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Agents and Plots of the Horned Society Ascendant
Posted on Thu, July 02, 2015 by LordCeb
Osmund-Davizid writes "

The Horned Society met with disaster during the Greyhawk Wars.  Iuz stabbed his one time ally in the back and massacred the Hierarchs during the Blood Moon Festival.  This is what is generally known.  This is also false.  The Society was prepared for such a contingency and in the wake of the Greyhawk Wars, the Society initiated a clarion call to its sleeper cells.  Agents of the Hierarchs operating in foreign lands began mysterious missions to rebuild the Horned Society.  Their efforts continue to advance dark agendas long after the end of the war.  Some of these agents have become powers unto themselves and the Horned Society continues to be a world spanning threat.  



Agents and Plots of the Horned Society Ascendant 


Described below are several sleeper cells that are operating in different parts of the world.  Some of the individuals described below are lone operators, some have extensive networks.  All are clever at concealing their activities and  have a great deal of independence to conduct their missions as they see fit.  They will be high level individuals (with what constitutes high level left to be tailored according to your own campaigns) and will have magic items appropriate to their class and level, with an emphasis on disguise, mind-shielding, and the similar items.   

 

 

The Returned Mage

 

Yazmurden the master wizard of the Horned Society has always operated on the fringes of the Hierarchy.  He built the fortress Deepshuttle Delve and there conducted much research for the Hierarchs.  Yazmurden disappeared just before the Greyhawk Wars began, abandoning the fortress at Deepshuttle Delve.  Currently, a wizard calling himself Yazmurden is moving among the elite spellcasters of the Sagacious Society in Rel Mord.  It seems impossible that this wizard could be the same man, as the Yazmurden who lived at Deepshuttle Delve was described as a wizened old man, but this Yazmurden is a young rake.  This new Yazmurden has exhibited knowledge of the teleportation magic that is characteristic of Deepshuttle Delve, so this young mage may be somehow related to the original (Note 1). 

 

Whatever the case, Yazmurden was known as a premier researcher and magical theorist before the Greyhawk Wars and this new fellow continues to add to this reputation in his current guise.

His mission for the Hierarchs is to cull out workable magic from the sages and spellcasters still living and working in the greater Nyrond area.  He passes on any new research and development secrets to other agents, most notably battle magic that has been tested at the Almorian front lines.      

 

He is also a genius at mathematics.  He has contributed several treatises to the Guild of Wizardry’s library in Greyhawk concerning the relationships between algebraic concepts and spell casting.  Knowledge of the inner workings of Deepshuttle Delve can be gleaned from perusing his texts, as many of the traps and  tricks operate under mathematical principles.  He is also a master chess player.  He often wanders through the parks of Rel Mord keenly watching pick up chess games and playing when he can.   He appears as a handsome young man, with his  clothes trimmed in his favorite color, yellow (Note 2).

 

The Smuggler Lord

 

Jorell (no known last name) poses as a ship captain in the Dullstrand region.  There he keeps an eye on Rel Astra, Southern Aerdy, Sunndi, and the Scarlet Brotherhood.  He has extensive contacts among all the ne’er-do-wells of the pirate fleets of the eastern seas, and has some close relationships with some prominent members of the Sorcerer's Nexus at Rel Astra.  Jorell is most notable for being completely average in appearance, being able to blend into any city or culture without drawing much attention.  He is also a master of languages, quick changes, and disguises, having a bewildering array of aliases and cover stories depending on the current mission.  All of his contacts knows him by a different identity, and Jorell has all his covers, contacts, and stories perfectly memorized.     

 

His primary goal is to serve as a potential liaison with certain factions of the Scarlet Brotherhood and hopefully gain support for the Horned Society with the men in red.  An alliance of the two powers seems unlikely, given the events of the Greyhawk Wars, but philosophically the two nations were fairly close.  While the Horned Society did not have the Suel racial superiority aspect to their politics, there was enough room for some mutual understanding between the Unnamable Hierarch and the Father of Obedience.  As of now, Jorell's overtures have not met with much success when it comes to the monks who rule the Brotherhood, but he has made some inroads in contacting the leadership of certain thief and assassin groups of the Brotherhood, and through these contacts he is working to meet up with higher level leaders. 

