Author Archives: Dennis

The Conjunction of Planes: Table of Contents

Campaign

Verdant Kingdoms

Lyria

Kingsport

Rules

Venoxxis

Previously, the Heroes of the White Eye had penetrated deep into Dr. Arkenward’s inner sanctum in search of the Tablet of the Elemental Eye that he had hidden there. Having uncovered a prison of strange creatures, as well as a personal study which held two strange, tentacle-faced creatures and a loathsome, ape-like creature named Grok. It came to blows with the tentacle-faced creature, but the heroes defeated them, and found that they had found Arkenward’s tablet. Before defeat, one of them hissed that “the Upright Man would not be opposed.”

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

The heroes had managed to make their way past the prisoners and into Arkenward’s study where they defeated the tentacle-faced creatures. And while they retrieved the third tablet, they had not found a way out yet. James was keeping an eye on the prisoners through the bars of the portcullis; in particular on a spider creature that Grok had told them was called Venoxxis. He was concerned that the spider would eventually turn its sights on the young girl which was locked up with the rest of the prisoners.

Venoxxis, in turn, had moved out of sight in order to prevent James from taking shots at it. This had given the heroes the opportunity to inspect the room with the prisoners better and they noticed that near each of the cages or shackles were parchments with collected notes. This gave Luca the idea to use a conjured, spectral hand to retrieve the notes which hung on the wall above the young girl. Venoxxis could not prevent Luca from retrieving the notes without revealing itself to James’ barrage of arrows, but it did not mind putting the spiderlings it had birthed from the body of the man it had mounted in danger. It became a quick trigger game of Luca moving the hand towards the notes while James shot the spiderlings before they could attack the hand. In the end, the spiderlings lay dead while Luca had the notes in hand.

In the meantime, Emrys had turned to Grok, the unusual simian with the slobbering maw filled with teeth and the big bat ears. Emrys had come to the conclusion that Grok was not any creature hailing from anywhere in the Verdant Kingdoms, and speculated that it was likely that Grok did not even hail from anywhere on the material plane. There was just something disturbing and unnatural about him. It was around that time that Venoxxis showed up at the bottom of the corridor separated by the two portcullises.

A fight ensued, which lead down the corridor and into the room with the fluttering imps, further into the wine storage room and back to the throne room. It was clear that Venoxxis had no place to hide but was still dangerous and the heroes decided to pursue until they had defeated the spider. The killing blow was landed by Emrys, who had been hovering in the throne room in an attempt to get a good angle at the spider, which was hanging upside down from the balcony. Emrys had release Toruviel, who was hovering dangerously into the air. Once the blade struck, it repeatedly stabbed the spider in its hundreds of eyes until the could no longer cling to the balcony and fell to the ground, dead. After a moment, the body began to bubble and dissipate, just like it did with Xamael the Defiler.

When the heroes finally came back to Arkenward’s sanctum, Emrys had brought a bottle of wine with him, which he immediately had to hand off to Quentin in order to get him to back off of Grok. Quentin had been advancing on Grok in a threatening manner and the creature was starting to get agitated.

Once Grok had calmed down they asked it about the girl, and Grok explained that Arkenward would sometimes come to interrogate the girl. He would deprive all of the prisoners of food and it meant that the prisoners ended up feeding on one of the skaven prisoners. Luca decided to read Arkenward’s notes on the girl;

Through my connections at court I was asked to travel to Wulferton to investigate a strange occurrence surrounding Maya, this young girl. She had been displaying odd behaviour that required some attention. Who she is and what family she belongs to is unimportant for now. What is important is that I quickly came to the conclusion that this girl has been possessed by a demonic spirit.

The girl is violent, untameable and occasionally resorts to speaking in the abyssal tongue while she attacks her family and staff. I have come to make contact with what I believe to be the spirit which is mounting her. It doesn’t want to relinquish its name, but I believe that through deprivation I will be able to coerce it into revealing more, perhaps even its identity.

Maya’s family has a long history of occult sensitivity and I have a working hypothesis that this, in combination with a young mind, makes her especially susceptible to being a conduit for demonic possession. I also believe that this might be cross-planar – cross seal! As it would be most unlikely for the demon to keep itself hidden from my magic as well as translocation to my sanctum.

