DM Notes 1.14 (Blackmoor Supplement)
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The player’s take some time to develop their characters and establish some long term plans.
Bryony Lac Duffort is the only descendant to the Lord of the Lac Duffort estate - a moderately sized holding that in the absence of a legitimate heir will fall to the Duke of Mundy. Because Bryony is approaching the age of thirty, if she remains unmarried she will legally be an Old Maid and regardless of the child the land will become forfeit.
Mundy has already promised the lands and is not keen to see them snatched away, or at least entangled in legal complications. Mundy is old fashioned and believes that Lac Duffort should have sought his blessing on the marriage and so it is expected that one of his champions will challenge any suitor to a duel to the death. Of course Mundy is agreeable to giving permission should the suitor win, however his champion has slain many before this.
As the duel and wedding day approaches there is another complication - a woodland gnome delivers a brown nut to Tinian congratulating him on becoming a father.
The Last Wizards
Clarys receives a visit from three wizards, Coldwind, Egrette and Valance - they are the only remaining practicing magicians taking apprentices in the city and they are leaving as they feel threatened and unable to attract new talent thanks to the efforts of the Inquisition. Whilst they are gone (which may be indefinitely) they ask Clarys to look after their libraries and laboratories.
They have some suspicions about The Inquisition and might be persuaded to stay and explain but only if the Mollies can offer some protection. If they stay then they will explain that one of their number, Egrette had an apprentice named Paley. Now Lord Paley, the pupil became a wizard of some talent and used his ability to gain advantage in court. He was already the seventh son of a minor noble and knew how to conduct himself, however his new found skills meant that he was able to excel and his peers could not compete.
In his rapid climb he made too many enemies and they were able to exile him from court, he now lives his life in seclusion on his estates far to the north west. The wizards believe that a group of senior nobles that they have named The Cabal founded The Inquisition as a means to prevent the advancement of any other nobles through magic and to discredit the practice in general. They believe that The Cabal, in recruiting a Witchfinder General named Tinderfoot may have started something that was too large to control.
Now that force of The Inquisition is petering out as the funding dries up. Nevertheless the wizards know that the Cabal is still active and believe that it is seeking their destruction.
If safe haven is offered to the magicians then a gang of hired thugs will attempt to kill them or drive them from town, amongst them will be a few veterans looking to get a scalp.
Amongst the thugs, a Mind flayer has insinuated itself - the cowled figure has been paid to try and assassinate the wizards. It will flee using Plane Shift if there is a risk however.
The Doleful Return
Gark undertakes a long trip back to Hjalmarhjem his family home in the company of two dwarf kin. The journey takes him through the wild heart of Caister and in a land of canyons and rocky defiles they are prey to giant spiders, Ettercaps and Driders.
Reaching the Long stair mountains the heroes climb high before descending down into the heart of the mountain. Here they hear that winter has risen and hunts the mountains above.
High in the mountains, a flock of Harpies have trained grasping vines giving them a terrible strategy. Charming their prey they lure them to the side of a clifftop where the vine, hanging down in a curtain from the edge lashes out and attempts to drag them over the edge. Targets must make a Strength save DC 12 each round or be dragged over the edge. Then they may make a Dex save DC 12 to grab hold of the vines and avoid falling. If they fall then they will be dashed onto the rocks below (15d6 damage) where the Harpies will feast on them and drop morsels to their carnivorous pets.
At Hjalmarhjem Gark is greeted fairly warmly as one of many of this far flung and extensive family - there is no great ceremony, merely a paying of respects and an exchange of news. The shattered glaive is looked upon with some interest as it is an artifact of some power from many centuries ago. It can be repaired by the family weaponsmith and he is keen to do so.
The North Wind
This +2 Glaive is an ancient weapon crafted by humans and long since passed from common knowledge. The weapon was destroyed by the great dragon, Winter and it’s shattered remains passed into the hoard of one of her offspring. When attuned to the weapon the wielder is immune to fear effects and once per day can invoke feather fall and their strength goes up by two to a maximum of 24. Once attuned however the wielder will also discover that whenever they are further than five feet from the sword then they gain a level of exhaustion, recovering it when they return to it. Finally, the sword is a Jealous Blade and does a bonus +3d6 slashing damage on hitting anyone that has ever de-attuned to it.
Before casting aside their slain vessel, Ynogol gave the hapless goblin one final gift - he has returned as a revenant determined to find the Mollies and take his revenge. First to be found on a wet and lonely night is Tinian.
Liberty was an ancient library that is now the lair of The Ice Queen, a powerful beholder magus that carefully hoards her arcane secrets whilst controlling a wide network of spies and agents in both Elverton and Blackmoor. Occasionally she likes to lure inquisitive arcanists into her lair so that she can enslave them and take their spells and secrets. Having heard about Clarys' success she has set out to add her to the collection.
