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    Canonfire :: View topic - A Hold of the Sea Princes Campaign
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    A Hold of the Sea Princes Campaign
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    CF Admin

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    Tue Feb 21, 2023 9:05 pm  
    A Hold of the Sea Princes Campaign

    Grodog recently asked for a brief description of my current campaign. After a few comments regarding its origin, this post provides a version of the campaign introduction that I shared with my potential players.

    Context: About eighteen years ago, DwarffromNyrond posted Running the Sentinel, and later that year we memorably discussed the Olman several times, including in posts by GVDammerung (Dirty Olman Savages? Postfest?), Wolfsire (For The Origins of the Olman), CruelSummerLord (Olman Origins and Metalworking?), and chibirias (The REAL Olman homeland!).

    In that lovely ferment of our community’s discussions, I imagined, but never started, a campaign in the Hold of the Sea Princes. Having recently read about the Haitian Revolution and the miscegenation / creolization / mestizaje of various Caribbean and Latin America peoples, I planned to focus on the Hold’s enslaved peoples, particularly their revolt against the Scarlet Brotherhood in 589 CY per the Living Greyhawk Gazetteer.

    Flash forward to March 2020 when the pandemic began impacting the entire United States. I returned to the Canonfire! forums and briefly engaged with the GreyTalk Discord channel. About six months later, I started a D&D 5e campaign with three friends whom I’ve known since the early 1990s. Since then, we’ve been playing almost weekly (usually using Roll20) in an intrigue and social-interaction heavy campaign that initially used the Unearthed Arcana: Three-Pillar Experience alternate rules but now simply advances a level when we agree that the PCs’ significant accomplishments merit it.

    Without further ado, here’s a version of the campaign introduction, revised for Canonfire!, that I presented to my (potential) players back in 2020.

    Burn the Fields, Fly to the Mountains, intrigue and revolution amidst the tropical slave plantations of the Hold of the Sea Princes.

    Will the player characters aid the enslaved peoples’ struggle for freedom? Will they try to counter the Scarlet Brotherhood’s threatened usurpation? And how will they relate to Utavo the Wise’s efforts to establish a new society in the former Grand Duchy of Berghof?

    The campaign will begin about a month before midsummer of the 583rd Common Year, in the Hold of the Sea Princes, a tropical country in the southwest of the Flanaess, the easternmost part of Oerik, the central continent of Oerth, the world of Greyhawk.

    Over the past hundred years, the Sea Princes have grown wealthy and indolent: after a nine-year war to wrest their independence from the venerable Kingdom of Keoland (CY 444–53), the Princes’ seafaring mercantilism and exploration of barely charted routes beyond the Densac Gulf relied increasingly on exploiting the labor of enslaved peoples on mainland plantations, assorted island holdings, and nascent colonies on the coast of the peninsular “Hook” of the Amedio Jungle.

    Before this period of indolence, the latter-day ‘Princes had been fearless “free captains,” who formed a compact under the leadership of the captain of the Sea Prince, reputedly a Keoish nobleman who fled the kingdom after revolting against a gross injustice committed by its imperialist king, Tavish III. A decade before formally declaring their invasion of Keoland’s southern Duchy of Monmurg, the free captains harassed the kingdom’s shipping across Jeklea Bay and the western reaches of the Azure Sea. Striking from hidden anchorages and coves, they initially targeted merchantmen but soon skirmished with and won a series of victories against the Keoish royal navy—always with the Sea Prince in the vanguard.

