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Achelos Adventure - Achelos Infoby Patrick Sullivan
WARNING: I would not recommend reading this information until you have read through the adventure, so that you can get a feel for the suspense in the adventure. Also, much of this stuff is based on information in B1-9 in the adventure "Elwyn's Sanctuary."
The true story of King Achelos II and Mahmud:
The original Achelos Chardastes travelled forward in time to the year 897 AC, met his distant descendent, the new Queen Darilla, and revealed himself to her. She agreed to "marry" him in a fake ceremony in which he became king. Most of the story of what follows is true as presented in the modern legends.
Achelos did capture Mahmud, and they were both so impressed by one another that they spoke together about their hopes for the future. Achelos introduced Mahmud to his wife, and the two instantly fell madly in love. The two leaders agreed that peace was of the utmost importance, but they argued over who should be in control of the region. They agreed to a chess match to settle the dispute. Achelos was suffering from periodic bouts of insanity, a side-effect of the artifact he used to trave through time, so Mahmud agreed to wait to play until Achelos was better. Mahmud went back to Camp Riverfork and designed the Chess Set, paying for its construction out of his personal fortune. The magic was originally designed to only include the psychic playability, and Mahmud hired a cleric from his hometown to cast Truthtelling on both Mahmud and Achelos, both of whom willingly submitted. However, Chardastes (BTW-anytime I refer to Chardastes, it's Achelos acting as an immortal, not the actual character) bestowed more magic upon the magical item, making it an artifact (thus, Mahmud designed it and directed its creation, but Chardastes changed it to an artifact).
Mahmud sent the Chess Set as a gift to both Achelos and Darilla, and as a means to play their game. They both swore they would receive no outside help, and they played a long, exhausting game until Mahmud finally checkmated the King. The shock of losing caused the insanity to return to Achelos, though not before he and Darilla begged their followers to halt the fighting and surrender, and Darilla knew that the only way to cure him would be to return him to his own time. She ventured alone with the madman into his "stronghold," deep down into the furthest depths of the caves under the Black Peak mountains, finally finding his artifact and sending him back to his own time.
Mahmud, meanwhile, had forced his soldiers to stop attacking the Traladarans and turned instead toward the violent Hattians who attacked his soldiers and the Traladaran villages against orders. He brought some measure of peace to the region, but he was felled by the poisoned crossbow bolt.
In the years since, the Hattians were organised by Ludwig von Hendriks, corrupt officials gained power, and the peaceful potential in the region was destroyed, until the PCs came.
WotI does not fully detail Chardastes, so here is my take on him:
Alignment: Neutral (good)
Followers Alignment: any (no evil). Clerics must be lawful or neutral (good or neutral).
Special Clerical Powers: Clerics of Chardastes can cast a cure light wounds spell once per day, although this is a special power, not a true spell. They also automatically have a healing general skill of proficiency without having to spend a slot. However, they cannot cast any healing spells reversed (ie cause *** wounds, cause blindness, etc.).
Personality: Chardastes is kind, gentle, and peaceful. He is actually ashamed of his behaviour in 900 AC--he thinks he was too intent on blindly defending his homeland, and he feels guilty for this bloodshed. However, he made that decision long ago, and he learned from it, and he tries to alleviate human suffering above and beyond any other goal now. He still favours his followers in the Cruth Lowlands, and he will try to help. However, his attention is focused on the difficulties of Darilla and Mahmud (see below).
Alignment: Chaotic (evil)
Followers alignment: chaotic (evil)
Special Clerical Powers: Clerics of Leptar may use bows and arrows.
History: In life, Leptar was a hideously deformed hill giant with a taste for anything that screamed. He grew very strong, torturing and killing thousands of elves and humans. He finally achieved immortality around the same time as Chardastes, and Leptar considered this an excellent way to hurt even more things. Leptar has been the personal enemy of Chardastes for centuries, because their philosophies are so diametrically opposed. Chardastes once interfered in one of Leptar's torture sessions, and they have been at each others' throats ever since. Leptar, unlike most Entropic immortals, dislikes dark, harsh colours because they upset him. All of Leptar's most faithful servants wear white, yellow, lavender, or a combination. Leptar himself is a huge, fuzzy brute.
