The Hierarchs of Shrentek

This little introduction is something I wrote for a campaign i started about 10 years ago with my old Dragonlance group. I needed an evil nation to counter Neraka and the Dragonarmies, so I made up the Hierarchs. The idea was that they should be very secretive and very violent in order to inspire fear and dread in the party. we stopped playing shortly after, so I never got to use them that much. I was planning on having the Dragonarmies butcher the Hierarchs in a orgy of violence but that never came to pass.

In the wake of the War of the Lance a group of people formed an unholy alliance, which was supposed to turn them into the most powerful force in Ansalon. Their tools were deceit, treachery and murder; and their willingness to commit the foulest deeds. Among these were renegade ogres, draconians and even a dragon or two. Other than that many wicked humans flocked to the group’s condor banner.

The groups, or Hierarchs as they call themselves, are not surprisingly followers of the dark god of vengeance Sargonnas. The Hierarchs are attempting to establish a powerbase in Ansalon and they have chosen the ancient city of Shrentek as their main city. With lightning speed and incredible precision, the Hierarchs’ forces were able to defeat the original inhabitants and take over the city and the surrounding areas. The people that were not killed were used as slaves and they were promptly put to work rebuilding the city in honor of Sargonnas.

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Through the hard work of the slaves and the aid of their dark god’s infernal servants, the city was constructed in a matter of months. The Hierarchs solidified their grasp on the area, while maintaining a high degree of secrecy. They are still a rather unknown force, but whispers about them are slowly spreading across the Eastern part of Ansalon. The Silvanesti elves are concerned about an evil power so close to their borders, and are preparing for war.

For the time being, the Hierarchs do not posses the military might to challenge the regions of Khur, Blöde and Silvanesti, which is why they use spies to infiltrate and gather vital information. These spies are spread out all over the Eastern seaboard, providing the Hierarchs with an accurate rendition of the political climate.

The Hierarchs are currently considering a new foe – The Cabal. Gil-Galad has made his home in the area coveted by the Hierarchs, which has caused the two to clash on occasion. Currently, the conflict is not yet violent in nature; however, the future does seem rather unstable. If the Hierarchs decide to go up against the combined might of the Cabal, the region will surely experience destruction and death. Unbeknownst to the Hierarchs, the Cabal is reluctant to enter into an open conflict, because a lot of resources are gathered in Daltigoth.

The biggest obstacle to the plans of the Hierarchs is the tribes of Khur. In terms of military might a united Khur would almost certainly be able to repel any attacking force, given their knowledge of the treacherous lands of the region. Unfortunately, the tribes have a lot of internal rivalry, which prevent them from uniting behind one cause or leader. The Hierarchs are aware of this situation, and they attempt to fan the flames by attacking certain tribes making it look like the work of their enemies. Furthermore, the Hierarchs try to form alliances with some of the tribes that are willing to join the ranks of the Condor. However, since only a fool would trust the Hierarchs, the alliances are shaky at best. Moreover, the Hierarchs have managed to pace spies in many tribes, which give them a lot of information regarding the in fight that takes place. The spies have attained different ranks throughout Khur, ranging from common foot soldier to trusted advisor of the Zulkirs. Evidently, the Hierarchs are a major influence in the region, albeit a hidden one. The Hierarchs’ main goal is to dispose of the Khan who is currently the closest thing Khur has to a regent.

The Arcane Library of Tarsis

The arcane library of Tarsis is actually two buildings. It consists of a tower, which is inhabited by Norrin Cahill (w18) and the library itself. Both buildings are made of white marble and are covered with golden runes of power and protection. The buildings are also crowned with golden domes that sparkle in the sunlight. The compound is surrounded by a huge stonewall, which has a single silver wrought gate. Inside the inside the wall any visitor is greeted by a beautiful garden with small streams and ponds as well as many different fruit trees. Sets of double doors are the only entrance to the library. The tower has no visible entrance. The city guard of Tarsis patrols the walls.