    With Tavish III focused on his ruinous wars to the north, the dukes of Monmurg and Gradsul, among others, were unable to check the pirates, for the king repeatedly refused their requests for aid. Also, after losing the Short War to the Kingdom of Furyondy and Archclericy of Veluna in CY 438, Keoland was occupied with defending its newly reduced northern border, and Tavish III had even less cause to divert the kingdom’s military to defend its southern duchies. Perhaps his repeatedly failures emboldened the pirates, for in CY 444, the self-styled “Sea Princes” declared themselves at war with the king and quickly won several important victories. In CY 445, they “liberated” the ancient city of Port Toli, and the next year, CY 446, the ducal city of Monmurg fell beneath the flag of the crowned caravel. Shortly thereafter, the Grand Duke of Berghof foreswore his allegiance to Tavish III and joined the ‘Princes, and within a handful of years, the Hold of the Sea Princes was entirely free of the king’s control, much to his indignation and wrath.

    In CY 453, Tavish III finally tried to reclaim “the lost duchy,” but the Sea Princes had decimated the royal navy, so against his generals’ advice, the king seized on the precarious possibility of a land invasion through the trackless Hool Marshes. Early in the year, he led his army through the ‘Marshes to his doom at the ill-fated Siege of Westkeep, and with his death, the army retreated in disarray.

    Over the following decade, the “Free Hold of the Sea Princes” consolidated control over its lands and reorganized its governance, and the ‘Princes naval dominance reduced Keoish sea trade to a trickle of heavily guarded coastal trading to the east. This changed dramatically in CY 464, however, when the Keoish navy, which had secretly rebuilt in Gryrax, the capital and port city of the Principality of Ulek, threatened a massive invasion of the Hold. In the desperate Battle of Jetsom Island, the Sea Prince-led flotilla devastated Keoland’s navy but at a terrible cost: the eponymous ship sank with all hands lost.

    Chastened, the surviving ‘Princes changed course: by a narrow majority, the Council of Princes chose the Prince of Port Toli, rather than the heir of Monmurg, to lead the Hold, and he thereafter avoided antagonizing Keoland. Although piracy remained a secondary vocation for many, as a whole the ‘Princes focused on managing their plantations, pursuing mercantilism, and exploring, colonializing, and slave-raiding from the coast of the ‘Hook of the Amedio Jungle. Toli particularly encouraged the latter practice, resuscitating the city’s infamous practice of old from the centuries before its conquest by Keoland . . .

    Over a hundred years later, in CY 573, the Prince of Monmurg, Jeon II, succeeded his father (who died in a terrible accident) and became the ruling Sea Prince. Almost immediately, he began advocating to abolish slavery throughout the Hold to the predictable consternation and vociferous opposition of the other princes, their vassals, and myriad small-hold planters. Nevertheless, Prince Jeon persevered. Although his advisors urged restraint, several members of his court, particularly Lady Æltesh, Emissary of the Kingdom of Shar, who had arrived in Monmurg half a year before the Prince succeeded his father, encouraged him.

    In CY 577, the Prince finally formally proposed universal manumission to the Princes’ Council. Dismayed by the almost universal opposition, much of it loudly shouted, he withdrew his proposal in disgust. Nevertheless, Jeon persevered as to his own demesne. Having already manumitted his own slaves, he encouraged his liegemen to follow suit with offers of reparations, declared Monmurg a free city, and dared anyone who opposed his actions to settle the matter by duel. Well knowing his indomitable reputation, none took the challenge . . .

    Thus, the campaign will begin a handful of years later, and early on, the PCs will participate, one way or another, in a slave revolt. Depending on their backgrounds, they might be rebellious slaves, sympathetic allies, complicit Seolders, or oblivious outsiders who are suddenly compelled to choose a side. Contingent on how the PCs gel, they might attempt to spread the revolution, lead or betray it, or flee the chaos entirely. Along the way, they will learn about the hidden powers—beyond the sea and beneath the soil—at play, determine how to intervene (or not), make their fortune, and find their fate.
    CF Admin

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    Sun Mar 12, 2023 6:52 pm  

    This sounds like a great game baseline, Marc!

    What’s been happening during play?

    Allan.
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    Tue Mar 21, 2023 9:40 pm  

    Thanks Allan. I've been thinking about how to respond: inspired by Kirt's "It started in Saltmarsh," I've thought about starting a campaign journal, and eventually, I want to submit articles derived from my campaign to the Oerth Journal.

