“The dwarves of yore made mighty spells,
While hammers fell like ringing bells
In places deep, where dark things sleep,
In hollow halls beneath the fells.”
The Underdark is a cruel, strange, and mysterious place. Many parts of the Underdark of Faerûn are suffused with a magical radiation that the drow call faerzress. A remnant of the mighty forces that originally shaped the terrain of the Underdark, faerzress distorts and interferes with certain types of magic. It also changes things, mutating them into the odd and wonderous. Below are a few examples of materials within the Underdark that have been altered due to their fusion with faerzress.
Originally discovered by the ancient sage James Jacobs, sickstone is found deep within the tunnels and caverns of the Underdark. The radiation of the faerzress has permeated the stone itself, sickening it on a primeval level. Sickstone is found in large deposits and veins, easily identifiable by its glimmering silvery-green color. The illumination provided by sickstone radiates to a distance of 40 feet, and those within its glow feel a sense of dread and unease. If a living being remains within the glow of sickstone for more than one minute, saving throws are required. A living creature must succeed at Constitution Saving Throw (DC:13) or become affected by the Poisoned condition. A poisoned creature has disadvantage on Attack rolls and Ability Checks. Every hour that the creature remains within the illumination provided by sickstone after becoming Poisoned, the creature temporarily loses 1d2 Constitution points as its health, stamina, and vital force are sapped. Creatures that are immune to disease are immune to the debilitating effects of sickstone. Apart from its glow and sickening aura, sickstone should be treated as normal stone, with the exception that natural sunlight causes it to crumble to chalky, inert powder in a matter of seconds.
Sourstone is identified by its color and smell. A being coming into contact with sourstone will notice that it glows with a faintly lavender hue and smells of soured milk. It has a bitter taste and is unpleasant to consume. As with sickstone, the illumination of sourstone is debilitating. Remaining within 10 feet of sourstone’s glow causes a living creature to slowly become exhausted. After being within 10 feet of sourstone for a full hour living creatures must succeed at a Constitution Saving Throw (DC: 15) for become affected by the Exhaustion condition, level 1. Every additional hour of exposure threatens to increase this condition to a deeper level, ending in death at level 6. Every hour after the creature becomes Exhausted due to sourstone, the creature must make another Constituion Saving Throw (DC:15) with a -1 to the roll. Each additional hour adds another -1. Failure adds another level of Exhaustion. The effect of this condition cannot be ended without leaving the area of sourstone.
|1||Disadvantage on Ability Checks|
|3||Disadvantage on Attack rolls and saving throws|
|4||Hit point maximum halved|
|5||Speed reduced to 0|
“Far over the misty mountains cold
To dungeons deep and caverns old
We must away ere break of day
To seek the pale enchanted gold.”
The people of the Underdark are adept at crafting and magic so it is no wonder that they produce fabulous artifacts. Presented here is a sampling of several items that have been created by the various races of the Underdark. In most cases, time has shrouded the source of these items, but they remain useful and much sought after commodities nonetheless. Some are suffused with a magical radiation that the drow call faerzress, a remnant of the mighty forces that originally shaped the terrain of the Underdark.
Earth Glide Boots
These boots are made from the skins of three Xorn. Use Requires attunement. While wearing these boots, the user may burrow through nonmagical, unworked earth and stone. While doing so, the wearer doesn’t disturb the material it moves through. The boots may be activated 1d4 times daily for 1d10 rounds at a time.
MIND PROTECTION CIRCLET
When worn, a circlet grants a +4 bonus on all saving throws against a mind-affecting psychic damage attack. If the wearer of the circlet makes a saving throw against an attack, she can choose as a Reaction to absorb the portion of the effect that would have normally affected her mind, healing the psychic damage. Meaning, the user must have a Reaction to spend in order to get the boost in saving throws. Once a mind-affecting attack has been absorbed in this manner, it automatically protects the wearer from the next attack by ibcreasing the saving throw bonus by +1 each time the same attack is used against the wearer. After protecting the wearer from such attacks 1d10 times, the circlet crumbles to dust. No attunement is needed.
This ring requires on attunement. The wearer gains the Stonecunning ability: Stonecunning: Whenever you make an Intelligence (History) check related to the origin of stonework, you are considered proficient in the History skill and add double your proficiency bonus to the check, instead of your normal proficiency bonus. The wearer also always knows the direction of True North.
