Saturday, December 15, 2012

Greenwood’s Folio of Faces

Continues from the previous post.  Click here to go back.

A note about Greenwood’s political topography is needed before one can understand where each player fits.  There are three official centers of power in the capital city.  The first is the monarchy.  The next two are relatively balanced as regards their abilities to influence the monarchy: the Great Clan House and the Wizards parliament.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood
Royal District: 1. Queen's Palace, 2. Wizards Parliament, 3. Great Clan House, 4. Golden Pond, 5. Royal Rangers Barracks
The Great Clan House: it acts as a sort of supreme court for woodland beings, and the place where Clan House representatives from different dominions can address each other in an official capacity.  The Speaker of the Clans represents all clans, a venerable old actaeon named Lord Cervidal.  When a motion is put to the assembly, each of the 18 clan houses gets one vote, except for the representative of the autonomous Clan Lands, which commands five.  The total number of votes is therefore 22.  A strict majority is needed to resolve any issue, with the speaker acting as the tie breaker.  A session at the Great Clan House can be an amazing sight to behold, with a bewildering crowd of woodland races present, each representative usually commanding half a dozen native aids, aside from druid and ranger facilitators.  Languages are as varied as morphologies and sizes, from sprite to forest giant.  Specially adapted carriages drawn by horses, oxen, or other creatures, allow attending personalities to travel from parvis of the Great Clan House to guesthouses in Little Sylvania. 

Present discussions involve a request from Queen Aberria to formalize measures to establish expeditionary forces among woodland beings in the event they may be needed to defend Foresthome’s borders.  It is a hotly debated topic which never yielded anything concrete in the past.  Considering the plethora of divergent views and interests, the Speaker hasn’t yet put the motion to a vote, being far too vague as is.  Based on responses, the Speaker will submit another proposal to the queen. The Prince of Llynsey and the Queen (known as the “Royals”) hold honorary seats, and may address the assembly but may not vote.

Wemics, actaeons, and greater equines are the most outspoken in favor of the request, but claim they couldn’t possibly be called away since they view themselves as guarantors of Foresthome’s security.  Gulons, itching for a good fight, don’t mind being called upon, although an appeal was made for a monument to be erected in Greenwood’s Golden Pond to honor their fallen comrades.  Sasquatches agree as well, but only if good ale is guaranteed.  Wood imps, to everyone’s surprise, agreed as long as they’re being asked politely and showered with royal gifts (though their reliability and true motivations remain anyone’s guess).  Woodsmen do not object, except in winter.  Bushmen will only go if woodsmen do.  Blackroots will definitely not go if bushmen do, which echoes the general feeling among Clan Lands tribes (treants, forest giants, fairykind, phanatons, etc).  Their representative therefore disagrees entirely with the queen’s request, seeing this as another encroachment upon their autonomy. 

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood frog princess
Ravenfolk will not go either, but will provide intelligence on the enemy.  The brogga are ready to pledge an amphibious strike force, provided Queen Aberria offers her niece, Kikania, as a bride to the brogga prince, a tradition among brogga families seeking alliances.  Lady Kikania made it known through her friends she’d never kiss a “frog person” based on widespread superstition that doing so would transform her into a fine-looking brogga.  Meanwhile, the Decapus Queen deigned not to respond to the Great Clan House invitation, thankfully.

The Wizards' Parliament: it is the venue of choice of wizardly politicians to discuss affairs of state and provide a counterweight to the influence the Great Clan House may exert upon the monarchy.  Although mages make up the vast majority of members, clerics, elves, and warrior types find acceptance among their ranks.  The assembly includes 15 barons, counts, and dukes ruling dominions, as well as 78 other members.  The latter are elected officials representing various outsider cantons throughout Foresthome.  Cantons generally center around towns, villages, towers, and other strongholds.  “Front row” seats are reserved for dominion rulers; these confer 5 Parliament Votes each to their owners.  “Back row” canton seats confer a single Parliament Vote each.  As with the Great Clan House, the “Royals” hold honorary seats, and may address the assembly, but may not vote.  The Speaker of the Parliament, Lord Rathmore, presides over sessions and has authority to bring order to the chamber when matters get out of hand, as they often do.  In order for a motion to be accepted or rejected, one party must have more votes than the other, and a minimum of 60 total out of a maximum 153.

