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Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 04:43 AM #1
Planescape 3.5e - Cold Black Mask
Prologue - Through the Glass:
In Cormyr's canal city of Marsember, three individuals of uncommon character receive an impassioned plea from the wife of a prominent historian -- one Hagen Vanuz -- who disappeared quite suddenly.
At first glance, the recipients of the message formed an odd company: a lean, diminutive, gnome-shaped figure clad head-to-toe in drab clothing; a long-haired youth who was distinctly inhuman even if one ignored the thick reptilian tail which emerged from beneath his arcanist’s robes, and a broad-shouldered man with a self-sure, no-nonsense look about him. All very different from each other, but all bound to each other through their relationship with their mutual friend, Hagen.
Hagen had, in one way or another, played a significant role in each of their lives.
He had hesitated not for a second in lending aid to the former gnome slave Istavan , and it was Hagen who had taken the storm-touched spellcaster Sindr Mogh under his wing as a favor to the young man’s parents. Hagen was always willing to discuss the finer points of religion with the holy warrior Heinrich Stronghand, for he, too, was a devout follower of Heironeous, and worked closely with the Church as a historian.
Given his expertise and impressive store of knowledge, local explorers and treasure hunters came to him frequently for his help in identifying this trinket or that artifact. As Hagen's wife explained once the trio arrived, her husband's disappearance seemed to be tied to the object of his latest research. A brief investigation of the man's room revealed two peculiar items of note: the first being the presence of an oddly grotesque black iron mask, set carefully on Hagen's desk and surrounded by research notes.
The second was the presence of a glowing, swirling portal which silently hovered within the frame of the room's only window.
Perhaps it was out of a sense of duty, or comraderie, or simply a desire to shed light on the unknown; but the three adventurers had a feeling that the best -- perhaps only -- way to find their friend was to go in after him.
Last edited by Cage-Rattler; Wednesday, 31st October, 2007 at 03:27 PM.Man is harder than Iron, stronger than Stone and more fragile than a Rose. - Turkish proverb
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Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 04:52 AM #2
Chapter One - Happy Landings
The first sensation that greeted the trio once they passed through the mysterious window-portal was the noise. A great din that could only be produced by a crowd of thousands assaulted their ears and, glancing around, it would seem they emerged smack in the middle of an urban marketplace of sorts. But what a market! Creatures of all sizes and dispositions -- some recognizable to the newcomers, many not – rubbed elbows with each other as they milled about the hundreds of tent-like stalls. The air was thick with shouts, cries, snarls, shrieks, and whistles as stall-tenders hawked their merchandise and beings of several dozen different races haggled and squabbled over various wares which ran the gamut from outlandish articles of clothing to disconcertingly large, pale worms with almost-humanoid faces.
Despite their sudden appearance, no one seemed particularly put-out of sorts; in fact, it was questionable whether any of the strange creatures which crowded the plaza took notice of the Faerunians at all. Hagen, whom they had come to search for, was nowhere in sight.
Something collided suddenly with Heinrich’s back and bounced off with an audible clang. Whirling around, the holy warrior recognized the black iron mask –which had been, and should be, resting on -- Hagen’s desk now staring up at him from the cobblestones at his feet. It truly was a hideous thing, leering at him like the face of a fiend, and the fact that there was no indication as to how it had ended up on their side of the portal was more than a little disconcerting...
Although the Grand Bazaar in Sigil's Market Ward isn't particularly known for its portals to the Prime, any berk knew that it wasn't unsual to see some clueless sod pop in practically anywhere in the City. What was unusual was hearing a clueless sod babbling about "Darkspine" practically before his feet even touched the ground. It was also unusual to see a scowling barbazu shove its way through the Bazaar crowds, grab the same prime by the scruff of his neck, and haul him off to -- somewhere.
'Course, Cagers are used to unusual. When three more bashers fall out of the same portal as the first in short order, looking all cage-struck, most bodies didn't even seem to notice.