    In this post, I list the main sources (by date of publication) on which I've based the campaign (not including CF! forum discussions) and then briefly discuss their importance. In my next post, I'll summarize the themes that featured in the campaign's first chapter.
      • Gary Gygax, The World of Greyhawk Fantasy World Setting (1980).
      • Harold Johnson & Jeff R. Leason, C1 The Hidden Shrine of Tamoachan (1980).
      • David J. Brown & Don Turnbull, U1 The Sinister Secret of Saltmarsh (1981).
      • David J. Brown & Don Turnbull, U2 Danger at Dunwater (1982).
      • David J. Brown & Don Turnbull, U3 The Final Enemy (1983).
      • Gary Gygax, A Guide to the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting (1983).
      • Gary Gygax, Glossography to the World of Greyhawk Fantasy Setting (1983).
      • Dave J. Browne, Tom Kirby & Graeme Morris, UK 1 Beyond the Crystal Cave (1983).
      • Graeme Morris, UK2 The Sentinel (1983).
      • Graeme Morris, UK3 The Gauntlet (1984).
      • James M. Ward, Greyhawk Adventures (1988).

      • David Cook, Greyhawk Adventures Wars: Adventurer’s Book (1991).
      • Carl Sargent, From the Ashes: Atlas of the Flanaess (1992).
      • Roy Rowe, “Terror in the Tropics,” in WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk (1992), at 41–50.
      • Roy Rowe, “On the Town,” in WGR2 Treasures of Greyhawk (1992), at 51–59.
      • Gary Holian, "Sorcerous Societies of the Flanaess," Oerth Journal #3 (Mar. 20, 1996), at 4–11.
      • Anne Brown, Player’s Guide to Greyhawk (1998).
      • Roger E. Moore, The Adventure Begins (1998).
      • Sean K. Reynolds, The Scarlet Brotherhood (1999).

      • Gary Holian, Erik Mona, Sean K. Reynolds & Frederick Weining, Living Greyhawk Gazetteer (2000).
      • Gary Holian, "The Kingdom of Keoland," Living Greyhawk Journal #1 (Sept. 2000), at 8–19.
      • Samwise, "Grand Sheldomar Timeline, Part I," Canonfire! (Nov. 24, 2004), http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=506.
      • Kirt Wackford, "The Geopolitical History of Keoland," Oerth Journal #16 (Jun. 1, 2006), at 30–75.
      • Samwise, "The Rhola and the Toli: the Battle for Jeklea Bay," Canonfire! (Sept. 18, 2005), http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=731.
      • Samwise, "The Yaheetes and Tyrus: The Wars Against the Hand and the Eye in the Sheldomar," Canonfire! (Sept. 24, 2005), http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=733.
      • Samwise, "Grand Sheldomar Timeline Expansion and Revision, Part II," Canonfire! (Dec. 11, 2005), http://www.canonfire.com/cf//modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=753.
      • Samwise, "Grand Sheldomar Timeline Expansion and Revision, Part III," Canonfire! (Jan. 12, 2006), http://www.canonfire.com/cf/modules.php?name=News&file=article&sid=760.
      • James Jacobs, “Backdrop: Sasserine,” Dungeon #139 (Oct. 2006), at 48–55.

