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Against the Slave Lords - Story Help

 
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Emongnome
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 8:49 am    Post subject: Against the Slave Lords - Story Help Reply with quote

WARNING - SOME POTENTIAL SPOILERS FOR ANYONE PLAYING THESE ADVENTURES

Bought A0-A4 collection, am running it for my brother (him playing 4 characters) in 5e. He wanted the time period to be pre-war with it rolling into the war following A4. We aren’t far yet, but I’m struggling with how A4 will play out. I normally wouldn’t worry much about it as it’s a long way off, but I would like the cleric encounters to better tie into what happens in A4.

Background: Only published setting info I have is LGG. My preference is to generally keep canon, so won’t kill off a main character that (per LGG) survives the war. I’ve also read some forum posts and articles about this, but none seem to quite nail it for me.

1st topic: Who (or what) is under the Drachengrab Hills? This will relate to the clerics in A0. Makes sense to game them be a follower. Earth Dragon is referenced in A4, but seems more difficult to work with and is oddly placed for a cult working with Slavers. Could work, though. I thought of whatever deity it was, the unsellable slaves would be sacrificed to their “god”. Considered the whole demigod trapped down there using the sacrifices to gain enough power to escape. The article suggesting a Tarrasque was intriguing, but not what I was preferring as it couldn’t grant spells. Though I’d take a more minor being that granted power ala warlock patrons.

This leads to my next question: What next? Seems like it would roll easily into a “behind enemy lines” scenario where Turrosh Mak is taking his army near there on the way to Ulek or Celene. Anyway to tie this in more than geographically?
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Disclaimer: I used the 2e format, so keep that in mind.

LOVE the Slavers epic module saga. Been a player run through it, and ran it as a DM whose Heironean paladin got mixed up against them. I didn't follow it sequentially b/c of various campaign twists and turns, and I wanted it to run organically, but I very much kept the gist of the Slavers as written.

However, I, too, didn't much care for the Earth Dragon cult idea. Even though a supplementary module called The Slavers more fully detailed this DemiPower and its priesthood, 'we' decided that Mordrommo and the other clerics worshipped Erythnul instead, using piracy as their vehicle for domination, with some land-based raids as well.

-Lanthorn
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Emongnome
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sorry if my first post was somewhat disjointed, I posted from my phone. Not exactly a good way to make a long post.

I read several suggesting Erythnul and I can get behind that totally. I did have a few follow up questions on how to fit it in:

1) Who (or what) is under the Hills (if anything) and what's causing the earthquakes at the end of A4? Some powerful imprisoned being of some kind that the priests of Erythnul are trying to free? Pretty cliche, but cliche isn't beneath me. :)

2) I'm thinking the priests of Erythnul are supporting the Slave Lords, but secretly using the Slave Lords for their own (even more) nefarious plan. Maybe the imprisoned being in #1 or something else?

3) Can Erythnul fit into the Turrosh Mak narrative post-Slave Lords? Gruumsh isn't keen on half-orcs probably, so I can see Mak aligning with another deity (maybe). Bad idea?

Thanks so much Lanthorn for responding. The A series needs lots of filler material to better tie the adventure locations beyond what is written, but it's got good "bones" and in the end, it looks like it'll be a blast.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Tue Jun 25, 2019 7:09 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Emongnome wrote:
1) Who (or what) is under the Hills (if anything) and what's causing the earthquakes at the end of A4? Some powerful imprisoned being of some kind that the priests of Erythnul are trying to free? Pretty cliche, but cliche isn't beneath me. :)


This was an allusion to Rob Kuntz's unpublished adventure "Lair of the Pit Fiend."

However, Joseph Bloch introduced a quasi-deity called Krovis in his 1991 Dragon Magazine article "See the Pomarj—and die!" that was supposed to be the mysterious sleeper in the Drachensgrabs.

Slavers suggested it was the Earth Dragon, an ancient spirit of the land worshiped originally by the Flan who had become patron of the Slave Lords and the humanoid tribes of the Pomarj.

Others have suggested the Tarrasque slumbers there, as in bdpenney's Canonfire! article "Alternate History of the Pomarj and Turrosh Mak."