The Ice Queen takes care to use Alter Self to hide her true appearance, usually she appears as a beautiful vampire sorceress with icy motifs. She uses domination where she must but many of her servants willingly serve out of respect. Amongst her most powerful assistants are three mind flayers, each an arcanist and each ready to travel Wunderland and Blackmoor in her service.
Clarys is approached by an agent for a fence interested in selling her an interesting trinket. The fence is Blind Zac, a fairly well known moneylender, pawnbroker and fence operating out of Tinton. He says that he has a key and a map that according to the vendor used to provide access to one of the lower levels of Liberty, directly into the book stacks. The existence of the key is secret and they must not speak of it lest word of it gets back to the Ice Queen herself. If questioned closely (enchanted or intimidated) about the source then he will describe a tall gent who wore a hood and mask and spoke with a foreign accent. If pressed further he will admit that the vendor specifically mentioned Clarys as a possible buyer.
The vendor has told Blind Zac that he will be in touch in a week to see if there has been a sale and take his share. In fact Blind Zac is being watched by the vendor through a peephole from the floor above. He knows that if this is revealed then it will put everyone in the room in danger so he will not say anything even if charmed.
The meeting is being watched by a group of the local Right Folk, The Tin Men. They are interested to see if The Mollies are doing business on their turf and are likely to confuse things if there is a fight.
Once the party have the key The Ice Queen's spies must make sure that they are not warned off from entering Liberty. This tactic has been used in the past and did not end well - that expedition was never heard of. The idea that the key is secret might serve to stop questions being asked but if the party seek more then the agents might act. They will begin by intimidation and there are a couple of Githzerai mercenaries in the bar to reinforce this and to take the attention away from the halfling Mage that will use charm person to persuade locals to keep quiet.
If the party are able to question any of the older citizens of Elverton then they might discover that a party led by a wizard claimed to have an identical key and map to Liberty and their expedition never returned, this was about twenty years ago.
The key and map provide access to the scriptorium and dormitories once used by the librarians rather than the library proper. The Ice Queen has separated the two so that whilst there are hidden windows looking down from parts of the Library into the trap room, there is no access (without changing form into something the size of a sparrow).
The door is an ancient copper slab, bright green with verdigris and hidden beneath a cascade of ferns and ivy. A tracker might be able to determine that the door has been opened recently and the tracks concealed (survival DC 17). The key fits the lock and the door opens fairly easily though a light cascade of rubble has been carefully placed to convince anyone that this has been a long time unused.
Within the scriptorium efforts have been made to make it appear to be a library. The complex comprises an antechamber that opens out into a central circulation space and beyond that the writing rooms. To the left there are dormitories and to the right there are storerooms, kitchens and other rooms supporting the monastic life of a scribe over a hundred years ago.
Most of the large spaces have been set up to look like a library but the effect is more as a storage space for junk some of which includes books and reams of mouldy parchment but a good portion is just random kibble that fills the space. If this was ever a library then something strange has happened to it.
In the centre of the largest scriptorium space has been cleared to make room for an enormous steel chest. The chest itself is clearly either fixed to the floor or full of extremely heavy materials. To one side the massive mound of books, papers and crap that has been pushed aside covers a clay golem that crouches awaiting instructions. Above through a grill in the ceiling is a chamber within Liberty and here once of the Mind Flayer Arcanists watches the scene below.
The mind Flayer has a wand of healing that permits it to prevent defeated targets from dying, the intention is for the golem with the mind Flayer to defeat the party and then take them prisoner - the non wizards to be used as leverage on those that are able to transcribe known spells. The Ice Queen does not necessarily intend to kill the entire party but they will have to negotiate hard to get away.
Wand of Healing With five charges the wand can be used to cast any of these effects at a range of 30': Spare the dying, 1 charge, Healing word (1d4+4) 2 charges, Mass healing word (1d4+4) 4 charges. If the fifth charge is used then roll a d20, on a one the wand is destroyed. Each day the wand recovers 1d3 charges.
The party has already explored this entrance many months ago, and found a locked door in a drowned basement. Returning to this entrance and the river has flooded since last time making gaining entrance a little more difficult. Once into the flooded basement it will be clear that there is not going to be a lot of loot to recover. In the dark, the vaulted basement has rotted down to the crumbling brickwork, however there is limited access eventually to the main book stacks of the library.
The Myconids are still present in the valley before gaining access to the river. If the meeting is peaceful and the party present the spores from the refuge of Master of Galleons then they will be extremely grateful and present the players with a potion of waterbreathing. If, on the other hand things get aggressive they will have a Myconid Chuul to deal with.
