Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Ar: Helion Rising

Continued from "Ar: From Heaven’s Crown to Eternity"

At the time of the Ceafem monarchy, thick woods covered the territory that would later become the District of Helion. With low population and no valuable mines, it failed to develop major towns. Over time, much of the forests were felled, and precious wood sold to neighboring urban centers, allowing the land to be farmed. After the House of Qimeth inherited the throne, local landowners joined the growing kingdom. After negotiation among Alphatian proprietors, which ended with a number of estates going up in smoke, one of them prevailed and stood as their viceroy on behalf of Skyreach.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Helion Map
Lower Helion District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex

The district’s name came from fragments of a meteoroid that showered this small area. The celestial object’s trajectory had grazed the sun, which led Amburian astronomers to call it a "helion." Meteorites sank through the soft soil on impact, vegetation overgrowing the sites during the following decades. Since Alphatians colonized the region, a number of fragments have been retrieved and brought to laboratories. It was found that they bore unexpected properties, such as heat radiation. Sages assigned to studying these metalloid shards also discovered, much to their horror, that they also provoked physical mutations in living organisms exposed to their auras for long periods. At about that time, clerics became interested. They determined that the original meteoroid was connected with Ixion, an immortal associated with energy, fire, and the sun in particular. Powerful in the empire as a whole, his followers demanded the meteorites be remitted at once to the Temples of Ixion. After a nudge from Emperor Tylion IV and an agreement that all fragments must remain in Helion District, several new shrines were built to collect and house these metalloid shards. Since then, Helion became the center of Ixion’s philosophy in Ar, and an important one in the whole of the empire. The Grand Temple of Ixion stands in Sundsvall.

As it were, Ixion was indeed connected with the meteoroid. Unbeknownst to Alphatians, a war had been going on centuries, far away from Mystara. An efreeti kingdom took over a part of the sun, against Ixion’s wishes. The creatures, immensely powerful, equally arrogant, and as fiery as one should expect them to be, caused the immortal’s wrath when they sent his heralds packing. In response, Ixion arranged for sollux and helion forces (both sun-related creatures) to launch a counterattack. They used for this purpose a meteor shower aimed at the sun. The bolides were intended as one-way portals allowing Ixion’s army to teleport to strategic areas in the sun. Efreeti magists intercepted and sent some of them careening out of control across space. It was one of those that broke up while plunging through Mystara’s skyshield, releasing ninety 22 lb pieces (10 kg). A greater problem with this meteoroid is that its opposite end (from which teleporting takes place) lies elsewhere in Mystara space, in an area presently disputed between sollux and efreeti forces. There is no telling which would try to use the gate, as armies surge forth and fall back during their epic war. Fire elementals and flame salamanders are involved, but whose side they favor is unpredictable (roll at random). Fire giants always side with the Efreet. 

Mystara Alphatia Ar Helion Map
Upper Helion District -- Map Scale: 8 Miles per Hex
A large temple complex stands on Helion Prime, in the hills outside the Sun Palace gambling resort. It fitted together 25 fragments of the meteoroid. Six more Ixion Shrines exist in the lower district, each with 2d4 fragments. Remaining lost pieces (17-53 of them) still lie beneath the ground. The number of these pieces when assembled determine the frequency and magnitude of teleportations, as shown in the table below.

