This was the second part of my "Fall of Pelegar" campaign, though in terms of player focus it became the subject of the first area they explored. Many of the plot elements lurk in wait now for a future reboot as I burned out on Pathfinder before this one got properly resolved, and switched to 13th Age and a different setting. The campaign itself has a lot of potential, and will definitely be back for 5E however.
The Fall of Pelegar campaign
Plot #2: The Ruins of Vornzak and the Mad King Amessus
Six hundred years ago Pelegar had a firm ruler who held all the city states under his control. It is said that King Amessus was a storm and fair ruler….for a time. But it is also said that he gained the power to control the land from a dark pact of understanding from nightmarish immortals who visited him in his sleep. Sent my Molabal, these demons convinced Amessus to become increasingly cruel and depraved, and his pinnacle of vileness was when he forged his highmountain palace retreat called Vornzak. Terrible atrocities were committed there, all in the name of diablerie. Many stories are told about the mad king to this day, including how in the end he was driven to sacrifice his entire family and all who lived in the city to these nightmare demons in a day and night of bloody slaughter.
Vornzak rests to this day on the high peak overlooking the gloom-ridden walls of Valen, with its vast defensive walls stretching over nearly twenty miles of valley in the high mountains. Vornzak is noted for the great arch, with ancient Inadasir inscriptions upon it which marks the entry to the crumbling palace. Some say that any who pass beneath the arch will be cursed to death…
The Secret Truth
Amessus was power-hungry, and regularly engaged in séances with the dead of the land of Pelegar to seek out power and lore. He mined the region where he built his palace retreat for ancient artifacts, finding a plethora of Inadasir relics from a lost era. He consorted with nightmarish spirits of the dream world, astral beings which included Vorsag-Null. Unable to experience the mortal plane any longer these nightmare beings prompted the willing king to commit carnal…and charnel…acts that they might experience such sensations once more, if only briefly and at a distance. In exchange they told him secrets, and sometimes where to find lost artifacts and lore.
Amessus was fine until he met his wife, the lady Arondola, a Helian woman from the south of great beauty and mystery, allegedly the youngest daughter of the Helian Pharaoh at that time. Unknown to him this was only half true; she was adopted, under mysterious circumstances….for she was in fact a natural thousandspawn.
With Arondola’s prompting Amessus delved deep into forbidden lore, learning the secret of bonding demonic spirits to mortal flesh. He sought a means of opening forbidden portals to other worlds, including the Abyssal Rift and Perdition itself, even the forbidden lands of the Thirteenth Planet itself. He pulled from these realms even darker secrets, though sometimes at great sacrifice.
It was on the eve of his greatest discovery: the Tempest of Malador, an artifact of great power and chaos from Perdition itself that he pulled into his realm that Amessus had his fall. The night he pulled the artifact into his palace it activated, bonding alchemically the spirits which haunted him to the flesh of the family and servants of his palace. In a terrible rush these bonded demons slaughtered all others who came before them, and assaulted the city of Valen itself. The following day, after the demons had fled into the darkness of the mountains, an army was forged by General Vetarus to hunt them down, and to bring the emperor and his wife to justice.
It is said that when Amessos was found he was already dead, but Vetarus himself knew better; dozens of the haunting demon-spirits had bound themselves to the king, who was a grotesque monstrosity at this point, an amalgamation of foul beings tethered to his flesh. The general herded him deep into the dungeons beneath the palace and collapsed the entrance.
Queen Arondola’s fate was bloody but swift. Her form unblemished by corruption or possession, she was marked a witch and hauled to the city of Valen for trial. At the gates of the city as she passed beneath the archway Gloom descended, eviscerating her in one swift blow. As a thousandspawn her divine spark fled, migrating to whatever unknown souls would serve as its new habitation….but the queen was dead.
The Ruins Today
Arcanists led by Zhomas the Irredeemable, who has recovered from prior engagements some six years ago during his encounter with the avatar Mardieur, has begun a restoration operation in the high mountains to uncover the secrets of the old king. He has been paying for protection from the gnoll tribe of Giskos, which themselves have a somewhat vested interest in uncovering old relics in the name of their dark cult of Vorsag-Null. Zhomas is working with two other agents of the Arcanists now: Sutra Leveros, an Abraheilite Samsaran magus and Kaladan Amoros, a local human mage of Pelegar who survived his family’s execution in Vanholm during the uprising. Serving as liaison to the gnolls they have employed is the toadie troglodyte Satropus. Together they have been uncovering the lost wealth of the old king, including hundreds of still magical Inadasir artifacts. They have also found the entrance to the old king’s dungeon-tomb…
Amessus has long ago lost any true memory of what it was to be a normal human. He is now a mass of different minds and bodies jammed into one fluid form. He is desperate to serve Vorsag-Null, who calls to him constantly….but he does not understand why. The truth is that he contains a fragment of Vorsag-Null’s astral form, one shred of the demon lord which among many others harried him in his mortal years. Vorsag-Null needs that shred of his astral self to complete his own spirit, and so he needs Amessus to either give it up, or for his minions to slay the monster so that the astral shred may escape and return to the rest.
Zhomas is not the only arcanist group interested in the ruins. A group of Sabiri bandits and “merchants” have been raiding the ruins for nearly a year now to move the artifacts to dealers in the east. They are led by one mage named Suvaian, who himself is an Arcanist and loyalist to Lord Shattarav Oldaran of Westgate. He works with his two younger brothers and his wife, the former Shumariin assassin Suladiri, who is a master of chain fighting. She has two apprentices studying under her. They are hauling artifacts to Fartheren…and even to Westgate, for sale to the eastern kingdoms of the Sea of Chirak.