      • SirXaris, "Agnosco Adventum," Canonfire! Chronicles #1 (Jul. 2013), at 61–77 .
      • Mike Mearls & Kate Welch, Ghosts of Saltmarsh (2019)
      • Michael Bridges, "Unconquered Hold of the Sea Princes," Oerth Journal #32 (Mar. 2020), at 28–36.
    I've omitted a few of the early modules that I reviewed but which have yet to feature in the campaign (e.g., I2 Tomb of the Lizard King and I7 Baltron’s Beacon) and may have missed a few other sources, but as you can see, I started with the relevant AD&D 1e and 2e canon publications and was greatly influenced by Gary Holian and Sawise's works (along with Kirt Wackford's magisterial "Geopolitical History of Keoland"). Finally, when I returned to CF! in 2020 (in part due to the pandemic), I was thinking of using Ghosts of Saltmarsh to launch a long-imagined campaign in the Hold of the Sea Princes, and in dialogue with many of you, I reviewed numerous old modules, along with new contributions like SirXaris's "Agnosco Adventum." Finally, Mike "Mortellan" Bridges's "Unconquered Hold of the Sea Princes" Oerth Journal article catalyzed my ambition to run a campaign that would explore themes of coloniality, complicity, freedom, racism, rebellion, resistance, and slavery.

    Stay tuned for a summary of the campaign's first "chapter."
    GreySage

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    Wed Mar 22, 2023 7:00 pm  

    Looking forward to reading more, mtg. Smile

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    Sun Apr 02, 2023 6:25 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    Thanks Allan. I've been thinking about how to respond: inspired by Kirt's "It started in Saltmarsh," I've thought about starting a campaign journal, and eventually, I want to submit articles derived from my campaign to the Oerth Journal.


    That sounds great, I'm looking forward to reading more!

    mtg wrote:
    In this post, I list the main sources (by date of publication) on which I've based the campaign (not including CF! forum discussions) and then briefly discuss their importance. In my next post, I'll summarize the themes that featured in the campaign's first chapter.

    [snip]

    Stay tuned for a summary of the campaign's first "chapter."


    That was a voluminous reply, thanks! :D I've been noodling around in the Sheldomar a bit in response to some Venca-inspired musings I've been chasing down, and I'm always interested in hearing what you're up to!

    Allan.
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    Thu Apr 06, 2023 11:10 am  

    I'll be putting out a couple of articles on this area in the first volume of the new zine, including a writeup of Port Toli, its history and layout, with a map. Also an article on a god favored by the dark faction of pirates in the region, that is particularly important to Toli.

    Still working on the Monmurg material....20 years after I started it.
    CF Admin

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    Thu Apr 06, 2023 7:04 pm  

    PSmedger wrote:
    I'll be putting out a couple of articles on this area in the first volume of the new zine, including a writeup of Port Toli, its history and layout, with a map. Also an article on a god favored by the dark faction of pirates in the region, that is particularly important to Toli.

    Still working on the Monmurg material....20 years after I started it.

    Great to hear about Port Toli! I've so far avoided taking my PCs there although I've developed the Prince's family and imagined a few ancient secrets for the place. I look forward to reading (and incorporating) what you've developed.

    Ditto for Monmurg, especially the latest version of your map! Hoping to incorporate it, I've kept the city somewhat vague—focusing on particular locales (e.g., the Prince's palace; docks; temple of Wee Jas and catacombs; sewers; combined temple of Xerbo and Osprem; several inns, taverns, townhouses, and warehouses; and the Siren's Pearl (apparently an upscale cabaret and bordello, managed by a mysterious grey olve whose stage name is Celene).
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    Tue Apr 18, 2023 3:19 pm  

    mtg wrote:
    Stay tuned for a summary of the campaign's first "chapter."

    In my “campaign log,” the first chapter or “Act I” consists of seventeen “scenes” (i.e., sessions). This post presents the first of them, edited for Canonfire!

    N.B. I've not prior posted any kind of "campaign log" and feel uncertain about it, so please let me know if you want to read such posts, and if so, please opine if I should a start a new thread in the Campaign Journals part of the CF! Forums.

