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Secrets of Alphaks' Volcanoby Rodger Burns
Alphaks' Volcano is more than just a lair for Mystara's favorite overconfident Entropic Immortal and his followers. Alphaks is too clumsy a schemer for his (many) enemies to leave such a large strongpoint untroubled for so long... unless, of course, it's more than it seems. Which naturally is the case - Alphaks' Volcano not only has followers and weapons stockpiled by its patron Immortal, but many other hidden surprises which might pose a threat to any invading force and which have dissuaded most of Alphaks' enemies and rivals from mounting an all-out assault against the Volcano. Some of these secrets are things that lay hidden beneath the Volcano until Alphaks laid claim to it, others are treasures that Alphaks has managed (by recklessness and luck) to claim, and brought to the Volcano. Not all of them are on Alphaks' side, but most will be a danger to his enemies. As a result, he's allowed to keep his hold on the Volcano uncontested. For now.
THE LURKERS IN THE DARK
The upper tunnels and warrens of Alphaks' Volcano are literally teeming with lesser undead - mostly zombies, ghouls, wights and mummies, creatures that can be easily controlled and herded by the clerics of Alphaks who reside in the city of Revenge. These undead have been slowly raised up over the course of a century or more, and are intended as cannon-fodder troops in the event of an Alphatian invasion of the island; Alphaks and his followers consider them as disposable as spell scrolls or crossbow bolts. What they've failed to realize, though, is that a huge mass of lesser undead makes an excellent hiding place for other, greater undead - which may venerate one of Alphaks' Entropic rivals, and which don't necessarily wish Alphaks well.
Armor Class: -3
Hit Dice: 16*** - 18*** (L)
Move: 120' (40')
Attack: 1 touch/1 tail or special
Damage: 2d6 + double energy drain/3d10 or special
No. Appearing: 1 (1d3)
Save As: F16-18
Treasure Type: F + special (see text)
XP Value: 5150, 5450 or 6125
A very few members of the ancient kopru race have been infected with the curse of vampirism - changing them into undead beings and enhancing their already-prodigious strength and mesmeric abilities.
Abilities of Vampiric Kopru: Vampiric kopru are unaffected by sleep, charm and hold spells and can only be hit by weapons of +2 or better enchantment. A vampiric kopru may take the form of a kopru, a giant draco lizard, a giant lamprey (as giant leech, but double swim speed) or a gaseous cloud at will. Each change takes 1 round.
Whatever its form, a vampiric kopru regenerates 3 hit points per round, starting as soon as it is damaged. If a vampiric kopru is reduced to 0 hit points it does not regenerate, but becomes gaseous and flees to its polyp. A vampiric kopru can be turned as a spirit.
In giant lizard or giant lamprey form, the vampiric kopru's move, attacks and damage are those of the animal. The vampiric kopru's AC, hit dice, morale and saving throws remain unchanged. In gaseous form, a vampiric kopru cannot attack, but can fly at a speed of 180' (60') and is immune to all weapon attacks.
In kopru form, a vampiric kopru can attack by gaze or by touch and tail, or can summon other creatures. The vampiric kopru's touch attack drains 2 levels of experience in addition to damage; its tail attack does not drain experience levels but can pin an opponent, allowing an automatic hit during the next combat round unless the opponent makes a save vs. wands. The vampiric kopru's gaze can charm; victims meeting the gaze can attempt to save vs. spells to avoid the charm at a -4 penalty.
A vampiric kopru can choose to designate one creature charmed by it as its thrall. This ability combines its vampiric charm with the domination powers inherent to the kopru. A vampiric kopru's thrall is utterly devoted to its master, acting in the master's best interests in every way; the thrall's every thought and memory are known to the vampiric kopru. A thrall can attempt to save vs. charm only once each game month, and must make two successful saves in a row to throw off the charm; if one save is successful but the other is not, the charm reasserts itself and the thrall remains under its master's control. Finally, a vampiric kopru with a living thrall can never be destroyed by clerical turning, only turned; treat any result of 'D' on the turn chart as a 'T' instead. Vampiric kopru can sense when a cleric has attempted to destroy them with turning power, and may choose to assume gaseous form in order to make the cleric think that the vampiric kopru was destroyed.
