Return of the Ur-Flan Pt I
|Posted on Mon, September 13, 2004 by Farcluun
|gvdammerung writes "The Return of the Ur-Flan is an adventure and resource document for introducing the Ur-Flan into a campaign. Included is an adventure, background on the Ur-Flan, one new prestige class, one new spell, three new magic items and three new monsters. This is Part 1
The Return of the Ur-Flan Pt1
Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author. The Return of the Ur-Flan - A Savant Iquander Adventure
The following is a resource document on the Ur-Flan. It is presented as an investigation, in adventure outline, into the current activities of the Ur-Flan, circa CY594. If the adventure is not run, it provides a back story for the discovery of the Ur-Flan by some other means. The frame story involves the Savant Iquander, a Sage, resident in the town of Nellix in the Duchy of Urnst. Known throughout the length and breadth of the civilized Flanaess as an exceptional intellect, the Savant Iquander is often sought out to help resolve mysteries that confound lesser minds. While the Savant rarely leaves Nellix, he regularly employs others, often described as “adventurers,” to do his leg work. Iquander is assisted in his studies by his man-servant, amanuensis and scribe, Huggin, a gnome of indeterminate years. In some wise, the Savant Iquander and Huggin are reminiscent of a certain sleuth and his companion and biographer. As the Savant might say, in a weaker moment, “The game is afoot.”
Chapter 1 - In His Majesties Service
The following letter sets out the setup for the initial stage of the investigation by the PCs. The DM can utilize the facts presented when the party is initially contacted by Huggin or can simply allow the party to read the letter Huggin has written.
My Dearest Savant, Iquander,
As you directed, I presented myself at the Duke’s Court in Leukish this day past and was received by his factotum, and our mutual acquaintance, Constable Strandt. The Duke, via the Constable, wishes to thank you for consideration of the matter at hand. It appears that the security of the Duchy may, in some wise, be threatened by the strange circumstances surrounding the death of one Father Immelese of the Church of Pholtus. The facts are these.
Father Immelese arrived in Leukish within the past week from Radigast City, taking up residence in an undistinguished inn, The Hill and Dale. From this locale, the good Father wrote to the Duke, seeking an audience. I reproduce the correspondence below -
‘Your Royal Highness, In the Name of Pholtus, Whom I humbly serve, I beg you grant me an audience for I have hard won news of a grave threat that even now consumes the realm of your Royal Cousin, the Countess of Urnst. I dare not commit the specifics to this missive for you would surely think me mad. I beg you but hear me and you shall know I speak the truth! A priest of Pholtus in the service of the Ambassador of the Pale to the Court of the Countess of Urnst, I beg diplomatic reception under the terms of The Pact of Greyhawk, signed CY 584. Pursuant to Articles 14 and 27 of the Pact, I humbly, and most respectfully, invoke diplomatic and religious recognition of my presence in the capital of the Duchy of Urnst, being designated the City of Leukish. To this request I, this day, set my hand and seal of office.’
Pursuant to the Pact, Father Immelese was granted an audience. On his way this audience, Father Immelese was killed in the main square outside the Palace Royal in broad daylight in front of nearly 50 people. The manner of his death is not in dispute. Father Immelese was torn apart by a flock of crows or ravens. Bystanders attempting to assist the priest, were set upon in turn until they ceased their efforts to offer aid. While the city guard, being better armed and armored, were able to kill a number of the birds, their arrival was too late for Father Immelese.
An examination of one of the dead birds proves it nothing but a large, but otherwise ordinary, specimen of its kind.
Constable Strandt’s men sealed off the square and questioned those present. One individual identified in this process was discovered to bear an amulet identifiable as belonging to the Cult of Iuz. The Constable’s men attempted to detain him for questioning. Regrettably, this individual successfully evaded the Constable’s men. A similarly described personage was subsequently reported to have taken ship, believed bound for the Bandit Kingdoms.
Investigations after the late priest at The Hill and Dale revealed that an individual matching the description of the unknown cultist had been seen asking after Father Immelese. Nothing further of note was uncovered.
From the foregoing information, Constable Strandt concludes that agents of the Old One did away with the good Father. The Constable insists that the ship bound for the Bandit Kingdoms be pursued in a fast packet without delay.
While not discounting the Constable’s theory, I note that the method of dispatching the Priest was unusual and not one generally known to be used by agents of the Old One.
According to inquiries with the Church of Pholtus, that is to say, The Pale, Father Immelese was trained in Wintershiven. He apparently lived uneventfully, albeit faithfully according to the tenants of his church, in that city for over 20 years, working as an archivist in the Great Library of Pholtus until approximately three years ago when he requested transfer to the Church mission in the Duchy of Tenh. He resided in Tenh, at Atherstone, for approximately two years until again seeking reassignment, this time to the Palish embassy in Radigast City. His superiors have nothing but praise for Father Immelese, noting he was a skilled and diligent scholar.
As the case seems to have moved beyond the jurisdiction of the Duchy of Urnst, I am retaining the services of third parties to continue with this investigation. They are instructed to find Father Immelese’s murderer and to keep us posted on their progress. I anticipate my return shortly to Nellix. - Yours, Huggin
PCs have 4 paths immediately open to them, which they may pursue in any order -
1) Pursue the supposed agent of Iuz, the most obvious and, thus, most likely course.
2) Proceed to Radigast City and inquire after Father Immelese.
3) Proceed to the Duchy of Tenh and inquire after Father Immelese.
4) Proceed to Wintershiven and inquire after Father Immelese.