The one thing that is antithetical to that hypothesis is that I have never come across a reference of this kind of cross-planar possession being possible. Either this was rare (or unnecessary) during the Age of Fear, leaving the scholars to not mention it, or it is a new weapon the demonic forces have brought to bear.

James wondered aloud why Arkenward had attempted an exorcism with a priest before heading down to the wine room to refill his bag of thievery with as many wine bottles as he could carry. He could not find any food, which tracked with what Grok had said about Arkenward depriving the prisoners of any food.

Further conversations with Grok revealed that the tentacle-faced creatures had come together with several men, all of which ended up dead. Emrys observed Grok for a long time and concluded that while he was stupid, there was an animal cunning in him that made Emrys uneasy. There was enough of a predator in this creature that it would be dangerous for the heroes to let their guard down.

It was at that time that Luca had been experimenting with Atilesceon’s robes to find out whether or not Arkenward’s location was extra-planar. He knew that the robes would allow for him to shift into the astral sea, but that had never worked because of the Seal of Divine Animus. He found that it still did not work, and so his conclusion was that wherever this sanctum was, was somewhere in the ethereal mist.

Investigating their surroundings further, Luca noticed that the book that one of the tentacle-faced creatures was perusing was a book on translocation magic and pocket dimensions. He came up with another idea; he could try to use his magic to banish someone. If Luca chose a subject that was originally from the material plane he would be able to ascertain where they were by attempting to banish them. If they were on the material plane, the banishment could be made permanent, given enough time. If they were not, then the banishment would always be temporary.

Quentin briefly tried to convince Luca to banish Grok since he saw the creatures presence as an evil affliction, but Luca refused. Instead, Luca asked for the others to go through the books to find spells or rituals while he took the time to rest. He would need to gather strength in order to perform the magic he was intending. James did not feel like he could be of service, while Quentin tried but did not get very far. Luckily Emrys was more successful and found a powerful conjuration spell which allowed the caster to conjure up an enormous extradimensional dwelling, which could be a clue to their whereabouts.

The Third Tablet of the Elemental Eye

Previously, the Heroes of the White Eye had made their way through the sanctum of Dr. Arkenward, looking for a way to retrieve one of the Tablets of the Elemental Eye they knew to have hidden there, they quickly found that sanctum was littered with guardians and traps. They also found the bodies of several rogues that preceded them. It all eventually lead them to a strange room which had several dangerous looking creatures chained up in it.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

As the companions gathered at the entrance to the next room in Arkenward’s strange sanctum which seemed to hold a bizarre collection of prisoners, mostly ghastly or savage. Among them were some of the creatures they had known to have been sighted throughout the Verdant Kingdoms over the last couple of months, including the loathsome skaven which the heroes had encountered several times.

Another creature which was seemingly roaming free, was a strange spider which had mounted the body of a man, which had had pumped full of its brood, which were bursting forth from large, bulbous blisters along its torso. It was a creature the heroes were keen to avoid running into.

Emrys knew that beyond the room with the prisoners lay a room which looked like a study. In that room was a strange humanoid with a bulbous head and tentacles where its face should be. It was scanning some of the books in the library. The heroes felt like they should get inside that room without confronting the spider and its offspring.

It was decided that while Emrys and James were still invisible, they would return to the corridor they had found in the previous room. Emrys had found that the corridor connected the previous room with the imps in it to the study directly, but it was barred by two portcullises on each end of the corridor. Emrys would once again use his ability of polymorphy and turn both himself and James into mice so that they could sneak through the bars of the portcullis and make it into the room beyond. In the meantime, Luca would once again use his power of translocation to portal himself and Quentin into the room beyond.

Before doing so, Luca turned to Blackstar and negotiated for more magical power. Predictably, the spirit in the staff barked at Luca to feed it another soul but Luca maintained control of the staff. As the magical power transferred from the staff into Luca it was converted from a dark into a radiant one, and Aurion’s words of warning returned to him; Luca’s master would only allow him to use the staff as long as he could maintain control of it.

The plan worked well and the heroes found themselves inside the room beyond the room with the prisoners. It appeared that there was not one, but two strange humanoids with the bulbous heads and tentacled faces. Each was levitating in front of a bookshelf, perusing the books. They had not noticed the heroes stealthily gaining entrance to the room and for long moments the heroes did not know how to proceed. Until…

Suddenly, a telepathic voice called out. Emrys and Luca rejected the intrusion, but Quentin and James couldn’t manage. The voice spoke out in a crude way, calling itself Grok and telling the heroes that it was captured and forced to carry things for the two humanoids.