The playing characters began the session at Camp Vengeance where they assisted Order of the Gauntlet agents in fortifying the outpost by adding water basins filled with conjured fresh water, conjured food, and other needful resources summoned by spellcasters. The company (Arlan Strangeways, Vrea’ ree Everurden, Tessa, Loral, and Serva) was introduced to agents from Camp Vengeance including: Fee Fee the Half Elf, The Wizard Emanuel Can, Verner the Gnome, Laleth the Druid, Killeli The Kobold, Edgar the Wild Mage and Augerbucket the Dwarf. The two groups talked about recent events surrounding the Death Curse.
Vrea’ree received a message from Syndra Silvane asking them not to continue the mission to Castle Adikos but instead to go into the jungles near the Aldania Basin (also known as The Swamp of Sorrows) in order to seek a lost city called Omu. There, she explained, they may be able to discover the source of the Death Curse. She stated that Wakanga would be instead mounting an expedition to Castle Adikos to seek out and recover any artifacts remaining within its ancient halls.
With this information in hand, Vree’ree was determined to return to the floating citadel. He discussed this course of action with his compatriots, convincing them that they should once again defy Syndra Silvane’s wishes and do the opposite of what she asked by returning to the castle. In turn, Verner convinced Commander Breakbone to send agents of the Order of the Gauntlet with the mercenaries to Castle Adikos. Within a short amount of time, the adventurers all teleported back to the floating castle.
The group appeared back at the gates of the castle, confronted by three death knights. These creatures of undeath were once paladins who swore oaths to protect the castle. Having failed their oaths in life, they are now sworn to fulfill the oath in the afterlife. Having battled one of their kind before, Arlan and Vree’ree explained that they could not be reasoned with and would have to be destroyed. Defeating them, Arlan explained, released them from their unholy oath and allowed them to rest in peace. And so combat ensued, until finally only one of them remained. The death knight dropped to one knee, preparing to unburden himself to the adventurer’s. Before he could finish his first sentence, Verner jumped forward and blasted the creäture in the face with a Thundermonger shell from his Artificer Thunder Cannon.
Having defeated the guardians of the Castle, the group made their way through the castle and returned to the marble and obsidian octagonal room. On the floor was etched (in gold) the Pescheour family crest, but this time it featured a silver sword and a kingfisher. From here they noticed that four very large doors stood along the room’s far wall, all made of some kind of dark, almost black wood and reinforced with iron studs. To the far right hand side of the room stood a staircase that led down several hundred feet to end at a landing in front of two large wrought-iron doors. Behind the doors gleamed a bright red light that filtered through the cracks in the doorway, spilling out along the floor like blood.
Augerbucket used her skill with lockpicking tools and trapfinding to check each of the doors. She was impressed by the size of each, but found none of the doors to be trapped in any way. However, the last of the four doors was locked with a strange push button combination numbered 1 through 6. Fee Fee, Verner, and Emanuel Can talked about how to solve the riddle while the others searched the other rooms.
The first room was the Pescheour family shrine to Tyr, the god of justice. It was a simple altar constructed of blocks of white marble and black obsidian placed at the far end of the room from the doorway. Nearby sat a wide brazier filled with dimly glowing embers; on the floor sat several bulging sacks of coal. The rest of the room was bare. Edgar refilled the brazier, filling the room with a soft glow, creating the effect of a Holy Aura. Meanwhile, Loral bowed down and prayed to Tyr for help and guidance.
Although the adventurers could not know it, this was the very shrine that the paladins swore their oaths to protect this castle and its contents. It was tended by Princess Jeschute, the only daughter of King Pescheour.
The second room was a furnished with a simple frame bed and mattress, a narrow wardrobe filled with plain robes and boots, and a wooden washstand with a clay basin and pitcher, topped by an unadorned glass mirror. A large wooden chest lay at the foot of the bed.
Again, the heroes could not know it but this was the Princess’s room. She lived alone attending to the shrine and recording information about the dogma of Tyr. The wooden chest, smashed into pieces by Fee Fee during the search, contained Jeschute’s books and scrolls written before the castle was cursed.
The third room required the party to solve a puzzle to open the lock. Edgar used his knowledge of Arcana to determine that the lock’s code was related to mathematical theory. With some trial and error, the adventurers discovered that by pressing down the Prime number symbols 2, 3, 5 it would unlock the door which revealed a cache of treasure.
