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    Postfest V: Shadowsages of the Vale
    Posted on Tue, July 12, 2005 by Dongul
    Duicarthan writes "For decades the infamous Shadowsage has left portenous documents and foreboding rumors throughout the Flanaess. But how can this be? For one man to shape events and lead explorers and sages astray from his true identity. Find out how the Shadowsages came to be and the organization behind them!

    Shadowsages of the Vale
    By: Rick "Duicarthan" Miller
    Used with Permission. Do not repost without obtaining prior permission from the author.

    For decades sages and spellcasters have pondered the identity of the Shadowsage. Many even scrying the very reaches of Oerth to uncover this mysterious being. Many assumed it was Mordenkainen, The Seer of Urnst, or some other luminary. The truth, however, could not be more shocking.

    In truth, the Shadowsage, or Shadowsages are an organization founded by the Black One to conceal his own identity from would-be pursuers of the old Great Kingdom. The Shadowsages have their spies as far as the Bandit Kingdoms to the Vale of the Mage, and stretching further beyond to the Plane of Shadow.

    History of the Shadow Sages

    The Shadow sages were formed in the 440s CY, while the erstwhile Black One was in the employ of the bandit lords of the Bandit Kingdoms. Fearing capture by the Aerdi crown, The Black One began employing spies and undercover agents to bring him any information on the movement of Aerdi agents and possible bounty hunters. Soon the facade grew until the agents were even dressing and acting as if they were the Black One, himself.

    Shortly after his arrival in the Vale of the Mage in 452 CY, The Black One set into play a grand scheme to forever deter would-be pursuers forever. Using magics found in the Vale, and working with the gnomes and valley elves. The followers of the Black One also began to assume the identity of their liege in times of danger.

    Eventually, the organization reached its ultimate height when Tysiln San, sought refuge in the Vale, proved her worth and fell in love with Jaran Krimeah. Within a matter of decades, Tysiln rearranged and reorganized the Shadow Sages to its present incarnation.

    When surrounding nations fell to the giants, the Vale of the Mage was forewarned due to various shadow sage spies that kept tabs on the area. The sages led by the Black One thwarted the invasion, though with heavy losses.

    The Shadow Sages

    The Shadow Sages are known to be active within the Vale of the Mage. However, they are also very active in the Bandit Kingdoms, the former Horned Society, Furyondy, Keoland, the Shield Lands, Veluna, Sterich, and the Yeomanry.

    Shadowsages are known for illuminating mysteries without directly intervening. The current incarnation of the shadowsages conceal and portray the image of the Black One or the original Shadowsage, outside the Vale of the Mage. In addition, they gather information on rare magical artifacts, spellbooks, and arcane devices, to keep enemies in check, and to protect the Vale of the Mage against any and all intruders.

    Various classes and professions have been known to be Shadow Sages. Among them are various rogues, illusionists, bards, even a few druids and rangers seeking to escape the outside world sometimes stay here in exchange for information on the surrounding lands.

    Though they are more well known for their rarities, such as the Valley elf Arcane Archers and Shadowdancers, or gnomish Arcane Tricksters and Gnome Giant-Slayers.

    Each member of the loose organization has availability to spells or magic items that prevent scrying, detection, and any breach of thoughts. The most popular rings are sequestered, mind shielding, chameleon power, and non-detection. Wondrous items like amulets against detection and location, boots of teleportation, and scrolls or other magic item that duplicates spells like false vision, non-detection, misdirection, detect scrying, and true seeing.

    Currently, at any given time any of the following individuals could be portraying the shadow sage.
    The shadowsages are split in five different tiers, each providing information and concealment for the identity of the Black One in one way or another. They are as follows

