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Blackflame, Selbrinnor's Wavestone, I7 Balton's Beacon and a Light Heldannic Warbird

by David Keyser

The current adventure I am running ties some of the themes of the Halfling Gazetteer together and in particular one of the adventure seeds in the back of GAZ8. So I thought I would share what I was doing, as people here are talking about adventure paths. BTW, the adventure seeds in GAZ8 provide an adventure path if one were so inclined to flesh them out, and I have used a subset of those adventures for the halfling PC and a new PC when it came time to run some side adventure stuff.

But I have asked about the adventure seed Selbrinnor's Wavestone before, and didn't get any suggestions, so I went with the following-

I7 Baltron's Beacon (for the adventure)
Return to the Tomb of Horrors
M2 Vengeance of Alphaks
Champions of Mystara box set (for the Warbird)

First off, one of the unique elements about GAZ8 and the halfling culture is blackflame, which the halflings use to craft magic items. I have found two other D&D adventure modules which use blackflame in completely different ways. The first is I7 Baltron's Beacon, where the magical blackflame was used as a torture and terror device by a cult(the cult doesn't appear in the adventure). The second is Return to the Tomb of Horrors, where the demi-lich Acererak has developed a spell called backfire and even created some undead that contain backfire.

I decided to change the background of Baltron's Beacon, and add in Acererak to the background of Mystara. The module I7 consists of an abandoned keep the cult used that lies in a swamp. Some mercenaries and a wizard occupy the top levels of the keep and gatehouse, but the dungeon of the keep is unexplored, containing undead and the blackflame.

So I put the keep in the Blight Swamp, only instead of the cult it is Acererak who built the keep long ago while still a lich, precisely so he could steal and study halfling blackflame. He succeeded and began experiments to turn it to necromantic uses, while halfling masters began to track down the theft, eventually finding the keep. When the masters found him they began raiding and besieging the keep, but could not capture the place until Acererak completed his experiments and abandoned the place. Thus Acererak has his backfire spell(and I can play a Return to the Tomb of Horrors game at some point if the players wish) while the Masters destroyed parts of the keep and abandoned it due to the deadly traps Acererak left behind. Some blackflame continues to burn deep in the dungeon, corrupted by Acererak's experiments.

When my player created the halfling PC, he wanted a background as a pirate, so I used Jalassa for his back-story, he served on her ship for a short time. After adventuring in other lands, he returned to the Shires and played through some of the adventure seeds for the lower level adventures, mostly dealing with Black Eagle Baron's efforts at infiltration. This also included U1 The sinister secret of Saltmarsh, where the smugglers became Iron Ring slavers and the lizardmen were being contacted by the Baron to support an attack on the shires. Those adventures concluded with the Green Cloak adventure seed having those plans being foiled and the Baron abandoning plans for a major invasion, instead having a force of orcs from the mountains attempt to raid Wereskalot.

But I digress. Selbrinnor's wavestone as an adventure seed deals with Jalassa as a pirate captain tracking down the artifact so named, something which can turn a ship invisible. It also reveals that Jalassa has managed to find the secret to taming the seergar, and has ten of the creatures as part of her force. She finally found the island where the wavestone was buried, only to arrive and see a ship fleeing the area. The seed mentions that the ship dropped off two hin and two humans in Shires, Jalassa caught up to the ship captain and all he knew is that the four were called the Brothers. She then spreads out her forces keeping an eye on any way to exit the shires, using the seergar as a way to quickly communicate and travel. That is pretty much the seed, as a DM I needed to come up with the rest.

So to integrate this, I had the halfling PC, while completing the adventures to thwart the Black Eagle Baron, get wind that Jalassa had completed an expedition a year before into the mountains. Curious, the player decided to check it out, as he hadn't gotten a chance to meet Jalassa as a player(it was all background, and I still didn't know what I was going to run for this adventure seed). After some efforts, he got up into the mountains, and recovered some supplies on an abandoned mule on the side of the mountain, including a journal of one of her sergeants. He discovered she came up there to tame the seergar, having learned the method. The PC then had to retreat, fighting his way out as seergar attacked him.

Months later in campaign time he made contact with some of her spies and learned what she was looking for. At that point I got the module I7 and found it to be a pretty good fit for what I wanted. The beacon in the module and the cult are tossed, the background is Acererak. The wizard currently occupying the keep has holed up there with the brothers and some mercenaries because he has run out of hiding places in the Shires, as Jalassa tracks him down. He can't proceed east as the Black Eagle Baron and Bargle are aware that something is going on and are watching the border. Jalassa has other avenues of escape cut off.

The wizard knows about the seergar, and has been trying to recruit aerial help to counter Jalassa's force and get him away. This is where the Heldannic Warbird comes in. He managed to get a messenger to the Knights, and they have sent a warbird to retrieve the wavestone. Those who followed the Princess Ark stories recall that it benefited from invisibility, the Knights are looking for the same kind of advantage.

The adventure itself has the wizard and its mercenaries described. The leader of the mercenaries is an ex-ranger with a sphinx(eagle head) a wolf and a blood hawk. This I changed to an ex-forester and ex-Retebius Air fleet officer that had a male sphinx with wolf and bloodhawk. I also have a forester PC in the group so this made the situation more personal on that score. The mercenaries also have a pair of twin fighters so that was half the brothers from the adventure seed. I added in the two halflings and also made a gnome illusionist in the module a gnome with some inventions from Highforge in Karameikos. The wizard had hired much of this group and the ex-forester had betrayed the empire and took on this job expecting to fight seergar. There are also wyverns in the top of the keep, which the wizard has allied with. Lastly a will-o-wisp in the keep becomes a wychlamp from the Shires monster section.

The PCs then team up with Jalassa and go in, with the halfling PC master also having the goal of making sure all signs of blackflame have been truly erased from the old keep. As the players fought the mercenaries the wyverns emerged and attacked the seergar, leading to a massive aerial battle I had to run on a different day with the hsiao PC and seergar fighting the wyverns using the DoTE aerial combat rules. So far the players have finished defeating the mercenaries and captured the wizard, and are just about to start exploring the dungeon area. Once the dungeon encounters have been resolved, and the players are about to leave, the warbird shows up, with the PCs having to take to the air on the seergar to storm the ship.

Oh, and how M2 Vengeance of Alphaks ties into this...that module has an NPC Cleric named Coiger that is a collector of artifacts. Coiger is way too powerful for the PCs to fight, and they know this, having been hit by a holy word he cast on them the one time they encountered him. Coiger is also interested in the wavestone, but I mostly have him for two things

1) A few giants are in the dungeon of the keep, having hidden there after attacking the mercenaries and wizard. Coiger has giant armies, so these giants are basically a raiding force he sent in early to try and capture the Wavestone.
2) Coiger will get to show up and take the brunt of the Heldannic Warbird's initial onslaught when the warbird gets the drop on him. That blight belch cannon is a bit too much for me to throw at the PCs, instead he gets hit by it, knocking out his force field just before he takes some ballista and catapult shot, forcing him to word of recall and abandon the wavestone.