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Red Arrow, Black Shieldby Rutger Dag
Two parties of adventurers are referenced below, The Misadventurers and The Unexpected.
A creature the Misadventurers call “the eldritch” has been released by them into the world. It traveled with them in the guise of an old storyteller, subtly manipulating them until the reveal, at which time it took over the body of Stefan Karameikos, leaving a very confused Stefan in the body of an old man. They’ve gone on to discover different secrets of history, like an ancient, short lived, witch kingdom run by a monstrous witch named Igwilv, a council of wise women that was subverted by Igwilv, and a plan to summon 13 Lords of Nightmare (the eldritch). This plan, and the witch kingdom itself, was disrupted 2000 years ago by Halav, Petra, and Zirchev and the sudden invasion of the beastman horde.
The Misadventurers are in the middle of X5, and they’ve found that Stefan has been remotely manipulating The Master. The latter summoned the Nightmare Lord, not realizing that he was already in the normal world, and therefore not subject to spell controls. I suspect the characters will defeat the one Master, with the other fleeing east to take personal control of his armies. His four hundred year plan has been to acquire immortality, two requirements of which are to “cause massive bloodshed, most often by war and conquest and bring a great evil into the world (like a Nightmare Lord)”.
Meanwhile, very normal political machinations are happening as well. Glantri finds its alchemical ingredients heavily taxed by the Church of Thyatis in Karameikos. Due to the murder of the Ferenescu boys (yes, THOSE Ferenescus of Marilinev, widely known for their alchemical pursuits), Lady Albu Arness was able to wrest control of security for portions of the Duke’s Road from the Church of Thyatis (especially between Specularum and Penhaligon, excepting the immediate area of Kelvin’s barony). She does this by using humanoids who are safely charmed. Turns out though, they’re not. Her real name is Ilyana Penhaligon and she is solely interested in taking Penhaligon. Recently, a group of adventurers uncovered her plans, causing her to more closely align with Stefan, who is currently possessed by the Nightmare Lord. He has sent her to the Northern Reaches to hire mercenaries in order to assist with Karameikos’ interests. She is sometimes known as “the White Queen”. This comes from an ancient song, written by the eldritch incidentally, that refers to “the white queen, from whom all was stolen.” It’s a reference to Igwilv, whom he considers his mother, who is currently trapped on an infernal plane. Ilyana associated herself with the line, considering the untried girl Arteris having stolen everything that is rightfully hers.
As of the beginning of X10, The Unexpected have chased the white queen to Akesoli, possibly after having a close call with her at Rhoona (replace the shaman there with her, having been sent by Kadan Khan to perform Cretia’s machinations there…not sure if that will happen before or during the war). They find Akesoli in celebration. Darokin has just won a great victory, or soon will. The desert nomads had stepped up their raiding, largely sacking and looting Sind and proceeding to Darokin. The two most elite units of the Grand Republican Army have entered the desert to defeat their foe, and will soon return victorious. Just to be safe, a whole host of other recruits have been sent after them. That’s the Grand Republican Army, which is decimated in the middle of the Sind Desert. It comprises the first two units that are normally available in X10 (see troop schedule).
The Master’s forces invade, catching the city by surprise, and the pcs may participate and react as given in the module. The party will become aware of a guard captain named Boris Staffleheim who is desperately trying to protect Greenleaf Vickers of Umbarth House in escaping the city. Assisting can lead straight to Mendel Callister of Toney House in Akorros asking the party to go to Darokin and head a special permission that has the “full support and funding of all the major houses”. The two house leaders will take their part and win over Corwyn Mauntea. The houses are aware of the party’s association with The White Queen, who is now heading the Master’s diplomatic efforts. They ask the party to take on their mission and tell them who the ambassador in each location is. The local ambassador of each nation will help the party with culture, setting, political awareness, etc.
I’m getting rid of the prophecy, the gem, and everything connected to it. There is no Glantrian mage to tell them they are the chosen ones. In my view, The Master really doesn’t need to be undefeatable. Instead, he’s after the quest for immortality in the Sphere of Entropy, which both includes a requirement of conquest and the acquisition of a certain artifact found in an ancient city of Liches within Nithia. His plan is first to ally with Ylaruam, but ultimately he’ll turn on them if necessary.
· 8 miles to the hex. I’ve removed any settlement smaller than a town except a few key locations. The assumption is that, with the war, villages have been abandoned.
· I’ve labeled the towns, cities, and capitals, except where capitals are named after the country. Forts, towers, and other sites of interest are not named.
· Movements as listed will still work, but turns will be day-based.
