Corsairs

Previously on Corsairs!
The Adventure So Far...

The founding members of the Four Turns East met fleetingly on The Day of Mourning in what became the last days of The Last War. Those who witnessed the utter destruction of the nation of Cyre formed a strong bond, and years after the War’s end, the gathered at the frontier independent city-port of Serenity. Their goal was to find a pillar ship, a magical artifact of the ancient elves, and use the enchanted vessel to hunt for dragonshards in the Thunder Sea.

In Serenity they found adventure from almost their first day. Serenity had been founded a generation ago as a shelter from the Dragonmarked Houses and their intrigues, but at last was welcoming a House to operate in their city. House Cannith was to build a forge that would provide the port with all the magical implements and luxuries that more cosmopolitan cities such as Sharn enjoy. However at the dedication of the Cannith forge a terrorist names Alric Blacktree disrupted the ceremony and attempted to assassinate the Cannith officials, using magic that included a golem-like creature made of the mists of Mourning themselves.

The crew dispatched the threat, and were welcomed to the port as heroes. They called the port their home and made many allies including Glycum Silvermoon (gnome prophet and sole proprietor of the Serenity daily press), Ankus Alkavin (owner and barkeep of The Drunken Urchin) and Mylor Branks (proprietor of Serenity Sendings). They also made a few enemies, such as local crimelord Ned Shakeshaft, powerful merchant Tobias Ambermead and the redoubtable Sawfish Boys.

Serenity soon welcomed another Dragonmarked House, House Tereask, and the crews that sailed from The crew persevered and eventually bested the other Serenity captains the sly Ramon Wavehammer, the dashing Bundlor Gales and the hapless Smittik Pengo in discovering the legendary unique dragonshard Red Carnival.

And here with their first real success their troubles began.

The crew at last met their patrons: Edgar and Katarin Tolstoff, wealthy and sophisticated descendants of one of the four adventurers who founded Serenity a generation ago. They wanted Red Carnival in pursuit of an even more mysterious dragonshard: Black 13. Red Carnival summoned an island from the Feywild; a place called The Island of Dread, where the lost dragonmarked house, House Vol, had built a secret fortress dedicated to the exploration of their sinister mark, the Mark of Death.

The crew’s exploits on the Isle of Dread would fill a dozen volumes. In the end, they learned that House Cannith had been on the Isle of Dread and indeed had perfected the creation of warforged soldiers there. The shard Black 13 was still on the island, protected by a living, trap filled tomb which was the lair for the deathless, soul devouring thing that had once been Minara d’Vol. The crew persevered—only just—and escaped with the shard, leaving the Isle of Dread and returning to Serenity.

They hadn’t been in Serenity long when the Tolstoffs revealed their true nature: they had learned the secrets of Black 13 through dealings with an ancient and powerful demon knows as Dagon. Red Carnival could be used to free Dagon, the Tolstoffs freed the demon and fled though magical means. However the crew prevented them from gaining Black 13 and hid the shard in a secure location.

Serenity was besieged by madness and horrors, The crew were hard pressed to save the innocent and defeat those who had been corrupted by the promises of the demon and his fish-folk minions.

Now Serenity is safe. The Tolstoffs and their deadly henchman have fled using secret paths called The Garden of Graves to the mysterious an ancient city Vor Rukoth, a ruined metropolis from The Age of Demons. House d’Vol had a sanctuary there, once, where they dabbled in transferring dragonmarks from one person to another. It’s why Tolstoff wanted Black 13, The crew never saw Edgar Tolstoff: he was always shrouded by a curtain. It is suspected he is covered with dragonmarks, and needs only the Mark of Death from Black 13 to have them all.

No one knows what that would mean…

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The Demon Wastes & the Mournland

From Eberron creator Kieth baker’s website where he answers questions about the setting. good stuff to know.

“Artistically speaking, Keith, what’s the difference between the Demon Wastes and the Mournland? Both seem like they could pretty much be the Mordor of Eberron with their endless wastelands filled with pure evil. They kinda seem redundant, so I was curious how you see their places in the setting differing.”

Good question. Why have two malign realms, not to mention Droaam, Darguun, and the Shadow Marches? Here’s my quick look at these two regions, and the purpose they serve in the setting.

