Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Kinder of the Sky

After the arrival of the Kali Empire, it was still many years before natives from within the Pyrax System began to make their way through space.  The eladrin of Arboria were early adopters of the kali arcane spelljamming technology.  The eladrin Court of Stars began the ancient Pyraxi Alliance among the kingdoms of the neighboring planets of Arcadia and Elysium, and began settlements on these planets.  Over many years, the eladrin of Arcadia became known as elves, and the eladrin of Elysium became the drow.  Eventually the drow turned to the evil of the Tetrahedron, but that is a tale for another day.

While the elves have only reticently embraced space travel, the spacefaring eladrin and drow have long had a presence in Diamond City.  The arcane order they created ages ago was called the Fireseed Circle.  Only one drow remains a baron in the city; many other races and classes now fill the ranks of the order.  The Fireseed Circle has never held power in the city, but some say its time is at hand.  The Circle grows slowly over time, but now has some of the most powerful figures of the city at its helm.  Chief among them is the elusive Hummingbird Baron and his cabal, the Kinder of the Sky.

Thursday, September 11, 2014

The Luminous Caliphate

Aside from the evil Scourge of the Stars, the second largest force in the solar system is the Luminous Caliphate.  This massive organization is ruled from the elemental planet Pandemonium by the Luminous Caliph Mual-Tar.

The Luminous Caliphate was formed ages ago, as a result of the planet Pandemonium's proximity to Limbo and the Tetrahedron.  As the demonic forces of the Tetrahedron began to invade and conquer Pandemonium, the leader and most powerful of the Nine Immortals, Archomen, claimed stewardship over the tempestuous planet.  Even with his assistance, the massive planet continued to fall bit by bit into the hands of the demons.  When all seemed lost, Archomen divided himself into seven elemental lords that would protect the vast and various lands of that planet.  Each of the elemental lords claimed rulership of a different aspect of Pandemonium.  This division of his power into multiple forms turned the tide of the war, and drove most of the surviving demons into hiding or retreat.  Unfortunately, the process of splitting himself into component beings caused radical flaws in the new elemental lords.  These new beings are not as noble, humble, or selfless as Archomen.  Over time, the powerful elemental lords began to make war with each other, until the armies of the storm lord Mual-Tar proved victorious.  He established an interplanetary Caliphate, naming himself the Luminous Caliph. His subordinate lords on Pandemonium he named the Elemental Sultanate.  He proceeded to enact a plan to unite the solar system under his banner, in the name of defeating once and for all the various invading forces of the Tetrahedron and the Scourge of the Stars.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Under the Skyport Part 1: Dueling Pixies

Under the Skyport is an adventure for Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition.  It is designed for a starting party of three to five 1st level player characters (PCs) .  If there are more or less PCs simply adjust the number of opponents as needed.

The PCs begin play having only recently been hired by a newly formed detective agency in Five Fingers, a neighborhood in South Gonga District, Diamond City.  The new agency is aptly named Five Fingers Agency.  Some PCs may be on their first day on the job, others might have been with the agency since it opened three months ago. 

The PC’s employer is an goliath male in his late 50s named Carnatine, who owns the agency.  None of the PCs know Carnatine particularly well, as he is often absent the office while pursuing his political interests.  He says he used to be an adventurer who has retired into management.  Money always seems to be an issue for Carnatine, and he isn’t motivated to put any resources toward the missions of his agency.  He often espouses communist economic ideas that run counter to the common practice in the city, and belongs to a local organization that discusses and promotes these ideas.  Carnatine doesn’t play a part in this adventure, but he will become more prominent in the future, so you should be able to describe him briefly to the players if they ask about the agency. 

The agency’s latest client, Glitterbug, is a pixie warlock in oath-bound service to the hummingbird baron, Peder Starfly.  She has light brown skin and wears rollerskates, although the PCs never see her set foot on the ground.  While one of the PCs (chosen at random) is standing outside on a warm summer evening, she approaches the agency with a chicken on the end of a leash.  It is unclear who is leading whom. 