· Changed forested hills to be just hills (or trees depending on area). Movement effects are the same and it simplifies the map.
· The red skull and crossbones are areas of danger. In Ethengar they represent Hakoman sites. The Hakoman may be good, neutral or evil and the area is likely to be buffeted by winds, sometimes poisonous and otherwise a generally dangerous place to be. Any time a unit enters such a space, roll a d6. 1-2 it’s bad, 3-4 it’s neutral, and 5-6 it’s good. Smell, for instance, could mean that the unit is considered seriously fatigued per the rules due to nausea, or it could be that it suddenly smells nice and airy with the faint scent of flowers, or it could be that the smell is so nice that it increases their morale.
o The unit’s smell
o The unit’s speed
o The unit’s attack (blessing or curse)
o Awareness of a nearby magical item (harmful, neutral or helpful…maybe a whole cache of weapons to up the BR)
o Magical portal (to some place bad, some place neutral, or some place good…place can be another plane or somewhere on the map)
o Strange wind (poison-10% of unit, remove all hair or somesuch nonsense, or recover 10% of unit)
· The Good Magic points of Alfheim will double the BR bonuses provided by spellcasters in the unit. It also allows any good unit to replenish its forces each turn.
· The Bad Magic points of Alfheim do the same as the good, but for the other side.
· Sayr Ulan is cut off the map and Akesoli works just fine as The Master’s base of operations in the east. He’ll pour his forces in enough strength there to hold it. PCs can still do heroics, allow more people to escape, and potentially have a starting unit in Akorros faster if they manage it. If it doesn’t work out for some reason, you can always add something like the Wendarian and Westrourke circles.
· Ruins will allow any unit with monstrous forces to recruit (replenish). They also provide fortifications in case of siege. Units that consist primarily of a particular humanoid have the following bonuses.
o Trolls: free movement in swamp, marsh, and bog. Movement of 4
o Goblins: free movement in hills and forest. Movement of 4
o Orcs and Hobgoblins: movement of 6
· There is a symbol in the north of Glantri. If they travel to that symbol, the character token is placed on the 10 in the row of numbers in the south of the map. Each turn, it progresses to the left until it hits “1”. At that point, they can play through the Shadowlord module and acquire the Wendarian army, which will be placed one unit at a time on the bottom row of numbers at the 10, progressing each turn till it hits 1, at which point it can be placed on the northern symbol. The pcs will return to the map in much the same way. Glantri will permit the army to pass through.
o 1st Army of Wendar
o 2nd Army of Wendar
· The Duchy of Westrourke operates similarly to Wendar, except it is 7 turns rather than 10.
· Ultimately the golden khan wants to conquer the world. Any agreements he makes should be toward this end. If the PCs go here, they will find many of the Ethengar look at them in a way that makes them uncomfortable. Some of the khans may openly denounce them or challenge them to fight their champions. Potentially read the section from page 10 of the gazetteer. Moglai will challenge the emissaries to defeat the orc stronghold of Dast. “Darokin has been unable or unwilling to do it, so by Cretia I will side with the force that brings me the head of the orc chief!”
o Starting Alliance Number: 5
o -1 for each of the following who ally with Darokin: Glantri, Soderfjord, Ostland, Vestland.
o -1 if PCs resolved Curse of Xanathon
o +1 for each honorable fight as above.
o +1 if any PC is especially known for prowess with a bow and horsemanship.
The Kingdom of Vestland
· The Kingdom of Vestland is currently without a king. If the PCs complete Curse of Xanathon, Norrvik will request they appear and Crown of Ancient Glory can be played through.
o Starting Alliance Number: 7
o +2 Curse of Xanathon
o +3 Crown of Ancient Glory
o -1 if Ethengar enters the war on Darokin’s side.
o +1 if Ethengar enters the war on The Master’s side.
The Kingdom of Ostland
· Meeting Hord Darkeye should have a dark, threatening mood. Maybe it culminates with one of the henchmen getting into a verbal scuffle with a party member. If the party speaks with Asra, she will encourage them to remove the threat and then she will take their part.
o Starting Alliance Number: 7
o +2 if Asra argues on their behalf.
o +1 if the party makes a “strong showing”.
o +1 if the party aids the Isle of Dawn colonies somehow.
o +1 if the party brings an appropriate gift.
o -1 if Thyatis enters on Darokin’s side (their naval ships often stop the Ostland ships).
o -1 if Ierendi enters on Darokin’s side (their naval ships often stop the Ostland ships).
o +1 if the halflings join Darokin (they respect the spirit of the Halfling pirates)
The Soderfjord Jarldoms
· Each town will have to be traveled to and each Jarl will have to be dealt with. Then there will be an althing at the capital and a vote.
o Starting Alliance Number 7
o +1 for each Jarl won over (events may include an adventure, a hunt, wrestling, flagon contest).
o -1 if Ostland is on the side of Darokin.
o +1 if Vestland is on the side of Darokin.