There were some who did, though; the metal-skinned bladeling-kin, for example, or the aasimar with a certain air of charm about him. Something about those three primes seemed to demand their attention; at the very least, the clueless would need the help of some real bloods -- those keen to the ways of the planes -- if they wanted a deva's chance in the Abyss of surviving the City of Doors.
Man is harder than Iron, stronger than Stone and more fragile than a Rose. - Turkish proverb
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 05:10 AM #3
Novice (Lvl 1)
Anthony had been lounging against a the wall of a nearby building, thinking about how annoyed Dinah had been by his tardiness. It's not like he could have helped being sucked forcefully into another plane. He was lucky it was one of the warm fuzzy ones, and that a very friendly Deva had been passing at that exact moment, or he would have been even later. Well, it couldn't be helped. Now he was scoping out potential customers, or at least some information.
Then three berks popped out of thin air looking for all the planes like they'd been big over the head and back with the clueless stick. Perfect!
"Ello! I couldn' help but notice you bashers lookin a bit lost. Perhaps, you're in need of a well lanned tout to help you avoid the cony catchers?"
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 08:15 AM #4
Sindr stumbles through the portal and immediately clutches his ears at the sudden din. "Ahhh! Where th' .... Oh, this mus' be Sigil! I've heard of't but ne'er dreamed -" Even as he starts getting wound up, someone approaches...
Sindr blinks and cocks his head as he muddles through the almost-Common cant. "Who to th' what now? I guess I am lost. We're in Sigil, right? What'sa 'tout'? What'sa 'cony catcher'? Oh, m'name's Sindr, by the way. You kin call me 'Cinder', it's close 'nuff. I'm lookin' for a human named Hagen Vanuz; he's gon missin' an' th' portal in 'is room led us 'ere." Sindr blinks and smiles hopefully at the stranger, not even realizing what's he's doing giving up two names so easily."Ello! I couldn' help but notice you bashers lookin a bit lost. Perhaps, you're in need of a well lanned tout to help you avoid the cony catchers?"
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 08:15 AM #5
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Pierce Spinecrusher, female spiker fighter
Pierce had been trying to find work for days. It wasn't that her skills weren't needed, it was just that there was always someone better to be hired. Someone with more skill in planar survival, someone with an expertise in ranged weapons, someone smaller and more nimble, someone cheaper or simply someone less conspicuous. And considering this was Sigil, that was saying quite a lot. Too many people around here knew too much, had too much knowledge about what was needed.
What she needed was someone who wasn't as picky, who needed her abilities and needed them now, but wasn't either broke or running from something too big for her to handle. When the three squishskins had fallen through the portal, one with no armor, one with light armor, and one with heavy armor bearing the symbol of an unfamiliar god or cult, she smiled. Berks, as they were called here, were always a good place to start. It was just she had never managed to catch fresh ones before. Today, it seemed, was her day. Quickening her step, she stopped herself from snarling at the poiny-eared glow-squishskin that got there first. Luckily he was only offering his services as a guide, rather than a guard, or she might have challenged him to a duel.
"You seem to be in need of a guard in this place, perhaps even more than a guide. I know many warriors and have been blooded by the best. You will find me a skilled warrior, and my services can be purchased for a reasonble fee," she adds quickly, using her spiky body to take up as much space as possible. Like razorvine, she was uncomfortable to be around, and she used that now to subtly warn off any other potential rivals from her customers.
The person in front of the berks was the color of old steel, a dully shining metallic gray with spikes growing everywhere and poking through her full plate armor. She bears a spiked shield on one hand, and a flail is at her side. A backpack in a chailmail cover is strapped over her armor. She smiles slightly at the berks, showing bronze-colored metallic teeth.
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 09:00 AM #6
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Heinrich is momentarily taken aback by the mask 'following' him, but he swiftly seizes it - not wishing to see if it has more mischief hidden in it just yet, and holds it tightly in one heavily armored hand. It is only at this point that he finally gets a good look at his surroundings. "Heironeous' name, where are we, Sindr?" Even as the mage replies in a fashion - not that Heinrich can guess what 'Sigil' might be - his hand goes almost without conscious thought to the hilt of his longsword at the speech of the Spiker.