These are Mahmud's stats once he reaches immortality and has a little bit of a chance to learn the ropes (when he appears in the final dream).
Game Statistics: Initiate, Sphere of Energy. 1st level Immortal; Str-15, Int-16, Wis-14, Dex-17, Con-11, Cha-18. Powers: Call Other, Enhanced Reflexes, Multiple Attacks, Summon Weapon; AL--L(G).
Followers' alignment: no chaotic (no evil). Clerics must be lawful.
Special Clerical Powers: Clerics of Mahmud have the spell "Truthtelling" (as described in GAZ 2) in their spell choices for level 3 spells. They also receive the general skill, "Leadership" at first level without expending a skill slot.
History: see below
Appearance: as in life, a dashing young Alasiyani warrior, only now he's even bigger and better.
Allies: Thor sponsored Mahmud. Mahmud is also a close ally of Chardastes, and he already has an enemy in Leptar.
Personality: Mahmud is interested primarily in a warrior's code of honour. Unlike Thor, though, Mahmud is more thoughtful and would much rather settle problems peacefully. However, Mahmud feels that it is the duty of the strong to protect those weaker, and he generally is a nice guy.
The Story of Mahmud and Darilla:
Before the arrival of Achelos, Darilla was a young level 9 thief who had just taken the throne. Mahmud was already a level 16 fighter when he came to Traladara, so he had already accumulated quite a personal treasure. By the time he died, he was level 24.
After sending Achelos back into time, Darilla went toward Camp Riverfork to try to be reunited with her one true love. She snuck into the camp disguised as a guard, arriving in the middle of a great peace celebration. When she finally saw Mahmud, she saw an assassin ready to shoot him. She tackled the assassin, but the arrow sped off toward a bystander and Mahmud blocked it, as is told in legends. No magic could bring Mahmud back, so Darilla stole his body in hopes of some day finding a cure. Unbeknownst to Darilla, Leptar had provided the assassin with this extremely strong poison.
Darilla spent the next 50 years on a massive world-spanning quest for the cure for his condition. She found bits of information all over the world that finally pointed in the direction of the answer: homeward. Darilla returned to Traladara, where she was horrified at the plight of her people. She tried to help the Traladarans as best she could, and although she used an alias, the oldest Traldarans would say that she had the gentle touch and the kind face of Queen Darilla herself (Darilla used potions of longevity to mask her age). She investigated a giant realm of subterranean ruins beneath the hills of the Cruth Lowlands. In these ancient halls Darilla had to deal with hideous undead beastmen from before the time of Achelos I. To make things harder, the minions of Leptar were determined to defeat Darilla. She managed to single-handedly hold off both sets of enemies by using her wits, and she finally located the artifact for which she had so long been searching. She finally used the artifact to raise Mahmud, but she was severely weakened by the artifact. As she finally cured her true love, Leptar and his minions burst into the room. Mahmud and Darilla were able to kiss once, then Darilla, cast a spell from a scroll to send her true love and the artifact far, far away.
Mahmud found himself with a strange artifact somewhere he was completely unfamiliar with. He made a long, dangerous journey back to Traladara, then around the world following Darilla's path. He finally returned to Karameikos, where he found the corruption that was rampant. He tried to fight it, duelling many of the most vile perpetrators of these atrocities. He also constantly searched for his beloved. Finally, underground in that same cavern, he found Darilla in a hideous torture device operated by Leptar for pleasure. He duelled the mortal identity of Leptar until he was near death, but finally vanquished his old enemy. Leptar had kept Darilla young (she was more fun to torture that way) so Mahmud drank the potions of longevity he had so that he would be the same age as Darilla. She was still weak, but Mahmud had a terrifying dream of Leptar conquering all of Western Karameikos, so he left Darilla to safely recover while he rode out to deal with the threat. He finally found the leader of the forces of Leptar, Alfaric, a white-robed magic-user in the finale of this adventure. Mahmud won the duel but ended up dying. What he did not know, though, is that he had finally reached immortality. He had completed the Quest of the Path of the Paragon when he found his scimitar, a powerful artifact of Thor. The Trial was completed when he made the psychic chess set (Chardastes' interference did not effect the results). The Testimony of Mahmud is the peaceful relationship between Traladarans and Thyatians that is somewhat begun and that is now able to grow (without Mahmud's efforts, there would be no Thyatians in Western Karameikos at all), and he has had numerous apprentices. The Task was finally completed with the defeat of Alfaric--Mahmud had already duelled plenty of high-level fighters when trying to root out the corruption in the Fury in the West.
