The Golden Wastes

The Testimony of the Paladin Zubair to the Inquisition of Velos

Zubair, Paladin of the Unconquered Sun: Honored Sires, I thank you for this opportunity to testify as to the tragic events of the nights of last week. It was Wednesday, and the guests of the merchant Aten had gathered for supper at the normal time we always do, when the evening call for prayer is issued from the minaret of the Sable Citadel. A half hour in, a heavy wind blew the shuttered windows open, and the candles went out. My brother Tambul went to relight one, and that is when we were attacked.

Eyassa, High Priestess of Menari, and Grand Inquisitor of Velos: Who attacked you?

Z: It was not a who, but a what. A jet black form entered the room through the open window, croched like a cat of prey. I felt the air around me become cold and the smell like an open grave in winter filled my nostrils. It pounched upon Tambul at once and began gutting him, but he fought. My brothers and quickly rallied and seized our weapons, but not before it slew my brothers Tambul and Pentawir and the merchant Aten.

E: Did you slay the monster?

Z: Not at that time. We harmed it grievously, but we were then attacked by terrible shades, and the creature escaped. We banished them back to the darkness, but we saw with horror that one of them was our anguished soul of our brother Tambul, and it escaped into the night. Those of us who remained hunted the creature and destroyed it, but we still seek to put the soul of Tambul to rest.

E: Was the paladin Akbar there?

Z: No, effendi. None of us have seen Akbar since the day he answered your summons many months ago.

E: Did you see the wizard Samara?

Z: No, effendi. I have not see him since he fled the house of Aten when the constabulary came to arrest him.

E: Both of them and the rest of “Samedi’s Team” have encountered this creature before. It is the Nightshade that appeared during the Night of Dark Terror, correct? The Nightshade they fought yet interestingly never defeated.

Z: I believe so, effendi. If not, there is a second one stalking the city.

E: Do you believe there is any connection between this attack and Samedi’s Team?

Z: I do not believe so. There is nothing connecting them.

E: Yet, Samara and the others would know your schedule, and if they sent something to attack, would know when you were most vulnerable.

Z: Yes, effendi. However, I do not believe that our brother Akbar would ever cooperate even if charmed. It is against his nature to harm any innocent or defender of the faith. Even if he was charmed, eventually the grace of the Unconquered Sun would free him. It has been too long for him to be so compelled, if indeed the wizard Samara has done so which I doubt.

E: Yet, it is possible that Akbar could have revealed this without knowing what Samara intended to do. Besides Akbar, there was another who stayed at Aten’s house, the bedouin calibani named Kasib.

Z: It is as you have spoken. Yet I still believe none of Samedi’s companions are engaged against us. Only if they have fallen under most dire sorcery is it possible. If so, they are victims equally as any other. Perhaps one might have fallen, but they are mighty and I do not believe the entire group is so bewitched.

E: If not them, who do you think was behind the attack?

Z: I do not know, effendi, other than it must be this ghoul cult many of the heroes of Velos have battled in these past few years. Alas, I know no specific name of the cult except those already brought to justice.

E: Where are you staying now?

Z: The daughter of Aten, Leila, has returned to claim her inheritance. She has gifted us with a portion of Aten’s estate, as she knew was his wish, but has no desire to be reminded of the circumstances of his death. We are currently dwelling with friends until we find new accommodations.

E: The flight of the suspect Samedi from this body’s summons has forfeited his property in Velos. This body grants his former house to the brotherhood of the Unconquered Sun for their use. Furthermore, this body has been empowered by the Overlord to exempt all taxation associated with it in perpetuity as long as the paladins reside within it.

Z: Thank you, effendi.

E: What is your intention now?

Z: My brothers and I intend to find the shade of Tambul and put his spirit to rest and free his soul from the damnation forced upon him. Tambul was truly great, and I believe he will dwell in the Pure Lands if not the Garden of the Gods for much time before continuing on his karmic journey.

E: This body wishes you and your brothers great success. Tambul was a honored man in the halls of Velos, and he has helped this inquisition in many matters. Go with the gods, Zubair. This session of the Inquisition of Velos is now brought to an end.

October 2013

Despite great obstacles in defeating the rhino cavalry, deadly topiary, and enslaved efreeti of the Cyclops, the party was successful in fighting their way to the Elemental Earth Seed and contacting the redeemed genies of the Isles of Paradise who performed the necessary incantation to send them back home. The elemental forces returning to their previous homes, and foreign matter expelled back where it came or into the currents of the Astral Sea.