The tower of the white mage

As mentioned before, the tower is the dwelling of the white robed wizard Norrin Cahill. He is the creator and overseer of the library, as well as a valued advisor to the city rulers. The tower contains his most valuable possessions as well as a personal library and laboratory where he conducts his arcane experiments. The tower is also a meeting ground for the Cabal when Norrin hosts the meetings. The tower is protected by many powerful enchantments and anyone who wishes to enter must have a special permission to do so.

The lower levels of the tower are reserved for the apprentices and henchmen. These people have luxurious rooms of their own, which they can use freely. Norrin’s apprentices usually accompany him when he conducts his arcane research. His apprentices also work as Norrin’s messengers and can often be found in Tarsis. Norrin has three apprentices, all wizards of the white robes level 3-6. One of his apprentices is a female elf hailing from Qualinesti and she is in charge of communicating with the elven kingdom.

Norrin spends most of his time in his tower but he can also be found walking the enormous halls of the library.

The Library

The library consists of five different buildings connected via long halls. There are bookcases everywhere filled with old books and scrolls. This place has one of the highest concentrations of knowledge and information pertaining to Krynn. The second floor is reserved for small study cells where anyone seeking knowledge may study in peace. Scribes who spend their time working on new volumes or restoring old ones inhabit the third floor.

The library does not contain spell books but holds numerous volumes about almost every subject imaginable. The building is open day and night and often visitors can see mages of all colors pour through the tomes. There are also many non-mages who make use of the library’s facilities.

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Studying in the Grand Library of Tarsis

There are two primary guardians of the library. Charged with the outside defenses is the Zhakar dwarf Dwaars whose plague Norrin cured. In return Dwaars was more than happy to be in charge of the outer defenses. Dwaars (fighter 9) has his own quarters in the library where he occasionally will spend a quiet evening. To outsiders Dwaars appears like the stereotypical dwarf. He takes his job very serious and will do whatever he feels necessary to carry out his tasks. He maintains a good relationship with the apprentices, albeit these relationships are rather superficial. His only real friend is the elf in charge of the interior of the library Tyslin-San with whom he spends many a quiet evening in their private quarters.

Tyslin-San is a male Silvanesti dark elf. He is a wizard of the black robes (wizard 8) who was banished from his homeland by the Silvanesti elders for practicing the dark arts. After winning his black robes Tyslin-San traveled Ansalon searching for a place to settle down. For many years he was on his own until he met the white robe Norrin Cahill who instantly recognized the elf’s talent. Norrin offered Tysli-San the position of caretaker of the grand library. Tyslin-San accepted and finally found a place to settle down for good. The elf spends most of his time in the library overseeing the defenses. He also spends time in the tower where he has his own quarters including a fully equipped laboratory where he can conduct his magical research. Tyslin-San is not very approachable and visitors will find him a difficult man to deal with.

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Tyslin-San of the Black Robes

The sage of Tarsis resides in the grand library where he has his own chambers. He showed up the day before the completion of the compound and was instantly welcomed and afforded his own quarters. The sage is obviously a powerful wizard of the white robes but no one seems to know him prior to his appearance at the library. His knowledge concerning the history of High Sorcery is immense and he displays an acute sense of detail. The sage appears to be an elderly yet vigorous man with almost silver looking hair and white robes. He enjoys stimulating conversation and can often be found roaming the great halls of the library at night.

Unbeknownst to anyone at the grand library, the sage is in fact an ancient silver dragon named Mercury. He is a very skilled magic user and historian, which is why he chose the library as his residence. He will not reveal his true nature unless another dragon attacks him. Mercury will defend the library using his spells if attacked; however, he will remain in his human form. Mercury has his own quarters where he conducts his experiments. He will gladly talk to anyone but he never invites people to his own quarters. He is known for spending the evening with Norrin discussing matters of wizardry and philosophy.

Additional defenses

Unlike the Towers of High Sorcery, the Grand Library is not surrounded by a magical grove. Instead, the library is surrounded by a white wall with protective runes. Within the compound itself there are several streams and small waterfalls in which many water elementals are hidden. The elementals will rise out of the water and attack any intruder when so commanded by their master. Roaming the grounds is also a large number of air elementals who are virtually invisible. They patrol the skies above the compound and report directly to the dwarf Dwaars.