Following the king’s recent abdication, Queen Aberria entrusted the parliament with the task of making a decision whether to expand the League of Eight’s commercial charter beyond Lake Llyn.  Six “front row seaters” oppose the motion (including Mersey & Weil, Wessith, Ashbury, Tutleby, Burwynn, and Llynmouth as their most vocal leader).  Four in the front row quietly support the motion (Orfeander, Hârnmayne, Grünfold, and Suthermore).  Five others remain neutral (Rathmore, Tareston, Westford, Shielldon, and Ogresfell).  Among “back row seaters,” 28 oppose the motion, 39 support it (League investors or debtors), and 11 remain neutral.

Yea: 59 votes                   Nay: 58 votes                   Abstained: 36 votes

Neither party has accrued enough votes yet to win the day.  The measure was therefore put on hold for a year, pending another vote to accept or reject the motion.  The League of Eight and their opponents are likely to seek additional support behind closed doors, with possibe clashes along the way.

His Royal Highness, Lord Talthion: this crippled man is Queen Aberria’s husband, the former King of Foresthome.  Prior to abdication resulting from his infirmities, Talthion had an animated discussion with Master Grebbledin, a key man in the League of Eight.  Grebbledin requested the guild’s commercial charter be appended to include the Eastfollow River, Foresthome’s sea coasts, and foreign destinations.  Although an investor himself, Talthion refused, fearing the guild’s growing influence over the kingdom.  Turning the League loose could very well threaten the monarchy.  A few weeks after this crucial meeting, Talthion was stricken with an unexplainable affliction that left him unable to speak, write, or communicate effectively.  No magic in the kingdom could alleviate his worsening condition.
     Description: in his 50’s, Lord Talthion has a shoulder-length mane of salt and pepper hair, and cheekbones, a nose, and a chin like miniature cliffs.  His eyes are hazel and they change color with his moods:  they can appear intense blue, very green, cloudy, or stormy gray within instants.  Occasionally they gleam deep gold, like those of a wild animal.  Once a tall man employing thoughtful words and gestures, his head now thrusts forward and cocks slightly to one side from raised tense shoulders, as if he’s trying to communicate better by getting closer to his audience.  His eyes are sometimes eloquent, and at other times lost in what seems feral regard.  He often forgets what’s happened a few minutes ago.
     M25 (disabled), AC7, hp 37, MV 90’ (30’), AT none, Dmg none, Save M12 due to feebleness, ML6, AL N.  St6, In6, Wi6, Dx6, Co6, Ch8.  Magical Items: ring of protection +3, medallion of contingency (teleports him to a hidden chamber in the palace if harmed or if anyone else touches the medallion).

Her Royal Majesty, Queen Aberria: she acceded to the throne of Foresthome when her husband, Lord Talthion, abdicated for reasons of health.  Master Grebbledin requested an audience with the queen soon after the king’s demise, to bring up their earlier discussion regarding the commercial charter.  Sensing danger, Aberria eventually disposed of the problem by submitting it to the Parliament of Wizards.  She correctly assessed that the issue would be stalled.  She hopes to use the lull to curb the League’s power and find a cure for her husband.  Lord Allaran, Captain of Her Majesty’s Royal Guard, quietly informed the queen of his suspicions that the League of Eight may be consorting with Bettellyn through third party investors.  Aberria hopes to uncover the treacherous deeds as a way to regain control over the sprawling guild.  There is great danger in this endeavor because of the large number of investors and their key positions in Foresthome society.  It could be the end of the monarchy if mishandled.  Meanwhile, aside from a queen’s daily chores, much of her attention concerns diplomacy with Vertiloch, Randel, and Bettellyn, the adjudication of clashes between the Parliament of Wizards and the Great Clan House generally about land control, and growing troubles among druids in the west.  She loves her husband Talthion, and is very worried about his health.  Because she can’t rely on her husband or his failing memory, she has learned to trust Lord Allaran for information.  She maintains a public persona, and seldom shows her private side.
     Description: Queen Aberria is a woman of medium stature in her late 40’s, with a copper-toned skin and luxuriant long strawberry-blonde hair.  Her eyes are an unusual lapis blue with golden flecks.  She must work to control her crescents of reddish brows lest they betray her emotions.
     M21, AC7, hp 37, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 spectral claw or spell, Dmg d6+2 + paralysis or by spell, Save M21, ML8, AL L.  St9, In17, Wi15, Dx14, Co11, Ch16.  Magical Items: earrings of protection +3, “slave” bracelet (multiple strings of small diamonds stretching from her middle finger to her wrist, with a floral design on the back of her hand—on command allows spectral claws to grow from her fingers; +2 to hit/Dmg + paralysis as a ghoul), tiara of leadership (see crown of leadership, AC4 Book of Marvelous Magic).