The party awoke under the night sky of the Golden Waste, returned to the Lightning Stones from where they originally left. They had left their friend Nhadeem in paradise who perished at the hands of the Black Jinn. He will be remembered. All around them on here, the Middle World, were the decayed bodies of Kasib’s Calibani clanmates and sworn companions, cruelly slain by the returned Crocotta war host that arrived just after they had left.

Half the party was greatly afflicted with Taint, requiring much rest and ritual cleansing before they could continue their quest against the mysterious and evil Cult of Worms. They were aided in this by the return of Master Pizentious who welcomed back Samara and his friends, and they shared much lore of the black jinn and Cult of Worms. The party’s quest was lain before them – to journey to the lost city of Eresh where they have visited once before only to leave in abject terror. If the heroes were to continue their great work, the lost mysteries of Eresh must be recovered.

However, it was not yet time. Therefore, Samedi, Samara, and Kasib would seek allies while their companions recovered. Samedi returned to Velos to gather new allies against the Overlord, who recently became aware of threats to his city and his power. Kasib mastered the magical energies of the Lightning Stones in a month long effort. Samara continued his studies at the hands of his long returned Master.

Then the three set out to find the Red Sultana, who they hoped could provide the leadership that the nomads of the desert and citizens of Velos desperately needed. They rescued her from an immense Devastation Worm, a colossal thousand legged vermin who now roamed the wastes, as well as rescuing a half hundred of her companions from a large host of Wormspawn.

During their time on the demiplane, the region continued its descent into Chaos. The new steps taken by the Overlord to restore order has seen even more injustice and terror. Hopefully the party can continue its quest united and recovered from their ordeals in the so-called Isles of Paradise.

February 2012

With the defeat of the Herald of the Worm, the city relaxes and joyously celebrates the Winter Solstice as the heroes who slew the Beast King are paraded in triumph. The city games are held in the Great Hippodrome under new management as sinister rumors spread concerning certain criminal acts of its former master, Syphax.

As Akbar, Samedi, and Rom are engaged in other affairs, Samara, Sir Wu, and Kaasib continue their investigations while dealing with personal matters.

An intermediary from House Usufru passed word along to Sir Wu on an offer by the Saurians to accommodate him and a settlement of humans at the oasis that would allow both sides to dwell in peace. Although the initial offer was refused, Sir Wu said he would visit the oasis to inspect with Saurian escort and make a counteroffer. Eventually when this happened, the Saurian representative, Sethnik, and Wu agreed on most matters while they allowed Wu to construct a small motte-and-bailey castle. However, negotiations were not successful. The Saurians desired assurances that Sir Wu and his line would continue to live in peace. Their suggestion of a political marriage between his heir and a child from the Naqada family, whome they trusted, was refused. Sir Wu refused to give any counter offer simply stating that they had his word the peace would be kept, and that they must be satisfied with that. Now feeling betrayed that they had allowed a fort to be built without concluding a mutually satisfactory agreement, Sethnik simply said he would report this to King Sekourah in Sabkha who would send a reply to the Overlord.

The Magi of Usamagoras sent word to the Cyclops Tower that they wished to see Samara the Staff of Enchantment he possessed, and offered they would information Samara would find useful. A meeting was arranged at the fountain in the outer court of the Tower. One Magi appeared who examined the staff. He showed Samara the sigils which marked the Staff as being the handiwork of the Magi and explained this had been stolen. He told Samara for its return he offered a reward of magic scrolls and information on the previous owner which he thought would be useful to Samara. Samara refused saying the reward was not enough, and implying the Magi would only lose the Staff again. This angered the Magi and the two descended into mutual insults before the Magi teleported away. Samara has since locked the staff away in the Cyclops Tower to prevent the Magi from attempting to take it.

Kasib found one of his followers who had reached Aten’s house. He had entered the city near death and infected with a terrible disease. While one of the Paladins removed the disease, Kasib’s man passed away anyway uttering horrified sobs that all was lost. Kasib visited the Abbey only to see the isolated stronghold intact, but with all his followers there slain along with any animals inside the abbey. No marks were found on them, indicating terrible magic had been used. The records of the Abbey themselves were burned or taken away, but most of the equipment and livestock outside the Abbey had been untouched. Kasib returned with the others who burned the bodies and then removed what they could to a second stronghold they built near the Lightning Stones.