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Dwaars the Keeper

In the middle of the courtyard a fountain is situated. Unbeknownst to any except for the master and the guardians of the compound is that the fountain is a secret passage to the Watermere. Norrin has dealings with Forcasion Omidai, the Master of the White Robes (wizard 15) and they use this portal to travel to each other’s domains.

Guild of Wizardry in Tarsis

As could be expected, the Wizards of High Sorcery are not as powerful as they used to be. Guided by the three moon gods, Solinari, Lunitari and Nuitari the wizards have devised a strategy, which will restore the glory of their organization.

Nor surprisingly, the power of the wizards is concentrated in their towers. The Conclave does not currently command the power to build new towers, but in time they plan to erect a minimum of two towers; one in Daltigoth and one in the Khur area. Evidently these plans are in the future, which is why the Conclave has setup numerous mage guilds in most of the major ansalonian cities.

The buildings used by each guild varies from area to area, however, they are all magically fortified. The guild master is usually a senior mage level 13+ who has the responsibility of preserving the existence of the guild as well as recruiting new apprentices. The guild masters do not have a seat on the ruling conclave but most of the masters are considered next in line and are expected to step up when there is a vacancy.

In terms of knowledge, the guilds are nowhere as resourceful as the towers, but they do carry a large assortment of spells, which members can learn.

Some of the guilds have grown quite powerful and some of them are even beginning the preparation for construction of a new Tower of High Sorcery. One such example is the guild in Tarsis, which is one of the more powerful guilds in Ansalon. The reason why the guild in Tarsis has grown so strong is primarily due to the newly built Grand Library. The library has attracted many mages and its creator Norrin Cahill is an influential figure among the rulers of Tarsis. This has turned the guild into a fairly strong political force in the city.

The Tarsan guild is located a few blocks away from the Grand Library. The building is a multistory mansion surrounded by a large brick wall, which is patrolled day and night by armed guards. The building contains numerous laboratories and living quarters as well as a great meeting hall. The guild also contains a grand library, which has an impressive selection of spells. The library has attracted many mages from the south western part of Ansalon and Tarsis is slowly but steadily becoming a place where trade flourishes. The marketplace boasts of many shops that specialize in exotic ingredients needed for arcane spell casting. The city even has a Three Moon Shop located in the business district. Generally the businesses have prospered from the guild due to an increase in demand. The lords of the city are already dreaming of restoring Tarsis’ pre-cataclysmic greatness.

Adventure hook: Ravenloft in Dragonlance

ravenloft So, this is not exactly an adventure hook, but rather a little story about how we included Ravenloft in our Dragonlance setting back in the good old days. Hopefully, somebody can find some inspiration from this post, or at least be a little entertained.

The whole story started with the Tower of High Sorcery of Istar. In our campaign the tower was transported to the demi plane of dread, Ravenloft, shortly before the Cataclysm struck Istar. My DM got the story hook from one of the Dragonlance comic books.

lance52 My black robed wizard found out that the tower wasn’t destroyed in Cataclysm, and after many dangerous adventures, he was able to locate it in Ravenloft. Hen entered the tower, and basically had to pass his Test of High Sorcery again. Long story short, he passed the Test and became the Master of the Tower.

The Tower still included the original portal to the Abyss, but since the Tower was located on a different plane, and since there was no white robed cleric around, the Portal opened up in Scull Cap back on Krynn. This little nifty trick allowed us to run a campaign that spanned across the Dragonlance and the Ravenloft setting.

Shortly after I more-or-less retired my character since he had attained level 23 or something like that. The character was used as a high level NPC, who could help the party travel between planes.

Nice spring = no RPG

Well, the weather has been nice in Denmark, so I have not uploaded the files I initially expected to. However, if I can sit long enough in front of the computer one of these days I will definitely upload some of my old Dragonlance work.

Now I just need to find the files and edit them a bit…

Are you kidding me?