The vampiric kopru may summon any of the following types of creatures, which will come to its aid if they are within 300 feet (300 yards outdoors):
- Insect Swarms (2-5)
- Stirges (6-36)
- Giant Locusts (3-30)
- Giant Lizards (3-18)
- Sharks (2-12)
A vampiric kopru may attempt to turn other kopru into vampires, but cannot convert beings of other races to vampirism. A non-kopru humanoid killed by a vampiric kopru returns to life as a wight after 1d4+1 days.
Weaknesses of Vampiric Kopru:
Like other vampires, vampiric kopru cannot come within 10 feet of a strongly presented holy symbol, casts no reflection and cannot abide direct sunlight. They are repelled by the odor of caraway as well as garlic. Vampiric kopru must maintain coral polyps to rest in during the day; these are similar to the coffins of normal vampires, but are composed of gemstone-quality coral worth at least 5,000 gp per polyp (and so are rarer and harder to maintain than a typical vampire's coffin). A vampiric kopru can cross running water, but cannot travel under the open sky (even underwater, or at night) except in animal or gaseous form.
One additional special weakness of vampiric kopru only applies when attempting to turn another kopru into a vampire. If the kopru victim has a charmed servitor when turned into a vampire, the existing bond between kopru and servitor backlashes - the servitor becomes instantly aware of what has happened to its master, is freed from the kopru's domination, and becomes obsessed with destroying both the new vampiric kopru and the vampire that created it. The former servitor is immune to energy drain attacks and charm attacks from both the new vampire and its sire, and always knows its former master's location. The former servitor's obsession can only be ended by a wish spell, the death of the servitor, or the destruction of the new kopru vampire and its creator.
The vampiric kopru dwelling in the tunnels of Alphaks' Volcano all share a common heritage. The oldest members of their bloodline are former nobility of the domain of Adhuza, rescued from the declining remnant of that ancient kingdom by the Immortal Fiend Xithaqua and granted eternal unlife in return for faithfully serving her interests on Mystara and furthering the cause of Entropy. Xithaqua was a cautious mistress, as Immortal Fiends go, and her servants prospered and added to their number - however she was overcome by her enemies among the Immortals several centuries ago and has not been heard of since. The majority of her plots and servants have been claimed (mainly by force, timing and audacity) by one of Xithaqua's greatest rivals - Orcus, the would-be Prince of the Undead.
Orcus is many things, but to his vampiric kopru servants he is first and foremost a less trusting and more capricious master than Xithaqua. Though hundreds of years have passed since Xithaqua's presumed destruction, Orcus is still not inclined to grant any independence to her former servants - they are contacted by their dread Prince or one of his servants, given a mission to complete, and then expected to return to seclusion in some suitable hideout (the upper tunnels of Alphaks' Volcano are but one of about a dozen such locations) until needed. There's understandably little goodwill between the vampiric kopru and their patron, but things are unlikely to change anytime soon - Orcus's goodwill, faint as it is, is the only thing presently standing between the vampiric kopru and extinction.