Darilla is now a 33rd level thief. She will not reveal herself to anyone for a while, for she does not want Leptar to know her whereabouts. Leptar occasionally talked to himself while torturing her, so she now knows the location of one of his most powerful artifacts, and she plans to destroy it an attempt to end the evil of Leptar. Darilla is on the path of the Epic Hero, under the patronage of Halav. She has already fulfilled her Quest, and, many years ago in her travels, she paid for and provided the materials for an extremely powerful magical arrow, "Evertrue," which has never missed its target yet. After she destroys Leptar's artifact (completing her Trial), she will reveal herself to her people, and Stefan Karameikos will probably give her an official title, possible even Archduchess. At any rate, she will become ruler of the Cruth Lowlands once again and she will train her heir to fulfil the rest of her Testimony. She still does not know what her Task will be, but she should reach immortality in around 10 years. In the mean time, Mahmud has created a mortal identity to allow him to be with her, but she is still in hiding and believes him dead (again), so it will be a while before these star-crossed lovers are finally and permanently reunited.
Alfaric: This 28th level magic-user is the chief agent of Leptar on Mystara. He is cruel and sadistic, and his white robes usually make people think that he MUST be good. He has no ethics whatsoever, and shares his master's love for torture. (NOTE: if using very high-level characters, add a patriarch of Leptar in as Alfaric's accomplice)
Natasha: She is as she seems in the basic description of the are, but it fails to mention that she has one of the Thyatian pawns from the Chess Set in her possession. Thus, though "her words are true," she tries to deceive the characters mercilessly. However, she is not truly evil, she only saw the potential for the greatest profit as coming from Suleiman (she had no idea that Alfaric was the mastermind). She knew some of the basic info about the Chess Set, but there is much more in Mahmud's diary.
Suleiman: He is racist and evil and cruel, but he is not smart enough to plan this himself. Ever since Ludwig von Hendriks fell, Suleiman has taken orders from Alfaric, who seemed to be the best source of possible income.
Lieutenant alJusif: DRAT! I knew I forgot something! Way back when the characters got to Achelos' stronghold, they should find their weapons, equipment, and papers. It all came to the fort, and the rebels raided the fort and found it. Yes, alJusif was lying through his greasy teeth; he was in the pay of Suleiman (who ever would have guessed).
Lino: Lino is actually little more than he seems. He is an 18-charisma man who, although he is thoroughly good, has not yet had the experience to form the right opinions. He wants peace, but, until reading Mahmud's diary, he does not believe that peace is possible with the Fury. He refuses to beg for peace, and he is offended by anything that even sounds like this suggestion (once the characters know that he is Achelos). While the Fury soldiers believe that Achelos would never venture as far south as the Keep, Lino is really very brave, but he needed the PCs to cover his journey back to the high country.
Durlasan: He is basically just a red herring designed to mislead the characters. Durlasan is a strong fighter, but he is not match for Lino in wits or charisma. The party's escort was in fact Traladarans wearing Karameikan uniforms that had just been stripped from the captured company. The abuse of Lino was just a show.
Nizar: He is also basically as he seems in the initial description. He is, at heart, generous and good, but he feels his hands are tied. He cannot show weakness by giving in to Traldaran demands. Nizar will willingly admit that he will grant some concessions to the Traladarans if they ask humbly, but he will not allow them to be forced from him. He and Lino can not come to terms with one another until they have Mahmud's precedent to guide them. And Nizar will only make peace once Suleiman is gone, since Suleiman really runs the show.
Chardastes would have been of more assistance in the adventure, but he was actually physically battling Leptar far away in another part of the multiverse, so he had very little time.
That's all I can think of for now. I know that I left a whole bunch of stuff out, but I don't know what. Please let me know what you think of this adventure.