Glitterbug ties the chicken to a post outside the agency, and enters.  If you think your players would enjoy a bit of opening scene zanity, Glitterbug can bring the chicken inside, where it escapes the fairy and runs amuck in the lobby.  She yells at the bird (named Sandwich) until it the PCs catch it.  Glitterbug bought Sandwich that morning to take home and slaughter for an actual sandwich, but she grew attached and has been taking the chicken around with her all day.  She promised the chicken that she would free it in the countryside, but first she wants to show it a good time out on the town.  Eventually she ties the chicken up outside and proceeds.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Mapping the Fight Pit

I'm creating an original Dungeons and Dragons Fourth Edition adventure tentatively called Under the Skyport.  The first major battle sequence takes place in an illegal monster fighting pit in Diamond City.  I just finished the map for level 1, and I'm thrilled with the results.  It's drawn by hand and colored in Photoshop.  Expect more maps and keyed encounters as I assemble the story of the Five Fingers Agency and their discoveries under the skyport.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

The Nine-Tongued Worm

The greatest threat to spelljammers, and indeed to every living creature in the Pyrax System, is the collection of aberrant monstrosities collectively referred to as the Scourge of the Stars.  The largest groups within the Scourge are the Illithiad and the Host Abolethic, but at the apex of the Scourge sits one powerful being: Mak Thuum Ngatha, the Nine-Tongued Worm.  Little is known of this creature, but that it is revered as a deity by the mind flayers and the aboleths.  It believed to reside on the surface of the alien planet Atropus, but often roams the solar system inside a massive meteoric vessel, attended by aboleths, mind flayers, and many other aberrant creatures.

Note: This monster stat block borrows powers from Vecna, who does not exist in the Pyrax System.

Friday, August 29, 2014

The Eternal Court

The Eternal Court preserves the tenets of the Order of the Eternal Column, an ancient order formed by the goliaths' alliance with the humans upon the founding of Diamond City.  The Order of the Eternal Column has been the ruling order in the city for most of its history, but with the ascendance of Duchess Hazel, they now scheme from their opposing position.

Viscount Cujo Buchierge
Level 18 Goliath Weaponsmaster
Eternal Column Viscount

Viscount Cujo, of the soldierly goliath House Buchierge, is one of the most authoritative and intimidating figures in Diamond City.  He has trained extensively in the goliath militia forces.  He steers the entire Noble Order of the Eternal Column behind Apelord Drumo, and could effectively make or break the Apelord’s bid for the duchy.  Viscount Cujo is a shrewd and experienced man, with large and wealthy noble houses backing him.  He leads an ancient order that has long held power in Diamond City, and he means to reclaim that power.  He is ambitious and reverent for the past.  He could vie for the duchy, but he knows he cannot best the Apelord in combat, should it come to that.  Thus he backs the Apelord and presides over the sprawling Order of the Eternal Column.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Carceri Part 1: The Death's Head Tree

Carceri is an archipelago of islands on Tartarus, the second planet from the sun.  Tartarus's proximity to Baator has made its civilizations into casualties in the endless war between the devils and the angels.  The two warring races of tieflings and dragonborn live on this planet, having established, annihilated, and reestablished their empires several times.
The tieflings were originally a small outpost of the kali empire.  When their powers vanished as a result of the ritual of the obyriths, they settled in the archipelago of Carceri.  They were known as Turathi, and eventually they created a vast kingdom they named Bael Turath, but with the covert influence of Baator it rapidly descended into civil strife and decadence.  A thousand years ago the turathi and the dragonborn first came into conflict. the turathi became commonly known as the tieflings when they made a deal with the devils to save their empire from destruction at the hands of the dragons. Both lands were ravaged by the war, but only Arkhosia, kingdom of the dragonborn, has been able to rise again.

Carceri was once home the expansive kingdom of Bael Turath.  It has six major islands, with a few smaller ones scattered around the north.

Othrys, in the west, is a watery, swampy island of warfare between native bullywugs and their former tiefling masters.  It is dotted with the rotting ruins of tiefling settlements such as Vor Rukoth.  The briny waterways of Othrys are home to many vile creatures such as the death's head tree.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

The Undying Seal

The Undying Seal is a fractured cabal representing an ideal of the past.  When the cabal was created several hundred years ago, the human, dwarven, and halfling barons were all grouped together in one cabal, as they represented the poor immigrant districts.  The noble houses of the cabal were all close allies.  Now, Thetan races are more integrated, and the cabal has lost its purpose.  The three human houses of the Undying Seal have been absorbed into the Ducal Agency; now only the dwarf and halfling houses remain.

