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BCAP2: Engdyr’s Game Adventure Pathby John Calvin
The Engdyr’s Game Adventure Path will take PCs on a journey through the Shimmering Lands and introduce them to the bizarre and fantastic technomagical world of the Moadreg dwarves, last inheritors of ancient Blackmoor. They will contend with the mad dwarven elder, Engdyr Heldfyst, and his plot to silence all living things within his domain. Even as Engdyr attempts to remove the hateful living creatures around him, a new form of life may be stirring… one created by accident, by the mad dwarf himself.
BCAP 2-1: Engdyr’s Game - Aetheric Invasion
The region of Karghthyne in the Shimmering Lands has long been plagued by conflict, both from without as well as within. Before the coming of the dwarves, the land belonged to the giants of Grondheim who contested for dominance with the Antalians, elemental masters of the north.
Dwarves of Clan Felwig now hold these lands, keeping fast the secrets they have found from the ancient past. Led by Engdyr Heldfyst, one of the founders of the Shimmering Lands and an active member of the Elder Conclave, Engdyr has his own plans for the area. Recently he has discovered an ancient Blackmoorian Aetherstation, and is refurbishing it to suit his needs. Unfortunately for Engdyr, some of his technomagical experiments have broken free and are now terrorizing the countryside.
While tracking down a nefarious plot from Grondheim, the PCs will accidentally stumble upon Engdyr’s handiwork, a colony of recently escaped undead aetheric spiders. The spiders however, are not their only concern, as Engdyr has dispatched his own lackeys to clean up the problem.
Ruins of Layhash
The ruins of Layhash have lain fallow for decades, after Engdyr Heldfyst and his followers crushed a budding rebellion from that estate. In truth, Elder Farsah Layhash and many of her followers were changelings of Grondheim. Some of those changelings survived and have been using the ruins as a base of operations while plotting their revenge. PCs stumble upon a group of dwarves defending themselves from an attack of what appear to be undead giant spiders.
Undead aetheric spiders have taken over several captive bodies (several of the changeling dwarves along with one giant they were meeting with) and have begun to establish a colony in the twilight passage between Layhash and the Aetheric Realm. The PCs must find the colony, and eradicate it before the infestation grows out of hand.
Gray Guardian’s Grotto
Just as the last aetheric invader is being dispatched, a Sentinel of the Dusk emerges from a wispy gray grotto - a portal to the Aetheric Realm. Once he has determined that the PCs have dealt with the threat, he turns on them, announcing that none may live who have witnessed this. The Sentinel fights to the death, but PCs can pick up his trail in the Aetheric Realm.
Changelings of Grondheim
Changelings have been operating in this region for decades, actively trying to usurp control from the dwarves and to destabilize the area. After their coup failed nearly 60 years ago, they have taken on more discrete activities. The changelings are funneling dwarven made weapons into the hands of nearby giant clans. Their goal is to strengthen the Shimmering Land’s enemies in the area, and hopefully frame Engdyr Heldfyst for the entire operation.
Having emerged from the Aetheric Realm as little more than ravenous undead, the corrupted spiders have begun behaving more intelligently after merging with several humanoids in the area. Now their goal is to establish a foothold on the Prime Material plane and prepare for The aggressors that they know will soon follow. Should they succeed, the spiders will be emboldened, and may begin to expand their territory across the Shimmering Lands. They can feel the power source in the west (the Gate of Light in Himnem) and will eventually try to capture it.
Sentinels of the Dusk Shroud
The Sentinels have long operated out of Mount Hrokyrdran, and while the organization as a whole is not directly linked to the Heldfyst family, many of its members owe Engdyr a debt of gratitude for their current position and status. Engdyr can call upon many of these loyalists in times of need, and may even be able to sway the organization in general matters. While members of the Sentinels may not know the extent of Engdyr’s plans, many of them would die at a moment’s notice for their erstwhile patron.
The PCs should be able to remove the immediate threat of both the Grondheim conspirators and the undead aetherics from the region, however the origin of these threats remains at large. Daring PCs willing to continue exploring both the ruins and the surrounding twilight region between the planes, may find additional allies and tools to use in their upcoming battles.
The ruins of Layhash may be cleared and used as a temporary base of operations, perhaps even sanctioned by the Elder Conclave. As the adventure path continues, the PCs may be able to rally allies to their cause, and eventually petition the Elder Conclave for permanent control of the now fallow estate (especially if one or more of them are dwarves from the Shimmering Lands). Engdyr Heldfyst himself may support such a move, if only to keep tabs on creatures he sees as potentially dangerous to his operations.
