Domain of the Month
More information can be found on Azalin and Darkon in the core rule books books Realm of Terror, Domains of Dread, and the Ravenloft Campaign Setting, the 3rd edition books Ravenloft 3rd Edition, Ravenloft Dungeon Master's Guide, Ravenloft Players Handbook, Ravenloft Gazetteer II and Secrets of the Dread Realms.
One of Azalin's barons was less than perfectly honest in his bookkeeping practices during his liege's lengthy absence. He managed to keep his position after Azalin's return through quick thinking and the presentation of fake ledgers, but it's only a matter of time until Azalin perceives the deception - after all, once he becomes curious about it, he can simply read the man's mind. The baron seeks to repair his territory's fortunes through a fast infusion of cash, by using adventurers to hunt down one of the many bandit groups infesting southern Darkon and steal for himself what the bandits have stolen from others. Of course, once the adventurers are done, they'll have to be... silenced.
As an additional complication, the bandit leader might be the reason why the baron's fortunes are in such dire straits. Perhaps they were once partners in crime, the bandit lord stealing from other baron's and his patron laundering money through government accounts.
While travelling the treacherous Mistlands the ground collapses beneath the PCs feet and they fall down. They awaken to find themselves within a deep, dark catacomb where countless victims of an ancient Crimson Death epidemic are buried. Other parts of the structure are even older and possibly not made by the hands of Men. The entire place is also a Sinkhole of Silence, so they cannot interact with each other vocally and none can hear them scream... They must find a way out back to the surface before the thing stalking them in the dark corridors catches up with them- or is it simply a hallucination of their fevered imaginations, amplified by the darkness, mist and unnatural silence, and their worst enemy is their own terror?
Strange lights are seen in the swamps around Viaki at nights. The ground is trembling, pulsating and gorging forth its slimy denizens. Something is awakening- something ancient and terrible... A cult is rising in the shadier parts of town, worshipping said thing as a herald of freedom from Azalin Rex's tyranny. By order of the King, the PCs are sent to investigate this mysterious group of anarchists and find out who (or what?) their dark "god" is. Here are a couple of possible options:
- A bog Ancient Dead of at least 3rd rank
- A Hezrou Demon
- An Aboleth, preferably a spellcaster
- The omens are but a fraud created by the Baron of Viaki with the aid of a Wizard to start a rebellion against Azalin.
A wealthy patron (actually a Kargat agent working on Azalin's behalf) asks the PCs to retrieve an ancient Shadow Fey artefact from the underground caverns under Arak. The truth is that the artefact is a seal, holding a Nightcrawler in check. Once the artefact is removed the creature will be unleashed and will wreak terrible havoc on the area. Through use of another artefact and the souls of the Nightcrawler's victims Azalin hopes to fuel another of his dread schemes. Will he succeed this time?
A vicious storm is brewing, and the PCs are forced to take shelter in an abandoned Baron's keep deep in the wilds. The truth is that the place is located just above a warren of especially cunning Ghouls (ruled by a truly psychotic Ghoul Lord), who lock all exits the moment the PCs come in. The only way out is DOWN- will the PCs survive with their flesh intact?
A large and wealthy family suffers a loss and has no direct heir to much of the family’s fortunes and no will was left. While the relatives fight one day a newcomer enters into the mix claiming to have been raised in Lamordia despite being born in Darkon and that he was the abducted son of the deceased long presumed dead. But is his claim true or is he just “discovering his roots” as the Darkonians might say? Either party might hire adventurers to prove or disprove the claim. There is also the possibility it is an elaborate con-job.
During Azalin’s disappearance his consciousness was spread across the minds of every sentient being in Darkon, essentially everyone had a piece of the Lord in them. This has had a negative effect on many including a very devout priest of the Eternal Order than became convinced his god was speaking to him (because he essentially was). Over the past several years since this the Priest has descended farther and farther into madness and righteous fury over the order’s loss of prestige and power and it is only a matter if time before takes some action against the heretics and abandoners. After all, it is the will of his ‘god’.
Igor the Henchman
Something strange is happening in Maykle’s Clangor Asylum. Not only all the inmates have suddenly become aggressive and murderous, they also seem to be controlled by some exterior force. In truth, it is the work of a ghost of a scheming doctor who used to work there. The ghost has the power to possess the people inside the clinic, getting from one host to another. The ghost believes its efforts will cure the patients, but in truth, all it does is making them more demented.