THE DEMON WASTES
This is a land of ancient danger and mystery. This could well be compared to Mordor, in that it is a place of dark legend, where malevolent spirits are said to linger and hold sway. Ruined cities of the Age of Demons remain here, along with some structures not so ruined, or fortresses that return to their former glory when the moons are in the proper alignment. A number of rajahs are bound beneath the Wastes, and their power corrupts the world above, creating fiendish creatures and tainting the barbarian tribes that venerate the buried evil.

When dealing with the Demon Wastes, there are a few things to consider. It is a distant frontier. It has never been successfully colonized by the people of Galifar (or Dhakaan, for that matter), and few of the people of the heartlands have any real idea what lies beyond the Labyrinth. It is one of the most concentrated sources of ruins and relics of the Age of Demons, which could mean strange powers and dark magic.

With that said, the Demon Wastes are predictable. Spend enough time in the Wastes and you’ll learn the ways of this land. If the fiendish wolves emerge from the black pool when Barakas is full, they’ll always emerge when Barakas is full. It’s a hard land, but the Carrion Tribes have learned to survive there… and a Ghaash’kala guide might be willing to help you adapt to this land.

So, to summarize: The Demon Wastes are ancient, home to the ruins of civilizations far older than human or goblinoid civilization – though many of these ruins are little more than dust. There are many unnatural dangers in the Wastes, but these can be anticipated, and follow some patterns. And while none of the nations of Galifar have settled the land, there are tribes that have lived there for centuries. By comparison…

THE MOURNLAND
Where the Demon Wastes are old and on the edge of civilization, the Mournland is new and at its very heart. The Mourning took a vibrant kingdom and transformed it into a horror. In the Wastes you find crumbling remnants of strange, alien cities. In the Mournland you have Metrol, Making, and dozens of other Cyran communities – strange and deadly shadows of what they once were, but nonetheless recognizably human cities. The treasures of the Mournland aren’t bizarre ancient relics; they are the goods of dragonmarked houses and Cyran nobles, lost in the disaster. Few people in the Five Nations are familiar with the Demon Wastes, but there are hundreds of thousands of refugees from Cyre who know their old home.

Beyond that, the Mournland is deeply unpredictable and implacably hostile. The Demon Wastes are home to tribes of orcs and humans, not to mention fiends. But it should be very difficult for anyone to build a kingdom in the Mournland, human or fiend. The warforged would have an easier time than most, because they don’t require food (or for that matter sleep) and have a way to repair damage. But there are any number of dangers that could rise to threaten the warforged city. Living spells, ghostly warriors, or other monsters are a simple problem. More complex are magical effects that roam like weather patterns in other lands, from firestorms to mists that destroy any metal object they touch, while leaving flesh unharmed. Then there are plagues, which could mimic known diseases, or which could afflict memory, soul, or similarly intangible aspects. The geography of the Mournland is generally stable. The path of certain predators can be predicted. But things like the plagues, the storms – you never know when something like that is going to arrive. If you use the city of Construct, one possibility is that the Lord of Blades has found a way to predict these things, and that’s why the city needs to be mobile – to stay ahead of effects that would destroy even the warforged.

So. The Demon Wastes is closer to Mordor. It’s a land that has ALWAYS been evil. It’s occupied by hostile forces that may one day strike out at the Five Nations. It’s home to evil spirits and fierce creatures, but there have been people living there for centuries.

By contrast, the Mournland isn’t a kingdom of evil, home to some dark lord of legend. It’s an inexplicable disaster, the pride of Galifar snatched away and transformed. Almost any horror could be found within its borders, no matter how strange or illogical. It isn’t a frontier realm: it’s smack in the middle of the continent, and there’s always the fear that the mists will spread or that some danger will emerge to strike out on the border. It’s not an ancient mystery: it’s an extremely new one, calling out for people to explore it NOW.

Beyond that, the Mourning is the threat that brought the nations to the negotiating table. The Demon Wastes may be a source of danger, but these are old and lingering threats – the Mournland is a clear sign that the world remains at risk.

Anyhow, not the most succinct summary, but hopefully there’s a few things there to think about.

