Aug 18, 2009

A bitter curse at the castle of bitter leaves

The Setup: …The party pushes it’s way through the last remnants of the gloomy shantytown in the castle's shadow. After many trials and travails, the heroes find themselves standing before the great gates of Tari os shoraes jhaelaer. A pair of immense white marble slabs, carved elaborately in the dancing lines of the fair folk.

Not to be trifled with the limits of metal, the slabs are firmly held between the woven branches of two towering oak trees flanking them. Nearly 80’ above you, the branches burst out in all directions over the surrounding open plain. Dotting these branches are ladders and shacks. Vines and ropes, buckets – perhaps for arrows, lie in abundance. Typical for Eladrin design, the fortress you stand before seems at once designed for war – and peace.

The lone central spire rises like a needle from within the dense mass of alabaster marble and ancient tree boughs, only to be lost from sight within an enormous thunderhead. Roiling around the castle, like a wind driven rain, a shadowy fog that obscures most of the immense structure. Occasionally, a brilliant streak of colored lightning will leap from the cloud to strike at the castle, all in absolute silence.

What happened here, at the fortress of shoraes jhaelaer? That question is the reason you stand before the gates. They sit slightly ajar, dark wisps of shadow occasionally swirling out to toe an invisible line laid by unknown hands…

The Location: The fall of Cendriane is one of the worst calamities to befoul the ancient Eladrin empire. It’s loss was considered unthinkable. Every Eladrin living today lost friend or family to this dark day. It was not the only story to unfold that day.

To the south of this once magnificent city lay another. Tari os shoraes jhaelaer (The castle of bitter leaves). Here, a garrison was kept to help defend the fair folk from the depredations of their evil cousins. 5000 rangers, knights, and soldiers were quartered here, and might very well have saved the fabled city. Unfortunately, the drow knew this, and planned accordingly. On the night of Cendrianes’ fall, the castle of bitter leaves was assaulted by a small army of demons. Hundreds of the foul creatures laid siege to its white walls. The next day, shell-shocked survivors and refugee found the castle exactly as it is today – cursed.

What really happened that day, is that the master of the keep, Lord Taverin Bitterleaf, vowed to die before allowing his castle to fall. Using his formidable powers as archmage, constructed an elaborate and powerful ritual. As a result, Castle Bitterleaf has been partially removed from our plane of existence. It exists in a perpetual loop of time beginning with the initial foray, and ending with the demons celebrating victory as the castle begins to crumble apart – only to repeat itself.

In this way, the Archmage hoped to keep the army trapped here until re-enforcements from Cendriane could arrive. Centuries have now come and gone, and the ritual magic used to power this impossible curse has begun to unravel. If this happens, the hundreds of surviving demons will be unleashed right in the heart of the Eladrin kingdoms!

Encounter Suggestions:

Saving a group of children from the ravages of a gang of carnage demons
5 Evistro demons (Lvl.6 brute) CR6 (1250XP) Encounter for 5 level 6 pc’s.

Gaining access to the central keep, by assisting the defenders at the gates.
2 BarIguras (lvl.8 brute – 700XP)
1 mezzodemon (lvl.11 soldier – 600XP) CR6 (1350XP)

Wipe out a lethal cluster of snipers
3 Drow warriors (Lvl. 11 lurker – 1800XP) CR9 Encounter

Overpowering a group of cowering soldiers to gain access to the inner sanctum
3 Eladrin Fey knights (Lvl.7 soldier 900XP)
2 Twilight incanters (Lvl.8 Controller 700XP) CR7 1600XP

Aftermath / Climax

The party is given three "obvious" choices.

1.) They repair the ritual, and leave the place as is. (minor quest reward)
2.) They strike a deal with a Devil that has been watching, to transport the castle and all of it’s demons to Acheron. (no reward - PC's are now considered criminals by the summer court)
3.) They defeat both the Demon general AND the bound soul of Lord Bitterleaf. (major quest reward)

Obviously there are other ways this could go. I expect to stat out the two “boss” monsters this week using my sweet, but aggravating DDI Monster builder.

I’m thinking a Lvl.8 Solo + Minions for Lord bitterleaf, and a Lvl.10 elite soldier and skirmishers for High Eviscerator Karrgh.

Thoughts?

Ideas?

Suggestions?

Have some poo, and are itching to fling it?