This adventure is designed to introduce PCs to the Mystara 2300 BC setting and the borderlands of the Shimmering Lands. At the same time it can be used to showcase the lifestyle of the Moadreg (one of solitude, reflection, and study) by using the newly liberated ruins of Layhash as a base of operations and possible future dominion for the PCs.
The adventure should also be able to showcase some of the Shimmering Land’s staunchest enemies, including agents from Grondheim, and the dwarves of the Shimmering Lands themselves (they are a fairly self destructive lot after all).
Further exploration of the ruins and surrounding lands may lead PCs to new and exciting discoveries, revealing ancient weapon caches and unthought of magical equipment, all of which will help the PCs further down the road.
At its heart, this is a wilderness exploration adventure, where the PCs can have some real skin in the game, and a real opportunity to break into the political arena of the Shimmering Lands.
Well, the focus of this project has changed a bit. Agathokles asked if I'd like to do this up as a column series in Threshold, and I thought that was a great idea, so folks will be seeing the AP Overview article in Threshold #16 (due out sometime this month). Anyway, the upside of publishing through Threshold is that the material is going to come out looking fantastic! The downside is that this thread (and the feedback that it generates) really helps me keep my motivation. I don't want to spoil future articles... but I think I would still like to use this thread to help generate ideas and maybe get others to contribute to the project.
So... Threshold #16 has the AP Overview, and review some of the highlights of the Mystara 2300 BC setting.
Threshold #17 (what I am working on now) will have the first adventure in the AP. I'm a big fan of the old Dungeon Magazine Adventure Paths, as well as the Piazo APs for Golarion, so I'm going to try and do something similar by laying out the groundwork for a campaign from early levels to higher levels of play at the end. For the next issue I want to try and cover the following:
- The first "base of operations" for the PCs. This will be Kairhyeld, a stronghold in the northern Shimmering Lands. There I want to detail out some key locations and NPCs.
- Then the first part of the adventure will take PCs to the Ruins of Layhash, a destroyed and abandoned dwarven stronghold (in what is present day Ethengar).
- As the series progresses, the PCs will have the opportunity to make Layhash their base of operations, eventually acquiring it as their own dominion. Some of the NPCs they meet in Kairhyeld may be able to help them establish their new home.
- Detailing out some of the local organizations that PCs may want to join
- Creating some side-plot ideas that DMs can flesh out further on their own (things that I wouldn't be expanding in future articles)
So... been doing some brainstorming about possible organizations that the PCs may want to join. Of course there is always the potential to add more in future modules, but for this first one I was thinking of adding 3 - a thieves guild, an adventuring company, and a clerical order.
This is a gnome run thieves guild run out of Gnen on the Bridge of Oost (it's detailed a bit more in the GazBC1 DM's guide IIRC). The wouldn't have a strong presence in this region of the Shimmering Lands, but the individual they meet wants to "expand their operations westward." The guild accepts all members, but only gnomish characters have the ability to make it to the top ranks of the organization.
This contact can provide PCs with information (both local and abroad) as well as provide venues for buying and selling equipment and artifacts (perhaps bypassing taxes and tariffs they might normally have to pay to the Elder Conclave). Any favors performed would have to be repaid in turn (at some point).
An adventurer's guild (also detailed in GazBC1), this organization is more generally distributed throughout the Shimmering Lands, and might offer support to potential members (up and coming PCs). Should they prove themselves worthy, their contact in Kairhyeld may sponsor them to become full fledged members.
The Gleaming Company can help to fund PC's operations (with the expectation of a percentage of their earnings). They could provide additional support in the form of hirelings, as well as information about local ruins and locations of interest in the north.
Way of the Stone
Although this cult isn't mainstream in these parts, it is steadily gaining a following. The worshipers of Kagyar espouse different philosophies than many of their contemporaries, advocating that dwarves work together for common goals (for the betterment of their race) rather than strive for individual power and prowess.
The Way of the Stone is the dwarven future, but for now they will help provide PCs with a friendly face, healing, and other personal aid. Dranwyrf Korskill (aka Dengar), the First Elder of the Shimmering Lands, is also the head of this newly formed cult. In later adventures, the PCs will have the opportunity to meet and interact with him directly.