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The Gatekeepers & the 12

Over sixteen thousand years ago, druids formed the Gatekeepers. They were charged with the dire responsibility of safeguarding the world from a burgeoning evil, the aberrant horrors dwelling within Khyber’s depths. Although defeated once, these creatures still clamor for a chance to slip through reality’s boundaries and conquer the mortal world. The Gatekeepers have failed only one time in their guardianship. Some nine thousand years ago, the daelkyr spilled from Xoriat, the Realm of Madness. Only a few Gatekeepers survived the struggle to bind the daelkyr behind great seals. From that moment, the Gatekeepers renewed their ancient oaths and have remained vigilant in their duties.

The Ziggurat of the Twelve: A great floating fortress that casts its shadow over Wollvern Park in Korth, the Ziggurat is the headquarters of the Twelve, an arcane organization founded by the dragonmarked houses during the early days of the Kingdom of Galifar. The tower has 13 floors full of classrooms, libraries, and laboratories with exception to one floor, which remains empty to memorialize the lost 13th dragonmark. The Twelve is the magician’s college for the dragonmarked houses and is the primary rival of the Arcane Congress.

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developments

I hope everyone enjoyed the little detour last week, and enjoyed doing a little in-character talking even if it wasn’t your character! :)

There was some serious foreshadowing in the flashback (Thank you, Lost), and here are some matters that might be of concern:

The ‘new guys’ ( Marcus, Brandis, Hesken) learned that there is at least one more Cannith agent being held by the dragonborn- a combat-shy elf being kept by the brass dragon tribe.

Ramon Wavehammer, who was contracted by Brother Garrow to bring the Emerald Claw to the Isle of Dread, was captured by the eladrin pirates, who have allied themselves with Garrow. Ramon and at least one more of his crew escaped. One of his crew, a Serenity woman named Brienna Welsh, made it to the tribes and is now a servant along with survivors of other wrecks, including Shitluck Symmes, Addle the dragonborn and folks who’se stories you don’t yet know.

That puts at least 3 Serenity vessels on the island: the 4 Turns East, the Wild Goose & The Wavehammer, all fine vessels but only the Goose and the 4 Turns are pillarships, with Smitick Pengo’s Kraken last seen awash in the hurricane.

Dimbarr, Ingold and Arfinn, the survivors of the Champions of the Bell mutiny and shipwreck, tried to betray the new guys and were trounced, except for Arfinn, who escaped.

Arfinn worships the Devourer, one of the Dark Six and the embodiment of the indifferent cruelty of the sea. through some strange magic, he was in touch with the pirates, and has joined them in their alliance with Dagon, one of the Lords of Dust, a powerful fiend from the Age of Demons. Dagon is a aspect of the Devourer that is intentionally malicious. Dagon is a keeper of secrets associated with the sea, and it is said he knows the contents of every sailing ship and the darkest secret of every sailor’s heart. Dagon, like all the Lords of Dust, is trapped far beneath the surface of Eberron, in the nightmare supernatural underdark called Khyber.

Arfinn said he had been granted a vision and will meet the team again inside of Minarra’s tomb. he has allied with the Emerald Claw and Brother Garrow; Runskaled the dragon flew them to the top of the plateau, but they were turned away by Giorge Forswron ,his ghostly ally and like-minded spirits of the island. If anyone had beat you into the tomb, the changing nature of the place would make it all but impossible to determine their presence.

Serenity is having some issues. Among them, the volcano is stirring and the port is covered in ash. Furthermore the Drunken Urchin has burned to the ground.

Marcus was on Serenity two weeks ago; the Four Turns Easy has been away for more than 6 weeks and without communication for at least a month. Marcus may know more about conditions in the port if asked.

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The Tomb of Horrors

Hey all-

So the small group of 4 adventurers made it to Minnara’s tomb on the plateau of the Isle of Dread. They were unsuccessful in bringing down Giorge Forsworn and his elven ghost companion N’dengin. Giroge is still determined to kill all sentient beings who know Black 13 is on the Island, while the crew are determined to take it from the island and hide it somewhere safe, or destroy it, there was some debate. In any case the crew is not on board with the ‘kill everything smarter than a velociraptor’ on the island, so there’s little chance they will be able to work things out with Giorge. The crew’s limited interactions with Giorge have shown him to dislike the task set before him — he has apologized several times for having to kill you all -but remains determined to see it through for the greater good. Giorge certianly means business, as he slew his own sister.

