The country of Sujah rests nestled in between a pair of large hills in the otherwise inhospitable Sea of Dust. It is here in this alcove that they’ve managed to carve out a rather stable existence. Through farming in the dusty, arid land by bringing water down from the mountains, through trade with less organized bands of humans, dwarves and other creatures living in the Hellfurnaces, and through a strong military presence that’s allowed them to scour the desert for usable material the people of Sujah have managed to build their society and allowed it to flourish in an otherwise inhospitable place.
Part of that growth was an edict by a long ago Pharaoh that all citizens of Sujah must provide a period of service to the military. By rooting a sense of patriotism and self sacrifice into the very fabric of Sujan society the populace tends towards acts of kindness and community rather then self interest and strife.
It is at the beginning of this period of service that we meet our heroes: a band of recent graduates from Sujah’s esteemed military academy. These few are placed together by their instructors due to their natural abilities complementing each other well and in some cases due to the friendships that had already developed among them. They are Pakil the Warmage, quick to size up and dismiss an unworthy foe, but always at the ready to back up his appraisal with magical might; Madu the Cleric who’s fascination with all things mechanical and architectural led some to believe he should have been born a gnome instead of a halfling; Duras of the Dwarven clan Bladebright who’s devotion has granted him the abilities of a favored soul; Vahsh a drow, who’s past is shrouded in mystery though no one questions her abilities with a sword or great axe; Ash an elven trickster by nature ever the wisecracking Rogue and finally Tor a great enigma to the group as not many half-orcs have the discipline to study the Enchanter’s trade with much success.
This cadre was formed to run special ops for the military. Adventuring into areas too far flung to support an army and too dangerous for the common folk. Their deeds have done great service to the Pharaoh.
Their career starts with a mission to seek out and determine the cause of fires springing up in a farming community a days march from the capital. These fires had burnt quite a number of crops and the magistrate was at a loss as to what to do to stop them. The party arrived and investigated coming to the conclusion that a nest of goblins nearby was the source of the trouble after speaking with some townsfolk who had seen the creatures skulking about. Steeling themselves for battle the party confronted the goblins in their lair and cleaned them out. Returning to the town however, they found it ablaze once again. Spotting the source of the trouble this time however was the eagle-eyed Vahsh who was first to lay eyes on a pair of ash rats laying havoc to the fields. These creatures emitted a small cloud of smoke around them which would have been quite easily mistaken for a roving dust cloud. They also set fire with their naturally high body heat to any flammable substance they moved through. Simple creatures really, with no malicious intent, but a pest at any rate and easily dispatched.
The cadre returned to Sujah, trained and was given their next assignment. A human town in the Hellfurnaces by the name of Dagger Falls was experiencing a rash of disappearances and other general mischief, with no cause in sight. The party met Randall Morn on the way into the town. Randall claimed to be the deposed ruler of the town and nearby manor house. His family had watched over Dagger Falls for many decades and when these troubles began he began to investigate only to have the sheriff stage a coup and attempt to take his life. He begged the party to help clear his family of any mention of misdeeds, to rescue the villagers who were missing and find out what was going on. Sad to say his family did have some complicity in these acts, but not Randall directly. The sheriff, trying to find a way to get rid of the goody goody Morn, contracted with a cleric of dubious alignment to raise up a man named Colderan from the grave. Colderan, one of Randall’s ancestor’s then proceeded to use his magical powers to turn the tables on the cleric, slaying him and then going about creating his own creatures of the night. The missing townsfolk were a victim of this scheme as Colderan had concocted a way to take the dream energy of sleeping townsfolk and with it create small impish creatures called Nightshades which then went about his bidding. Robbed of their sleep for too long these afflicted townsfolk were then soundly under Colderan’s spell and their soul energy was drained to complete the transition into a Nightshade. The party managed to rescue a few of these townsfolk and return them to good health, while also wrecking Colderan’s plans and putting the man back into his grave. Related to this adventure, but not directly involved, the party also discovered an ancient Bladebright-clan hold high in the Hellfurnaces. They explored the hold and found a small elven carving of a Dwarf and an Elf standing, arms clasped. Most elves and dwarves don’t have much trust for each other, so this apparent token of friendship was odd indeed. That it was the bladebright clan that was friends was a good omen for the seeking Duras as it may mean that his family managed to take refuge with the elves instead of being obliterated as the other clans had reported.
The party returned and reported these findings and after training were sent out on another mission, this time of significant importance to Duras. Knowing that it may have been possible for the Bladebrights to have escaped their fate, the party is sent to an old abandoned dwarven keep deep in the Hellfurnaces to look for clues or signs of where they had gone. The trek through the mountains and into the dwarven hold was dangerous indeed. The outer sections had been taken over by an orc shaman and his cronies. The inner sections were a tumbledown mess of stonework and natural caves. The party discovered an area of the inner section that had collapsed into a natural cavern below and explored only to find a nasty black dragon guarding the underground lake. They dispatched the beast and found a great horde of dwarven treasure, but no real clues as to where the dwarves had fled.
With no new leads to follow upon reporting back the party is sent on a patrol mission to keep peace along the border. While traveling about they are ambushed by a rather sun addled old man who spouts cryptic clues and riddles about some hidden ruins in the desert before vanishing again. The party returns to the town and sets about the University to conduct some research into these riddles and deciphers the location of these ruins. They travel to the location and enter to find a lair filled with all manner of constructs. After braving the dangers they conclude the adventure by defeating the evil mastermind behind the creations and discovering an area of trans dimensional proportions along with an artifact that can create such areas. Being the honest and loyal subjects that they are, they turned over this powerful artifact to the military (of which it has never been seen again).