    The campaign begins with the PCs having recently boarded the Saraetós, a seventy feet long sloop,* captained by Taléa Elefthería of Monmurg. For their own reasons, each of them has sought passage to Monmurg—Cunelo Hind, the wastrel second son of a venerable noble family whose holding is in the northeastern reach of Fairwind Island; Andren Tor, the nephew of the Magistar (guild leader) of the Mercánte Tor, one of the Hold’s few merchant–banks, who fled the Hold five years ago in protest of the slavery that built his family’s wealth; and Aefir Dwin’mitore of the Dreadwood, a wood elf who recently completed a brief (ten-year) sojourn in the Kingdom of Celene and now seeks to further the elven cause by venturing into the Hold of the Sea Princes.

    (Besides Captain Taléa, and her two officers, the other significant NPCs at the campaign’s start include Pangalo Quin, a wizard of Port Toli who rescued Cunelo from the dregs of Port Toli and offered him a partnership, wherein the wizard pays for the lordling’s dissolution in return for using the seal of House Hind for various dubious ventures; and Bryl, Pangalo’s henchman, who leads a group of brigands and assorted ne’er-do-wells.)

    Play begins after dinner in the captain’s cabin, just after “Lord” Cunelo proposes to extend the evening with a friendly game of skill and chance (and further libations). Aefir accepts, Pangalo stakes Cunelo, and Andren disclaims interest but agrees to watch. After Cunelo’s insistence and Aefir’s suggestion, Andren stakes Taléa for this friendly game. As they interact, Aefir and Cunelo remember that they met about a decade ago on a ship originally out of Monmurg, which had stopped in Saltmarsh, before reaching its destination in Gradsul. The captain wins early, but Aefir wins ultimately. (Cunelo loses consistently but drinks more than his share of fortified wine—akin to a tawny port or madeira.)

    Once the game ends, Cunelo and Pangalo retire to the officer’s cabin that they share, and Aefir and Andren go to the ship’s common hold. While the elf enters his trance, Andren hears a noise emanating from the forward hold. Upon investigation, he is waylaid and bludgeoned unconscious . . .

    Late the next day, Cunelo wakes alone and hung over in the officer’s cabin. After relieving himself and dressing, he seeks breakfast and accosts the sailing master (and bosun), Adêne, a young priestess of Osprem. She “apologizes” that she cannot serve him personally and directs him to the galley. Venturing below decks, Cunelo hears a thump behind a closed door. Unknown to him, the cause is Andren, who wakes to find himself bound and facing the elf, Aefir, who was evidently similarly waylaid. Andren tries his strength at the ropes and frees his left hand. Aefir contorts himself and slips his gag. Also, in this cramped part of the forward hold, they see three other prisoners, unconscious and bound—a half-orc woman, halfling man, and older human man

    As Andren and Aefir begin to free themselves, Cunelo complains loudly about his need for breakfast, and a nearby bosun’s mate, Drys, responds. Cunelo mentions having heard something beyond the door, and commands Drys to open it, which he does. They enter, see the sorry sight, and help Andren and Aefir free themselves from their bonds. Aefir then hears footsteps coming, so they close the door and lay in wait for what comes.

    Not noticing the unlocked door, the first of three brigands opens it and steps into the room, where Aefir quickly pulls him in and restrains him. Andren does the same for the second man, and they hear another voice shout in surprise and consternation. Cunelo quells the brigands’ resistance by cowing them with his fey presence, and Drys quickly binds their hands. In the ensuing interrogation: the Companions learn that Pangalo’s henchman, Bryl, directed them to take the three who are unconscious and that they took Aefir and Andren on their own initiative.

    Once the Companions, Drys, and their prisoners make their way abovedeck, they find Captain Taléa, her quartermaster and master-at-arms, Amoxtli, and her crew confronting Pangalo, Bryl, and their men. Cunelo demands to know what justifies the mistreatment of Andren and Aefir and complains that he still has yet to breakfast! Taléa accuses Pangalo of disorder on her ship, and he replies, smoothly at first, that the three were taken under warrants—signed and sealed by “Lord Cunelo.” When Cunelo asks about Andren and Aefir, he notices Pangalo’s flush of anger and sharp glance at Bryl, who quickly explains, in consternation, that two of his men took Aefir because of his winnings.