Afterwards, they heard news that Tempus had resigned all his commisions on the Council of Inquisition and the Sable Brotherhood. He was now a mere monk, not the Grand Prior. The group visited him where he told him he knew he would soon pass this plane and needed to arrange a transition to new personnel. He had one final thing for the group, which was the old records of the trial of the Company of the Phoenix by the Calusari in the Third Dynasty. It had lain forgotten for some time. Tempus said no one knew he had removed it and it would not be missed for some time. He told them to put it to good use before returning it to the archives.

The archives revealed much information which Nadeem used to locate the old location of the Company’s Red Keep. The Red Keep had lonh been demolished and poor tenements established. There they discovered a secret lair hidden underneath a hospice. The lair contained blasphemous and hideous religious texts of a race of humanoid worms that worshipped the Conqueror Worm. They entered it and discovered the ghost of Tariq, who had been murdered by cruelly trapping him in chains and rope inside a barrel where he was trapped when the Red Keep was demolished. The party helped put him to rest and discovered another secret passage guarded by a chain golem. There they discovered a secret pit chamber to the gods of the underworld. While exploring it, they encountered the Nightshade that had been unleased since the Night of Dark Terror. Not possessing the power to defeat the monster, the party fled.

If any player wants to add comments or their own interpretation of events, just post another Adventure Log.

When the next game commences, the PCs will hear sad news. The Sable Brotherhood have announced that after 101 years of service to the blessed memory of St Herusa and to the people of Velos, the grand monk Tempus has left the mortal world to dwell in the Pure Lands. The sable banner of the Brethren fly at half mast, and Vizer Simeon has reported the Overlord has declared a state of mourning for the city. The cremated remains of Tempus will be interred in the Blessed Shrine of St Herusa himself, a rare honor even among the top officials of the Brethren. As cremation must occur within 24 hours, those wishing to pay their respects may do so at a brief public vigil where the body will be displayed.

Before that, I’ll quickly run each of the players who missed this game session as what they did in the previous four weeks.

The Worm Hunter

Since this last game, I am now sure, In order to complete the campaign one of you must become a Worm Hunter…
You decide…

Worm Hunter Prestige Class

The Corpse Worm is the link of the Wormspawn to the divine; the source of their supernatural power and means of their propagation. It is, in the absence of anything similar in the rotted carcass of the Wormspawn, their soul. Without the worm, they are nothing.

A reading of the Heraldic Scroll reveals that those willing to risk of portion of their sanity may gain insight into the workings of the Corpse Worm via its connection to the profane spiritual force. Once touched by the Worm, the mind is forever scarred. Fragments of the Worm’s memories, emotions, and knowledge remain the deepest recesses of the mind. There the power of the Conqueror Worm still dwells. The Heraldic Scroll calls these horrified survivors, the Worm Touched. Often, the dreams of these victims are haunted by the memories of what they saw and may one day drive them into madness.

Yet there is a way to focus these inchoate memories. By studying the lore of the Conqueror Worm and its servants and the secret lore recorded in the blasphemous texts of the Heraldic Scrolls, some Worm Touched could draw upon these memories and use them against their source. They could even learn to draw upon new Corpse Worms, absorbing their bodies and essence to unlock potent abilities not known to normal men.

This path is not without risk. Insanity and death is a possibility as the Prestige Class is based on bonding with the essence and power of an evil deity, but taking levels in the Worm Hunter prestige class is not an inherently evil or chaotic act.

To qualify to become a wormhunter, a character must fulfill all the following criteria.

Special: Must have at some point suffered a minimum of 4 points of Intelligence damage from a Corpseworm. These 4 points of Intelligence damage need not have occurred as a result of a single worm.

Special: The character must be at least 7th level.

Special: Must have read through a copy of the Heralidic Scrolls.

Hit Die: d8

Class Skills
The wormhunter’s class skills (and the key ability for each skill) are Diplomacy (Cha), Heal (Wis), Intimidate (Cha), Knowledge (arcana), Knowledge (history) (Int), Knowledge (religion) (Int), Linguistics (Int), Perception (Wis), Sense Motive (Wis), Spellcraft (Int), and Survival (Wis).