Lord Allaran, Captain of Her Majesty’s Royal Guard: his responsibility is security at the royal palace, for which purpose he relies on his wits and the services of a hundred men-at-arms, all veterans of the western conflicts, and a score of spies.  Allaran hasn’t forgiven himself for failing to prevent the king’s abdication.  His focus of late has been to investigate the affair.  The obvious suspect was one Master Trellayne, a banker who was last seen in company of the king.  It appeared that Trellayne went missing immediately after his audience with Talthion.  Signs of a scuffle at the banker’s residence suggested foul play.  Ledgers showed evidence of large sums received from obscure merchants in Frisland, who were later seen visiting the Bettellyn Embassy in the City of Shiell.  Most of these funds were paid to a single but fake beneficiary.  Since Trellayne was associated with the League of Eight, Allaran now suspects the funds were paid to the guild, therefore connecting it to Bettellyn.
     Description: Lord Allaran is in his early 40’s.  He has a pleasantly rectangular face with coppery-red weathered skin, corrugated across his forehead.  His calculating gray-green eyes sit deep beneath bristling eyebrows.  Dark sandy collar-length hair fringes his strong jawline in a short beard.  Allaran is not tall and does not appear overtly muscular, but gives the impression of steadfast strength and determination.  His response during a fight is quick and sure.  His troops trust his abilities implicitly.
     F23, AC2, hp 115, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 sword, Dmg d8+2, Save F23, ML8, AL L.  St17, In14, Wi13, Dx13, Co16, Ch15.  Magical Items: short sword +3 “stonefoot” (when first hit, save vs. petrification or the opponent’s feet remain steadfastly stuck to the ground/floor—effect lasts 2d4+2 rounds or until dispelled), chainmail +3 of grounding (confers immunity to electrical attacks), elven cloak.

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood streets
Municipal District: 6. City Hall, 7. Court House, 8. Lord Mayor's Palace, 9. Institute of Horticulture, 10. Prison & City Militia Barracks, 11. Armory
Master Trellayne, Sleazy Banker: was a Greenwood banker who handled local transactions for the League of Eight.  He had the habit of skimming funds and cooking the books.  The League got wind of his game and threatened to eliminate him unless he obtained an audience with the king.  He was eliminated shortly after receiving confirmation that the audience was granted.  He now lies at the bottom of Lake Llyn, his feet tied to a stone ball.  The individual who met with the king under Trellayne’s name does not match the banker’s description.  Since Lord Allaran never met the original Master Trellayne, the discrepancy with the banker’s appearance hasn’t yet come up, leaving the captain unaware of the deception.

     Description: The banker was a square-bodied man with a paunch that entered a room first.  He had straight brown hair in constant disarray because he ran pudgy fingers through it.  Ink stains marked his right hand, and also above his right cheekbone where he rested his quill above his winglike ear.  Trellayne’s nose was long and hooked at the end, which engendered stories about his liking to stick it in everybody’s business for his own gain.  Those who knew him well might mention he owned a ring of accounting (on command, records the owner’s appointments, memos, agreements, and transactions).