Orcus's plotting does have one notable flaw, though. He believes that by forcing his kopru servants to remain hidden in Alphaks' Volcano - right next to the main lair of one of his most powerful and least subtle enemies - he can insure that the vampiric kopru don't get into any mischief. This might have been true once, but is certainly no longer the case - the vampiric kopru who dwell in Alphaks' Volcano know their home ground and their neighbors well enough to believe they have a bit of room to scheme. (Decades-long stretches of boredom are also a powerful incentive to act out.) Most of the vampiric kopru dwelling below Alphaks' Volcano are quietly and cautiously working to advance some plan, few of which would meet with Orcus's approval, and many of which are likely to ensnare outsider adventurers. A selection of the more ambitious vampiric kopru and their plots are as follows:
- Zaalkak: Most of the vampiric kopru are convinced that their original patron, Xithaqua the Howler, is dead or else permanently banished. Zaalkak is an exception - one of the first kopru turned to vampirism by Xithaqua, he maintains a fanatical faith in his dread mistress and is intent on trying to enable her return. His actions towards this end include trickery, coercion, and outright villainy - whenever he gets the chance, he charms human pawns into setting up entropic cults dedicated to Xithaqua's worship and arranges blood sacrifices to her glory. Zaalkak has also been known to bribe or threaten lesser wizards into researching rituals of unbinding, and to smuggle spell scrolls of summoning or fell communion into libraries and scriptoriums for the unwary to stumble upon. All of Zaalkak's efforts to date have yielded little fruit, but he remains determined... leaving him at the center of a web of evil that could spawn new threads almost anywhere on Mystara.
- Taziktha: One of the youngest vampiric kopru residing in Alphaks' Volcano, Taziktha is especially confident and aggressive, and has little respect for the minions of Alphaks that dwell below. She has recently taken a notion to claiming one of Alphaks' servants as her thrall - something she knows will be difficult, but to her mind not an insurmountable challenge. Taziktha has begun seeking out magical means to enhance stealth, weaken an enemy's will and separate a potential target from allies; she will also be open to assisting outside parties seeking to explore or invade Alphaks' Volcano. (Of course, her aim in providing such assistance is to weaken and distract Alphaks' servants while she claims a thrall, so parties who are infiltrating in order to steal a treasure or rescue a prisoner might find themselves betrayed to some of Alphaks' followers, in order to start a fight...)
- Zkaktin: None of the vampiric kopru in service to Orcus have much love for their master or his lieutenants, but Zkaktin in particular has a grudge for one of Orcus's most favored servants, a Groaning Fiend named Nalgathga. For the past several centuries, ever since Nalgathga's directions sent Zkaktin's most favored associate and protege to her death, Zkaktin has plotted on ways to destroy the more powerful entropic being. Whenever he gets the chance while out in the greater world, he seeks to spread chaos and commit atrocities in Nalgathga's name, using illusion magics (when available) and more mundane deceptions (where necessary) to blacken Nalgathga's name and hopefully convince human heroes to attempt to kill the fiend. He also looks for evidence that other Entropic immortals are seeking new converts or minions and tries to as subtly as possible bring such instances to Nalgathga's attention - in the hopes of convincing the fiend to turn traitor to Orcus and bring down the elder Immortal's wrath. All of Zkaktin's schemes, of course, are spun without any concern for the danger or suffering inflicted upon mortal bystanders - it's an open question whether the greater good is served by stopping Zkaktin for good, or helping him to bring about his aims as quickly as possible.
- Ktizarrk: As one of the more bloody-minded of the vampiric kopru, Ktizarrk is more inclined than his fellows to take direct action and use brute force to accomplish his goals - something that recently backfired on him. About fifteen years ago, Ktizarrk was sent on a mission to spread corruption and civil strife within the undersea city of Aquas... and failed miserably, getting many of Orcus's mortal cultists killed and barely escaping with his (un)life. Though he's been confined to Alphaks' Volcano since that time, Ktizarrk still desires revenge - and he's been working as well as he's able to assemble an army of velya, shark-kin mummified in kelp strands, zombified sea giants, and other controllable undead to attack the underwater city. Sooner or later, he thinks, he'll be able to slip his leash and lead the attack he desires, and then he'll have his vengeance in full.