Level BAB Fort Ref Will Special
1st +0 +1 +0 +1 Gift of the worm 1, wormbane
2nd +1 +1 +1 +1 Detect minion, wormscarred
3rd +2 +2 +1 +2 Gift of the worm 2
4th +3 +2 +1 +2 Wormeaten
5th +3 +3 +2 +3 Gift of the worm 3

Class Features
All of the following are class features of the wormhunter prestige class.

Weapon and Armor Proficiency: A wormhunter does not gain any proficiency with weapons or armor.

Gift of the Worm (Ex): By consuming a Corpseworm, a wormhunter gains insight into the nature of the Conqueror Worm and its minions. Alternatively, the wormhunter can allow a Corpseworm to burrow into his body – this deals the standard 1 point of damage per round for 1d4+1 rounds until the worm reaches the brain. At this point (or immediately, if the wormhunter voluntarily consumes the worm), the wormhunter’s body absorbs the worm. This immediately kills the worm (and prevents any Intelligence damage).

Immediately thereafter, the wormhunter absorbs the latent knowledge and power contained within the worm and magnifies it, using it to augment his own abilities. He immediately selects one of the Gifts of the Worm listed below. The benefit granted is permanent. Unfortunately, the influx of knowledge also damages the wormhunter’s mind in some way. He must also select one form of madness from those listed below. This madness cannot be cured by magic, as it becomes as fundamental a part of the wormhunter’s being as the gift granted.

A wormhunter gains a second gift at 3rd level, and a third at 5th level. He must secure a new Corpseworm for each gift. Normally, a Corpseworm dies after it leaves a spawn and doesn’t immediately attach to a host, but alchemists have discovered that these worms can be stored in a state of dormancy inside a potion of gentle repose. Usually, these worms are stored for nefarious purposes, but a wormhunter can take advantage of them to activate one of his gifts. A preserved Corpseworm is considered an illegal commodity except in cases of special dispensation by the local Inquisition.

Once a wormhunter selects a gift and its attendant form of madness, he cannot later change that gift or madness. Likewise, he cannot select a gift or madness more than once.

Wormbane (Ex): A wormhunter is particularly skilled at fighting against the minions of the Conqueror Worm. He gains a bonus on all weapon damage rolls and checks to overcome spell resistance made against these creatures equal to his wormhunter level.

Detect Minion (Sp): If the wormhunter concentrates, he can sense the proximity of minions of the Conqueror Worm via a subtle tingling in his scars. This functions as the spell detect undead, but it only detects minions of the Conqueror Worm (be they undead or living). A wormhunter may use this ability at will.

Wormscarred (Su): At 2nd level, the wormhunter’s body begins to develop patches of scarring. These scars are as much physical scars left from being infested by Corpseworms as they are manifestations of the wormhunter’s growing taint and lurking madness. The wormscarred wormhunter is immune to disease and gains a +2 bonus on all saving throws against poison.

Wormeaten (Su): At 4th level, a wormhunter’s body carries the taint of the Conqueror Worm. This taint is detectable as a faint magic aura. It grants the wormhunter a +4 bonus on Bluff, Diplomacy, and Disguise checks made against or opposed by undead creatures, as other undead are strangely comforted and lulled by the taint. The character also gains a +2 bonus on saving throws made against attacks or spells from any minion of the Conqueror Worm. A wormeaten wormhunter need never fear infestation by Corpseworms again – these worms interpret the taint as indication that the character is already a Wormspawn, and do not attempt to infest him. Wormeaten wormhunters are immune to fear effects generated by the minions of the Conqueror Worm.
A wormeaten wormhunter takes a -2 penalty on all Bluff and Diplomacy checks made against living creatures (save for those made against other wormhunters), since the taint is somewhat unsettling to the living.

The touch of the Conqueror Worm blesses each wormhunter with a unique variety of abilities.

Cannibalization: One of your ability scores increases by 1 point, but at a cost – you must reduce two other ability scores by 1 point (or one other ability score by 2 points).

Increased Spellcasting: Choose a spellcasting class to whic you belonged before you gained this Gift of the Worm. You gain new spells per day as if you had also gained a number of levels in this spellcasting class equal to the number of Gifts of the Worm you currently possess (including this one). You do not gain any other benefit a character of that class would have gained. If you gain additional Gifts of the Worm at a later date, the number of spellcasting levels granted by increased spellcasting does not increase.

