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HW Modules and WotIby Marco Dalmonte
What I wanted to do with this mail is to explain you and the other list members the way I have adapted the HW trilogy to fit in with Wrath of the Immortals.
First of all, I don't have HWA2, Nightrage, so I had to change the things a little bit, but believe me it works well even without it.
The whole story begins in AC1003, when Khoronus senses a strange anomaly in Temporal Prime. He goes investigating near the Blackmoor nexus and disappears. When the other Immortals discover he's missing, they obviously start looking for him and discover his last trip was through Temporal Prime. After detecting the same temporal anomaly he spotted, they organise a group of monitors to go and investigate the matter. Now, bear in mind that by now the two Immortals' groups (Ring of Fire and Fellowship of the Stars) have already began winding their plots to win over one another, and so they doubt of each other and especially Ixion thinks Rad's behind this trouble in Blackmoor. Rad on his part thinks the same, believing Ixion is probably going to alter the timeframe to destroy the Nucleus of the Spheres and prevent war in the present (and given his power and status, he could try it). So the Immortals arrange to send the members of the Council of Intrusion back in time to see what's happening. The members of that period were: Ixion (Energy), Khoronus (Time, replaced by Ordana), Djaea (Matter), Thanatos (Entropy) and Noumena (Thought). Obviously the FotS wants one of their members inside the investigating team, and Rad proposed Korotiku. The proposal is voted, with Djaea and Ixion against it and Ordana (who wants to keep the balance) and Thanatos (who they think only wanted major mayhem) in favour. At the end, Noumena voluntarily renounces to do a favour to his fellow hierarch of Thought (trusting him and his wits) and to prevent further chaos. This way there is one representative for the Ring of Fire (Ixion) and one for the FotS (Korotiku), and the balance of power is safe.
The Immortals venture through Temporal Prime... and never come back.
After a couple of days, strange events happen in the Outer Planes. Never seen before radiant Angels come to the homeplanes of the vanished Immortals and seize the artifacts that grant spells to their clerics after killing many proxies and wardens that the Immortals left behind. Chaos ensues, when members of the RoF (led by Valerias) accuse Rad and his fellows of stealing the artifacts and abducting the Immortals. Rad dismisses the accusations and throws them back at the RoF, since they also lost Korotiku. Both groups start investigating on the matter.
In the meantime, on the Prime some of the gods don't answer their clerics, and this creates mayhem in many of the nations when the word spreads. Since two of the major immortals involved represent Life and Time (the clerics of Thanatos surprisingly enough don't tell anything about their powers..), the common idea is that the Last Days of the world have come and that soon Doom will strike from the heavens because of men's misdeeds. Missionaries start to preach conversion to the faiths that still give powers, and the other clerics are left desperate and retreat into meditation or start a quest to find an answer.
Soon three other Immortals vanish without explanations: Valerias, Noumena (Orisis) and Ka (Kalaktatla). These three Immortals were researching the possible reason of the artifacts' theft when they noticed something going awry in the Hollow World, particularly the opening of a gate in Shahjapur.
Ka and Noumena went there to investigate but they disappeared, and were later followed by Valerias.
The adventure starts here, with the PCs who are obviously in the outer world and witness the crazy events that the disappearance of the Immortals have produced. IMC I had a cleric of Ixion, a cleric of Vanya and a ranger who preached Ordana in my company. When two of them started to lose their powers, they were deeply struck and started to find an answer to all this by going to the nearest sages, who unfortunately couldn't help much. The cleric of Vanya was obviously happy, since Vanya was sending her omens to mistrust the priestess of Ixion, and she believed Vanya had finally triumphed over the other deities, so she wasn't much distressed.
When all hopes started to fall, an old acquaintance of the group popped in: Richard John Singleton, a faithful priest of Valerias, who helped them fighting against the mages of Honor Island during the civil war in Ierendi the year before (it's not important for your campaign to play this event, just introduce RJ in some way and make him seem a good hearted, handsome and heroic priest). He told them he had had visions and the visions told him he had to rally loyal friends (the PCs) and go westwards on the Atruaghin Plateau. So the group began to march towards the plateau, following Singleton's dreams, and in the meantime some of them too started having dreams and omens, both in favour and against the quest, dreams which sow the seeds of suspicion in the group (obviously sent by the mastermind behind the whole scheme).