Quote:
I'm thinking the priests of Erythnul are supporting the Slave Lords


I thought Tiamat would be a more interesting patron of the Slave Lords than the Earth Dragon, personally. Her lawful evil alignment fits them better than Erythnul's chaotic evil alignment, I think.
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're quite welcome. I appreciate it when people reply to me relatively soon after I post, so I try to pay it forward in turn.

I'm trying to recall the reason for picking Erythnul (this happened decades ago when I first started along the Slavers plotline), but after looking at all the Power choices he seemed the most logical for the following:

1) Mordrommo is Neutral Evil, so figured his Patron Power should permit the same (I didn't want to change the alignment). Hextor is pretty much Lawful Evil, so even though he was in the running, settled on the more savage Erythnul (permits CE and NE priests).

2) The location was important. There are NUMEROUS tribes of humanoids in the Pomarj, and Erythnul is often worshipped by humanoids. In fact, Erythnul's very blood creates humanoids when he is wounded! Therefore, it seems perfectly reasonable that an Erythnul-centered group of reavers could get humanoid tribes 'on board' with furthering the aims and goals of the Slave Lords b/c it speaks to their very nature.

I don't see this contradicting Turrosh Mak's machinations further down the road, either. Erythnul wouldn't be opposed by, or oppose in turn, the humanoid patron Powers like Gruumsh. If anything, I imagine they are loose allies (though willing to turn on each other if necessary).

3) Domination through fear, piracy, murder, etc. seemed right up Erythnul's alley.

I added a twist as well, permitted an elite group of dragonnel riders based out of their mountain fortress-city as well. They were used as scouts, primarily, seeking targets, getting intel on the surrounding areas, and the like.

As far as the rumor or myth of a powerful Being dwelling under the mountains (be it Krovis, the Earth Dragon, or the tarrasque), truly, I left it just at that! A myth or rumor! I never delved into that aspect and let it be. It just never became important in my campaign. Sometimes it's best to let the imaginations or fears of the party run wild without justifying them, in my mind.

And about the volcano...well, I left it up to the fact that the Drachensgrabs are tectonically active and sit on a hot spot (like Hawaii or Yellowstone National Park). SCIENCE was my explanation for that, and NOTHING at all to deal with mythos. Shocked

Hope this helps.

-Lanthorn
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Emongnome
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PostPosted: Wed Jun 26, 2019 6:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

rasgon,

Thanks for the links. I knew some about the Earth Dragon, but the Krovis angle was interesting. I always enjoy reading various perspectives, gives more ideas to shamelessly steal. I get Tiamat perhaps fitting better, but to be honest, Tiamat is kinda overdone with her use in other settings. Other than that, it would be a good story.

Lanthorn,

Thanks for the added info for Erythnul. Seems a good fit for both Slave Lords and the evil races around the Pomarj. Part of the story is where the Slave Lords go from simply stealing away slaves here and there to sacking whole coastal villages aligns perhaps with Erythnul's increasing influence.

While "SCIENCE!" is perfectly valid, I feel like bad things happening (earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, magmen running around) portents greater misdeeds below. Hard to present these bad things happening to the PCs and not provide some bad guy to defeat or villagers to save.

I'm also still leaning toward perhaps having the Slave Lords "donate" the weakest slaves to the Erythnul clerics for ritualistic sacrifices.

In any event, I enjoy talking about it and bouncing ideas around.
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Thu Jun 27, 2019 8:29 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Perfectly fine, and ultimately your decision. I just never made the disasters center-stage in my campaign, but rather the battle between the Slavers and those who finally rose up to oppose them (the PCs secretly backed by a coalition of Safeton and Hardby who wanted to use them as scapegoats if the plan went awry).

If plate tectonics is not your choice, and you want something supernatural as the underlying cause, as you noted, Krovis has been proposed, as well as the formidable Tarrasque (a TRULY terrible beast, nigh impossible to defeat).

If you prefer a non-entity as the reason for the disasters, perhaps there's a rift between the Prime Material and the Elemental Planes (Fire?), for whatever reason you concoct.

