by Rodford E. Smith 730 Cline St. Frankfort, KY 40601-1034
[WIP Note: This will eventually be a stand-alone module concentrating on Ostland and its struggle for freedom. Currently, there are only some general notes on one adventure.]
This is set up to begin as an excursion for Gifted Saga Characters, to be run as part
of the scenario "The Date," but it could also be run as an independent campaign. Ostland is the name of a small, backwards kingdom to the north and west of the city of Praha, where the Player Characters enter this world. (See "The Invaders" below.) Susan Walters, who is a friend of one of the Characters, is worried about her mother,
Louise. An ex-boyfriend has threatened Louise's current boyfriend, Edgar McCarthy,
and she seems very worried about his safety. As it turns out, Louise has more information than what she has told her daughter. If questioned, she will break down and cry and
then reveal that her ex has hired a professional leg-breaker, who is supposed to be
Gifted. Louise has gone to the police, but they say that there's nothing they can do without hard evidence, except promise to send patrol cars by her house on a regular basis.
Edgar is supposed to pick Louise up for a date this Friday night at eight.
The heavy is Fat. He will not fight the PCs unless he has to; he's not getting paid for
that. If they stop him from hurting his target, he will try to leave. If they try to stop him, or attack, he will fight. If the fight is going against them, Tiger will arrive to help. Otherwise, he arrives after the fracas.
Once the fight is over - win, loose or draw - Tiger will be caught in a 'porting spell. Because of the law of contagion, so will the rest of the PCs. This leaves them crowded into a large pentagram in a dank room with stone walls, a wooden beam ceiling and a dirt
floor. Leaving the pentagram is easy; they just have to walk out. The room is the basement of an old stone house. A section of the floor has been dug up to reveal some sort of alter, and the pentagram is drawn on this. There is a lit candle on a stand at each point of the pentagram. The room is filled with other magical paraphernalia, including a
Hand of Glory burning on a table. Two men in wizards' robes are standing in the room, having obviously just finished casting a spell. They will greet the appearance of the Characters with joy, and begin capering around the room for a few minutes, shouting in a strange language. Once their little celebration is over one of them will approach the pe
ntagram and tell those contained within something in a firm voice. Both magicians will be amazed that the characters can't understand them, and will begin leafing through books and scrolls for a translation spell. Once they find and cast it, or one of the PCs does something equivalent, the man will repeat his words. They are "You will go immediate
ly and kill the Wizard Magnus Slovensko." At any time, if any of the PCs leave the pentagram the wizards will look at each other in horror, then run screaming.
It turns out that these two inept wizards believe that they have summoned a group of
demons (they were only expecting one). The old stone house was originally a shrine for
a minor deity. Although that deity is no longer in service, this is still a place of power and
a gateway to other worlds. It also has the interesting property that magic performed inside is very hard to detect outside.
If the wizards are chased out their flight will draw a contingent of the city guard within
minutes. If they begin talking with the characters it will be nearly an hour before Slovensko can locate the source of the disturbance and dispatch men to see what is going on. Gifted are inherently magical and unless some means is taken to disguise their presence they will be spotted by anything which detects magic.
If the PCs are still there when the guard arrives, everyone in the house will be asked
to the palace. If the Characters ask why, they will be told that Magnus Slovensko wishes
to speak to them. The wizards, if still present, will greet this news as if it is a death sentence.
If the Characters resist the guards, they will most likely escape without much trouble.
They will then be tracked down by a group of crack Praha soldiers, professionals who
have a military magician in their ranks as well as magical equipment. The Characters won't be able to beat or escape these men easily.
Assuming they meet Magnus Slovensko, he will look them over for a few moments,
then his eyes will widen and he will order everyone but the Characters and the two wizards out of the room. Ignoring the wizards, he will address the Characters directly. "I greet you, Great Ones. I apologize for not recognizing you sooner. It has been a long time since any of your kind have visited here."
The Wizard of Praha
Praha is an ancient city-state to the south and east of Ostland, on the banks of the
river Vlatava. The Wizard, Magnus Slovensko, is it's ruler, and has been for nearly two
hundred years. Although a powerful magic user in his own right, the main basis of his power is the Black Sword of Destruction, which he recovered over a century earlier. He
had also learned where the Silver Clay of Change was hidden, but the party he sent after it was ambushed and the Clay lost. He has no idea where the Golden Seed of Creation is hidden. The Wizard is desperately seeking the other two artifacts, feeling that they are needed to keep invaders from his city. This is true, but he also has other goals.