The crew did get the wilden to stop taking sides between the crew and the ranger & ghost. For the wilden, who are a manifestation of the island’s desire to return to the natural order, Plan A of taking Black 13 from the Island and Plan B of killing everyone who might ever come looking for it are both good plans. The wilden also revealed that Giorge and the creatures who ally with N’dengin are not compelled so much as convinced: the ghostly elf does not control these beings, but he does sway them to the belief that his way is the only way to avoid some horrible future.

With N’dengin and Giorge still loose, the crew decided against taking an extended rest on the doorstep of the tomb, knowing that an attack would come. They found 3 entrances to choose from; the first was a trap that nearly buried all of them alive. the second was long hall that they have only begun to explore. Andreious soon fell into a deep, spiked pit as the crew continues to pay for every yard they explore with blood. The crew also discovered the following riddle:

ALABLAQ CONGRATULATES YOU ON YOUR POWERS OF OBSERVATION. SO MAKE OF THIS WHATEVER YOU WISH, FOR YOU WILL BE MINE IN THE END NO MATTER WHAT!

Go back to the tormentor or through the arch, and the second great hall you’ll discover.
Shun green if you can, but night’s good color is for those of great valor.
If shades of red stand for blood the wise will not need sacrifice aught but a loop of
magical metal – you’re well along your march.

Two pits along the way will be found to lead to a fortuitous fall, so check the wall.
These keys and those are most important of all, and beware of trembling hands and what will maul.

If you find the false you find the true and into the columned hall you’ll come, and there the throne that’s key and keyed.

The iron men of visage grim do more than meets the viewers eye. You’ve left and left and found Her Tomb and now your soul will die."

The crew knows a little about Alablaq from edgar Tolstoff’s notes they discovered in the Neogi tower. He was the engineer/artificer of the Court of Vol in Minnara’s time, and created several mysterious and powerful eldritch machines for the House. The Garden of Graves, a means of travelling to various places in Eberron via the Feywild, was one such machine, and Tolstoff uncovered it’s secrets but the notes did not reveal much else.

When the dragons and elves came to destroy House Vol, Alablaq changed allegiances and created Minarra’s tomb- the first sentient creature imbued with life by Minarra’s mark. so his betrayal of her was PROFOUND – he both created her prison and passed many of the secrets of her power to her enemies. What the elves and dragons did with Alablaq once the tomb was created is unknown, but it is known that they sealed all the other workers and engineers into the foundry they had made at the base of the plateau to create the tomb. House Cannith discovered the remains when they converted that ancient place into their first creation forge.

This tomb is a place built on murder, treachery, fear and hate. Hundreds of warforged were created only to die exploring these halls. At the heart of this place is Black 13, the only surviving inscription of the lost 13th dragonmark, which some of you believe was instrumental in The Day of Mourning.

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House Cannith and the Isle of Dread

House Cannith arrived on the island of Dread more than 50 years ago. They were led here by the infamous privateer Rory Barbarossa. It is clear that House Cannith knew about Black 13, which of itself is a mystery as the elves and dragons took great pains to expunge every mention of the Mark of Death from history. As the Mark of Death was exterminated hundreds of years before most other Dragonmarks even appeared, elimination of all memory of the mark was an achievable goal. It is a mystery how they failed.

However Cannith somehow came to know about Black 13 and secretly offered a reward for its recovery. Rory Barbarossa found Red Carnival and the Isle of Dread, purportedly by accident. House Cannith wasted no time in claiming the island as their own. As the secrets of the Isle were revealed, House Cannith put more and more resources toward claiming all the island might contain. In time, two heirs to the house, the young Arren and his uncle Zorlan d’Cannith, grandson and son of patriarch Starrin d’Cannith respectively, were hard at work on the island.

Arren d’Cannith was dedicated to building a golem army to sell to combatants in the Last War. It was here that autonomous warforged were first developed, using ambient energy from Black 13. Once the trick was learned, creation of warforged became possible elsewhere.

The forge on the Isle of Dread was too small to make very many warforged, and was tasked with experimenting with new kinds of warforged and generating prototypes. One problem was that every 20 warforged or so would be ‘born’ with the personality of Minnara d’Vol, who still ‘lives’ within the tomb and is bent upon revenge against dragons and elves. These warforged were destroyed at once upon discovery of this dangerous ‘flaw.’