 

In his role as a smuggler, he is passing on to other Horned Society cells exotic materials in which they can use as bribes, magical research, or to sell.  In addition to the contacts he is cultivating among the Scarlet Brotherhood, he is close to many the ruling powers of Rel Astra, to include Lord Drax, the Fiend-Sage and Serten (Note 3).  This makes Jorell a well connected agent indeed.  It is unknown if any of these powerful personages has any idea that Jorell is working for the Horned Society and what their reaction would be if they found out.  It is important to note that most contacts know this individual by a completely different appearance and identity.     

 

The Merchant Queen

 

Pavis Teodora Magari is an enchantress that operates out of Veluna, and it is a testament to her consummate skills as an infiltrator that she has been operating out of this bastion of goodness for years and has not been discovered as an agent of the Horned Society.  Her mission is a relatively straight forward one, she is to raise as much funds as she can through (mostly legitimate) trade and funnel such money to other sleeper cells. 

 

Pavis was an adventuring wizard some years ago, and during her time exploring, she gained contacts among the bands of mercenaries and bandits that hide out in the Yatil Mountains.  Indeed, she has a few bands totally under her thumb and uses them to raid her competitor's merchant trains.  Only rarely does she directly use her magic to charm and influence the merchants that move through the Veluna trade routes, as she is more than competent in using mundane methods to get what she wants.  She does, however, have a score of fully charmed bodyguards and servants that are completely mentally dominated.  This is highly illegal in Veluna, but she has developed charming spells that are nigh undetectable.  Again, this is a tribute to the genius of this enchantress that she can pull off such powerful magic in a good aligned nation. 

 

Pavis is unattractive and obese, filled with bitter loathing for anyone and anything beautiful.  Beauty may be only skin deep, but in Pavis' case, her appearance is a perfect reflection of the evil in her heart (Note 4).  This meanness borders on true psychosis, and may be this enchantress' only weakness, as she has lately been using her resources to enact a personal campaign of vandalism, kidnapping, and terror against goodly aligned churches of love and beauty.  Pavis has ordered some of her bandit allies to raid churches of Sotillion, Myhriss, and Lirr from Veluna to the Gran March.  Pavis' most vile deed to date is the kidnapping of a junior priestess of Myhriss, returning the hapless prisoner to her people only after spitefully disfiguring her.  For this sacrilege, a divine curse should have been inflicted on Pavis, but for the time being she suffers from no apparent disability, so her personal vendetta continues unabated (Note 5).          

 

The Philosopher-Priest

 

Monger the priest of Hextor is unique among these agents of the Heirarchs in that he has never even visited the Horned Lands.  Instead, he was contacted in Eastfair by Horned Society agents and became a convert to their political philosophy.  Monger sees no conflict of interest in his dealings with the North Province priesthood and the Hextorians from Molag.  His assistance to the Society has been limited to mainly sharing Hextorian lore and magic among the faithful (Note 6) and to serve as an information conduit to other cells.  By not being a native Horned Society agent, he can move and communicate more freely and thus can pass on information to all cells in the eastern lands.

 

An example of the materials he has passed on to the Horned Society was a detailed set of tactical instructions on the use of undead as a logistics train in battle.  Monger may have pioneered the technique of using a line of animated skeletons to carry an endless supply of ammunition for the great catapults used in the Battle of the Hill of Gore (Note 7).

 

Monger, like his mentor the Patriarch Verminek of Eastfair (see Ivid the Undying for details on this priest), sees himself as more of an academic sage, trading in knowledge.  As knowledge is neutral, he sells his findings to whoever can meet his price, but the Horned Society gets a discount.  He had a scandalously torrid relationship with one of Eastfair's most prominent information brokers, SheleernValander, and through her he gained much blackmail and power brokering information (see Ivid the Undying for information on her).  Monger can serve as guide to the politics of the North Province and is happy to discuss the philosophies of his religion to any who would listen.  Monger still adventures, ever in the pursuit of greater knowledge, and has operated with neutral or even good aligned parties seeking similar goals.  He still works for Verminek at times, and sometimes adventures with Sheleern, making him a possible addition to parties visiting the North Province. 