- Dzalikhe: Most of the vampiric kopru in service to Orcus believe that they can have no other Immortal patron. Their actions over the long centuries, on behalf of Xithaqua as well as Orcus, have been to the detriment of other Entropic Immortals as often as non-Entropics, to the point where no Immortal able to oppose Orcus seems likely to intercede on the behalf of any vampiric kopru who attempt to switch masters. Dzalikhe, though, is an exception - she has slowly come to believe that the Immortal Nyx would be willing, if properly approached, to accept Dzalikhe's allegiance and prevent her immediate destruction by a vengeful Orcus. Making contact with Nyx is no easy matter, though, and so Dzalikhe wants to acquire something to prove her worth - a candidate for Immortality, poached away from one of the other Spheres and converted to Entropy's allegiance. In order to achieve this aim, Dzalikhe has begun spreading rumors among Alphatian heroes and adventurers of the notables of Revenge and the treasures that lie beneath - she hopes that a Paragon or Epic Hero will come to Alphaks' Volcano, where she can hopefully enthrall them, convince them to become a lich and then be presented to Nyx.
- Azhakdin: One of the most patient and resourceful of the vampiric kopru, Azhakdin came into possession about a century ago of something rare and valuable - a chunk of Helheim Blood Onyx the size of a doubled fist. This rare outer-planar mineral absorbs and stores entropic energies, which can be released to fell effect by those with sufficient knowledge; the Blood Onyx in Azhakdin's possession has enough power to animate a small army of lesser undead. However, Azhakdin has no intention of using his prize frivolously - he has calculated that if unleashed in just the right way in a place already strong in Entropic taint, the Blood Onyx's power could be magnified a hundredfold and create an entire nation of undeath. Azhakdin's current preferred location for such a cataclysm is the Land of Black Sands in Ethengar, though the Spire of Bleeding Bones in central Davania, the Mount of Worms in eastern Jen, or the Blasted Throne in the Arm of the Immortals would serve almost as well.
Fortunately for the rest of Mystara, Azhakdin's plotting is far from complete - he still needs to research and perfect the web of rituals needed to properly unleash the power of his Blood Onyx, assemble a network of spellcasters to enact his scheme, and arrange suitably bloody distractions for any heroes and Immortal servants likely to intervene.
THE STENCH OF DISTANT WINDS
The enormous, intermittent gate to the outer plane of Pyts that stretches across the main volcanic shaft of Alphaks' Volcano is by far the best-known planar portal of the island... but it's by no means the only one. Long before Alphaks discovered the Volcano or even contemplated becoming Immortal, the island was home to a rare and unusual elemental vortex - one not connected to Elemental Air or Fire, but an interdimensional vortex terminating in the plane of Miasma, the Nightmare Dimension's equivalent of Elemental Air. The heart of this vortex was sundered long ago by Alphaks - who used its remnants as raw materials to create the more reliable and more useful (to his mind, at least) gate to Pyts. Fragments of the old connection to Miasma still exist, though, hidden down unlit tunnels and within forgotten caverns, and offer both danger and opportunity to visiting mortals.
The most common threat posed by Miasma vortices is the intermitten emanation of raw miasma. Like all substances from the Nightmare dimension, raw miasma is poisonous in sufficient quantity and can be fatal to Normal dimension natives. Raw elemental miasma has an additional danger, though - even when diffused into normal air, it can attack and damage the senses if inhaled, causing both unusual hallucinations and unexpected blind spots. Fortunately, raw miasma is very easy to recognize - it carries with it an overpowering, ever-changing stench that's difficult to tolerate and impossible to ignore. The servants of Alphaks dwelling in Revenge have gradually learned of most of the more common locations for pockets of raw miasma to appear, and sometimes amuse themselves by releasing hapless prisoners into places thick with miasma, to see how they react to its perception-altering effects. The fact that their victims in such amusements might take the chance to escape has never occurred to them...
Miasma vortices can also sometimes disgorge various forms of small elemental creatures into the depths of Alphaks' Volcano. These beasts are little more than vermin, and soon perish in the alien environment of the Normal dimension, but while present can be quite dangerous to unprepared explorers. A few of the residents of Revenge have been curious and bored enough to catalog the creatures that have emerged from the Nightmare vortexes - they have identified the most common visitors as 'glider rats', 'stench snakes', 'blight wasp swarms' and 'shudder locusts'. While none of these creatures are in any way related to their Normal dimension counterparts, their bodies and general capabilities are close enough to justify the names. Most Miasmal vermin can fly, all are poisonous to Normals, and some have additional unique capabilities - such as the Wisdom-sapping engulfment attack of a blight wasp swarm. Miasmal vermin are usually cordoned off or hunted down with fire and magic by Revenge's residents, but sometimes appear just in time to pose a threat to outsider explorers.