Regained Lore: You gain a number of bonus feats equal to the number of Gifts of the Worm you currently possess (including this one). If you gain additional Gifts of the Worm at a later date, the number of bonus feats granted by regained lore does not increase.

Sinister Smite: You must have already selected the Spiritual Conduit gift and be able to channel energy in order to select this gift. Inflict wounds spells now function as if empowered and maximized when cast on you. Your body’s ability to conduct negative energy grows to an extent that you gain the ability to channel negative energy in sudden bursts of power when you strike a particularly solid blow against a living creature. Whenever you deal sneak attack damage or score a critical hit on a living creature, you also deal 2 points of Strength damage to that creature.

Smite Undead: You must have already selected the Spiritual Conduit gift and be able to channel energy in order to select this gift. Cure wounds spells now function as if empowered and maximized when cast on you. Your body’s ability to conduct positive energy grows to an extent that you gain the ability to channel positive energy in sudden bursts of power when you strike a particularly solid blow against undead. Whenever you deal sneak attack damage or score a critical hit on an undead creature, you also deal 2 points of Strength damage to that creature.

Spiritual Conduit: The worms have made your body more conductive to the type of energy you have chosen. All cure wounds and all inflict wounds spells cast on you function as if empowered. If you have the ability to channel energy, your effective level increases by an amount equal to the number of Gifts of the Worm you currently possess (including this one). If you gain additional Gifts of the Worm at a later date, the number of effective levels granted by spiritual conduit does not increase.

Even as his might empowers the Wormhunter, the touch of the Conqueror Worm leaves no mortal mind unscarred.

Hypersomnia: You have extreme difficulty staying awake. You suffer a constant -2 penalty on all Wisdom-based skill checks. Additionally, whenever you are engaged in a repetitive activity (such as using Craft or Profession checks), you must make a DC 10 Will save (up to once per hour) to avoid falling asleep for an hour.

Insomnia: You have extreme difficulty falling asleep. Each time you try to rest, you must make a DC 20 Will save. Failure indicates that your sleep wasn’t restful and you awaken fatigued.

Paranoia: You are convinced that the world and all that dwells within are out to do you harm. You cannot take the aid another action, nor can you ever receive bonuses on your own checks from an aid another action. You also take a -2 penalty on Bluff and Diplomacy checks.

Schizophrenia: You periodically lose your grip on reality and ahve difficulty at times telling the difference between what is real and what is hallucination. These constant hallucinations can cause you to appear erratic, chaotic, and unpredictable. You take a -2 penalty on all Charisma-based skill checks. If you ever roll a natural 1 when making any Charisma-based check, you must make a DC 15 Will save to avoid becoming confused for 1d4 rounds.

Terataphobia: A monstrous phobia is an irrational fear of a type of monster. Select one monster type from the list of ranger favored enemies on page 64 of the Pathfinder RPG Core Rulebook. You now take a -2 penalty on attack rolls, skill checks, and Will saving throws made against these monsters. If you possess immunity to fear from some other source, your immunity to fear effects do not apply to fear attacks generated by monsters from this category.

Tic Disorder: You have developed nervous, often violent spasms. These spasms cause a constant -1 penalty on all Reflex saving throws and Dexterity-based skill checks.

