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My old OD&D campaign is in a solo-phase, with the PCs living their own lives for a while. One of them is a wizard who is a honorary citizen of Minrothad Guilds (after completing the War Rafts of Kron adventure and getting an island as a reward). During the course of my campaign I established that Oran Meditor was assassinated in 1010, just before the Great Nomad War. After the War me and the player of the wizard have had interesting gaming sessions around the Guilds intrigue.
Some hints of this can be found here
I will be sending mails from time to time in order to give a loose campaign scheme on the post-Oran Minrothad. I've done extensive work on the country in general, and I think this could benefit others. Just small word of warning: don't expect anything too soon, my life is a bit busy right now.
I'll try to make this non-campaign specific. Events of my "Twin Campaigns" have affected the situation somewhat and I'll try not to refer to them.
For example IMC Martan Bailey's lycanthropic group was destroyed during the Nomad War by the Darokinian ambassadors, and the Verdiers were blackmailed into joining the war. The lycanthropes made an assassination attempt on the diplomats and tried to frame the Corsers for the crime... Also, Minrothad Guilds are heavily engaged in profiteering in post-war Darokin and the new East-Sindhi Trade Company (Ierendi and Minrothad).
Any DM who used this info will of course have to decide when to place death of Oran, and this will effect the situation. IMC the murder happened 2-3 years before the following scheme was drawn up.
Death of Oran Meditorby Ville Lähde
As was described in the Minrothad Gazetteer, several attempts were made on Oran Meditor's life during the end of 990's. The first attempts were presumably made by clan Kasan, which was removed from the leadership of water elves' ethnic guild and replaced by clan Elsan. Guild Corser with its Glantrian mercenaries was behind most of the later assassination attempts, but guild Verdier was influencing their actions by infiltrators. Verdiers were playing a double game: helping Corsers to get rid of Oran and building up Bailey's group as a weapon against the Corsers. (So according to the Gazetteers, around 1000 AC Verdier was the most dangerous faction.)
But it was neither of these factions that managed to best Oran Meditor. One of the Guilds had been building a network of intrigue much more dangerous.
During one night, several people of the Palace household were savagely slain. Others disappeared without a trace - either they had been abducted or they had been complicit in the murders. It seemed that the murders centred on the close circles of Truth Greenton, the head of Meditor security forces.
This series of murders seemed however to be just a diversion, as Oran Meditor was found dead, with no marks of violence on his body. Spells by clerics of Minroth could not reach his soul or divine any information on the manner of his death. Neither could palace magists get any information on his death by magical means. If it hadn't been for the other murders and the long tradition of assassination attempts, this might have been seen as death by natural causes.
Things fell apart pretty soon after this. Truth Greenton had lost many of his valuable agents, and soon it seemed than someone had leaked information about his infiltrators in of the Family Guilds, as they were purged. (The infiltration program has been begun during the GAZ period.) Greenton was forced to go underground, because someone was clearly after him.
At the same time the official in charge of Guild Council treasury, Eliz Blanceer, decided to distance himself from Meditor rule. Blanceer decreed that until the decision about Oran's successor was made, he would only release Council funds upon Council decisions. In a chaotic decision like this, it meant practically closing the money tap.
After Oran's death the key link between the Thieves guild and the Meditor rule was severed. To make matters worse, the Privateers announced their secession from the Guild (see later who was responsible and whom they joined). The officials of the capitol, linked to the Quickfinger Guild, used the assassination as a pretext to enact the Death to Thieves edict much more vehemently than before. Very soon the old order in the Thieves Guild collapsed. Alf Shadower was left alone with only a few supporters, and the guild cells in various continental cities went independent.
After all these changes Astra and Ginol Meditor couldn't hope to keep their hold on the realm. Meditor rule was supplanted by the squabbling council of guilds. Astra Meditor remained the leader - for now - but her position was totally ceremonial.
Most of the family guilds were baffled at the latest developments. The old conspirators, Corsers and Verdiers, hadn't prepared for Oran's death. Neither of their leaders had the necessary strategic skills to take advantage of the situation. Ulard Forster was already unpopular in his clan, and his sect was hampered by the actions of their Keeper. Hildric Vendor of Corser had powerful resources, but was unsure of what to do.
...But among this chaos the real conspirator, leader of clan Elsan, was plotting the next move. He glanced at the wall of the necromantic sanctuary, on which the Flesh Jar which held the soul of Oran Meditor was screaming in silent agony. Nailed to the wall was an exact replica of the elven king's facial skin, pulled taut -- crafted after the teachings of the ancient Taymoran tomes...
