will slop in more rules and commentaries when I can hack my way through wikidot formatting here.
episode 1; obligatory starter dungeon
I hope this letter finds you well. I have come into the possession of information pointing to the possible location of a pre-sundering teleportation gate. A local merchant captain has recently sold a number of artifacts he acquired from the village of Hemsburg in the ten thousand tears region. While he clearly did not know the significance of them, the iconography on them is consistent with one of the wizard's guilds that maintained the gates in that era. Obviously, there is no known gate on that islet.
This is where you come in. Immediately proceed to the island, and determine the truth of this. If there was a mage's tower or portal complex on the island it would have been found already, so it's either overgrown or underground. Look for caves, ruins, or unexplained wild magic zones. The usual wreckage of civilization.
If you find the gate do not attempt to activate it. Even if it is in working order we have no idea where it leads. Not even if you think you can verify it's destination. As a secondary objective gather or make copies of all books, incriptions, glyphs, and such for your return. Lastly, and I cannot emphasize this too highly, under no circumstances are you to allow anyone else to know what you're looking for. I don't need to tell you the kind of money involved in locating a viable gate, and I cannot guarantee you're the only group looking.
Good hunting, and may the sun light your path.
episode 2; charcoal dragons.
"…is at best gross incompetence, and the authority's continued 'inability' to bring these criminals to heel smacks of collusion between the merchant houses and the so-called pirates." The accorded islands regional council comes under fresh assault this week from the Aurora Terris representative to Shar Kaddai, following the loss of their third packet ship to pirates in as many months. Kiani trade authority officials state that the pirate frigate in question has been brought down by the red Tyrellionamox, but rumors continue to swirl that…
episode 3; you must read from the book! (What could possibly go wrong?)
There are gaps in our historical record that cannot be explained away simply by antiquity and conflict. Yes, the sundering shattered the multiverse. Yes, it instigated an unprecedented generation of war and chaos. Yes, it destroyed scores if not hundreds of the finest libraries and universities ever known. My point still stands. Even in libraries that survived unscathed these gaps exist. It is tempting to blame the boogeymen of our history, such as shibarr or the five kings, given that one of the most notorious holes is the complete lack of any fiendish genealogy that isn't demonstrably falsified or incomplete.
But at the same time our own historical records post-sundering are sketchy at best for two solid centuries, and what little remains indicate major upheavals in celestial society. At least three major wars were fought, and the only records of them are fragmentary casualty lists and intelligence analyses of nations and leaders that didn't survive the troubles. For those of you unacquainted with the specifics, the high point is whatever occured then, the fallout is the primary reason the gods rarely exalt a new archangel.
Worst of all, it is obvious that there are parties still actively sabotaging or destroying historical records. It is a great irony that the most accurate histories of our society may be in the hands of the mortals, who lack the resources and persistence of vision to properly catalogue and preserve them.
episode 4; Get out of here, stalker
The five… well, the three kings now, but everyone knows them as the five, are some of the most studied historical figures the Order of Guardians track. While by no means unique, they're the most successful pseudonyms the clans have ever produced, and with the exception of the nameless king none have ever been positively identified. Not that we don't have our suspicions, but we've taught the remaining elders to change identities the way they change clothes. The kings were, and are, extremely aggressive when protecting their anonymity.
Of the three that remain only two are still active. The frozen king hasn't made any visible moves since the last crusade ended six centuries ago, and the bulk of his network seems to have followed him into torpor. There's a growing minority in the strategy circles that think we got him under a different personage and never made the connection, but I'm not counting him out until we get verification. Demons have resurfaced after being dead for longer than that before, and will again.
The silent king is still alive and well, and even puts in the occasional personal appearance every decade or five. For myself, I'm not sure that he's even a demon. For one, his network of lieutenants and infiltrators have never concerned themselves with clan politics to the degree the other four have, and there are a number of incidents that make a lot more sense if you make the assumption that the silent king is working at cross purposes to the great clans.
The gilded king is still active, in fits and starts, but he's been under increasing siege the last few centuries, either due to the order of avengers cutting out lieutenants where identified, or from the same kind of internecine conflict that ravaged the nameless king and his network. Hopes are high that we'll be able to identify the gilded king and reduce the three kings to two in the near future. I'm less optimistic. He has to be getting desperate, and the five kings inherited an uncomfortable number of items of power from the old dark churches, many of which are still unaccounted for. If we push him into a corner he might take the risk in using the nastier ones, and his panoply could contain enough artifacts to make his last stand profoundly destructive.
