Dominium

In Tolaria
Session 39: Obelisk

“When you look into an abyss, the abyss also looks into you.” — Friedrich Nietzsche

Scrambling through the ruins beneath the Fane of Iolar, the party finds a stepped chamber dominated by a mighty black obelisk. Pillars at the corners of the room represent the Four Free Gods (Iolar, Avandra, Corellon Larethian, and Selûne) and their spheres of influence. Several braziers lit by magical fires illuminate the room. The floor of the stepped levels is adorned with faded tilework in an ouroboros circle with three heads consuming the tails of creatures they pursue: a dragon, a demonic tiefling, and a phoenix.

The surface of the obelisk pulses with unnatural radiance and two horrors emerge. These hulking creatures conjure a flight of lesser horrors, like flying sheets of undead flesh, from the flames. The nightmare beasts assail the party, but they are routed.

Three doorways lead from the room. Deeper into the ruins, down towards the root of the chasm, and closer to the fallen Tear of Selûne that they are seeking.

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In Dominium City
Session 22: That Which Waits Beyond the Stars

“The Sleeper is the herald. His dreams call to That Which Waits Beyond the Stars. When the Sleeper is awoken, He will dream again.”

Father Darius believed that Randoon was the Sleeper, also known as the Vaeyen, and was somehow a key to the gate beneath the Shrine of Ioun. The party does not know what that might mean, but Randoon has told them of the horrific vision that the priest revealed to him…

Randoon’s Dream
You struggle with a slim humanoid with a nest of tentacles where its mouth should be. Its robes are adorned with a three-bladed sickle symbol. The tentacle-faced humanoid stabs you with some kind of arcane knife-like energy, and you feel a sick infusion of some sort. You slam the side of the horror’s head with a rod you are holding. Your vision fades to blackness, and a haunted sleep engulfs you.

Not knowing the priest’s plans, or what danger might lie beyond, the party pursues Darius through the gate and find themselves on a strange mountainside in a twilight realm lit only by strange moons and unfamiliar constellations. They find some signs of the priest, and follow them as best they can. As they do so, they realize they are being shadowed.

They trap the creature shadowing them, and it is revealed to be an ancient and somewhat crazed Illithid (mind flayer) named Ezekiel. He tells them of a graveyard on the side of the mountain that he tends with its thousands of dead, and the power which waits within the mountain. That Which Waits is apparently counting souls towards some event or capacity that will allow it to emerge or escape… Ezekiel assures them that the priest is dead. To verify his word, the party explores the mountainside further, discovering an eerie cabin full of frights, the corpse of the priest, and some dark shafts sunk into the mountain.

Satisfied that Father Darius poses no further threat, they opt to return through the gate and leave the haunted mountain behind.

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In Dominium City
Session 21: Return to the Surface

The noted scholar Claudius Ptolemaeus of the Akademeia Zau-Sais must be delivered safely to the Shrine of Ioun to help combat the incursion from the Far Realm. Stepping from the sewers into the Goblin Market, the party again meets Kalliban, an agent of the Vandals and the market-master of the Goblin Market. He recognizes Mazzy, and speaks of the recent “stirring up” of the Blackworm goblins. He mentions that her brother Fritz is looking for her, and seems to be “making a move” in the Vandal thieves guild hierarchy.

Since the party has greased his palm in the past, Kalliban gives them what aid and information he can, and they arrive at the shrine safely. Elysia, a priestess of Ioun, and Barnabus, a disciple of the shrine greet them, and explain that Father Darius of the Erathian Cathedral has threatened to destroy the shrine and turn out the followers of Ioun if the troubles there cannot be resolved promptly.

Meanwhile, Slide debates the urgency of the letter he received from Ciro, the maid of the Jaundiced Jellyfish Inn, who has written to say that two of the local halfling boys are missing under mysterious circumstances.