Zorlan d’Cannith was tasked with running the Island – he made many deals with the native tribes, including the goblins and dragonborn- and also with recovering Black 13. He spent 25 years, half of his life, testing the defenses of the tomb, before finally succeeding in claiming Black 13. One factor in his success was the creation of a duplicate tomb in a secret Cannith enclave far beneath the city of Sharn. He also sent countless warforged to their destruction within the island tomb.

Black 13 was taken to the Cannith enclave in Cyre (codenammed ‘Amber’ in the notes but Tolstoff had deduced the true meaning here). The tomb was ‘dead’ while the shard was away. Two years later the Day of Mourning happened.

Sometime in the past four years, elven agents of the Undying Court recovered Black 13 from the Mournland, and put it back in the tomb. Minnara killed them, and one stalks the Isle of Dread as a ghost dedicated to killing all sentient life on the Island.

Arren and Zorlan d’Cannith both survived the Day of Mourning. Zorlan is a baron of the House and oversees Cannith East. It was he who ultimately approved the commission of the Cannith forge in Serenity.

Arren has disappeared. He is rumored to be in the Mournland, creating new warforged and building a nation of what he considers to be an autonomous, if very young, race.

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a Brief History of The Island of Dread

Tremelo has gathered a great deal of information about the Island, Black 13 and the tomb it resides in, and also House Cannith and their efforts in unlocking the secrets of all of the above.

The Isle of Dread was once a natural island on Eberron, a mere speck in the Sea of Rage. 3,000 years ago, the elven dragonmarked clan known as House Vol, bearers of what was then known as the Mark of Life, established a secret enclave on the island, where they engaged in clandestine efforts to further empower their dragonmark, which had influence over the stuff of life. Useless for healing, the Mark of Life could infuse life into lifeless things. There is speculation in the notes of Edgar Tolstoff and of the Cannith researchers that the Undying Court may have had its genesis from this Mark.

The mark could also be used to take life from a living being. This application was more or less ignored until the dragon wars began.

When these wars started, The isle of Dread was the elven outpost nearest to the dragon homeland of Argonessan, difficult to supply and susceptible to sustained dragon attcak. To avoid destruction of their secret enclave House Vol entered into a contract with a formian feywild king to hide their island in the Feywild when dragons threatened.

The notes indicate that House Vol also used a connection to the Feywild, a location called The Garden of Graves, to travel between the Isle of Dread and Vor Rukoth, a ruined city apparently dating back to the Age of Demons. It was in Vor Rukoth that House d’Vol first discovered the dragonshard that would be come to be known as Black 13.

House Vol entered into a pact with a small cadre of dragons looking to bring peace to the two races. A green dragon was wed to the heir of House Vol, and the resulting offspring- a girl named Erandis d’Vol- was raised in secret on the Island for the first few hundred years of her life. However infusing a dragonmark with the blood of dragons produces an immensely powerful mark. It was suspected that once Erandis Vol matured and could control her power, she would be able to kill any being she could concentrate on, over any distance. Once her existence was known to elves and dragons, they bonded together for the complete extermination of the House d’ Vol, starting with Erandis and her mother Minara.

Erandis was slain, but Minara, bearer of a sibbery’s Mark of Life (called mark of Death from this age forward), proved unkillable. Her body was all but destroyed yet it was still infused with life- and rage at the slaughter of her entire line.

So a tomb was constructed to hold her remains. Designed by a Eladrin named Alablaq – House d’Vol’s own feindishly brilliant engineer and the architect of the Garden of Graves – Minara’s tomb is a sentient being, like a warforged, and can alter its defenses to counter raider’s efforts.

More later….

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Ghosts, Goblins, Warforged, Madness

The crew continues to delve more deeply into the hidden Cannith forge on the Isle of Dread. They next encountered a mixed group of goblins, bugbears and hobgoblins, with members of both the native tribes and the airship crew working together to harry the crew. After a brutal struggle in the confines of a tight corridor, they crew overcame the goblioids and reached what had been the main entrance to the forge. This large octoganal room was litered with the bones of House Cannith agents who perished here when the Gurrash the Headtaker and his goblin tribes collapsed all the entrances to the forge.