The nameless king is, of course, dead, and his network is in tatters. The gilded and silent kings absorbed some members of it, but I'm happy we have at least one thing that we can chalk up as an unqualified success.
Which is better than I can say for the ascendant king. He was put down by an avatar of Kerateka at the height of the last crusade, but he always encouraged a degree of autonomy in his underlings unusual among demonic Elders. When he died, his network didn't. It fragmented, and parts of it are dead, but enough of his servants have stayed unified to become a major thorn in our side when they went into business for themselves. At least they're smart enough to keep their tails out of choir business, but I feel the ascendant king's death just turned one problem into several.
episode 5; Halls of the Old World
It's not a coincidence that so many of the little nations that sprung to the fore in the aftermath of the sundering were so organized and well-armed. While a lot of places were lucky enough to make it through unscathed, aside from the now cliche rains of burning ash, midnights noons, hordes of risen undead, and what have you, places with major military installations tended to be luckier than others. In pre-sundering times strong magical workings and military utility were almost synonymous, and even without the expectations of a military fortification wizards have a paranoia about their personal security that gives even clannic elders a good run for their money.
Where was I? Oh, yes. Foundings. Aurora Terris's heartland contained, among other things, the primary garrisons of the crimson and gold legions, what we know as Tagan Jibatta now originally coalesced around the ancient celestial fortress-city of Alabaster, the core of the Matriarch's Aerie has wards that rank among the best in the multiverse. Closer to home, Kiani boasted the Darmok Khul royal naval academy and the foundations of the gatehub that forms the core of the city's prosperity today. These were all sites that boasted not only a pocket of civilization and industry, but also the magical wards to see them through the sundering unscathed and the military force to secure their borders in the new world that swallowed them.
All three things were needed to rebuild afterwards. People, wards, and arms. The Skysea is littered with the ruins of those that had only one or two of them. Those with the first two got folded into those with all three, and those with the last two tended to be lost… and well, that's where you kids come in.
The latter two were usually military installations. Redoubts, armories. golem foundries, magical research labs, manawells, and, of course, doomsday caches. The original builders hadn't intended the name to be quite so literal, I think. Most of them have been found over the millenia, but there are still a few major ones unaccounted for. There's a master list the royal academy has been collecting for millenia of all the really big caches that are still unaccounted for, and there's some real doozies on that list. Not that I need to tell any of you that.
episode 6; Purity of Will
Alright. The first thing to remember about the Purity of Will is it's not *evil* evil, at least the way the priests like to gas on about. I mean despite it having been forged by ancient and thankfully lost rites of unspeakable nightmare. When Sephoris grabbed the thing it didn't immediately make him want to go start burning down orphanages or anything like that. If it was that blatantly evil, people would be smart enough to not try and use it. If it had done anything it would have tried to eat his soul. Maybe if we're lucky we'll find what's left of his corpse in a few months, and we can bury the stick and all go home, but I'm not betting on that.
Purity of Will's one of Abris's old projects, and she liked more subtle insanities. What Purity does, at least as far as I can gather from the histories, is make it's bearer certain. Absolutely certain. If that doesn't sound dangerous I have a few histories you should read before trying to argue with me about it. I don't know what long term plans- well, that's kind of a lie. I know some bits and pieces. Something something end the brewing civil war in aurora terris something something advance his faction something something. But if he can survive invoking the artifact and binding it to him, he's going to try to implement them, because he'll be absolutely certain of the need for them, and he'll carry them through to the bitter end.
That would be bad enough if he didn't have access one of the most powerful artifacts in the multiverse as part of the bargain. Purity of Will's one of the more dangerous soul-crushers in existence. I… don't think he has the training and power to use it as anything more than a particularly dangerous weapon, but again, I'm not in a betting mood right now. And while we're at it… reminder it was made by Abris. The artifact is effectively invisible to all scrying magics I'm aware of. And before you say anything Kal, yes. Shielding an arcane reservior that big that thoroughly shouldn't be possible. The gods cheat. We'll have to find him the hard way.