Inside a large library of Martira Bay, a wizard unwarily opens a mystic portal, leading to an eerie, surreal domain ruled by evil mind flayers. After slaying the poor spellcaster, the illithids find themselves trapped in the world of men. Acting quickly, they make the library their lair, slowly taking control of the city’s populace. The flayers’ goal is to find means to return to their home realm. But how many innocents will have to be sacrificed for them to achieve it?
I'm itching to try this when my campaign hits Darkon. I think someone on one of the boards gave me the idea, but I'm not sure, I may have thought it up myself...
After the PC's enter Darkon and explore a bit, they find that whatever they came to Darkon for somehow involves the Kargat. They get a tip on the whereabouts of a Kargat stronghold, and head towards it to (find the artefact/save the princess/stop the ritual/whatever they came to Darkon for)
Now, stop the game, say you want to try something new: an interactive cut scene. Give the players each a pre-gen character, weak ones with maybe only NPC classes. Start them as heads on shelves, as in From the Shadows, with some bare bones info about their background.
When they escape and have to find their way out of the castle, they stumble on the library, where they see the quill writing out the stories of their lives. But if they flip back a few pages, they see that the stories have started very recently, and on the page before that is the story of their real PC's, which ends with an ambush by the Kargat who locked them in a cell until they "found their roots" and then delivered them to Azalin. With a shock, they realize they are not ordinary farmers, merchants, and whatever, but adventurers who have had their memories drained. And that this is not a cut-scene, but that you merely jumped ahead a couple months. Once they cross out their names from the Book of Names, the memories come rushing back, provoking madness checks, of course.
To minimize the chance of them guessing the twist, make sure to swap the characters around. Player A's burly fighter becomes Player B's burly longshoreman, Player B's beautiful bard becomes player C's farmer's daughter, etc. And of course, try not to mention any distinguishing features. They are only pre-gen's after all, right?
A low ranking noble has recently attended one of Azalin's social gatherings and was particularly subjected to the drugs therin. Now the devout husband and father is wracked with unbearable guilt from his actions and is seeking to hire someone to escort him to a monastary away from the city. He knows a man of his position traveling with a small enterage may provoke kidnapping attempts for purposes of randsom or assasination attempts from less honest rivals. But at the same time unleashing thirty plus years of pent up urges and desires has had a prowfounly liberating effect and the noble is finding it harder and harder to resist further temptation much to the chagrin of any female party members of attractive maidens encountered on the journey.
Rotting in a cell in Avernus is a man branded with the Falkovnian mark. He was a high-ranking Falkovnian general once, who fought in the Dead Man's Campaign. But after a particularly bloody defeat, he saw which way the wind was blowing and tried to defect. He thought his knowledge of Drakov's strategies would be valuable to the tyrant's sworn enemy. He thought wrong.
When he presented himself to Azalin, the lich merely laughed. "Do you think the mercenary poses any threat to me at all? He is an annoyance, nothing more. He cannot conquer my land any more than I can conquer his. His only strategy is to throw more men at me. And with each attack, I am strengthened and he is weakened. My troops are far easier to recruit." But Azalin foresaw that the defector could be useful in another way, and did not kill him. He has been languishing for years, driven half-mad by the solitude and memory of his own folly. And still Azalin keeps him alive. But for what purpose?
A powerful crime syndicate, The Black Dragons reemerged in the wake of Azalin's disappearance taking over much of the crime organisations in eastern Darkon. Now with Azalin's return and the reestablishment of his rule and Law he wants them gone, but they won't go easily.
Wiccy of the Fraternity
In the far north lies a small village that spends much of the year lost in the mists, but for nearly a month each autumn, the mists receed and deposit this small settlement back on the map. Over the years, many of the people there have grown weary, xenophobic and extremely paranoid of everything about them. They may have good reason to do so. Each time the mists receed and the village appears, the ages of all the inhabitants alter, some are younger, other older, some are not present while others are, but appear once more whe nthe village returns once more. Many small folk tales mention the village under a curse after slighting a trade with a vistani caravan.
For nearly two centuries the former land of Arak has been desolate after having been laid waste by terrible storms, but it is not all abandoned and have become partially resettled in the long years since. A medium of some renown takes refuge in the area, her skill is said to be unrivalled throughout the core, but her talent is not all that much of a blessing. Each time she becomes host to a spirit, that spirit dominates her for a time, sometimes for only a few hours, at others time up to a month passes before she casts the spirit out. What makes it worse is that not all of these spirits are friendly.