Samara "POV" Adventure log notes

Notes by Samara on the Last adventuring game:
The Rats led to an investigation of the gardens denizens and a description of the three priestesses:
-Erasti (Black haired, High Priestess)
-Eana (Blond haired)
-Treatsead (red haired)
We were given some insight into their orgy rights, which use “Moon Juice” and granted visions.
I decided after clearing it with the tower to join the Order of the Phoenix, after all my friend Akbar is head of it and I am already doing that work. He inducted me without reservation; It is good to have an extended family while master Pizentious is gone. I miss him.
Once again the lessons of this world are taught to me, a brief glimpse behind the illusions I prescribe to. I deluded myself to think I had any sort of friendship with Akbar, this is a grim realization. The signs were there from the start no invitation for living quarters when we reached the city, the constant demands to kill monsters that have no direct tie to our investigations. And me a fool recently for siding with my friend Akbar to help him slay the undead beast in the wall only to be asked to swear an oath to do so what friend would make me do such a thing. I am a fool, the paladins, while meaning well, honor there duty and leave no room for friendship, in the absence of friendship they invoke tools to be used in the most polite way simulating friendship. But my eyes are opened and the embarrassment of having to be told plain that he will continue to work with me and I with him, but “there will be no trust.” I can see where this is also my fault having led Akbar to the wise decision, he would of made on his own, to give the Book to the tower to be destroyed or studied as needed. Afterword’s he scolds me telling me he always expected it back and that it should have been destroyed by the paladins. Did I misunderstand that arrangement, deluding myself to remembering it different than it occurred? I do not think so, I do not know…
My experiments to cure my students go poorly. I made a halfhearted attempt outside of the tower with the paladin, once, but don’t feel like his heart is in discovery. I will ask ROM who is not as heavily invested and may be able to help me determine what is containing the undead magic in the colored worms from infecting its hosts and what trigger will release it, also why the worms are providing additional magic ability to its users.
The worms in the city may be a sign “to the Seal of Zubab. The name “Zubab” refers to Zubab, the Lord of Maggots, a quasi-deity and one of the harbingers of the Conqueror Worm…” This is in line with our belief that the faceless one is in the city of Velos from his notes we know that the “Tomb of Shaddad which was despoiled months ago and which may be the “tomb” that the Faceless One mentioned as having found the Seal of Zubab.” It makes perfect sense. Since Dag Zahag did his alchemy and experiments in the Hippodrome, and the faceless one is also doing alchemy and experiments with the worms there may be a connection to the arena.

After a visit with Tempus and having Ackbar show some real consternation at having to decide whether to keep, hide, or give the Table of destiny over to him. Akbar decided to keep it on himself. This is a vile and loathsome Artifact that demoralizes and saps strength magically and physically. I hope Akbar reconsiders and Hides the ghastly thing somewhere safe. I will not be involved in that for I am not trusted. It galls me that this is the case and forever will.
Our investigation into the magical beasts smuggled into the city from the faceless ones notes have led to the Arena. This may have some connections with Kella Gerami the missing girl, her old lover is Syphax, Master of the Games at the Hippodrome. Previously I had discovered that the Hippodrome was used by Dag Zahag “the Great Hippodrome became soaked with gore from incessant blood sports. Grotesque experiments were done under the arena to create all manner of strange beasts and to vivisect the dying gladiators.” It is our intent to discover a way into the Arena’s under workings or perhaps below even that if such places exist. We will scout out such places soon. I have already done some preparation talking to old gladiators and persons dismissed from the arena, it is not running as it has traditionally in the past, lots of new faces and lots of people dismissed that should still be there. I wonder if Syphax is being blackmailed with the girl he loves as collateral or if it is a more direct plot or somthing completely different. I really would of liked to talk with him. We are biding our time in going in, waiting for an opening when the arena staff is busy with games in progress and so forth.
Semedi has told the Grand Vizier that we are holding something back and that it is a great evil, we have lost our writ to hunt witches and may be suspected as being evil, Myself, in-particular is under great scrutiny. I may have to flee. In the mean time I will do my best to protect the tower, my companions, the city, and myself, by discovering and eliminating the faceless one and his worm plague.
As a side note Kasib has traveled to the lightning stones and returned unsuccessful after having talked to the stones: He spent quite some time there and must of tried many things I will get an account from him as soon as possible to try and narrow down what may work in the future. His dedication on following up on my original commission is commendable I am thinking of doing something nice for him as a gesture to repay his kindness.

Journal of the Enemy

From the last entry in the journal of the second simulacrum of the “Faceless One” destroyed by the party, found in the palace of the Beast King.

The worms stir and writhe even now. The land is like a rotting apple infested with them. Soon they must burst through its thin skin and swarm across the land. The great power is stirring. This decayed monstrosity of the world will be made clean once again. The Master told me this, so it must be true. With the return of the king, the next age of Man will come and the Conqueror Worm will rule all.

GM will post other notes soon.

GM Notes - February Game
Akbar's Vision

When Akbar leads the group in restoring the Order of the Phoenix at the shrine, he has the following vision as everyone says their vows.