    The Outer Ring

    • Dwarves of the Crystalmists: Various clans of hill and mountain dwarves have pledged their allegiance to the Black One, in exchange for protection and military might. The Dwarves of this area act as an early warning for those who seek the Vale of the Mage. At the same time, they mine precious metals traded throughout the area and gather intelligence on the surrounding countries. While not all dwarves agree with the Black One, they cannot fault his character or his methods. They were spared the shame of defeat by the giants that invaded the surrounding countries, so they honor their alliance.
    • Gnomes of the Vale/ Crystalmists: Many of the gnomish enclaves in this region have proncounced fealty to the Black One. Gnomes of this region mine and tools gems specific to various divination and illusory spells that conceal the identity the caster to outsiders. These rare refracting gems often no use in common market, yet invaluable to arcane spellcasters. Gnomes of the Vale are disposed to illusion magics and arcane trickery. The individuals often either protect the Vale with illusions or leave with the intent of gathering information and sewing confusion into the minds of those who seek the Shadow Sage. Often, when notes of inflammatory import are left penned by the Shadow Sage, it is one of these gnomes that leaves it. While at the same time, leaving no trace of themselves. They are led by the wily, Endoble Mistikmore; NG; Rock gnome male Wiz11 (Illusionist) who is reputed to be a noble leader and clever prankster.
    • Operatives Across the Flanaess: Along his travels the Black One, entreated the company of many less than savory individuals. Many of these individuals hailing from the Bandit Kingdoms all the way to Sterich clamor for riches and prestige. While at the same time, they ask no questions about their inquiry or the motives of said employer. Using this expansive network, the Shadow Sages hire out these individuals for their ground work. Fees vary but the results are staggering on what information is gathered in various circles of the Flanaess. Among other things these individuals have found a market for their hocked goods. The Shadow Sages ask no question and pay well for any magical items these individuals bring in.

    Inner Ring

    • Valley Elves: The strongest proponent of the Black One's leadership of the Vale are these outcast elves. Though often scoffed at or reviled by their Olven brothers, the Valley Elves have proven quite industrious under the scrutiny of the Black One. The Valley Elves are the prime protection of the Vale of the Mage. Through the use of arcane magic, expert archers, and a trained militia these elves keep outsiders from entering the Vale. It is rumored that many of these elves have been trained to implement their martial prowess with arcane spellcasting. One of the spiritual leaders of the Valley Elves is Summerstorm Nightwind; CN; Valley elf male Clr9, a reverer of the Oerth Mother, Beory who looks over the Vale and correlates all activity with the resident druids of the area.
    • Outcast Races: While many nations surrounding the Vale do not take in ex-criminals, outcasts or various hated races. The Vale of the Mage does, though rarely and on a case by case basis. Anyone seeking refuge in the Vale must submit to intense and rigorous divinatory magic and a thorough interrogation. During this time, they are given various tasks and ordered to aid in the protection of their new home. After a year long trial to prove their fealty they are allowed to join the community. Though typically, many of these individuals, still holding hatred for those who rejected them, often head out into the world again on intelligence missions.
    Outer Citadel
    • Shadowfolk of the Planes: While diplomatic missions and expeditions into the Plane of Shadow have been quite successful. The Black One still has not enlisted many of these denizens to his cause. Those that have allied with him, however, remain the root of the facade behind the Shadow Sage. These beings, capable of taking any human form often pose as the illuminated sage for a time, then vanish again to the Plane of Shadow.
    • Jakar and the Druids of the Vale: The hierophant druid, Jakar Whitewing; N; Human male Drd18, and various other druids of the Vale of the Mage protect the natural environment of the Vale against harmful outsiders and nations with interest in defiling the Vales natural resources. One a proponent against the Black One, Jakar was swayed to his side through diplomatic means and a common interest to protect the inhabitants and beauty of the Vale itself. Together, they created several chain collars that permit the druids to change forms more frequently. Since then, the druids have worked with the valley elves in protecting the Vale and have used their natural divine magic to shield it from outsiders.
    • Sindar Sirion; NE; Valley-elf male Wiz12: Located under the ruins of Castle Greyhawk, Sindar is the prime research and informative operative in this area. Through various charms and suggestions, Sindar sees that the Shadow Sage's identity is concealed, often with unfortunate explorers from the ruins of the Castle. Using these individuals he gathers information on the surrounding area and especially Greyhawk City, where several of the Circle Eight reside. During downtime, Sindar crafts various magical items that facilitate his goals.

    Inner Citadel

    • Nyeru Darkspring; NE; Human male Wiz12 (Necromancer): Once an exile from Bissel involved with a renegade adventuring troupe, Nyeru has found his niche in the world in the Vale. After several years of loyal service, the First Protector honored him by making him the figurehead of the Black One in the Vale, whilst he is on sabbatical. Nyeru typically heads up the Shadow Sages from his dwarven keep secreted deeply within the Vale.
    • Tyslin San, First Protector; CN; Drow elf female Wiz15: The loyal and fervent First Protector of the Vale has been by the side of her liege and lover, Jaran "The Black One" Krimeah for well over a century now. Since her appointment she has solidified all means in and out of the Vale, executed edits on crimes and punishment, and helped organize the Shadow Sages into a multi-tiered informative network aimed at drawing attention away from the Black One, while protecting the best aims and interests of its leader. Tysiln, now leads a more comfortable life with Jaran on the Plane of Shadow extending their influence there. While , Nyeru leads from the Vale, itself.