Master Osworth, Lord Mayor and Member of Parliament, Canton Greenwood: a man with distant elven heritage and a former royal ranger, Osworth is popular with both outsiders and woodland residents of Greenwood.  The League of Eight financed his election, in exchange for which he agreed to protect their interests at the Wizards’ Parliament.  In truth, Osworth entertains a love affair with a renegade elf named Angwen.  Together, they plot the demise of the League, using Osworth’s links with the guild to obtain insider knowledge of their operation.  Through these connections, Osworth learned that another member of parliament, Lord Quillary, was quietly funneling large sums of money into the League—more than his wealth ought to permit.  He passed this information along to Angwen during a secret meeting, and is waiting now to hear back from her.  Osworth is also aware of Tassoon’s existence, Gribbeldin’s shadowy cronie.
     Description: in his late 40’s, Osworth has vaguely elvish features and thin ivory hair long enough to pull into a tail behind his neck.  His eyes are dark amber, a startling contrast to his pale skin.  He is tall and lean, with a normally pleasant expression that can change to disgust or hate in moments.  He is very quiet on his feet, and often startles others with his catlike entrances.
     M16, AC2, hp 30, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 dagger or spell, Dmg d4+2 + misdirection or by spell, Save M16, ML8, AL L.  St14, In17, Wi13, Dx18, Co11, Ch16.  Magical Items: +2 dagger of misdirection (save vs. spell or be confused for 1d4 Turns or until dispelled), AC5 robe of smoke (negates the first successful physical or magical attack, and releases a thick cloud of smoke filling an area 30’ radius), elven boots. As a “demi-elf” has infravision (30’), may detect hidden doors and secret passage as an elf, and saves at +2 vs. ghoul paralysis.

Angwen, Madwoman of the Forest: during her existence in Foresthome, she witnessed the abuses of League of Eight.  She turned into a Robin Hood of sorts, robbing the guild and destroying its property wherever possible, and giving the booty back to its victims.  She was unmasked during one of raids and became a renegade under royal law.  The League has posted a large bounty for her capture, dead or alive.  She generally hides in forests, the local clans choosing to look elsewhere--they know her as an honorable elven maiden despite what the law says.  Angwen sent her brother Dellenderyl to investigate Lord Quillary.  He disappeared inexplicably.  She now searches for him and fears the worst may have happened.
     Description:  Angwen’s appears to be a woman in her early 40’s.  She has copper skin, hickory-brown eyes that absorb every detail, and long snarly dark hair with goldish-red streaks.  Her ability to assume the character of a crone, a flighty young maid, or a disdainful woman of means makes her difficult to catch, and even harder to recognize.  She distrusts anyone not long in her acquaintance.  Outsiders who have glimpsed Angwen on her forays call her the Madwoman of the Forest.
     E10 Rank I, AC3, hp 41, MV 120’ (40’), AT 2 arrows, or 2 sword, or one spell, Dmg d6+2, or d8+2, or by spell, Save F20, ML10, AL L.  St14, In16, Wi11, Dx17, Co13, Ch17.  Magical Items: ring of freedom (once per day as the potion, automatic), +2 leather armor of recovery (regenerates 1 hp per Turn up to 10 hp daily), sword +1 of recall (teleports to its scabbard on command), long bow +2.

Dellenderyl, Dismissed Ranger:  was drummed out of the Royal Rangers’ service because of his family ties with a wanted renegade.  His Royal Ranger badge was shattered and one half symbolically given back to him.  He could claim the other when the matter dishonoring his sister was resolved.  Dellenderyl then quietly joined Angwen in her fight against the League of Eight.  He took on the task of watching Lord Quillary.  He followed him into the woods above Little Sylvania where Lord Quillary met with suspicious individuals, all wearing hoods.  Inching closer to eavesdrop on their conversation, he made out Frisland accents.  Just then, a flock of sprite messengers showed up behind him and started singing Happy Birthday.  A few fireballs later, Dellenderyl perished, along with the jocular sprites.  Their spirits and memories were absorbed into an elder tree standing nearby.  The tree still bears scorch marks.  Dellenderyl was similar to his sister Angwen, having coiled-spring energy, dark hair, and excellent woodcraft.