Newly discovered clues pointed to the location of another set of ruins that may shed some light on the creators of the previous ruins however the party chickens out upon setting foot in the ruins (what, 1 point of damage per hour while they are inside is a serious obstacle? :-)
The party returns and reports their failure and is sent to the sewers as punishment! Well not quite. It seems there’s been a disturbance under the city. People going missing and strange noises in the night. The party investigates the area and finds a network of new tunnels carved into the existing sewer complete with collapsing tunnels, bridges and a slew of undead worms and ghosts. They come upon an evil altar that manages to zap two of the party members before being destroyed (You can tell Chad’s the real scientist. He touches the altar with one character and gets killed so he says “Hmm I wonder if that happens every time” and touches it with the other).
After the parties triumphal return from the sewers (and a couple quick raise deads) the party is sent to secure relations between Sujah and a small community on the eastern side of the Hellfurnaces along the coast called Haskenport. The party arrives to find the town in disarray. The old manor lord Thomas Hasken had died and a woman claiming to be his heir had arrived to fill the vacant manor home, but she cared little for the welfare of the town. The party exposed her as the hag she was and defeated her and the miscreants with her. The town in despair at the loss of their beloved Hasken, but hopeful at the arrival of these brave hearted adventurers offer to manor house to the party for their use. Duras the party ‘leader’ (by way of the leadership feat) accepts their offer. The local temple priest pledges her service to Duras as do many of the townsfolk who have come to like their new lord.
Not long after they’ve moved in a mysterious orb appears in the midst of the manor’s common room. The party gathers around to hear a strange buzz and then a flash of light surrounds them. They open their eyes to find themselves standing before a monstrous ramp leading to a large gate high in the hills of an unfamiliar desert. They approached the large gate but are stopped short and held for questioning. They discover they’ve been transported far to the north in an area known as the Bright Desert and are standing before the greatest warmage college in the world (so they say, go Sujah!). They are brought inside after a time and meet with the headmaster who explains his situation. A few of their teachers and students have gone missing and he’s at a resource loss to find out why. Through some contacts he still held with the university in Sujah he learned of the parties recent successes and determined that they might be able to help them and so arranged for them to be broguht to him. The headmaster doesn’t know who to suspect of the disappearances and so as a precaution he’s provided the party with a cover. They are visiting students from a rival warmage academy, here for the annual warmage tournament of which Pakil is expected to participate. In the days leading up to the games he’s hopeful that the party can uncover whatever plot has befallen his school. The party makes some inquiries among the staff and studens and does manage to uncover the source of the problem. A fellow masquerading as a warmage through the use of various magical items and trickery has infiltrated the school. To what end though the party never learns as the man manages to escape. The headmaster however is still grateful for their efforts knowing that he has more information to go on and also knew standards to watch for in new applicants. He feels confident that whoever was behind this plot will have to try some new tricks if they intend to get into his school again.
The party is teleported back, save Madu and Pakil who decide to spend some time at the university to talk among learned fellows a bit and explore the regional differences in scholastic knowledge.
Upon being returned to the manor house however the party discovers a tragedy has befallen the town. In their absence a group of marauding giants had come and kidnapped a number of townsfolk and taken them to parts unknown. With the assistance of the local priest the party sets out to track down the poor people. They stumble upon a group of hobgoblins and ogres which were easily dispatched and manage to get the location of the giants from them. Upon approaching the tower they were holed up in the party is attacked as the giants begin raining rocks down upon their heads, literally throwing chunks of the ruined tower down upon them. The party rushes forward and into the tower to confront the giants directly and learns they are being lead by a strange dwarf with a pair of rams horns on his head and eyes that won’t stop weeping. Oddity’s aside the party dispatches all the foes and rescues the villagers with only one casualty – the poor drow took one for the team in a futile effort to tumble… I think.
The townsfolk are quite pleased to have their fellows returned and throw a huge party at the inn for the returning heroes. Among those in the crowd however is a band of humanoids not quite having as good a time as the rest. Ash manages to discover these are in fact a group of drow keeping their hoods up and faces withdrawn. Sensing trouble, Duras creates a bit of a scene in order to try and get the innocent townsfolk to leave, though most wait til the drawing of steel and the fight begins to actual get the hint. The party is assisted by an odd character. Dressed in traveling clothes with naught but a walking stick and a tankard of ale this man sets about bobbing and weaving among the drow, distracting their attention and placing strikes that seem to come from odd angles, attacking with his fists and the tankard as necessary to subdue his foe. After the fight the party learns that these drow were in fact here for Vahsh – her past finally catching up to her.
The man who aided the party introduces himself as Father Mulcahy a master of the style: drunken out of a monastary 3 days up the coast. He implores the party to help him as the same giants that attacked Haskenport have taken to raiding their simple home. For weeks Mulcahy has been on the move trying to find someone to come help his fellow priests and he believes he’s found just the fellows to weed out these giant sized pests and put a stop to their evil inclinations for good.
Which brings us up to date the party is preparing to leave Haskenport once again to aid the monk in his war with the giants. Our three new party members will arrive in Haskenport just as they are leaving and for simplicities sake so we can get a good start and make some progress, we’ll assume that each of them offer their services for their own inscrutable reasons.