    The Exalted Court

    • Jaran Krimeah, the Exalted Mage of the Valley and Laird of the Domain, "The Black One"; N; Human male (Shade) Wiz20+: The founder and progenitor of the Shadow Sages, Jaran now spends more of his time in research on the Plane of Shadow or occasionally with his secluded citadel in the Vale of the Mage, attempting to discover new arcane secrets or uncover old ones.


    Development:
    Several years ago, prior to the Greyhawk Wars, Jaran began to frequent the Vale less, and began his search for a way to cheat death. In CY 591, he finished his research and became a shade, so that he might continue his quest for powerful magic items, spells, and knowledge.

    In recent years, the First Protector has allowed exiles of other lands who enter the Vale of the Mage as prisoners to be tested and then if proven worthy they are given work and a home in the Vale. Jaran though wary of this, supports, Tysiln's ideas while he toils away within his citadel on the Plane of Shadow. One such exile now resides in the dwarven keep, an exiled Bissel necromancer by the name of Nyeru Darkspring.

    Recently, the Black One and the First Protector took up residence on the Plane of Shadow, leaving the Vale of the Mage and the Shadow Sages in the hands of the First Protector and Nyeru. On the Plane of Shadow, the Black One and his followers work to expand on their network, now employing creatures found therein to add to their ranks. Shadows, Shades, and various creatures of shadowy substance now lurk within the halls of the Black One's citadel, many with the ability to emulate human forms.

    Within the Vale, Nyeru now leads the Shadow Sages keeping the borders closed to any who seek entry. On rare occasions, those seeking refuge from the outside world are allowed but only after a rigorous trial period and massive divinations to prove their fealty.

    Outside of the Vale, various valley elf and gnomish spies, many disguised or magically concealed wander the Flanaess in search of treasure, information, and potential enemies. Woe to the one, asking about or in search of the Black One for they may find themselves with a warning dagger planted between the shoulder blades.

    "
     
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    Re: Shadowsages of the Vale (Score: 1)
    by mortellan on Sat, July 16, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Excellent stuff, Duicarthan. Can't wait to see the follow up info you spoke of. I like the misdirections they use, in fact with so many people posing as the SS, most divinations would be foiled by that alone.



    Re: Shadowsages of the Vale (Score: 1)
    by Duicarthan on Sat, July 16, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message) http://www.greyhawkonline.com/duicarthan
    Just added in the material on the five tier rings of the organization! A little late but at least they are there. =)


    ]


    Re: Shadowsages of the Vale (Score: 1)
    by Tzelios on Mon, July 18, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    These guys should know something on the Supreme Enemy of Orders;) Actually, Basiliv does per the Gord novels. Did you do any plans to integrate Basiliv the Demiurge with the Black One? Your material, present and past, seems pretty robust.



    Re: Shadowsages of the Vale (Score: 1)
    by Scoti_Garbidis on Mon, July 18, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message) http://www.geocities.com/Rockstar1979
    Excellent Article... this could very well serve as the backdrop for an entire campaign. I also like that it is editionless in format so any DM could use the info.



    Re: Shadowsages of the Vale (Score: 1)
    by Duicarthan on Mon, July 18, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message) http://www.greyhawkonline.com/duicarthan
    Yup thats what I was going for. I've been detailing out the Vale of the Mage quite a while now. I find that he's an incredibly under-used and neglected foil. Add this in and well you have a formbidable organization that uses subterfuge, guile, and arcane manipluation to keep its secrets while gathering everyone elses!

    I also allude to a few 3e prestige classes in there as well for those who are using 3e material. =)


    ]


    Re: Shadowsages of the Vale (Score: 1)
    by Argon on Thu, July 21, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message)
    Great submission my first postfest featured The Valley of the mage you did more than jusydiscuss the Shadow sages you gave us a whole campign worth of information.



    Re: Shadowsages of the Vale (Score: 1)
    by Duicarthan on Sun, July 24, 2005
    (User Info | Send a Message) http://www.greyhawkonline.com/duicarthan
    yup, usually when I make an article I try and think of ways to have it work for everyone. Stories are fine, but they really don't tell you whats could happen beyond them. Adding a little detail and motivations does though a lot!


    ]



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