Tuesday, September 26, 2006
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The sickly-looking barkeep, Chester, looks up as you come in and squints at you, as if trying to recall your face. His face is heavily lined and he has deep dark circles under his eyes. As the barkeep studies you, a tall lithe half-elf gets up from a table near the back of the courtyard. There are two other robed figures at the table, but they remain seated. The half-elf makes his way over to you. His perfect teeth glimmer in the shadows as he walks over toward you. “Thanks, Chester. This is..,” he looks at you and then nods as if deciding something. “This is Robyn, a new recruit.” The barkeep nods and smiles weakly before bursting into a fresh coughing fit.
“Poor guy, Chester. He’s never been right since his run-in with those bastards. Anyway. I’ve found a buyer for that black dragon’s egg that you were looking to get rid of. The men at the table back there,” he nods his head in their direction, “represent the buyer. I’ve negotiated a reasonable price, but they wanted to meet you first.” Illusk walks back toward the table he just left.
“Gentlemen,” he says, bowing, “this is the lady who has what you want.”
The two men at the table mutter their consent, nod at you and gesture at an available chair. The men confer in an unfamiliar, drawling dialect of elven, and the older one switches to common. “We are interested in your gift, and especially the possibility of more like it. You will give us this egg, yes?”
Illusk frowns and says, “We agreed on a price, friend sage.”
A brief look of frustration passes over the older man’s face, followed by a gracious smile. “Of course, forgive me, my friend. My mind slips at times. Now then, the agreed price was,” the old man looks around and leans in to whisper, “5000gp. Shall we pick up negotiations there?” The old man reaches into a pocket in his cloak and takes out a small earthenware pot of ink, a strip of parchment, and two quills. He pushes the ink, parchment, and a quill over to you and looks at you expectantly.
The prices continue to fluctuate back and forth, growing closer together as you pass the parchment back and forth, and finally a value is agreed upon. Illusk excuses himself and steps out of the hostel. In a few minutes, he returns carrying a small strongbox and a sheet of official-looking parchment. He has you and the old man sign the parchment, some sort of transfer of funds. Then he gives the strongbox to the old man and his companion. “We’ve had a specialist take a look at this. He told me to tell you that the egg was only laid a few months ago. It could still be over a year before it hatches. Right now, the strongbox is airtight, and the egg is sitting in a weak acid bath. He says to make sure you replace the acid bath every few days.”
The two men quickly depart after their prize is transferred. Illusk waves the barman over and orders two drinks, then leans over the table. “Those two were servants of the Shadow Sages, from the Valley of the Mage, west of the Lortmils. Someone in the Bloodied Fist must be working for the Shadow Sages too. I’m sure the Tusk would be interested to know that.” He pauses and grows silent.
“Speaking of the Tusk,” he begins, choosing his words carefully, “there is another band of thieves who have been causing some little uproar among the Bloodied Fist. They’re calling themselves the Wayward Children. Right now, its just a minor annoyance to the Tusk, but some of the lower-level thieves and beggars loyal to the Fist have deserted and joined the Children, so he’s starting to take notice. Well. I thought you should know, use that information how you will.” Illusk finishes his drink and lays a few silver on the table, then walks into the blustery afternoon.
A few days later, while you’re relaxing at Degolar’s house, a servant delivers a sealed letter to you. You open it and find a line of instructions.
Come alone to the Thieves Highway, between the Guild of Brewers and Bakers and Kiles, tonight at midnight. –Illusk
When you arrive atop the building between the Guild of Brewers and Bakers and Kiles Spice Shop, you see the cloaked figure of Illusk standing near a well-worn but sturdy wooden table. There is also another figure with their face cloaked. The person is smaller, possibly a gnome or halfling. There are a variety of items on the table, gleaming in the moonlight. Many of them look expensive, wands, rods and staves, with a few items that don’t really fall into any category.
Illusk speaks quietly, with a slight smile on his face. “I’m sure you know my companion. I’ll leave you two now.” He bounds over to the next building, then the next, with graceful leaps and near silence.
The hooded figure speaks and you recognize her voice right away. “Hello, Leelu. You are interested in becoming more versatile with magic devices? Your dangerous friend Illusk has hired me to teach you what I can. You will meet me here every night for the next five weeks and we’ll see if I can make an adept out of you.” She pushes back her hood to reveal her identity, Mia Dragonslayer. “I’m not sure how that assassin found me, all the way up in the land of Black Ice, but he did. Don’t breathe a word of my presence to anyone.”