Of more interest to the inhabitants of Revenge are the Miasma vortices that are capable of spitting out joltspark, the Nightmare equivalent of lightning. Joltspark behaves much as lightning does, but is multicolored and flies in curved, spiraling bolts; on contact with any solid matter it discharges a focused burst of kinetic energy, sending the contacted object flying. For smallish objects (such as human bodies) this usually sends the entire person flying; larger targets such as stone outcroppings or wooden walls may be ripped apart or shredded by the sudden discharge of momentum. Joltspark can be trapped and held in abeyance in a liquid medium (such as a flask of water, skin or barrel of vinegar); once trapped, it will stay in place indefinitely. A few of Alphaks' servants have managed to contain bursts of joltspark, but they've yet to figure out any suitable use for their prizes - the best idea to date is use them as bait in a trap (setting up some sort of mechanism that spills the liquid and releases the joltspark) though this has difficulties with managing the proper aim.
The last Miasmal vortex of note is a fragment that's actually large enough to pass man-sized beings. This vortex opening isn't natural - it was apparently stitched together within the past three or four decades by residents of the Nightmare dimension known as the dakourii, or 'gossamer soldiers'. These strange beings - apparently the Nightmare equivalent of aerial servants - are grim, ruthless and rigorously focused and regimented; they are powerful enough to survive in the Normal dimension without being instantly poisoned, and consider Alphaks' servants (and by extension, all humanity) to be alien foes who can't be negotiated with. The dakourii have complete control over the vortex they created, and can either bar it to prevent investigation from the Normal dimension or open it to send through raiding parties. However, for the moment control of the vortex is all they possess - the inhabitants of Revenge dominate everything beyond, and they have prepared well for the gossamer soldiers' attacks.
The dakourii's vortex opens onto an area in Revenge that Alphaks' servants have somewhat sarcastically dubbed 'the Armory'. It is, of course, uninhabited - a dedicated garrison post - and has been steadily reshaped over the years via magical means until it serves as the most elaborate death-trap the servants of Alphaks can envision. The vortex itself lies in a small cavern packed with dozens of alarm-wards, magical spell-traps and latent summoning-glyphs; the only exit is into a cramped maze of tunnels with almost as many traps as well as a small squadron of patrolling golems. About five years ago, the gossamer soldiers managed to assemble a raiding force that was equipped with powerful dispelling wands; after beating it back with raw force the residents of Revenge made sure to supplement their defences with intricate nonmagical traps, even going so far as to kidnap one of Denwarf-Hurgon's foremost stonemasons to serve as an involuntary consultant. (The stonemason still remains in Revenge as a prisoner, and Alphaks' servants believe they've gotten away with their scheme. What they don't know is that their captive's foremost apprentice is about to marry into the royal family of Stoutfellow, and may soon have much greater influence to arrange an investigation and rescue effort.) Beyond the tunnels lie treasure-vaults where weapons and magical items taken off the bodies of dead dakourii are stored. The most common items here are lances forged from blackflame and vischor - some of Alphaks' servants have vague plans to fit ballistas with these to use against intruders, but for now they remain in storage.