The Empire of Thyatis
· Lots going on in this cosmopolitan place. Gladiator battles, hippodromes, theaters. But meeting the emperor is a different matter. After a while the ambassador will suggest talking to a particular senator, who needs a job done. The senator will launch them on Drums on Fire Mountain
o Starting Alliance Number 5
o +3 if Ylaruam joins The Master
o +1 for each PC who agrees (under power of geas) to go north and be his agents in Norwold. “Be aware, there is a contingency in this geas such that I will know if you betray the good people of Thyatis.”
The Atruaghin Clans
· Needs some special attention.
The Kingdom of Ierendi
· Needs some special attention.
The Emirates of Ylaruam
· Ylaruam has recently suffered a coup and the kindly old Caliph was replaced by Ali Ben Faisel. He is sympathetic toward The Master’s plans.
o Starting Allliance Number: 5
o -1 for each of the following to ally with Darokin: Thyatis, Soderfjord, Alfheim, Karameikos
o -1 for each city conquered by the nomads
o -1 for each nauseated pc at the Caliph’s feast
o +3 for recovering (something special) from The Ruins of Andril
o +5 for defeating The Lich Lords.
o +10 if the PCs find the rightful caliph and stage a coup without it being too publicly known.
The Kingdom of Rockhome
· King Everast would love to help. He is enthusiastic in his praise of Darokin. “Not at all like those blasted elves, no offense to any of you who are elves, I’ve known a few who were unafraid of confined spaces. But see here, I have my own kingdom to think about. I have some problems. Large problems. I can’t just send my army away on a foreign adventure and leave my people unprotected.” No minus for Alfheim. He doesn’t hate elves, mostly grumps about them for show.
o Starting Alliance Number: 7
o +2 Steading of Hill Giant Chief
o +2 Rift of Frost Giant Jarl
o +2 something of the Fire Giant something.
The Kingdom of Alfheim
· The King will be grave and apologetic. Of course, the closer the nomads get, the more he sees them as an existential threat. Though, as is the nature of elves, he figures Alfheim could quickly teach The Master to leave its inner forest alone. But then something comes up. A tree of life is dying. If the PCs will be discreet and end the threat and never speak of it, he will likely be able to convince the clans to join in the battle.
o Starting Alliance Number: 7
o +3 The Tree of Life
o +1 for each additional town after Akesoli that’s fallen.
The Five Shires
· At the capital they learn that each of the sheriffs has to be dealt with personally. One has a problem with a deep glaurant. One has a problem where an armor of blackflame was stolen. Another two need help with their argument over who owns a particular clan tapestry. And, of course, the easternmost needs Black Eagle dealt with.
o Starting Alliance Number: 8
o +1 for each clan sheriff who is won over
o -1 if they’re accused of piracy.
The Kingdom of Wendar
· All they really have to do here is play through Saga of the Shadowlord.
The Duchy of Westrourke
· Something cool here.
The Knights of Heldann
· Something cool here.
The Minrothad Guilds
· The guilds are concerned about the halfling pirates. It’s possible that getting the Ierendi fleet to protect Minrothad ships may help.
o Starting Alliance Number: 6
o +2 for War Rafts of Kron
o -1 if The Five Shires enters on the side of Darokin.
· The Master’s emissaries, headed by The White Queen, will reach out to Dast, C’Kag, and the other humanoid lands and peoples. Who knows, the PCs might think to do so as well. In such a situation, a trial by combat may very well decide it.
The numbers are half the fighting capacity of each unit, the others staying home for defense. Darokin or an ally can move to anticipate, which will likely mean a siege of the stronghold in question. The percents listed below represent the possible outcomes for any overture, whether the pcs or the Master! Roll a d4
§ Eaten outright
§ Slain but they mobilize anyway.
§ Enter on the side of the entreating diplomats
§ Bloody Tooth Horde of Dast 2500 orcs
§ Oothrang’s Fist of Grukk 3500 orcs
§ Brutal Skulls of Xorg 1500 orcs
§ Greedy Maw of C’Kag 125 trolls
§ Goblins of the Dymrak 4000 goblins
§ Army of the Broken Lands
· Eventually, The Lich Lords will return to Nithia, The Master will arrive in the east in his aged body, and the eldritch will make his move on the ancient undead city in Nithia.