Helion Teleportation Calendar
Fragments
Odds
Visitors
Frequency
1
1%
1
Sollux 10HD
10 Years
2
9 Years 6 Months
3
Fire Elemental
9 Years 1 Month
4
8 Years 7 Months
5
Lesser Efreeti
8 Years 2 Months
6
7 Years 9 Months
7
7 Years 4 Months
8
Helion
6 Years 11 Months
9
6 Years 7 Months
10
2%
2
Sollux, 10HD
6 Years 3 Months
11
5 Years 11 Months
12
5 Years 8 Months
13
Flame Salamanders
5 Years 5 Months
14
5 Years 1 Month
15
Lesser Efreet
4 Years 10 Months
16
4 Years 7 Months
17
Helions
4 Years 4 Months
18
4 Years 2 Months
19
3 Years 11 Months
20
3%
3
Sollux 10 HD
3 Years 9 Months
21
3 Years 7 Months
22
3 Years 4 Months
23
Lesser Efreet
3 Years 2 Months
24
3 Years 1 Month
25
2 Years 11 Months
26
4%
4
Sollux, 11 HD
2 Years 9 Months
27
2 Years 7 Months
28
Lesser Efreet
2 Years 6 Months
29
2 Years 4 Months
30
2 Years 3 Months
31
5%
1d4+1
Sollux, 11 HD
2 Years 1 Month
32
Fire Elementals
1 Year 11 Months
33
Lesser Efreet
1 Year 10 Months 2 Weeks
34
Helions
1 Year 10 Months
35
6%
1d4+2
1 Year 9 Months
36
Fire Giants
1 Year 8 Months
37
1 Year 7 Months
38
Lesser Efreet
1 Year 6 Months
39
7%
1d6+1
1 Year 5 Months
40
1 Year 4 Months
41
8%
2d4
Sollux (11 HD)
1 Year 3 Months
42
1 Year 2 Months 2 Weeks
43
1 Year 2 Months
44
9%
2d4+1
Flame Salamanders
1 Year 1 Month
45
1 Year
46
10%
2d4+2
11 Months 2 Weeks
47
Lesser Efreet
11 Months 1 Week
48
11%
2d4+3
11 Months
49
10 Months 2 Weeks
50
12%
2d6
Helions
10 Months 1 Week
51
13%
2d6+1
10 Months
52
9 Months 3 Weeks
53
14%
2d6+2
Sollux (12 HD)
9 Months 2 Weeks
54
15%
2d6+3
9 Months
55
8 Months 3 Weeks
56
16%
2d8
Fire Elementals
8 Months 2 Weeks
57
17%
2d8+1
8 Months 1 Week
58
18%
2d8+2
8 Months
59
19%
2d8+3
Lesser Efreet
7 Months 2 Weeks
60
20%
2d10
7 Months 1 Week
61
21%
2d10+1
7 Months
62
22%
2d10+2
Helions, 1 Lesser Phoenix
6 Months 3 Weeks
63
23%
2d10+3
6 Months 1 Week
64
24%
3d8
6 Months
65
25%
3d8+1
Sollux (12 HD Sun Brothers), 1 Leader
5 Months 3 Weeks
66
27%
3d8+3
5 Months 2 Weeks
67
28%
3d8+4
5 Months 1 Week
68
30%
3d10

Lesser Efreet,
1 Amir
4 Months 3 Weeks
69
31%
3d10+1
4 Months 2 Weeks
70
33%
3d10+3
4 Months 1 Week
71
34%
3d10+4
Helions, 1 Lesser Phoenix
4 Months
72
36%
3d12
3 Months 2 Weeks
73
38%
3d12+2
3 Months 1 Week
74
40%
2d20
Sollux (13 HD Sun Brothers), 1 Leader
3 Months
75
42%
2d20+2
2 Months 3 Weeks
76
44%
2d10+4
2 Months 2 Weeks
77
47%
2d10+9
Fire Giants
2 Months
78
49%
2d10+9
1 Month 3 Weeks
79
52%
5d10
1 Month 2 Weeks
80
54%
5d10+4

Lesser Efreet,
1 Amir
1 Month 1 Week
81
57%
5d10+7
1 Month
82
60%
3d10
3 Weeks
83
63%
3d20+3
Helions, 1 Greater Phoenix
2 Weeks
84
66%
3d10+6
1 Week
85
70%
3d20+10
6 Days
86
74%
3d20+14
Sollux (14 HD Sun Brothers), 1 Leader
5 Days
87
77%
3d20+17
4 Days
88
81%
4d20+1
3 Days
89
86%
4d20+6
Odd: Sollux (as above), or
Even: Lesser Efreet & 1 Amir
2 Days
Entire Meteroid
90%
4d20+10
24 Hours