"In some lands your words might be taken as a threat, bladed one." The words are spoken not so much as a challenge, but more as a simply stated fact.
"Paranoia is a lot like life insurance. Annoying, expensive, and rarely needed. And like life insurance, if you need it and you don't have it, it's too late already."
"This makes no sense at all. Your DM needs to be shot. With a hammer."
-quote from the Wizards web board
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 09:31 AM #7
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Pierce simply shrugs, a curious gesture in that she manages to grate her body spikes against her helm in a very annoying screech of metal. It's clear that her armor must be magical, because normal steel couldn't have stood up to that abuse long without showing damage.
"Where I come from, everything is a threat to one degree or another. Everyone fights everything. I am here to offer my shield, nothing more," Pierce says calmly.
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 09:33 AM #8
Novice (Lvl 1)
Anthony moves to the side as the spikey woman comes up next to them. "Oi, keep the chiv away berk! Don' go picking a fight with a spikey 'les yer lookin to get penned!" He says, holding his hands out towards the armored leatherhead placatingly. "She's just off'rin ta help ya out, an from the looka ya you could use ev'ry bit o' help you c'n buy."
Anthony turns to Sindr, "A'right Cinder, Call me Tony. I'm a tout, a guide to you clueless. As for the poor sod you're lookin' for, I think I saw him... got any jink?"
Last edited by Dire Lemming; Wednesday, 31st October, 2007 at 09:44 AM.
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 09:58 AM #9
Acolyte (Lvl 2)
Though Pierce didn't use much of the Sigil slang, she had picked up some of it. Jink she had figured out first; as a mercenary she knew words for "money," "payment," "reparations," and "fees" in at least ten different languages, even if she didn't speak them fluently. She rubbed her fingers of her free hand together to help the god-man out in figuring out they both wanted money. At least the Cager knew enough to give a piece of respect...
Wednesday, 31st October, 2007, 05:21 PM #10
Cutpurse (Lvl 5)
Istvan had expected some kind of fight as soon as he stepped through the magic portal. The whisper gnome had heard of such ancient portals and had even used such an eldritch gateway to leap across the Sea of Fallen Stars in a single step a few years earlier. It was the wayfarer's belief that such still-functional relics of the past were usually highly sought and closely guarded, so expecting the worse, Istvan had his goggles down, his scarf up over his nose and his right hand on the H-shaped grip of the katar slung across his back when he stepped through the swirling vapors of the portal.
Appearing in a bustling marketplace took the gnome somewhat by surprise, and so he stood there uncertainly for a few moments until he was bumped in the back by the knee of one of his larger companions as he stepped through behind him. Stepping to the side, Istvan remains on guard as a tall woman in strangely spiked armor approaches their portal, only a half step behind a towering blue-eyed man of some humanesque species.
Istvan is lean and long-limbed despite his diminutive stature, with a swift fluidity to his movements. What little is visible of the gnome's skin is dusky olive in tone and clean shaven, while his unkempt hair is nearly black. The wayfarer's whisper-soft breeches and tunic are made of black silk while overtop of that the gnome wears a small dark-brown leather jerkin and a grey duster. Rounding out the outfit is a pair of deceptively delicate split-toed boots, a pair of supple fingerless leather gloves, a heavy grey scarf, a pair of dark goggles and a pocket-studded leather belt and baldric which support the large finely-wrought katar and bedroll slung across Istvan's back. His only visible means of defense is an elaborately crafted black-enameled bracer on his left forearm, which the gnome holds out before him.
As the odd pair of newcomers engage his new companions in a strange cryptic conversation Istvan, left momentarily forgotten, looks around at the bustling marketplace. As his furtive eyes begin to pick-out avenues of escape, the gnome notices the oddly sloping plaza in which he stands. Slowly raising his head to find the horizon, Istvan quickly reaches up to pull his scarf down and his goggles up as his gaze follows the impossible curve of the cityscape before him. Mouth agape, Istvan is soon staring straight up at the far distant rooftops through the smoky haze. In all his wanderings, the wayfarer had never been anywhere without a horizon. His mind reeled at the sight.