On the plateau, led by an Atruaghini guide they contacted in Fort Marny, the group found the man RJ was seeing in his visions, Hovar Duck Watcher, who had been warned of their coming by his patron Mahmatti. After passing the test of the spirits to see if they were worthy enough, he brought them to the City of the Dead and left them near Atruaghin's Mystic Conveyor. They finally managed to make it work and went down to the Hollow World (which they thought it was another world, Mictlan).
[You can play the start of HWA1 either the way it is written in the adventure if u start in Glantri, or this way if you start anywhere else.]
Down there they received other omens and descended the mountains to arrive to Titlapoca (not Huitlaktima as in HWA1; again, depends on how they get to HW). There they were captured by the guards, played a tlachtli game to save their lives and discovered some important clues about the Azcan empire by speaking with Titlapoca's governor (who also revealed them how things worked there -ie the faith of Atzanteotl and the history of Atruatzin and Atzanteotl and some other Azcan mysticism. The fact they had an Atruaghini guide with them was a boon since he was the only who could, albeit with many difficulties, translate from the Azcan).
So they proceeded to Chitlacan, where mysterious sacrifices were being held, and there they allied with the Ometochtzin to discover the ceremony of the Smoking Mirror, braved the dungeons of the Great Pyramid and flew to the sun. There they confronted Simm after much troubles with the discorporates (and over an hour of talking with Simm during which I was nearly able to convince all of them Simm was the good guy acting for the freedom of the people) and killed him, making the Smoking Mirror collapse.
[end of HWA1]
This first encounter with Simm should put the PCs on the track that some very powerful entity is behind all the vanishing and disorders, and they should recognise Simm's holy symbol (and scythe Barrier) as Thanatos' symbol, but still cannot figure out what is happening. Proceed to the next adventure (HWA2, or HWA3 as in my case).
IMC, I decided to leave HWA2 out and went directly to HWA3, guiding the PCs to Shahjapur. Note that IMC Irila Kaze is possessed by Koresh Teyd, so there are not three villains but only two (the Blood Brethren).
Now, after resisting Thanatos' dreams and recovering some of their friends who had succumbed to them, they headed towards Shahjapur, where they found Chatterjee as their omens had shown them. He instructed them to retrieve the components to draw the Yantra of the Emerald River, as he had been instructed by his dreams, even though nobody knew what the Emerald River was. And so, after recovering the white cobra's powder, the sweat of the beggar king and the mantra of the Emerald River, they proceeded to the Temple of the Eight Sweet Winds and confronted Dakka/Irila Kaze(/Koresh Teyd IMC).
And here they discover that Koresh and Singleton know each other (as in some dreams they had, where they saw Singleton switch sides and attack them), that Singleton hails from Nithia and is over 300 years old (according to Koresh) and that he battled Koresh and his brother Simm and made them flee from Nithia long ago. [note: they can discover this in HWA2 if you play it.] Nevertheless, RJ Singleton refuses to tell more and throws himself in the battle against Dakka, killing her in the end. So Chatterjee completes the yantra and the PCs are transported to the Emerald River. And here's where the story really changes and I must explain you many things...
What Happened to the Vanished Immortals?
This is obviously Thanatos' plan to cause more mischief and suffering in both the hollow and the surface world. Originally he wanted to revive the Great Annelids and corrupt the Spell of Preservation, as described in the Blood Brethren Trilogy, but he reasoned that he couldn't succeed with all the Immortals around. So he planned to use the suspicion and rivalry caused by the Ixion-Rad conflict to get rid of some powerful Immortals without getting caught.
First of all he needed a bait, and so he thought: what could keep the Immortals away from the world long enough for his plan to work? And the answer was in the timespace continuum! He would have used the cause which is at the heart of the dispute between the Immortals as bait: Blackmoor. So he staged the plan to disrupt the timeframe. This, he knew, would have attracted Father Time's attention, so he also needed to find a way to imprison Khoronus long enough. And then he discovered the Comeback Inn, the solution to all his problems!
He went back in time, assumed a mortal identity and suggested to the Iron Duke the plan to abduct the most important figure in Blackmoor's future history, its founder: King Uther (as per DA1). This caused a temporal anomaly, and when Khoronus went to Blackmoor to investigate, assuming another mortal ID, Thanatos and his helpers ambushed him as well, taking him to the Future Comeback Inn (which is VEERY FAR in the future, contrary to DA1, say in AC 1250) and imprisoning his mortal ID. He knew the other Immortals would have followed soon after, that they would have arrived just moments later Khoronus' disappearance (since time has really no meaning to a person who can travel in time) and so he used his wits to trick them into believing he was going along. Before entering the Comeback Inn as the magician who teleports King Uther in the dungeon (forgot the name), he left in the present an avatar, who posed as the real Thanatos. Then the avatar travelled to the temporal anomaly with the other Immortals and pretended to go to Blackmoor timeframe, while Thanatos was already there assuming his mortal ID. Thanatos tricked the other immortals (Ixion, Korotiku, Ordana and Djaea) the same way he did with Khoronus, and brought them in the future. And there they were ALL stuck, since nobody can escape the Comeback Inn without help from a servant of the inn! But this was something Thanatos knew, and for this reason he remained in the past of Blackmoor, hoping to bribe some servant for a passage outside and return back to his present.
