Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Kasdalan: The Lurking Shadows

Adventure Seed: The Lurking Shadows of Kasdalan

A darkened tomb, deep in the Darkwood, once part of the long-forgotten civilization of the ancient Southern Empire, which was all but destroyed in the era of the Apocalypse. A crew of dedicated adventurers in the service of Pale Queen have been searching for this tomb now for over a decade. Inside, the legacy of the Last Emperor of the lost empire can be found, where the vile Emperor Tacaitus was laid to rest, deep in a remote land where he perished on one of the last great battlefields of the war. Indeed, it is said that the uncharacteristically dark and evil aspect of the woodlands in the region is a byproduct of the terrible death and destruction wrought in the final hours of that ancient conflict.

Emperor Tacaitus and his secrets remained buried with him for twenty six hundred years, until the enigmatic Pale Queen came in to exile in the farthest reaches of the Far Realm. Here, she learned over her centuries of exile of an even more ancient, primordial race: the Qlippothic demons, proto-lifeforms that existed before the gods themselves had created all other races. Beings filled with hatred and a desire for invasion, riddled with ancient evil predating all known existence. They were a relic of an age before the known universe. The Pale Queen discovered their dark bargain, of how the Emperor Tacaitus tried to summon these beings as a weapon of ultimate destruction in the final hours of the Apocalypse, and how his actions forever stained the very earth of Kasdalan with evil. When at last she found her way back, through the possession of her young flock of cultists, to the mortal realm, she realized that the same gate which the emperor possessed that allowed the dreaded Qlippoths to pass into the physical plane would also allow her to escape her prison in the Far Realm…

Speaking to her followers in dreams, she lured a collection of her dedicates into seeking of the Emperor’s ancient burial tomb, centered in the battlefield where he fell, shortly before his dreaded Nether Gate allowed hundreds of Qlippoths to infiltrate the mortal realm. She has sent these cultists to find the gate and reactivate it, in exchange for immortality…

Here the adventurers are played by the PCs, who are either cultists of the Pale Queen or working for her dedicated agent, the sorceress-priest Medea, who is in direct contact with the Pale Queen through her dreams. They inevitably find the gate and open it, only to be overwhelmed by the freed Qlippoths. Thousands upon thousands of Qlippoths escaped imprisonment along with the Pale Queen, and now threaten to destroy all around them. The mere existence of these entities is causing a breakdown of the Barriers Between Worlds, an unraveling of reality. In the end, even the adventurers seem to have become possessed….

Much later, the adventurers awaken, not far from the town of Tursos, trapped in cold iron cages covered in ancient runes from the Supernal Script. Three women, one ancient, one elderly and one young who are called Alecto (unceasing), Megaera (grudging) and Tisiphone (avenging murder) have somehow found, caged and freed the adventurers of their terrible possession. The three are the Furies, and they quickly explain that they, and other immortals, have long been charged with insuring that the Qlippoths never escape into the mortal world from the doomed gate. They charge the adventurers with a dire task: to seek out the Nether Gate, and to seal it; to purge the realm of Kasdalan of its evil, by finding a means to do so. This means, they contend, can be found only by seeking out the wisdom of the Oracle of Gothas, and that the men of the Lake of Horses region can lead them to this mysterious being in the south.

Characters studied in knowledge (religion) may divine some bit of information about their plight:

DC 18: The Furies are three immortal spirits worshipped (or at least feared) by the Pelaeans in the east and among some underground cults in Kasdalan. They are three sisters of Fate, powerful beings who once served the gods, spinning and weaving the destinies of men as the Twelve decreed.

DC 22: They represent an unstoppable, unrelenting force (Alecto), unforgiving force (Megaera) and murderous vengeance (Tisiphone).

DC 26: Moreover, they are neither truly living nor dead, beings created of divine essence at the behest of the gods themselves. One cannot kill one of the furies, for they merely reform at a later date to seek revenge.

Plot Complication: Emperor Tacaitus

The Emperor, dreaded Tacaitus (tah-site-us), has risen from the dead. His moldering body has come back to life as his own spirit, once bound in the ring of the Nether Gate, has been freed. One requirement to close the gate is that Tacaitus must be found and destroyed, to allow his spirit to once more enter the gate and seal it; such is his terrible burden for the horror he unleashed in the days of the Final War.

Tacaitus has other ideas, however. He has awakened in a fugue, much of his “self” having been devoured and distorted over the untold ages he was trapped in the Nether Gate. He is no longer quite “human,” and he does not ever want to be trapped like so again. Seeing the world alive and well has him curious, and he now seeks to travel the land, recovering his memory and learning of what has happened in the two millennia since his entrapment.

Next: The Qlippothic Menace

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