Akbar sees an old phoenix, still grand but weary with age. It knows its time has arrived, and it goes far into the mountains away from the civilization of men. At the very top of these peaks, it builds a great nest made of straw and various herbs. It now lies in the nest, taking its last look at the world it knows. Satisfied that its work in the world is at an end, it then immolates itself in a flash of great flame and light during a beautiful sunrise. When the flames die down, there in the nest, which remains untouched by flames, is a young phoenix arrayed in bright colors like its parent before it. Although many centuries of life and wisdom is now lost, the line is again purified, young and fresh, ready for a new life.
The vision then switches, and Akbar then sees an old man wearing a holy symbol of Varna (the king of the Immortals). He has gathered about him a ragged group of battle weary warriors with terrible wounds. Some will live, others will surely die. It is obvious they have been in a terrible battle. The old man has in his hands five clay tablets. Another man has a single phoenix feather, clutched like a soldier defiantly holding his regimental battle flag. They talk amongst themselves, and then all swear an oath upon the feather even those who soon die afterwards from their grievous wounds.
Akbar then opens his eyes and sees the party making their own oath in an echo of what he has just seen.

Other information of the last game session might be posted as additional Adventure Logs.

GM Notes - December 2011 Game

The Night of Dark Terror
The planar “bubble” from Erebus unleashed a terrifying Nightshade from the realm of shadow. This was the ritual that the Faceless One performed. The Nightshade came to the surface at night in Velos and the Shadows that accompanied it quickly slew and transformed the dead into more of their kind. Eventually, the population noticed and fled in panic. The city watch was quickly overwhelmed, but sounded the alarm which brought the PCs as well as the Overlord along with his personal amazon guard, the Sable Brothers, the Imperial Wardens, and other defenders of the city. Together they stopped the terror, but only at great cost. Hundreds of people perished, around 1-2% of the city’s population. The night has become known as the Night of Dark Terror.

The party at House Gerami
Several days after the Night of Dark Terror, Samedi attended the party thrown by the House of Gerami. In Velos, it is typical that the major noble houses throw a luxurious feast after the first monsoon of summer to display their wealth and power as well as to reward their followers. Samedi had managed to be invited to the parties thrown by all three of the major houses, but choose to associate himself with the Gerami.

People met:

  • Asad Gerami, head of the noble house descended from bedouin lineage
  • Talia Gerami, his eldest daughter and likely heir
  • Shaka, blacked skinned Magister of the house from the Askari Freeholds
  • Imam Farraj, family chaplain, a cleric of Rudren
  • Himtach and Suket, the philosopher and his albino daughter, invited guests of House Masoko
  • Oxynthus, a decadent noble
  • Massena, a sarcastic crone
  • Father Despoden, a cleric of Decimus
  • Kumba Masoko, leader of the Masoko and ally to the House of Gerami
  • Obain Gerami, Captain of the City Watch and cousin to Asad Gerami
  • Master Thiatles, leader of the city Calibani, he recently switched allegiance from the Idrisid to Gerami
  • Prince Nangeri, noble leader of the nomadic yereni confederation of the Golden Wastes & old ally to the House of Gerami

An important topic of conversation was the disappeance of Kella Gerami. She mysteriously disappeared months ago, but still no trace has been found. This is what is known:

  • Kella was last seen to be at the house of Musa Gerami, a mutual cousin of Asad/Talia and Kella.
  • She had broken off an old dalliance with Syphax, Master of the Games at the Hippodrome.
  • She had spurned the advances of Mohammed Idrisid, the young head of the Idrisid family.

The party also learned additional information at the party:

  • That the head of the Idrisid ambassador sent to the Saurians was just returned to the city by Crocotta minions of the Beast King.
  • That jaded young nobles speak of a secret coterie they call the “Court of the Pale Queen” where all sorts of debauchery occurs.

Discussion with Tempus
After the party with the Gerami, the player characters met wit Tempus, Grand Prior of the Sable Brotherhood, in his office at the Sable Citadel. There, they shared everything they knew about the Night of Dark Terror and what they had found underneath the tunnels of Velos. In return, Tempus told them whatever he knew that could help them understand the notes and items they had found.

The notes of the Faceless One referred to the Seal of Zubab. The name “Zubab” refers to Zubab, the Lord of Maggots, a quasi-deity and one of the harbingers of the Conqueror Worm, one of the Great Beasts. Zubab was one of five such harbingers. In their entirety they are:

  • Zubab the Lord of Maggots
  • Salt the Albino Rat
  • Orthryx the Two Headed Jackal
  • Nemain the Corpse Ripper
  • Kazamot the Winged Terror

Tempus also told the player characters what little he knows about the Company of the Phoenix, an old and defunct group of heroes. The records of the Sable Brotherhood makes reference to the Company of the Phoenix, but only as a rival to the Brotherhood. They became defunct centuries ago.