Lady Vertamellian, Headmistress at the Greenwood Institute of Horticulture: this elderly elven academic noticed scorch marks on an elder tree, above Little Sylvania.  She ushered her students away from the site, sensing something wrong had happened there.  Returning later, she healed the elder tree and attempted a mind meld.  Without knowing specifically whose memories to look for, there were far too many of them jumbled together for her to unveil what had happened.  Worried about the dangers of meddling in the affairs of wizards using deadly force (not to mention spells forbidden by law in the woods, such as fireballs), she remained quiet about her discovery.  She is keen on news of missing people listed in the Greenwood Gazette.  She’d read about the strange disappearance of Master Trellayne, but has been  able to establish his memories weren’t hosted in the elder tree.  Her search goes on.
     Description: Lady Vertamellian’s apparent age is somewhere in her 60’s.  She has a mournful pale oval face and a vague green gaze that sharpens when she homes in on something or someone.  Habitually bending forward allows her brown graying hair to escape the shell combs she replaces regularly.  Her gestures, especially stabbing the air with crooked fingers to accent her points, are traits her students enjoy emulating.
     Druid-12, AC5, hp 46, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 sickle or spell, Dmg d4+1 or by spell, Save C12, ML8, AL N.  St11, In15, Wi17, Dx12, Co13, Ch14.  Magical Items: acorn of mind-melding (allows her to access specific memories stored in elder trees), AC5 robe of blending (once a day as the potion, on command), bangle of the fairies (shrink to the size of a chosen fairykind and detect invisible, once per day—lasts until midnight or until dismissed), earrings of the sickle (on command, summons a small magical sickle +1—lasts until dismissed).

Lord Quillary, Member of Parliament, Canton Orfil: as a younger man, he was charmed by an attractive Bettellyn spy.  While under her spell, he was exposed to the teachings of Eyoth.  Although the spell eventually wore off, a seed had been planted in his mind that led him to become an adept.  As he grew into an experienced mage, he was elected as representative for Canton Orfil, and earned a “back row” seat at the Wizards’ Parliament.  The League of Eight approached him with an investment opportunity and an understanding regarding his votes at the parliament, a bargain which he readily accepted.  Bettellyn spies watching him chose this time to activate their “sleeper agent.”  These followers of Eyoth used Quillary’s links to funnel cash into the League.  Their goal is to gain control of the guild so that it may not use its ships in a potential conflict between Foresthome and Bettellyn, or to create a scandal that would destroy the League altogether.  Lord Quillary was meeting with his Bettellyn handlers who impersonated Frisland merchants when he discovered the elf Dellenderyl hiding nearby.  Quillary had taken the precaution (under a fake identity) of hiring sprites to wish a happy birthday to anyone following him into the woods.  The trick worked.  Quillary and the “Frislanders” all turned and cast spells at the hapless ranger, killing him and the sprites.  Quillary picked up the royal ranger’s broken symbol from Dellenderyl’s body.  Unsure of its owner’s identity, he hired a bounty hunter to find out and eliminate those who’d sent the elf.  Soon after, he had the charred bodies buried beneath a wild tangle of bushes.  This adept of Eyoth now owns a significant portion of the League of Eight which, together with interests held by others like him, is coming close to gaining effective control of the merchant guild.
     Description: Lord Quillary is in his late 30’s.  He is of medium height and owns a businesslike mien set off by well-cut but conservative clothing.  His hair is buff-colored, wavy, and shoulder-length, framing a square face ending in a spadelike chin.  Shrewd blue eyes bulge slightly.  Quillary considers every option and plans accordingly before making a move.  As a faithful adept of Eyoth, Quillary has become a pawn of Bettellyn.
     M19, AC3, hp 33, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 staff or spell, Dmg d6 or by spell, Save M19, ML9, AL L*.  St13, In18, Wi11, Dx16, Co12, Ch15.  Magical Items: staff of striking (10 charges), AC 5 robe of eavesdropping (confers the ability to tune in to any conversation within 60' regardless of background noise, once per day on command; targets must be visible—lasts 2d4+2 rounds during which the owner may skip through different conversations), small safety pouch (100cn—turn pouch’s invisibility on/off on command), cape of disguise (AC4 Book of Marvelous Magic).
     (*) An Adept of Eyoth must perform a Minor Act of Contrition whenever duties lead to a conflict of Alignment.  Quillary may only stray once per day from the path of Lawfulness.  Although he did convert an apprentice to the faith of Eyoth, he refrains from proselytizing for the safety of his mission.  The apprentice remains at the Quillary Tower, in the Town of Orfil.