After your party meets with the Viscount and the other adventuring party, you come by to check in on Heyrath’s progress. For the month of Fireseek, the business lost 98gp. But, after opening one morning, the wizard Juelihm stopped in to see the new shop, and look over Heyrath’s wares. Word of Juelihm’s presence at Heyrath’s shop spread like wildfire through the wizarding community, and soon there were all types of mage looking to buy and sell with Heyrath. For the next few months, this will attract a little more business and attention.
It’s midafternoon on Readying 4, and you’re hurrying through the snow-packed streets to the Silver Consortium. You can see its large silver and copper domes through the snowflurries. The sky is leaden and the wind cuts briskly through your clothes. Three or four minutes later, you arrive at the familiar banded wooden doors. A pair of older students clad in the silver-edged dark green robes of the Consortium stand in the main corridor inside the door. From the number of rings on their sleeve cuffs, one of these students is a fifth-year, and one is a third-year. The older student asks if he can direct you anywhere. You answer by giving him a withering glance and striding off toward the Guild Library. A few of the more studious mages-in-training are in the library, and a handful of the faculty, but it’s mostly empty. You speak with the gaunt, thin-lipped elven fellow in charge, and he directs you to the conjuration section. He reminds you that you can only have three books out at a time, unless you have special permission from a faculty member or the headmaster. You select a few titles, including Dunhill’s Papyrus and Unknown Movements of the Universe, volumes 1 and 2.
You make your way up to the fourth floor of the Silver Consortium, where the study rooms are located. A wizard is in charge of renting out the study rooms, the plaque on his door names him as Jereda Greywhisp. His office door is slightly open, and the smell of hot food wafts out. A portly wizard with a slightly stained, rumpled brown doublet looks up at you.
“Can you wait a few minutes, lad, as you can see, I’m at lunch. You’re welcome to share my wine and bread, if you like,” the fat fellow says. He continues eating his meal, a chicken leg, a small loaf of dark bread, and a flagon of wine. After a few minutes, he belches, sighs, and brushes the crumbs from his paunch. “Now, how can I help you?”
You explain that you’re working on a new spell, you would like a study room, and that you’ll need it off and on for a few weeks. Jereda asks if you need any supplies, or if you’ve brought your own. He offers a quill, an inkpot, and a sheaf of blank parchment for 8gp, in addition to the fee for the room, 1gp/day or 5gp/week.
Jereda then makes you sign his ledger to check out your room. He shows you your room, a drafty, plain cell, about 15ft square, with a window. A couple of inches of powdery snow lie unmelted on the floor and desk. “Bit cold in here during the winter. There’s a lantern on the desk if you plan on staying after dark. Hang on a minute and I’ll seal that window for you. The fat mage says a few words and the outline of a square shimmers over the window, then disappears. The mage brushes the snow off the desk, nods and winks at you, then trundles back down the hall.
After a little over two weeks, when your research is completed, you check out of your room and turn your books back in at the library. Then you make your way back over to Heyrath’s shop, where you close yourself in an office and examine your final costs for the spell.
The next time you check in with Heyrath, you find that a few days ago, he was approached by a band of thugs, who demanded 70gp a month for protection. They said that they would return in three days for their money. After talking with Heyrath about the situation, it would seem that the thugs have the backing of an upstart thieves guild in town. The good news is that you’ve made a bit more profit this month, 250gp. After the mortgage, this only leaves you down by 61gp for two months.
As it turns out, the bookkeeper of former Archbishop Serigan had been a little optimistic in his revenue forecasts. The dwarven work crews have stopped any work until they are paid for the last two weeks of labor.
The Archibishop Hadrigus is toying with the thought of reinstating Pelor’s Faithful, an elite membership of donors who’s favor with Pelor in the afterlife is directly related to the donation tendered toward the cathedral. It’s rumored that St. Cuthbert’s canonization may be related to his large tithing in addition to his moral code.
For the past few weeks, you and some of the other clergy have been working out of the second floor of the Verbobonc Mint. The Mint was kind enough to let the Church use the space until they had rebuilt the offices in the Cathedral. The offices are mostly similar, roughly 10x15 foot rooms with drab mud-colored walls, and a very-well preserved wood floor. Woolen bags of scrolls and official church documents sit on most of the available surfaces. A few wood blocks sit stacked in the corners, with leather cords wrapped around them. The office holds a small writing table and a chair, and a lantern. A metal tube, about three feet high, stands in one corner. All of the rooms have these, and they serve as a way to drop messages or post down to the floor below, a clever invention of the Verbobonc Mint.
Right now, your time is occupied by tedious meetings about church finance and worrying about how to pay for the cathedral’s reconstruction. In return for your dedication, Hadrigus, with the approval of the Matriarch of Dyvers, has raised you from the position of acting bishop to a full bishop, with all of the ranks and responsibilities that go with that role.
