Road to Ravenloft

In Shamash

Talking to Felix Lessard:

  • The gypsies sold their stock to a merchant named Jezanthepus, who is a couturier specializing in costumes, fancy dress and accessories
  • When the gypsies come to town, they usually stay in the courtyard of the church
    The Grand Viziers, who have the real political power in the country, delegate the mundane tasks of government to a consortium of wealthy merchants and landowners. The viziers prefer to remain in their towers, studying arcane arts. In particular, the Grand Viziers in Shamash have an interest in biology and studying all different species of animals.
  • Some kind of a breakout happened a few days ago at the menagerie in Shamash (a couple of days before the gypsies would have arrived.) Lessard does not know the details, but he is sure that some creatures escaped, and despite assurances from the viziers that all the escapees have been recaptured and that everyone is safe now, rumors persist that something bad is still out there.

At the Church

  • The church is a temple of Rao, another name for Pelor.
  • The party sees lineups of people (both slaves and masters) waiting for their turn to make a donation through a slot in the wall of the church and to enter small rooms, where they spend a short time and seem to emerge with pieces of paper with scripture of Pelor written upon them.
  • The party goes to a sermon given by Father Vikal, the main priest of the church. He gives the gospel of Rao (Pelor), but interprets every passage to mean that slavery is good and that the Ur civilization are the pinnacle of Rao’s creation, and therefore fit to dominate.
  • Speaking to him in person, he tells the party that the lines outside are for people to visit the great Prayer Machines, a new gift from Rao to his people that has been delivered in the last year.
  • The party sense that Vikal becomes nervous when they suggest that they stay the night in the church, and when the party express curiosity about the slaves using the prayer machines. He suggests that the party tell their troubles to the machines and accept their guidance.
  • Asking around, the party discover that Vikal used to be rather against the use of slaves, saying it was against the teachings of Rao; but a year ago at about this time, he began to change his message.

The Prayer Machine

  • The party attempt to subtly indicate to the prayer machine that they are questioning whether the use of slaves is right. At first their approach seems promising, as the machine asks them for “…more information pleaseā€¦”
  • Perhaps they are too subtle, however (or they just roll really poorly), for the only additional response they get from the machine is the suggestion that Rao prefers direct action to words, and that they should take action against the slavers.

Jezanthepus

  • Jezanthepus is almost sold out of costumes, but he sells the party some odds and ends: a crocodile for Zel’El, a zombie for Kyla, a bugbear for Khamul, and a pig for Quinn.
  • He tells the party that his shipment from the gypsies was lighter than usual this year. Doesn’t know why; something about other trading jobs they had.
  • He confirms that the gypsies went to stay at the church.
  • Says the gypsies drive a hard bargain, and that he sells their costumes at a loss simply to keep his reputation as the dealer with the best merchandise
  • Tells the party that last year, about this time, his slaves staged an escape. He blames their leader, a fellow named Thorstan — a new arrival from the barbarian lands, he was not yet used to the life of the indentured slave as are many of his kinsmen (At this point, the trade in these slaves has been going on for thirty or forty years, so many of them have now been raised in captivity.)
  • Offers the party a reward for their return — a reward more than their real worth as slaves, as he would like to make an example of them.
  • He tells the party the name of the main supplier of the Northern slaves: Felix Lessard.

The church courtyard

  • The party climb an adjacent building to see into the courtyard, and discover signs that the gypsy wagons had been present but are no longer there.
  • Khamul sneaks in and examines a crate, which, although empty, indicates from its inside packaging that it held items in the shape of small daggers or knives.
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On the trail to Shamash

ON THE TRAIL

The ruined temple

  • The party manage to fight off the last of the zombies just as day breaks across the mountain pass. With the sunlight, the necrotic energy that was animating all of the corpses dissipates.
  • Zel’El, having shown to Pelor his fortitude and his determination to stand against the evil of the undead, receives a boon from his god: Pelor’s Sun Blessing.
  • Khamul discovers that the leader of the zombies was his own father, who had been serving in the army during the war with Ur, and who had disappeared when Khamul was a child. Khamul recovers his military overcoat, a Warmage’s Uniform, which is in perfect condition apart from a large rent in the back that mysteriously continues to ooze fresh blood.
  • The party rests from their night of terror, and departs the temple with Zel’El carrying the mysterious black stone which had been found in the crypt below the temple by the Sorcerer-King’s gang of cutthroats, and which had set off the re-animation of the zombie army.

The canyon

  • The party spies a gypsy caravan smashed on the floor of a canyon.
  • Investigation leads the party to believe that it was sent off the road by a simple accident. No human corpses are visible.
  • Some contents of the wagon have spilled out: costumes and masks, plus some sturdy steel-bound crates.
  • Upon descending to investigate further, the party are hailed by a group of Thri-Kreen warriors on the opposing wall of the canyon. The insectoids lay claim to the contents of the wagon.
  • They say they were captured and held prisoner in some kind of menagerie in Shamash, where arcane experiments are being performed on all kinds of creatures. A few days ago, the wards on their cage (and some others) suddenly went down. In the chaos, this group were able to escape, but they were not able to disable the arcane wards that held the rest of their tribe in.
  • They agree to a deal: they will only allow the players to check out the contents of the wagon if the players can return to them the lost half of their tribe.
  • In addition, if the party brings them the head of Grand Vizier Shandakor, who they know to have been a key figure in the running of the menagerie, they will also give the players some items that they grabbed on their way out of the menagerie.
  • Rather than fight their way to the wagon, the players agree to the terms. For now.

SHAMASH

The City

  • is bustling with people arriving for the harvest festival this evening.
  • It will be an all-night costume party in the streets
  • Party notices two types of people: one that is mostly tall, slender, and darker-skinned, and another (which Quinn recognizes as being kin to the barbarian tribes that live north of Glendora) that are shorter and stockier, with white/platinum hair. The latter are treated as slaves, doing all the menial labor, and are forbidden from speaking.
  • The party sees two main squares in the city: a big marketplace, and a park that is dominated by a large temple. Outside the temple are long lines of people, of both main races, waiting for entrance.

Felix Lessard

  • The party have been given a contact by Sir Adam: a fellow who was initially from Glendora, and who served in the army under General Anaximander Caine, but who has settled in Glendora and occasionally assists in diplomatic discussions between the Baron of Glendora and the rulership of Ur.
  • The party go to Felix Lessard’s place of business: a very upscale location that seems to be set up to welcome wealthy customers of some kind. They are met by a silent, dour character, who leads them down a small alley to a seedy bar. He directs the party to a figure seated at a table. Felix Lessard.
  • After introducing themselves, the party retreat to whisper together in the corner before continuing the conversation…
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