The order of presentation of the succeeding chapters imagines that the PCs will proceed in the above order. If they do not, it is no matter. Each chapter is independent and it is possible to complete the adventure without completing every chapter.
Chapter 2 - The Iuz Intercept
If the PCs choose to pursue the agent of Iuz, they can be provided transport aboard a fast packet, The Stern Wind, that can overtake the ship, The Red Gull, on board which the agent of Iuz is traveling. The packet will be provided courtesy of Constable Strandt. Intercepting the Red Gull is not a problem. The agent of Iuz will not, however, go willingly, nor will the crew of the Red Gull, a smuggler, just turn him over. Scale the encounter to fit the party. Waylaying the agent of Iuz, the PCs will find the following missive -
In Service to My Dread Master,
I have lately pursued the ghosts that haunt our success in the lands of Tenh. We are not alone in finding our plans there thwarted. The priesthood of the accursed Blinded Light are also vexed. It seems certain they play no role in the difficulties. One among these priestlings, however, appears to have uncovered something of the nature of our unseen adversaries. I have tracked him from the County of Urnst, where he fled from Tenh, and on to the Duchy, where he sought to meet with the Duke.
Being ill-advised by the lick-spittles who so poorly serve you in Tenh, I have had to rely on my own ingenuity to uncover the business of the priestling. He has met with Ehyeh, the Outcast, but was poorly received, as attempts were subsequently made on his life. Yet, no more was I prepared to fully divine the details of these conversations and quickly resolve this matter, than the cowardly priestling fled again, to Leukish, where I again pursued, all in Service to Your Munificent Magnificence.
It was in Leukish that the accursed coward of a priestling met his end at the hands of our adversaries. Before my eyes, he was set upon by ravens and torn asunder. The full magnitude of my daring and service to Your Dread Majesty was fully on display as I won free of local authorities to continue my pursuit. Strategically withdrawing, I now set about the ultimate unveiling of Your Victory over our adversaries!
Posting this missive with my Brethren in Your Service in Redhand, I shall shortly report success when I have run this matter to ground. - Naraxal
Naraxal is a wizard, who should be scaled for the party. If he can, he will escape the party, if they cannot be defeated.
With Naraxal intercepted, the PCs have prevented greater involvement by forces loyal to Iuz and have ruled out these forces as Father Immelese’s killer. Naraxal is either dead or has escaped. If he has escaped, Naraxal is essentially on his own and must regroup. From the point of intercept in the Nyr Dyv, it is not far to make Radigast City. If Naraxal escaped, he will make for the city.
Chapter 3 - The Exile Kiss
When the PCs arrive in Radigast City, if application is made, the exiled Duke of Tenh, Ehyeh, will graciously, and desperately, meet with anyone who wants to meet with him, about anything. However, as soon as any mention is made of Father Immelese, the Duke becomes distant, evasive and quickly ends the audience. The Duke will not provide any information to the PCs but clearly knows of the late Priest and is by turns nervous and frightened.
A meeting with the Ambassador from the Pale, Prelate Contamptin, can also be arranged, if news of Father Immelese is offered. The Ambassador will inquire after the late Priest and will be genuinely saddened by news of his death. Father Immelese always kept to himself, seeming preoccupied. The Ambassador will praise his work ethic but confide that the good Father was prone to imaginings. Pressed on the point, the Ambassador will note that, while a researcher in the Great Library in Wintershiven, Father Immelese believed he had uncovered evidence of a group of heretics that threatened the Holy Mission in Tenh. These same heretics, he alleged, had infiltrated the Tenha exile community in Radigast City. Of course, he offered no proof, only wild claims of an unspecific nature. The Ambassador dismissed his claims as the product of too great a religious fervor, saying something for a follower of Pholtus, and honestly knows no more. The Ambassador was not surprised when Father Immelese suddenly left the city without a word. He had lately imagined that heretics were out to kill him.
Forced to take a less direct approach, the PCs will eventually encounter Lady Chantil Reynard (Ranger/Thief), a spy in the employ of Countess Belissica. Lady Reynard is charged with maintaining surveillance of the Tenha exile community in the County of Urnst. She has recently been investigating strange stirrings in the exile community, to include the attempted murder of a Cleric of Pholtus, one Father Immelese, who has since disappeared. Father Immelese, just prior to his disappearance, had sought an audience with Countess Belissica, saying her country was being infiltrated by malign forces he did not name in his letter seeking an audience. If the PCs can win her confidence, perhaps sharing information, Lady Reynard will disclose to them a Preliminary Report to Her Majesty, Countess Belissica -
Report - Activity in the Tenh Exile Community
Charged with monitoring the activities of the Tenha exile community in Radigast City, I have become aware of a new element within the community that is causing subtle dissension. Persons unknown, though with certainty of Flan extraction, have lately arrived in Radigast City from the Duchy of Tenh and have made contact with elements of the exile community. While their identity and intentions appear closely guarded secrets, it is certain that they have received a welcome from the Duke, such that their presence is tolerated.
Two principle factions appear, roughly those who would more warmly embrace these newcomers and those opposed to them. The Duke, as usual, is indecisive and there appear to be growing tensions among the various parties. While only fights have broken out to this point, there exist more calamitous possibilities. The newcomers are less than shy and I believe have more directly attacked those who would deny them welcome. These attacks appear focused on members of the Flan priesthood, suggesting a religious connection of some sort.
Oddly, a priest of Pholtus, one Father Immelese, late of the Pale’s Mission in Tenh, has interjected himself into this growing conflict. While his full involvement has not yet been determined, he has met with the Duke. Subsequent attempts on his life are no doubt not the work of parties in opposition to the priest’s counsel to the Duke.