Or if you want a 3rd party involvement, perhaps an elder, Grand (or Great) Druid in the region is tired of all the bloodshed, rampant violence, murder, rape, and piracy and wants to 'stabilize' the field by getting involved. Using elemental magic, a POWERFUL druid could definitely stir the pot, perhaps awakening a dormant volcano, tapping into the Elemental Plane of Fire (and Earth). Being True Neutral, the druid doesn't care about anything save his/her agenda of restoring the natural balance (the Slavers and their humanoids have tilted the natural order too far towards chaos and evil, for instance), and that includes the PCs getting involved (the druid wouldn't want it to swing too far to law and goodness).

Or...pick something else. You didn't want Tiamat, so I guess a dragon of advanced age is out. Maybe an extraplanar creature? A titan...

Just spitballing ideas your way.

-Lanthorn
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Emongnome
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Spitballing is EXACTLY what I’m needing and wanting.

I’ve read comments and articles about Krovis or a tarrasque. I’ll keep both of those in my rolodex.

Your other suggestions were worth further consideration, though. I’m not opposed to a dragon of some kind (could tie into the “false” story of the earth dragon living below the hills). Tiamat is out, but an evil dragon is cool.

The druid is also intriguing. In 5e, neutrality is no longer a requirement, but it opens up some nice options.

The elemental aspect is fitting, considering the island is attacked by magmen. Also, the clerics in A0 is breeding mud tigers (new monster from place between water and earth planes). Not sure how to explain why Erythnul would mess with that kind of stuff, but I can think of something.

Lots of stuff to work with. Thanks again for the advice.
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DriveByPoster
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 04, 2019 11:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Emongnome,

I am currently running A0 - A1 for my group & I am going to be using the Tarrasque. In my mind the Tarrasque & the Earth Dragon are one & the same thing. It's just that over the centuries two divergent legends have grown up. I was going to use it's alarming awakening as a kind of James Bond ending, with the survivng party members (if there are any) fleeing through collapsing buildings & sheets of flame as it rampaged around the place. My logic was that the Earth Dragon clerics think that their spells are granted by a god but actually they are siphoning off small amounts of magical energy from the Tarrasque. Each time they cast a spell it increases the likelihood that they will awaken the enraged creature!

As for what happens next. In A0 there is, seemingly for no good reason, a shrine to the Elder Elemental Eye. My working hypotheses is that the humanoids of the Pomarj are actually being thoroughly infiltrated by the priests of Elemental Evil. So, the armies of Turrosh Mak, advancing steadily up the Wild Coast, are actually going to hang a bit of a left turn at some point & march to the relief of the ToEE! Nothing can stop them now, I tell you. Nothing! (except perhaps the sudden intervention of a rampaging Tarrasque).

Here's some other stuff that I have used for this but it doesn't answer your immediate question so feel free to stop reading now! :)

I am running it post-war rather than pre-war. The reason for this is that Darkshelf, the setting for A0, sits in the 'debatable' Nyrondian lands west of the Nesser River. This means I can play some entertaining political games without having to worry too much about "help" from central authority.

I thought that the initial reason for the A0 adventure was a bit thin & difficult to sustain if you've got a halfway intelligent group. So I used this as the story given by 'Basili' to the meister, which made the meister suspicious. So my casus belli for kicking off the A0 adventure was that the local Meister was a bit worried by the small army being built up at the quarry & thinks it might be in readiness for some sort of local takeover. The quarry itself though, I decided, was King's land that he (the King) had franchised out in order to help with this rather strained finances. So the Meister couldn't just send his own troops to poke around (not that he's got many anyway). He needed some plausible deniability, i.e. expendable adventurers.

For added flavour, I also picked up Carlos Lessing's two 'Marquessa' adventures so I could drop in some foreshadowing about her as a future plot thread. And, by way of a complete distraction, I also had a ship of the Black Pegasus Trading Company from Dragon Magazine (issue 199), who were docked at the port in Darkshelf. This is a Spelljammer tie-in which I thought would be fun as the article says that the Company are building a secret base. And how often do you have an adventure that presents a working stone quarry for your use? The big Giant loading stone blocks from the quarry onto the ship caused a lot of interest! The manner of the ship's leaving was even more mind-blowing for my group as they had never heard of Spelljammer! :)

Having cleaned out the quarry, I am about to move the party on from Nyrond to Highport. They will be travelling in a galley sent by the very helpful Bailiff of Nesserport. In "The Marklands" (Page 73), the naval base at Nesserport is portrayed as almost an independent force so I thought that they would be well up for having a crack at some slavers!