Eventually, the heroes decided to engage the two humanoids. Quentin stepped forward and challenged the nearest humanoid. It turned around and without hesitation engaged the heroes. The second did as well, and it was at that moment that Grok made itself known; it sprang from its hiding place and darted to the other side of the room, away from the combat that was about to take place. It looked like a four foot creature with the body of a simian and the ears of a bat, with large claws and a slobbering mouth filled with sharp teeth.

The first thing the nearest levitating humanoid did was attempt to overwhelm the heroes with a psychic wave of excruciating pain. Emrys was so stunned by the blast that he was unable to gather his senses. The rest shrugged it off and tried to engage the two humanoids.

Ultimately the fight was short and the heroes were victorious. When the first of the humanoids went down it swore that the “Upright Man would not be opposed,” which caught the attention of some of the heroes who had heard that name before.

While James used the portcullis, which still separated the room the heroes were in from the room with the prisoners, to take an easy aim at the spider, the spider retaliated by spreading webbing which made it more difficult to be taken aim at. Eventually it moved out of line of sight. James continued to keep an eye on the room because he had noticed that one of the prisoners was a young girl that he instinctively wanted to protect from the spider.

Luca and Quentin spent some time looking for a mechanism which would allow them to open the portcullis leading back into the corridor, which they found, cleverly hidden in an alcove in the wall covered with a cloth which was dyed to look like stone. They did so while Grok had found the courage to emerge from his hiding place.

Eventually, the heroes found a large metal-rimmed, stone tablet with primordial script on it. They had found what they had come for, but how were they going to return back to Kingsport with it?

A Ghastly Menagerie

Previously, the heroes managed to find their way into Dr. Arkenward’s sanctum and were confronted by a guardian which reminded them of the statue guarding the portal at the top of Atilesceon’s tower. They managed to pass by the guardian, but not without picking up some bumps and bruises, only to find a large throne room, as well as a storage room filled with large barrels of wine.

Tenth Day, Third Ride, Autumn Red, 1262

(Silvermoon is waxing. Bloodmoon is waxing. Darkmoon is waxing.)

The heroes had made their way through the throne room, finding little of interest, and up to the balcony looking down upon it. At the back of the balcony they found a doorway leading to a new room which held a dozens of enormous barrels, each of them seemingly filled with wine. Mallets, spigots and bottles could be found here and there, all meant to facilitate the tapping of kegs and barrels, and the sampling and bottling of wines.

In the south-western corner of the room was another doorway, and close to it, some people had set up a makeshift camp around the chopped up remains of a small barrel, which served as fuel for a rather impressive bonfire. Two bedrolls and a few personal items could be found there. The southern end of the room had a high wall, which opened up to the next room beyond.

While Luca and Quentin inspected the quality of the wine that was stored in the room, deeming it “average”, James scouted ahead to the next room through the corridor in the south-west of the room. He reported back that the room beyond was dotted with strange pillars with green, glowing crystals on it, while a group of a dozen imps were fluttering among the pillars. It was decided that it would be for the best to try and bypass that room, if possible.

The northern part of the room gave way to the wine room, while in the north-east there was a portcullis which lead to a corridor. The eastern wall was high, but opened up to another room running along-side; due to the angle it was difficult to see what the next room held.

The heroes remembered that Sadwick, Atilesceon’s imp familiar, had not been a particularly power opponent, but was a sufficient nuisance in combat that it was unwise to confront the imps directly. James and Emrys, cloaked in invisibility, would move ahead and establish a safe spot, and Luca would then communicate the location of that spot with James, using the earrings of whispers.

As James and Emrys moved up and turned invisible, Emrys felt that he lost control of the magic that welled up in side of him. He felt the urge of his body to move, to jump, to shift through time and space, and he found that he could make short jumps of translocation. In his enthusiasm he forgot about James and jumped into the corridor beyond the portcullis. James, unsure of what happened, relayed his shock back to Luca and stayed put.