The Duke’s support, and thus legitimacy, is apparently being sought by several parties. As the Duke’s sole matter of concern is ever to reclaim his lands, the questions arise - who, precisely is offering to assist the Duke, by what means and why does the Duke hesitate? Unfortunately, Father Immelese has recently vanished, making more difficult the discovery of answers to these questions. This man should be found, taken to a secure place and interrogated.
While in Radigast City, the PCs will have their first encounter with the Ur-Flan. The Ur-Flan have infiltrated the exile community and are offering to assist Duke Ehyeh in regaining his throne in return for his recognition and secret support of the Ur-Flan. The Duke hesitates as he is aware of the history of the Ur-Flan and, while desperate to regain his throne, is yet a religious man in his own way.
Father Immelese threatened the Ur-Flan and was targeted for assassination, first in Radigast City and successfully in Leukish. Becoming aware of non-Flan asking questions about Father Immelese, the chief Ur-Priest present in Radigast City, Imolar, will orchestrate an attack intended to deal with Lady Reynard and the PCs. While Flan supporters (double the number of PCs) assault the party, Imolar will cast Murder of Crows [see Spells of the Ur-Flan; this is the spell that killed Father Immelese] targeted at any obvious mages; he will then concentrate his Ur-Priest attacks (see the Ur-Priest Prestige Class) on any clerics. Imolar will not fight to the death and will retreat if his forces appear to be losing. Imolar will flee to Redspan in Tenh if his forces are defeated. It was Imolar who killed Father Immelese.
If the party did not kill Naraxal in Chapter 2, the party will also be attacked by Iuz’ agents in Radigast City, who are also investigating Father Immerlese under Naraxal’s direction. Naraxal will lead the attack but will flee if his forces appear to be losing. Naraxal will then switch tactics and begin to trail the party, believing they will do his work for him.
If Naraxal was killed in Chapter 2, the party will still be attacked by Iuz’ agents in Radigast City but this will be their last appearance in the adventure, presuming they are defeated by the party.
In either instance, party opponents should be scaled as appropriate for the level of the PCs.
At the conclusion of this chapter, the PCs should be aware that more is going on than the simple murder of a priest. Father Immelese obviously discovered a threat growing in Tenh but reaching out to the County of Urnst, as well.
Chapter 4 - Let Us Prey
Backtracking Father Immelese’s movements, all trails lead to Tenh. This chapter is particularly complicated given the situation in Tenh, and made more so by the added presence of the Ur-Flan.
In Tenh, the revived Ur-Flan are attempting to thwart the Stoneholders, Iuz, and the Palish. The Ur-Flan offer considerable hope to the pressed Tenha, but at a considerable price - support for the Ur-Flan and their blasphemous necromancies. To this point, the Ur-Flan are keeping a very low profile. They intend to subvert the Tenha liberation movement or replace it, if Duke Ehyeh refuses to cooperate. The Duke, however, is no fool and is weighing his options with mingled fear and desperate hope. None of the occupying powers have any sense that the Ur-Flan have returned and would likely discount any such tales as nonsense. Indeed, Father Immelese was unable to convince anyone of the danger.
It was in Tenh, of course, that Father Immelese discovered the reality of the Ur-Flan revival after his earlier discoveries in the Great Library in Wintershiven (see Chapter 5). Unable to convince his co-religionists, he struck off for Radigast City to attempt to warn Duke Ehyeh and failing that, Countess Belissica, but, forced to flee the County after attempts on his life, he was subsequently waylaid and killed in the Duchy of Urnst.
In Tenh, the PCs will have to navigate the treacherous political and military situation.
Entry into Tenh is easiest through Redspan. Redspan is controlled by forces still loyal the Duke Ehyeh. However, it has been throughly infiltrated by the Ur-Flan. If the PCs have already been to Radigast City, the Ur-Flan in Tenh will be ready for them, unless they disguise themselves and their movements. Even disguised, however, any serious inquiry in Redspan will eventually come to the attention of the Ur-Flan with predictable results.
Atherstone is controlled by the Palish, and is where Father Immelese was posted. The Palish forces in Tenh are supported by the “Faithful Flan,” Tenha who have turned to the worship of Pholtus. To the Ur-Flan, these are the worst kind of traitors - religionists who have turned their back on their own people. The Ur-Flan have moved aggressively to infiltrate Atherstone, assassinating leaders of the Faithful Flan and working to seduce the rank and file, killing those who learn to much and refuse to join the Ur-Flan cause. The ultimate Ur-Flan plan is to subvert the Faithful Flan and have them rise up, with Ur-Flan assistance, and retake Atherstone from within - this is what they are offering Duke Ehyeh in exchange for his support. The Palish with their distrust of wizards and reliance on clerics are uniquely susceptible to the Ur-Flan. Armed with knowledge gained at the Great Library in Wintershiven, Father Immelese sought assignment to Tenh and there became wise to the Ur-Flan in Atherstone but, being unable to convince his superiors, began his quest to find someone who would believe him.
In Atherstone, the PC will have to be very careful in their investigations. The Palish are naturally suspicious and the Ur-Flan within the Faithful Flan are murderous. The Ur-Flan will quickly discover too bold an inquiry but will not directly attack the PCs, unless absolutely necessary, for that could draw too many eyes. Rather, the Ur-Flan, through the Faithful Flan, will attempt to pit the Palish against the PCs. Their job will be that much easier if the PCs have already been to Wintershiven and made a mess of things there (see Chapter 5).