Helion District is a fairly small dominion in the Kingdom of Ar, a little more than 60 miles at its widest. It counts about 30,800 inhabitants. Two hundred of them reside in lowland villages by the district’s two airfields, and five hundred actually work at Sun Palace on the floating island. In other words, Heliots are overwhelmingly of the peasant class. About 400 troops belong to local armed forces, including personnel assigned to four skyships: three small vessels and a large one. They are named, respectively, H.H.M.S. Flame, Blaze, Pyre, and Spirit of Ixion. The first two generally act as a mobile police force, while Pyre patrols the Upper District. The Spirit of Ixion is often subject to assignments at Skyreach or wherever she may be needed, occasionally flying the Oriflamme of Helion, a fiery war banner. Flame and Blaze hail from Rudders Greens and Fairheadings (25% chance one would find them there), while Pyre and Spirit of Ixion (when the latter isn’t called away) operate from the viceroy’s palace (25% chance of finding the first at the palace, 10% for the other).

 
The floating island is a fairly narrow monolith, about 8 miles wide and 40 miles long (13x64 km). The western edge forms hills, at the highest point of which gleams the Temple of Ixion. The Sun Palace resort occupies a grassland about eight miles away. At an altitude of 10,000 ft (3,000 m) its average temperature drops 37°F (21°C) compared with conditions prevailing at sea level. Both the temple and the resort enjoy protective domes. A few estates belonging to aristocrats, including the viceroy’s private palace grounds, claim the remainder of the island’s surface. Upper Helion is home to more than a thousand Heliots in total, plus visiting gamblers, their families, and domestic retinue.

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
Sun Palace: this resort celebrates a daily triumph of fiery colors. Buildings radiate hues ranging from antique bronze to red, with golden accents and solar motifs. Translucent veils above the streets cast shades saffron to ivory, protecting guests from the merciless injuries of high-altitude sunrays. The resort boasts a glitzy shopping mall for the rich and famous. Great towers rising past the dome’s force field end with light-polarizing glass spheres from which guests may observe the progress of skyship regattas. Aside from common games of enjoyment or gambling, Sun Palace is best known for its air races. The fastest vessels of the kingdom, and at times of the entire empire, regularly gather here for competitions, events that Felldorian rarely missed during his youth. Their flight paths form complicated figures requiring barrel rolls and loops at specific points while the skyships spin around, below, and above Helion Prime. Spectators can immediately identify competitors from colored trails shining in their vessels’ wakes. These illusory tracers, most striking during nocturnal competitions, produce Moebius-like ribbons in the sky before slowly fading as ships pursue their dizzying ballet.

These races are dangerous as skyships often cross each other’s paths—accidents do happen. Nocturnal races justify the presence of pylons with flashing colored lights above and below Helion Prime to guide shyships through the night. For an extra fee, levitating seating for blocks of 20-30 fans and private floating loggias enable a much better view from different angles during the race. Flag-waving, hooting spectators, some with great horns, drums, magically-enhanced cowbells, confetti-launchers, and faery fire cheerfully add to the frenzied chaos in the skies. Some of the most jaw-dropping, eye-popping races take place before approaching storms, with lizard-like thunderheads swooping by, chasing skyships, or releasing lightning bolts in their excitement. No two races are ever the same at Sun Palace.



His Grace Emberan, Head Flamen of Ixion

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
This high-ranking cleric governs Ixion shrines and temples in the Kingdom of Ar, as well as the quest to recover holy shards and assemble them. He resides at the Temple of Ixion in the upper district. Emberan knows that fragments of the meteoroid act as one-way gates, which explains why he permitted a number of the recovered shards to remain in separate lowland shrines. As he sees it, his followers are de facto at war with the efreeti kingdom on behalf of their immortal liege. Squads of heavily armed clerics are always at hand in the event something hostile comes out of the meteorites. If allies do instead, Emberan will provide any healing needed and help return them to an appropriate plane, along with any captured salamanders and efreet. Special restraints were enchanted for this specific purpose. Fire giants and other notoriously evil creatures are dispatched without delay, while fire elementals are always dismissed back to their native plane. In the even of an attack, H.H.M.S. Pyre has a 25% chance of showing up every 3 Turns (5% for the Spirit of Ixion). So far, Emberan has not deemed it useful to alert King Qissling or Empress Eriadna of the conflict’s existence or of his unusual prisoners (which could lead either of the rulers to demand the shards’ immediate destruction). More recently, the head-flamen has made some quiet efforts to get past ambassador Al-Safeer and seek a possible alliance with the Djinni Kingdom.