Part II: Eluna Kelar's machinations
It was indeed the leader of Water elf Guild, Eluna Kelar of the Clan Elsan, who was behind Oran's death and the resulting chaos. In the eyes of the public and the competing Guilds, the Elsans had always seemed powerful yet harmless, not intent on gaining political power or supremacy in the Minrothadian confederacy.
This was perhaps due to the fact that after the political isolation of the previous ruling water elf clan, the Kasans, people couldn't believe that yet another bad apple was found in the basket. It had been Oran Meditor himself, a member of the same race (although technically of a separate ethnic-political group), who had chosen the new ruling clan. The secret Keepers of the water elves had also had a say in the matter, and their wisdom was trusted.
This couldn't have been farther from the truth. For a long time, perhaps for a couple of centuries, Eluna Kelar has been a student of lost Taymoran secrets. His/Her (sorry, have to check on this later) agents had found some tomes which depicted necromantic rituals of summoning evil spirits, possession and ripping the soul from others. Kelar was intent on using these powers in order to achieve two major aims: to gain supreme power in Minrothad, and later to gain control of the secret Pearl.
The first step was to get rid of Oran Meditor. Eluna Kelar actually had the alternative of possessing the King either herself or via a puppet-spirit. But she considered getting into the skin of the king to be way too dangerous, and she wouldn't trust a magical being to such a delicate and complex task. So Oran had to be killed.
Eluna Kelar started a slow project of getting trusted agents into Meditor court - pretty easy due to the presence of a lot of water elves there (or at least easier than to the other guilds). The next step was to possess Eliz Blanceer, the Master Treasurer, and to get him slowly removed from the centre of the court. Kelar thought that controlling the Council funds would be necessary, but Blanceer's actions would have to seem plausible. If he would start acting funny exactly the same time the king was assassinated, suspicions would arise. So a few months earlier Blanceer started to become more and more independent, alienating "himself" from the king.
The next move was surprising: Eluna Kelar formed a secret alliance with Clan Kasan! The former water elf rulers were suspicious, and rightly so, but in their powerless state they couldn't object.
They needed friends. Eluna Kelar urged Kasans to make their relationship to the Privateers stronger in order to recruit agents and bring mercenaries to the country in secret. (I deduced this relationship from the name Hamilvar Kasan in the Privateers' Guild.)
Of course such moves would have to wait a moment, so Alf Shadower wouldn't get a chance to notice and alert Oran.
Finally everything was ready. Elsan agents caused havoc in the Palace, and shielded by this diversion Eluna Kelar attacked Oran Meditor in his bedroom. Luckily Astra Meditor was away at that time.
The method of assassination was bizarre and cruel. Eluna Kelar possessed Oran's body, moving the king's soul into a "Flesh Jar" where it would be helpless and imprisoned. (I got the image of the Flesh jar from the Sandman story "Game of you".) Then Eluna Kelar simply committed a magical suicide using a Taymoran ritual that left no clues on the body. Her soul returned to her own body.
The most important thing is that Oran isn't technically dead, only his body has been destroyed. So he can't be Raised or his soul can't be consulted on his death.
After the assassination Eluna Kelar's agents and allies started to harass Truth Greenton's agents and Alf Shadower's guild.
A quick alliance was made with the Quickhands. The halfling guild's leaders don't have an idea of Elsan's plans, they are convinced that either Corsers or Kasans were behind the murder.
They just wanted to ally themselves with a likely winner of the power struggle. Elsans promised them the continued control of the capitol and other concessions in the future. The first result of the alliance was that the officials of Minrothad City began to enact the Death to Thieves edict vigorously. The cosy days of the Thieves' Guild were over. Combined with the attacks of Kasan agents, Oran Meditor's former intelligence network was soon in shatters.
Thus Astra and Ginol Meditor are virtually isolated in the palace.
Eluna Kelar's next plans are to use the Meditors by possessing one of them, possibly Ginol. Thus any plans of regaining power would come to her attention. But a much more important thing is to try to get the Corsers and the Verdiers to fight with each other.
(IMC I laid some groundwork for this in the Nomad War sub-campaign, so this was pretty easy and plausible. In this campaign scheme this will be a hard task.)
But Eluna Kelar is not the only player in town. Ulard Forster of the Verdiers still has his powerful lycanthrope network and other resources. Hildric Vendor of the Coursers has joined forces with powerful Glantrian mercenaries. There is also the Keeper of the Oak, who plans to use the powers of the Relic to 1) get rid of Ulard Forster, 2) Gain leadership of the Guild and 3) become a powerful player.