushed her big sister, Zara, in an alley in Freeport. Zara, in turn, bullied her into joining the crew of the Red Mourning. Zara and the crew were shocked to see Velenthi's strnge abilities, but even moreso when she was spotted speaking to hobgoblin and (*gasp*) surfacer mercenaries. The group believed that she had fled the fall of House Nehlet in Menzoberranzen, but there was little proof to go on.

What The Didn't Know:
Velenthi did, in fact, flee the fall of House Nehlet, but only after she actually caused the house's fall! She led the male slaves in a coup on the Matron Mother, only to be backstabbed by them, and being subjected to the same punishments she inflicted on them! Velenthi escaped, turning first to the Acolytes of Moil, a nihilistic cult that worships the ancient demilich Acererak! With them, she learned the warlock arts, then abandoned them, in favor of finding her errant sister and some hired goons, to help her re-take House Nehlet.

The Next Step?
Had the players spent any time in Menzoberranzen, Velenthi would have come clean about the fall of House Nehlet, appealling to the crew to assist her in the ultimate "battle of the sexes"--men vs. women with the leadership of House Nehlet on the line. However, their support of her would have drawn the attention of the Acolytes of Moil...leading to a climactic encounter in Skull City, right outside of the Tomb of Horrors!

Nalen the Quicker, Shadar-Kai Rogue 16

What They Knew:
Artemis--Fred's second character, following Captain Zane--grew close to Nalen, finding out much of her backstory while the crew was docked in Gracklestugh. Nalen became incredibly nervous while in port there, and confided in Artemis over a bottle of brandy in the crow's nest. This nervousness grew even further after the group was ambushed by Githyanki, in the midst of a harrowing encounter with the necromancer-pirate, The One Living Man.

What They Didn't Know:
Nalen was actually native to the city of Sigil, and grew up to be a private investigator. Nalen had taken on a case from the Sons of Mercy to look into the appearance of a mysterious viney plant in the city called Midnight Romance, which was incredibly toxic. Nalen trailed the plant to githyanki smugglers, who captured her. Before she escaped, Nalen deduced the giths' true plan--to use the Midnight Romance plants from Gracklestugh to poison and zombify the citizenry of Sigil, then use it as a launching point for further planar incursions.

The Next Step?
After the climax of the game, the players would have had the option to traverse the planar waterways, ending up in Sigil in the midst of the githyanki invasion. Working alongside Doomguard Marauders and the Sons of Mercy, the PCs would have helped to fight back against the gith and restore Sigil to its prior state.

And the rest?

Ettik--Duergar Fighter 13
Ettik revolved primarily as a foil to Durgrek, as he would have been slain in Durgrek's mad quest for revenge. Had the PCs returned to Gracklestugh, they would have found themselves trapped in the midst of a duergar love triangle, as Ettik had accidentally impregnated a clan mistress, who was about to marry a clanthane.

Elkantar--Drow Bard 11
Elkantar was, pretty much, what the players thought he was--Mathir's slave. However, he would serve as the cause of a major difficulty as Mathir's Matron Mother would have come calling, after a time, wanting both her ship and her slave back. Needless to say, this would have earned the party one more enemy...

Khalar--Goliath Swordmage/Artificer 15
Khalar, the gigantic pistoleer/swordsman, was about as mercenary as it came. He was willing to support any cause, any person, as long as he was well supplied with gold, rum, and fine weaponry. He had a growing crush on both Mathir and Nalen, both of which hid from the group at large.

James "The Goddamned Jim Bob" Robertson--Human Ranger/Horizon Walker 19
The Goddamned Jim Bob had no plot. He showed up as an homage to a past game, and just was happy to go along with the flow. Jim Bob loved travel, and the Red Mourning was as good a method of travel than any.

Stay tuned for the villains of "Pirates of the Underdark", including Jaegren Lern, the enigmatic One Living Man!

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