Gossamer Soldier (Dakourii)
Armor Class: 0 to -4 (see text)
Hit Dice: 16**
Move: 540' (180') flying
Attack: 1 lance or 4 tendrils
Damage: 3d8+6 or 1d4+2/1d4+2/1d4+2/1d4+2
No. Appearing: 1 (1d6)
Save As: C15
Treasure Type: Nil or Special
XP Value: 4,050
A gossamer soldier, or dakourii as they refer to themselves, is a native of Nightmare. Most of its body is composed of Miasma - the Nightmare equivalent of elemental Air - and so is extraordinarily mutable and can reshape itself to fit the dakourii's needs. The core of the dakourii is a dense and heavily muscled sphere, surrounded by hundreds of thin but extraordinarily tough tendrils which can either be left free-floating or woven together to make impromptu wings, gas-bags, or manipulating tentacles. Like most elemental beings, gossamer soldiers can fly at incredible speeds, turn on a time or even hover in midair should they need to.
When summoned by a diabolus cleric, a gossamer soldier is only capable of defending an area against intruders and warning its master of trespassers, and can't make attacks. On its own, though, a dakourii is a capable combatant - able to attack up to four times per round with tendril strikes or lift a single giant-sized lance or similar polearm weapon. A dakourii's attacks are normally at +2 "to-hit" and its Armor Class is -2, but it can vary its stance as needed - reducing its AC by 1 or 2 points in order to get a corresponding bonus to attack rolls, or vice versa. Experienced gossamer soldiers will often be found carrying weapons made of purified vischor (which can paralyze non-elemental creatures) or blackflame (which can inflict wounds unable to be healed by magic). Gossamer soldiers can only be harmed by spells or magic weapons. If a dakourii is attacked with a melee or missile weapon by an enemy that the dakourii itself hasn't yet attacked, there's a 25% chance that the dakourii's foe is subject to a confusion effect for 1d6+4 rounds (as per the magic-user spell, a save vs. spells is allowed to negate the effect).
Plane of Miasma: On their home plane, dakourii organize themselves into strictly-regimented enclaves, self-sufficient, well-armed and deeply suspicious of all outsiders. Their enemies are the khiimorin and the lhetenya; they are vulnerable when faced with vischor-type creatures and environments.
Aside from the short-term dangers of miasmal vermin, joltspark, and gossamer soldiers, there's one more potential threat posed by the miasmal vortices beneath Alphaks' Volcano. Exposure to raw elemental miasma can damage not just living creatures, but also Mystara's Skyshield - and while diffusing miasma in normal air reduces its chance to harm living creatures, even diffused miasma can make pinprick holes in the Skyshield. The Immortal Palartarkan has been one of those most involved in monitoring this damage and sealing holes that seem likely to widen, and he's made some calculations about worst-case scenarios. He believes that Alphaks might just have the capability to open up all the vortices simultaneously and have them start ejecting concentrated miasma - something that could rip a hole in the Skyshield over Alphatia the size of a small city. Palartarkan's quietly shared his speculations with Razud and other Immortals of Energy - they don't know whether Alphaks is ready to pull off such a cataclysm, but aren't sure how to investigate the possibility in such a way that won't clue in Alphaks if he's ignorant of the weapon at his disposal. If infiltrating adventurers could confirm that Alphaks doesn't have a Nightmare-based doomsday weapon at his disposal, the chances of a successful invasion would go up. In the meantime, though, the Immortals have been quietly dissuading any sort of attack on Alphaks' Volcano.
THE GATES OF NAUGHT
In a deep and hidden cavern far below the surface of Alphaks' Volcano is something unique and extraordinary. An enormous freestanding sculpture, shaped entirely from delicate rainbow-hued crystal, its structure is intricate enough to make its surface almost seem to shift and reform as it's observed, simply due to new details catching the watcher's eye at any given moment. Though clearly not of Alphaks' own creation, it's highly valued by him and jealously guarded - the centerpiece of what Alphaks has called the Gates of Naught.
At its heart, the Gates of Naught is an artifact for travelling through time, similiar to those used by prospective Dynasts - but one that's strangely flawed, or possibly enhanced in a strange and not entirely welcome way. The Gates of Naught can be used to send either a single person or a small group to a chosen point in Mystara's past, present or future - but the destination is not the Mystara of the Prime Plane in the Normal Dimension, but some strange analogue with an alternate history. The destination timelines accessible through the Gates of Naught are similar to Mystara, but some important element of the timeline (a personage, place, event or item of power) has been destroyed or excised at some point in the past, with baleful and catastrophic changes cascading forward from that point.