The Ur-Flan in Aetherstone, Redspan and Radigast City are working together and are in close communication. Word of PCs acting against Ur-Flan interests in any of these locations will quickly pass between the Ur-Flan strongholds. Atherstone offers the PCs a particularly good view of just how dangerous the Ur-Flan are - they have infiltrated Redspan, they have infiltrated Radigast City and they are poised to assume control of the Faithful Flan in Atherstone. If successful on these fronts, the Ur-Flan will be well on their way to establishing a new independent Tenha, under Ur-Flan control.
The Stoneholders control Nevond Nevnend. They are not drawn directly into the storyline but the PCs may have to cross territory in Stoneholder control if they choose to confront the Ur-Flan beyond Tenh (see Chapter 6).
The wild card in all this is Naraxal and the forces of Iuz. If Naraxal has been shadowing the PCs, he will eventually put the pieces together as the PCs do. Naraxal will offer a truce and alliance to the PCs. Iuz’ forces control scant territory in Tenh but they are a force with which to be reckoned nonetheless. If the PCs refuse, Naraxal will go all out to destroy them. If the PCs agree, Naraxal will betray them as soon as he is certain of accomplishing his goals. Naraxal does not want to see the Ur-Flan fail - immediately. Naraxal wants the secrets of the Ur-Flan to deliver to Iuz!
In Tenh, the PCs can make contact with Flan who do not support the Ur-Flan revival, in either or both Redspan and Aetherstone. The Flan resistence is highly suspicious of outsiders, given their precarious situation, and will not be easily won over, however. From the resistance, the PCs can learn something of the history of the Ur-Flan and gain valuable allies. They can also confirm the role Imolar played in Father Immelese’s death. The Flan resistence, in both Tenh and Radigast City, knew of Father Immelese but too late discovered that they shared an agenda. They could not get to him in time to protect him. If the PCs are particularly thick, they may be tentatively contacted by the anti-Ur-Flan resistence forces when they distinguish themselves fighting off repeated Ur-Flan attacks.
The PCs can variously “succeed” in Tenh. While the adventure is now more than the hunt for a murderer, they can bring Imolar to justice. They can expose the Ur-Flan to the Palish. They can expose the Ur-Flan to the Duke’s forces more widely, making any alliance highly problematic. If they can destroy both strongholds of the Ur-Flan in Tenh, the Ur-Flan agenda will have been seriously set back.
If the PCs do other than flee from the Ur-Flan and have already been to Radigast City, a confrontation with their forces and Imolar is inevitable. If the PCs have bypassed Radigast City, Imolar will not be in Tenh; the head of the Ur-Flan operations in either Redspan or Aetherstone will instead confront the PCs. That the Ur-Flan killed Father Immelese, and why, will become obvious as the PCs work through the adventure. That Imolar was the actual killer will also become obvious - Imolar leads the Ur-Flan in Radigast City where attempts were made on Father Immelese’s life; Imolar, or another Ur-Flan operative, will likely use Murder of Crows against the PCs, the same spell that killed Father Immelese; the Flan resistence can confirm suspicions that Imolar killed Father Immelese; and Imolar, or another Ur-Flan operative, will also taunt the PCs with the death of Father Immelese, promising that they too will die pointlessly without ever having been believed.
The PCs cannot, however, destroy the powerbase of the Ur-Flan in Tenh because it does not exist there. The Ur-Flan operate out of the Barren Wastes. Only the Eddwyr Manuscript, housed in the Great Library in Wintershiven, will provide them with this information. If the PCs do not travel to Wintershiven, they will need to put together clues inside Tenh, a very difficult proposition. Hopefully, once the PCs understand Father Immelese’s full story - his work in the Great Library; his sudden request to come to Tenh; his uncovering of the Ur-Flan in Aetherstone and subsequent quest to expose them - they will put the pieces together and chose to discover what Father Immelese discovered in Wintershiven that first set events in motion. This is assuming that the initial mentions of the Great Library in Wintershiven did not register with them in any way. If the PCs don’t think to further investigate Father Immelese’s background, Iquander can come to the rescue, suggesting this to the PCs.
Chapter 5 - Call for the Priest
In all likelihood, the PCs will decide to make the trek to the Great Library in Wintershiven, whether before or after the events in Tenh outlined in Chapter 4. It is only here that the PCs can likely obtain information about the revived Ur-Flan stronghold in the Barren Wastes. The Ur-Flan in Tenh are certainly not going to divulge this information and the Flan resistence have only legends to go on.
The Pale is not a welcoming place to strangers, unless, perhaps, one or more of the PCs are adherents of Pholtus. Even so, the PCs will have to tread carefully in making their inquiries. As soon as the PCs demonstrate that they have an interest in anything other than passing through or the most mundane type of trade, a Pholtan “minder” will be assigned to them while they are in the capital. In no way will the minder assault the PCs or directly interfere with their activities. She will remain entirely unobtrusive and likely all but unseen.
The difficulty the “minder” will present is the slippery slope of life in the Pale. If the PCs behave in any way that arouses the minder’s “suspicion,” she will call in an Inquisitor, who will have the PCs questioned. If the PCs resist going in for questioning, they will be branded outlaws and forcibly detained for trial, after which they will likely be ejected from the Pale, if not imprisoned.
Assuming the PCs go along with any questioning, and don’t commit blasphemy during the interview, they will be allowed on their way, but will be watched with greater intensity. The PCs will now have to tread very carefully. If the PCs show too much interest in “dark” topics, they will be branded heretics, and will be pursued to be tried and burned. Guilt in such matters is not in doubt in the Pale.