The party descends through the Ascalon family crypt to the Inverted Tower and the ruined machinery it houses to the gateway that has been opened by the Order of the Starry Night. While exploring the area they are confronted by Father Darius and a squad of Protectorate soldiers. The priest tries to convince them that Randoon is the key to closing the gateway. It is evident to the party however that the priest is concealing some vital piece of information. Finally, in frustration, Darius seizes the scholar Ptolemaeus, and tries to force the party to cooperate. A melee ensues and Ptolemaeus is slain by a Protectorate soldier. Darius invokes some strange magics, and when the situation gets out of his control, he flees through the gate into the eerie realm beyond…

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In Tolaria
Session 38: The Chasm of Tolar

I yearned mightily to enter this fascinating yet repellent city, and besought the bearded man to land me at the stone pier by the huge carven gate Akariel; but he gently denied my wish, saying: “Into Thalarion, the City of a Thousand Wonders, many have passed but none returned. Therein walk only daemons and mad things that are no longer men, and the streets are white with the unburied bones of those who have looked upon the eidolon Lathi, that reigns over the city.” — H.P. Lovecraft, “The White Ship”

The western half of the city of Tolar lies in almost complete ruin. At the center of this wasteland yawns the Chasm — a canyonlike crack in the earth split by one of the three Tears of Selûne. At the pier on the river is the river-gate, manned by the bravest of Tolarian soldiers, because only the bravest have the will to stand at the edge of the abyss. They all wear the silver-eye and triple-tear sigil of Selûne.

Tolar selune

The party meets Captain Petruchio, who, at the urging of Arlecchino, agrees to allow them to enter the city and proceed to Castle Nero. At the castle, they meet with the mayor of Tolar, Helio Castroneves, wizard of the Fraternità del Azzurro, the order that Arlecchino serves. Castroneves accepts the Tear that they have recovered and employs them to enter the Chasm and seek the second one.

The party accepts the mission and journeys to the Fane of Iolar, a temple ruin on the edge of the Chasm. Iolar is the god of the wilderness, nature, and the sea. She is both the wild beast and the peaceful forest, the raging whirlpool and the quiet desert. Iolar is one of the Four Free Gods, along with Avandra, Corellon Larethian, and Selûne, also called “Moonbow”. She is the antithesis of Erathis, the embodiment of civilization, and also dislikes Asmodeus. Like Avandra, Iolar has no astral dominion, preferring to wander the cosmos.

Iolar is revered by Tolarians of faith as the antithesis of Erathis (the patron of Dominium City.)

Beneath the Fane the party finds a strange chamber with multiple altars and luminescent pillars. Lurking in the shadows, they find aberrant creatures that assault their minds. And, from an apparently bottomless well, a great beast with three red eyes set one atop the other rises up and attacks. They defeat it after a mighty struggle and begin to explore the depths…

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In Tolaria
Session 37: The Secret of Tuono Albero

“Who shall conceive the horrors of my secret toil, as I… tortured the living animal to animate the lifeless clay” – Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein

Four bound villagers are all that had survived whatever horror overtook the village. The horror revealed itself soon enough, and the party was attacked by the undead minions of the Arcanum Sanguineus. The people of the village who had been slaughtered were then animated as undead, some of them combined into a hideous golem. The creatures of the swampy riverbed were also ensnared by the Red Wizards, and forced to fight the party.

Despite the host of foes, the party emerged victorious and secured the boats they needed to travel downstream to the city of Tolar.

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In Dominium City
Session 20: The Belly of the Serpent

Keeping to the sewers to avoid Romulus the assassin, the party soon wanders into the tribal territory of the Blackworm goblins. Many of this tribe also serve the Vandals above, but below they are notable for their cult, devoted to the Blackworm of Hammers, a black dragon.

The tunnel opens into a cavernous chamber with three great pools linked by channels of sewage. In two locations ladders lead up to barracks that have been formed out of the tunnels leading in, each about ten feet above the floor of the chamber. A raised dock-like structure extends into the room, about ten feet above the floor.