Alphaks found the Gates of Naught hidden in the caves beneath his Volcano some centuries ago, when he first laid claim to the island and began exploring it - he has no real knowledge of its creation or history, and little interest in learning more. He assumes that the Gates were crafted by some now-forgotten Immortal of Time and since abandoned on Mystara, either because they didn't work as intended or because its owner was on the losing end of a rivalry and didn't want them claimed by his enemies. The artifact doesn't seem to be booby-trapped in any way, so Alphaks doesn't much care about its past - the Gates are his property now, and that's all that matters.
Many different timelines can be accessed through the Gates of Naught - some of them useful for Alphaks' purposes, others less so. A few of the timelines he prefers to draw upon (for insane wizard-pawns, temporal trap-worlds to disappear enemies into, or construction of untraceable magical weaponry) are as follows:
- Nether: An Alphatia where all human life has been eradicated, supplanted by wizard-liches, wight, spectre and revenant servitors, and skeletal and zombie thralls. This Alphatia has enemies both internal (Shiye elves, nomadic halflings and tribes of colddrakes) and external (magic-less but determined humans in Thyatis, Norwold, Jen and Minaea) and Alphaks sometimes offers the Alphatian liches raw bodies for re-animation and assistance against their foes in return for the loan of undead minions.
- Wrath: A world in which the city of Sundsvall was utterly destroyed some centuries after Alphatian Landfall, taking with it the present Emperor, all obvious potential heirs to the throne and a large chunk of the Grand Council. The modern Alphatian continent is a squabbling mess of half-civilized petty kingdoms, all warring with one another over minor grievances and ancient grudges. Alphaks considers this world an excellent place to recruit mercenaries skilled in fighting both with Alphatian magical support and opposing it, and training his mortal lieutenants in similar tactics.
- Rancor: A world in which the wizardess Aasla, and her later Immortal identity as the Immortal Alphatia, apparently never existed. Two thousand years later, the Alphatian Empire rules all of Mystara with an iron fist - wizards are supreme, Cypric-blooded Alphatians are second-class citizens and all human lineages native to Mystara are third-class at best, and races such as dwarves, orcs and lupins are outright slaves. Alphaks doesn't much care for this world - its wizard-rulers have no especial fondness for Alphaks' name or memory, and their success at conquest while denying his influence is a bitter pill - but it still serves as an excellent research facility and prison. Any enemy of Alphaks dropped into this world is going to find themselves facing a powerful and organized world-spanning empire.
- Mockery: An Alphatia in which all customs and strictures against the development of mind-affecting and possession magics have apparently been lost. The result is a particularly twisted version of Mystara - nearly all wizards seek everlasting life via repeated magic jar, spell-induced insanity in any of four dozen different flavors is the favored punishment for nearly all crimes (and many sins of omission that wouldn't be considered criminal by most outsiders), and a peasant's very thoughts are rarely his own. Alphaks would like to dearly exploit the chaotic potential of this timeline, but isn't sure yet of the best way to do so.
In addition to his usual meddling with the alternate timelines accessible through the Gates of Naught, Alphaks has recently begun to consider one additional scheme for causing chaos and havoc. Dynast candidates for Immortality are supposed to seek out and use an artifact to travel in time - if Alphaks can identify an Alphatian Dynast and trick him into thinking that the Gates are a normal and safe form of time-travelling artifact, the Dynast could easily find himself in a fatal situation - or even trapped in a situation where he'd have to turn away from service to the Sphere of Time and instead begin serving Entropy. The question is finding a suitable candidate, with an Immortal patron inexperienced enough not to nip Alphaks' scheme in the bud.