Again, the explorers could not know this but it was a collection of the wealth and treasure belonging to the paladins who swore to protect the castle. Before they would make their oaths, they would place their worldly possessions within the room, becoming the property of the Order of Pescheour. The explorers poured through the collection, discussing what they might do with their newly discovered loot.
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In this session, the party split up. Our focus was on the smaller group comprised of Vrae’ree Everhurden, Cervaa Shankledorn, and Arlan Strangeways. They returned to the villa of Wakanga O’ Tamu, one of the seven merchant princes who rule Port Nyanzaru. Wagkanga is the only arcane spellcaster of the seven princes. He is a dandy who enjoys the company of beautiful women. Although he holds a monopoly on the production and trade of potions and scrolls in Port Nyanzaru, he really deals in knowledge, intelligence, and lore. He prefers to be paid in coin, gemstones, or magical items.
The party arrived at the villas to find that there was a funeral in process in the central garden. Further investigation allowed them to learn at the Granddaughter of Zhanthi, another of the Merchant Princes, had died of the Death Curse. The girl’s name was Zorya, and she was an adventurer who had died once before and was resurrected. She was afflicted with the Death Curse only a week ago and died earlier this afternoon.
The entire villa community was heavily fortified with guards comprised of both Lord’s Alliance Flaming Fist mercenaries and Zhentarim Hobgoblin soldiers. There were at least triple the normal amount of security on premises when the arty arrived. They talked with the guards at Wakanga’s villa and were escorted inside after a short wait. The butler offered the part food or drink, but they politely refused. The butler excused himself, and a few moments later Wakanga entered the room through a nearby door. When the door opened they could hear a woman wailing and crying, but as he quickly closed the door behind him, the sound was deafened.
The party talked with Wakanga and paid for their magical items. Wakanga was infuriated that they were considering going to the floating castle as per Syndra’s wishes. What they didn’t (and couldn’t) know was that wailing woman in the next room was actually Syndra Silvane. She was crying uncontrollably because Wakanga had just spent the last half hour taunting her with the idea that the party she had put so much trust in (and spent so much coin on) were betraying her to work for Wakanga instead. In her anger and sadness, she began to suffer a nervous breakdown.
Wakanga explained that Loral had arrived earlier in the evening and signed a contract with him saying that the party would go to Camp Vengence tonight and begin a three day expedition within the Aldani Basin, also known as the Swamp of Sorrows. When the party remained noncommittal to his wishes, Wakanga asked the party to leave. They left politely, and summoned a rickshaw (pulled by two young triceratops) large enough to carry them to Syndra Silvane’s residence in Market Ward.
Arriving at Syndra’s home (at around 1100 pm) her man servant greeted them politely. He was carrying a lit candle for light, and invited the party inside. He explained that Syndra was staying at the Harper safehouse in Merchant’s Ward with some of her former adventurer friends who had come into town for the funeral of Princess Zhanthi’s grandaughter, Zorya. He explained that the safehouse was Wakanga’s villa. Syndra would be staying there for the night and returning in the morning. This troubled the party, but they decided that trying to force their way into Wakanga’s house would be foolhardy. They thanked the servant and departed.
At this time, they decided that it was worth their time to travel to Castle Adikos like Syndra had employed them to do in the first place. They decided that would scout out the castle and then rendezvous with the rest of the company at Camp Vengeance. Cervaa Shankledorn transformed into an Air Elemental using his Wild Shape ability, scooped up Vrae’ree and Arlan, and flew them to the castle. The castle, they discovered, was a earthmote hovering about 300 feet in the air near the Western tip of the Bay.
Approaching the castle, they found that it was both beautiful and terrible to behold. The castle’s keep was constructed of the blackest obsidian and the towers around it was made of the purest white marble. The central courtyard near the main gate glowed with an eerie, reddish pink light. Again, the light seemed delightful and horrifying at the same time. Despite several efforts, Cervaa Shankledorn found it impossible to go anywhere on the earthmote or the castle save for the main courtyard. Wards, signs, and portents protect Castle Adikos from visitors entering by any means save the front gate. Landing, they found that the courtyard was immaculate, perfect in every way. Turning their attention to the entrance to the keep, they found that the huge double entrance doors were shattered, torn from their hinges by some tremendous force.