The room was also haunted by the ghost of Madeline Blacktree, sister to alkric Blacktree, the mysterious House Cannith agent who the crew first encountered on the Day of Mourning and who tried to destroy the Cannith Forge at Serenity on it’s founding.

Madeline claimed to be ‘between death and life, in a state more powerful than either.’ She spoke of her (certainly dead) brother in the present tense as if she communicated with him regularly. She knew of the six of you, whom Alric claims were mentioned in the Draconic Prophecy. She was pleased with the goblin’s efforts to restart the forge. She foresees Cannith’s return and her own return to a place of prominence within the House. She knows that the goblins mean to take the forge craft back to their own nation but seems to feel that more warforged can only be good for the world. She found Jelia Foresworn’s (the sister of giorge Foresworn, the ‘mad ranger’) agenda of recovering Black 13 to be far more distasteful.

No one asked if she knew about the Day of Mourning.

Eventually she grew tired of your questions and released a trio of undead creatures upon you. Also the forge’s defenses, battered by time, were put into use, spewing ghostly flame upon you, burning the living and strengthening the dead.

It was a close thing, but the team put down the undead and disarmed the flame traps. Exporing the area they discovered Tremelo, the warforged they knew from Serenity. He had been recruited by the airship crew with a promise of replacing the morningstar at the end of his right wrist with a working hand. Instead the used him to parley with the warforged prototypes, and once the forge was secure, they chopped his morningstar off and locked him in a room with all the documents from Cannith they could find. His task is to find information about the construction of forges.

He has learned a great deal of the history of the Island. I’ll add the details of Tremelo’s information gathering in a later update.

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The Forgotten Forge

After battling ferocious and supernaturally intelligent reptiles, the crew has breached the hidden Cannith Forge located at the base of the central plateau. The crew had to battle their way through a number of goblins, hobgoblins and bugbears from the airship and also from the goblin tribes native to the island. This proves an alliance between the airship raiders and the Isle of Dread goblins, and may be why the airship was crewed with goblin mercenaries in the first place.

Once inside the forge, the crew was beset by warforged prototypes. These simpler designs lacked autonomous will and were controlled by a central kiosk that directed their actions. It is clear that the airship raiders found a way to overcome and redirect these devices, as there is no evidence that they were forced to destroy the warforged upon their own arrival.

We haven’t taken a short rest yet!! The last warforged has just fallen… and we resume.

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Next Quest?

The crew has been on the Isle of Dread for nearly a month! A great deal has happened, and many challenges overcome, and now it is time to determine the next course of action.

The crew has successfully negotiated peace between the Solvar and the Phanetons, and secured the release of three dragonborn captured by the Solvar. These actions have improved relationships between the three diverse tribes and give the crew benefits such as magic item creation via ritual, three safe havens on the island to retreat to if needed, and further intelligence about the isle itself and House Cannith’s operations there.

A few facts: The Phanetons had no formal relationship with House Cannith, and only had regular communication with one member of the Cannith ‘tribe.’ The crew can determine that this was Edgar Tolstoff, and he was most interested in the island’s time in the Feywild. The Phanetons told him about the Formian King Cachlain, and how he considers the Isle part of his own extensive Feywild kingdom.

The Solvar know about The Garden of Graves. It was a magical place created by House Vol that linked several Eberron locations via the Feywild. House Vol had made treaties with King Cachlain to lease the Isle of Dread and use the Garden of Graves as a means to move between the Isle and other Eberron locations. The Garden is easy to find when the island is in the Feywild, extremely difficult when in Eberron, and impossible to locate (at least for them) since the Day of Mourning.

The Solvar know of one other resident of the island who may know more about these matters (and who may be willing to talk): A lone gnome who lives in a lighthouse on the eastern shore of the island, north of the dragonborn villages. He’d been there through most of the Cannith years, although it is uncertain if Cannith knew of his existence. Visits there would probably mean going back to the village and getting the ship

The Solvar also know the exact location of the airship crash.

However it is evident that the surviving members of the Airship crew are in league with the island’s goblins and have probably reached the forge at the base of the plateau, while Brother Garrow and the Blood of Vol claim to have allied with the dragon Rynskald who will simply carry him and his men to the top.

Choose wisely.

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