The Gates of Naught - Greater Artifact (500 PP)
Clone (80 PP)
Disintegrate (80 PP)
Predict Weather (10 PP)
Projected Image (70 PP)
Slow (25 PP)
Teleport Any Object (85 PP)
* Temporal Displacement (150-400 PP)
This power allows the user of the Gates of Naught to send himself or others to an alternate-history version of Mystara. The base cost of this power is 150 PP; it sends the user, only, to an alternate timeline (random if the user has never moved between timelines or dimensions before, targetable if the user knows of a suitable timeline from past experience and rolls under his combined Int + Wis on 1d100). For +100 PP spent, up to five individuals can be sent to the alternate timeline; for +200 PP spent, up to fifty individuals can be sent. The user can also spend +50 PP to target only another individual or group with this power, not travelling to the alternate timeline himself. Any unwilling targets can attempt to save vs. Spells at a -8 penalty, if they are conscious and aware of the effect being placed on them. The default use of this power places its subjects in the same year as their departure point; an alternate date either in the past or future can be chosen, but is less accurate (the subjects will arrive 1d100-50 years away from their desired arrival time). Departure from the alternate timeline is not guaranteed; the subjects of this power will have to make their own return to 'prime timeline' Mystara, either with a gate spell, travel or wish.
- Handicaps (3):
1. All beneficial spells affecting the owner of the artifact have their durations halved, and all malignant spells affecting the owner of the artifact have their durations doubled.
2. Whenever the artifact's PP reserve drops below 100, the owner of the artifact is aged 10-40 years.
3. Whenever the Temporal Displacement power is used with the +50 PP 'affects others' rider, there is a 25% chance that the owner of the artifact is driven insane. The owner of the artifact will believe that he's in an alternate timeline himself - one where people, places, events and historical occurrences are all different. He will address friends, colleagues, rulers and potentates by different names and expect them to have different personalities; he will consider malevolent villains to be upstanding citizens and vice versa. (A PC affected by this handicap will likely need to be played as an NPC while the handicap persists.) Even if ownership of the artifact is surrendered, the insanity will persist until all individuals banished to the alternate timeline by the Temporal Displacement return to 'prime timeline' Mystara, or are dead.
- Penalties (5):
1. If the artifact goes more than 1 month without any powers being used, there is a 5% chance that anyone other than the owner approaching within 300' is temporally displaced to a random timeline, draining 200 PP from the artifact. Check for each creature with an Int score of 3 or higher that approaches the artifact; if this activates, it counts as a use of the artifact, and doesn't impose Handicap (3). If the artifact goes more than 3 months without any powers being used, the chance of this activation rises to 10%; if the artifact goes more than a year without being used, the chance rises to 25%.
2. Whenever the Teleport Any Object power is used, there is a 20% chance that any nonliving object affected by the power is sent to a random alternate timeline (as per the Temporal Displacement power). A living creature arrives at their destination in 'prime timeline' Mystara, but naked (all clothing and equipment sent to the alternate timeline); an unattended nonliving object simply arrives in the alternate timeline. The owner of the artifact can try to deduce the destination timeline by rolling under his combined Int + Wis on 1d100.
3. Whenever the Clone power is used, there is a 25% chance that the clone created by the power is animated with an alternate-timeline consciousness, 2-7 days after the power is first used. This does not cause insanity between clone and original subject, but the awakened clone will generally either try to kidnap and replace its progenitor or else forcibly demand its progenitor's assistance in returning to its 'home' timeline.
4. Whenever the Disintegrate power is used, if the target fails its save the owner of the artifact takes 1d4 damage for every 2 levels/HD of the creature (rounded up). This damage cannot be prevented, but can be healed through normal or magical means.
5. The artifact cannot be moved by any form of mortal magic. Spells such as telekinesis and teleport any object have no effect when targeted on the artifact, even if they'd normally be able to move something of its size. Spells that enhance strength or carrying capacity will be negated if the recipient tries to move the artifact, and magically-powered vehicles (such as Alphatian skyships) will be rendered immobile if the artifact is somehow loaded aboard or tied on as ballast.