    With Cunelo’s intervention, Taléa orders her crew to stand-down, and Bryl does the same. Over breakfast, Andren expresses suspicion about the warrants and asks to see them. Later, Cunelo goes to Pangalo to ask about the situation. After dismissing Bryl and another man, Pangalo explains that the three are criminals who must be brought to justice and provides Cunelo with a scroll case under the Hind seal. To Cunelo the warrants all appear in order: they charge the half-orc with robbery, halfling cook with poison, and human with piracy against citizens of Monmurg; further, the warrants allege that the three criminals have fled to Gradsul. Satisfied, Cunelo returns to Andren and Aefir and affirms the warrants’ validity. They then go speak with Taléa, who admits them after a brief wait outside of her cabin.

    Cunelo explains that the warrants appear in order but that he understands that the two men caused disorder on the Saraetós. He therefore suggests they should be lashed. Andren intervenes, however, saying that mercy should be offered to the two men physically responsible because they were only acting under another’s orders. At first surprised by this claim, Cunelo ultimately agrees that their leader, Bryl, should be held responsible and suggests that Bryl should surrender the three captives to Taléa. She restates his holdings, saying that if they are Lord Cunelo’s rule, then she will enforce it—giving Bryl the lashes that would have gone to his men and taking custody of the three alleged criminals. Although Cunelo attempts to disclaim his authority and merely to offer Taléa counsel, when the scene ends, his protestation sounds faint.

    * According to Margaret Foy, High Seas: Ships, Fore and Aft, in Fantasy Gaming, in DRAGON MAGAZINE 116:10–27 (1986), at 18, the Saraetós is a “small sloop,” seventy feet long with sixty feet of deck, sixteen feet beam, ten feet draft, and eight feet board; with a gaff-rigged main sail, a square topsail, and three jibs off the bowsprit; weighing sixty-five tons with a full deck, partial aft deck, pump, and pinnace (ship’s boat); and armed with a two ballista on its foredeck. Per Foy, it normally would have one commanding officer, seven petty officers, seven mates, and ten crew members, and with such a complement, it could accommodate an additional twenty-five people for a total capacity of fifty people.
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    Mon Jun 12, 2023 2:33 pm  

    Here's an NPC from my Hold of the Sea Princes campaign.

    As noted above, the campaign began just before the Scarlet Brotherhood's mass assassination (attempt) of CY 583/4* and gave the player characters the opportunity to intervene, which they successfully did—limiting the casualties from 27 of 30 (per canon sources) to eight of the Hold's leading nobles.

    * Roger E. Moore first dated the Brotherhood takeover to CY 583. Oerth Journal 4 (Aug. 1996), at 18. David "Zeb" Cook's discussion in Greyhawk Adventures Wars Adventurer's Book (1991), at 22–23, can be interpreted to accord, and Anne Brown's Player's Guide to Greyhawk (Jun. 1998), at 5, follows suit. Moore later dated the takeover to CY 584, The Adventure Begins, at 23. The Living Greyhawk Gazetteer doesn't note the year. Instead, it follows Cook's treatment: the Hold first subverts the Lordship of the Isles. Then it orchestrates the mass assassination in the Hold of the Sea Princes. See id. at 72, 98. Given all the above, I thought about making the takeover occur in the final month (Sunsebb) of 583 or first week (Needfest of 584). Ultimately, however, I started the campaign in the middle of 583 and made the mass assassination attempt occur in Richfest (i.e., the midsummer festival).

    Lady Æltesh (LE female human (Suel) Monk 11), Her Scarlet Ladyship, is the Emissary of the Kingdom of Shar, the Land of Purity, to the Prince of Monmurg. As the Scarlet Brotherhood’s chief agent in Monmurg, and one of its principal agents tasked with subverting the Hold of the Sea Princes, she gained the confidence of young Prince Jeon II in CY 577, four years after her arrival at Monmurg, when she encouraged his belief in the necessity of abolishing slavery throughout the Hold.