The difficulty in this regard is the need to follow Father Immelese’s researches in the Great Library. Finding the Great Library and gaining admittance is not difficult. However, yet another “minder” will be attached to the PCs while they are in the library. This assistant librarian will accompany the PCs while they are inside and monitor their researches.
As Father Immelese worked at the library for over 20 years, having only left a scant 3 years previous, he is well remembered and thought of fondly. Depending on how/if his death is made known, the PCs could well help or hurt their cause in Wintershiven. The Father’s researches were, of course, cataloged and can be accessed with little difficulty. He had lately made a study of pagans of the North. Sufficient research will turn up the “Journal of Father Eddwyr Among the Heathen Sauvages of the Northern Wilderness,” which reads in pertinent part -
The tribes of the Tenha are undistinguished, being of the usual heathen ilk. Yet, among their number are odd throwbacks, who reject their own pagan gods. These odd ones are, nonetheless, tolerated by their brethren, being accorded some respect and not a little fear, if not held in high esteem. I find them fascinating.
I have met the Ur-Flan, for so they call themselves, and have engaged them in discourse in the name of Our Great God Pholtus. I have never encountered the like of their philosophy. They reject all gods as frauds but do not embrace any alternate philosophy, be it druidism or some variant. Rather, their world-view is starkly solipsistic. Man is the ultimate authority and arbiter of his freedom or lack thereof. Gods are man’s slavers, ultimately mortal, if superluminary, that substitute their best interest for that of man, dolling out to man just enough of their power to be accorded “divine” status. Man, in fear of an afterlife and ignorant of his own innate power, bows before his holy slaver. I fear there may be no hope of conversion of these Ur-Flan. In Pholtus name, I will travel to their seat and have truck with the Elders among them.
Long have I traveled north, beyond the reach of the Tenh tribes. The Flannish peoples here are of a different nature, nomads who rove the vast plains of this wind blown barren. My Ur-Flan companion advises me that we must push father north yet for there lies the place of the Elders. The nomads, I note, make to challenge us but, seeing something in my companion’s mein, break off with much shouting and gesturing. Again, a strange respect is accorded those I now think outcasts.
We have come, at last, to the place of the Elders. It is no city proper. A great field of risen stones heralds a passageway into the earth. May companion, grown steadily more superior in his attitudes, now smiles uncomfortably at my inquiries. O’sagom’oor, this place is called, Earth of Power Revealed. I have a terrible foreboding that something awaits me, as the hawk awaits the hare. I must be on my guard.
All is wrong. The Ur-Flan are more than I had imagined. No mere philosophic sect; they give action to their words. From the gods and their followers, they steal power to harness the most bloody of magics. Necromancies and worse. The earth and stones of this terrible place are blood soaked. Grinning, they have informed me of my fate. In my faith, I am but battened for the slaughter, for they feed upon it. I must dare to escape this stygian sepulture of the godforsaken living.
Sunlight. I had thought not to see it again. Praise be to Pholtus that I have won through, how I know not. Of my race through the black bowels of that accursed place, I have but scant memory, save of near paralyzing fear, each step leaden almost unto death. I flee south now, headless in my flight. Of my God’s power, I have no doubt, for He has surely delivered me. But I have glimpsed something else. The world is not as I had thought. There is another darkness than the night and it is hungry and athirst for the light. I fear we live of the smallest part of a great unseen extent, teetering over an abyss undreamt, that I only now seem to have scarcely escaped.
Pursuit. I feel it. As I felt the threat of that terrible place. My doom is certain, for I have been a fool, resting and thinking myself safe. I think I would not be safe but in Pholtus’ arms and there I will commit myself, lest I fall, drained of my life, to their darkness. If suicide be a sin, I think I will be forgiven. I must flee where my pursuers cannot follow. The alternative is unthinkable. And yet, even as I think on it, a sinister cerebration creeps between my thoughts. Are they right? NO! I cannot think such thoughts! O Blinding Light! Take me!
If the PCs attempt to share in the Pale any of the wisdom they have uncovered, charges of heresy are almost sure to follow. Their minder within the library will be quick to call in the Inquisitors at the slightest provocation, to say nothing of the Inquisitor now otherwise following them outside the library. Faith must be kept in a tightly locked box.
Chapter 6 - Into Darkness
Armed with the information from Father Eddwyr’s Journal, the PCs may try to take the battle to the Ur-Flan beyond Tenh. Such events are beyond the scope of this adventure. Discovery of the Eddwyr Manuscript before the PCs venture into Tenh will have obvious utility. Alternatively, if the PCs are having trouble in Tenh, they may venture to Wintershiven to gather more information and regroup before returning. If the PCs only discover the Eddwyr manuscript after they have resolved matters in Tenh to their satisfaction, the discovery is a foreshadowing of future encounters with the Ur-Flan.
It is not intended that the Ur-Flan be finally dealt with in a single adventure. Indeed, this is impossible even were the PCs capable of locating, assaulting and destroying O’sagom’oor. While the most important Ur-Flan site, it is not their only hold of power. The Ur-Flan are back and have a decentralized power structure with no true supreme leader or centralized command.
The Ur-Flan are intended to be a continuing menace. Secretive, wielding unusual and deadly powers, they play a role in a campaign not unlike the Scarlet Brotherhood before it revealed itself to the Flanaess during the Greyhawk Wars. The Ur-Flan work through the Flan, hiding behind Flan nationalism and cultural pride. They only act directly when they believe they can demonstrate the weakness of the divine. The Ur-Flan’s greatest strength is also their greatest weakness. They cannot resist a tempting clerical target.