The corridor behind the portcullis sloped upwards and lead to the room behind the room that ran parallel to the room with the imps. In that room Emrys noticed that several creatures were chained up against the wall, or locked away in cages if they were bigger. The room he entered in and the other room were also locked from one another by a portcullis, and just inside the room with the imprisoned creatures Emrys saw a gruesome sight; a spider-like creature had mounted a man, had two of its front legs burrowed deep into its torso, and seemed to be pumping it full of… something. The body was bloated and distended as a result of it.

Horrified, Emrys thought of retreating, comforted only by the fact that a heavy portcullis stood between him and the abomination. He turned around and inspected the room he was standing in, only to find that it was filled with objects, art and books. A strange figure wearing a long, collared robes, who had not noticed Emrys, floated in front of one of Arkenward’s bookcases. A tome was hovering in front of it, with pages slowly turning as the figure was absorbing the contents. It didn’t take long before the tome closed and was gently placed back in its place on the shelf. The levitating figure moved to a different bookcase and it was then that Emrys got a look at its face; a mauve coloured, bulbous head with a mass of tentacles running down its face where its mouth should have been.

This was more than Emrys had bargained for. He felt the surge of magic that allowed him to translocate ebbing away, and he knew that it would dissipate soon. Not wanting to get separated from his companions, he decided to return back to the room with the imps. The last few jumps left in the surge allowed him to jump past the pillars without disturbing the imps. He did come to realise that the pillars emanated an aura which slowed the body and befuddled the mind. Getting stuck inside of the aura while the imps were disturbed would be dangerous.

In the meantime, Luca and James discussed how to proceed without Emrys. It was decided that Luca and Quentin would move up to the entrance of the room with the pillars and imps, while James would attempt to sneak past the imps while he still had the benefit of invisibility. Once James could confirm that the corridor in the south-east of the imp’s room was safe, Luca would portal Quentin and himself there.

Luca used the earring to talk to James who said he didn’t know where Emrys was, but when he arrived at the doorway managed to re-establish contact with Emrys, despite them both being invisible. James confirmed that he had found another body of an intruder, which looked to have been savaged by the imps.

Luca and Quentin tried to get into place as stealthily as they could managed, which was not saying much. Luca could not seem to manage to stay quiet, even though Quentin managed quite well, despite feeling frustrated by always being out of his element; either by not being able to see in the dark, or by having to skulk about while wearing his armour. Despite all of the trouble and frustration they managed not to disturb the imps, and portalled to the end of the room to meet up with Emrys and James again.

Emrys shared what he had seen in the room beyond and when people took a glimpse inside the room, they saw that several creatures were chained to the wall. Most notably, a khazra, a skaven, an imp as well as a young, human girl and a creature that looked a bit like an ape with sharp claws and a hideous face. There were also several cages, one held a rat ogre, moving restlessly back and forth, while another held what looked to be an enormous man with the head of a bull. A third cage held another ghastly creature which looked somewhat like an orc, but with ghastly horns and spikes protruding from its back and arms. A fourth cage seemed broken and empty. Then there was the bloated body of the man who had a wicked spider mounted atop it. Some of the bulbous swelling that Emrys had spotted had burst open and spiders had crawled out, three in total.

And in the middle of the room was an examination table, which had a strange humanoid creature on it, with its body cut open with great precision, displaying its insides. It was another one of the tentacle-faced creatures that Emrys had noticed in the room beyond.

 

 

Arcane

Ever since I fell in love with The Dragon Prince, fantasy genre cartoon with a cast of incredible characters, great representation and solid world building. It became immediately clear that the vibe they tried to hit was one of wholesomeness and inclusion. Of course I was hooked.

Recently, Netflix has released another cartoon, based on the League of Legends universe, which I’m not super-familiar with. It’s called Arcane, and it’s incredible. Not only are the story, characters and world building en pointe, the graphics are phenomenal, but the character development throughout the story is spectacular.

The world building blends steam- and manapunk together in a way that is seamless, evocative and with all the verisimilitude necessary to make it believable. The story, while not uncommon and reliant on a couple of common tropes, is engaging and get me incredibly invested in the outcome. And the characters are all well-rounded and diverse, each getting enough screen time for every viewer to get invested in someone.

Besides the far superior graphics, this cartoon deals with very mature subject matter (oppression, corruption, e.g.) and, unlikely The Dragon Prince, is definitely for mature audiences.

It stands out to me as the best content that Netflix has produced so far, and I recommend this 9 episode first season of Arcane to anyone who enjoys getting caught up in a great cartoon.