    Appearance: Standing 5’5” and weighing 125 lbs., Lady Æltesh has pale blue eyes and the typical fair Suel complexion. Although some disregard her for being short and thin, she is incredibly fit and looks substantially younger than her forty-two years. Only the silvering of her platinum blonde hair suggests otherwise. Æltesh typically dresses in silken scarlet robes, cut and tailored to allow her maximum mobility should conflict arise.

    Occupation & History: Born on 541 Fireseek 20, in the hidden city of Hesuel Ilshar, Æltesh was groomed from birth to serve the Scarlet Brotherhood as a monk and master spy. Born through the Brotherhood’s breeding program, she was not raised in a family but instead according to the Brotherhood’s strict regimen. She excelled at every activity, passed every test, and thus was selected to train as a monk. Though the challenges increased, Æltesh overcame any setback with her absolute belief in the rightness of the Brotherhood’s teachings. (Before Æltesh was assigned to Monmurg, she succeeded in multiple missions in the Lordship of the Isles, Idee, and Onnwal, and she won the prize Monmurg assignment in unarmed combat against many other contestants, including the other seven Brotherhood agents who won the right to lead the Brotherhood subversion of the Sea Princes.)

    Abilities & Talents: A master monk, Æltesh has extraordinary—ki-related—martial and mental abilities. Additionally, she is extraordinarily perceptive, insightful, and deceptive, and a master at dragon chess and related games of skill.

    Mannerisms: Having spent the past ten years in her role as Emissary of Shar, Æltesh has lost some of the mannerisms that she originally developed for a role that has grown on her. Within the Brotherhood and her household, she is curt, speaks directly, and expects to be obeyed without question. When acting in public, however, Æltesh accentuates her accent and allows herself to speak less directly. She avoids public quarrels but enjoys saying, “But what if that presumption is wrong?” before vivisecting an argument that counters her aims (and the Brotherhood’s interests).

    Interactions: Within the Brotherhood and her household, Æltesh suffers no fools, and she enjoys when her underlings treat her deferentially out of fear-based respect. When acting in public, Æltesh assumes command over all who are not obviously superior to her (e.g., the Prince of Monmurg). With nominal equals, she is serious but not haughty, and over the years, she has seemingly “opened up” and “relaxed” a bit. She genuinely enjoys playing dragon chess and similar games of skill and has developed a taste for fine cuisine, Seolder sangria, and Keoish brandy—though never to excess.

    Useful Knowledge: Æltesh knows the names of the Brotherhood’s other lead agents throughout the Hold of the Sea Princes (i.e., Berghof; Hokar; Port Toli; Westkeep; and Fairwind, Flotsom, and Jetsom Isles) and how to contact them. She knows several of them personally, and she knows the names and appearances of several of their trusted lieutenants and messengers. Moreover, she knows the Brotherhood’s plot to subvert and seize control of the Hold by assassinating many of its princelings on Midsummer Night 583 CY.

    Ideal: Power. “By orchestrating the subversion and conquest of the Sea Princes, I will advance within the Brotherhood. As I earn the favor of the Father of Obedience, I will be given greater responsibilities, which shall enable me to prove myself further.”

    Bond: The Scarlet Brotherhood. Æltesh zealously follows the teachings of Kevelli Mauk: the Suloise people are the greatest race of humanity, and before it began its slide into decadence, the Suel Imperium was the greatest empire on Oerth. By playing her role in the Brotherhood plot against the Sea Princes, Æltesh contributes significantly to the centurial effort to restore the Suloise people to their rightful place above the lesser races of the Flanaess.

    Flaw or Secret: “Those who lack prowess are unworthy of respect. Those without Suel blood will always be lesser. Those of mixed Suel blood are mongrels unworthy of high station within the Brotherhood.” Cf. Useful Knowledge, supra.
    GreySage

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    Mon Jun 12, 2023 7:14 pm  

    Lady AEltesh seems very similar to the mental image I had of Sister Aspinet (Agnosco Adventum), though I didn't develop such a detailed back-story for her.