Manglethrax, Bounty Hunter: this gulon warrior works for Lord Quillary, who hired him under a fake identity.  He belongs to a clan whose profession has been bounty-hunting for as long as the Kingdom of Foresthome existed.  Manglethrax obtained Dellenderyl’s broken badge, which he correctly identified as belonging to someone dismissed from the Royal Rangers.  He eventually learned of Dellenderyl’s dishonorable discharge, and began hunting for the “renegade” Angwen.  A hired sprite usually comes to pick up a message from him at specific times, which it drops off at another place where Quillary can retrieve it.  This reverses for Manglethrax to “find” payments left behind by his shadowy employer.  He is fully aware of the large bounty on Angwen’s head and wants to collect it as well.  He’s been trailing her off and on, trying to find out who else is connected with her.
     Description: Manglethrax is in his early 20’s.  He is a muscular gulon in his prime whom members of most races prefer to give plenty of room.  His arms, shoulders, back, head, and short tail are covered with coarse wolverine-like russet fur.  Along his jawline, it extends into a ruff.  Steady golden eyes and ritual body scars mark him as a grizzled hunter and stalker par excellence.  His ears catch even the slightest sounds.  Large hands end in claws meant for rending.  He appears to be ready to leap into battle instantly.
     Gulon—F9, AC4, hp 67, MV 120’ (40’), AT 2 claws or 1 weapon, Dmg d4+3/d4+3 or d6+5, Save F8, ML11, AL N.  St18, In13, Wi9, Dx15, Co18, Ch13.  Magical Items: flying carpet, AC5 robe of shadows (confers the ability to hide in shadows as a thief with a +10% bonus), +2 net of returning, +2 staff of the bounty hunters (when a target is hit, the capture pole releases a chain that wraps around a small or normal sized victim’s neck—those so captured fight at –2 to hit and lose consciousness 1d4 rounds after entrapment +1 per Constitution bonus; the chain or the staff require a hit against AC0 to snap loose; requires gulon-taught weapon proficiency).  May shape change into a giant wolverine.

Master Gribbledin, Chairman of the League:  until recently, he was the man wholly in charge of the League of Eight.  He’d approached the former King Talthion to expand the League’s commercial charter beyond Lake Llyn.  Against his expectations, the king refused.  Gribbledin had no choice but to address his investors and inform them of the setback.  It was made known to him that he should take “appropriate measures” to redress the situation.  This fateful moment made him realize that several key investors were in collusion (including Lord Quillary), and were likely plotting to replace him.  The sudden disappearance of a shareholder a few months earlier and the decision of another to sell out appeared even more ominous now.  Seeking a quick solution to his predicament, Gribbeldin obtained a magical substance from Kelbardene, a druid he’d known for some time.  The substance was intended to help control the king’s mind and obtain a favorable response.  The guild’s chairman sent Tassoon, his trusted lieutenant, to eliminate and impersonate Master Trellayne, a banker who was embezzling guild funds.  Tassoon met with Talthion and discreetly laced his drink with the substance, but the king’s resistance to the magic was too strong.  Rather than giving in, Talthion suffered a seizure that crippled his abilities to communicate, and damaged his short-term memory.  The queen’s decision to submit the League’s expansion request to the Wizards’ Parliament was yet another setback.  Since then, Gribbeldin’s authority among the League has gradually waned while he remains unaware of Bettellyn’s takeover conspiracy.
     Description: the former chairman is in his early 50’s, having a fringe of short iron-gray hair with a few long strings left on a shiny pate.  His brows look like a couple of moths landed above his eyes, which are chestnut brown and flicker from one thing to another as if he refuses to miss anything.  He is convinced of his own importance, and can’t imagine an existence beyond leading the League.  His body and extremities are thick:  Gribbeldin’s beringed fingers habitually stroke anything while he’s listening or thinking, giving the impression of energy or irritation barely held in check.
     T23, AC1, hp 83, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 sword, Dmg d6+3, Save T23, ML7, AL C.  St12, In16, Wi9, Dx17, Co14, Ch14.  Magical Items: +3 short sword of speeding, +3 leather armor of gaseous form, plate of counterfeiting (AC4 Book of Marvelous Magic—can be used to replicate any official seal).