I am using the "Lowdown in Highport" adventure from Dungeon Magazine (Issue 221) as their way into the city. The meisters 'agent' from A0 I turned into an agent of the priest running the escaped slaves 'railroad' in 'Lowdown'.

For A1, I will be running mostly as is but I have added in the Doppelganger element from the D&D livestream that Mike Mearls ran during the 5E playtesting. It's on Youtube if you haven't seen it. It's well worth a watch!
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xo42
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 3:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Love this thread and the ideas from everyone. I have to agree with Lanthorn (as I usually do), that the module/sourcebook Slavers is an awesome resource to guide you and it has so many possibilities to spin off from or add to. I've used it at the levels suggested and I've modified it slightly for higher level parties because it's just put together so well.

As far as the Earth Dragon, I agree with many that it doesn't represent my favorite big baddie, but I just went with it. Using Tiamat is an outstanding idea and if I ever use it again I'm definitely using her.
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rasgon
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 10, 2019 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Also check out "Vesicant" in Dungeon #16 and "The Last Slave Lord" in Dungeon #215, as recommended by Vestcoat in this thread.
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Lanthorn
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PostPosted: Thu Jul 11, 2019 7:13 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

xo42 wrote:
Love this thread and the ideas from everyone. I have to agree with Lanthorn (as I usually do)....


Happy Thanks! I will try NOT to get accustomed to it!

-Lanthorn

p.s. yes, Slavers book is a great resource guide.
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vestcoat
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 12, 2019 12:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The sleeping things beneath the Drachensgrabs have come up a few times and is a favorite topic of mine. Two more exist that haven't been mentioned yet. It seems virtually every GH author who saw that mysterious Folio reference was inspired to create their own sleeper. Here they are in chronological order:

*The Pit of Geburah, Kuntz, 1976
*The Oerth Dragon, A1-4, 1981
*The Twisted Forest, Greyhawk Adventures, 1988
*Krovis, Joe Bloch, Dragon #167, 1991
*"sleeping" temples of Tharizdun, Carl Sargent, Dragon #191, 1993
*The Tarrasque, c.2000's fanon

The final references to Tharizdun and the Tarrasque bring us full circle, back to the works of Robert Kuntz! Kuntz writes extensively about the connection between Tharizdun and the Tarrasque in Dark Druids, which has been recently revised by Chaotic Henchman and was originally set in the Gnarley Forest.

As for your second topic, a party that completes the A series will be nearly high enough for Dark Druids, so that's an option.

3E's The Standing Stone also takes place in the forests near Celene and features some lower-level evil druids.

Of course, post-Gygax TSR placed the A series after T1-4, but I really like the idea of Temple agents stirring up trouble in the Pomarj, hinted by Rob Kuntz in Fate of Istus. PC's could find their victory of the A series short-lived as the Slavers are replaced by new masterminds from the ToEE and/or Iuz to the north. Paul Stormberg breaks it down here:
https://www.dragonsfoot.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=33&t=47909&start=30#p1128482

Most have been mentioned, but here's the Slaverlord sequels and spinoffs in one list, OTTOMH:
Vesicant (Dungeon 16)
Scourge of the Slavelords (extra material)
Queen of the Spiders (official sequel)
Slavers (official sequel)
Crossbows & Crossbones
Danger at Darkshelf Quarry
Lowdown in Highport
The Last Slave Lord
Kill Marquessa! (CASL Entertainment)
Die, Marquessa, Die! (CASL)
Path of the Slave Masters (Pacesetter Games)
Sanctuary of the Slave Masters (Pacesetter)
War of the Slave Masters (Pacesetter, convention only)
--
Finally, don't be afraid to break canon! Nothing makes players happier and more empowered than knowing their actions changed the course of the campaign in ways not intended by the publisher.
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