The Ur-Flan are also different and complex villains. As will be related more fully in their history, their denial of the gods is not the result of mustache twirling, innate “evil” or extraplanar seductions. The Ur-Flan have a philosophy that is grounded in both myth and reason, or less charitably, intellectual pride. And the Ur-Flan might not be entirely wrong on some level. They present more than a physical and magical challenge; they also present an intellectual challenge to the “known” facts of divinity on Oerth.
The History of the Ur-Flan
The Ur-Flan are an ancient sub-group and sect of the Flan. The Ur-Flan do not believe in gods as divine entities. They believe that “gods” are just extremely powerful, but ultimately mortal, beings who have duped others into worshiping them. In this worldview, the religious are willingly oppressed by a spiritual tyranny and held in a holy slavery by the gods. The Ur-Flan oppose the gods at every turn and will not work with their adherents. For their part, the majority of Flan reject the Ur-Flan but greatly fear them. It is considered unwise and bad-luck to directly oppose the Ur-Flan. The Ur-Flan are to be avoided but are tolerated by their Flan brethren.
In the mists of history, when the Flan ruled the lands to which they would one day lend their name, there arose among them a sect that denied the gods - the Ur-Flan. The followers of this sect dared question the very nature divinity. In place of faith, they enshrined reason and the power that flows in the blood
The Myth of Manalisha
The cleric Manalisha was perhaps the greatest cleric of her generation, faithfully serving the goddess Beory. Through her hands flowed the power of the goddess. In her eyes, burned the light of divine wisdom. All who saw Manalisha knew her to be a holy woman, who walked with her goddess. Manalisha healed the sick. She protected the weak. She blessed the crops that famine would not visit the people. Yet, people continued to grow sick. There were always weak who needed protection. Crops would still fail. Manalisha’s duty was always before her. In her daily observances, Manalisha prayed to Beory for an end to strife, an end to sickness and an end to famine. The goddess would answer that through Manalisha and her clergy, Beory would see to her faithful. Manalisha knew that Beory loved her and the people.
At the same time, the Flan people were split in their devotions. The Old Faith, the purist form of druidic practice that reveres only Nature, flourished along side the worship of Beory and the other Flan gods. Druids drew power, comparable to that of the most devote cleric, from their belief in Nature, without resort to any god. Vethome was chief among these druids.
When the clerics of Beory and the Flan druids would be found in the same area, they would work together without rancor. Yet, a discussion of differing philosophy and belief would be inevitable.
Between Manalisha and Vethome there was a certain attraction that displayed itself in these debates. Each would strive to impress the other with their arguments, long into the quiet hours of the night when others had retired. As the relationship mutually blossomed, each came to look forward to their discussions with anticipation, imaging new and novel ways to present their positions. When their passion of the mind moved equally their spirits, Manalisha and Vethome joined in a union attended upon by each of their faiths.
Now, thought Manalisha, her life was made complete. Indeed, for a time, it seemed so. Any questions of Beory’s will and grace were answered. Then, Vethom was wounded near unto death but six short months later. Manalisha knew a terrible, smothering fear. She prayed to Beory. Vethom’s fellow druids worked their magics as well. The Great Druid died nonetheless.
Manalisha broke inside. She would not see her husband taken from her. Fasting and praying, Manalisha redoubled her devotions to Beory. Surely, this was not Her will. Surely, She would return Her most faithful servant’s husband. Beory would only answer that what Manalisha asked could not be. In Manalisha, then, grew an anger of the soul heretofore unknown to her and previously unthinkable thoughts fired her mind. If Beory would not save Vethom, Manalisha would turn elsewhere.
Steeling herself, Manalisha made obeisance to Nerull, God of the Dead. Could he do what Beory would not? The Dark God laughed. The druid was past beyond His powers in an afterlife not of the gods of the Flan. Manalisha raged. The gods in which she had so believed had failed her. Such must not be! Such would not be! Manalisha would not accept this!
Setting out upon a quest among the planes, Manalisha sought Vethome and finding him, knew a terrible joy. She had done what the gods could or would not! Her will, not their’s, prevailed! All that remained was to return Vethome to the living. Manalisha had prepared for this, keeping Vethome’s body in a secret place, safe from decay and harm. Returning to Oerth, the cleric of Beory in secret worked great magics she had learned on her quest, reviving and restoring her love to her side. Her triumph was complete and of her own making. She knew she could not again serve Beory or any other god.
Emerging from her secret place, the reunited lovers were soon met by the assembled clerics of Beory and the druids of the Flan. Manalisha could not be allowed to set herself above the gods and Nature. Vethome must be returned to the afterlife. The ensuing battle was fierce but certain in its outcome. Cursing the gods, Manalisha unleashed great mystic energies, laying waste the land for miles but, in the end, Vethome was utterly destroyed. Offered atonement, Manalisha spit on the symbol of Beory, refusing all aid. With sadness, all turned from her, leaving her to perish. Full intending to die, the shriven cleric crawled off to find death. Falling into a great rent opened in the earth during her battle, she found new life, bathed in the blood of Oerth.
The revived Manalisha kept to the wastes, now planning and striving against everything she had previously believed. Those she gathered to her became the genesis of the Ur-Flan.
Manalisha is a myth whose basis in fact is uncertain. If there ever was truth to the tale, the Ur-Flan have grown more sophisticated in their beliefs. Yet, the tale embodies some of their core beliefs.