A hook with a fantasy streak:
- A guild of assassins opperates in Darkon. It is composed of soulknives trained by an enigmatic leader known only with the name "Starblade". The guild is tolerated by the Kargat. The soulknives kill and get paid without questions, while the don't interfere much with the politics or the intrigue.
Still the assassins aren't connected with the Kargat, so their hands remain (mostly) clean. Every now and then, a Kargat agent tells a Kargatane to contact the guild and a victim is killed a few days later. Just that.
The guild consists of Starblade, a trio of lieutenants (6-8th lvl soulknives), 6-7 veteran members (3rd - 4th lvl) and 2 - 3 green recruits (1st - 2nd lvl). That is 12 - 14 members. After all, it is an assassin guild not an army.
There are endless ways where the PCs could get involved.
- The PCs are to protect an important man, who knows a secret that the Kargat thinks dangerous.
- The PCs interfere with the workings of a Kargat agent in a town and he, not wanting to lead them to himself or endanger himself with a difficult job contacts the guild.
- The Soulknives aren't human. They are human looking calibans created by a dark experiment. "Starblade" is a wizard/soulknife. Use the QtR 8 for extra rules on calibans.
DM's Thoughts about Darkon:
Darkon has a RMR 4 to 5. That is too much for such a large domain IMO. People believe in magic, but still, this is Ravenloft. I would rule that most of the domain is RMR 3, while there are areas with RMR 4 or even 5.
80% of Darkon RMR 3, 15% RMR 4, 5% RMR 5
A 9th lvl wizard wants to secure a desolate area that has RMR 5 for his tower and laboratory. In the area (2 x 3 miles) there is only a small village with 250 people. The village has a wizard, but he is just 3rd lvl and a trio of clerics but they are 1st - 4th lvl only.
The wizard is (justly) curious as WHY such a magic-rich piece of land doesn't has a powerful temple or a guild of wizards. He approaches the adventurers and asks them to look in this matter for him.
Possible answers are:
-Anyone casting a spell (arcane or divine) has a chance (splvl -2)% to attract the attention of vengeful spirits killed by magic long ago. That means that a 4th lvl spell has a 2% to attract attention while a 6th lvl spell has a 4% to attract attention. Each time a character draws attention, 1d3 spirits appear the next round.
The spirits are 8 HD incorporeal undead, with SR 21, touch attack doing 1d8+5 damage (like an inflict light wounds spell) +1d3 damage (not drain!) on the prime ability score of a spellcaster they touch. The prime ability score is intelligence for wizards, wisdom for clerics, etc.
To lift this curse, the PCs will have to search the area's past and put the spirits of the dead to rest, by performing a certain ritualistic ceremony at the solstice.
Yaoi Huntress Earth
With sorcerer class added, Azalin might become interested in how these people don't have to learn magic in order to use it. Believing it to be a key to cheating his curse, he has his Kargat start kidnapping sorcerers.
Somewhere, deep within the catacombs of Tempe Falls, is the lair of a hideous spirit known as the "Eater of the Light." This being claims to be from the Gray Realm, and it steals eyes in order to fuel the warped plans of its master, an even more terrible spirit known by some as "The True King Of the Darkness."
Recently, more and more citizens of Tempe Falls are going blind, suggesting that the Eater of the Light has become active once more. Baron Gunderin personally hires the PCs to exterminate this eye-eating menace, once and for all.
One aspect of the original Black Box setting (which has endured through today) is the memory loss that affects all newcomers. Not even Azalin himself was immune to this - he had to locate the Book of Names before he realized what was going on.
His own experience is interesting too. While searching for a way out of the realm, he challenged and fought a creature in Castle Avernus. This was an essential step towards regaining his memory, but all he learned was that he could have escaped if he had not defeated the creature!
I recently watched the movie Memento and although the plot left me unsatisfied, I thought it could be a compelling way to start off a campaign. With new PCs, your players would be unassuming bakers, millers, and maybe reeves in the Darkonian countryside, with troubling dreams and signs of a previous life turning up.
Then people start trying to kill them. They now have to piece together who they were, and what they did, to explain why they're targeted men and women. As they make each connection, the DM can gift them Skills and Feats they had forgotten. Even Spells and ability scores could change as a part of this.