When they attempted to enter the castle a Death Knight appeared and blocked their path. He declared that he had failed to fulfill his oath to the god of justice in life so he would now fulfill it for the god of death. The Death Knight said he name was Gaylond, and he would not allow them to enter Castle Pescheour. Vrae’ree Everhurden, Cervaa Shankledorn, and Arlan Strangeways interacted with the Death Knight for some time, trying to find a way to talk their way into the castle. When it became painfully obvious that the Death Knight would not budge, combat ensued. In the end, the three managed to defeat the Death Knight. Having fulfilled his oath to protect the castle, the curse was lifted from the knight. Gaylond’s spirit appeared to them breifly, thanking them before he vanished.
Entering from the front gate to the small barbican, they heard voices raised in song. A dirge-like melody filled the area, coming from everywhere at once. The female voices sounded sweet and sad all at once, again giving the mixed emotions of beauty and terror at the same time. They exited the barbican through another archway, entering into a long, wide hall.
In the dim pink-red light of the hall, they saw the floor was strewn with the fragments of the huge main gate doors, mixed with the shattered corpses of several Zhentarium hobgoblin soldiers. Throughout the chamber among the debris and corpses was what seemed to be large grey feathers. They did not investigate this scene any further, and moved on to the next room through another large archway.
They found themselves in a grand ballroom. Row upon row of hardwood tables and chairs lined the center of the room, filled with plates of food and cups of wine. At a head table sat a king and his queen while dozens of dancers twirled merrily throughout the room. Men and women alike stood talking, eating, and drinking. None of them paid any attention to the Vrae’ree, Cervaa, or Arlan who soon discovered these beings were all spectres, ghosts doomed to relive this moment of time for eternity. Vrae’ree took note of the tapestries on the wall, all marked with the Pescheour family crest, featuring a large silver sword.
Moving away from the ballroom, they ascended a spiraling staircase that led them to the second level of the castle. Here they discovered a large octagonal room made of marble and obsidian. On the floor was etched (in gold) the Pescheour family crest, but this time it featured a silver sword and a kingfisher. From here they noticed that four very large doors stood along the room’s far wall, all made of some kind of dark, almost black wood and reinforced with iron studs. To the far right hand side of the room stood a staircase that led down several hundred feet to end at a landing in front of two large wrought-iron doors. Behind the doors gleamed a bright red light that filtered through the cracks in the doorway, spilling out along the floor like blood.
Vrae’ree, Cervaa, and Arlan decided enough was enough. All three agreed it was time to head for Camp Vengeance. Cervaa transformed into an Air Elemental, flying the three to the camp. When they arrived, they were greeted by Commander Nile Breakbone. The Commander begged them to help his sick and wounded soldiers. Vrae’ree, Cervaa, and Arlan were happy to do so, using their healing magic spells to cure the sick, wounded, and injured. This being done, the three retired to tents provided by the Commander for a well earned rest.
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Ubtao (pronounced oob-TAY-oh ) is the patron deity of Chult. He is also known as The Father of the Dinosaurs, Creator of Chult, Founder of Mezro, and The Deceiver. He stays distant from both mortals and other deities, and he seems to be above the daily doings of the world and his followers. This may be partly due to his origin as a primordial , and in fact it’s not fully known if he is a deity in the traditional sense. Only since the Time of Troubles has he begun to show interest in his followers again. The many jungle spirits worshiped in Chult are all aspects of Ubtao. But due to this he only has power in and around the jungles of Chult.
In Session two, the playing characters spent their time moving throughout Port Nyanzaru visiting several people who are interested in the presence of Syndra Silvane’s new expedition party. Since their arrival in the city, several people have taken interest in them. Lindsey clued them in unwittingly, asking questions about them on the first day of their arrival to the Thundering Lizard. Obviously the party was the focus on conversation within earshot of the young girl, and as they have discovered, the Thundering Lizard is a meeting place for the local Faction representatives and the Merchant Princes. It is possible that Lindsey overheard discussions about the party prior to their arrival.