Mystara Alphatia Foresthome Greenwood streets
Upper Class District: 12. League of Eight branch office, 13. Master Gribbledin Residence, 14. Rathmore House, 15. Quillery House, 16. Llynmouth House, 17. Westford House
Kelbardene, Deranged Druid: although the substance he gave Gribbeldin was indeed intended to gain control of someone’s mind, it was never meant to confer such powers to its buyer.  The substance is attuned to its maker, Kelbardene himself.  The druid relied on charmed animals to spy on the Chairman of the League, and knew full well to whom Gribbeldin planned to administer the substance.  This elder druid is a member of the Green Circle.  He consorts with the Decapus Queen, and is a devout follower of her alien faith.  As such, he is an evil spawn of chaos with druidical abilities.  Despite the king’s seizure, the substance Kelbardene concocted is still working.  It is in fact slowly twisting the former monarch into something wholly monstrous and inhabited by a feral mind.  When the transformation is complete, what once was Lord Talthion will be a shape-changing predator whose role is to devour the queen, her family, and Alphatian wizards, one by one, late at night when no one watches.  Kelbardene’s goal is to wipe out Foresthome’s center of authority and eradicate the influence of outsiders from forest lands and neighboring areas.
     Description: Kelbardene is in his late 50’s, and has thin blond-gray hair.  A wisp of braided beard droops from his pointed chin.  He stands at medium height and has an average body.  Kelbardene appears to be quite an innocuous druid, until one looks into his brown-black eyes and realizes the depth of madness in moil there.  He will do anything for his alien liege.  Because of his shrewd planning and the ability to distract most people from his true pursuits, it’s anyone’s guess how far he will go to achieve the Decapus Queen’s sovereignity.
     Druid—18, AC2, hp 59, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 staff or spell, Dmg d6+4 or by spell, Save C18, ML11, AL C.  St15, In16, Wi17, Dx12, Co14, Ch9.  Magical Items: +3 staff of the druids, ring of human control, +2 leather armor of ethereality, +3 bracers of protection.  As a psychopath, he is immune to charms and mind-control magic.

Tassoon, Janitor of the League: usually handles the more sensitive tasks for his master, Gribbeldin, especially if it involves eliminating a troublemaker or cleaning up after a botched operation.  Tassoon executed the banker Trellayne on Gribbledin’s behalf.  He filched Trellayne’s ring of accounting but was unable to secure its command word; he now keeps it in a small pouch hanging around his neck.  Trellayne recorded in this ring incriminating verbal notes, such as Tassoon chasing him to slit his throat (quite true, until the point he choked on his own blood), notes about transactions involving Bettellyn investors posing as Frisland financiers (true), Lord Quillary’s involvement with them (also true), a veiled clue to himself about the hidden location of the money he embezzled from the League (true), the willful treachery of Gribbledin consorting with Bettellyn (a lie), and the connection between the Lord Mayor and Gribbledin (true).
     Description: Tassoon is a wiry, nervous character with a slight twitch pulling at the edge of his mouth when he faces a challenge.  Bushy brows, deep set dark brown eyes, a straight nose, bony cheeks, a scar on his chin, pale skin, and long, stringy black hair complete his generally creepy demeanor.  Tassoon will never betray his boss regardless of threats or pain inflicted upon him.  Only magic could force him to betray Gribbeldin or the League in general.
     T14, AC2, hp 56, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 sword, Dmg d6+4/+6, Save T14, ML11, AL C.  St16, In13, Wi9, Dx18, Co15, Ch8.  Magical Items: ring of spell turning, amulet of protection from crystal balls and ESP, +1 dagger of silencing, +2 short sword/+4 vs. spellcasters, one poisonous steel sting fitting on his right index finger (narcotic, single use, Dmg 1, no save), potion of the ultimate solvent (3 doses—each can dissolve up to 10 cubic feet of organic material within 3d6+2 rounds; vapors are extremely pungent; ingesting it will dissolve the drinker entirely, no save), displacer cloak, +2 leather armor.