Meantime, in the Present..
Still with me? Ok. Now, when the Immortals disappeared, Thanatos left instructions to his servants and fiends to start the second part of his plan. The Blood Brethren had already been freed when Khoronus disappeared (see below), and now the fiends, polymorphed as Angels of both Ixion and Vanya, travelled the outer planes to seize the artifacts that gave the faithful their powers in the Immortals' absence. This would have caused a turmoil both in the Upper Spheres and in the Prime, so his plan in the HW would maybe go unchecked. And indeed it nearly functioned. The Immortals started accusing one another, and with their leader vanished, the Ring of Fire was enraged to the top and blamed Rad and his fellows for this treachery. The remaining Hierarchs, Odin, Terra, Ilsundal, Protius and Hel, on Hel's proposal, decided to SEAL Temporal Prime so nobody could open a gate to it and tamper with it any more than what has already been done. This was supposed to be a temporary measure until the culprit of the situation had been found, the vanished Immortals located and the order restored. So the five Spheres united and Temporal Prime was closed: this means nobody could open a gate to Temporal Prime from any of the timeframe and realities (although it was possible for those already in Temporal Prime to go in any timeframe, but they remained trapped there).
Valerias began to search all the planes to find her lover, but to no avail. So she began looking in the Prime and on Mystara. In the meantime, Ka and Hel were the only Immortals of the Hollow World council who remained vigilant on the HW, and when Hel sensed something strange going on in the HW crust she decided to omit this discovery. It was Ka and Noumena who later discovered some tampering with the HW energies and the Spell of Preservation both in Azca and Nithia, but just as they were beginning their researches, they were attracted by the opening of a gate to an outer plane in Shahjapur (something impossible to all but Immortals in the HW). So they went there investigating, discovered the Emerald River and its guardian, Dakka, and got trapped there (see below)! Valerias was warned by her agathinon on the Prime, Shineton-ka, that the Blood Brethren had escaped their prison, and she traced them in the HW. And she as well sensed the gate in the Temple of the Eight Sweet Winds and got trapped in the Emerald River!
This way, no Immortal remained to vigil on the HW affairs, and the corruption of the Spell of Preservation continued unchecked.. or so Thanatos (who at this time was still in Blackmoor) thought.
The Blood Brethren: Their True History.
The Blood Brethren were not goblins, rather they were the sons of a powerful Nithian noble and wizard named Socaris. Socaris' only dream was to beget a lineage that could make his dynasty powerful and remembered, but alas he was sterile. When he discovered this, he nearly went mad, for despite his immense magical powers, he wasn't able to cure his disease. So clouded by anger and depression was his mind, that he invoked all of the powers of Nithia to get his spawn. Unfortunately for him, the first to answer was Thanatos. Thanatos made a pact with him: a life for a life. If he scarified his wife, she would have sired his children. And so it came that Socaris' wife got pregnant when Socaris was already an old man, and all the people of Tarthys cheered at the news. But the good news soon turned bad when the young wife died for complications after childbirth, as Socaris explained. Yet, he was a happy man, since she had given him two twins! Socaris grew the twins, Koresh and Simm, with love and affection, as they were to him his most precious jewels. One chose the path of the father, while the other ascended the ranks of priesthood with great results. The two were incredibly keen and wise, and Socaris was proud of them every moment of his life. But Thanatos had not forgotten his pact: a life for a life, and the maths didn't match yet. Thanatos began sending omens, dreams to the two brethren and whispered them promises of power: and their ears, just like their father's, did listen to him. So they started dabbling in the dark arts, and Simm converted to the faith of Thanatos after making a secret pilgrimage to the Tower of Sekhaba. The two started amassing large forbidden tomes, to research dark spells, and sacrificed many people to their deities' thirst for blood. But this didn't satisfy him. To complete their corruption he revealed them what their father had done to their mother, and then suggested to repay him with his own coin. And so it came that the two twins murdered their own father, who did nothing to avoid his death so great was the love he had for them.