Within the basement the river has flooded creating a difficult swimming task (DC 15) to get into the space beneath. Failure will mean a strength check (DC 12) to avoid being carried into a submerged tunnel where drowning will begin. Getting out again is the same strength check and pulling someone out requires a swim and strength check.
The flooding has also caused the steel door to be pushed open and access into the watery cellars is now a simple swim through. At one time the cellars held overflow books and supplies but they have been long since flooded and rotted down to nothing, clear water now laps waist deep up to the barrel vaulted walls. Wooden doors and partitions have also rotted away leaving an open space with pillars supporting the weight of the library above.
The process of decay has been helped by the relentless stirring of the waters by a water elemental conjured here as a precaution by the Ice Queen.
Because of the waist deep water, every attack that hits requires a Str DC 15 save or the target is prone and drowning.
At the far end of the open space is a small chamber, at one time a furnace but now the chimneys are repurposed as a midden, and in here there are other living creatures. A shrieker colony occasionally lets out a very human sounding scream and if the water becomes agitated by a fight with the water elemental, it will continuously scream for help in all too human way. Small ice floes escape from the room where a brown mould has colonised the base of the midden all around the fringes of the Otyugh that has settled into the fireplace.
The chimney rises up through the library and whilst it is not passable to anyone of medium size, a small creature can climb up and get access to the hypercausts that run under library floors or through the fireplaces that are now used as toilets. The heat was used to keep the library dry and the floor space beneath the tiled floors is generally sealed to what lies above. Time has led to some cracks and openings however and sight of The Ice Queen in her natural form might be possible. The toilets provide access to the second and third floors if someone can be small enough to climb the chimney and brave the spiders that scuttle about down there.
The entrance to Liberty is under a grand door at the top of a broad flight of stairs, looking like a municipal building of some grand city. There walls to either side have been swamped by a scree slope of collapsed masonry and the fractal arches supporting the ceiling above.
The library proper is staffed by the Librarians, clad in cowled habits with masks they have undertaken a vow to remain hidden from sight and to speak as little as possible. This permits the Ice Queen to move amongst them unnoticed in an altered humanoid form and for her to employ any number of denizens. All of the Librarian’s are arcanists and some of them are monstrous.
The library is divided across five floors going down deeper into the book stacks. They are connected by a central atrium that is capped by a great domed room, decorated with a beautiful fresco depicting an ancient forgotten goddess gifting man the knowledge of writing. The books here are well ordered and carefully maintained by the librarians, with magical and precious works in the lowest level under the gaze of the Ice Queen.
Throughout the library there are icons and statues such that every location has at least one pair of eyes looking into it - the Ice Queen is able to perceive her domain through the eyes and constantly flicks her gaze across them. A careful study of some of these works might notice that the gaze of the portrait is not always fixed but can vary slightly if studied again. Unless the players can enter invisibly or remain hidden then they will almost certainly be noticed (Perception +22).
The Ice Queen spends much of her time as a humanoid, that of a beautiful human sorceress when she is facing clients or enemies - she rarely reveals her true form and will use Modify memory to help any witnesses forget her true nature. The library holds many secrets magical and profane, including 1d3 copies of every spell below level 3 as a scroll, 1d2 of each at levels 4-5 and a 50% chance of each spell at level 6 and 7. The arcane library itself would permit research into spells up to level 7 and there are chests full of folios waiting to receive new spells from any hostages that can be persuaded to remain as a librarian under a Geas.
Should the party manage to impersonate librarians then they will need to pull off a perform skill check (Cha DC 12) each time they meet another librarian - if they fail then they will need a Deception check opposed by the librarian’s Insight. Librarians that notice might not do anything immediately, preferring to raise the alarm subtly before challenging the imposters.
Having evaded the trap, the Ice Queen is forced to take Clarys a little more seriously, she recognises that the elf is not as weak as she had anticipated and cannot simply be captured and compelled. Instead she will try and compel the elf to obedience by taking Zorax as hostage and requiring her to transcribe her spell book to secure his survival.
The Gnome is a public figure and capturing him is not too difficult, however he is extremely resourceful and holding onto him is less straight forwards. Within a few hours a bat delivers a note to the party it reads.
"I am choosing to remain in this comfortable cell until you can hurt this bitch sufficiently to persuade her never to try this again. You can pass amongst her librarians unnoticed if you can keep your traps shut, take a look. I can probably make a lot of smoke near to the cells. If that is useful - I'll do it when I hear a bell ringing. You've got three days and then I'm out of here."
The Ice Queen's offer is to return the Gnome after Clarys has transcribed every spell in her spell book, to be confirmed by one of her librarians. She will provide the folios and inks - all that she asking for is a little of the elms time.