The discoveries could be quite disturbing. Several possibilities:
Nothing political. Maybe an group of entrepreneurs went against the will of their aristocratic Lamordian families and decided to do business in the "stinking backwaters of darkest Darkon". Now they're doing very well, but are neglecting to send back money for their spouses and children for some strange reason. Their spouses want to know why, their children want them back, and envious suitors want them dead. Child support never looked so unappealing as when trained bailiffs are coming after you.
Currently, I'm thinking of a spy scenario where they learn about their past involvement with the Kargatane. Who knows? They may even have had a hand in the crafting of the Doomsday Device, and may hold some information about how to permanently contract (i.e., destroy) the troublesome blot called Necropolis...
Another thing I thought of. The function of the Book of Names in Avernus doesn't stop just because you may rediscover your past life. Eventually, the quill will go back to your name and start re-writing over the previous entries, causing you to lose your memories all over again until you leave Darkon! Perhaps if the characters are enterprising enough, the final mission in their hurried campaign of rediscovering themselves would be to infiltrate Avernus and take the appropriate measure with the Book to prevent them from ever losing their memories again.
Of course, if Azalin himself is around, especially if the PCs have repeatedly been foiling his Kargat's plans, they may have more than they bargained for once they get into his castle...
Dragonlance – Ravenloft crossover
With reading all the memory Ctrl-alt-dlting talk I couldn’t help but form a great and wonderful campaign. Mainly used for characters who love an outside world i.e. Forgotten Realms, Dragonlance, Darksun. This adventure idea is also great for people who would like a great explosive ending. Right now I’m running the beginning of this campaign with pc's from Dragonlance. A wizard unknowing he's an aspect of Raistlin the magegod when he destroyed krynn, a fighter unknowing he’s an aspect of Chemosh, a cleric unknowing she's an aspect of Paladine, a bard unknowing he’s an aspect of Gilean, and a thief unknowing she’s an aspect of Takhisis.
The basis I have is that there is that permanent portal on Krynn to Ravenloft thus Raistlin in a vain attempt to circumvent eternal torment in void he takes the portal. Upon entering in the land of mists the most power entities he consumed were expelled (Chemosh was one of them due to sapping Raistlin’s power as he was helping him murder the other gods) As they all are expelled and free on Darkon , the dark powers seize the wonderful moment and re write their memories with the book of names in their extremely weakened and vulnerable state placing them in the hands of Azalin's domain. The dark powers of course have also robbed them of their levels and divinity by destroying their memories. Also unless they know they are aspects of divinity they have to access to those powers and luxuries (if anyone has read Amber and Iron you know what I mean thank you MINA)
With the book 'o names kept in mind. The characters begin in some very arbitrary place with a DM's crafted memory of their back ground. They are set about in one of Darkon’s organizations. The organization which ever it may be would be the pc's wards and send them about on missions. After a few missions or so the pc's come across an outlander from Krynn...maybe a red robe...who has yet to succumb fully to the memory mumbo jumbo due to adventuring himself across the core. This NPC will recognize the pc's as something great and marvellous or terrible even from their world but no longer remembers their names or who/what they were. Thus begins the true campaign of discovering who they are/were. Ending of course in Avernus with the book of names and a fight with a very infuriated Azalin, jealousy envy makes for a horrible want to kill. One the memories return the pcs are
Either way all the gods in question deserve the fate of Ravenloft for allowing Krynn to be destroyed. Raistlin is a no brainer, Tahkisis for her hand in Fistandantalus and for being duped into getting killed. Paladine for being so patient and not acting like a leader when he should have (getting all he gods of light to squish the mage god) Chemosh for helping Raistlin and sapping his power. And Gilean for doing nothing and writing in a book the entire time...jerk.... However I need to know does the book cross over into other domain? And any criticism or ideas as to what one can do with it?
Came across this NPC in the Il Aluk "Important Characters" section of Gaz II. She's a female human shadow Ftr7/Ksh1. And apparently a glassmaker. Is that all we've got on her? She doesn't show up in the catalogue. Anyone use her? Presumably she became a shadow during the Requiem. Cute irony, but it probably makes her pretty unpopular at the yearly meeting in the Shadowlands.
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Send your adventure hooks to Joel@fraternityofshadows.com