When I started this blog, it was meant as a past time thing. I never really expected to keep blogging here, but for some reason I have kept posting over that past couple of months. Not that I really write anything worth reading, but still…

I recently installed Google Analytics on my blog, and now I can actually see that I get some hits. That really surprises me. I guess this means that I should publish some of my homebrew game material on the blog, so hopefully I can post something this weekend. Friday is a holiday here in Denmark, so I don’t have waste time at my incredibly exciting job as an e-business consultant.

Anyway, stay tuned, I might just post some content in the upcoming days.

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Fistandantilus – The Dark One

I guess I managed to write one more blog post before abandoning this little Dragonlance project of mine. The following text is a collection of information about Fistandantilus that I have been able to find in various novels. One of the cool things about The Dark One is that his history is so obscure, so my take on him is by no means meant to be definitive history of Fistandantilus.

I expect to create a PDF version of this blog post at some point for your downloading pleasure.

The first time we hear about Fistandantilus is in Dragons of Autumn. Raistlin Majere finds one of his old spell books in Xak Tsaroth and at the same time establishes that Fistandantilus wore the Black Robes. Furthermore, it is established that he was the most powerful wizard in Krynn.

fistand In Dragons of Winter Night, Fistandantilus talks through Raistlin Majere after the destruction of Tarsis. He recounts the creation of the Dragon Orbs, indicating that he was one of the creators. If this is indeed true, Fistandantilus was truly ancient. In order to participate in the creation of the Dragon Orbs, he would have had to be powerful, which means that he could not have been a young man at this point.

According to Test of the Twins, Fistandantilus tells Raistlin Majere that he used to wear the Red Robes. He must have spent the better part of a lifetime, before he besieged the Queen of Darkness and was allowed to don the Black Robes. It was at this point in time that he was given the Bloodstone of Fistandantilus, which would ensure his eternal life. The same section in Test of the Twins, tells us a few details about the Citadel of Fistandantilus. The location is never disclosed, but given his reputation, it is doubtful that it was situated in a highly populated area. Furthermore, it seems fairly logical that he did not reside in a Tower of High Sorcery. One might be tempted to think that Zhaman was the residence of Fistandantilus; however, in War of the Twins, Raistlin Majere claims to never have been there, although he retains the memories of Fistandantilus. If this was the place where Raistlin Majere defeated Fistandantilus it is likely that he would have remembered. According to Wizards’ Conclave, Fistandantilus carried a staff, which was topped by a dragon. However, Legends describe Fistandantilus as a mage who had no

need for staves, familiars etc. he wore unadorned black robes with a hood, which only revealed his beard. An unnatural cold radiated from his body. Considering how many times Fistandantilus used the Bloodstone it is plausible to believe that he looks nothing like he used to. This same book describes a cave, which is guarded by a green dragon that leads to the Tower of High Sorcery in Wayreth. These tunnels are allegedly created by Fistandantilus.

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According to Fistandantilus Reborn, the wizard was able to take part of his life force and imbue a magic item with it. He gave this item to an apprentice, providing Fistandantilus with extra life insurance. Additionally, the skull, which rests beneath Skullcap, still contains the essence of the lich Fistandantilus. Allegedly, these two versions of the ancient mage battled each other resulting in the essence of Fistandantilus being scattered through the River of Time.

image The Kingpriest trilogy recounts Fistandantilus’ role in the Lost Battles. Allegedly, he gave the Kingpriest the power to penetrate the magical groves surrounding the Towers of High Sorcery in order to weaken the Conclave, which would oppose his bid for godhood. Furthermore, Fistandantilus carved out a laboratory for himself underneath the temple of the Kingpriest. The protective spells laid on this place were so powerful that they were able to withstand the destruction wrought by the Cataclysm.

In Legends, Astinus reveals that Fistandantilus wanted to enter the Abyss to battle the Queen of Darkness. In order to open the portal to the Abyss, Fistandantilus needed a priest of Paladine. Evidently he chose Denubis who was a priest in the holy temple in Istar. When Raistlin Majere became Fistandantilus, he chose lady Crysania over Denubis.