Appearance: a leader as well as a warrior, Emberan owns a commanding presence. He is six feet tall, has wild mahogany-hued hair, copper skin, and flashing dark amber eyes. His long rectangular face is clean-shaven. When concentrating, Emberan clenches his teeth, making his pronounced jaw muscles stand out. He habitually wears his plate armor, which glows gold and crimson and is patterned with flame-like designs that appear and disappear across its surface. The armor minimizes the cleric’s pronounced paunch to a small extent. When he carries his two-handed sword, it rides in a specially-constructed harness on his back. Emberan wears a ring consisting of a twisted gold band showing a yellow phoenix inlaid with ruby eyes.

C19, AC-3, hp61, MV 120’(40’), AT 1 two-handed sword, Dmg 1d10+3 or by spell, Save C19, ML11, AL N; St15, In12, Wi17, Dx13, Co14, Ch12. Magical Items: +2 armor of Ixion’s Might*, +2 fireblade*, holy orb of Ixion*, and ring of phoenix fire resistance. Special Abilities: +1 to Turn Undead rolls; can cast druidical produce fire twice a day in addition to normal spells. Mutations: detect invisibility; acute allergy to feathered avians within a 100’ radius (temporary -1 penalty to St, Dx, Co, and Ch; affliction cannot be magically cured short of a wish spell).

Armor of Ixion’s Might: this gold and crimson suit of armor provides a magical +2 bonus to AC and saving throws, as well as the ability to control creatures native to the plane of fire with no more than 16HD individually (including salamanders, elementals of fire, and lesser efreet). On command, a cleric of Ixion may attempt to control any such creature within 100’ when it first enters the area of effect. Targeted creatures must succeed a saving throw or be bound into service to the cleric. The effect lasts 1d4 days plus the cleric’s Wisdom score and minus the target’s HD, or until dismissed.

Fireblade: this +2 two-handed sword can produce an elemental aura of flame that adds 2d4 points of burning damage to normal attacks (save for half damage). If spun around the cleric while ablaze, the fireblade can create a wall of fire once a day, as if cast by a 9th level magic-user.

Holy Orb of Ixion: it is an egg-sized ball of brass etched with perpendicular grooves. When cast at foes in the name of Ixion, the orb releases a powerful wave of raw energy wreaking 11d6+7 points of damage to enchanted, planar, or undead creatures of Chaotic alignment. It inflicts double damage to the undead, but successful saving throws halve damage. The affected area fills a 40’ sphere. The device is destroyed after it is used.

The Immortal Ixion is described here for convenience.

Ixion, The Fiery One
Developed from the original text by Marco Dalmonte

Patron of Energy, Light, & Banishment of Darkness, also known as Ayazi, Himayeti, Aksyri, Dazbog, Horon, Idu, Orisis, Otzitiotl, Pyrak, Pyro, Solarios, Sun Prince, Tabak, Tubak the Lawgiver, Tyr, Warruntam, Xi-Yang

Nature: 36th level Hierarch of Energy, Neutral
Symbol: a flaming wheel
Interests: sun, fire, power, heroism, war, light, banishing darkness, fighting Entropy
Locations: Alphatia, Bellissaria, Pearl Islands, Cestia, and parts of the Isle of Dawn, the Known World, the Great Waste, the Yavdlom Divinarchy, the Savage Coast, the Yazak Steppes, the Arm of the Immortal, Davania, and the Hollow World.