With the Midnight Cabal in leadership of the city, the duties of managing the Gracious Order of Accord fall to the remaining houses of the Undying Seal.  In a way, the positions of Order Executor and Order Councilor mean little, as they cannot truly claim authority over the Noble Cabinet, and Margrave Chiltsa keeps the Cliffside Cabal under his thumb.

Executor Ferrix Bogo
Level 13 Halfling Bard
Gracious Order Executor

 Executor Ferrix of the occultist halfling House Bogo is fairly inexperienced for the leader of a major order.  It is largely a regency, since Duchess Hazel is the true leader of the Order, and all of the strongest order members have other titles.  The more powerful members of the Undying Seal are humans, and Duchess Hazel wanted Ferrix to rule the order, so she made those humans into Ducal Agents to clear the way.  Executor Ferrix has the confidence and backing of the Duchess.  Ferrix stuggles to keep the traditional ideals of the Gracious Order of Accord alive, while criminal elements operate within it.  He knows that without the Cliffside Cabal the order would be significantly weaker, and probably unable to prop up the Duchess.  He also does not dare oppose Margrave Chiltsa.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Structured Society

The Structured Society is a cabal for the leadership of the goliaths of Diamond City.  Its members lead wealthy and entrenched goliath noble houses through their complex social traditions and heirarchies.  Among the multitudes of goliath commoners in Diamond City, nobility of the Stuctured Society are treated like celebrities, and gentry of the order are respected leaders in their areas of authority.

Members of the Structured Society cabal are also members of the Noble Order of the Eternal Column, an ancient order that currently opposes the ruling Gracious Order of Accord.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Annoying Little People- Jermlaine

The plainsjan I described in my recent Baator post reminded me of some creatures that have been skulking about right here in Diamond City.  I considered including them in my vermin post, but I didn't want to be insulting, so I'm presenting them right here in their very own series of Annoying Little People posts.

First up, we'll have a look at the jermlaine, the grumpy-looking, baggy skinned creatures you may have seen hiding behind your neighborhood sewer grate, or peering at you from the window of a local abandoned building.  The jermlaine are ambushers from the Underdark of Theta.  No one knows how or why they were brought to Diamond City, although some speculate that they were undesirable slaves of the Neogi who, in order to be rid of them, dropped them off in our unsuspecting city.  Others tell of an elaborate trap involving fifty infiltrated crates of dried fungi and a crashed spelljammer in the outskirts of Alam.  Either way, the jermlaine are now everywhere in the city where there are rats, which is to say they are everywhere.

Friday, August 1, 2014


Ages ago, before it was known as the Nine Hells, the small planet Baator was home to a winged race of beings known as the avariel.  The leader of the avariel was a powerful immortal known as Asmodeus.  Asmodeus was a lawful but prideful immortal, and he became convinced that it was his destiny to slay the corrupted lord of the Tetrahedron, Primus.

Asmodeus led a contingent of the most powerful avariel into the Tetrahedron, and the group fought its way to the center of the ship. After a long, hard-fought battle, only Asmodeus and Primus remained in the chamber at the Tetrahedron's core.  As Asmodeus approached to do battle with Primus, the evil Primus begged for his life and, appealing to Asmodeus' vanity, acknowledged Asmodeus as the superior being. In exchange for his life, Primus offered to Asmodeus his greatest asset, a second yellow cube that Primus had been constructing, similar to the very extradimensional cube which had corrupted Primus.  Primus claimed that a being with the lawful heart and wisdom of Asmodeus would be able to use the cube for good, and provide the Pyrax system with a counterbalance to his own evil power.

Whether through magical enchantment or simple guile, Primus was able to convince Asmodeus to accept his offer.  Asmodeus took the small cube and returned to Baator.  He began mistaking law for goodness, and became obsessed with rules and punishment.  Some of the avariel joined Asmodeus as he assembled an army to conquer the solar system in the name of his rapidly degrading sense of justice.  Others saw through his corruption and rebelled.