Around the corner from the entrance stands a massive, 20-foot statue of a dragon of tarnished bronze, an artifact of the era of the Blackfriar. A ring of goblin runes ten feet across is inscribed in the stone around the base of the statue.

“For the serpent we train, by his mercy we live, unto the blackworm we come.”

Ximenes, the leader of the Blackworm goblins captures Mazzy and Ptolemaeus and the party is forced to battle the goblins to free them. The goblins, overwhelmed by the furious rescue attempt, resort to summoning the Blackworm itself. Gathering their captured comrades, they flee the warren and the wrath of the Blackworm.

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In Dominium City
Session 19: Mistress Sauna's Pies

“Say friend, could you spare a coin for a poor man who’d like a drink and one of Mistress Sauna’s pies over at the Jewel?”

So says Kiosk, a messenger for House Kerameikos, posing as a beggar as he flashes the sigil of the House to the party to arrange a meeting at the nearby Crown Jewel, operated by the infamous Mistress Sauna. Lady Alekto awaits, and wishes to tell them of some of the events that have transpired in their absence from Dockside.

  • There is a note to Slide from Ciro (which Slide must ask Randoon to read, as he cannot)
Slide,
The boys have gotten themselves into another spot of trouble. Rumor is that a death dealer has been seen Dockside. They went off to investigate. Now Rohjee and Avel are missing. A few folk among the halfling even say that once you were a death dealer. I don’t believe them. Cordroy is looking for the boys, but that leaves the Jellyfish unprotected. I trusted the Kerameikos folk to get this message to you. I hope that was the right thing to do?
Love,
Ciro
  • House Kerameikos has purchased the warehouse Slide was using
  • Another House, perhaps Monastiraki — entertainers and artisans, diviners and illusionists, has taken an interest in Dockside.
  • Kerameikos will not intervene directly on behalf of the party, but their interests coincide at the moment

Meanwhile, a security team from House Thission (their sigil, a crossed pick and shovel behind a jewel with an eye in it) is sweeping the sewers near the Citadel gate based on the recent activation of the magical gate below. They have been given a description of the party, and so are able to arrange an attempted ambush.

Andreus, a not-very-wise wizard-chemist in the employ of House Thission vainly attempts to surround and disable the party. In the melee, Slide the halfling falls at one point, but is revived by Shadow’s application of a healing potion. Randoon intimidates Andreus, the last man standing of his squad, into a tearful surrender. The wizard reveals what he little he knows, and quickly turns his coat at Slide’s application of gold coin. He agrees to act on the party’s behalf since it seems they are more free with coin than his former employer. And all he really wants out of life is a small house to call his own…

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In Tolaria
Session 36: Death in the Forest

The party has agreed to help Arlecchino and departs for the nearby village of Tuono Albero to board a boat and thus journey swiftly down the river Inverno to the city of Tolar. En route they are attacked by undead and another of the Red Wizards.

After driving off the attackers, they approach the riverside village under cover of darkness and with caution. They discover that the village has apparently been attacked, and some survivors appear to be bound as captives in one of the river huts among the swampy pools that line this portion of the river.

While they stealthily approach the hut to confirm their suspicions, there is the distinct sensation that they are being watched. Will-o-wisps dance over the fens. There is a scream from the hut. A rotted plank is torn from the window to reveal several bound figures wrapped in burlap upon the floor.

Just then the sensation of being watched is replaced by the unmistakeable knowledge that someone, or something, is standing right behind…

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In Dominium City
Session 18: Love to Eat Them Ratties!

“Love to eat them ratties.
Ratties what I love to eat.
Bite they little heads off,
and nibble on they tiny feet!”