In addition, you’ve learned quite a bit about the hierarchy of the church of Pelor across the Flaeness and composed a small monograph on the subject.
The Hierarchy of the Church of Pelor
Archprelate – Head of the Church of Pelor, located in Niole Dra. When the time comes to select a new Archprelate, Patriarchs, select them.
Patriarch – Each region of Greyhawk has a Patriarch. There are 15 regions, each encompassing cities and sometimes entire nations. The regions are called cantons, and emanate out from these cities, which are also the names of the cantons: (Dyvers, Ekbir, Gorna, Greyhawk, Hornduran, Istivin, Leukish, Marner, Nevond Nevnend, Pitchfield, Radigast City, Rel Mord, Schwartzenbruin, Ul-Bakak). Patriarchs are appointed by the Archprelate, and gather twice a year in Rel Mord.
Archbishop – Each large city in each region has an Archbishop. Archbishops are appointed by the Patriarch of each region. Archbishops gather to their region’s chief city twice a year.
Primate – A Primate serves under the Archbishop, as a sort of ‘chief’ bishop, a leader of the other bishops. Primates are appointed by the Archbishop of their city and the Patriarch of the region. They also serve as bishops.
Bishop / Abbot – Bishops preside over small cities, large cities, and metropoli (DMG 137). They are appointed by the Archbishop and Patriarch of their city/region. A bishop can also be appointed to the position of Primate. Bishops are responsible for their churches/cathedrals, and for the oversight of other clergy. Abbots are of the same ecclesiastical rank as bishops, but oversee abbeys and monasteries.
Canon – Canons often oversee smaller churches in a bishop’s city. They also oversee churches in large and small towns (DMG 137). Canons are selected by bishops and have to be approved by a city’s primate.
Priest – Priests serve under canons and bishops/abbots. They don’t have the responsibility of a building to look after, and do much of the day-to-day work, along with performing some services. They are of the same ecclesiastical rank as vicars, and are appointed by bishops.
Vicar – Vicars oversee village and thorp churches or shrines. They are often the only member of the clergy at their church. They are of the same ecclesiastical rank as priests, and are appointed by bishops.
Acolyte – An acolyte is the lowest rank of clergy, and serves at the appointment of any of the higher ranking clergy. Much of the paperwork and chores are performed by acolytes.
You look out at the crowd at the Player’s Inn, after performing, and the crowd is swept up in your tale. Even the serving girls have stopped to listen, dented tankards of ale forgotten in their hands. All eyes are on you as you fall silent. Then, the room bursts into cheering, hands thumping on wooden tables for more. One more set, you decide, picking up your drum. The crowd grows even louder.
Midway through your second set, there’s a bustling in the back as two more onlookers crowd into the packed building. One is tall, stocky man with a large black beard. He wears red robes edged in gold. Etalis! And the other is an older man, a large floppy hat on his head, with a droopy silver-white mustache. It’s that fellow who matched your skill a few weeks ago, singing and performing in the wilderness. They came in together, so they must know each other. They stay near the back of the crowd, frequently leaning in to talk to each other. The older man’s eyes are alight with happiness as he watches you perform.
The second set seems to take forever to end, but the crowd is just as appreciative when you stop. Some of the audience comes up to you, grinning as they press coins into your hands. You can smell the ale and wine strongly from a few. Slowly, the audience take their seats or file out into the cold night. The normally stern innkeeper, Incel Mallethan, beams widely, congratulating you on another full house and brings you a fresh drink, “to keep your voice lubricated,” he says. “You’ve made my inn the most popular place in town, my friend,” Incel tells you, his slight Kingdom accent surfacing. “You’re welcome to perform here anytime, along with room and board at half the rate.” That last part is a bit of a shock to hear, since Incel is known to be a pinchpenny. His face grows serious then, and he puts a hand to his mouth and leans over to you, whispering to you about the two gentlemen at the back of the inn.
Etalis and the older man walk over to join you as Incel is speaking to you. Etalis booms, “Degolar, great act. I trust that you’re still considering application in the College of Concrescent Lore?”. At this, Thom’s mustaches twitch and he drawls, “Of course not, Unojar, he’s coming to study with me, though it looks like I can’t teach him much.”
You wind through the interior halls and corridors, then up the large rear staircase, heading up to the third floor. The Arcane Items level. Oddly, the door is shut. You hear hurried talking inside, then a loud, deep boom, like that of an explosion. A white-blue door of force appears over the normal wooden door. Smoke slowly snakes out between the wooden and force door, rising and filling the abscess between the doors. You hear loud expletives and coughing from inside, high-pitched, probably coming from the resident gnomish artificier, Biskin Sparkleshoot.