Slovensko is not a bad guy, and in fact is a good ruler. The people of Praha, and
much of the surrounding land, have lived in a minor golden age the past century. This has made it a target for the ambitions of other rulers. While he is not eager to help strangers, especially those who arrive under suspicious circumstances, he could be convinced to do so, especially if they can offer something in return.
It should be pointed out that while Slovensko is skilled and knowledgeable, his approach to magic is a ritualistic one rather than an experimental one. He tends to feel that things operate in a certain way because it is elegant and proper for them to do so.
This mindset, that beautiful philosophy is more important than fact, is common among
wizards and most clerics of this world. Someone trained in the scientific method could work rings around any of these master magicians when it comes to anything creative.
For known and practiced spells, though, Slovensko is quite formidable, even without the Sword.
These are led by Kitomar of Novosibirsk. He has a long record of conquests, but until
two years ago his campaigns were slow, methodical and not always successful. Recently, however, his battles have been won with ridiculous ease. This is due to his importation of crack Xinjiang mercenaries and an increased use of magicians in his campaigns. There are rumors that he has made a pact with a demon, but such rumors are common about peop
le the rumor-monger doesn't like.
Kitomar plans to consolidate his new acquisitions before making any further expansions. Once these lands, especially Ostland, are providing resources rather than consuming them, he will turn his attention on Praha, taking it from both north and south in a pincers move. He has already conquered Ostland, killing all of the ruling family and occu
pying the few cities. He plans to use it as a base in his efforts. However, the natives are giving him far more trouble than he counted on.
While the basic magic rules are used for this module, some details are listed below to
add flavor. Remember, this is a world where magic has always worked, and the culture
has been shaped by the fact. Note that the gods and demons mentioned below are temporal creatures, even those that come from another plane of reality. Few claim to have created the universe or even the world, and most of those are simply mad.
Thought Magic (Psionics): As defined in the rules. Practitioners are called mentalists.
Natural Magic: Use of personal abilities to control natural forces. Endurance cost is
1/3 normal; spells take twice as long. No components may be used, but rituals are allowed. Practitioners are called shamans.
Spell Magic: Standard magic as defined in the rules. Practitioners are called wizards.
Power is granted as part of a deal made with a god or demon. Payment for this power
may simply be recruiting worshipers, in which case the practitioner is known as a cleric.
If the payment is in the form of precious non-living materials or items the practitioner is a sorcerer. Those who sacrifice living plants or lower animals are witches. Magicians who sacrifice humans are necromancers.
The exact form of the power varies with each bargain. The magician may simply be
given Points to use as he or she sees fit, or may be limited to specific effects, such as individual spells.
Most people use combinations of different systems. For instance, nearly all bargain magic users also have a basic knowledge of at least one other type, usually natural magic. Most shamans are able to ask various nature spirits they know for a temporary boost in special situations, and wizards often bargain with demons to gain power.
Witches tend to be good with natural magic. And so forth.
"Magnus" is a title used for a powerful magician of the wizard or shaman type.
The PCs are travelling in the mountains, looking for clues to the hiding places of the Three Artifacts of Creation. They come across a modest but well-kept hut in a pleasant mountain valley. There they meet the witch Allamada and her apprentice Thorla. The
witch advises against searching for the items, but if the players convince her that these
are needed to repel the invaders, Allamada will tell them that the artifacts are kept separately, and provide extra information as to where two of them (the Sword and the Seed) might be. The first hiding place the PCs find will be long looted. As they approach the second,
a mountain cave, they will find a pack and staff belonging to the wizard Harrien, placed
at the entrance and protected by an alarm spell. Inside the cave, they find Harrien in the midst of a transformation brought on by possession. He found what he thought was the
box containing the Seed, but instead it held a demon which had been left to guard the artifact. Those who stole the Seed managed to trap the demon in the box.
Whatever becomes of Harrien, in his notes are clues which will lead the players to the third artifact, the Clay.
This material is Copyright © 1993 Rodford Edmiston Smith