So sings Burly, the troll guardian of the magic gate to the Citadel quarter of Dominium City. The gate, hidden in a sewer complex beneath the true gate to the quarter, is further warded by a riddle-key. The party convinces Burly that they are a gate maintenance team, there to ensure that all is well. Burly is as suspicious as his limited intelligence allows. However, he is distracted by Slide’s mouth-watering tales of “cows”. Apparently the “cow” is a giant rat of some sort. A feast fit for a troll king! Slide has promised to deliver a “cow” to Burly and so the troll allows the interlopers access to the gate, a huge wooden door engraved with runes and symbols dominating an island in the sewage. The runes on the door say:

The aegis wards the aperture
It serves to plug the breach
And lo, am I not secure?
A new key is forged
From the common two
That each shares with the unknown.
A mighty force of nature.

Some of the words have been outlined with door symbols, and the party uses these clues to decipher the word needed to open the portal. On the other side, beneath the Citadel quarter of the city, they meet Hurly, the larger but equally intellectually-challenged brother of Burly.

Negotiations resume. Cows are discussed. Passage is secured. But at what price? Will Slide really be able to bring two cows to the trolls in the sewers? They return to the surface, secure in the belief that they’ve eluded the assassin Romulus. They take refuge at an inn, the Cross and Rose, where the innkeeper Burnaby and Gandy the halfling make them comfortable and provide much-needed bathing supplies. Later, at the shrine of Boldrei known as Faith’s Shield, on Weaver Street, they get directions from Initiate Dyllis to the Akademeia Zau-Sais (tsow saw-ease), where the noted scholar Claudius Ptolemaeus may be found. They hope to convince him to return with them to the Shrine of Ioun and to rid the place of the taint from the Far Realm that threatens it.

At the Akademeia the party is aided by Aeris, the secretary, who directs them to Rune Hall, and the office of Ptolemaeus. The scholar, who is a friend of Elysia of the Shrine of Ioun, agrees to travel with the party back to the Shrine. And so the perilous journey is resumed. The eyes of the Protectorate watch, as do others. With good, or ill intent? Only time will tell…

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In Tolaria
Session 35: At the Dread Ring

A roaring, burning force bears down upon you just as the details of Witchhenge begin to emerge from the hazy space between the worlds. The standing stones and the great tree flicker and vanish in time with a massive detonation, and you feel yourselves cast away, hurtling along a ley line to an unknown destination.

The party arrives at the Dread Ring (Terrore Anello in the language of Tolaria). It is a locus, a waystation along the ley lines that criss-cross the archipelago of the Dominium, like the similar circle of standing stones at Witchhenge.

At the Dread Ring the party meets Arlecchino, an apprentice of the Fraternità del Azzurro in Tolaria. He and his master, “Il Dottore”, or Dr. Bartolome, and Bartolome’s mercenary bodyguard Brighella had journeyed to the Dread Ring to recover a fallen Tear of Selûne—three such gemstones have fallen from the sky as shooting stars—apparently shed by the goddess in despair at the sight of the conflict in the Middle Kingdoms, particularly the strife between the Arcanum Sanguineus (the Red Wizards, or “Flayers”) and the Fraternità del Azzurro (the Brotherhood of the Blue, or “Azzurri”) of the Confederazione di Tolari. The doctor’s research had narrowed the impact site to this locale, and the Azzurri were in some haste to recover it.

Arlecchino has recovered the Tear, but lacks the resources to escape the undead-haunted wilderness. Arlecchino is desperate, and beseeches the party to help him return safely to the city. He knows the Tear is vital to the Azzurri, but fears to reveal it to anyone, lest they be “Flayers” in disguise.

As the party negotiates with Arlecchino they are attacked by a Flayer, his gnome henchman, and their undead minions. The party bravely dispatches the foul crew. Akron blinds the gnome and the Flayer with glittering dust, and his martial allies finish the task with murderous efficiency.

Now, will they accept Arlecchino’s story and journey to the nearby village of Tuono Albero to board a boat and thus journey swiftly down the river Inverno to the city of Tolar? Or will they set out on some other course, perhaps taking the precious Tear of Selûne as a prize?

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