But it didn't pass to long for the Brethren's activities to be discovered. It was a young but resolute priest of Isiris, Shineton-ka, who discovered their grim practices and exposed their murders to the Pharaoh. Shineton-ka led the assault against their home and chased the two into the desert, together with his partner Nephra, a priestess of Horon, up to the Tower of Sekhaba. There, resisting the tower's dark effects, they chased the Brethren inside the tunnels, deep in the earth, and finally got them in the Broken Lands, where they defeated them and trapped their souls with a spell in two urns. There they built the Barleycorn Monastery, and were later given the task to watch over the Brethren by Valerias and Ixion, after they ascended to the state of Agathinon (angels)!
Indeed, time passed and Shineton-ka and Nephra took out many identities to travel among the mortals, spread the word of their deities and watch over the preferred heroes of their Immortals. Unfortunately, it happened that when Shineton-ka (now known as Richard John Singleton of Darokin in the Old World) was away, Irila Kaze and a couple of goblin servants came to Barleycorn following clues and thoughts Thanatos gave her. Irila thought she would have found a great magical treasure in the monastery, and so fiercely battled Nephra, using her goblin servants to ambush her, and killed her. Unfortunately, when she freed the two Blood Brethren, Simm took possession of the monkey familiar of Kano (one of the goblin) and Koresh took possession of her body (or of Udan, the other goblin, according to HWA2). Then the two contacted Thanatos (or maybe T had already given instructions to Irila, if u follow the Trilogy and want to play all the three modules) and received instructions. Using the old tunnel from which they came to the surface world, they returned to the Hollow World and went respectively to Azca (Simm and Kano) and Shahjapur (Irila/Koresh - or if u want to use HWA2, Koresh alone went to Nithia and Irila to Shahjapur), to start the plan to corrupt the HW sun and awaken the Great Annelids. In Shahjapur, Irila/Koresh's goal (now became the many-armed Dakka) was to open a gate to the Emerald River, lure there whatever Immortal came to investigate, and trap them there forever, and so they did. Until the PCs arrived...
Shineton-ka/R. J. Singleton, the Fallen Angel
Unfortunately for Thanatos, he hadn't predicted that Shineton-ka would have escaped the massacre at Barleycorn monastery, and when he informed Valerias, she immediately knew she had to look in the Hollow World. Shineton-ka wanted to follow her, but was prevented to do so by the fact that the Brethren had made the tunnel collapse behind them. So the agathinon waited for a sign of her Mistress in the surface world, consuming himself with the guilt for having failed his task as Guardian, failed his Mistress, but above all abandoned his lover Nephra in the moment of the need (these feelings were obviously a bit exaggerated by his nature). Valerias soon discovered the hideout of the Blood Brethren, and was attracted to the Temple of the Eight Sweet Winds in Dharsatra where the gate to the Emerald River had been opened. There she confronted Dakka, and forced her to open the gate, thinking her lover Ixion would have been imprisoned there. Unfortunately for her, she was proven wrong and got trapped as well by her own powers. But before being trapped there, she left out a call to Shineton-ka, with a vision to travel to the Hollow World and to save her. Shineton-ka rallied help (the PCs) and began his trek to the Atruaghin Plateau, where he knew there was a passage to the lands of Azca (although he had never used it). Atruaghin sensed something was wrong in Azca, and saw the intervention of Shineton-ka (who he had also known in the past) as a good way to investigate the matter without interfering personally, so he sent omens to him, to the PCs and to his shamani to guide them to Hovar Duck Watcher and to the Mystic Conveyor, the fastest way to Azca. [Or, you can have Shineton-ka guide the PCs to Barleycorn and use the tunnels like the Brethren did, making them still viable, as in HWA1.] The only goal of Shineton-ka was now to save his Mistress Isiris/Valerias, so to regain his status and his honour, helping the PCs without revealing them his true nature.
The Emerald River: Key to the Timeflow
And here we come to the most strange part of the campaign: the Emerald River. Forget what you've read in the Blood Brethren Trilogy: it is not Mystara's timestream. Instead, it is an outer plane discovered by Thanatos with two strange and unique features. Its appearance is that of a never-ending field of rolling green hills, prairies and woods, with an emerald green sky above, no sun and no clouds, the light coming from the sky which bathes everything into an unnatural green aura.