His Royal Highness, Prince Valladren: is a child of twelve years old, and the direct heir to the throne.  Valladren is a spoiled brat who will do all he can think of to command everyone’s attention.  He is cared for by Queen Aberria’s sister, Lady Ellusidane at the palace in Lakim, in the Principality of Llynsey.  Lord Resolimar, her husband, is the Steward of Llynsey acting as the administrative regent for the young prince’s apanage and the military commander for the queen’s forces based in Lakim.  They are both loyal to the queen.  Should trouble arise with Bettellyn, the Lord Steward has arranged for one of his ships to secretly transport his wife and the prince to Green Bay, where the Count of Llynmouth will hide them.  Kopru are aware of Valladren’s presence on the island.  They are scheming to abduct him and force Queen Aberria to betray her brogga allies in exchange for his life.  The latter suspect as much, and may intervene to thwart the kopru’s dastardly plot.
     Description: Prince Valladren is a healthy, well-coordinated child with an open, inquiring expression that hides the very devil.  His eyes are a clear medium blue encircled by a ring of midnight.  His hair is curly, blond with reddish highlights, and hangs past his shoulders.  The prince has an energy level difficult to keep up with, and his constant pranks affect everyone at the palace.
     M3, AC3, hp 33, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 staff or spell, Dmg d6 or by spell, Save M19, ML9, AL N.  St8, In14, Wi7, Dx17, Co9, Ch13.  Magical Items: ring of invisibility, wand of illusions, key of opening (6 charges—AC4 Book of Marvelous Magic), AC5 lederhosen of protection (actually enables Lady Ellusidane to sense the unsuspecting prince’s location).

Lady Kikania: this 15 year old is the queen’s niece on Talthion’s side.  Her mother passed away shortly after Kikania’s birth.  Having fulfilled her destiny, her soul refused to return when priests attempted to raise her from the dead.  Kikania’s father is presumed to have died while attacking an ogrish camp somewhere in the Heartsbane Woods.  His body was never recovered.  Kikania lived for some time with her audacious forebear, acquiring his rough and tumble ways and adventurous demeanor.  She is now a good-looking tomboy.  Kikania came to be cared for by her aunt before Aberria became queen.  She’s now being educated as a proper lady, which the tomboy finds atrociously boring.  Events at the palace have, however, changed that.  The queen is now too busy to be with her.  Kikania finds ways to thwart the company of her preceptors and her dreaded old chaperon.  While visiting Lord Talthion, she noticed surreptitious changes in his demeanor.  She worries that there may be something more to his infirmities, something tainting his mind aside from his intermittent amnesia, which is growing worse.  She told Lord Allaran, the Captain of her Majesty’s Royal Guard, about this.  He, however, was unable to observe anything unusual.  She actually did see Tassoon enter Talthion’s private chambers when he impersonated Trellayne.  Neither she nor the king at the time new about the deception.  Kikania entertains the mother of all crushes on Allaran, who pretends to ignore her feelings, avoiding a new problem.
     Description: Kikania is a honey blonde with wide green eyes and copper skin, increasingly at odds with her growing femininity.  Very lean, she prefers leather tunics and trousers to skirts and bodices.
     M5, AC6, hp 13, MV 120’ (40’), AT 1 dagger or spell, 1d4+2 or by spell, Save M5, ML8, AL N.  St12, In17, Wi13, Dx16, Co12, Ch14.  Magical Items:  ring of protection +2, dagger +2, buckle of concealment (contains a miniature spellbook), cat’s eye marble, and pouch of traveling (the latter two, AC4—Book of Marvelous Magic).

Special thanks to Janet Deaver-Pack for her design and editorial contribution.

Coming Next: Return to Floating Ar


  1. Replies
    1. He, he... I love the dead banker because he *was* sleazy and nuts enough in his own right to bring the entire kingdom to the brink of destruction.

  2. Replies
    1. Thank you, BL. Glad you enjoyed the ride. Was there something specific that you liked?


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