    I imagine such is a very common attitude amongst the monks of the SB - especially the more accomplished ones. Smile

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    Sat Dec 23, 2023 5:20 pm  

    SirXaris, thanks for the comment and comparison to your Sister Aspinet from your Agnosco Adventum. After your comment, I reviewed her again and see the resemblance.

    IMC, the PCs confronted Lady Æltesh during Prince Jeon II's Midsummer Night Masquerade and eventually forced her to flee, which delayed the attempted massacre of the thirty Seolder nobles by a night and blunted its effectiveness. Later, they tracked her down to a villa / plantation house on Flotsom Island, where they avenged themselves against her.

    Apropos of Docjaques's "Baklunish Magic", but not ready to comment on that thread yet, here's my elaboration of an NPC presented in Ghosts of Saltmarsh. N.B. My campaign is set in mid-583 CY.

    Khaled-el-Ekh “Keledek” the Unspoken (N male human Wizard 11) is a forty-six-year-old Ketite expatriate, wizard, and astronomer. He is a close associate of Gellan Primewater and thereby implicated in the smuggling for which Saltmarsh is renowned. GoS 14

    Appearance. Standing slim and almost seven feet tall, Khaled-el-Ek has an ageless and commanding presence. His skin is golden-brown, head is shaved bald, and eyes are gray-green. He prefers to dress in immaculate white linen robes and almost always wears a sumptuous scarlet silk turban.

    Personality. Although he is a driven and powerful wizard, Khaled-el-Ek upholds the four pillars of Baklunish culture—honor, family, generosity, and piety. He is unfailingly polite to guests, for whom he typically personally prepares Ketite coffee flavored with sugar and cardamom. Although occasionally subjected to racism, Khaled-el-Ek responds with equanimity—always focusing on the knowledge that he seeks. He may even forgive—but never forgets—people who slight him.

    Background. Born on 531 Wealsun 28 to a merchant family in Lopolla, Khaled-el-Ek demonstrated a talent for magic at pubescence, so his family apprenticed him to a renowned wizard, Rary Sammal. Khaled was fascinated by astronomy and the ancient war between the Baklunish Empire and Suloise Imperium, and he worked tirelessly to learn magic. After earning journeyman status, he traveled east to Thornward and thence southeast into the Sheldomar Valley. As months became years, “Keledek” found himself drawn ever farther south. He lived in Niole Dra and Gradsul for a time, and in Gradsul, he made the acquaintance of the then-wizard (now mage) Drawmij. After learning several spells from the elder wizard, Khaled-el-Ek relocated to Saltmarsh where he built the tower in which he now resides. Why he chose to live in this relative backwater is unknown, but he has lived here for almost a decade. He interacts with few of the townsfolk, who generally fear him and rumor that to say his name enables him to sense what they say and do. However, he typically casts disguise person to appear as an apprentice out doing errands for his master. Currently, he has no apprentice, but he has trained a few wizards during his years in Saltmarsh. (Upon becoming journeymen, they typically depart for Gradsul or Monmurg.)

    Ideal. Knowledge is power, and to seek knowledge is a noble pursuit.

    Secret. Before he came to Saltmarsh, Khaled-el-Ek had corresponded with Gellan Primewater regarding obtaining various exotic goods of use in his arcane research. Upon his arrival, the men became partners: Khaled-el-Ek cast the occasional spell for Gellan, who in turn paid the wizard a percentage of the profits. About two years ago, the men apparently had a falling out, but this was actually a deception that they devised to enable them to collaborate all the more effectively in the smuggling trade. Also, Khaled-el-Ek seeks to learn more about Baltron’s Beacon, House Malhel, Valadis, and the Jacinth of Inestimable Beauty.
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