First of all, no magic works inside the Emerald River. No spells cast ever work, no magic abilities function, no magic items retain their properties, not even artifacts (Similar to Nightstorm plane of HWA3). But there is more: every spell cast by somebody is absorbed by the plane, and reflected to the caster as a strange form of black energy field that surrounds him. The more powerful the spell, the less possible is for the caster to escape the energy field (in game terms, the caster makes a ST vs Magic at -1 per level of the spell cast. If the save fails, the caster becomes entrapped in a black monolith like a statue). In our case, the immortal energy released by the Immortals as they tried to battle Dakka here (Irila/Dakka tricked them in using powerful spells while refraining from doing it herself, knowing the properties of the plane from Thanatos' instructions) was so powerful that they got trapped by it and turned into black monoliths, one for each Immortal trapped. And they could escape from their material body because of the plane's energies, so were trapped there virtually forever. Unfortunately, Thanatos didn't know that if magic doesn't work inside the Emerald River, another form of "craft" has a very special power inside it: music and songs. As a complicated song (the Yantra of the Emerald River) can open a gate to it without requiring magic, likewise a song could free the trapped Immortals. Chatterjee, the Shahjapuri samdu, was once again the key to the PCs goal. Once they battled Dakka and defeated her, Chatterjee opened the gate to the Emerald river and transported the PCs there. There Shineton-ka recognised the symbols inscripted on the monoliths as being some of Valerias' truenames, and understood there were Immortals trapped here. When the PCs understood their weapons couldn't help much (and before anyone could use a spell), Chatterjee proposed them to chant the Mantra of the Disembodiment to Unity. This could have freed the soul of its corporeal chains (the body) and let the spirit become one with the heavens and the Immortals. All of the PCs led by Chatterjee began to chant and finally the monolith were destroyed, freeing the Immortals.. whose mortal bodies crumbled soon after, releasing the Immortal souls once and for all! And now we come to the other strange feature of the Emerald River. In fact, this plane's sky is a permanent rift to Temporal Prime! It cannot be sealed in any way, even by Immortals, and through this rift the newly freed Immortals and the PCs passed into Temporal Prime and went back to Blackmoor, to help the other Immortals, now that Thanatos' plan had been exposed. But near the exact point in the timeline they found the Avatar left behind by Thanatos guarding the timestream. So the Immortals (who had created a material form in a haste upon entering Temporal Prime) stood behind to attack him while they opened a gate for the PCs to pass into Blackmoor timeframe, discover what's wrong and recover the missing Immortals.
DA1, Adventures in Blackmoor: the Last Part.
Ok, if you've followed me so far, that's basically the end of the story. Play DA1 as written, with the PCs arriving from outside the Comeback Inn (not from the gate in the cellar) just a few minutes after the Immortals have been kidnapped/spirited on the other side of the temporal gate. Now, they enter the inn, got trapped inside, and the adventure plays on as written. Only thing is that Thanatos is the treacherous mage, and knows why the PCs are there, and knows HE CANNOT ESCAPE from the Inn in this timeframe. So he now hopes he will be able to escape from the Inn in the future, using the other spy (who's a servant of the Inn and who has got the medallion to activate the gate). He then suggests the PCs to come with him to trap them in the future and leave no trace of his deeds behind (not knowing the three immortals have been freed). Once in the future Comeback Inn, Thanatos will order his allies to kill the PCs and he himself will participate in the hunt, but only after extracting from them news of the situation in the "present". After that, he tries to leave the Inn but much to his amazement he cannot, since the spy maid is no longer considered a member of the inn's staff!! This will put Thanatos in a difficult situation: he has to kill all of the PCs to avoid them free the Immortals trapped there in the future, and will have to go back to the past to find another way to escape..
When everything seems to turn against the PCs, enter the good guys of Blackmoor led by the Fetch and the Inn's owner (and the three Immortals Valerias, Ka and Noumena as well, maybe), who come to the future to rescue their King and battle Thanatos along the PCs' side! They will finally prevail, (we hope) the Immortals will be taken out of their prison (a magical prison that prevents them from using their powers and leaving their mortal Ids), they'll go outside the Inn in the future using the help of the Inn's owner (who doesn't suspect anything on their true Ids..) and warn their future fellows to unseal Temporal Prime, so they'll be back in their own time!
And they will live happily ever after.. or better, for a year or so, till the breakout of the Wrath of the Immortals.
Main Result of the Plot:
Thanatos will lose power and rank, giving prominence to Hel. The PCs will get the Immortals' gratitude (and a wish granted maybe) and Thanatos' eternal enmity. And they'll have the hook to return back to Blackmoor and the Comeback Inn for the future DA adventures!!