Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – Mad Plots and Grim Conspiracy

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Sitting around a polished oaken table, an assortment of well-dressed individuals act locked in place upon simple chairs.  Only when one shadowy figure emerged into dim lamplight do the other figures seem to respond.  A woman clad in red finery more suited to a special gathering or wedding emerges forward, the wrinkles on her face accentuated through her sneering expression.

“I’ve long awaited this gathering here.  Influences of the supernatural want to have their way with the villages, precious cities, establishments of higher learning.  Such things are abominations that attack Reason itself.  Despite my origins elsewhere, you know my dedication to Lamordia.  My aspirations of Ludendorf Academy of Science cannot occur without your aid, even with its rivals.  While nestled in a quiet land, the school would bring enlightenment to those who seek it.”

She glances around, none of the other members of this meeting look in particular disagreement or contradiction.  One figure arises to meet her gaze, raising from his chair.  His garb is far less ornate, but still of quality and professionalism.

“It is a pleasure to make your acquaintance, Natalya Bogdanoff, former headmistress of Kantora University.  Fear not L’Académie des Sciences of Dementlieu either.  We are researching them as we speak…  But, where are my manners?  We welcome you to our organization and acknowledge your concerns wholeheartedly.  You are a friend here in Lamordia, and a friend of the Syndicate of Enlightened Citizens.  The Academy has had our backing since its announcement.  Should you be concerned about suspicious influences among staff and students, say no more.  We’re happy to provide you assistance.  And everyone else in attendance, let us please applaud our newest member.  No longer are you merely a guest of honor.”

The gathered company arise to clap for Natalya, who clasps her hands and twists her face into a devilish smirk.  After an appreciative nod, everyone returns to their seats.  Natalya unveils documents from a case, one of which entailing plans for the Academy of Science.  Passing the documents around, the members of the syndicate nod and chatter with each other in excitement.  As the papers make their way back to their owner, the mood turns from welcoming excitement to a sinister cabal of shadowy plots.

Author’s Note: 4 posts in a row?  I guess my disappointment and frustration is a good motivator after all.  Not a long-term one, but I’ve certainly felt pretty damn creative.  But in all seriousness, I’ve been more motivated to read the books I do like and it has inspired me.  Also, let me bring in some more Dawnsveil content from my prior DM’s Guild version.  And on a final note, let’s explore some of the motivations behind past weirdness, shall we?

Continue reading “Of Lands Beyond Castle Ravenloft – Mad Plots and Grim Conspiracy”

More Words in The Mists

On Playing 'Dangerous' and Evil in D&D – Digital Ephemera

The shop has closed and the storekeeper ushers you out.  Along the way, he hands you a note though.  As you find yourself under the clammy evening following an afternoon shower, the letter seems to unfurl itself by magic.  The writing is unlike that of the scribe’s.  “For your service, allow me to provide some insight by my own eyes.  After all, any new information broker under my service should be given a proper welcoming present.  And yes, this means you.”  Lowering the letter, you notice a button materialize upon the right breast pocket of your shirt.  It’s a symbol, one swearing allegiance to Azalin.  Frantic, you continue reading.  “Now, please review this information.  It shall be relevant to your next assignment.  And please, don’t think of betraying me.  The last one who tried never made it to the domain’s border.  Now, inform yourself.  I shall test you the following evening. – A”

Welcome to Darkon.  You are from here, you have always been here, you will find your roots here and you shall always serve Azalin Rex.

Author’s Note: I forgot that I wanted to revisit Odiare. I never really liked that domain and the adventure that went with it felt too hokey. So, time to make Maligno’s existence a true nightmare. Mangiafuoco, a cruel puppet master from the original story, becomes his ultimate foil.  Big thanks to the Fraternity of Shadows forums for inspiration. Other than that, let me further rip off Thief.  Also, no one tries to get something out of the mighty lich without him getting something in return.  That said, as much as I love Azalin as a magnificent bastard, I’m done with him… save for one more thing.

Continue reading “More Words in The Mists”

The Gathering of Unholy Fire – A Confrontation in The Mists

Ravenloft: Prisoners of the Mist - About the World

The Mists choke figuratively and literally, standing as an ever oppressive and overbearing force.  But, what are they?  This is a mystery that will continue for all time.  What is known are the more tangible entities that haunt the endless realms of this demiplane space.  Many of these are tragic figures who fell from grace, while others are condemned for absolute wickedness.  As I have already uncovered, many places in the Prime Material have either fallen victim or been alleviated of their worst…  This depends on your perspective. What is certain is that those removed have become the things of myth and legend in their home world.  But here, they are forever trapped.  The few who have escaped are anomalies, truly lucTalon Dunning - Deathky.  Of course, this could be just weavings of The Mists.  After all, tales tell of Vecna’s paradoxical victory and failure.  But, what could foil a demigod?As for me?  Not certain.  Beyond some vague words and promises, it would seem that I should seek out Darkon.  However, it would appear that The Mists have other places to “distract” me with.  Or at the very least, slow me down.  Either way, I continue through the clouding vapors, until I see sites anew.  I still mull over the fact that I wasn’t taken this time by some trap of the Powers.  No, instead of going back to Gloomwrought, I found myself a prisoner of Azalin’s very contemplations.  But, again, why would his own minions be found in the Prime or even the Planes beyond?  It baffles the mind.  What has stuck with me is the tarot card given to me prior to the ritual.  It is a symbol of Death.  But, why is that significant?  I have heard of the pocket realm caused by Azalin known as “Necropolis”.  Is “Death” somehow involved too?  So many mysteries, so many questions.  In time, I hope I will find some answer or be consumed trying to understand.  Let us hope for the former, shall we?  And with that, we venture onwards.

Author’s Note:  One more trek into the demiplane of dread, at least for Halloween.  Also, I wanted to think of a possible outcome for yet another mad plan of Azalin…  Or rather, a plot made by outside help.  In addition to a look at more core domains, I made two cluster contributions originating from Mystara (including the Hollow World).  Plus, even a tribute to Planescape makes its way here.  There is an homage to the “Set Wands to Warpdrive” game I played in, back before this blog made it over to WordPress.  A heavily abridged version of that is noted in the darklord story, but that might appear in a future post instead.  Also, enjoy a reveal that pays homage to the Gazetteer series.  Of course, I might say that.  Also, I realize the picture I used for Darkon is from Night of the Walking Dead.  I couldn’t find proper art… oh well.

Continue reading “The Gathering of Unholy Fire – A Confrontation in The Mists”