 

The High Admiral

 

Baron Von Denessa was the Society's greatest naval hero before the wars.  In the years that Iuz was imprisoned below Castle Greyhawk, a resurgence of traffic began on Lake Whyestil and there was significant naval activity between the Horned Society and Furyondy (Note 8).  The Horned Society had a battleworthy navy at the peak of its power, and would often skirmish with Furyondian trade ships plying the Whyestil.  Currently, a ship resembling Denessa's flagship has been spotted raiding ships across the Nyr Dyv.

 

Denessa appears to be content to simply raid ships that ply the Nyr Dyv, and use funds to support other cells, but his mission may have more purpose than that.  Denessa is searching the Nyr Dyv for a seafaring artifact that sunk years ago.  This artifact was the Dragonship, a lake warship of legendary strength that could lead to a resurgence of Horned Society naval might in the central lakes.  The Dragonship was the property of a Shield Land hero that was struck down by a curse when he lost sight of his ideals and succumbed to greed.  The gods of justice punished the captain for his hubris by sinking the ship in a storm in a deep part of the Nyr Dyv.  Von Denessa is following up on some clues he gathered over the years and seeks to salvage the ship.    

 

Von Denessa himself is one of the "Helltouched", an elite group of Horned Society agents that served a tour in Baator in support of the Knight-Errant of Hell, Durgaloth (Note 9), making him exceptionally powerful.  Von Denessa's ancestral castle north of Delaquenn has had some mysterious events occurring, such as glowing lights off the coast, strange sounds from the battlements, and a permanent shroud of fog surrounding the place.  Iuz's forces are afraid to go near it.  Von Denessa is gathering a devilish amphibious force at his castle home to staff the Dragonship once he finds it.  He has grand ambitions of launching raids on Iuz territory and along the Nyr Dyv with his extraplanar crew and ship.       

 

The Revenant

 

Lord Jhanser the warrior lord was on the cusp of actually becoming a Hierarch immediately before the Greyhawk Wars.  Jhanser was struck down by an agent of Iuz using a poisoned dagger in a unlikely assassination attempt (Note 10).  Jhanser now wanders throughout the northern lands, attacking forces of Iuz in an opportunistic manner. 

 

Reports on this individual are mixed.  From the few survivors of his depredations, his powers indicate that he may be a true revenant or perhaps even a death knight.  He seems to be generally moving westward, so it is thought that he is trying to reach his old lands or make contact with the Heirarch Nezmajan in the Fellreev.  When he was alive, he actually had the respect of the people he ruled, making his former lands a hotbed of anti-Iuz insurrection (see Iuz the Evil, page 39).  He fought alongside the dragon queen of the Fellreev, Verithmirax, during the wars with the Shield Lands, and if he successfully reunites with his old allies, a powerful base of Horned Society operations could be reestablished in the Fellreev.  

 

Jhanser appears to be a hulking knight that could pass for a living man, except that his skin is now chalk white with a horrid wound in his left side still oozing blood and ichor.  As he is now an implacable foe of Iuz, he may be approachable as a temporary ally to raid a major Iuzite stronghold.              

 

 

NOTES:

 

1.  The truth is that this wizard and the old master at Deepshuttle Delve are one and the same.  Yazmurden's obsession while at Deepshuttle was to find and research Dweornite stones.  These stones have highly magical effects and a few can even grant the user wish level magical power (see Iuz the Evil pages 37, 40-41, and 78 for more information).  Yazmurden used such a gemstone to restore his youth.  He is working on a theory for his Horned Society masters that more such stones may be found somewhere in the Nyrond region, perhaps under the forests or in the Flinty Hills. 