Loral arrived on the Lucille with the others, but immediately traveled to Camp Vengeance to meet with members of the Order of the Gauntlet. In doing this, he missed the first meeting with Syndra Silvane. Loral traveled down the River Soshenstar by boat, arriving midday. He discovered that the camp was a obviously hastily built fortification on the river’s edge. The camp features a landing area (1) with canoes, (2) a gatehouse, (3) watchtowers, (4) an animal pen with four goats, (5) hospital tents for the wounded and sick, (6) a command tent, (7) soldier tents, and (8) latrines. The camp is surrounded by a dry moat fortified with sharpened sticks. Scattered around the exterior of the camp are piles of charred human corpses and flayed animal carcasses swarming with flies. The camp is led by Commander Niles Breakbone and presently is manned by 58 soldiers. The camp is in bad shape. Many of the soldiers are sick or wounded. The commander is a good man, but he is desperate and frustrated. He is under orders to hold Camp Vengeance under any means necessary.
Zhanti is the owner of the Thundering Lizard. She is one of the city’s Merchant Princes. She is concerned with the same pirates who wished to meet with Arlan for parley and believes that they may be planning something “big” to attack the harbor. She believes that one of the other Merchant Princes may be working with the Pirates for nefarious purposes. Zhanthi encourages the party to begin their expedition for Syndra Silvane as soon as possible, explaining the the Castle seems to come and go throughout the Planes with cycles of the moon. She believes that the Castle may be gone within 72 hours.
A Parley with the Pirates
Port Nyanzaru has been plagued by pirates since its founding. The pirates usually operate out of Jahaka Anchorage. Three of the pirate captains contacted Arlan to discuss business under a parley. They are asking that Arlan and his friends “look the other way” if anything out of the ordinary should happen at the docks or the harbormaster’s office.
The Temple of Savras
Grandfather Zitembe is the head priest of the Temple. He informed the playing characters that the Zhentarim are running a protection racket in Merchant’s Ward and likely throughout the city. He explained that the merchant princes of Port Nyanzaru hire Zhentarim guards to defend the city walls along with the Flaming Fist soldiers provided by Baulder’s Gate. In recent days, it is difficult to tell the Black Network agents from the Flaming Fist soldiers. It appears that the Lord’s Alliance and Zhentarim are brothers-in-arms within Port Nyanzaru. One of Grandfather Zitembe’s acolytes was assaulted by Zhent soldiers who demanded that the priests cast spells to learn more about a device called “The Soulmonger.” Grandfather Zitembe wanted to speak to the party because he had a dream (vision) recently about them. In the dream, he saw them laying dead or defeated around “a large black obelisk draped in vines.” He also touched Arlan, causing the man to have a vision of the future. Arlan saw the party at the lighthouse, surrounded by thick green smoke, being ripped to shreds one by one by three different dragons, two black and one red.
Wakanga O ‘tamu
Wakanga O’ tamu is the only arcane spell caster among the Merchant Princes. He claims Syndra Silvane as a long time friend. He claims that the woman is affected by the withering disease that people are calling “The Death Curse.” He claims that only a week ago, Syndra was a young, beautiful woman. Now she is a withered old woman. She is dying a slow, agonizing death and is desperate to find any cure or information about the Death Curse. He tells the party that she has already sent other expedition parties to their doom, although during the discussion he says it was three one time and four another. Either way, he explains to the party that he wants them to not give his friend Syndra any other cause for false hope. He requests that they contact her and reject her mission to Castle Adikos. In exchange, he will give them funding for exploration within the Jungles of Chult. He will give funding for expenses, manpower, and two magic items to each member of the party. Wakanga suggests that many groups of explorers and adventurers have gone into the jungle to explore ancient ruins and old tombs. Perhaps they could do the same. All he asks is that they do not go to Castle Adikos. He explains that the legends of the Castle says that it moves throughout the planes with cycles of the moon. He believes that the Castle will be gone in 72 hours, and Syndra will not be able to continue trying to plunder it for information or artifacts.
Gaidon and Narella Pramas
This couple maintains the Lighthouse in Port Nyanzaru. A flame burns atop the lighthouse day and night to guide ships through darkness, fog, and rain to the harbor. Various powders can be added to the fire to create thick columns of colored smoke that can be seen from Fort Beluarian and from the mines along the Bay of Chult. Usually the smoke billows out in a purple color, but in times of danger the color is changed to green. Although Gaidon and Narella rarely leave the lighthouse, they do entertain guests from time to time.
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