With the city in turmoil about the recent bad news – the cursed sandstorm, the Slithering Horror, the zombie lord gathering an army of the dead, the Night of Dark Terror, the disappearance of Kella Gerami, and imminent invasion by the Crocotta, the player characters asked Tempus what would be the most important way they could help. Tempus suggested two things.

First, investigate the Tomb of Shaddad which was despoiled months ago and which may be the “tomb” that the Faceless One mentioned as having found the Seal of Zubab.

Second, slay the Beast King in the House of the Beast to prevent an attack on the city.

GM Notes - November 2011 Game

This post is for easy access to notes left in the last game.

Here are the notes found in the Faceless One’s journal.

Other items found included two tomes, the Meditations on the Worm and the Courtiers of the Abyssal Monarchs.

There was also a strange undead thing covered in writhing black worms kept in a large glass tube. The notes of the Faceless One make it clear that these worms were experimented upon magically, and that they were originally found in the Tomb of Shaddad (see its mention in the Open Jobs page). He seems to have created a new kind of undead monstrosity.

There was also a group of treasures kept separate from the rest, a Lapis Lazuli Cylinder Seal, an orichalchum sword with a carnelian phoenix ornament stamped on the hilt which is aligned to Law, and a silver brooch that is a scarab of protection. As Samedi mentioned, these seemed out of place compared to other items.

Also, I don’t think I mentioned it at the end of the scene because I forgot, but right before he was “slain” (as much as a Simulacrum can be slain) he uttered the words, “My doom is to be your doom.”

The Door to Chaos

Notes from Samara’s Journal some time just before the summer monsoon:
The days of the Chaos
As disturbing as the ghoul attack in the sewers was, and to know were were deliberately followed through the muck for revenge by the unwholesome things is little to nothing compared to the Door that led us to the Faceless One. Behind this door is a temple devoted to chaos where the very walls themselves could reach out and grab you. Its very strange spiral design on the upper level leads one to believe the very architecture is corrupted by chaos itself, and indeed it is, one of the pillars in the lower level tried to grab me, it is a twisted and vile place. Its inhabitants are were-rats and the faceless one himself along with two wizard guards. Disturbing was the Horror of the most vile of spells unleashed, and in addition the thing in the tube. Vanquished though our foes are the faceless one turned out to be a simulacrum a powerful wizard is still on the loose. I know there is only a very few powerful wizards in this city capable of doing such advanced magics.
This leads me to four possible conclusions:
1st would be the Magic shop merchant “The Seer” who also wears a mask (like the faceless one) and may or may not have the talents to perform such things, I must find out. His proximity to Achmed the butcher and his lack of reporting the horrors next-door that he must of noticed give some great suspicion. And a low profile yet magical position he has held is a good cover.
2nd It is one of the known and powerful wizards of Velos, who have reputations to protect, may be the culprit. The spell creatures face was covered, obviously to protect his masters identity,as the face would have a great likeness if not a direct match to the practitioner. This of course includes My “Master Pizentious” and the pleasure mages. This very possible suspicion tears at my heart and I would like to discount it immediately, however I am no longer so naive.
3rd The “Knig of shit” is some how behind this. Though it seems unlikely at first, he may have the talents needed to accomplish these tasks, he was seen at Achmed’s and could of planted the note, that started our journey below the city. However, he only spends most of his time looking for the tablets, so he may not have a clue.
4th the dastardly wizard has not revealed any clue to who or where he is and research is needed.
***I would also pose that there may be some conspiracy among some of the players or at the very least manipulations as the notes from the simulacrum suggest certain events have definitely been manipulated.

Other things:
I would consider giving warning to Judge Gongde on the Faceless ones infection and contagion and back up our findings with the notes from his lab.
We will need to deal with the spell books, I need to make some specific arrangements with the paladin on these matters (I have some Ideas). I do not see any way to keep the books secure, to leave them anywhere is a huge risk to have them on you is a death sentence(burned alive). We have precious little time.
***My consult with the paladin will be immediate, I will not let him leave without discussing plans.
The sisters?? defiantly a suspicious arrangement and they may have a clue to who is manipulating things (if not directly.)

4th there is an unknown Player who remains so convoluted in mystery we haven’t met nor heard nor seen


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