After a few seconds, the smoke disspates and the force door’s outlines shimmer, then fade.
“Get some air in here, fool girl, do you want to suffocate us? Well, young Bigby, I hope you’re happy with yourself.” the high-pitched voice says.
The door quickly opens and you can see that the room is in total disarray. A young female human is standing near the door, sooty marks on her face, hands, and clothes. She’s surprised to see you standing at the door and squeaks, and her face flushes in embarrassment. Biskin looks over at the door, his eyebrows and long white beard completely singed and blackened, with a similar sooty blackness covering him.
“Well, let the lad in, Lady Evoker. That spell still needs some work. Go to the library and do a little more research. Come back and see me tomorrow.”
The young girl packs her charred belongings, gathering up what look to be a handful of red-orange glass beads, as well as a couple of spellbooks and component pouches, then hurries out of the room.
“Poor girl. Turns out that not of all of young Bigby’s force spells make good catalysts for fireball beads. Well. What can I do for you, looking to have something crafted, boy? It might take an extra day, as I’ve got to clean up my lab now. Little experiment gone awry here. Now, what can I do for you?”
“Boots, eh? We can probably work that out. You’re a Silver Consortium student, right? Do you want to rent space to craft them, or you want me to do it for you? You know, if you’ve got a few weeks, you can learn how to craft these wondrous items yourself.”
“Well, lets see. Let me check my logbook.” He walks over to one relatively unscathed wooden workbench, where a leather-bound stack of papers lies. He flips through a few pages, crammed with schematic drawings and rushed writing. “Here we are. Yes, I could be persuaded to start right away on the boots. Then, if you want me to have a look at that ring you’re playing with, I can do that too. I can have your boots in a week. The ring will take another week or so. So you’ll be back to normal by the 17th of Readying. Almost normal, your purse will be a bit lighter.
The commotion is coming from one of the horse-stalls inside the barn. The dirt-packed floor inside the barn is frozen under your feet as you walk to the stall. Once there, you see a pregnant horse lying on a pile of fresh straw, while Grissom and one of his apprentices are trying to turn its foal to deliver it.
Grissom must have heard you come in, because he turns slightly and speaks in a gentle voice. “Ahh, Lummox. Glad you’ve come back. Give us a hand.”
A couple of hours later, the new foal is standing on wobbly legs and you have a chance to speak with the kindly animal trainer. He seems excited by the prospect of helping you train your mount and speaks rapidly, his eyes flicking from you to somewhere behind you, as if you’ve brought the griffon with you.
"So, where’s this griffon? Have you made any progress on training him? I’ve never trained a flier before, it’ll be a learning experience for both of us. We may need Reshaph’s help. He’s pretty good with exotic animals, too. How long do you have to stay with us? Usually it takes a month or so to train an animal to ride.”
“Usually, I charge people to train their animals, but you’ll be doing most of the work, I figure. You going to stay here, or in town? Either way, you’re in for some long days. Be here an hour before dawn, and you’ll leave an hour after sunset. Probably best to leave the animal here. And I’ll have to charge you a few nobles for that, and the feed, of course. Might ask Reshaph what griffons eat when you find him. He’s been spending a lot of time in the Dawn Quarter lately. You might try the Familiar’s Roost first. You’ve been to the Roost before, I trust? You need to be able to shapechange into a bird.”
“Oh, you can’t change your own shape? Well. Uhmm.” He scratches his head for a moment.” Wait here for a few minutes, this might work.” He walks quickly back to his cottage from the barn. After a few moments, he emerges, using his homespun cotton sleeve to polish the dust from something he’s holding.
He walks back over and opens his hand to reveal a small silver and emerald bird, its wings stretched in flight. “I traded this off a druid in the Adri Forest when I was a lad. Gave him an old red gem I’d found in the mountains. See, you blow on the bird’s back and it’s wings close. When it’s wings are open, you can say a magic word and it’ll turn you into a green jay. Similar to a blue jay, but with green coloring instead. This little bird will let you into the Familiar’s Roost. After an hour, it’ll wear off. I bet there’s a way to change back, but I could never figure it out. Maybe Reshaph will know. Anyway, bring it back when you’re done with it. I’d hate to lose it.”
Later that day, the sun has thawed the cobbled snowy streets into a slushy mess. It’s a constant effort to dodge out of the way of wagons splashing dirty snow in all directions. You find yourself at the end of Trader’s Road, staring up at a colossal elm tree. All sorts of birds, common and exotic, can be seen in and around the lofty limbs of the tree. Trader’s Road ends here, between the Familiar’s Roost (a cramped inn/tavern that is built around the huge tree.) and the Elven Barracks.