The Ur-Flan reject all gods as frauds. For all their supposed power, there is no peace, no certain prosperity or protection and no ward against ill-health or misadventure. Where are the gods for their believers, who are asked to believe but who are shown scant reward for belief?
The promise of an afterlife is a promise of eternal service to a deity. It is an afterlife of divine slavery to the god, supposedly joyous because it serves the god. But how is man served? The Ur-Flan believe the gods thus stand revealed as the holy slavers of mankind, chaining man with divine manacles, preying on his ignorance and fear for an afterlife.
The Ur-Flan belief system is ultimately solipsistic. Man should take his fate in his own hands. Man must be the ultimate authority and arbiter of his freedom or lack thereof. Fear of the unknown born of ignorance is the tool gods use to have men bow before them. Learn. Grow powerful. Free your mind and save your own soul. Make this world and the next your own.
To this end, the Ur-Flan seek to understand the universe and impress their will upon it through two principle means. Believing the gods frauds, the Ur-Flan look to take back the power it is believed the gods themselves have stolen. The Ur-Priests’ theft of divine power is seen as the righteous reclamation of what rightly belongs to man. The Ur-Flan also harness the power inherent in the blood of all living creatures to support them in their fight against the divine. This “red necromancy” is then distinguished from “black necromancy.” The former draws on the power of the blood, and there is no greater blood than that of Oerth itself; the later draws on energy from the negative material plain.
While all Ur-Flan despise the gods and their agents, there is not a single, monolithic Ur-Flan belief or agenda but several.
The Slayers of the Divine (Nuroktel) see themselves as fighting to free man from the oppression of the gods. The gods must be slain, their power drained.
The Blood Borne (Hegeoah) believe that man must develop his blood power until he is prepared to confront the divine on a more even footing. Great reservoirs of blood power must be built up to prepare for a final battle with the gods.
The Centered (Ionahe) believe that a balanced approach to the problem of the divine is best but that no stratagem can succeed so long as worship of the gods remains wide spread. The worship of gods must be subverted; converts to the Ur-Flan must be won.
Differing philosophic orientation does not prevent Ur-Flan of different camps from working together. The Ur-Flan have always been aware that they are a minority and that there is strength in numbers. The different philosophies are more theoretic than practically applied in all events. Over time, the distinct philosophical approaches have intermingled. If ever there were sharp lines of allegiance, they are vanished in the practical need to oppose the divine in a world dominated by the religious.
Over time, the Ur-Flan became an accepted, if not welcome, part of Flan life. Secret adherents or converts to the Ur-Flan were raised to positions of prominence or power among the middle to late Flan nations and tribes. From these positions, they advanced their fellows until a nation or tribe was subverted and subservient to the Ur-Flan. Of course, not all Flan tribes or nations were overcome, but the Ur-Flan were sufficiently successful to became bogeymen to these Flan, the strangers in the night who would feast on the blood and souls of believers to power their magics.
For those under the actual sway of the Ur-Flan, such fears were very real. The Ur-Flan did not scruple to “harvest” believers who would not give up their faith. In terrible rituals, believers would be ritualistically tortured and wrung dry of their blood and any divine power they might wield. While not practically necessary to the harvest, torture of believers cowed the still living and demonstrated the powerlessness of the gods to stop the slaughter or to protect their worshipers. For the Ur-Flan, it was all good.
Of course, such practices offered natural opportunities for sadists, sociopaths, the violently amoral and the wildly insane to sate their appetites and satisfy their urges. Too often, these rabid Ur-Flan, unhindered by hint any humanity, would come to rule lands won from the faithful. The abuses perpetrated by these degenerates ultimately lead to the downfall of the Ur-Flan.
Flan clerics were quick to use the atrocities of the Ur-Flan to rally the faithful. Allied with the demi-human inhabitants of the Flanaess, who found the Ur-Flan evil beyond description, the followers of the Flan gods, over time, pushed the bloody Ur-Flan farther and father into the wilder and more desolate lands. The coming of the Oeridians sealed the fate of the Ur-Flan dominated states. The Ur-Flan could not resist their own people, the elves, dwarves and the Oeridians. They were all but blotted out from history.
Of course, some few Ur-Flan remained in wastelands but they found few adherents when they dared seek them at all. The Greyhawk Wars changed all this. Iuz oppressed the Rovers of the Barrens to near extinction. The Duchy of Tenh was torn asunder and ravaged. The remaining Ur-Flan offered a power to fight and power to survive. They began to grow in strength and number once more.
To the Rovers of the Barrens, the Ur-Flan offered a way to survive in the face of Iuz’ depredations. To the Tenha, the Ur-Flan offered a means to regain their power. To join with the Ur-Flan would mean be to be feared and respected. To a proud people humbled, there lands stolen, their cultural traditions forgotten or debased, the allure was often too much to resist.
The Ur-Flan Today, CY 594
From O’sagom’oor, Redspan, Atherstone, Radigast City and places yet to be discovered, the Ur-Flan slowly build their power. While not limiting themselves to these areas, the Ur-Flan are still chiefly concentrated in the Flan communities of the Flanaess.
Among the Rovers of the Barrens, the Ur-Flan have not been idle. Fully half of the tribes have been subverted by the Ur-Flan. The remaining tribes are wavering. Only the Wardogs openly stand against the Ur-Flan.
Those tribes that support the Ur-Flan will work to foil any attempt to proceed against the Ur-Flan in the territory of the Rovers. While others among the Rovers would welcome the destruction of the Ur-Flan, they fear them too greatly to support any move against them. The Rovers of the Barrens are greatly weakened and will not be responsive to any entreaties unless shown they can prevail against the Ur-Flan. They are pathetic.