 

2.  The various tricks and traps at Deepshuttle Delve reflects the enthusiasms of its architect.  Yazmurden created the fortress with teleport traps based on mathematical principles, added riddles based on math word problems, and has chess based traps in his dungeons as well.  Often he left clues for his lackeys to the puzzles by using the color yellow (i.e. the safe lever to pull is the yellow one).  For suggested math puzzles, borrow some problems from "The Crypt of Lyzandred the Mad" for inspiration.  Yazmurden maintains on his person the records of the Deepshuttle Delve tower, as well as his notes on the Dweornite stones (Yazmurden may be the world's foremost expert in these stones).  

 

3.  Serten is not related to the legendary cleric of the same name.  This Serten is an archmage rumored to be a member of the infamous Ring of Five.  Should the Ring of Five, with their vast magical power, have any interest in the Horned Society's resurgence, that would tip the delicate balance of power in many regions and may restart world spanning war.

 

4.  Pavis could easily use magic to alter her appearance and make it more pleasant.  But by some quirk of her personality, she never does so.  While she has been operating in the Yatil Mountains, she discovered a band of Erythnul worshippers and became an eager convert.  That explains many aspects of her horrid personality.

 

5.  Erythnul's interest in Pavis is unusual due to the fact that Erythnul is typically a warrior's patron, and does not show favor to wizards.  But Pavis has demonstrated such envy, malice, and wickedness that Erythnul has extended his unholy favor to her and protected her from the divine retribution of Myhriss.  Pavis' campaign of hate against these beautiful churches has been extremely successful in that those religions are often located in the most peaceful, civilized areas and are generally inoffensive.  Priestesses of Myhriss have tried to divine the identity of their attackers, but so long as Erythnul extends his unholy favor on Pavis, their efforts fail. 

 

6.  The exact religion practiced by the Horned Society has been debated over the years.  Deviltry was the prime religion according to most sources, though the church of Nerull was also prominent in the lands.  A triumvirate of powers representing Gehenna, Hades, and Tarterus was also rumored to have influence in the Horned Society.  Hextor did had a sizeable following among the warrior classes, along with some humanoid mercenaries employed by the Society.

 

7.  This battle was a siege that was fought on the edge of North Province territory in the foothills.  A force of Imperial Highlanders put a rebellious local robber baron's castle retreat under siege.  Monger was instrumental in the logistical support of the besieging army, using undead in imaginative ways that made the difference.  Usually, undead troops are just used as fodder or to scare their enemies by their mere presence.  Monger has developed a technique that makes the basic skeletons and zombies more useful in resupplying the troops, and he had a supply train miles long bringing food and ammunition to the Highlanders.

 

8.  Most trade was sporadic barter done on the shores between morally ambiguous Furyondians and formerly loyal Iuzites seeking to make some money while Iuz's influence was at a low ebb.  Some woodsmen from the Vesve, Wolf Nomads, or even Perrenland mercenaries would meet on the lake for trade as well.  They would meet on deserted shorelines and conduct business in moving goods south, principally furs, minerals, and forest products.  The Horned Society and Furyondy fought many pitched battles to control the flow of this trade. When Iuz returned to Dorakaa this lake trade dried up, but the Horned Society and Furyondy still battled to maintain the best fishing areas and to claim salvage from sunken wrecks.    

 

9.  Yazmurden and Jhanser are also thought to be of that elite group.  See the series of articles on Canonfire on Malbolge for information on the Knight-Errant of Hell  

 

10.  The success of this assassination on such a powerful individual such as Jhanser leads one to believe that this was not a conventional murder.  The assassin must have had some demonic assistance to strike down Jhanser.

 

As mentioned above, these agents will be high level with items appropriate to charcters of such caliber in your campaigns.  Their treatment in this article is deliberately kept light, so they can be tailored to fit in any era or edition.

 

SOURCES:  Iuz the Evil, Ivid the Undying, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer; Canonfire articles: Hell on Oerth, Hell on Oerth II, Wyrms of the Flannaess: Verithmirax, Excerpts From the Book of Fire: The Reckoning, The Libram Infernal - Annex: The Politics of Hell in Malbolge, Excerpts from the Libram Infernal:  The Sixth Hell Malbolge

 

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