There is no entrance at ground level, that you can see.
You fly up and after twenty feet or so, you can hear people talking inside the foliage. Other birds are perched all over the tree, singing and tweeting musically. There’s a walkway near the tree that leads to smaller platforms where all sorts sit and talk.
Reshaph is talking with a small group of people when you find him. He’s clean-shaven on his cheeks, but wears a long goatee that’s braided and secured to his jerkin with a silver broach in the shape of a twisting vine. He wears worn, muted green broadcloth garments. A few birds are flitting over his party, and many chirp a greeting while winging past.
You only recognize two of the men talking to Reshaph, one is the Viscount Langard, the other, interestingly, is the rogue Illusk. There are two others who you haven’t seen before. One is a scruffy-looking sort, with a short, wispy white beard, a leather vest, and beggar’s rags. The other is a well-dressed man with a closely trimmed goatee. He’s wearing dark red brocade with gold thread and seed pearls, and a leather beret. You only catch a bit of the conversation before the group breaks up.
“It’s agreed then? You’ll remove this object from the city immediately?” says Langard sternly.
“Of course, my Lord. As soon as our business is done at the Chapel of Zilchus. The object is still in the vault, Illusk?” the scruffy, white-bearded man asks.
“Then we are done here.” Langard says, and stands.
The men leave the area, except for Reshaph, who looks directly at you.
“A green bluejay. Not a common bird around here, to be sure. You’ve overheard more than you needed to. He draws a slender wand from his robes and points it at you. Now, come down from that branch and I’ll return you to your normal form. Then we’ll decide what to do with you.”
Reshaph flicks his wand at you and says a couple of words in draconic. You feel a strange swelling and morph back into your normal form.
Reshaph laughs, a deep hearty laugh. “Ah, Friend Lummox. I didn’t know you were a shapeshifter. Well, you might as well know. Your companion Leelu, a buyer has been found for her dragon’s egg. Langard caught wind of the thing being here in the city, and we had to call this meeting to assuage him. Illusk should be contacting her with the rest of the information.
“So, why have you come to see me, friend?” he asks. You explain your talk with Grissom about training your griffon.
“Aye, I’ll help you with your griffon. How long do you have? And the beast’s at Grissoms? Well, usually we’d only be able to train it to do one thing, like hold you and fly. But between the three of us, we should be able to train it faster. And, this is a good excuse for me to catch up with Grissom. And ask him how he came across that curious bird bauble.”
Monday, September 25, 2006
Saturday, September 23, 2006
Friday, September 22, 2006
The babau Chemosh skulks down the bloodied hallway to survey his servants’ handiwork. Two of his hill giants are dead, their eyes glassy and dim. A crowd of kobolds have gathered around. One of the giant mountain trolls also stands nearby, looking on dumbly.
“Already the flies are beginning to buzz in the corridor. Get them out of here,” he rasps.
The kobolds start arguing squeakily in draconic and animatedly pointing at the huge troll, who has just withdrawn his finger from his ear and is sniffing his find. “Me eat?” it thunders questioningly.
Chemosh sighs and begins stalking back down the corridor when another figure, robed in dark rubbery hide, walks out of the darkness. It’s purplish-grey head is mostly cowled, but four slimy tentacles hang down its chest. Chemosh snarls, “Satau. Finally you’ve arrived. Come with me, I need an augury.”
The babau stops suddenly and turns back to the kobolds, who continue arguing loudly. “Entrails,” he says, under his breath. After a few seconds, they stop abruptly as they notice Chemosh and Satau looking at them. “Toffug. Come with me,” Chemosh growls. The kobold Toffug pales visibly and looks wildly at his compatriots, who all suddenly study the giant corpses intently, not making eye-contact with him. Toffug, eyes wide and trembling, shuffles over to the menacing pair. “Don’t worry, Toffug. You want to make Tharizdun proud, don’t you?” the babau grins wickedly.
Chemosh flicks his razor claws and moves down the corridor once again, with Satau and the wild-eyed Toffug in tow.
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Friday, September 15, 2006
Tuesday, September 12, 2006
Oh, by the way, any night is good for DnD for me.
Monday, September 11, 2006
Also, your main characters have had over a month of downtime. I've got four of you done. Aerin and Leelu still remain. When I get all of your little stories done, I'll post them, and you can review them. We can fine-tune as needed, but most of you chose to spend time 'training', so you might get some neat bonuses.
So, tell me your thoughts.