Nakanwa and the Wardogs are the only elements of the Rovers with any vitality. But the fear that their peoples time has past is ever present and gnaws at them. They have no interest in sacrificing themselves against the Ur-Flan for any notion of a “greater good.” The only good of concern to them is that of their people. A great people are humbled.
In Tenh, the Ur-Flan have a hard won, though ultimately deceptive, reputation and respect as Flan nationalists and freedom fighters. They have successfully carried the fight to the Stoneholders, to Iuz and to the Palish. They hit hard, they leave the enemy bloody and they don’t take prisoners.
The Ur-Flan in Tenh have throughly infiltrated those lands still owing allegiance, however shaky, to Duke Eheyh and have a stronghold in Redspan. They have a plan in motion to subvert the Faithful Flan, who side with the Pale, fermenting a rising among them in Atherstone that will see the Palish ejected from their chief stronghold in Tenh. If successful, the Tenha will control 2/3rds of Tenh and will owe their success to the Ur-Flan.
Iuz’ forces, already battered by the Fists of Stonehold, stretched thin and deprived of extraplanar auxiliaries, will be rolled up along the Zumker in the march on Nevond Nevnend, the stronghold of the Stoneholders and ducal capital. Coupled with a local rising of the Flan, prepared in advance by Ur-Flan agents, the capital will be reclaimed. Tenh will rise again and reclaim her glory, with the Ur-Flan as national heroes!
After Tenh is secured, the Pale will be dealt with. Fat with clerics, the Pale offers the Ur-Priests an irresistible target uniquely vulnerable to their powers. The conquest of the Pale will, no doubt, be bloody but this, again, plays to Ur-Flan strength. With a reunited Tenha nation at their command, an Ur-Flan conquest of the Pale is seen as inevitable.
In the County of Urnst, the Tenha refugee community has already been infiltrated by the Ur-Flan. When Tenh is freed, this community will not return to Tenh. They will form the vanguard of an Ur-Flan invasion, to be carried out as soon as the Pale is subdued. The conquest of the County Urnst is essential to the ultimate Ur-Flan goal of again dominating the Flanaess. All of the Flanaess once belonged to the Flan, and under the Ur-Flan, it will be so once again! The County of Urnst has population and wealth that will help rebuild Tenh and fortify the conquered Pale.
The only other territorial gains needed will be those Bandit Kingdoms necessary to secure the transit to the County of Urnst from Tenh.
Thereafter, the Ur-Flan will work to subvert the other nations of the Flanaess. First among these will be Furyondy for the Ur-Flan hold the key to that land’s heart - Iuz. The actual presence of a deity on Oerth is intolerable to the Ur-Flan. Iuz must be captured and killed in a very public way to demonstrate that gods are falsely divine and all to mortal. Of course, if properly carried out, Iuz’ killers will be heroes throughout the Flanaess, and most especially in Furyondy. From there, the subversion of Furyondy will be a straightforward matter. Opposition from Veluna is anticipated with relish, as is its destruction.
It is important to note that, in these plans for conquest, the Ur-Flan will remain entirely unknown, save as a nationalist fraternity. The mistake of the Scarlet Brotherhood will not be repeated. Tenh will conquer the Pale. The County of Urnst will be “liberated” by “reformers.” The true role of the Ur-Flan shall remain hidden, even from the vast majority of the conquering Tenha. In this way, anticipated strikes by Nyond and the Duchy of Urnst will seek the wrong targets, while unanticipated Ur-Flan agents strike from within these nations.
Standing in the way of the smooth operation of the Ur-Flan’s plans, besides the believers who need to be converted or killed, are those whose devotion to the Ur-Flan cause extends only so far as their own self-interest. The old disease returns, just as virulent. Those who would use Ur-Flan power for their own ends threaten the secrecy necessary for the Ur-Flan to succeed. These must either be brought to heel or eliminated, perhaps by the believers themselves. In such a way, the Ur-Flan can be “vanquished” as necessary. No sense wasting resources.
RETURN OF THE UR-FLAN PART II"
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|Re: Return of the Ur-Flan Pt I (Score: 1)
by basiliv on Fri, September 17, 2004
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|This is incredibly cool. Wish I'd thought of it!
I love the way you were able to utilize the anarchy in Tenh and put it to the Ur-Flan's advantage, while it remains a formidible obstacle to the PCs' pursuit of the truth. This also presents are very good way to get some reluctant PCs to visit the Pale.
With all the mystery that's shrouded the Ur-Flan over the years, the teasers in published material that kept everything incredibly vague, it's very nice to have this cohesive write-up and adventure.
|Re: Return of the Ur-Flan Pt I (Score: 1)
by cwslyclgh on Fri, September 17, 2004
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|wow... youy certainly did a lot of work on this... the adventure so far doesn't seem half bad either... good job.
|Re: Return of the Ur-Flan Pt I (Score: 1)
by Tzelios on Mon, January 10, 2005
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|Great concept of an article!
I am sure it is quite interesting. I will read it more carefully and return with a possible second comment.
I would like to note that Iquander, during the last years, lives in Greyhawk. He is administrator of the Great Library, as well as a lecturer of the Grey College. I`ve read several times, GVD, in your articles to ignore the above fact. See more in LGJ#4 (if I am not mistaken, it is definitely one of #0-4 LGJs).
Also, I read in haste your Platonic Solids article. It seems good. I will try to find teh time to read it more carefully and post a comment also.
Happy New Year,
|Louis Vuitton Alma MM M93595 (Score: 1)
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