Appearance: a man whose apparent race changes depending on who observes him. In all cases, he has a long mane of shining golden hair and flaming eyes. His skin is a golden tone. He wears a golden silk robe and carries a flaming sword as a symbol of power. Ixion always travels on a giant flying wheel of fire.

History: Ixion is one of the oldest immortals, and his origins are lost in the mists of time. He always purports not to remember how he attained immortality. Ixion helped Ka and Ordana create the Hollow World and preserve endangered races of Mystara. It earned him the scorn of Fugit from the Sphere of Time, who thinks nobody should play with destiny. Ixion rules immortals of the Sphere of Energy and remains the unswerving bane of Entropy.

Personality: the embodiment of sun and light, Ixion has been honored since the beginning of time. While he’s been recognized elsewhere as a law-giver and a protector of justice, he represents in Alphatia power, both raw and magical. Like fire, he is hot-tempered, passionate, and always in motion, but can sometimes demonstrate thoughtfulness, wisdom, and leniency when tempered by immortals of other spheres. His code of ethics dictates generosity in peace, and harshness in war. Valerias is his soul mate despite quarrels marring their steamy relationship. Ixion and Nyx, the Queen of Darkness, also feel strangely attracted to each other, feelings he buried deep since she heads the Sphere of Entropy.

Liege: Unknown (possibly an Old One)
Allies: Valerias, Ka, and Asterius
Enemies: Atzanteotl, Thanatos, and Hel
Followers' Alignment: any
Favored Weapons: none; clerics can spend proficiency slots on bows and two-handed swords in addition to normal clerical weapons.
Clerics' Abilities: +1 bonus to Turn Undead, clerics can cast the druidic spell produce fire twice a day.

Emir Al Shams, Efreeti Warlord

Mystara Alphatia Ar Heraldry
Some of the "visiting" efreet escaped from Mystara and eventually reported to Al Shams what lay on the other side of the teleporter. At the time adventurers became involved with the Temple of Ixion, it isn’t determined whether efrreeti or sollux forces control the device. But if the efreet do, Al Shams intends to use it as best he can to wreak destruction upon the Temple of Ixion. The mission of any efreet or their allies showing up in the District of Helion is to collect as many shards as possible and assemble them in order to increase the teleporter’s capability, thus allowing in more of his troops. It will be he who shows up if an "Amir" is listed in the teleportation calendar. If he ever does, Al Shams and his escort will fly to the District of Djinn and challenge Al Safeer. His goal is to kill the ambassador and destroy the gate to their kingdom. If he survives, he’ll travel to Thothia or Ylaruam in search of a passage back to the Elemental Plane of Fire.

Appearance: Al Shams stands 20 feet tall, is very muscular, and does not change his appearance except to become a pillar of fire. He has red skin. Deep orange-red hair matches the long tapering moustache and the beard reaching from underneath his pointed chin to his waist. Al Shams has startling emerald green eyes. Two intense red full-curled horns grow from his hairline: his turban sits between them. He wears flowing silk robes of vivid gold that show subtle shades of scintillating dark green and sapphire blue as the light upon them changes. A belt of many braided gold cords ties in a complicated knot at his waist, the individual ends cascading to his knees. He wears a ring formed from a single piece of peridot engraved with efreeti script around its circumference. When pensive, he fidgets with a four-foot-long rod of smooth rainbow obsidian.

Greater Efreet, HD20***(L), hp90, AC-2, hp90, MV 120’(40’)/360’(120’), AT 2 fists, Dmg 3d10/3d10, Save M36, ML11, AL C, In14. Magical Items: ring of telekinesis (400 lbs/200 Kg), and rod of cancellation (which he can summon at any time). Special Defenses: +2 or better weapon to hit, regenerates 2 hp/round, cannot be summoned. Special Attacks (once per day): fireball, explosive cloud, and shapechange into pillar of flame. Other Powers: all those available to lesser efreet including wall of fire and invisibility (once per round), grant a wish to someone (once daily), enter or leave the Ethereal Plane (this ability is currently blocked by Ixion).

Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for character descriptions and editorial support.

To be Continued.