The avariel fought a long and brutal civil war.  Asmodeus eventually lost all pretense of righteousness as his power grew, and he granted infernal powers to the avariel who sided with him, creating the devils.  As the rebellious avariel began to be slaughtered, the Celestial Emperor saw the good in them and granted them divine powers of their own,  creating the angels.  The angels and the devils fought for a hundred years, but the devils continuously gained the upper hand.  Eventually the angels retreated to Carceri and other planets, from which they continue to battle the devils.  For seven thousand years the planet Baator has rested firmly in the hands of the devils.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Cliffside Cabal

The Duchess and her cabal belong to the Gracious Order of Accord, and as such it is considered the ruling order.  The order was originally an ancient kalashtar psionic order.  It currently consists of three cabals: the Duchess' Midnight Cabal. the Cliffside Cabal detailed below, and the Undying Seal, to be described soon.

Cliffside Cabal

Cliffside is the northeastern-most portion of the city.  It is the section of the city closest to the mountains, and in that region the city is all built on steep hills and plateaus.  Most of the criminal elements of Diamond City reside in this district.  The barons of Cliffside Cabal are all crime lords, and their membership in the Gracious Order of Accord pushed that order into the ruling position it currently enjoys.  The strength of the crime lords is such that the cabal was able to gain a seat on the Noble Council, a situation that many other councillors wish to reverse.

Vermin of the City

In the depths of the city, there are many small creatures that feed off the inhabitants and their scraps.  Many of these creatures have been detailed in other tomes, such as the kestrekels of Cliffside or the bloodthorn vines that cluster in Temple Park.  Spiretop drakes are especially common, and of course rats and the ubiquitous feral cats of Alam.

But I would like to have a look at a few of the critters that help define Diamond City, critters not as prevalant in most other urban areas, such as the demonic sawfly and the plague moth.

Monday, July 28, 2014

The Fall of the Kali Empire

There are five races in the Pyrax System, some of whom I have previously mentioned, that all stem from a common ancestor, the kali of ancient times.  These races are the tieflings, the kalashtar, the humans, the devas, and the shadar-kai.  Here I would like to describe the history of the kali, as it is a story of the forces that define our worlds.

The kali were a powerful psionic race that came to our solar system ten thousand years ago in a massive space vessel known as the Tetrahedron.  They were an ancient race even then, having traveled the galaxy exploring star systems and collecting specimens of thousands of different species.

They stationed the Tetrahedron in orbit around the distant, dream-like planet of Limbo.  There they discovered an ancient gateway in the center of the planet, a gateway sealed with a massive crystal and known as the Living Gate.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Diamond City Trade Conglomerate

The Diamond City Trade Conglomerate is a new faction born of the increasing power and wealth of two shadar-kai merchant houses, who were originally refugees from ravaged Courlark.  The shadar-kai leaders of the order gained the financial strength to force other commercially-based noble houses into alliances, creating a faction the other barons were effectively forced into.
The Trade Conglomerate supports the Duchess, and reaps the financial benefits.  Most government contracts go through them.  If cicircumstances were such that the arrangement was no longer profitable, I have no doubt that the support would vanish.

Behgtau Mercantilium

Leading the Trade Conglomerate is the Behgtau Mercantilium, an alliance of three very wealthy noble houses.  Two of these are the previously mentioned shadar-kai merchant houses, and the third is the ancient ruling family of the githyanki.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Midnight Cabal- The Noble Cabinet of Diamond City

Welcome back.

I'd like to tell you a little bit about my home, Diamond City.  Without wasting time on blithering, I'll introduce you to our fine leadership, the Noble Barons of Diamond City.

Duchess Hazel rules the City, and serves on the Senate of the Noble State of Alam. However, the Duchess must rule with the consent of the barons; she can be replaced if an election is called for by the Noble Council.

Diamond City is ultimately managed by 95 noble barons, each in control of a city district.  The barons serve the Duchess, but swear their allegiance to the protection of the city and its inhabitants.

The barons organize into factions, and each faction sends a representative to the Noble Council of Diamond City.  The barons and their immediate families are all referred to as the nobility, while the extended families of the barons are referred to as the gentry. The immediate and extended family of each baron is collectively referred to as a noble house.

As the primary defenders of the city, the barons are expected to be adept in combat.  Each baron periodically leads a contingent of warriors from his or her district into the frontier regions of Alam, and even to other planets to battle the demonic forces of the Tetrahedron.

Most barons engage in subterfuge or even brute force in order to position themselves for titles of power, or to push their agendas.